Flash is required to view this video. If video does not load, click to install.
This video brings back horrifying memories for me. We did this in Vietnam. We do it in Iraq. We do it in Afghanistan. We do it in Pakistan. etc. We do it; the soldiers come home and tell us what happened and the government just funds more of it. I can not understand why people aren't more outraged.
And now they are using drones. If we, as ground troops, could make that kind of mistake from a few hundred yards away and helicopter gunships with all their abilities can make that mistake, how can you expect a soldier making those decisions from the other side of the world at Creech AFB in Nevada or Hancock Field in Syracuse, NY to be any clearer about who s/he is killing.
The U.S.-Iraq Agreement on Maintaining U.S. Troops in Iraq.
by Phyllis Bennis Institute for Policy Studies - 21 October 2008
Despite the recent surge of attention to the U.S.-Iraqi negotiations over an agreement to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for years into the future, the resulting agreement or lack of agreement is likely to have little actual impact on the occupation. The negotiations are being conducted by representatives of President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki - neither of whom actually want the U.S. troops to leave. (Maliki's government would not likely survive the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and Bush remains committed to permanent U.S. control of Iraq, its oil, and its strategic location for U.S. military bases). But both Bush and Maliki face political and electoral pressures to posture as if they do want a timetable for troop withdrawal. As a result, most of the negotiations seem to have focused less on substantive disagreements between the two sides, and more on finding language that disguises the real feature sublity of continued occupation and U.S. domination, with politically acceptable language extolling Iraqi sovereignty.
The negotiations are officially aimed at producing a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the U.S. occupation-backed Iraqi government that would set the terms for how U.S. and "coalition" troops would continue to occupy and wage war in Iraq. The urgency surrounding the negotiations is based on the looming expiration of the current United Nations mandate for the so-called "multi-national force" (diplo-speak for the U.S.-led occupation) on December 31, 2008. The goal is to create an agreement between Washington and Baghdad that would replace that mandate. Even the New York Times
agrees that if there is no agreement in place after December 31, and the Security Council has not extended the mandate, the U.S. troops occupying Iraq would have no legal basis for their presence; legally, they would have to be pulled back to their bases and quickly withdrawn from the country.
Peace Action Empowers GI’s with Their Rights.
It was a hot day in late May when 30 Peace Action activists jumped in their cars and converged at Fort Dix, NJ. It was a diverse mix; high school students and Vietnam veterans and everything in-between. This was just one of the many outings for the women and men of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) who facilitated the outreach trip.
Iraq body count is an ongoing human security project which maintains and updates the world’s largest public database of violent civilian deaths during and since the 2003 invasion. The count encompasses non-combatants killed by military or paramilitary action and the breakdown in civil security following the invasion.
Data is drawn from cross-checked media reports, hospital, morgue, NGO and official figures to produce a credible record of known deaths and incidents.
On March 19, 2003, as his shock-and-awe campaign against Iraq was being launched, George W. Bush addressed the nation. "My fellow citizens," he began, "at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger." We were entering Iraq, he insisted, "with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people."
Within weeks, of course, that "great civilization" was being looted, pillaged, and shipped abroad. Saddam Hussein's Baathist dictatorship was no more and, soon enough, the Iraqi Army of 400,000 had been officially disbanded by L. Paul Bremer, the head of the occupying Coalition Provisional Authority and the President's viceroy in Baghdad. By then, ministry buildings -- except for the oil and interior ministries -- were just looted shells. Schools, hospitals, museums, libraries, just about everything that was national or meaningful, had been stripped bare.
Meanwhile, in their new offices in Saddam's former palaces, America's neoconservative occupiers were already bringing in the administration's crony corporations -- Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR, Bechtel, and others -- to finish off the job of looting the country under the rubric of "reconstruction." Somehow, these "administrators" managed to "spend" $20 billion of Iraq's oil money, already in the "Development Fund for Iraq," even before the first year of occupation was over -- and to no effect whatsoever. They also managed to create what Ed Harriman in the London Review of Books labeled "the least accountable and least transparent regime in the Middle East." (No small trick given the competition.)
