(Source: Irish Examiner October 30, 2006)
In a refrain that is becoming all-too common from the incoming Democratic leadership in
Congress, Congressman Henry Waxman is promising not to issue
subpoenas for Bush Administration officials unless absolutely necessary, and says he sees no point in
investigating the lies about pre-war intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and their role in
starting the war in Iraq. Waxman won't investigate who in the Bush White House knew about torture of
prisoners by Americans at Abu Ghraib, either. Says Representative Waxman, "Those failures are obvious. I
don't know what would be gained by going over some of those areas."
He doesn't know what
would be gained with investigations into lies that took the USA into war? He doesn't know what would be
gained through investigations into the extent to which a policy of torture was promoted by top military
officers and officials in the White House? Well, I suppose if you don't mind the President of the United
States starting wars based on complete fictions, and if you don't mind the American government is
torturing people, then there is nothing to be gained. Is that how Congressman Waxman sees things?
Just who is Henry Waxman trying to protect?
It may well be that Henry Waxman is trying to protect
is Henry Waxman. Congressman Waxman, you see, ignored the pleas of his constituents back in 2002, and
announced that he thought going to war against Iraq was a great idea. Then, Waxman voted to give George W.
Bush the power to start that war.
In 2002, as he prepared to make that vote, Representative Waxman gave
a speech in which he admitted that his constituents had been in contact with him, begging him not to
believe President Bush, and not to vote in favor of starting a war in Iraq. Waxman said,
have received hundreds of calls during the past few weeks, and many of my constituents are raising similar
and very serious concerns. They are suspicious of the timing of this debate. They see political overtones to it,
and question whether this vote is being used for political purposes... Many callers have told me they donćZt
see evidence that Saddam Hussein poses a current threat to the United States." It turned out
that those constituents who called Henry Waxman, asking him not to vote for the war, were right.
Congressman Waxman's constituents could see that there had been no evidence that Saddam Hussein was a
threat, but Waxman didn't believe his constituents. Waxman believed George W. Bush instead. He continued
to state, in his pro-war speech,
"There is every evidence, from the dossier prepared by the
Prime Minister of Britain, to President BushćZs speech at the United Nations, that Saddam has rebuilt
substantial chemical and biological weapons stocks, and that he is determined to obtain the means necessary to
produce nuclear weapons." Waxman concluded,
"Although I disagree
deeply with much of President Bush's domestic policies and some aspects of his foreign policy, I agree with
his conclusion that we cannot leave Saddam to continue on his present course. No one doubts that he is trying
to build a nuclear device, and when he does, his potential for blackmail to dominate the Persian Gulf and
Middle East will be enormous, and our efforts to deal with him be even more difficult and perilous. The risks
of inaction clearly outweigh the risks of action." Yes, Bush lied and people died. But, couldn't we just as clearly say that Waxman lied
and people died? Henry Waxman told us that there was "every evidence" that Saddam Hussein had massive
stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and was trying to obtain nuclear weapons, but there never really
was any such evidence, was there? If Bush was lying, wasn't Waxman lying too?
Henry Waxman have spent the last three years claiming that they were deceived by President Bush into
believing that there was secret evidence proving that there were Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and that
there was a need for war. To that, I say, bullshit. Henry Waxman told America that there was "every
evidence". Well, did Waxman ever actually see any such evidence?
Congressman Henry Waxman's
constituents knew there wasn't any evidence. They called him and told him so. And George W. Bush never
showed Congressman any evidence. Henry Waxman just chose to believe Bush, and passed along Bush's lie as
his own. There was not any deception of Henry Waxman by George W. Bush that Henry Waxman didn't
choose to go along with, for the sake of political convenience.
