Monday, June 26, 2006

...and what if...

Not enough to be food for thought, but it's a nibble, right?
Rove reads the polls and sees that everyone wants out troops brought home, magically, in October, We WON! YAY! Half (of the recently increased number) of our troops are coming home! If they get enough polish on the turd and it lasts long enough, they might be able to retain control of the Congress.
Don't be fooled. It's not over, 50-60 000 troops permanently stationed around Iraq backed by an Air War for who knows how long. That's not Peace.
Don't accept anything they try to sell you at face value.

Well now, isn't this special

So, last week asking for a timetable or a plan to end the occupation of Iraq was considered treason by the Thugs and their wingnut chorus in Congress. Blood&Guts Frist was calling Kerry and Murtha and all the other sane folks Cowards. All over the Republican bench there were hoots of "waving the white flag" et cetera.
Today, NPR informs me that no less than Gen. George Casey, our top guy in this mess, has suggested exactly the same thing, a timetable for withdrawal of our forces.
And amazingly, he is in agreement with the new Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki.
Of course, polls taken in Iraq, in our Army and across America show that 80% of our troops think this thing should be ended ASAP, 85% of Iraqis agree and so do 60% of Americans. The Democratic "Leadership" is slowly waking up to find that the rank and file are way out ahead of them and they'll have to run to catch up.
With one notable exception. Joe Lie berman thinks it's OK to sacrifice more young Americans for a non-realistic goal. He uses the words Premature Withdrawal. Does that mean that he has seen the plan?
Joe, I got news for ya, till you show US the planned withdrawal date, we have to assume that there is no such thing (inevitable, yes, planned, no). So stop calling it Premature, in fact, stop talking, in fact, RETIRE.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Bottom Line of a Deadline

So we can't bring the troops home NOW, right this minute.
Just technically, it would not be possible to evacuate 135 000 troops and sundry civilians (and God knows how many mercenaries) this afternoon.
Politically it is also not gonna happen with the GOPigs in charge of all three branches. The wingnuts have ramped the rhetoric up to the point where they can't climb down. Hell, they think things are going well in Iraq, why leave now? Anyone that questions the misAdministration's "plan" (that no-one will enumerate publicly) is branded a traitor and trashed in the media.
But the reality is that we will eventually leave Iraq. The questions are: When and How?

Scenario 1: We build huge military bases around Iraq including one in Baghdad that we call an embassy. 50 to 60 thousand of our troops are based there permanently and only travel from one base to another in heavy convoy, everywhere else is injun terrrrrrtory. Our bases would be in a constant state of siege, the insurgency growing to eventually include the entire population and foreign fighters recruited worldwide. Our Ambassador dictates to the Iraqi "Government" what it's policy is, making sure to keep tight control on the oil spigots.
This is the scenario most likely to bring on large scale terrorism, particularly here in the US, on the idea of hitting US here so we will stop hitting them over there.

Scenario 2:
As November draws near and the GOPigs prospects look grim, Rove needs a new war, Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice decide to take out Iran's nuclear facilities with bunker-buster nukes. The entire world reacts in horror. The US is embargoed even by England. No-one will sell US a drop of Oil. Foreign Investors call their paper and won't or can't buy our debt. Our Navy is denied ports of call and our Airforce denied overflight and landing rights. 135 000 troops in Iraq are suddenly faced with, not just 20 000 insurgents they face today, but better than half the 30 million Iraqi people. Pinned down, outnumbered 1000:1, no fuel, no airlift, no troop ships, we'd be lucky to extract half of our troops alive, nevermind all the equipment we would leave behind. (that equipment, like the stuff we were forced to leave behind in VietNam, would become the basis for whatever militant force organizes out of the effort to expel America from Iraq, and like VietNam then goes on to raise Hell in the region for a decade.)
The economic collapse in this country resulting from embargo would bring about a second revolution in America. Removing the Thugs from office will be the only way that the rest of the world will start to alleviate the pressure. Putting them on trial (if they survive the removal) for their crimes against humanity will be the condition under which we can rejoin the civilized world.

