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Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

There are very few “it moments” in life. The moments where you view your life in terms of before “it” and after “it”. “Before I got married”. “After Dad died”.

Six years ago today was one of those days on a global scale. For people around the world now view their lives through the prism of “before 9/11” and “after 9/11”.

Save for nineteen, neither the passengers nor crew on those four planes that cool Tuesday morning had any idea that as they walked towards their planes, death walked among them, elbowing its way through the crowd like some obnoxious tourist.

Nor did any of us have any idea that six years later, their murders and the murders of the thousands inside the World Trade Center and Pentagon would be largely unavenged, their president using their lives and deaths as leverage to bargain for the war he wanted rather than the war that began that day.

Freedom is but a flickering candle in the gale force wind created by an administration that saw 9/11 as opportunity rather than tragedy. As the flaming remains of the World Trade Center leapt into the New York skies, spreading the residue of burning jet fuel and the ashes of the fallen into the lungs of the brave souls who dug through the rubble searching in vain for survivors, the White House planned an assault on two fronts.

One seemed a logical counter response to the administration’s claims that “they hate us for our freedom” by eliminating that which it claimed they hated. A set of laws that only Stalin could have loved wound its way through the corridors of Washington DC, voted on by a Congress full of enablers and “opposition” that were too timid to risk being seen as “un-American” by the very people that did their level best to destroy all that America was supposed to stand for. The USA PATRIOT Act, Orwellian in both name and scope, ushered in the era of “sneak and peek” warrantless searches and national security letters, closely followed by a warrantless wiretapping program that the founders of this nation would have horsewhipped anyone for suggesting.

The second front was a war not against those who attacked us, but against those that this administration prioritized out of sheer dislike. Certainly, our armed forces made a brief pit stop in Afghanistan— But there was never any doubt that all roads led to Baghdad. Before he even addressed the nation over the World Trade Center attacks, George W. Bush was bellowing “Saddam! Iraq! Iraq! Saddam!” to his cabinet.

The administration used strategy in Iraq that would have to be improved upon before it could even be called “dismal”. It waged a proxy war against those who attacked us and the government who harbored them not because it was strategically sound, but because doing it right would have meant that the American people were weary of war long before George W. Bush got the conflict he wanted. Al Qaeda pumped millions of dollars per year into a nation where the average annual income for a family of four was under $25. The militias that fought on our side in Afghanistan cared nothing for the murders of our people in Washington DC, New York City, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania— They cared about taking their country back from another violent militia that left them out of the loop. We liberated the Afghan people from a government of murderers and delivered them into the hands of people that think murdering a former president and dragging him through the street is an honorable means of transferring power.

And for what? So we could spend our “six days, six weeks, I doubt six months” taking down Saddam Hussein, he of the terrible Weapons of Mass Destruction Program, he who cavorts with Osama bin Laden, dancing on the graves of New Yorkers in drag in the pale moonlight.

Of course, all that we were told in the buildup to the war with Iraq that had any resemblance to reality is that yes, there is a nation called Iraq, and its capital is Baghdad.

Saddam was scum. Whether you opposed the war or thought of it as a nifty idea (Presumably while sending someone else’s kids off to bleed the desert red), he was indeed scum.

But “He’s scum” isn’t a proper justification for warfare. So the American people were fed a steady diet of fiction with a thick layer of “9/11” spread across the top like icing.

2,998 people were murdered by a madman that twisted and distorted the Koran into a justification for murder. And the legacy of those 2,998 people has in turn been twisted by a madman into a war which, while it might wear noble trappings, feels just as murderous to the innocents caught in its crossfire.

Just as the people in the Towers and the Pentagon needed rescue while the president impotently read a children’s book for seven long minutes, the legacy of all those murdered on September 11, 2001 must be rescued. For every injustice committed by our government in the days since has been committed in their name.

We “need” to let the federal government listen in on phone calls— It’s the only way to prevent another 9/11. We “need” to go to Iraq because Big Bad Saddam with his “nookyaler” missiles might bring down another 9/11 on us. And now, we “need” to stay there because fighting them over there means we don’t have to fight them over here.

Our government shows just how much they believe in that notion every day of our lives— If fighting them over here was what it took, why would we need to dispense with civil liberties here?

The soldier that dies in Iraq today does not do so because the White House wants to avenge two-year-old Christine Hanson, whose trip on United Flight 175 was her first and last, or its own Solicitor General’s wife, conservative pundit Susan Olsen, or Todd Beemer, the man that uttered the “Let’s roll!” sentiment that has been misappropriated by men far less courageous than he was, or even Betty Ong, the flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11 who was the first to alert anyone that there was even a problem. The soldier on the battlefield may well have had any and all of the four or the 2,994 other souls that perished with them when he agreed to trust the commander-in-chief to expend his life wisely rather than recklessly. But this White House has no such concerns.

