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Cost of the War in Iraq
War affects everyone, not just those directly involved in the fighting.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
-- President Dwight D. Eisenhower April 16, 1953
"Let's pretend this [electric] plug is 'Iraq' and you're trying to connect it to the 'War on Terror,' which is this avocado. You can do it, but here's the problem: the avocado still doesn't turn on. And now your plug is covered in guacamole."
||Body armor might have made the difference. Click here to see why it was not available to US troops in Iraq.
When pro-war advocates talk about Iraq these days, what they say is not only misguided and false, but almost always incoherent. In explaining why we ought to stay, they are reduced to a form of babbling that sounds almost adolescent -- like a petulant teenager who wishes so badly for something that they just stomp their feet and insist that they are going to have it. Here is the very serious, responsible, straight-talking national security guardian John McCain, "explaining" his view of Iraq to Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about an area where we've all been involved, you especially, in talking about Iraq and how we can win this war or deal with it. You've called, just in the last couple of days, for 100,000 more troops on top of the 140,000 we have as a compliment there.
When I read that on the clips this morning, I went to General Barry McCaffrey, whom you know so well, and he said we've got only a total of 19 brigades that we could actually put into combat right now. We have 17 committed, two of those brigades to Afghanistan, 15 brigades already in Iraq. He says we simply don't have the capability to sustain another 100,000 troops in Iraq. You disagree?
MCCAIN: I said we need 100,000 more ...
MCCAIN: ...members of the Marines and the Army. We need additional troops there, but I think we need to expand the Army and the Marine Corps by 100,000 people.
MATTHEWS: More recruitment.
MCCAIN: I didn't say we need 100,000 -- more recruitment. And by the way, I'm sure that people in this audience know the members—many members of the Iowa National Guard. They have served with courage, with bravery, with sacrifice and enormously wonderful performance. But it's a heavy strain on the Guard.
MATTHEWS: Would they please stand up? I know we have some here. Would the people of the National Guard of Iowa please just stand up nonofficially here? Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you for your service.
MCCAIN: Some of these young people have been to Afghanistan or Iraq two or three times already. We have put an enormous strain on them. They have performed magnificently, but we can't keep it up. We've got to expand the Marines. . . .
MATTHEWS: But why isn't it working? I mean, so few people here— we've got a couple of thousand of young people here, and a very, very small percentage have expressed a commitment, even by standing here. Doesn't that mean we might have to think of the draft again?
MCCAIN: I don't think we need to think of the draft again because I don't think it makes sense in a whole variety of ways. But I guarantee you, if these young people felt that this nation was in a crisis and we asked them to serve, virtually every one of them would stand up because I have the greatest confidence in the young people of America.
So, to recap McCain's position: (1) in order to win in Iraq, we need to expand our military by 100,000 more troops; (2) we don't have anywhere near 100,000 troops to send to Iraq, and nobody suggests that we do; (3) a draft is absolutely unnecessary.
I don't think McCain even knows what to say about Iraq at this point -- the Straight Talker refuses admit that it was wrong because he was one of the loudest cheerleaders for it, but there are also plainly no viable options to change what is occurring -- so all he does is babble incoherently about it. As best I can tell, his position is that we need 100,000 more troops to win, and that young Americans one day are going to realize this and there will be a spontaneous and massive wave of volunteers eager to go to Iraq and fight in combat there because they will realize -- like McCain and the President do -- just how Very Important it is that we win.
So we'll just wait until that happens. But the first test of McCain's Grand Plan wasn't very auspicious. Matthews and McCain were appearing before an audience of college students at Iowa State University, and after McCain unveiled his grand serious Plan for Victory -- relying on spontaneous bursts of volunteers for combat in Iraq -- Matthews asked those in the audience who supported the war in Iraq to stand up. Large numbers of them bravely stood in support of the War. Matthews then asked those who plan to join the military to fight in Iraq to stand up. A tiny fraction of them did. Matthews then observed:
MATTHEWS: All you people standing up are planning to participate in the war in some way? Really? Everybody here.
MCCAIN: Thank you very much, my friends.
MATTHEWS: Because I asked a minute ago how many were going to join the military. I wonder what your participation would involve.
MCCAIN: Chris, your bias is starting to show. . . .
MATTHEWS: I want the people that are standing up. Somebody yell out why are you standing if you're not joining the military. OK, you were one of those. Keep going, anybody else? Of course, look at all the people in the back. I asked before if anybody was joining the military. And now you're standing up in support of the war but not in terms of a plan to actually participate in a war. I don't get the connection. Would somebody explain it?
McCain complained that Matthews' line of questioning meant that his "bias is starting to show." Apparently, if one demonstrates that McCain's Plan for Victory is based on absurd fantasy, that is "biased." A reporter should only sit by and heap praise on McCain as the responsible, serious Leader that he is. ..."
The Bush Administration is perhaps the most unnerving, duplicitous band of pirates to ever occupy the White House.
Most likely, it will be decades before the full magnitude of evasiveness and paranoia is known concerning how this Administration initiates policy. The Bush people have punished assistants who have become whistle blowers from its very beginning. It fired the photographer who took the picture featured in my new TV spot because it adequately frames the reality of the Bush occupation of Iraq. The American People deserve a representative who will expose surreptitious conduct by its government, whether done in my district or outside of it. And you can help me do it by submitting my action page to call for our troops to start coming home now.
-- CHARLES SANDERS
U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq
Administration Is Shedding 'Unreality' That Dominated Invasion, Official Says
By Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 14, 2005; A01
"The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.
The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.
"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded
on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion.
"We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding
the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
... the realities of daily life are a constant reminder of how the initial U.S.
ambitions have not been fulfilled in ways that Americans and Iraqis once anticipated.
Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity for days in 120-degree heat.
Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping children indoors.
Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent.
... "We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic," said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. "That process is being repeated all over."
... "We are definitely cutting corners and lowering our ambitions in democracy building," said Larry Diamond, a Stanford University democracy expert who worked with the U.S. occupation government and wrote the book "Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq."
... On security, the administration originally expected the U.S.-led coalition to be welcomed with rice and rosewater, traditional Arab greetings, with only a limited reaction from loyalists of ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. The surprising scope of the insurgency and influx of foreign fighters has forced Washington to repeatedly lower expectations -- about the time-frame for quelling the insurgency and creating an effective and cohesive Iraqi force capable of stepping in, U.S. officials said.
Killings of members of the Iraqi security force have tripled since January. Iraq's ministry of health estimates that bombings and other attacks have killed 4,000 civilians in Baghdad since Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari's interim government took office April 28.
... "We've said we won't leave a day before it's necessary. But necessary is the key word -- necessary for them or for us? When we finally depart, it will probably be for us," a U.S. official said.
... Pressed by the cost of fighting an escalating insurgency, U.S. expectations for rebuilding Iraq -- and its $20 billion investment -- have fallen the farthest, current and former officials say.
... Water is also a "tough, tough" situation in a desert country, said a U.S. official in Baghdad familiar with reconstruction issues. Pumping stations depend on electricity, and engineers now say the system has hundreds of thousands of leaks.
"The most thoroughly dashed expectation was the ability to build a robust self-sustaining economy. We're nowhere near that. State industries, electricity are all below what they were before we got there," said Wayne White, former head of the State Department's Iraq intelligence team who is now at the Middle East Institute. "The administration says Saddam ran down the country. But most damage was from looting [after the invasion], which took down state industries, large private manufacturing, the national electric" system.
Ironically, White said, the initial ambitions may have complicated the U.S. mission: "In order to get out earlier, expectations are going to have to be lower, even much lower. The higher your expectation, the longer you have to stay. Getting out is going to be a more important consideration than the original goals were. They were unrealistic."
Toilet-gate: The Difference Between Newsweek and George W. Bush
Newsweek relied on faulty intelligence to write a magazine article. George W. Bush relied on faulty intelligence to start a war which has cost over $200 billion, and which has taken the lives of over 1600 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis.
