Friday, June 30, 2006

From Mission Neglected to Mission Creep?

Whose idea was it to add to the war on terror a new front on the so-called war on drugs?

As if our historic mission in Afghanistan was not flagging as it is from imprecise definition and insufficient resources. To it has been added another burden: the eradication of the poppy.

The mission of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul should not include eradicating poppy fields. It is supposed to release a vast project to drag Afghanistan a little further out of its medieval state.

But NATO troops are having to provide security for the Afghan counter-narcotics police. Lieutenant-General David Richards who commands the ISAF, says
The poppy farmers will fight hard to protect their only means of livelihood, and without roads and irrigation systems (to help them grow different products), you can hardly blame them. Unless the farmers were given incentives to grow other crops, we’ll be stirring up a hornet’s nest.
It's becoming much more than a hornet's nest.

A report by an international think tank, the Senlis Council, advises that
Canadian troops and Afghan civilians are paying with their lives for Canada’s adherence to the U.S. government’s failing military and counter-narcotics policies in Kandahar.... Following U.S. policies is turning Kandahar into a suicide mission for Canada....
The US-led counter-terrorist operations under Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and aggressive large-scale crop eradication have significantly contributed to the current war situation that is flaring-up in Kandahar and the other southern provinces. Emmanuel Reinert, Executive Director of the Senlis Council, says,
The Canada government and the international community continue to seemingly unquestioningly accept America’s fundamentally flawed approach to southern Afghanistan. But this is jeopardizing both the troops’ lives and the stabilization, reconstruction and development objectives. The Canadian troops in Kandahar are doing a heroic job in the most difficult of circumstances and are to be commended; but the overall policy context within which they are obliged to work is putting them at risk.

There is no longer any peace to keep in Kandahar. If Canadian troops are to be supported in their mission of securing Kandahar, they urgently need the additional tools to regain the support of the local population which has been lost due to the aggressive militaristic approach of the US in the region.

When the international forces arrived in Afghanistan in 2001 they were welcomed and perceived as being there to help, but now that has changed.

Most farmers feel abandoned and cheated by the central government and the international community. This has given way to a dramatic switch in alliance to the only people who they believe are showing any understanding of their needs – the Taliban.

Conflicting drug, development and security policies are making Afghanistan spiral into chaos. The growing violence shows that the current approach in Afghanistan is simply not working. The international community needs to go back to the drawing board and rework its approach in Afghanistan.

Southern Afghanistan urgently needs an injection of financial aid earmarked for the short-term relief of conditions of extreme poverty in which many people live.

We also recommend the organization of a series of Jirga-style meetings and the provision of an amnesty period of grace for farmers to carry on growing opium until they have an alternative means of supporting themselves.

This will help address the international community’s critical failure to understand the actual impact of the policies that have been implemented in the region. Listening to local concerns with the participation of local communities should be an integral part of all future policy decisions.
The Senlis report says that in the coming years, thousands of poppy farmers will continue to lack sufficient legal economic alternatives to provide for their families. They are already living in extreme poverty. Reinert's recommendation:
A period of grace for poppy farmers would provide for the smooth transition from current illegal poppy cultivation to legal alternatives without endangering farmers’ economic situations. An amnesty will also constrain rural communities’ support for insurgent groups, as farmers will no longer be targeted by ineffective and destructive poppy eradication campaigns.
That's the way it was done in Thailand. After commencing its opium control project in 1978, the Bangkok government gave farmers a four-year interlude in which to end their opium cultivation and find alternative crops. Reinert concludes,
The US has lost yet more of the support of the local people with the blood of innocent civilians on their hands. The problem facing the Canadian troops who have been assisting in the US led anti terrorist mission Operation Enduring Freedom, is that the local populations do not differentiate between the various nationalities present in their region – foreign troops are foreign troops. And foreign troops have killed their loved ones or other members of their communities.
The question becomes, who laid this last straw on the back of NATO's camel?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mission Abandoned?

George Bush has not accepted the mission history assigned him.

The attacks of 9-11, his Pearl Harbor, mandated that he (1) capture of kill Osama bin Laden and obliterate his al Qaeda group, (2) remove the Taliban (al Qaeda's host) as a factor in Afghanistan, and (3) build in the central Asian country a credible political alternative which could deliver economic rejuvenation.

