You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Iraq’ tag.
I’ve only had time to skim the articles. The link was e-mailed to me this morning. Basically Mother Jones is examining the “out of Iraq now” position of many anti-war activists from practical and moral basis in symposium format. It presents six challenges for anti-war activists to consider, including a number of post-evacuation scenarios.
From the intro:
There are no good options in Iraq, but the options narrow to the horrific the longer our leaders dawdle. Bush seems content—whether out of delusional optimism or cynical “strategery”—to run out the clock and stick the next administration with this mess; only 5 percent of Americans expect him to do otherwise. And the Democrats are playing the other side of the same game—content to let the GOP go down with its man.
So what is to be done? First and foremost, anyone running for or holding national office must be forced to answer these questions: What’s your schedule for withdrawal, and what consequences do you foresee? Which comes first—withdrawal, a functioning Iraqi government, or a solid international peacekeeping force? What concessions would you make to get Iraq’s neighbors to help? What degree of bloodshed are you prepared to stand by and watch?
We put such questions to five dozen military men, think-tankers, peace activists, academics, and politicians. Some of their responses follow, and we’ll post the full interviews online, along with a list of those who refused to respond—including the architects of the war, leading presidential candidates, and the congressional leadership. Some, it should be noted, begged off because they were taking a summer break, even as Iraqi politicians were being criticized for doing the same. We hope that if we can’t force them to reckon with reality, you can. As General Zinni notes, “the government is us. We made promises and commitments. The administration proposed the war; Congress—the voice of the people—authorized it; we are responsible for it. We can’t claim, ‘I didn’t vote for him in the first place’ or ‘I changed my mind.’ There has to be some sort of obligation that falls to us as a society for what our government does in our name.”
I suggest that before posters from any side of the debate start spouting off rote rhetoric, pat answers, and sound bites that maybe you actually read some of the material first?
Just a suggestion.
Apparently the Iraqi government has a Blackwater incident on tape. And there are allegations of other incidents as well.
Khalaf also said the ministry was looking into six other fatal shootings involving the Moyock, N.C.-based company in which 10 Iraqis were killed and 15 wounded. Among the shootings was one Feb. 7 outside Iraqi state television in Baghdad that killed three building guards.
“These six cases will support the case against Blackwater, because they show that it has a criminal record,” Khalaf said.
Khalaf said the report was “sent to the judiciary” although he would not specify whether that amounted to filing of criminal charges. Under Iraqi law, an investigating judge reviews criminal complaints and decides whether there is enough evidence for a trial.
So, exactly when did the media concede the exchange of the term “contractor” for “mercenary?”
But if you want to consider the upside, the government action against Blackwater does indicate that at least some elements of the government are independent. I’ll be curious to see how the administration plays this.
According to this blogger, where I got the above photo of Blackwater operatives, the “contractors” exceed the number of troops in Iraq. That seems incredible to me, but then we have no way of knowing for sure. Obviously we won’t have any statistics on their deaths, and probably not the harm they inflict. If you remember the Fallujah incident from a few years back, war supporters slammed anybody who asked whether they might have done anything to provoke such a reaction from the mob who lynched them. It seemed like “blaming the victim,” but there haven’t been comparable actions against regular soldiers.
Meanwhile, the Nation has a partial transcript of Jeremy Scahill’s testimony before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. It begins as follows:
My name is Jeremy Scahill. I am an investigative reporter for The Nation magazine and the author of the book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. I have spent the better part of the past several years researching the phenomenon of privatized warfare and the increasing involvement of the private sector in the support and waging of US wars. During the course of my investigations, I have interviewed scores of sources, filed many Freedom of Information Act requests, obtained government contracts and private company documents of firms operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. When asked, I have attempted to share the results of my investigations, including documents obtained through FOIA and other processes, with members of Congress and other journalists.
Update: Apparently, the Iraqi government has been pleading with ours to do something about Blackwater for some time. The US-drawn regulations don’t allow the Iraqi authorities to do anything about them. And they aren’t regulated by the US military system. They are literally above and outside the law. Can’t be touched.
Second Update: Meanwhile, Condoleeza Rice and the Iraqi president pretty much avoided each other at the UN.