So, is it any wonder that Henry
Waxman is now declaring that there isn't any need to hold any investigations into abuses of intelligence to
concoct "evidence" proving the need to start a war in Iraq? Henry Waxman was part of the abuse
Henry Waxman's quick move to prevent any investigations from his committee into the lies
that took American into war in Iraq ought to be a reminder to us all that, if we want good, honest government
with checks and balances, voting Democrat isn't good enough. We need to vote for Democrats that will
consistently support an agenda of peace and progress, and demand truth from government even when it might
be politically inconvenient for them. (Sources: Statement Regarding the Possible War with Iraq by Henry
Waxman, October 10, 2002; Associated Press, November 10, 2006)
How can the United States of America extricate itself from Iraq in a manner that harms the American and
Iraqi prospects the least? This is a difficult question. More difficult still is the question of who Americans can
trust to provide a trustworthy answer. To a dangerous extent, citizens are flying blind when it comes to the
situation in Iraq, as independent journalism is constricted, press releases are carefully groomed to avoid
negative information, and embarrassing details are classified for the sake of "Homeland Security." As a
consequence, when a politician tells us they know what's going on Iraq, we have to decide whether they are
trustworthy or not.
So who do we trust? Should we trust people whose contentions about Iraq
proved to be disastrously, catastrophically incorrect in the past? Or should we trust people who made the right
call back in 2002 and 2003, when the question of invading Iraq were under consideration? Come on, you know
the answer. And here's the deal: every single major Republican presidential contender was disastrously wrong
on Iraq: John McCain, Duncan Hunter, Rudolph Giuliani, Bill Frist, Condoleeza Rice, and Newt Gingrich all
fed us untruths about Iraq as part of their quest to start a war of unforgivable choice. So the authoritarian
right-wingers are out of the question if you want a leader whose foreign policy and military judgment you
But many Democratic presidential contenders don't provide us with anything better.
Senators John Kerry and Hillary Clinton supported going to war in Iraq. Governors Tom Vilsack and Bill
Richardson supported going to war in Iraq. These Democratic politicians all held in common the notion that
for the sake of electoral wins, it was best to just go ahead and give George W. Bush the go-ahead. And once
they committed to that strategic notion, they found themselves to support the war not just strategically but
substantively. So for years now, Democrats like Kerry, Clinton, Vilsack and Richardson have been fumbling
and bumbling over their own words as they try to say things that sound vaguely critical but not contradictory
of their previous statements. They're tied up in knots, and they can't just come out and say what is on their
minds. It's not an accident that these are the "moderate" Democrats; "moderate" goes in quotes because
what "moderate" Democrats really are is partisan, interested more in being on the winning side than being on
the right side.
Who was right on Iraq? Who among the major presidential contenders for 2008 had
the right prior judgment? Senator Barack Obama of Illinois was right on Iraq. If you go back and read his
October 2002 speech as a Senatorial candidate, every single word of opposition to Bush's war policy still rings
true. Barack Obama went out on a limb in October 2002 with his opposition: he was warming up for a national
political campaign and faced a media that told us opposition to war was unpatriotic. But it's not a coincidence
that Barack Obama, who got the situation in Iraq right and said so despite the cost, also has a pretty darned
progressive record as a State and U.S. Senator: the progressive political position is one based in ideas rather
than in partisan victory, and is a position that has been borne out by time. Because past performance is a
predictor of future performance, it just makes good sense to support progressive candidates like Barack
Obama for President in 2008.
(Source: Remarks of Barack Obama on Iraq Policy, October 2002)
According to the United Nations, 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October 2006. That's hundreds more
people than were killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001.
One might say that October 2006 was Iraq's
September 11. One might say that, if one were seeking to downplay the extent of the violence.
the United States, the attacks of September 11, 2001 were a one time event. For Iraq, the violence that led to the
slaughter of 3,709 civilians last month has been going on for years now, and is getting worse, set to continue
month after month after month.
The right wing lied to us when they promised that starting a war in
Iraq would make the world more secure and more peaceful. 3,709 civilians dead in one month makes one very
important reason to vote for a progressive President in 2008. (Source: Associated Press, November 22, 2006)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, in a signed letter
sent to General Janis Karpinski, the person in charge of the prison.
"The methods consisted of making
prisoners stand for long periods, sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume, having to sit in
uncomfortably ... Rumsfeld authorized these specific techniques," Karpinski says.