I must confess a dirty little secret - I don’t care what presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say they will do to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq if they become president next year. Thousands more Iraqis and hundreds more U.S. troops will be dead by then, and for what? I want to know what Senators Clinton and Obama are willing to do to end the war this year. Surely I’m not alone in this desire, am I?
While George Bush, aided and abetted by a supine Congress, does his best impersonation of an extremely unpopular yet omnipotent emperor, especially on Iraq and foreign policy, Obama and Clinton are far from powerless in their current positions. As Senators, they could lead a filibuster to end funding for Bush’s occupation of Iraq. This would show real leadership, and if they succeeded, two grateful nations would sing their praises for generations, regardless of whether either ever became president.
Even better would be for there to be no bill for them to have to filibuster. Obama, Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha and other Democratic leaders should agree to simply not draft a bill to continue the war. They should tell Bush, “Sorry, the bank is closed; you’ll get no more of the taxpayers’ money to continue your quagmire” other than funds to safely and swiftly withdraw all of our troops and bases if money already appropriated needs to be augmented for this purpose (the merchants of death, I mean contractors, can pay their own way home from the windfall profits they’ve made in Iraq).
Furthermore, as a down-payment on the enormous debt we owe the people of Iraq and our veterans, the money that otherwise would go to continue the occupation (and Bush is expected to ask for well over $100 billion more for this year alone, on top of the more than $600 billion already spent over the last five years) should instead be appropriated for an interim United Nations or Arab League peacekeeping force (if the leaders of various Iraqi factions agree it is needed), reconstruction of Iraq’s devastated infrastructure and economy, and greatly enhanced health care and other benefits for our returning veterans. Besides being the right thing to do, peace is cheaper than war.
Unfortunately, it looks like a war funding bill will be put forward by the Democratic “leadership,” so we need senators to step up and lead a filibuster, which would require only 41 senators to sustain.
Many allegedly anti-war Democrats, including some who voted against the war (unlike Senator Clinton of course) in 2002, have voted to appropriate every penny for the war and occupation of Iraq, cowed by Bush , Cheney and the Republicans’ smear that they would be “abandoning the troops” if they vote against war funding.
My advice on dealing with this despicable political blackmail is to get over it. Senators, you know how to do photo ops - stand on a flag-draped stage in front of the Iwo Jima statue with leaders from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, the Appeal for Redress (comprised of active duty military personnel who oppose the war) and retired generals and military officials to announce you are ending funding for the occupation, and dare Bush, Cheney and the chicken hawks to call you abandoners of the troops. C’mon, you can do it!
My main purpose is to end the occupation of Iraq, not to get Democrats elected to the White House or Congress, but it’s no-brainingly obvious that in this case, with a historically unpopular president, a solid majority of the country against the war, and a presumptive Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, who thinks it would be fine if our troops remained in Iraq for 100 years (!), good policy is also good politics. Obama and Clinton should be tripping over each other running to the well of the Senate to announce they will filibuster to end funding for the war. The first to get there would doubtless become president in a landslide. It would be easy political ju jitsu –make Bush, McCain and others defend their indefensible desire to perpetuate an endless, bottomless (money-wise) occupation, instead of your having to defend doing the right thing, ending it.
Senators, get your act together. March 19 will mark the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Iraqi people, our troops and their families can’t wait another year, or longer, to end this calamitous occupation. And seriously, wouldn’t you rather have this problem resolved before one of you becomes president?
Many Troops Would Stay In Iraq If A Democrat Wins.
by Yochi J. Dreazen
WASHINGTON -- Despite the rhetoric of the Democratic presidential candidates, significant numbers of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq regardless who wins in November.