I don’t have time for commentary right now, not much anyway. I’m wondering if there are enough gullible people to fall for another “Mission Accomplished” PR play. I read in the hard print of the Press Democrat this morning that 1/3 of the American people remaining convinced that Hussein was involved in the 911 attacks and 42 percent believing that the Bush administration has made that claim (the power of weasel wording). I’ll try to find that link. Meanwhile, here are some others.
Petraeus did say that he doesn’t know if the Iraq war makes us safer.
A notable irony – it was the Republicans who asked the toughest questions yesterday? But will they vote tough. Doubt it.
The Daily Show coverage was absolutely hilarious last night. You can catch the rebroadcast tonight at 8:00 if you have cable, or you can see part of it on the web. But the web streams usually only include the first portion, and you’ll miss a great piece on the brief history of Bush’s ever changing definitions of “success” in Iraq, culminating in the claim that hoping for an end to suicide bombers is colluding with the enemy by placing and undue burden on the war effort.
MoveOn’s “General Betrayus” ad is drawing fire, even from friends. but Stephen Colbert nailed them for the lack of wit! I mean, if you’re going to get yourself into political trouble for a sarcastic quip – make sure it’s funny!
I’ll post some more links later.
Addendum: This article discusses what was left out of yesterday’s report.
Yesterday there was an attack on US military HQ.
I received in e-mail with a link to an English version of IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) news report of a large anti-occupation rally in Bagdad.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis held a massive demonstration against the American forces’ savage raids on the peaceful parts of Baghdad Monday morning. According to IRIB correspondent in Baghdad, the demonstrators began their protest in Baghdad’s Sadr city from early morning by chanting anti-occupation slogans. While holding Iraqi flags, boards condemning the presence of occupiers and pictures of the martyred Iraqi civilians, demonstrators chanted slogans against America, the Zionist regime and all the occupiers and condemned the raid by the American forces on the secure Shia-settled areas of Baghdad and the air raid on Sadr city.
The protest was the greatest popular demonstration in Baghdad in the last two months.
Can’t find any mention of the demonstration, ostensibly organized by Shiites, in any other media. The prose is obviously not objective, but even if there weren’t “tens of thousands” of demonstrators, shouldn’t there be some report of a demonstration for the Iranians to exagerrate? It does suggest a collusion on the part of the media, although similar demonstrations in the past have been used by administration apologists to argue that peaceful demonstrations indicate stability and progress.
The photo, ostensibly of the apparently invisible demonstration, is from the IRIB article.
Meanwhile, the Guardian is reporting that fights between Kurdish rebels and the Iranian military have spilled into Iraq.
The Kurdish group (Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan or PJAK) is interesting. Nearly half the fighters are female. It is closely allied to the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has been designated a “terrorist organization” by the State Department, although some in the anti-war movement have suggested that these quasi-Marxist groups are part of a CIA effort to destabilize Iran, or at least in cooperation thereof. The PJAK does operate relatively freely in Kurdish Iraq. The PJAK also has its eyes set on portions of Syria, and, yes, Turkey.
Addendum: a reader sent me links to some additional coverage of yesterday’s demonstration, including this story.
From Just Foreign Policy:
The number is shocking and sobering.
It is at least 10 times greater than most estimates cited in the US media, yet it is based on the only scientifically valid study of violent Iraqi deaths caused by the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003.
That study, published in prestigious medical journal The Lancet, estimated that over 600,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion as of July 2006. Iraqis have continued to be killed since then. The graphic above provides a rough daily update of this number based on a rate of increase derived from the Iraq Body Count. (See the complete explanation.)
And from my left wing friend, who sent me the link:
Don’ t bother trying to refute the idiots with a counter-study.
Just ask them to cite a single article or report from the last four years that shows 2740 Iraqi deaths in one day, which would be the average daily toll if a million Iraqis have been killed.
If 2740 have been killed day in and day out, every day, for four straight years, there must be at least one published report somewhere.
Okay, I know this is going to generate some angry anonymous responses. Eric Kirk is a DLC operative. He’s a Zionist. He’s a lawyer. He doesn’t listen to the Dixie Chicks.
Well, the anti-war movement can’t afford to lose any more credibility. Despite the fact that everyone on the planet now opposes the war in Iraq except for a handful of hardcores, precious few of the pols up for election in 08 for any position are taking a firm stand. The nut case conspiracy theories don’t help. Associations with a coalition run by a sectarian group which embraces a repressive xenophobic nation which believes that its leader is immortal doesn’t help. The bad arithmetic won’t help either. There are plenty of facts to justify opposition to the war. We don’t have to make them up.