Conventions, which until the Military Commissions Act were law binding upon all members of the United
States government, say something very different about how prisoners are to be treated: "Prisoners of war
who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous
treatment of any kind".
Progressives believe that the Secretary of Defense should be required to
follow the laws of war. Right wingers think that the laws of war should only apply to those we call
enemy. To support the integrity of the laws of war, America should elect a progressive President in
2008. (Source: Reuters, November 25, 2006) We need an administration in Washington which does not
display a glaring hypocrisy on issues of war, peace and weapons of mass destruction. The dominant reason to
declare war against Iraq in 2003 provided by George W. Bush was the supposed presence of weapons of mass
destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein, and his unwillingness to destroy them despite international
mandates that he do so.
It turned out, of course, that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
But the United States does have weapons of mass destruction. No, I'm not referring to nuclear weapons. I'm
referring to chemical weapons, which by the end of World War I were universally despised. The International
Chemical Weapons Convention, to which the United States is a signatory, mandates that the United States
destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons by 2007. But the Bush administration says it has no intention of
doing so. In fact, in violation of the Convention it has declared the United States will not destroy its chemical
weapons until 2023.
How will the United States manage to use its moral authority to help persuade other
nations to destroy their chemical weapons when it will not do so itself? (Source: Salt Lake Tribune, November
22, 2006) In November, 2006, as the civil war in Iraq escalated to new levels of brutality, President
Bush declared that he would focus on achieving victory in Iraq by increasing the training of Iraqi soldiers and
police, promoting "our ongoing efforts to transfer more responsibility to the Iraqi security forces," as
Bush puts it. If Bush could comprehend what these so-called "security forces" have been doing, he
would not continue to follow such a strategy. American-trained Iraqis have been caught time and time again
participating in attacks against other Iraqis and against American soldiers.
Take, for example, the incident
in which unidentified Iraqi Shiite "militiamen" grabbed a group of Iraqi Sunni civilians, doused them in
kerosene and then lit them on fire, burning them to death. Iraqi "security forces" were there, and they did
nothing to stop the incident. They just watched. Later in the day, when Shiites rampaged through the same
neighborhood, killing 19 more Sunni civilians, including children, the same "security forces" once again
refused to intervene.
There was a time when rebuilding the Iraqi police and military was a plausible
part of a plan for salvaging the disaster of the Iraq War. That time is long gone. It has becoming quite clear
that large numbers of the Iraqis that American soldiers have trained are involved in the attacks against Iraqi
civilians and the growing civil war there.
It's simple math, really. The more of these "security forces"
American soldiers have trained and armed, the faster the violence in Iraq has increased.
It is insane
for President Bush to insist that the United States continue to follow the same course that has led to the current
reign of terror in the streets of Iraq. Progressives don't share this insanity. We are dedicated to the process of
critical examination of political agendas and ideas. When something goes wrong, we don't keep doing it.
Unlike George W. Bush and his right wing supporters, we work to find a new way. (Sources: Associated Press,
November 29, 2006; Associated Press, November 26, 2006) Almost four years into the Iraq War, Bush
White House Spokesman Tony Snow admitted that George W. Bush still wasn't really prepared for his duties
as Commander-in-Chief over the war he started in Iraq. Bush would have a plan for victory in Iraq, Snow
said, but "frankly, it's not ready yet."
Never fear, Snow said. President Bush will be ready in
January. After he takes a winter vacation.
Apparently, Bush has been busy preparing a plan for how
to deal with Genghis Khan's merciless sweep across the steppes of central Asia. First things first.
Progressives will not make George W. Bush's mistake. We will not start a war first and then come up for a
plan for winning the war years later. (Source: Business Day, December 13, 2006)
12, 2006, a national political figure and elected politician who raised millions of dollars in the 2004 cycle made
an announcement of his candidacy for president of the United States. Dennis Kucinich spoke these words in
his announcement speech:
America has separated itself from the world; put itself beyond the
reach of international law. We must reunite with the world. We must rally the world in the cause of human
unity, in the cause of the survival of the planet facing challenges from global climate change, nuclear
proliferation and from useless war. I believe that as human beings we have evolved to the point where we can
settle our differences without killing one another.