In their final push to win the nomination, Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York are repeating their vow to start withdrawing U.S. forces shortly after taking office. But both candidates draw a distinction between "combat" troops, whom they want to withdraw, and "noncombat" troops, who will stay to battle terrorists, protect the U.S. civilian presence and possibly train and mentor Iraqi security forces.
Conducting such missions would likely require the sustained deployment of tens of thousands of American military personnel, foreign-policy advisers from both campaigns acknowledge.
"No one is talking about getting to zero," said a foreign-policy adviser to Sen. Obama.
The upshot: When voters go to the polls in November, they will face a stark choice about the future direction of the Iraq war, but they won't be able bring American involvement to a quick end.
Republican front-runner Sen. John McCain was an early and vocal advocate of the Bush administration's troop "surge," which deployed an additional 30,000 combat troops to Iraq as part of a broader shift to a counterinsurgency strategy.
If elected, Sen. McCain has said that he would maintain the current approach, which focuses on protecting Iraq's population by having small units of American troops live in neighborhoods and towns. That would mean keeping U.S. troop levels at or near 130,000, roughly the number deployed there since the start of the war in 2003.
The two Democratic candidates, by contrast, want to abandon the counterinsurgency approach. Both say they will begin withdrawing combat troops shortly after taking office and will shift the remaining U.S. forces to a more limited mission that won't include explicitly trying to deter Iranian activity within Iraq or moving against Shiite militias responsible for much of the country's carnage.
Sen. Obama, on his Web site, says that the drawdowns would begin "immediately" and continue at a pace of one to two brigades -- which each normally number between 3,500 and 4,500 troops -- per month. He hopes to have all combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months of taking office, or by the middle of 2010.
Obama foreign-policy adviser Dennis McDonough says the Democratic front-runner wants the residual U.S. forces to focus on counterterrorism -- largely directed against al Qaeda in Iraq, the homegrown extremist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians -- and protecting the enormous U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Mr. McDonough says Sen. Obama is open to leaving additional forces in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi security forces, but only if the Iraqi government takes steps to reconcile the country's sectarian groups. Absent such progress, Sen. Obama would halt the training effort, he said. "Our support wouldn't be open-ended," said Bill Burton, a spokesman for Sen. Obama.
Mr. McDonough declined to say how many troops Sen. Obama hoped to have in Iraq after the initial 16 months of withdrawals. But another senior adviser said that Mr. Obama was comfortable with a long-term U.S. troop presence of around five brigades, which -- depending on the numbers of support troops and other personnel -- would likely leave around 35,000 troops in Iraq.
Sen. Clinton takes a similar approach and promises to begin withdrawing combat troops within 60 days of assuming the presidency. Lee Feinstein, the Clinton campaign's national security director, says "the principal focus" of the remaining U.S. forces will be fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq.
U.S. forces would no longer patrol Iraqi streets and towns or seek to prevent sectarian strife between Shiites and Sunnis, or between Arabs and Kurds, he said. "Our troops will not be there to patrol a civil war," Mr. Feinstein said.
Mr. Feinstein declined to say how many troops Sen. Clinton wanted to leave in Iraq, but said that they would be there "in sufficient numbers to carry out the more limited set of missions."
Iraq war 'caused slowdown in the US'.
by Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent
THE Iraq war has cost the US 50-60 times more than the Bush administration predicted and was a central cause of the sub-prime banking crisis threatening the world economy, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
The former World Bank vice-president yesterday said the war had, so far, cost the US something like $US3trillion ($3.3 trillion) compared with the $US50-$US60-billion predicted in 2003.
Australia also faced a real bill much greater than the $2.2billion in military spending reported last week by Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston, Professor Stiglitz said, pointing to higher oil prices and other indirect costs of the wars.
Professor Stiglitz told the Chatham House think tank in London that the Bush White House was currently estimating the cost of the war at about $US500 billion, but that figure massively understated things such as the medical and welfare costs of US military servicemen.
The war was now the second-most expensive in US history after World War II and the second-longest after Vietnam, he said.