-- Bill Press quoted in the Huffington Post
The Note: The New Abnormal, 12 May 2005
The following is from ABC's The Note, which is written by Mark Halperin, a former Republican speech-writer. I haven't noticed him being particularly left-leaning ....
"We say with all the genuine apolitical and non-partisan human concern that we can muster that
the death and carnage in Iraq is truly staggering.
And/but we are sort of resigned to the Notion that it simply isn't going to break through to American news organizations, or, for the most part, Americans.
Democrats are so thoroughly spooked by John Kerry's loss —- and Republicans so inspired by their stay-the-course Commander in Chief —- that what is hands down the biggest story every day in the world will get almost no coverage. No conflict at home = no coverage.
Instead, think of the Bolton confirmation hearing, the Ways and Means Social Security kickoff hearing, and the evening tribute dinner for Tom DeLay (and the conservative movement) as classic Beltway set pieces, complete with (semi-)compelling casts of characters, dramatic arcs, conflicts galore, and pure unadulterated entertainment.
The Note: The New Abnormal, 12 May 2005
There have been 1,792 coalition troop deaths, 1,613 Americans, 88 Britons, 10 Bulgarians, one Dane, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Hungarian, 21 Italians, one Kazakh, one Latvian, 17 Poles, one Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians in the war in Iraq as of May 12, 2005.
At least 12,350 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon.
The question to Rumsfeld from Spc. Thomas ``Jerry'' Wilson, 31, of
Nashville, complaining that many military vehicles in Iraq are not
adequately armored, has touched off a storm of new publicity about the
The question from Wilson appeared to surprise Rumsfeld on Wednesday and
prompted cheers among the soldiers listening to him in a hangar. ``Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap
metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?'' Wilson had said.
Military affairs reporter Edward Lee Pitts, who is embedded with the 278th
Regimental Combat Team, said he worked with guardsmen after being told
reporters would not be allowed to ask Rumsfeld any questions.
Griscom said Pitts ``used the tools available to him as a journalist to
report on a story that has been and remains important to members of the
278th and those back at home.''
But the story by Pitts published Thursday about the question to Rumsfeld
made no mention of Pitts' own role.
Kelly McBride, a member of the ethics faculty at the Poynter Institute for
Media Studies, said she did not fault the reporter for getting help with
asking the question, but described the failure to include that information
with his story as ``dishonest with his readers.''
... Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita said Rumsfeld gives reporters ample
time to ask questions and that his appearance in Kuwait was for the
``Town Hall meetings are intended for soldiers to have dialogue with the
secretary of defense,'' Di Rita said. ``It would be unfortunate to discover
that anyone might have interfered with that opportunity, whatever the
Rumsfeld's response to the question about the lack of fitness of the supplies:
"It isn't a matter of money, it isn't a matter on part of the Army of desire," Rumsfeld responded. "It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, you go to war with the Army you have."
"This was a war of choice, not necessity, to be waged on our timetable, not
Saddam's," as Senator Joe Biden said in a statement. "And why is it that, 20 months
after Saddam's statue fell, our troops still don't have the protection they
need? Congress has given this administration virtually every dollar it has
asked for in Iraq."
If you are a male US citizen, you must register with the Selective Service when you turn 18.
For information about CURRENTLY in place Selective Service regulations, please see the US government website.
Basically, when there is a draft, there will BE a very limited deferral even for currently enrolled students.
And these rules ARE ARE ARE already in place.
If you would like to discuss this issue, click here to join the Teen Boots On the Ground email list.
About those 'imperfect' elections in Iraq
Thursday, September 30, 2004
By MARY ELLEN SCHOONMAKER
HOLDING ELECTIONS in Iraq in January is not as simple as the Bush administration would have us believe. Last week, President Bush and Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi insisted that progress is being made in Iraq, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and that elections will be held at the beginning of next year.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld cautions that those elections might be "imperfect." Voters in some parts of Iraq might not be able to participate because insurgents control the areas where they live. Are imperfect elections better than none, Rumsfeld asked at a recent Senate hearing. "You bet," he said.
OK, then how about holding our presidential election on Nov. 2, but not allowing voters in Texas, Alabama, and Louisiana, three solidly Republican states, to vote? Would Mr. Bush contest that election if John Kerry won? You bet.
And that's the central problem in Iraq: legitimacy. Assume for a moment that all the other major problems related to holding elections can be solved in the next three months.
On top of all this sits the problem of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis not being able to vote. The areas now controlled by insurgents include a half dozen cities in the Sunni Triangle, such as Fallujah and Ramadi, as well as Sadr City, which is controlled by those loyal to the dissident cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr City is only a section of Baghdad, but 10 percent of all Iraqis live there.
Allawi told Congress last week that 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces are so safe elections could be held tomorrow. He didn't mention that up to 25 percent of the electorate lives in the places that are not safe. And Bush administration officials admit they expect the level of violence to increase in coming weeks and months, as insurgents do everything they can to disrupt the vote.
The same day that Rumsfeld said imperfect elections were acceptable, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage contradicted him and told senators that partial elections are not a consideration. Armitage said a legitimate election "has to be open to all citizens." Otherwise, the promise of democracy that has cost thousands of Iraqi lives - as well as more than 1,000 American lives - is an empty one.
President Bush has called elections in Iraq "the most important step in our plan." No doubt tonight in the first presidential debate he will continue to insist that Iraq is on the path to freedom and that the January schedule will be met.
But the Bush administration has been wrong on just about everything else related to Iraq, and once again it is downplaying and oversimplifying the complexities of the problem. Bush's breezy assessment might win him votes in November, but it threatens to play a cruel hoax on the people of Iraq in January.
Mary Ellen Schoonmaker is a Record editorial writer. Contact her at email@example.com. Send comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"From the very beginning of the effort to sell the [Iraq] war, this has been Cheney's role.
The bipartisan commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks said it had found no evidence of a "collaborative relationship" between Hussein and the terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden. Its staff has said it had found "no credible evidence" that Iraq had cooperated with Al Qaeda in targeting the United States.
He's also "at odds with the facts". That doesn't stop him. I don't think it's an accident. I don't think it's a slip of the tongue."
To back up Cheney's claim of an Al Qaeda-Hussein "relationship," his aides point to the presence in pre-invasion Iraq of Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born militant believed to be behind much of the insurgency in postwar Iraq.
But while Zarqawi is widely thought to have had ties to Bin Laden's group — the vice president calls him "a senior Al Qaeda associate" — the extent of his links to Hussein, if any, has never been established.
The vice president's staff notes that former CIA Director George J. Tenet testified in Congress about a relationship between Hussein and Al Qaeda. And, his aides say, Cheney has been careful to not state that Hussein was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
Still, Cheney's references to an Al Qaeda-Hussein connection may obscure that distinction for many voters.
Surveys of Americans consistently have found large numbers who say Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, despite repeated declarations by a variety of investigators to the contrary. As recently as June, a Gallup Poll found that 44% said Hussein was personally tied to the terrorist strikes; 51% said he was not.
A senior Republican who served in top White House positions during the Ford and Reagan administrations cited the Gallup findings in discussing Cheney's campaign comments on Al Qaeda and Hussein. The vice president, the senior Republican said, is "talking about something that is credible with the American people, despite the intelligence. And the intelligence community is so under attack that he can say whatever he wants.
"What he gets out of it is making the case even stronger for why we went into Iraq, and it fits a pattern of what the American people want to believe," said the Republican, who requested anonymity.
Many Democrats are infuriated by what they view as an effort by Cheney to exaggerate the link between Al Qaeda and Hussein.
"This is one of his major issues. He tries to blur the lines between Al Qaeda and 9/11, and Saddam Hussein and Iraq," said Michael B. Feldman, a senior aide four years ago to Al Gore who is not active in this year's presidential race.
"From the very beginning of the effort to sell the [Iraq] war, this has been Cheney's role. He's also … at odds with the facts…. That doesn't stop him. I don't think it's an accident. I don't think it's a slip of the tongue."