Instead, Bush elected to settle the old scores of his family casa nostra with Saddam Hussein. He wandered off the reservation (Afghanistan), hijacked the global war on terror, American patriotism, the American economy, and the sympathy of practically the entire world - all of this - to pursue his personal and capricious project: an un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI).

We are losing in the mission that history assigned America.

Just as we were on the verge of completing its essential, first part - OBL - the vital assets essential to its completion were whisked away to become IED-fodder in Bush's Iraquagmire. Special Ops units were the first to go. But the major component, ground troops, became all too scarce to deploy on the ground in Afghanistan.

That has been the major problem in Afghanistan. Without boots on the ground, counterinsurgency efforts do not connect up with the population. All politics is local. Remember? Without enough troops, counterinsurgency has to cope on the cheap by over reliance on air power. Inevitably airpower creates collateral damage which create more insurgents. You destroy parts of neighborhoods and families, you add the remainders to the host of your enemies.

And that's what's happening in Afghanistan now, as you read this....

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flag Burning?

I propose an amendment to the anti-flag burning amendment:

Stop burning up our military in the un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI), and I'll think about signing on to not burning our flag. As things are, the current administration in Washington has desecrated our flag a gazzillion times more than the four flag burnings on record this year.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Wanted, Dead or Alive? (Or, just drag 'em off to the Hague?)

#1 on my personal list is this goon:
As I post this, it's 1,750 days on the Osama Clock.

My biggest gripe against George W. Bush, is that this killer has not been #1 on his hit list, and never has been:
Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.

Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.

So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.

And there will be other battles in Afghanistan. There's going to be other struggles like Shahikot, and I'm just as confident about the outcome of those future battles as I was about Shahikot, where our soldiers are performing brilliantly. We're tough, we're strong, they're well-equipped. We have a good strategy. We are showing the world we know how to fight a guerrilla war with conventional means.

.... as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

... we shoved him out more and more on the margins. He has no place to train his al Qaeda killers anymore.

.... part of the new phase that's becoming apparent to the American people is that we're working closely with other governments to deny sanctuary, or training, or a place to hide, or a place to raise money.

.... See, that's the thing the American people have got to understand, that we've only been at this six months. This is going to be a long struggle. I keep saying that; I don't know whether you all believe me or not....

This thread will be a recurrently updated feature on my site. I will entertain additional candidates for my personal collection, suggested by readers in comments.

By popular request:

If you don't know who he is, Google him. Or ask a Canadian.

Omar al-Beshir

Under the Sudan's President's leadership millions have been killed and millions have been displaced, hungry, diseased, and exposed to harsh elements both natural and human, insidious and violent.

And tens of thousands have been murdered by President Omar's Janjaweed thugs on camels.

Numerically and statistically, President Omar has caused more destruction and fatalities that Saddam's crimes pale in comparison.

Chicken Bones: A Journal

An update: As I am an opponent of capital punishment, it's untenable for me to continue indefinitely in the "wanted dead or alive" motif. So, with the possible exception of numero uno above, this fatwa is hereby limited to "grab 'em by the balls and drag 'em off to the Hague."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

North Korea's Taepodong Missile

WMD's Redux?

I just had three things going into this North Korean situation.

First things first: This debate over the imminent firing of a test missile into the pacific (I guess that's where it's supposed to go) goes to show how far we have gone drifted in American defense policy in five short years.

When you have "liberal" spokesmen like Walter Mondale, and Democratic "experts" like Ashton Carter and Bill Perry talking preemptive strikes, you can see how much George Bush's doctrines have taken hold of the American foreign policy wonks. Here's a couple of paragraphs from Carter and Perry's Washington Post piece:
Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil? We believe not. The Bush administration has unwisely ballyhooed the doctrine of "preemption," which all previous presidents have sustained as an option rather than a dogma. It has applied the doctrine to Iraq, where the intelligence pointed to a threat from weapons of mass destruction that was much smaller than the risk North Korea poses. (The actual threat from Saddam Hussein was, we now know, even smaller than believed at the time of the invasion.) But intervening before mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy....