The spending on Iraq was a hidden cause of the current credit crunch because the US central bank responded to the massive financial drain of the war by flooding the American economy with cheap credit.
"The regulators were looking the other way and money was being lent to anybody this side of a life-support system," he said.
That led to a housing bubble and a consumption boom, and the fallout was plunging the US economy into recession and saddling the next US president with the biggest budget deficit in history, he said.
Professor Stiglitz, an academic at the Columbia Business School and a former economic adviser to president Bill Clinton, said a further $US500 billion was going to be spent on the fighting in the next two years and that could have been used more effectively to improve the security and quality of life of Americans and the rest of the world.
The money being spent on the war each week would be enough to wipe out illiteracy around the world, he said.
Just a few days' funding would be enough to provide health insurance for US children who were not covered, he said.
Counting Iraqi Casualties and a Media Controversy.
by John Tirman
The author commissioned the "Lancet" study recently attacked in a National Journal report and by the Wall Street Journal. He calls the criticism a "hatchet job," fraudulent or based on innuendo..
(February 14, 2008) -- (Commentary) One puzzling aspect of the news media’s coverage of the Iraq war is their squeamish treatment of Iraqi casualties. The scale of fatalities and wounded is a difficult number to calculate, but its importance should be obvious. Yet, apart from some rare and sporadic attention to mortality figures, the topic is virtually absent from the airwaves and news pages of America. This absence leaves the field to gross misunderstandings, ideological agendas, and political vendettas.
The upshot is that the American public—and U.S. policy makers, for that matter—are badly informed on a vital dimension of the war effort.
As an academic interested in the war’s violence, I commissioned a household survey in October 2005 to gauge mortality, and I naturally turned to the best professionals available—the Johns Hopkins University epidemiologists who had conducted such surveys before in Iraq, Congo, and elsewhere. Their survey of 1,850 households resulted in a shocking number: 600,000 dead by violence in the first 40 months of the war. The survey was extensively peer reviewed and published in the British medical journal, the Lancet, in October 2006.
The findings caused a ripple of interest (in part because President Bush, during a press conference, called the results “not credible”) and stirred a very lively debate among the few people interested in the methods. By and large, however, the survey passed from public view fairly quickly, and the news media continued to cite the very low numbers produced by the Iraq Body Count, a U.K.-based NGO that counts civilian deaths through English-language newspaper reports.
Reporters say Baghdad too dangerous
by David Morgan
WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Nearly 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit, despite a recent drop in violence attributed to the build-up of U.S. forces, a poll released on Wednesday said.
The survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed that many U.S. journalists believe coverage has painted too rosy a picture of the conflict.
A separate Pew poll released on Tuesday showed that 48 percent of Americans believe the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going very or fairly well, up from 34 percent in June, amid signs of declining Iraqi civilian casualties and progress against Islamist militants such as al Qaeda in Iraq. But most journalists said they believe violence and the threat of violence
have increased during their tenures.
Much of the danger for journalists is faced by local Iraqis, who often do most of the reporting outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, the data showed.
Fifty-eight percent of U.S. news organizations have had local Iraqi staff killed or kidnapped within the past year, the survey said. About two-thirds of news outlets said local staff face physical or verbal threats at least several times a month.
"Above all, the journalists -- most of them veteran war correspondents -- describe conditions in Iraq as the most perilous they have ever encountered, and this above everything else is influencing the reporting," the authors said in a report that accompanied the data. At least 122 journalists and 41 media support staff have been killed in Iraq
since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists says. About 85 percent of those killed were Iraqis. Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism surveyed 111 journalists who have worked in Iraq for 29 news organizations, all but one of them U.S.- based. The poll was conducted Sept. 28 through Nov. 7, Pew said.
