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Who lost Iraq?

Iraq was never really ours to lose, so the blame game going on in Washington and London is really some kind of a farce. If you really want to know what happened that brought us to today’s disintegration of the country, just take a good long look at this article in Vanity Fair by David Rose which appeared in 2009:

The game was up in 2004 when people like Paul Wolfowitz were more interested in “proper channels” and his personal view of Iraqi Sunnis as “Nazis” in ignorance of who they actually were or their circumstances.  Reading the article again brings back the anger at the total stupidity of what happened in disbanding Saddam’s  army, and allowing the shias to bring in Iran back in 2004.

In truth, Iraq was lost before the war ever started in all the lies told in order to get our soldiers there.  The fact that the war was illegal has never been accepted by those who supported the effort, even when that support came from so-called “humanitarian” concerns.  Now these same people want us to make the same mistakes all over again, putting our military noses in one way or another into what has become a regional sectarian war between the various sects of Islam.  We have absolutely no business getting involved again.

They want us to do air strikes.  On what?   And on whom?  All airstrikes have accomplished in that part of the world is chaos and more chaos.  Look at Libya and Iraq.  What earthly good did any of those strikes ever do?  More drones to kill more civilians and innocent bystanders?  Now wouldn’t that just make us more popular!

Decision time

It’s coming soon now.  Next week we will have the votes in Congress that determine to a large extent whether the US attacks Syria or not.  The administration has certainly been trying its best to stir up support both at home and abroad without a great deal of success.  The media seems to be behind Senator McCain’s pro-war, pro-rebel stand to a great extent, but the larger public keeps saying, “no”.  Little of the mainstream media is skeptical of this possible effort, and the reports that cast doubt on Administration propaganda are mostly ignored.  If the President decided to  wait for a Congressional decision, he doesn’t seem to have wanted to use it to change his mind, which I hoped for at one point.  This morning’s New York Times talks of air raids by US and French planes as well as the missiles to “degrade” Assad’s ability even more.  That would mean even more civilian casualties, death, and destruction than there has been already.  I fail to see how such a plan would deter the Assad regime from the path it is already on.  If it is true, that the regime feels itself as backed into a dire corner between life and death, as I believe it does, it is bound to choose its own survival by whatever means.  Nothing much that the West can do aside from wiping the slate clean as in Iraq, will have much effect.  All sides in this fight have been incredibly brutal, and to pick one as the incarnation of evil is to misread the people involved and the facts on the ground.

The article also contains this statement:

“They are being pulled in two different directions,” a senior foreign official involved in the discussions said Thursday. “The worst outcome would be to come out of this bruising battle with Congress and conduct a military action that made little difference.”

I think that’s what’s likely to happen anyway, no matter what John McCain and the hawks say. The President has not seemed to want another war, and has tried to reassure people about no boots on the ground.   That doesn’t mean he can’t be dragged into more agression.  Once begun, military action of any kind has been rather self-perpetuating.  If the military action makes little difference, it might cause an uproar here at home among the war party, but it will not change the ultimate outcome in Syria, even if there are cries for more attacks.  The Syrians themselves have to sort out what is to become of them.  Whoever or whatever caused the deaths by poison gas, our entry into a local civil war will not change the ultimate resolution on the ground.  Morality has nothing to do with this other than as a propaganda tool.

Nothing we did in Iraq turned the country into that shining example of democracy that President Bush promised.  It only served to make most Iraqis detest us for the foreseeable future.

New Year’s thoughts

I can’t say the usual New Year greeting. I just don’t see that much to be happy about when looking around the world right now. Neither at home, nor overseas. There was a lot of upbeat talk this morning about the “deal” made between Biden and the Senate. The problem is, there is no way that deal is going to be swallowed by the House radicals. The media were selling relief, but I don’t see it. The fateful line will be crossed, and the country will probably suffer another “recession”.

Maybe some good will come of Israel’s relaxation of restrictions on Gazans, but I suspect the gesture is a sop to the more liberal parts of Israeli society ahead of the election coming up this month. However, the ability to bring in more food, building materials, etc. for awhile could improve the lives of the Gazans a bit, without changing any of the major land issues.

Syria is still taking itself apart thanks to the stubbornness of its ruling elite. Hundreds of people are being killed daily; more are fleeing or trying to.

In Iraq more are being killed pretty much on a daily basis by bombs and bullets – an example of America’s inability to remake any country in what we fantasize as our image. Afghanistan will go the same way. All we do is create failed states.

Now, it is another day, and the House of Representatives surprised me. Even though the Deal puts off the serious questions people are asking about debts and taxes, we learned that Republicans can be scared enough to agree to a deal they hate.

Afghanistan will probably get left in the lurch, regardless of all the Obama talk of staying to help train. Some in the military seem finally to be getting the message that we aren’t wanted there and don’t know how to help.

The only place I see hope is in some musicians around the world like these:

They cheer the heart and remind us all that there can be spontaneous beauty and joy in the world. Just looking at the faces in the square with the children conducting and others participating in the singing remind me that Beethoven’s music is for everyone forever, and that maybe there’s hope afterall.

The Military Point of View

There was an article in the NYT yesterday (9.23) on Iraq, which appears to be critical of the Obama Administrations’s efforts to end the military presence in Iraq:  “In US Exit From Iraq, Failed Efforts of Americas Last Months in Iraq”.  It’s an excerpt from a book due out next week called the “Endgame: The inside story of the struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama” by Michael Gordon, the NYT reporter and retired Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainer.  The timing is suspiciously political.  It’s even a 2nd printing.  Didn’t attract enough attention the first time?