Cheney 'Pushes the Envelope' on Al Qaeda-Iraq Connection
Iraq security picture
Nearly two-and-a-half months after the handover of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government, Iraqi and multi-national troops are not in control of several major cities in Iraq. Even in the capital, Baghdad, parts of the city are no-go areas for these forces.
Click on the map to read about the military and security picture around the country.
The so-called Sunni Triangle roughly bounded by Ramadi, Samarra and Baghdad has been the centre of the Sunni insurgency.
Coalition forces lost control of Falluja in April ...
Correspondents say the city is far from pacified, and insurgents seem to operate all over the city with relative ease.
Anti-government and anti-American fighters use a number of methods. Suicide bombings continue, taking a heavy civilian Iraqi toll.
In early September the US began operations in Talafar, a town which it says is a regular staging post for fighters slipping into Iraq from Syria. Local commanders are said to have lost control of the city.
And Mosul, once seen as a relative success story by the US, has faced increasing violence since the handover of power. A spate of attacks has included several car bombings, a grenade attack which killed the governor and a bombing at a church.
A city that is home to Shia Islam's most holy shrine, Najaf has seen two serious uprisings led by rebel cleric Moqtada Sadr since Saddam Hussein was deposed.
The most recent was resolved, not by the Iraqi government or by US forces, but by the intervention of Ayatollah Sistani, the most senior Iraqi Shia cleric.
Most analysts agree that the latest ceasefire leaves Mr Sadr strengthened politically and barely dented militarily. Many of his fighters are believed to have relocated back to Sadr City.
For now, Najaf and the other Shia centres of Karbala and Kut are quiet and under the control of Iraqi police.
The south of the country, controlled by Iraqi government and UK forces, is perhaps the quietest region. However, the violence in Najaf spilled over further south and the town of al-Amara continues to be a flashpoint.
UK military officials have said that in August 2004, UK forces took more casualties and fired more rounds than during any other month since the invasion of Iraq.
According to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, security in Basra itself is so precarious that UK forces are not patrolling on foot at all, and travel only in armoured vehicles.
How are we going to get out of here?
"It was always a small measure of comfort for most foreign civilians in Iraq that no matter how bad things got they could be pretty
sure to find a way out. Not anymore.
The major arteries leading to Iraq's borders, once clogged with U.S.-made SUVs
carrying journalists and diplomats and aid workers, are now no-go areas patrolled by insurgents eager to kidnap or kill any
foreigner they come across.
The safest exit strategy is to catch a flight out of Baghdad's international airport and trust that the pilot can dodge the
rockets that rebels sometimes fire at planes after takeoff. But last week just getting there was an ordeal: roadside bombs and
insurgent attacks prompted U.S. forces to twice seal off the main highway to the airport. The closures were temporary, but across Baghdad,
they added to the ineluctable sense that the city is under siege.
Behind the blast walls of housing compounds, people huddled, waited and wondered, How are we going to get out of here?"
If all [the military goals of subduing the rebellion] can be achieved -- and there's no guarantee that they can -- what will Iraq look like?
In the short run, it could wind up resembling the Administration's other exercise in nation building, Afghanistan: lawless and plagued by jihadist
insurgents, with a weak central government dependent on U.S. protection for survival.
Optimistic U.S. and Iraqi officials hope that over the course of years the country will evolve into an Arab version of Pakistan,
a fractious quasi-democracy held together by a strongman but reasonably able to defend itself.
Few Americans had such an outcome in mind when the U.S. went into Iraq last spring. But if that's the bargain required to find a way out,
there are even fewer who wouldn't take it.
Can This War Be Won?: The five goals that should be met before the U.S. leaves
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
... President Bush has been searching vainly for Osama bin Laden for three years now, so I've decided to help him out. I'm traveling through Pakistan and Afghanistan to see whether I can find Osama, bring him back in my luggage and claim that $25 million reward.
So for the last few days, I've been peering into mosques and down village wells, even under mullahs' couches. No
luck so far, but I did find something almost as interesting.
I'm talking about the arrangement under which the U.S. cuts Pakistan some slack on nuclear proliferation, in exchange
for President Pervez Musharraf's joining aggressively in the hunt for Osama - in the hope of catching him by Nov. 2.
If a nuclear weapon destroys the U.S. Capitol in coming years, it will probably be based in part on Pakistani technology.
The biggest challenge to civilization in recent years came not from Osama or Saddam Hussein but from Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of
Pakistan's atomic bomb.
Dr. Khan definitely sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, and, officials believe, to several more nations as well.
But, amazingly, eight months after Dr. Khan publicly confessed, we still don't know who the rest of his customers were.
Mr. Musharraf acknowledged as much in an interview.
"I can't say surely that we have unearthed everything that he's done, but I think we have unearthed most of what he's done," Mr. Musharraf said. ...
American intelligence experts haven't been able to interrogate Dr. Khan, and
Mr. Musharraf claims that the U.S. has not even asked to do so. "Let me put the record straight: nobody asked us to be allowed to question him," Mr. Musharraf said.
President Bush apparently did not ask for that direct access at his meeting on Wednesday with Mr. Musharraf, and it's clear that the administration is not pressing the issue. Why? Because Mr. Bush in this election season has another priority: getting Mr. Musharraf to help catch Osama.
... An interview with Senator Ahmad is a reminder that the alternatives to Mr. Musharraf could be worse: Mr. Ahmad indignantly told me that Osama had nothing to do with 9/11. He suggested that it might have been a joint operation of the U.S. government and Mossad.
So which other countries would Dr. Khan implicate if we could interrogate him?
Mr. Musharraf confirmed that the Saudi defense minister had visited Dr. Khan's laboratories a few years ago, but
he insisted that Saudi Arabia was not a nuclear customer.
Mr. Musharraf also denied that Syria was one of Dr. Khan's clients. ...
The charitable explanation for Mr. Bush's failure to get to the bottom of the Khan affair is that putting too much
pressure on Mr. Musharraf would risk his destruction in the crucible of Pakistani nationalism.
Rebuilding Hindered by Past Mistakes
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, September 25, 2004; Page A01
SAQLAWIYA, Iraq -- The police outpost here is supposed to house 90 armed members of Iraq's National Guard. Their job is to keep watch over a stretch of six-lane highway, deterring insurgents from laying roadside bombs and trying to blow up a bridge over the nearby Tharthar Canal.
But when the U.S. Marine commander responsible for the area visited the outpost this month, he found six bedraggled guardsmen on duty. None of them was patrolling. The Iraqi officer in charge was missing. And their weapons had been locked up by the Marines after a guardsman detonated a grenade inside the compound.
The unit's demise underscores the degree to which errors committed by civilian and military leaders during the 15 months of rule by the U.S.-led occupation authority continue to impede the U.S. effort to combat a vexing insurgency and rebuild Iraq's shattered government and economy. Recovering from those mistakes has become the principal challenge facing the United States in Iraq, three months after the transfer of political authority to an interim government.
"We're trying to climb out of a hole," said an official with the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity. American missteps during the occupation, the official said, "continue to haunt us."
The errors have had a major impact on almost every aspect of the U.S. agenda here, from pacifying rebel-held cities to holding elections in January to accelerating reconstruction projects. In each area, past mistakes have made it far tougher to accomplish U.S. objectives and those of Iraq's interim government.
The guardsmen in Saqlawiya, who come from the nearby city of Fallujah, were not always this pathetic. Early this year, their battalion was lauded by the U.S. military for repelling insurgent attacks on the mayor's office and police headquarters in Fallujah. They were, as one Army officer put it in March, "a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark place."
The battalion disintegrated in April because of an order by the White House and the Pentagon to have the Marines lay siege to Fallujah -- a decision top Marine officials now acknowledge was a profound mistake. As Marines advanced into the city, the guardsmen were put in an untenable position: Either flee, or join the Marines in fighting Iraqi neighbors -- and risk violent retribution. The guardsmen fled.