Monday, the Pentagon acknowledged a long-unspoken truth: that the bombardment of civilian neighborhoods in Iraq is an integral part of the vaunted "counterinsurgency" doctrine of Gen. David Petraeus. The number of airstrikes in the conquered land has risen fivefold since George W. Bush escalated the war in January, as USA Today reports:
"Coalition forces launched 1,140 airstrikes in the first nine months of this year compared with 229 in all of last year, according to military statistics ... In Iraq, the temporary increase of 30,000 U.S. troops ordered by President Bush in January has led to the increase in bombing missions. The U.S. command has moved forces off large bases and into neighborhoods and has launched several large offensives aimed at al-Qaeda ... 'You end up having that many more opportunities for close air support,' said Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen Mueller, director of the Combined Air Operations Center in Doha, Qatar."
Leaving aside the undigested lump of pure propaganda spewed up by the reporter -- "al-Qaeda" has not been the sole or even the main target of the "offensives" launched into civilian areas -- the military stats reveal the growing centrality of airstrikes in Iraq. What's more, these figures do not include attacks by helicopter gunships, whose fearsome destructive power rivals that of any bomb or missile.
The results of this deliberate strategy have been entirely predictable and deeply horrific: Innocent civilians chewed to pieces by blast force and metal. Innocent civilians dispossessed of homes, cars, goods, all means of survival. Innocent civilians turned into bitter enemies of the United States, as they bury their young, their old, their most beloved ones.
It was a pleasant weekend for those of us who have been against the Iraq War from the beginning. The Washington Post had an article on the bitterness and regrets of those in the Bush administration who concocted and ran the war and have now left. Some of them have nightmares. Nothing like the nightmares of the prisoners of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo or the Black Sites, but hey, a few nightmares are progress. Maybe they will have more, and then they will have mental breakdowns and they can experience electroshock therapy -- that would be a nice payback for them.
In the New York Times magazine, there was an article about Kanan Makiya, an exiled Iraqi scholar who was a big cheerleader for the war, and who seems to have given Bush and Cheney a rationale that they could use as a cover for their real motives. At the end of the article, there's an interesting interview with Ali Allawi, who was the Minister of Finance in the Iraqi transitional government in 2005 and into 2006. Allawi was opposed to the war, but went to Iraq to try and put Humpty back together again. He failed.
And, of course, there's Blackwater. Whoops. Americans have recently gotten a good look at our very own right wing death squad (paid for by us to the tune of 445,000 per soldier, per year), and we know there are more RWDSs where that one came from. And I loved the headline of David "the Pig" Brooks' op-ed in last week's Times, "The Republican Collapse" -- is there a lovelier phrase? I used to send letters to David Brooks asking when the New York Times was going to fire him. He never responded.
About 3000 peaceful demonstrators assembled on Saturday, September 29, 2007 at the plaza adjacent to
the Everson Museum of Art in downtown Syracuse to express their anti-Iraq war sentiments with signs, songs, speeches and their massed bodies. It was the largest demonstration in Syracuse since the days of anti-Vietnam war protests.
PEACE ACTION set up an information table in a prominent place with printed bandanas and signs for sale at reasonable prices to an eager crowd. The printing offered phrases that reiterated PEACE ACTION’s anti nuclear, anti war positions. It was a warm sunny day and the bottled water that we offered free to any and all was gratefully accepted. Recycling bins were used to make sure that we were environmentally responsible.
The PEACE ACTION site was staffed by Jean Kessner, Carol Berrigan and Pat Waelder, new Board members. Jerry Lotierzo gathered all the material in preparation and Jean brought it to the plaza. Cheryl Wertz, the newly appointed executive director of PEACE ACTION NEW YORK STATE joined us.
It was a day of meeting many old friends, veterans of similar demonstrations over the years. It was also a day to make new young friends in the cause of peace. Grey heads and bright youthful heads mingled in the crowd. Buses came in from Rochester, Binghamton , Albany, Boston and New York City, with an Ithaca contingent as well.