This is a hard measure for President Bush to take. It undoubtedly carries risk. But the risk of continuing inaction in the face of North Korea's race to threaten this country would be greater. Creative diplomacy might have avoided the need to choose between these two unattractive alternatives. Indeed, in earlier years the two of us were directly involved in negotiations with North Korea, coupled with military planning, to prevent just such an outcome. We believe diplomacy might have precluded the current situation. But diplomacy has failed, and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature. A successful Taepodong launch, unopposed by the United States, its intended victim, would only embolden North Korea even further. The result would be more nuclear warheads atop more and more missiles.
Before Bush, it used to be that when we (in the West) wanted to go to war against weaker entities in the third world, we had to have a pretext. That means a tangible grievance. Reaching way back in history, it could be placing missionaries in harms' way where they could become atrocity fodder (Boxer Rebellion). Or a gunboat could get itself fired upon (Bay of Tonkin). American medical students could be kidnapped (Grenada). Get a battleship blown up (Remember the Maine?)

Not now. The probability possibility of a threat is a sufficient casus belli to mobilize our once 2nd-strike nation to step up and take the first swing.

How like a liberal to do something - in isolation from the big picture - simply because you can do it. Why not stuff the Taepodong missile while it is loaded and in it's silo? We can do it. Why not? Like just what we did to Iraq in 2003? (Because we could do it.) It's so tempting. Far more tempting than trying to shoot it down in mid-flight.

Which brings me to my Second Point:

Slam-dunking the Taepodong missile back down through the bottom of its launching tube is at least technologically less risky than trying to shoot it down. Scrimmaging with the North Koreans over the pacific is not productive. If you miss their missile with your ABM, you really embolden them; if you should hit it, they'll only go back, with useful data, to their drawing boards.

But it's always been my firm belief that Star Wars was nothing more than an innovative movie and a useful bluff against the Soviets. Hitting bullets fired by a hostile enemy with our own bullets has never seemed like a feasible or cost effective measure against catastrophic attack, compared to deterrence-edged diplomacy, anyways. I always thought - and still do - that our greatest danger lies in the suitcase (or shipping container) bomb. Remember, that speech Condi Rice was scheduled to deliver on 12 September 2001 on the Anti-Ballistic Missile defense? It was never and probably will never be delivered. But I have it from a very reliable source which I cannot divulge, that there is not even a pencil smear in it about suitcase or airliner bombs.

But if the ABM supporters and lobbyists want to play football with the Taepodong in the four-dimensional grid iron over the pacific, I say, go for it. Only, I add, lets put some high stakes on this gamble: If you miss, lets bury ABM defense forever, and go back to good ol' D and D: deterrence and diplomacy.

The Arms Control Wonk (ACW) lays down the challenge in a way which cannot be improved upon:
Go ahead, try to shoot it down, I dare you.

This is my challenge: We’ve spent $100 billion over the last twenty years, including $8 billion last year on “missile defense.”

Pentagon officials claim we have a better than 80 percent chance of shooting down a North Korean ICBM.

So, do it. I dare you. I double dog dare you. Shoot it down, because I say you can’t.

The decision to “stand up” the the GMD system is a transparently cynical effort to exploit the public’s concern about North Korea’s missile preparations for a missile defense system that cannot defend.

Keep in mind that the Missile Defense Agency’s Independent Review Team (IRT) opposed further flight testing on the grounds that unsuccessful tests would undermine its ability to deter.

And that MDA has more or less stopped deploying new interceptors to Fort Greely.

Nothing would expend the political capital the Administration is banking for missile defense like an unsuccessful attempt to intercept the missile. And believe me, if they get a shot, they will miss…

... unless the North Koreans are helpful and place a homing beacon on the missile.
On ACW's grounds, I'm wanting to say take the challenge, and miss, and the American people will only be better off for it!

My third point is that we are ill-prepared for a third war theater. Even Cheney seems to realize that dropping a smart bomb or two in North Korea wouldn't be so smart because it will lead to a major ground war when we are already hard-pressed in two other theaters.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Take the Pledge
Click on this and send a message:
I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign.
And then circulate the pledge to 10 friends.