Not Enough Forces
In early April, as the Marines were besieging Fallujah, U.S. commanders ordered one of the first battalions of Iraq's reconstituted army to join the fight in a supporting role. The commanders figured it would provide the Iraqi soldiers with a valuable lesson. It turned out to be the other way around.
When the soldiers, who had just finished basic training, were told where they were being sent, they staged a mutiny and refused to board transport helicopters. The Iraqis told U.S. officers that they did not enlist in order to fight fellow Iraqis.
Stunned U.S. military officials tried to determine what had gone wrong. According to several commanders, they eventually concluded that it was a mistake to have a private contractor conduct basic training, a concern that had already been raised by some veteran military officers, who maintained that the military would have done a better job. Their objection was ignored by the Pentagon's civilian leadership. Once the soldiers finished boot camp, they were put under the command of U.S. officers whom they had never met.
The officials concluded later that U.S. Special Forces soldiers should have conducted the training and remained with the units during their first few missions, an approach that would have increased the likelihood of trust and confidence between the Iraqis and the Americans.
Had the training mistakes been avoided, the official said, "we would have far more options now. We could retake Fallujah. We could deal with Samarra."
Don't we get an apology?
by The Boston Globe quoted in The North Adams Transcript
Speaking to the UN General Assembly Tuesday, President Bush offered a paean to human dignity and the advance of freedom that was directed less to the heads of government and diplomats in the audience than to American voters. It was a speech truffled with his campaign themes. He came out firmly for freedom and democracy and against tyranny, corruption, and the murder of children by ruthless terrorists.
The president made no meaningful effort to stitch together again the international consensus his father had fostered in the aftermath of communism's collapse -- a consensus he has scorned from the moment he came to office. On Iraq, Bush merely reiterated the same justifications he had given in the past for toppling Saddam Hussein without authorization from the UN Security Council.
In the heat of a presidential campaign, Bush could hardly be expected to acknowledge that he failed to create international unity behind the demand that Saddam comply with 17 UN resolutions the Iraqi despot had defied. A day after being attacked by John Kerry for "colossal failures of judgment," Bush would have done himself grave political harm if he had apologized to his UN audience for going to war without forging the international coalition former secretary of state James Baker had recommended in a sage New York Times op-ed article in August 2002.
The telling truth of the address Kerry gave Monday at New York University is that Bush does owe Americans, if not an apology, then at least an honest accounting of the blunders his administration has made in Iraq. Kerry expressed a consensus shared by prominent Republicans as well as independent specialists when he told his NYU audience: "In Iraq, this administration has consistently overpromised and underperformed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance, and outright incompetence."
If Bush had wanted to tell the truth at the U.N., he would have acknowledged that his blinkered statecraft,
as Kerry put it, has "divided our friends and united our enemies."
Kerry has correctly criticized the "stubborn incompetence" that has weakened the United States and led it to the
verge of calamity in Iraq.
Release the Gloomy CIA Analysis of Iraq's Future
The occupation of Iraq is going badly. American casualties are up
dramatically. Great Britain is about to pull out a third of its
troops, and the United Nations says it will not conduct national
elections unless the security situation dramatically improves.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bush continues to assert that the U.S. has a plan
and that progress is being made.
The CIA, in a classified report produced in July, says just the
opposite, according to press reports. The American people must know
the truth about Iraq.
here to urge your senator to join
Senators McCain and Graham in
demanding that the President release the new Iraq National
Intelligence Estimate immediately.
REPORT SHOWS BUSH NEGLECTING HUNT FOR AL QAEDA
because he's diverted attention to Iraq (which had NO connection to 9/11)!
In the months after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised America he
would make the hunt for al Qaeda the number one objective of his
administration. "[We] do everything we can to chase [al Qaeda] down and
bring them to justice," Bush said. "That's a key priority, obviously, for me
and my administration." But according to a new report, the President has
dangerously underfunded and understaffed the intelligence unit charged with
tracking down al Qaeda's leader.
The New York Times reports "Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks on New
York and the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency has fewer experienced
case officers assigned to its headquarters unit dealing with Osama bin Laden
than it did at the time of the attacks." The bin Laden unit is "stretched so
thin that it relies on inexperienced officers rotated in and out every 60 to
90 days, and they leave before they know enough to be able to perform any
The revelation comes months after the Associated Press reported the Bush
"has assigned five times as many agents to investigate
Cuban embargo violations as it has to track Osama bin Laden's" financial
infrastructure. It also comes after USA Today reported that the President
shifted "resources from the bin Laden hunt to the war in Iraq" in 2002.
Specifically, Bush moved special forces tracking al Qaeda out of Afghanistan
and into Iraq war preparations. He also left the CIA "stretched badly in its
capacity to collect, translate and analyze information coming from
THE DAILY MIS-LEAD
US intelligence shows pessimism on Iraq’s future
By Douglas Jehl
”I think it is very difficult to see today how you’re going to distribute ballots in places like Falluja, and Ramadi and Najaf and other parts of the country, without having established the security,’’ Mr. Kerry said in a call-in phone call to Don Imus, the radio talk show host. “I know that the people who are supposed to run that election believe that they need a longer period of time and greater security before they can even begin to do it, and they just can’t do it at this point in time. So I’m not sure the president is being honest with the American people about that situation either at this point.’’
The situation in Iraq prompted harsh comments from Republicans and Democrats at a hearing into the shift of spending from reconstruction to security. Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, called it “exasperating for anybody look at this from any vantage point,” and Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, said of the overall lack of spending: “It’s beyond pitiful, it’s beyond embarrassing. It is now in the zone of dangerous.”
Separate from the new estimate, Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued other warnings on Wednesday about the American campaign in Iraq, saying the administration’s request to divert more than $3 billion to security from the $18.4 billion aid package of last November was a sign of trouble.
”Although we recognize these funds must not be spent unwisely,” the committee chairman, Mr. Lugar said, “the slow pace of reconstruction spending means that we are failing to fully take advantage of one of our most potent tools to influence the direction of Iraq.”
Less than $1 billion has been spent so far.
The committee’s ranking Democrat, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, one of the harshest critics of the Iraq policies, was far more outspoken. “The president has frequently described Iraq as, quote, 'the central front of the war on terror,’ “ Mr. Biden went on. “Well by that definition, success in Iraq is a key standard by which to measure the war on terror. And by that measure, I think the war on terror is in trouble.”
Green Zone is 'no longer totally secure
By James Drummond and Steve Negus in Baghdad
Published: September 15 2004 22:03 | Last updated: September 15 2004 22:03
US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security company employees.
At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US officer in charge of the zone's perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers to prevent intruders penetrating the compound's defences.
The US major said it was possible weapons or explosives had already been stashed in the zone, and warned people to move in pairs for their own safety. The Green Zone, in Baghdad's centre, is one of the most fortified US installations in Iraq. Until now, militants have not been able to penetrate it.
But insurgency has escalated this week, spreading to the centre of Baghdad. The zone is home to several thousand Iraqis, and on Sunday it came under the heaviest attack since it was established. Up to 60 unexploded rockets were found inside its perimeters after a five-hour barrage.
The Case Against George W. Bush
by Ron Reagan
Esquire September 2004 Issue
... As Bush's former Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, and his onetime "terror czar," Richard A. Clarke, have made clear, the president, with the enthusiastic encouragement of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, was contemplating action against Iraq from day one. "From the start, we were building the case against Hussein and looking at how we could take him out," O'Neill said. All they needed was an excuse. Clarke got the same impression from within the White House. Afghanistan had to be dealt with first; that's where the actual perpetrators were, after all. But the Taliban was a mere appetizer; Saddam was the entrée. (Or who knows? The soup course?) It was simply a matter of convincing the American public (and our representatives) that
war was justified.