It now invokes 9/11 only as a shield to deflect criticism of its disregard for the basic liberties guaranteed by the Constitution or in telling us why we have to fight a nation that had nothing to do with the attack.

Today, we will all take a moment today and pause, thinking of the horrors of that day, saying a prayer either silent or aloud that their souls have found peace.

And then pray that we become better at guarding their legacy so that the dimming, flickering candle of freedom is not extinguished by this or any other administration.

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This is the beginning of a new feature here at La Casa de Freedonian.

In a further effort to help everyone remember that if the White House, its media allies, and its congressional allies tell you it’s a sunny day, you really shouldn’t leave home without an umbrella.

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You Said it, Dick.

We now have rare video evidence proving that Vice President Dick Cheney was indeed sane once upon a time.

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If you’re a liberal who has ever disagreed with a Democrat on Daily Kos, you’ve been called a name. I know I personally had this one slung at me many times for daring to disagree with our nominally “blue” former Congressman Harold Ford Jr., who since 2002 has voted with the Democrats about as often as Bea Arthur gets offered nude modeling opportunities.

The phrase is “concern troll”. My good friend Autoegocrat based an article on it after tirelessly using his trusted user status at Kos to take the branding off of myself and others who dared ask then-Congressman Ford to practice what he preached and support Democratic nominees for office.

It’s an easy thing for the mindless to say. It sure beats having to come up with a response if your mental faculties are so dull that you’ve reduced American politics to the level of a game of “Halo 2” where red is red, blue is blue, and you take great care not to frag your own.

But American politics are just not that simple.

Thanks to an email sent to me last night by Blogfather Cracker, I saw this piece on Americablog: BREAKING: Conservative Dems expected to vote with GOP to give Bush unfettered blank check on Iraq tomorrow.

If there has ever been a time to extol the virtues of fragging those wearing the same color as you, this is it.

Being a Democrat isn’t about how snazzy you look in a blue shirt. It’s supposed to be something ideological. People should be able to expect a core set of values when they see the (D) next to your name. And since the (R), with very few exceptions, has come to symbolize irresponsibility and irrationality when faced with the most grave decisions a lawmaker can face, it’s handy to know that the (D) stands for something else. Think of it as branding for Election Day— Considering that two thirds of the American public wants the war to end, like, two years ago, it’s helpful for them to know that there’s a party that doesn’t think “Stay the course” actually qualifies as a plan.

The Republicans on Capitol Hill are busy bloviating on how they’re laying down the law” with President Bush, whose sole Iraq strategy seems to be “How can I keep this thing going on long enough for the next guy to get blamed?” In the meantime, they’re devoting their time on the floor to… Helping him keep this thing rolling right along long enough for the next guy to get blamed (One of the few areas where they are realistic is that they know the next occupant of the White House will not come from their side of the fence).

And now, word is breaking from Washington DC that conservative Democrats, the spineless, panty-waisted, indecisive nattering twits that lack the testicular fortitude to step away from Mr. 38% Approval have decided to help them.

Wait until the vote comes down. Look at the names of those who vote with the Republicans on this. If your congressman is among them, start looking for someone else to back in the next congressional primary. Because anyone who votes with the president’s refusal to bring this thing to the merciful end that it needs deserves to have the blue shirts ripped from their backs. I do not care if that primary opponent is a mangy, three-legged Dachsund named Mr. Sphincter— Dogs are more loyal than conservative Democrats anyway.

I’m looking at you, Blue Dogs.

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Every once in a while, you read one of those quotes that makes you wonder “Does he have any earthly idea what he just said?” If you listen very closely, you can hear Jon Stewart saying “Whuuuuuu?” already.

“It didn’t make any sense to impose the will of politicians over the recommendations of our military commanders in the field.” says President George W. Bush, the guy who has never found a commander in the field that he was willing to listen to. The guy who fired General Jay Garner. The guy who forced Anthony Zinni and Eric Shinseki into retirement. The president who keeps going through generals until he finds one who agrees with him (A difficult thing, since George W. Bush knows as much about reality on the ground in wartime as I know about supercolliding superconductors) listens to no one unless he finds someone delusional enough to say “Things are going great”, “We’re going to win”, and “I believe it’s perfectly ethical for your friends to profiteer off of the war effort. Do any of your donors make coffins and body bags?”.