Addendum: Somebody posted the following. I guess we all should watch our arithmetic.
Your buddy needs to get his math right …1,000,000 over four years is 685 a day. Still sounds high to me.
Second addendum: This post got linked over at Daily Kos. I don’t have time to get into a long discussion over there, but it’s interesting to learn that I actually an a DLC member. I really think the left should have some requirements for membership, including a literature class in which you learn about irony.
Sooner or later this was bound to happen, as the blogging medium ascended in clout. And obviously, some of the more culturally and politically repressive regimes are in the Middle East. Thanks to Cristina Bauss for sending me this link. What I find interesting is that it took as long as it did (the crackdown, not Cristina’s e-mail).
In the two years since he started writing political commentary on his Web site, Syrian blogger Ammar Abdulhamid has called President Bashar Assad a thug, a dictator, Mr. Bean, the village idiot and Fredo Corleone—the bumbling mob-family brother from “The Godfather.” A 41-year-old novelist and the son of Syria’s most-celebrated screen actress, Abdulhamid wants Assad’s regime replaced by an elected government. Like hundreds of other dissidents in the Arab world, he began blogging with bluntness during a brief window of liberalization that opened after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But geography sets him apart: Abdulhamid writes from his home outside Washington, D.C., having been forced into exile by the Syrian government in 2005. In recent months, he has watched as regimes from Tunisia to Iran jailed bloggers and intimidated others into ditching their keyboards. Now he’s working with another Arab blogger to establish a group to protect the dissenters. “If the regimes are allowed to shut us out of the blogosphere, we have nothing left,” he tells NEWSWEEK.
Obviously bloggers here won’t be jailed for the most part. But if the government wants to shut the medium down it can repeal the immunity for website owners who allow public comments it has granted, which in light of veiled threats such as those on this very blog could pretty much put an end to it. I suppose there are those who believe it would be for the better.
For those who’ve encouraged me to ban anonymous blogging, certainly we can agree that it does have certain virtues?
Just a note slightly off topic, check out this sentence which appears late in the the article:
By the time regimes took notice, the pressure to liberalize coming from Washington had waned, a result of the crisis the Bush administration faced in Iraq.
So much for the notion of the Iraq war as being fought for freedom in the Middle East.
Last week I received a telephone call from someone who frequents this site asking me if there were any local (Eureka) plans for a demonstration on Memorial Day – when national protests are supposedly being planned. I’ve asked around, and nobody seems to know. War Resisters League doesn’t have anything about the national protests. ANSWER has the usual weekday protests which exclude 95% of the population who have to work.
Anybody have any info? If there are indeed protests planned for this weekend, the organizers are doing a terrible job promoting them.
Meanwhile, the other side held it’s “Surrender is not an Option Day” (I wasn’t aware that it was being proposed!) yesterday. 5 anti-surrender folk showed up at Rep. Thompson’s office to give him white feathers and surrender flags.
Man, Thompson’s getting it from all sides, isn’t he?
I’ve been wondering why Paul E. and the other civilly disobedient folk haven’t been harassing some of the militant war supporters, like the guy representing the district over the hills to our east.
Thanks to Fred for bringing my attention to the pro-war protest.
Image is from Wikipedia which has an interesting timeline of anti-Iraq war protests.
Addendum: The “peace weenies” were right.
So says Jonathon Ashbach in another stay-the-course letter today’s Eureka Reporter. He says that Democrats and the media are missing the story of progress. Schools are opening. People are shopping. And the bad guys aren’t always getting away with murder.
Brig. Gen. John Campbell comments, “For every explosive device that goes off, there are four of five that are stopped. For every person you find murdered, you don’t hear about the four of five kidnap victims that were recovered.”
That means of course that the war is four or five times as expansive as reported. I remember making the same argument with my mother when she complained about my messy bedroom – “how come I never get credit for the days I do clean my room?!” Of course, being the pinko she was, she wasn’t persuaded.
Some claim that the surge is just more of the same and that adding more troops won’t be effective. That is contradicted by the fact that violence dropped drastically in Baghdad as the troop increase began. It has rebounded, but not to former levels. Also, in Diyala province, where troop strength has greatly decreased in some areas, violence has risen.