The real - but elusive - prime mover behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, was quickly relegated to a back burner (a staff member at Fox News - the cable-TV outlet of the Bush White House - told me a year ago that mere mention of bin Laden's name was forbidden within the company, lest we be reminded that the actual bad guy remained at large) while Saddam's Iraq became International Enemy Number One. Just like that, a country whose economy had been reduced to shambles by international sanctions, whose military was less than half the size it had been when the U. S. Army rolled over it during the first Gulf war, that had extensive no-flight zones imposed on it in the north and south as well as constant aerial and satellite surveillance, and whose lethal weapons and capacity to produce such weapons had been destroyed or seriously degraded by UN inspection teams became, in Mr. Bush's words, "a threat of unique urgency" to the most powerful nation on earth.
Fanciful but terrifying scenarios were introduced: Unmanned aircraft, drones, had been built for missions targeting the U. S., Bush told the nation. "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud," National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice deadpanned to CNN. And, Bush maintained, "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists." We "know" Iraq possesses such weapons, Rumsfeld and Vice-President Cheney assured us. We even "know" where they are hidden. After several months of this mumbo jumbo, 70 percent of Americans had embraced the fantasy that Saddam destroyed the World Trade Center.
All these assertions have proved to be baseless and, we've since discovered, were regarded with skepticism by experts at the time they were made. But contrary opinions were derided, ignored, or covered up in the rush to war. Even as of this writing, Dick Cheney clings to his mad assertion that Saddam was somehow at the nexus of a worldwide terror network.
And then there was Abu Ghraib. Our "war president" may have been justified in his assumption that Americans are a warrior people. He pushed the envelope in thinking we'd be content as an occupying power, but he was sadly mistaken if he thought that ordinary Americans would tolerate an image of themselves as torturers. To be fair, the torture was meant to be secret. So were the memos justifying such treatment that had floated around the White House, Pentagon, and Justice Department for more than a year before the first photos came to light. The neocons no doubt appreciate that few of us have the stones to practice the New Warfare. Could you slip a pair of women's panties over the head of a naked, cowering stranger while forcing him to masturbate? What would you say while sodomizing him with a toilet plunger? Is keeping someone awake till he hallucinates inhumane treatment or merely "sleep management"?
Most of us know the answers to these questions, so it was incumbent upon the administration to pretend that Abu Ghraib was an aberration, not policy. Investigations, we were assured, were already under way; relevant bureaucracies would offer unstinting cooperation; the handful of miscreants would be sternly disciplined. After all, they didn't "represent the best of what America's all about." As anyone who'd watched the proceedings of the 9/11 Commission could have predicted, what followed was the usual administration strategy of stonewalling, obstruction, and obfuscation. The appointment of investigators was stalled; documents were withheld, including the full report by Major General Antonio Taguba, who headed the Army's primary investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib. A favorite moment for many featured John McCain growing apoplectic as Donald Rumsfeld and an entire table full of army brass proved unable to answer the simple question Who was in charge at Abu Ghraib?
The Bush administration no doubt had its real reasons for invading and occupying Iraq. They've simply chosen not to share them with the American public. They sought justification for ignoring the Geneva Convention and other statutes prohibiting torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners but were loath to acknowledge as much. They may have ideas worth discussing, but they don't welcome the rest of us in the conversation. They don't trust us because they don't dare expose their true agendas to the light of day. There is a surreal quality to all this: Occupation is liberation; Iraq is sovereign, but we're in control; Saddam is in Iraqi custody, but we've got him; we'll get out as soon as an elected Iraqi government asks us, but we'll be there for years to come. Which is what we counted on in the first place, only with rose
petals and easy coochie. ...
Understandably, some supporters of Mr. Bush's will believe I harbor a personal vendetta against the man, some seething resentment. One conservative commentator, based on earlier remarks I've made, has already discerned "jealousy" on my part; after all, Bush, the son of a former president, now occupies that office himself, while I, most assuredly, will not. Truth be told, I have no personal feelings for Bush at all. I hardly know him, having met him only twice, briefly and uneventfully - once during my father's presidency and once during my father's funeral. I'll acknowledge occasional annoyance at the pretense that he's somehow a clone of my father, but far from threatening, I see this more as silly and pathetic. My father, acting roles excepted, never pretended to be anyone but himself. His Republican party, furthermore, seems a far cry from the current model, with its cringing obeisance to the religious Right and its kill-anything-that-moves attack instincts. Believe it or not, I don't look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration. We have reached a critical juncture in our nation's history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don't trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them?
Fortunately, we still live in a democratic republic. The Bush team cannot expect a cabal of right-wing justices to once again deliver the White House. Come November 2, we will have a choice: We can embrace a lie, or we can restore a measure of integrity to our government. We can choose, as a bumper sticker I spotted in Seattle put it, SOMEONE ELSE FOR PRESIDENT.
Esquire September 2004 Issue
Michael Moore's Candid Camera NY Times, May 23, 2004
by FRANK RICH
"'But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose?
Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? And watch him suffer.'
-- Barbara Bush on Good Morning America, March 18, 2003
...In particular, the movie's second hour is carried by the wrenching story of Lila Lipscomb, a flag-waving, self-described "conservative Democrat" from
Mr. Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich., whose son, Sgt. Michael Pedersen, was killed in Iraq. We watch Mrs. Lipscomb, who by her own account "always hated"
antiwar protesters, come undone with grief and rage.
As her extended family gathers around her in the living room, she clutches her son's last letter
home and reads it aloud, her shaking voice and hand contrasting with his precise handwriting on lined notebook paper.
A good son, Sergeant Pedersen thanks his mother for sending "the bible and books and candy," but not before writing of the president:
'He got us out here for nothing whatsoever. I am so furious right now, Mama.'"
by Tony Parsons, Daily Mirror, 10 May 2004
"Hideously, horribly wrong. About as wrong as we could possibly be.
We should have been marching with the peaceniks, no matter how much we secretly despise them, and all their pacifist tendencies - and until the day I die I will believe that many in the peace camp would have rolled over in 1939.
But it doesn't matter why we supported the war - because we truly believed the lies our Prime Minister told us about weapons of mass
destruction, because we thought that Saddam deserved to be buried by history, or because we have a sentimental attachment to the armed forces of
this country and could not contemplate criticising our soldiers when they were fighting and dying - we were wrong.
And one day, possibly one day soon, there will be a bomb in a major British city, and innocent men, women and children will be maimed and killed, and then we will have injustices of our own to nurse, and then we will have our own burning hatreds to cultivate, and our own vengeance to claim.
... To this former supporter of the war in Iraq, it looks like the whole damn farm is rotten to the core."
Those images of abuse have hit us hard
"Imagine, just a week earlier, the Pentagon was worried about showing coffins of American soldiers coming through Dover Air Force Base. Then there was a controversy about whether "Nightline" should read the names and show photographs of 721 dead American soldiers.
Someday a case study in international public relations will ask how we lost, step by step, photo by photo, the sympathy of the world after 9/11."
--Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, May 6, 2004
"When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate. Leave aside the question of who or what failed before Sept. 11, 2001. But who lost his or her job because the president's 2003 State of the Union address gave currency to a fraud -- the story of Iraq's attempting to buy uranium in Niger? Or because the primary and only sufficient reason for waging preemptive war -- weapons of mass destruction -- was largely spurious? Or because postwar planning, from failure to anticipate the initial looting to today's insufficient force levels, has been botched? Failures are multiplying because of choices for which no one seems accountable.
by Boris Johnson Daily Telegraph 6 May 2004
The principle is: The response by the nation's government must express horror, shame and contrition proportional to the evil done to others, and the harm done to the nation, by agents of the government."
--George Will, Washington Post, Tuesday, May 11, 2004
"I was sitting in the Commons tea room last week, munching a mournful rock cake and studying the accounts of the American bombing of Fallujah. I looked at the charred Humvees, the mutilated corpses, the unnumbered dead, the wailing women and the expressions of immortal hate on the faces of the Iraqis; and perhaps unsurprisingly I found myself cast into a terrible gloom.