Cited by Livy, cited by Machiavelli, cited by Ed Kent:
A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Looking for Signs of a Bipartisan Sea Change on George W. Bush? (Part II)

Update on my previous post on Senator Chuck Hagel

Yesterday afternoon on the Senate floor, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel:
Congress fails in its duty when we do not probe, when we fail, we do not ask tough questions, and we fail when we do not debate the gate issues of our day. There is no issue more important than war. The war in Iraq is the defining issue on which this Congress and the administration will be judged. The American people want to see serious debate about serious issues from serious leaders. They deserve more than a political debate. This debate should transcend cynical attempts to turn public frustration with the war in Iraq into an electoral advantage. It should be taken more seriously than to simply retreat into focus-group tested buzz words and phrases like “cut and run,” catchy political slogans that debase the seriousness of war. War’s not a partisan issue, Mr. President. It should not be held hostage to political agendas. War should not be drug down into the political muck. America deserves better. Our men and women fighting and dying deserve better.
Courtesy of Think Progress

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Run and Cut?

Bush-Cheney-Rove have their own Run and Cut Plan.

President's March 21, 2006 stated intention that ‘future Presidents' will determine whether there are American troops in Iraq. At that press conference the president answered a question about when would the day come when there are no more troops in Iraq and his answer was:
That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq.
So, make no mistake about it. Bush-Cheney-Rove have a cut and run plan. Only it starts with a run:
Running out the course of the war until 2008, running through more thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

Cutting out (of office) in 2009, leaving the whole Mess-o-Potania to a Hillary Clinton (the only Democrat likely to want it).

Running in 2012 on the platform of "Who Lost Iraq?".
That's the long-term plan.

But there is another, more immediate, reason why Bush and his Neocon war-party feel the need to stay the course. If authentic Congressional oversight is empowered by this year's mid-term elections all kinds of hell could break out, occasioned by the hellacious thirst for truth: truth about the intelligence being fixed to market the war; truth about rendition and torture and who ordered it; truth about high tech domestic surveillance; truth about treason of outing intelligence officers for political reasons; maybe even truth about 9-11 itself.

It turns out that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld have to stay the course to prevent the truth from "coming out". These three chickenhawks are confronted with the necessity of sending more young Americans to their death, and delivering more debt to unborn Americans, because if the wheels come off of their Mess-o-Potanian amusement park, they may not escape with their hides.

As a post mentioned in the foregoing discussion, Post-World War II's Nuremberg court found that
To initiate a war of aggression is ... the supreme international crime.
A second lesson drawn from Nuremberg is that when it comes to war crimes, the winners of wars always get to prosecute the losers. So, as long as Bush and Cheney and Rove can lead the American people on about light being at the end of the tunnel, (just around the next bend), they can hope to delay the day of reckoning. Even a Neocon, Max Boot, admits, Win Baghdad and we'll forgive Haditha!
.... What matters most to most folks back home is whether their "boys" are fighting for a just cause and whether they are winning. If the answer to both questions is yes, the public will forgive a great deal of misconduct. Thus, celebrated war-crimes cases did not prevent American victory in the Philippines or British victory in South Africa. Nor was the My Lai massacre a turning point in the Vietnam War. By the time it was exposed in late 1969, support for the war was already in freefall because victory did not appear to be in sight.

Today, Americans' (and Iraqis') verdict on the war will not turn on what happened in Abu Ghraib or Haditha. More important is what is happening in Ramadi and Baghdad — major cities where the security situation has deteriorated over the last year. The Bush administration can weather the excesses of some soldiers; it cannot survive the perception that we are losing. Instead of indulging in excessive self-flagellation, therefore, the Pentagon and the White House would be well advised to take decisive steps, such as sending more troops, to restore law and order.

Victory diminishes the significance of war crimes; defeat magnifies them into defining events.
Do not, gentle reader, ask for what noble cause we fight; we fight on only for the ignoble purpose of saving some miserable and guilt-infested political skins.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

George Bush Told Them, "Go Fight My War." And They Have.