Last night, he vetoed legislating an end to the fiasco he started. A fiasco that, according to him, was a “Mission Accomplished” four years ago. He announced it with a very flashy costume party aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (It’s long been a theory of mine that rightwing pundits compare him to Abraham Lincoln only so a Google search on “Bush + Abraham Lincoln” didn’t turn up a picture of him under the “Mission Accomplished” banner).

He keeps telling us there will be “chaos” if we set a timetable for withdrawal. As opposed to the orderly state of affairs in Iraq today, one would assume. Last month was the sixth deadliest month for American soldiers since the war began 50 months ago. 104 American soldiers lost their lives, as did twelve British soldiers, one other Coalition soldier, and a bare minimum of 1700 Iraqi civilians. So yes, we must PREVENT “chaos”.

Setting timelines is the only way to end this. The Iraqi government and their nascent military will never step up to the plate unless we put them in the batting order. And that simply does not happen as long as we’re willing to fight their civil war for them.

So this is not about producing a healthy Iraq— That ship sailed. We can build a strong nation out of this rubble about as easily as we can bring back the people that have been killed there. It’s not about destroying al Qaeda— Our involvement in Iraq has had much the same effect on al Qaeda throughout the Middle East that Alan Pinkerton’s efforts to kill Jesse James had— Turned an organization of murdering terrorists into folk heroes. This war could not have helped al Qaeda more if the White House Communications Department was designing their recruiting campaigns (Which, judging by their bottomless well of recruits, seems to be more effective than our own recruiting campaigns).

We can have an unstable Iraq where Sunni and Shia kill one another with our soldiers in the middle, bogged down so heavily that we can’t respond to another crisis, or we can have Sunni and Shia kill one another without us in the middle, freeing up manpower and resources to deal with the next crisis.

This choice is a difficult one only if you’re a president that is trying to make sure that the stench of failure lands on the next guy instead of yourself.

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Be sure to watch this on PBS tomorrow night. He expands on many of the themes he discussed during his speech at the Media Reform Conference several months ago and how the mainstream media helped sell the American public on the war in Iraq.

This is a preview of his new show. Its regular timeslot will be Friday nights.

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Any time a White House has a problem that it knows cannot be solved, they appoint a “czar”. We’ve got a drug czar, an intelligence czar, and now, according to today’s Washington Post, the Bush White House wants to appoint a “War Czar”.

Problem is, they can’t find anyone to take the gig.

I love my country, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to heal all that ails it… So I’ll take the job.

The first thing we need to do is reassert control over our own wars. I’ll shift 5,000 personnel from Iraq to Afghanistan to bolster the NATO forces there. Canada is bringing more bodies home from Afghanistan than we are these days— They and the British are actually dealing with a resurgent Taliban in Southern Afghanistan.

The second thing I’ll do is lobby Congress to pass a War Profiteering Act, much like we had in WWII. If Dubya wants to be remembered as a great president, he would do well to remember that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president that got us through our most difficult war, managed to do so while speaking out against the “war millionaires” rather than simply handing them blank checks. A statute against war profiteering might actually help prevent our next needless war.

The third thing I’ll do is set out definite timelines with the new Iraqi government based on the September 2008 timetable set out by Congress. That’s sixteen months. The new goal of the Iraqi government is to take over another 10% of our work every six weeks, reducing our involvement to a supporting role. Just because this war was started aimlessly doesn’t mean it has to end that way. As long as we keep doing the Iraqi military’s work, they’ll never feel the need to step up. We have to make it clear that we are patient, but not infinitely so.

Fourth— This is something Dubya claims to do already, but clearly does not— I’ll actually listen to the generals. You know, those guys with all the medals and stripes all over their uniforms that have actually spent decades studying war strategy? I’m thinking they might be more useful in a time of war than the suits at the Pentagon that were telling us we would be greeted by flowers. This would be a significant policy change for the White House, which tends to ignore generals in lieu of advice from someone that a general called the “stupidest fucking guy on the planet“.

Fifth— Let’s run our wars like we don’t have ADD for a change. Remember that Osama bin Laden guy? I want his head on a pike in front of the White House. We can mummify it, and have Pentagon employees pass it around and take it home every night like it’s the Stanley Cup. Okay, maybe those last two ideas were kind of gross— Just throwing out some ideas. But we’re suffering from “mission creep”, and it’s time to focus. This is a war against al Qaeda— And even the most novice of war strategists would tell you that creating new al Qaeda factions, giving them a new breeding ground, and giving them a place to practice killing Americans is a pretty bad idea. We couldn’t be helping them more right now if we started tasking the White House Communications Department with making al Qaeda recruiting videos. Focus. Ignore the shiny thing on the ground over there.

So whaddya think? Do I have the job?

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