You’d think a guy who quotes War and Peace (see below) would have read some history on guerrilla warfare by now. It reminds me of the arguments during the Vietnam war – things weren’t so bad because we were winning all the battles. Of course, as every violent radical from Che Guevara to Mao has written, holding territory and winning battles is of very little concern to any guerrilla campaign. They have one goal in mind and one only – kill Americans. And if you can’t get at them, get at their sympathizers.
Then with no apparent irony, he quotes a military figure from Tolstoy.
In “War and Peace,” Gen. Kutuzov notes, “It’s not very difficult to take a fortress: What is difficult is to win a campaign. And for that it’s not storming and attacking that are wanted, but patience and time.”
Kutusov presided over the Russian side of the Battle of Borodino which, gee, was such a moment of triumph in the history of humanity. He could afford to lose the battle (and 40 thousand men). He had the Russian winter to fall back upon. The problem in Iraq is that time is on the side of the insurgency, not the occupation.
The Battle of Borodino by Peter Von Hess courtesy of Wikipedia, linked above.
Addendum: Carson Park Ranger posted some remarks.
Look, I oppose the war. And this gentleman’s piece doesn’t change my mind about it. But whether you agree with his take on the broader issues of the war, what is contained in the piece is an appeal to war opponents to take some care in their rhetoric. Activists would do well to think about Mr. Finlay when selecting their slogans and argument. For that matter, what would you say to the family of the woman he describes.
I just got back from a mission where we came upon a dead body in the middle of the road. Not a big deal, happens quite often, usually a middle-age man. But this time was different. She had her hands tied up behind her and had been tortured. She had the skin on her entire face ripped off. She had her pants pulled halfway down and her top ripped off.
She looked like she was American — whether she was or not. She looked barely 21. Worst of all, we were forced to leave her in the middle of the road with a pack of dogs eating at her dead body …
Driving away from her in the middle of the road was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I don’t feel like a soldier is supposed to feel tonight because of the events that took place. It hurts too bad even to cry.
Okay. Certainly the victims of the death squads organized by the “good guys” don’t look any better. You can come up with a thousand responses. Earlier today in response to Andy Stunich arguing that most Iraqis are probably grateful for the invasion (or were at one point anyway), I responded that the same may be true for dozens of other countries. But would I make the argument personally to a torture victim of Hussein’s? Or somebody whose entire family “disappeared” under the regime? As controversial as it may be with some of my fellow war opponents, I do believe that most Iraqis are better off than they were under Hussein, even with the existing chaos. And I do also believe that it’s beside the point in terms of justifying the invasion. But in speaking to a Hussein regime victim, I probably wouldn’t bother to argue the point, which would seem cold or at minimum hyper-intellectual. Maybe I would. I’d play it by ear.
But in no case would I ever tell them, nor any soldier, nor any family of a victim or soldier, that the soldier “died for nothing.” Whether the war is wrong, the soldiers did not die for nothing. At minimum, they died for an idea or a hope. And hopefully for more.
I do note that Mr. Finlay is allowed to speak his support for the war. Any of his fellow soldiers who might disagree is not free to voice that dissension.
Oh, I started to read the comments attached to the Times-Standard piece. The first two posts, one on each side of the issue of the war, were very disappointing and completely missed the point. I didn’t bother to read beyond them. But in it’s 50 plus years of existence, I would hope that the peace movement has collectively learned better. Unfortunately, even with like 60 percent war opposition, the peace movement appears to be blowing it.
Dan Froomkin writes about it for the Washington Post. Some highlights:
It seems almost inconceivable: The White House actually invites the press corps to hold it accountable — but when the time comes, and a key benchmark is missed, the press is silent.
And yet that’s exactly what has happened.
Back in January, when President Bush announced that in spite of the public opinion against the war in Iraq he was going to send in more troops, he repeatedly insisted that what was different this time was that the Iraqis were finally serious about stepping up.
“You’re going to have to — you’re going to have some opportunities to judge very quickly,” one senior administration official said at an official background briefing on January 10, a few hours before Bush’s prime-time announcement.
“The Iraqis are going to have three brigades within Baghdad within a little more than a month. They have committed to trying to get one brigade in, I think, by the first of February, and two more by the 15th,” the official said.
As the columnist goes on to describe, the 1st and the 15th came and left, with the promises found wanting. And the press is still asleep.