What We Need to Read, Know & Appreciate This Day, Every Day, and for the Indefinite Future About Iraq*
USA Killed in Action (Iraq) 01-Jan-08: 3,904; 31-Jan-08: 3,943
USA Wounded in Action (Iraq)* 01-Jan-08:
12,888; 31-Jan-08: 12,986*
Contractors KIA: 113 identified as USA.
What kind of a war can we fight without feeling any national collective pain? The servile American news media is not only allowing the administration to hide the financial cost by not including it in the budget; it is also obfuscating the human cost. Not only is there no press coverage of the transportation of the remains of dead American service men & women back into the states; there is also a suppression of news about the arrival of American wounded. Very little is seen on TV, in photographs in the nation's newspapers. Except in anecdotal information on individual cases followed in local press, statistics on American wounded remains actually invisible to the American people.

The media basically focuses on the hit-and-run guerrilla attacks that claim one or two GIs in Iraq almost daily. Little attention has been paid to the long, difficult and very personal struggles that ensue in wards at the Brooke Army Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. The media has always treated combat deaths as the most reliable measure of battlefield progress, The result is that many injuries go unreported. When you add in the numbers of wounded, it becomes a toll the country has not seen since Vietnam, said Aseneth Blackwell, former national president of Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.

In Gulf War I, about three troops were wounded in action for every fatality. In Gulf War II about seven are being wounded for every one killed. Two major factors are responsible for the greater proportion of wounded. One, using medical personnel - deploying well-equipped surgical teams closer to combat, for example - mean that injured soldiers are getting attention quickly. Modern medical techniques also mean that a far higher percentage of soldiers who would have died in previous wars now survive and come back as amputees.

Secondly, there is the current technology in improved body armor, helmets and even goggles are credited with saving American lives in Iraq. An improvement over previous generations of flak vests, the $1,585 Interceptor Body Armor is a green 16-pound vest which contains two ceramic plates backed with sheets of fibers. It is designed stop direct hits from an AK-47.

But in Iraq the problem is that rocket-propelled grenades, remote-controlled mines and what the Pentagon refers to as "improvised explosive devices” can wound multiple troops at a time and cause the kind of amputating damage that you don't necessarily see with a bullet wound to the arm or leg. Explosions shatter and sever legs and arms. They char flesh and drive debris deep into the soft tissue that remains. Unattached muscles, nerves and tendons dangle. Red-hot shrapnel sometimes punctures torsos below waist-length body armor, ripping bowels and bladders. Concussions bruise skulls and brains. Soldiers thrown into the air are injured again when they hit ground. Large numbers of troops coming are back to Walter Reed and National Naval Medical with serious blast wounds and arms and legs that have been amputated. The hidden numbers are appalling. Thousands of U.S. troops have been wounded and injured in Iraq. They have been paralyzed, lost limbs, suffered blindness, suffered horrible burns and so on. They are heroes, without question, but their stories have largely gone untold. "Our nation doesn't know," said Susan Brewer, president and founder of America's Heroes of Freedom, a nonprofit organization that collects clothing and other personal items for the returning troops. "Sort of out of sight and out of mind."

Also hidden is the impact of wounded on the military units. In an article, "Saddam’s in the Slammer, So Why Are We on Orange?" retired US Army Col. David Hackworth, writes,
Even I...was staggered when a Pentagon source gave me
a copy of a Nov. 30 dispatch showing that since George W. Bush unleashed the
dogs of war, our armed forces have taken 14,000 casualties in Iraq—about the
number of warriors in a line tank division…. This means we’ve lost the
equivalent of a fighting division since March. At least 10 percent of the total
number (of available personnel—135,000) has been evacuated back to the
The deliberate obscuring of the total human toll of the war and occupation in Iraq is an indication of increasing nervousness within the Bush administration. Despite the official claims of overwhelming popular support, the political and media establishment knows full well that opposition to this war is growing, and that an accurate picture of the war’s devastating consequences will further turn the tide of public opinion.
* This WIA stat includes only life-altering wounds; it is about half of the total number of total USA WIA's; the other half of the statistic which are not counted here are 'wounded but returned to action'

** This article was originally published on 14-March 2004, and since then updated monthly.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Who Has Hurt America More? OBL or GWB? (Part I)

Doing the simple arithmetic does not give us a pretty picture.

George Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, and largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI) has cost our nation more in blood than Osama bin Laden.
OBL: Total Deaths - All 9/11 Attacks: 3,030
OBL: Total Injuries - All 9/11 Attacks: 2,337
GWB: Total US KIA in Iraq): 2,500
GWB: Total U.S. WIA in Iraq (not counting those troops wounded and returned to combat): 8,501

Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Is the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld gang going to get away with their stupendous error in Afghanistan?