Just remind me, I said, turning to a colleague and friend, what is the case for this war in Iraq? You voted for it. I voted for it. We both spoke in favour of it. We both saw the merits of sticking with the Americans. We both believed that it was a good idea to get rid of Saddam.
But is there not a time when we have to admit, in all intellectual honesty, that our positions have been overwhelmed by countervailing data? How on Earth can we now defend what seems - admittedly at some distance - to be a total bloody shambles?
"Oh come off it, mate," he said, because he is not only a hawk, but has a keen and impatient mind, "don't be so wet. You want a single big argument for the war? The key point is that people are no longer being tortured in jails in Baghdad. That's what we have achieved."
It was as if the clouds had rolled back. I felt a sudden burst of optimism. "You're right!" I said, and thought how silly I had been to ignore that gigantic fact, that we had introduced new values to Iraq, of civilisation and decency.
The following day I saw the pictures from the Abu Ghraib jail.
But I have felt the extra rage of one who has been a mug. Up and down the country, I have given the same defence of the operation. "Of course Saddam never had anything to do with September 11, and of course he never had any weapons of mass destruction. But there is one powerful reason for supporting the liberation of Iraq," I say, "and that is that we rid the world of an odious tyrant, and we have made life better for the Iraqi people."
... These people seem not only to lack the faintest idea of how to bring peace to Iraq; they also seem not to understand the values - such as basic human rights - which we hoped to bring to that country. "
Some feel the coalition's reputation has suffered irreparable damage...
"They wanted to provide Iraq with a smooth transition to democracy. We couldn't just plunge them into a non-torture-based society with no time to adjust."
What do you think?
Why did we go into Iraq when we did?
Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war
Decision came nine days after 9/11
Ex-ambassador reveals discussion
by David Rose
Sunday April 4, 2004, The Observer
"President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.
According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy.
It was clear, Meyer says, 'that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions'. Elsewhere in his interview, Meyer says Blair always believed it was unlikely that Saddam would be removed from power or give up his weapons of mass destruction without a war.
Faced with this prospect of a further war, he adds, Blair 'said nothing to demur'.
Details of this extraordinary conversation will be published this week in a 25,000-word article on the path to war with Iraq in the May issue of the American magazine Vanity Fair. It provides new corroboration of the claims made last month in a book by Bush's former counter-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke, that Bush was 'obsessed' with Iraq as his principal target after 9/11.
Bush laid plans for Iraq war two months after Sept. 11, 2001
In the book, Plan of Attack, Mr Woodward writes that ... Mr Bush asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for the invasion of Iraq as early as November 2001, keeping it a secret from the CIA and his national security staff.
The Woodward book describes how on November 21 2001, halfway through the Afghan war, the president pulled his defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, aside near the White House situation room to ask about his war strategy for Iraq. When Mr Rumsfeld indicated it was outdated, Mr Bush urged him to draft a new plan, but to keep it secret, keeping the CIA director, George Tenet, out of the loop. The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was also not fully informed.
'I knew what would happen if people thought we were developing a potential war plan for Iraq,' the book quotes Mr Bush as saying in an interview two years later.
'It was such a high-stakes moment and ... it would look like that I was anxious to go to war.'
Guardian Unlimited: Iraq Special Report, 4-17-2004
In one revelation, the book says Mr Bush told his defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to draw up a war plan for Iraq as
early as November 2001. Meetings with Gen Franks and his war cabinet were held throughout the next month. Yet months later
the White House was still insisting that war was not inevitable.
The president, fearful of how the decision might play in public, kept details of the meetings secret from members of his
own cabinet, including the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. The CIA was also initially kept out of the loop.
In one of his interviews for the book, Mr Bush said it would have caused
'enormous international angst and domestic speculation' if the plans had leaked.
Gen Franks was said to have uttered 'a string of obscenities' when asked to come up with a war plan [for Iraq]
while fighting the Afghanistan conflict.
Guardian Unlimited: Iraq Special Report, 4-17-2004
Late on March 23, Gunn told his mother, Pat, that his commanders were putting pressure on him to return to Iraq, but there was no way he was getting on that plane. A few hours later, he was airborne. This week, Gunn's distraught mother, who is herself a navy veteran, received a first official response to her demands to know why a soldier, who was being treated by military doctors for combat stress, was sent back to the war.
The note, which acknowledged Gunn suffered post-traumatic stress, said: "After discussion of his case it was determined ... this may be in his best interest mentally to overcome his fear by facing it. Therefore, he has been cleared for redeployment."
Gunn is not the only broken soldier being sent to battle. The Guardian has uncovered more than a dozen instances in which ill or injured soldiers were sent to war by a US military whose resources have been stretched near to breaking point by the simultaneous fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In its investigation, the Guardian learned of soldiers who were deployed with almost wilful disregard to their medical histories, and with the most cursory physical examinations. Soldiers went to war with chronic illnesses such as coronary disease, mental illness, arthritis, diabetes and the nervous condition, Tourette's syndrome, or after undergoing recent surgery. ..."
The Price of Freedom in Iraq
How much, exactly, has the war in Iraq cost us in dollars, so far?
War: Just whose business is it anyway? By William D Hartung
... when former White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey suggested to the Wall Street Journal in September of 2002 that a US intervention in Iraq could cost about 2 percent of the US's gross domestic product - roughly $200 billion - the White House quickly dismissed his estimate. A few months later, they also dismissed Lindsey from his post as White House economic adviser.
Roughly a year and a half after Lindsey made his prediction, and less than a year into the war in Iraq, his rough guess is beginning to look like a gross underestimate of the cost of intervening in Iraq. To date, US taxpayers have committed roughly $180 billion to the buildup to war, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, and the ongoing occupation and rebuilding effort in Iraq.
That doesn't count the costs of "buying allies" through special aid and trade deals, or any projections forward of how long the US may have "boots on the ground" in Iraq. And it is unlikely in an election year that this administration will be forthcoming about future costs. It will pretend they don't exist - as with the failure to budget for war costs in the FY 2005 budget documents - or let them out in dribs and drabs, as with the recently floated $50 billion supplemental request. ...
Rendering an Account on Iraq
By Colonel Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.) | March 18, 2004
The first anniversary of the beginning of the 2003 war against Iraq is upon us.
Like good and faithful stewards, it is time for the Bush administration to give an accounting to its employer, the U.S. public. Some questions relative to the Iraq war and the period following for those entrusted with the nation's future--and honest answers from them--might include:
What has been achieved over the past year?
- Saddam Hussein's brutal, self-serving, and surprisingly incompetent regime has been removed from power. ...
- Oil production has finally been restored close to the pre-war levels, but it remains below pre-1990 levels.
- Electric power, rationed before the war and completely lost during the U.S.-UK bombardment, is back on more
than it is off.
- Schools have been rebuilt and re-opened, and hospitals are receiving medical supplies.
- At the provincial and local (town and village) levels, the Iraqi people are choosing councils to discuss and resolve local issues. Baghdad alone has 88 such councils. Civil society is beginning to emerge in many areas, but its development remains susceptible to the security situation.
- A “Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period” has been adopted by the U.S.-appointed, 25-member Iraqi Governing Council. Due to go into effect July 1, 2004, it is to serve as the guide for elections of a National Assembly, the appointment of an interim government, the writing of and referendum on a new Iraqi Constitution, and the election of a full-fledged federal-style government. On the other hand, it may only lead to divisive wrangling and the disintegration of Iraq.
What remains to be done? How long will it take?
- Find the weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration said made Saddam Hussein an imminent threat
to the U.S., the original justification for starting this war. ...
- Obtain as soon as possible a full and public explanation of the use or abuse of information by the intelligence agencies in forming their judgments, and the use or abuse of intelligence by policymakers in their communications with the U.S. public and with other governments.
- Provide reliable, consistent physical security for the Iraqi population.
The old regime had, at most, passing interactions with al Qaeda “adherents.” Now Iraq has become a battleground ...