The large crowd filled the plaza from noon until nearly 2:30 p.m. Then the demonstrators assembled
Four to six abreast and marched from the Everson up Harrison Street to Walnut Park on the Syracuse University campus for a closing assembly. In the evening, three noted speakers including Scot Ritter, former UN weapons inspector, gave presentations to an audience in Hendricks Chapel. Ritter was particularly critical of the recent Petraeus report justifying the “surge.”
This outstanding demonstration was co-sponsored by the Syracuse Peace Council and the Service Employees Union 119. Arrangements before, during and after were exemplary. A police presence was there to help facilitate this peaceful important demonstration of our first Amendment rights in action. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to witness our commitment to PEACE ACTION.
A one-day guide to war supporters and their enablers
As war cheerleaders and their enablers lay the groundwork for the glorious testimony of Gen. Petraeus, it is hard to recall a day so suffuse with war propaganda. Reviewing just a few selected samples illustrates how fact-free is the campaign to prolong this war. And the activities of today provide a very vivid guide for identifying those most responsible for launching this war and enabling its endless continuation, and for understanding how they behave.
Let us begin with left-wing, liberal war opponent Michael O'Hanlon, who today finds a home to write about the war in National Review -- long renown for publishing the works of anti-war liberals like O'Hanlon -- alongside Fred Kagan, Mark Steyn, Byron York and John Boehner. O'Hanlon, as usual, predicates his argument on the homage he pays to Gen. Petraeus, declaring in the first sentence: "General Petraeus is a straight shooter who does not and will not cook the books."
Citing his fellow surge advocate, NYT "reporter" Michael Gordon (who, in turn, featured O'Hanlon as his principal "expert" in his pro-war front page article this weekend), O'Hanlon argues:
Petraeus will argue that the overall situation has improved substantially this year. He will be right to do so, based on virtually any primary-source data I have seen.
Identically, John McCain and Joe Lieberman said in a Wall St. Journal Op-Ed today that it is "undeniable" that "facts on the ground in Iraq have improved."
Perhaps O'Hanlon, McCain and Lieberman have not "seen" this "primary-source data":
Seven out of 10 Iraqis believe the U.S. troop buildup in Baghdad and Anbar province has made security worse in those areas, and nearly as many say their own lives are going badly, according to a new poll conducted by ABC News, the British Broadcasting Corp., and the Japanese broadcaster NHK.
Bi-Partisan Letter to President Bush -- Ask
Jim Walsh to Sign On!
by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ)
The original letter was sent on July 19 with 70 signatures, an updated version with added signatures will be sent to the president in September.
July 19, 2007
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to inform you that we will only support appropriating additional funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq
during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office.
More than 3,600 of our brave soldiers have died in Iraq. More than 26,000 have been seriously wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or injured in the hostilities and more than 4 million have been displaced from their homes.
Furthermore, this conflict has degenerated into a sectarian civil war and U.S. taxpayers have paid more than $500 billion, despite assurances that you and your key advisors gave our nation at the time you ordered the invasion in March, 2003 that this military intervention would cost far less and be paid from Iraqi oil revenues.
We agree with a clear and growing majority of the American people who are opposed to continued, open-ended U.S. military operations in Iraq, and believe it is unwise and unacceptable for you to continue to unilaterally impose these staggering costs and
the soaring debt on Americans currently and for generations to come.
70 Democratic and Republican members of Congress
Action: Download this letter and mail/email it to Jim Walsh to sign on.
by Juan Cole President of the Global Americana Institute
A Government Accounting Office report has found that the Iraqi government has not met 13 of 18 benchmarks set by the US Congress. The report was leaked before it could be doctored by the Bush administration, which promptly denounced it and pledged to . . . doctor it.
Another thing that could be said is that of the 18 congressional benchmarks some are frankly trivial. The trivial ones are the only ones met.