Osama bin Laden's orchestration of the 9-11 attacks on the United States, coupled Mullah Omar's (remember him?) refusal to hand OBL over, made "Talibinstan" the main front in the World's Global war on terror. Bush-Cheney's reckless, arbitrary and militaristic deflection of America's revenge into a Rumsfeld's 'target rich' Iraq didn't and does not change that.

An unstinting campaign in Afghanistan was not a matter of choice to be left to "The Decider", a capricious, accidental, and unschooled 'war president'; this was a mandate of history. The capture or killing of Osama bin Laden - with or without the obliteration of the medieval Taliban regime - was Bush's mission, which he began abdicating from (AWOL-again!) as early as November, 2001!

The CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, says he and other U.S. commanders knew that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing Qaeda and Taliban members. Berntsen says he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was holed up at Tora Bora—intelligence operatives had tracked him—and could have been caught. Military author Sean Naylor, calls Tora Bora a "strategic disaster" because the Pentagon refused to deploy a cordon of conventional forces to cut off escaping Qaeda and Taliban members. Instead, to save 'assets' for the impending Iraqi adventure, Tommy Franks outsourced the Tora Bora capture of OBL to local warlords!

Instead of pursuing of Osama and his al Qaeda cadre, Bush had already decided to settle his daddy's ledger with Saddam. In this Quixotic effort in Iraq, he has
  • (a) squandered the world-wide reservoir of sympathy in the wake of 9-11,
  • (b) allowed the Osama bin Laden to escape our grasp - when we all but had him - and possibly to live out his natural life,
  • (c) wasted 2,500 American Killed in Action (well on the way to matching bloodshed by Al Qaeda's original attack of 11 September 2001), and
  • (d) misappropriated $300,000,000 on counterproductive effort to spread democracy at the point of a gun.
On September 12, 2001, one day after the terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO invoked Article 5 of its founding treaty for the first time ever. Article 5 states that an armed attack against one or more NATO member states is considered an attack against all of them. While the gesture was historic, what followed was not a NATO-wide involvement in the U.S.-declared war on terror, but rather assistance from some members in the military campaign in Afghanistan. Whether the alliance would have -- under any circumstances -- acted according to Article 5 and participated in the Afghan campaign as one force is still a matter of debate.

It is beyond me how we can continue to ask our NATO allies to cover our retreat from Afghanistan (to cover our bruises in Iraq)?

Wasn't this basically our fight originally?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

South Central's Farmers

This can Happen in America? In my back yard?
A dear old friend from Sozadee has drawn my attention to this unbelievable ethnic cleansing, on-going, in South Central Los Angeles.

Here are the facts. What is this?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Inconvenient Truths?

Al Gore's movie surpassed my expectations.

I saw An Inconvenient Truth Sunday. Among other things, I realized the youngest and newest members of our electorate have never experienced hearing an articulate statesman talk from the heart about his innermost convictions, speak up for the American national interest, demonstrate intellectual command of a complicated subject, or evoke pride from his audience when they realize they have elected, to the highest office in our once-great country, obviously qualified leadership.

Imagine what that might feel like for the first time. Just imagine....

For the rest of us - jaded citizen-voters - imagine how much better off we might be if other inconvenient truths could be unearthed? Like
  • Electronic balloting without paper trails invites electoral fraud.

  • American even-handedness on Israeli-Palestinian issues

  • Investigation of how intelligence was fixed for the Iraq invasion (often promised Senate Committee on Intelligence Phase 2 Report).

  • Judicial review of all domestic counter-terror surveillance activities.

  • Democracy needs the middle class and the middle class needs the restoration of a truly progressive income tax

  • A declaration that the United States will never again engage in preventive/preemptive war.
Just for starters?

Now who could it be who could best lead us back to truth and the American Way?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Over There?

It is often said by the war party that we have to fight the Isamofascists "over there", so we don't have to fight them over here?

So, it has been asked, when were the Iraqi people asked if we could fight our proxy war on their turf? When was it that we received their permission? Or, if they weren't asked, did the Iraqis step forward and say:
We volunteer! We'll take your war! It's the very least we can do!
Were they the lone volunteer demographic? Or were they just the first nation in a long line of peoples volunteering to provide and host our theater for elective war?