- Rebuild Iraq. ...Other nations have pledged about $14 billion for this effort; the U.S. contribution so
far is more than $20 billion. Estimates of the final cost vary, but most are in the $75 to $100 billion range ...
- Ensure to the extent possible a real and complete transition to democratic governance ...
- Assist nongovernmental organizations in their attempts to count Iraqi civilian fatalities, provide restitution to survivors,
and compensate those Iraqis wounded by coalition forces for their injuries.
What has been fundamentally changed by this war?
- Iraqi society, but exactly how remains undetermined other than a change in leadership. ...
- Enmity toward the U.S. has increased in the Islamic world as a whole, even in Turkey, a NATO ally.
- The U.S. administration has enshrined--and, in invading Iraq, attempted to justify--as
policy the concept of preventive war...
- Control of the Spanish government shifted.
The Conservative government, one of three pro-war ruling parties in Europe, disregarded the Spanish public's overwhelming opposition to the war, and lost the March 14 elections when it seemed to be trying to suppress evidence about the perpetrators of the multiple train bombings on March 11, 2004.
- U.S. military spending increases have accelerated, deficits have mushroomed, and the national debt
and the annual cost to finance it have ballooned.
- Interest payments on the burgeoning debt, driven largely by the two “policies of choice”--the
war in Iraq and tax cuts--will increase dramatically under the Bush administration's forecast.
- Increased wariness among other states of U.S. unilateral motives for action, with a predictably less hospitable reception for U.S. suggestions and less support for positions favored by Washington.
What has been lost or placed in jeopardy?
- Lives: more than 565 U.S. military and civilians, including 15 military and 6 U.S. civilians in March alone.
- Lives: 59 UK military and more than 40 others from coalition nations.
- Lives: 21 UN workers.
- Lives: an estimated 10,100 Iraqi civilians and an unknown number of Iraqi military.
- Lives: 201 civilians in Madrid on March 11, 2004.
- Lives: all the physically and psychologically wounded, including the seven Iraq war veterans who committed suicide after their return to the U.S.
- The positive image of the U.S. in the world and the credibility of U.S. intelligence among U.S. allies.
- U.S. relations with NATO allies and other friends.
- The economic well-being of future U.S. generations saddled with the increased debt. ...
- International law and the foundations of international law. So long as the U.S. elects to act unilaterally or with coalitions of “the willing” or of “the intimidated,” the development of viable international security structures will continue to be undermined.
What was (or should have been) learned?
- Preventive (the administration's “preemptive”) war cannot be “justified.”
- ...Building coalitions and obtaining the backing of the UN spreads the responsibilities, burdens, and costs of diplomatic and--where necessary--military actions. Strong coalitions, endorsed by the UN, by presenting a solid world front, can induce a retreat from confrontation by a state whose policies and actions are offensive to the majority of nations.
- ... Diplomacy is less expensive in human and financial terms than war and war's aftermath.
- Democracy cannot be imposed by force or by an outside power.
- In war as in all life, the law of unintended consequences governs. Reality has an iron law of its own: one never knows what one doesn't know until those unknowns reveal themselves.
- Above all, war is not the answer.
So, tell me again, after 12 years, WHY did we force the UN inspectors out and invade
without UN approval? Why have more than 500 US troops died and hundreds more been wounded?
How many billions have we spent and how many more will we spend?
And you heard that we've
reinstated the overpayments to Halliburton, haven't you?
And, why haven't we removed the dictators of Cuba, of Burma, of North Korea, of ... They've been
committed hideous acts against their own people for way longer than a mere 12 years. And, of course,
under George W. Bush II, North Korea has begun building nuclear bombs again. Unlike Iraq which never did so.
Has our government explained that in here somewhere?
By DONALD H. RUMSFELD
March 19, 2004
"In Iraq, for 12 years, through 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions, the world gave Saddam Hussein every opportunity to avoid war. He was being held to a simple standard: live up to your agreement at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf war; disarm and prove you have done so. Instead of disarming — as Kazakhstan, South Africa and Ukraine did, and as Libya is doing today — Saddam Hussein chose deception and defiance.
Repeatedly, he rejected those resolutions and he systematically deceived United Nations inspectors about his weapons and his intent. The world knew his record: he used chemical weapons against Iran and his own citizens; he invaded Iran and Kuwait; he launched ballistic missiles at Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain; and his troops repeatedly fired on American and British aircraft patrolling the no-flight zones.
Recognizing the threat, in September 2002 President Bush went to the United Nations, which gave Iraq still another "final opportunity" to disarm and to prove it had done so. The next month the president went to Congress, which voted to support the use of force if Iraq did not.
And, when Saddam Hussein passed up that final opportunity, he was given a last chance to avoid war: 48 hours to leave the country. Only then, after every peaceful option had been exhausted, did the president and our coalition partners order the liberation of Iraq.
Americans do not come easily to war, but neither do Americans take freedom lightly. But when freedom and self-government have taken root in Iraq, and that country becomes a force for good in the Middle East, the rightness of those efforts will be just as clear as it is today in Korea, Germany, Japan and Italy.
Why did the Bush administration sent 150,000 troops to invade Iraq thereby pre-empting inspections by UN-authorized inspectors??
Does Anything Matter?
by A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Sister Joan Chittister
"This is what I don't understand: All of a sudden nothing seems to matter.
First, they said they wanted Bin Laden 'dead or alive.' But they didn't get him. So now they tell us that it doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man.
Then they said they wanted Saddam Hussein, 'dead or alive.' He's apparently alive but we haven't got him yet, either. However, President Bush has told reporters, 'It doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man.'
Finally, they told us that we were invading Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction. Now they say those weapons probably don't exist. Apparently that doesn't matter either.
Except that it does matter. ..."
This piece was written on September 21, 2002. It is now almost February, 2003 and Pres. Bush is
saying he's going to give Saddam Hussein weeks, not months, and I still don't know Why Iraq NOW? Do you?
I was amazed by the courage of Mark Shield's discussion about the Congressional hearing in re: the war on Iraq on the PBS NewsHour of September 20.
Here's just an excerpt of the discussion.
Shields is clearly outraged, as I am, that we are being railroaded into war, without any intellectual or geopolitical justification.
It sounds to me as if the Republicans' plan is for us to colonize Iraq and sell its oil for their own benefit.
This discussion seems to have been carefully timed to drown out talk of:
I am convinced that war with Iraq will unleash a wave of terrorist attacks in the US, which in turn
will lead to a totalitarian system here.
The absolutely mindless way in which the press and the
Congress are complying with the information-contentless demands of the president terrifies me
and convinces me that we are nearly there.
will not go down as one of the Senate's shining moments. Historians will not look back at this debate and say that we fulfilled the role envisioned by the Framers.
This Senate should have the wisdom to stand up for this institution and the Constitution." -- Sen. Robert Byrd,
September 17, 2002 (Senator Byrd delivered these remarks in the Senate as he continued his effort to increase Senate and
public scrutiny of wide-ranging legislation to create a new Department of Homeland Security.)
- The economy (which is absolutely devastated here in the Bay Area of California),
- Of Haliburton,
- Of the fact that the crimes which Martha Stewart is being accused of committing were also committed by GW Bush - insider trading,
- Of terrible errors in preventing 9/11/01,
- Of voter fraud in Florida,
- Of the awful negative consequences of the tax cut,
- Enron's culpability in the California energy disaster, etc.
I agree that Saddam Hussein is not a nice man. Putin
is not a nice man. Mao was not a nice man. Khrustchev was not a nice man.
Qaddafi is not a nice man. Stalin was not a nice man.
Hitler was not a nice man. Emperor Hirohito was not a nice man.
Assad of Syria was not a nice man, and his son, who succeeded him, probably isn't either.
Kim Il Juk of North Korea is probably a raving lunatic.
All of these men had/have access to devastating weapons of mass destruction for years and years and years. All of them did terrible things to their own people and to their neighbors for years and years and years. And we let them. Because we are not the world's policemen. Because force is not the answer.