Scenario 3: We set a timetable for withdrawal starting now with all of our forces out of Iraq by January of 2007 or July 2007 at the latest. That puts the political leaders of Iraq on notice as to when they will be responsible for running their country, that is: true sovereignty. It gives them a timetable to plan their transition on. We redeploy our troops, mostly home, some to Kuwait, some to Turkey. What happens next is up to the Iraqi people. It could be an intensification of the threeway (or fiveway or sixway) civil war that is already underway. It could be partitioning, with or without "ethnic cleansing". It could actually work out to a secular federal democracy (highly unlikely) or it could become some form of Theocracy. Whatever happens, it will not be helped by our intervention, we've already intervened far too much.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Cut the Jargon

Stop for a minute and think.
The slogans are flying thick and fast: Stay the course, cut and run, finish the job... But they don't clarify things. How about a little de-jargonning, hmmm?
Finish the job. We've heard this meme coming on for a year now. What job? What are we employed at? What are we building? I mean really, not some fantasy about Jeffersonian Christian Democracy flowering across SouthWest Asia. That ain't happening. If the Occupation is the Job, you finish it by bringing your troops home.
An alternate phrasing is Complete the Mission. What's the mission? Every reason that was spouted for invading and occupying Iraq has been specious. The plans that many people suspect: permanent bases, puppet government, US control of Oil and Gas production, have been categorically denied by the misAdministration. But they have never put forward a plan or set a goal that was genuine. And Congress has handed over more than $300 000 000 000, that's three hundred BILLION dollars, no benchmarks, no strings, no timetable. Where is all our money going? Wasn't this going to be the "Accountability Administration"? Of course, Arthur Anderson was still a respectable accounting firm when Bush was appointed.
So if there is no plan, no agreed upon goal, there is no Job to finish.
Stay the course has become the ChickenHawks' rallying cry.

The course of the Occupation has been terrible, 2500 US troops killed, 35-40 000 more injured, untold thousands of Iraqis, most of them civilians, dead and over one million wounded. Life was tough in Iraq before Shock&Awe, now it's worse. Over 1000 people turn up in Bagdhad's morgue every week. No one is safe on the streets, services like water, sewer and electricity are intermittent or not working at all and women have lost any rights they had as Hardline Clerics exert control. This course we are on is unsustainable and the last stretch of it could be right down the same Highway to Hell where Gen. McCaffrey slaughtered retreating Iraqi forces in OilWar1, since that would be our only way out to the troopships. Dunkirk, anyone?
But what of this Cut and Run business? The Thugs and their enablers are spraying that term all over anyone that questions our engagement. To cut and run was a desperate maneuver in Fleet operations where one side is caught at anchor by the other side and set upon with warships. You cut your anchorlines to get underway immediately, the better to position your ships for the onslaught and then take the fight to the raiders. It has nothing to do with retreat or surrender, it actually means quickly Turn and Fight. Maybe they thought they heard Cut Your Losses and couldn't bring themselves to admit that there are losses.
So to anyone that says Finish the Job, ask What Job?
There is no mission to accomplish, it's time to cut our losses.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's called Occupation

Our one remaining local independent daily newspaper ran a question for readers this week:

"President Bush feels optimistic about Iraqis securing their nation and setting up a functioning government. How do you feel about the war?"

I don't know if they will print this:

The pResident thought Brownie was doing a great job, he reads people's souls by looking in their eyes. Clearly, George W Bush is off his rocker. He thinks God talks to him and he decides with his gut.
But let's pick this apart regardless.
How do you feel about the war?
The War is over. We Won! Two and a half years ago, remember? Mission Accomplished? There are no more WMDs threatening US from Iraq, nope. And that bad man, Saddam, he's out. And we got his sons, too. So that's done. We Won, Yay!
So why didn't our troops come home? Why are our kids still getting killed and maimed? What are we doing over there?
It's called Occupation.
...Iraqis securing their nation
To Occupy is to take hold of; to make use of; to take up room or space.
In otherwords, to seize and hold. We invaded their country, blew it to bits, looted it's treasure and set up a puppet government that pleases no-one. Now we patrol the streets in armed and armored convoys, looking to all the world like conquerors in our new colony.
Add in the religious element; The majority of Iraq is Muslim, like most of SouthWest Asia. Bush has loudly declared his Christianity and so have many of the people around him, including several Generals. We are seen as Crusaders, Bush even used the word. In Arab culture, there are few words more charged. Religious zealots across the Muslim world use our occupation as a rallying cry and some foreign fighters are drawn to the chaos. A whole new generation of Jihadists are being trained in Iraq now. Our occupation has increased world terrorism and introduced it to Iraq where it hadn't been before.
Occupied people fight back. It's asymmetrical warfare, we hid behind stonewalls dressed like farmers, sniping, while the Redcoats came in rows and columns, the US forces have tanks and cruise missiles, the resistance has IEDs and abductions. Anyone that works for the Americans or their puppet government are collaborators, that is, fair game. Anyone that gets too close to our patrols or moves too fast can end up blasted to swiss cheese by our overwhelmed troops.
As long as our troops are there, they will be a destabilizing force and ready targets, close at hand.
From an Iraqi point of view, securing their nation means first expelling our troops.
...and setting up a functioning government
Unfortunately, our invasion and occupation has set off a civil war along three large faultlines, each fractured by divisions within. Peace is not likely to come soon to Mesopotamia. The idea that we could impose democracy, at gunpoint, on people that have lost so much ground in the past two decades was delusional from the start. It will be quite interesting to see what forms of government emerge from the rubble after we've left.
Meanwhile, we are constructing a massively fortified palace in Baghdad and a dozen other huge military bases around the country, most notably in the oil producing regions. Bush and the Chickenhawks refuse to even consider a timetable for withdrawal because they don't plan to leave. They keep mumbling "Complete the Mission" and "Finish the Job" but they have never honestly answered what the mission is.
If their plan is, as they have recently stated, to keep upwards of 50 000 troops incountry for many years, occupying these bases and that would be to manipulate the local government, to control the flow of oil and natural gas from that region, that plan is also delusional. The vast majority of Iraqis want US to be gone yesterday, another three, five, ten, years of grinding occupation and the insurgents won't be hiding among the civilians, the civilians will all be insurgents.
We, the People of the United States must exercise our democracy and rein in our out-of-control executive. We must establish a date for an orderly end of the occupation and stick to it. The People of Iraq will create a real government of their own only after we butt out.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Razzle-Dazzle Distract-a-Rama!