Who can answer this question? Who can resolve my bewilderment?

Friday, June 9, 2006

Liberalism -vs- Progressivism: A Meaningful Distinction?

Am I always updating my thinking on this issue or just spinning my wheels on a trivial problem of labels?
Read More?

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Dead?

al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia decapitated? Finally!
Mike Scheuer was a CIA agent for 22 years - six of them as head of the agency's Osama bin Laden unit - until he resigned in 2004.

Scheuer has maintained all along that Bush deliberately passed up repeated opportunities to kill Zarqawi before the un-provoked, unnecessary and largely unilateral invasion and occupation of Iraq (UULUIOI) in March 2003.

Scheuer has stated that during 2002, the Bush Administration received detailed intelligence about Zarqawi's training camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Mr Bush had Zarqawi in his sights almost every day for a year before the invasion of Iraq and he didn't shoot because they were wining and dining the French in an effort to get them to assist us in the invasion of Iraq.

Almost every day we sent a package to the White House that had overhead imagery of the house he was staying in. It was a terrorist training camp . . . experimenting with ricin and anthrax . . . any collateral damage there would have been terrorists.
If Scheuer is right, the UULUIOI would not have been necessary to get where we are today!

Monday, June 5, 2006

Oh Yes, We are the Great Pretenders!

Bush and Al Maliki are drinking each other's Koolaid.

Get this: Iraqi Green Zone Prime Minister Al-Maliki is visiting Basra, which has had its relative calm suddenly erupt in sectarian violence. Surrounded by our mercenaries, he puts his foot down:
We are hearing of security breaches which we fear may escalate and worsen.

We shall hit with an iron fist the heads of the gangs or those who threaten security. And we shall request all security departments to draw an effective and quick plan to achieve security to a standard which would give citizens the feel of security.
That's what he says. But, as of yesterday, he can't fill his defense and interior ministry posts. That's what he says, but yesterday, 50 people were kidnapped yesterday, not including four Russians. That's what he says, but yesterday 24 people, mostly students were executed.

Let's pretend.

How did that song go, by the Platters? (With apologies):
Oh yes, we’re the great pretenders
Pretending that we’re doing well
Our policies’ duff – we pretended too much
We’re lying but people can tell

Oh yes, we’re the great pretenders
Adrift in a world of our own
We played the war ‘game’ but to our real shame our intelligence failed
and led us to score an own goal

Too real was the thrill of make believe
We can only repeat – we believed, we believed

Oh, yes, we’re the great pretenders

WMD all around
The world we agree is now safer, you see
Yeah, we killed and we maimed in a ‘civilized’ way,
Our cluster bombs scattered around

Too real was this thrill of this make believe
The threat seemed so real that we almost believed

Oh yes, we’re the great pretenders,
Combat was complete months ago,
Security’s fine, it improves all the time
Abu Ghraib was a mirage, we’re sure
Just pretending we uphold the law...

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Don't anyone misconstrue my silence or apparent inactivity on this site. I assure anyone surfing in, looking for fresh grist here, that I'm anything but inattentive, indifferent, unoffended or unappalled as to what's happening in the world.

I just have, at this moment, nothing fresh to say.

But don't let my lack of inspiration hold any of you back!

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Barrick Gold vs. Pascua Lama and Veladero

Judge for yourself if you want to take action.

Email from a life long friend as made me aware of this developing mega-crime scene in South America. It's the latest chapter in the long saga of the Bush Crime Family.

Community groups on both side of the Argentina-Chile border are increasing their opposition to Barrick Gold’s proposed Pascua Lama project in Chile, while criticism of its Veladero project already under way on the Argentinean side of the border is also mounting. There have been protests in both countries and even a blockade on the Argentinean side.

Demonstrators protest Barrick Gold’s proposed Pascua Lama project. Santiago, Chile, November 12, 2005.
Barrick's exploration roads criss-cross the Pascua Lama area.
This photo, taken 10 years ago, clearly shows damage to the glaciers caused by Barrick’s exploration activity.

The emailed message reads, in part:

Dear friends who care about our earth.