- Why would we go to war with Iraq before we understand how the terrorists got away with Sept. 11? (Yes, I hear there will be an "independent" commission. Why did we wait a whole year for this to happen? What were we waiting for? After listening to the hearings on Iraq, I don't believe in "independent" anymore. Richard Feynmann has been dead for a long time.)
- According to Leonard Spector, head of the Washington office of the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies,
"It is also widely believed that during the 1991 Gulf War,
Saddam pre-authorized commanders of his missile forces to launch chemical and biological weapons
toward Israel and Saudi Arabia if it appeared that U.S.-led coalition forces were marching on Baghdad
in an attempt to depose the Iraqi regime.
Presumably, if the U.S. were to invade Iraq to achieve 'regime change,' Saddam would give such doomsday
So, why would we go even contemplate going to war with Iraq before we've all been immunized against smallpox? Before we've found out who was responsible for the anthrax attacks?
Shining Light on "Dark Winter":
Dark Winter ends when it is announced that the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA
Today have each received an anonymous letter demanding the removal of all US forces from Saudi
Arabia and all warships from the Persian Gulf within 1 week. The letters threaten that failure to comply
with the demands will result in new smallpox attacks on the US homeland as well as other attacks with
anthrax and plague. To prove the veracity of these claims and the seriousness of their threats, each letter
contains a genetic fingerprint that matches the fingerprint of the smallpox strain causing the current
epidemic, demonstrating that the author of these letters has access to the smallpox strain.
... With no vaccine remaining and new vaccine not expected for at least 4
weeks, how can the rapidly expanding epidemic be contained? What measures should the federal and
state governments take to stop the epidemic, given the scope of the crisis, the lack of remaining vaccine,
and rising stakes? Should the United States pull its forces out of the Gulf in response to the anonymous
letters? With no conclusive evidence as to who orchestrated the attack, how and should the United
States respond? ...
- Why would we go to war with Iraq AFTER we've gone to the UN and said we want weapons inspectors but BEFORE they have a chance to even implement an inspection program?
"Many around the world breathed a sigh of relief when President Bush went to the UN recently, unaware that the approach was merely a tactic."
- Why did Bush announce that he would work with the international community and then, within 3 days, determine that we absolutely needed to go it alone and go it alone immediately?
- Is Bush going to let the Russians do to Chechnya and the Chinese do to Tibet what Saddam did to the Kurds so that the Republicans can sweep these midterm elections?
- The war we will wage will set a precedent for preemptive wars throughout the world. What would have happened just this past summer if India had preemptively struck Pakistan? What will happen if, soon after Bush invades Iraq, Russian invades Georgia?
Why would we go to war with Iraq NOW? I'm not saying we never should, but why NOW?
Why do Democrats think that if they go along with this, they'll be able to get back to the
"real" issues? Don't they know that this war with Iraq is being used to keep us from focusing on the real issues?
And will continue to be used in this way?
The response by the opposing columnist David Brooks on the PBS NewsHour was telling. He said that Bush has made the case for going in now. But I'm unclear on what this case is. The fact that Bush has 67% in the polls is not a case for going in to Iraq now, but I think that Brooks said that it was.
Scott Ritter, former weapons inspector in Iraq, quotes Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld as stating
that `the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.' From this I understand that there is no evidence.
But, wow. Wouldn't it be peachy KEEN and COOL if only we could use this kind of argument in courts of law? We'd probably get a 100% conviction rate.
Please tell me: What case HAS Bush made for going in NOW? What facts justify going in now? What FACTS justify war NOW?
Why right NOW?
Why is Iraq suddenly the worst?
If Bush is going to go after one insane dictator who treats his own people badly (how many people in N. Korea are starving because of government policies -- is starvation better than chemical weapons?) and who might have nuclear potential, without any particular reason for doing it right now then one dictator is the same as any other.
My question is not "Why Iraq?" but "Why Iraq NOW?" (As opposed to two months ago or three months from now.) Did it take Bush all these months to read the CIA briefings or could it just be that his poll ratings were descending and there's an election imminent and people like me were asking "Why Martha and not George?"
|So is the leader of North Korea crazy?
"It will rank as a stunning confession to one of the most bizarre crimes ever committed by a state. Yesterday, in an extraordinary admission, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il said his country's special forces abducted at least a dozen Japanese nationals during the 1970s and 80s in a fit of patriotic overzealousness.
Incredibly, the victims of these snatch and grab operations were of no military, scientific or
political value. Instead, they included a beautician, a schoolgirl and couples on romantic seaside dates who were suddenly whisked off to the most secretive country on earth. ..."
|Lonely Planet Destinations: North Korea
"North Korea is a fascinating blend of George Orwell's 1984 and Cold War comic opera.
From the ultra-clean showcase capital, where only hard-line party members are allowed to
live and old people and pregnant women are excluded, to beautiful Paekdusan on the Chinese
border where they are still rewriting history, there's enough weirdness in North Korea to
gobsmack you. Frankly, any country that sees death as a non-issue when it comes to electing an eternal president deserves our full attention."
Does North Korea have nuclear weapons?
Well, as many as Iraq has.
"Following World War II, Korea was split into a northern, communist half and a southern, Western-oriented half. KIM Chong-il has ruled North Korea since his father and the country's founder, president KIM Il-song, died in 1994. After decades
of mismanagement, the North relies heavily on international food aid to feed its population, while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of about
1 million. North Korea's long-range missile development and research into nuclear and chemical weapons are of major concern to the international community."
Does North Korea have weaponized smallpox?
"A 1998 U.S. intelligence assessment concluded that Russia, Iraq
and North Korea were probably concealing undeclared stocks of smallpox virus.
In the North Korean case, the evidence was the presence
of antibodies suggesting recent smallpox vaccination in the blood of a North Korean soldier (by contrast, vaccination of American military
personnel stopped in 1989)."
|Not In Our Name
A one-page ad published in the NY Times that includes a
"Statement of Conscience" and the names of hundreds of
people, famous and not, who are signatories. The statement urges signatories
to do EVERYTHING they can to help avert this "war that only some believe is necessary,
inevitable, and about to begin any day now."
|September 20, 2002:
||PBS NewsHour -- Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss possible military action against Iraq, the chances of a new U.N. resolution, and the mid-term elections.
Read this whole discussion
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|| "These are crucial questions that are not being asked. I mean you know, the tragedy of Vietnam, and there were several thousand, one of which was let's ask questions next time on the way in, not have recriminations on the way out.
Once again we're going to war with those at peril divorced from those at policy. Let's be very frank about that. There aren't going to be any mothers staying up late on Capitol Hill because their sons are over there.
That's one; second, Jim, being frank, who is going to pay for it? This is an administration Jack Kennedy said pay any price, bear any burden. This is an administration that won't even ask Jack Welsh or Donald Trump to forgo their tax cut for the war.
I mean, what are we going to do afterwards? Who is going to be with us? Are we going to be the first western Christian pro-Israeli occupying force, military occupying force of an Arab nation in that region?
I mean hawkish Democrats, Marine veterans of Vietnam like Jack Murtha, a solid supporter, say there is absolutely no intelligence to suggest that there's any imminent peril to the United States. We go to the UN, the President goes to the UN and says Saddam Hussein has disrespected the UN. Why? Because he hasn't let inspectors in.
Saddam Hussein says, okay, I'll let inspectors in; inspectors "no, no don't go any good." This is an administration that won't take yes for an answer. I mean, you know, there's question about that. Whatever he said -- the difference between this and the Cuban Missile Crisis is so often.
I mean, Kennedy chose to take that more mollified. You say, yes we're going to take it and we're going to go in and we're going to inspect and we're going to inspect robustly and it's going to be in charge of it;
Americans are going to be in charge of the inspection team and we are going to go through this entire country. And if you don't do it under the UN agreement, then you know, you are in violation. What is wrong with that, Jim, instead of sending people in to be killed?"