Here we go again.

What's the most important issue that America is grappling with? OK, what're the top ten? Gay marriage on the list? I didn't think so.

So why are the pResident and leaders in Congress going on and on about it? Even when they know that they can't gather enough votes to pass a constitutional ban, why tie up Congress and suck up all the media time on this loser of an issue?

Does the word "Haditha" mean anything to you? Or Estate Tax elimination, the Paris Hilton Tax Cuts?

Keeping the media focused on an issue that energizes Bush's Wacko Base serves several purposes, none of them good for US.

There is a mid-term election coming up. If the Democrats retake the Congress, the thugs on Pennsylvania Avenue will lose the bulletproof cover that the GOP Congress has given them. Once the Thugs no longer control the Congressional Agenda, some Democrats might, might find enough courage and decency to prevent further atrocities in our name. There are even Democrats running on ~Gasp~ Impeachment!

So turn up the noise machine, bring out the wingnuts, it's a Karl Rove Extravaganza!

More immediately, there is a move in the Senate to make the temporary reduction in Estate taxes not just permanent, but to eliminate them altogether. Really great for the top half-of-1%, really bad for all of the rest of US. We have a record deficit already, due to reckless tax cuts and even more reckless wars, we've cut Medicare, Medicaid, Pell grants and a pile of other programs that help poor and middle-class people as a result of those deficits, now they want to make sure Paris Hilton receives all of her billions of dollars in inheritance and not a penny less.

But if they weren't screeching about gay marriage, maybe the media would be covering this shameless robbery of the poor by the rich.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, the massacre of 24 civilians at Haditha by US Marines is only the tip of the Iceburg. American forces have been killing civilians since Shock & Awe. In fact, Poppy Bush's Oil War1 and the sanctions that followed had already killed half a million Iraqis before W and Vice let loose. This entire enterprise has been an atrocity and now it's coming out.

So crank up the distract-o-matic, Karl, gotta hold on 'til the pardons at the end.

Monday, June 05, 2006

What's needed is some symmetry

How can you start negotiations with anyone by insisting on your final goal as a precondition? Seems to be the standard method for the Right-Wing.
We won't even start to talk to Iran about their nuclear program until they prove that they've dismantled it. Why would anyone play along with that? They give away the only chip they have at the start, for what? They have no incentive to negotiate.
Same thing, little different in Israel.
After 38 years of illegal occupation, the Palestinian People elected Hamas to form a government out of the Palestinian Authority. The US and Israel immediately moved to choke Palestine economically and strategically, freezing assets and disrupting aid flows, closing the border crossings and stepping up air assaults. As a precondition to talks, we are insisting that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, lay down weapons and turn over Hamas officials that Israel calls terrorists. Unilaterally. Before any negotiation begins.
To comply with those pre-conditions would be political suicide for Hamas and damn bad bargaining. Once they have given Israel everything they want, there is very little else that Hamas could negotiate for and no incentive for Israel to negotiate.
What's needed is some symmetry: If Israel wants Hamas to renounce violence and disarm, then Israel must do the same. If Israel wants a "right of return" for Jews around the world, many of whom have never been near Israel, then it must recognize the right of return for Palestinians driven from their land over the last sixty years. If Israel wants to try Hamas officials as terrorists then they must turn over the Israelis that have terrorized the Palestinians for the past sixty years, that would be most of Likud, including Sharon, Ulmert, Netanyahu, Mofaz and a host of military brass that have ordered and/or stood by and watched while Palestinians have been slaughtered from Sabra and Chatila to Ramalla and Gaza.