In the Valle de San Felix, the purest water in Chile runs from 2 rivers, fed by 2 glaciers.

Water is a most precious resource, and wars will be fought for it.

Indigenous farmers use the water, there is no unemployment, and they provide the second largest source of income for the area.

Under the glaciers has been found a huge deposit of gold, silver and other minerals. To get at these, it would be necessary to break, to destroy the glaciers - something never conceived of in the history of the world - and to make 2 huge holes, each as big as a whole mountain, one for extraction and one for the mine's rubbish tip.

The project is called PASCUA LAMA. The company is called Barrick Gold.

The operation is planned by a multi-national company, one of whose members is George Bush Senior.

The Chilean Government has approved the project to start this year, 2006.

The only reason it hasn't started yet is because the farmers have got a temporary stay of execution.

If they destroy the glaciers, they will not just destroy the source of especially pure water, but they will permanently contaminate the 2 rivers so they will never again be fit for human or animal consumption because of the use of cyanide and sulphuric acid in the extraction process.

Every last gram of gold will go abroad to the multinational company and not one will be left with the people whose land it is. They will only be left with the poisoned water and the resulting illnesses.

The farmers have been fighting a long time for their land, but have been forbidden to make a TV appeal by a ban from the Ministry of the Interior.

Their only hope now of putting brakes on this project is to get help from international justice.

The world must know what is happening in Chile. The only place to start changing the world is from here.

We ask you to circulate this message amongst your friends in the following way:

Please copy this text, paste it into a new email adding your signature and send it to everyone in your address book. Please, will the 100th person to receive and sign the petition, send it to to be forwarded to the Chilean Government.

No to Pascua Lama Open-cast mine in the Andean Cordillera on the Chilean-Argentine frontier.

We ask the Chilean Government not to authorize the Pascua Lama project to protect the whole of 3 glaciers, the purity of the water of the San Felix Valley and El Transito, the quality of the agricultural land of the region of Atacama, the quality of life of the Diaguita people and of the whole population of the region.
Please cut this message and paste into your own emails.

Friday, June 2, 2006

My Two Cents

One (Or Two) More Polls!

While I'm briefly on the subject of polls, I have two on-going, long-running ones, both on liberal and progressive talking heads.

The first is Progressive Talking Heads?

And the second is Best Progressive Voices in Electronic Media 2006!

Readers may feel entitled to partake in either or both.

But here's the real provocation for bringing these up:

I profess to be a fan of Air America. I profess, further to harbor extreme likes and dislikes among them.

I especially like Al Franken, whom I've met, because of the range of his guests and locations from which he broadcasts. He gets out and meets the folk from the big cities and small burgs across our (once great) Country.

I also especially like Randi Rhodes, on some days. (I can't tell if I like her on those days when she is on her drugs or off her drugs.) But when she's in the grove, she's very, very good. She gets me pumped and gets me to see the connections between dots which I have been overlooking. Days when she's off, I switch to classical jazz.

But I never have a good time with Stephanie Miller. Miller is one smart and angry bitch. Can someone help me find what I don't like about her? Is she too angry? Yes, can it be that I feel her anger exceeds her ability to express it, leaps over the bounds of articulation and intelligible syntax? And the laugh (is it hers?) that I hear on the show (in the background?) is among the most grating sounds I have ever heard on the radio. (If she had a TV show I could at least jump out of my chair to see where it was coming from!)

Anyway, that's my two cents. It feels good to have gotten it off my chest. The best way to shrug off a burden is to share it.

My two cents....

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Hard Choices!

An Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) Poll on Progressives' Priorities and Concerns for the Month of June 2006.

It is what it is. Unscientific, to be sure: respondents are self-selecting themselves.

There are lots of hard choices of prioritizing in here. I deliberately left off the easy ones, such as this year's elections, impeachment, etc. I'm sure I missed some important concerns, and I invite readers to propose additions, deletions, re-phrasing in comments below.

I confess not having any purpose here, other than to conduct a wild-eyed experiment.

The ballot, of course, is secret. But I might ask those who engage in this experiment to leave a comment below; something like "I voted". It would be like a purple thumbor a voluntary exit interview!

And, of course, you can politic all you want in the comment section below.