Vice President Biden comes off as naive and foolish, and Obama himself is criticized for coming late to the negotiations as well as botching them.  It seems to me that the situation on the ground had already been thoroughly botched by the Bush Administration beyond the point of the rescue of the so-called American interests.


The article is written mostly from the military point of view.  The military never wanted to leave Iraq, even under George W. The military never wants to give up on an operation, even when there is no choice as in Vietnam. It dragged its feet in Iraq, and now it’s dragging its feet again in Afghanistan. 


George & Co. had already made such a mess of things by the time Obama arrived in office that there was not much that could be done to create that chimera of the “balanced, stable democracy”.  It was the American post colonial policy of divide and conquer under the Provisional Authority that set the stage for all the struggles that followed, including the civil war and Maliki’s slide toward authoritarian rule.  The American government never learned much about Iraqis and Iraq all the time they were present in the country.  They only saw their own point of view, their wants, their needs.  No one ever asked the Iraqis what they wanted until the elections were forced on them in 2005, and then the arrangements were pretty much rigged to favor the Shia continuing the sectarian divide.  The Bush administration was never able to get Maliki to agree to leaving some soldiers in Iraq because it would have had to go through parliament which wanted all Americans out of Iraq.  What influence the Americans had was pretty much gone by the time the Bush administration was gone and Obama came in.


To attempt to blame Obama for the mess we left in Iraq is to have some kind of political agenda that ignores history and the present facts on the ground.  There was no way they were going to undo what George & Co. had created.  It will take time and a lot of hard work on the part of the Iraqis to come out of the chaos that followed the invasion.  We here at home should be extremely wary of those who think our military can do everything.  They can’t, as we have found to our sorrow in both Iraq and Afghanistan.


A more accurate analysis can be found in Michael Schwartz’s “War without End: The Iraq War in Context”.  Just because it’s a political season doesn’t mean that newspaper articles should be irresponsible.

Is this where we’re going?

I came across a quote today while I was thinking about Republican lies and distortions and Hermann Goering, Hitler’s propaganda minister. Considering the person who said it, I find it ironic and frightening that this is what we’ve come to. Oh yes, the quote:

“Fascism should rightly be called corporatism as it is a merger of state and corporate power–Benito Mussolini “Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.”
–Theodore Roosevelt, April 19, 1906

As far as I can tell, we today should see this speech by Teddy Roosevelt as holding up a verbal mirror of where we have arrived in the US once again (Perhaps we never left it). The present day liars running on the Republican ticket have sold their souls to corporation money, and if they win, are quite likely to impose on us a form of corporatism not unlike fascism. There are no longer those in the media who care enough about truth to expose the lies and distortions. I have a hard time believing that Mitt Romney believes in much of anything, in spite of his obvious support of Mormonism. The same thought I have to apply to Ryan, who speaks on thing and does the opposite.

Is it possible that Chris Hedges is right and that revolution is all that’s left for ordinary people? Is there a Teddy Roosevelt who will speak for us?

On another subject, Greg Muttitt has a great piece at TomDispatch, “Mission Accomplished for Big Oil?” Speaking of ironies, this has to be one, and those Iraqis who’ve been saying for years that they were better off with Saddam may well have been right. It is painful to think that no one in power anywhere is thinking about how to help the Iraqis help themselves. It’s no wonder that the bombs keep going off.

US Debt to Iraq

2 days ago, this article appeared on Al-Jazeera English.  What we did to Fallujah should bring shame to every American who cares about something more than himself or herself.  The rate of birth defects resulting from our use of phosphorous and “depleted” uranium is astounding.  The photos of the affected children are heart wrenching.  Cleft palates can be repaired, but the rest of the deformities and other defects cannot.  According to the article many babies die after 20 days of so-called life.  You have to wonder how many other people have been affected in different ways by the revenge assaults on Fallujah.  What we did there was much worse than what Saddam did further north to the Kurds with his chemical weapons.

The debt we owe to people is enormous.  Instead of playing games with Maliki we should be making efforts to clean up the mess we made and to care for the affected people.  Unfortunately, because Fallujah is in a Sunni area, and Sunnis lost their battle with the Shia in the civil war that we so carefully arranged for with Bush’s misguided policies, nothing much will be done, and the damage will last for generations to come.

I hope that Dr. Alani’s research and findings will be published widely and that the West will do what it can to help, but things don’t look very promising right now.  Think about this:

As of December 21, Alani, who has worked at the hospital since 1997, told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009. Just eight days later when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.

Here’s is another shocking finding:

Dr Alani visited Japan recently, where she met with Japanese doctors who study birth defect rates they believe related to radiation from the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

She was told birth defect incidence rates there are between 1-2 per cent. Alani’s log of cases of birth defects amounts to a rate of 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah, more than 14 times the rate in the affected areas of Japan.

I don’t think that any kind of status in the world that the US claims (like “Sole SuperPower”) entitles it to use weapons that have been declared illegal under international agreements and to disregard the lives of those who remain behind in the war torn areas we have abandoned. Obama needs to send the Iraqis an Ambassador with some clout in Washington, and stop worrying about “terrorists”. Please read the full article.