I personally find the controversy about Iraq in Washington to be bizarre. Are they really arguing about whether the situation is improving? I mean, you have the Night of the Living Dead over there. People lack potable water, cholera has broken out even in the good areas, a third of people are hungry, a doubling of the internally displaced to at least 1.1 million, and a million pilgrims dispersed just this week by militia infighting in a supposedly safe all-Shiite area.
The government has all but collapsed, with even the formerly cooperative sections of the Sunni Arab political class withdrawing in a snit (much less more Sunni Arabs being brought in from the cold). The parliament hasn't actually passed any legislation to speak of and often cannot get a quorum. Corruption is endemic. The weapons we give the Iraqi army are often sold off to the insurgency. Some of our development aid goes to them, too.
The CNN/YouTube debate exposed a fault line among the candidates on the issue of residual troops.
It was the political equivalent of the sighting of a unicorn. In the midst of Monday night's YouTube debate, there emerged that fabled rarity: a vigorous and relevant policy debate among the Democratic presidential contenders over Iraq. Forgotten for a moment was the temptation to play for applause lines by simply excoriating the Bush administration or loudly bellowing that Congress had to miraculously conjure up the missing Republican votes to change the president's policies.
The issue that exposed these Democratic divisions was, in essence, what should a new Democratic president do about the Iraq war? The fault line Monday night was primarily between Bill Richardson ("I believe we should bring all the troops home ... in six months with no residual forces") and Chris Dodd on one side, and Joe Biden ("There is not a single military man in this audience who will tell this senator that he can get the troops out in six months") and Hillary Clinton ("Joe is right") on the other.
It has nearly been five years since the congressional vote authorizing Bush to wage war in Iraq -- and the arguments over that 2002 decision (among presidential contenders only Barack Obama from the sidelines and Dennis Kucinich in the House opposed it) have grown stale with constant repetition. Far more potentially relevant in choosing a new president is the future-oriented question, what now in Iraq? -- assuming that the next president will inherit from Bush something like the current Mesopotamian mess.
April 2004, the first major US attack on Fallujah. Pentagon film footage.
Video of war crimes committed by the Bush Regime in Iraq. Not for the faint of heart.
Flash is required to view this video. If video does not load, click to install.
No more GWOT, House committee decrees.
by Rick Maze
The House Armed Services Committee is banishing the global war on terror from the 2008 defense budget.
This is not because the war has been won, lost or even called off, but because the committee’s Democratic leadership doesn’t like the phrase.
A memo for the committee staff, circulated March 27, says the 2008 bill and its accompanying explanatory report that will set defense policy should be specific about military operations and “avoid using colloquialisms.”
The “global war on terror,” a phrase first used by President Bush shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., should not be used, according to the memo. Also banned is the phrase the “long war,” which military officials began using last year as a way of acknowledging that military operations against terrorist states and organizations would not be wrapped up in a few years.
Committee staff members are told in the memo to use specific references to specific operations instead of the Bush administration’s catch phrases. The memo, written by Staff Director Erin Conaton, provides examples of acceptable phrases, such as “the war in Iraq,” the “war in Afghanistan, “operations in the Horn of Africa” or “ongoing military operations throughout the world.”
“There was no political intent in doing this,” said a Democratic aide who asked not to be identified. “We were just trying to avoid catch phrases.”
Josh Holly, a spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, the committee’s former chairman and now its senior Republican, said Republicans “were not consulted” about the change.
Committee aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said dropping or reducing references to the global war on terror could have many purposes, including an effort to be more precise about military operations, but also has a political element involving a disagreement over whether the war in Iraq is part of the effort to combat terrorism or is actually a distraction from fighting terrorists.
House Democratic leaders who have been pushing for an Iraq withdrawal timetable have talked about the need to get combat troops out of Iraq so they can be deployed against terrorists in other parts of the world, while Republicans have said that Iraq is part of the front line in the war on terror. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., the armed services committee chairman, has been among those who have complained that having the military tied up with Iraq operations has reduced its capacity to respond to more pressing problems, like tracking down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.