Not one news organization printed
these words in an article. Not one.
It seems we'll need to elect a progressive as president before the
media will bother to report such unfashionable words. (Sources: search of Google News, December 13 2006,
In his December 12, 2006
announcement of his run for the office of President, Dennis Kucinich said:
This is what President
Franklin Roosevelt, who knew war, meant when he spoke of our responsibility to pursue "the science of
human relations." It was this thinking that inspired legislation to create a Department of Peace which seeks to
meet the challenge of domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, violence in the schools, racial violence,
violence against gays, and to resolve conflict between police and community groups. War is not inevitable.
Peace is inevitable if we are dedicated to creating new structures for peace. Wouldn't it be
something to have a president with a coherent philosophical basis for understanding the basis of war and
violence and a commitment to seek peace in all its forms? Wouldn't that be something? (Source: http://
As America begins to consider which
candidate to elect as its new President in 2008, it's important to consider how each candidate's priorities would
effect the shape of the national budget. Such decisions have life and death consequences.
dollars, for example, can purchase effective treatment for 5 people suffering from schistosomiasis. A total of
200 million people worldwide are infected with schistosomiasis. That means that it would cost only 80 million
dollars to pay for enough treatments to purge schistosomiasis from every infected human being on
The American government is projected to spend over 219 million dollars every day on the war
in Iraq in 2007. With what it costs to fight less than half a day of the Iraq War, the Bush Administration could
have provided all the medicine necessary to rid every human being on earth suffering from schistosomiasis of
the parasites that cause the disease.
This shift in budget priorities hasn't happened, of course, and it
won't happen as long as a war enthusiast like George W. Bush is in the White House. Across sub-Saharan
Africa, efforts to eliminate schistosomiasis are either extremely limited or do not exist at all.
progressive President will end the Iraq War and shift the new peace dividend to fund programs that will
provide real and reliable relief from suffering, without having to shoot people of drop bombs on cities.
(Sources: Neglected Tropical Disease Coalition, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative).
When even Republican
columnist George Will acknowledges that the Iraqi government installed and supported by the Bush White
House is a "thugocracy", it is clear that the policy of spreading democracy through bloodshed
promoted by right wing Republicans and Democrats is a failure.
In the wake of such a dramatic failure,
America needs leadership with fresh perspective. Republicans cannot provide a fresh perspective, and neither
can those Democrats that supported George W. Bush's rush to war in Iraq. The only credible alternative to the
current failed ideology of war is the progressive perspective. We need to elect a progressive President in 2008
so that the Executive branch can help, not hinder, the healing of America. (Source: Newsweek, January 15,
2007) In July of 2006, George W. Bush said of the Iraq War, "Obviously, the violence in Baghdad is
still terrible, and therefore there needs to be more troops." This statement demonstrates clearly that, at
that time, President Bush had already decided that a surge of soldiers in Iraq would be the solution to the crisis
in Iraq a half a year ago. Yet, he did nothing. He stayed the course. He waited and waited, while things got
worse and worse, with huge numbers of people being killed all the while. At that time, the number of
American soldiers in Iraq was 131,000. Six months later, as Bush announced once again that there should be
more soldiers in Iraq, there were 132,000 American soldiers there. All Bush could muster during that whole
time was an increase of one thousand soldiers.
To reasonable people, it was immediately clear that there
was no reason to believe that President Bush's surge would make any lasting difference in Iraq. The point,
though, is what President Bush believed. President Bush believed that an increase in the number of soldiers in
Iraq would make things better there.
The central moral question in this matter is this: If Bush
believed six months ago that he could make things better with an increase of the number of soldiers in Iraq,
why didn't he order such an increase? He was the Commander In Chief. He had a Republican-controlled
Congress to back him up. So, why didn't he enact the surge strategy he already believed was necessary?
The only answer that makes sense is that Bush wanted to wait until after the election, so that he could
reduce the number of Republican incumbents who would lose their seats. For partisan political gain, Bush
dithered with the war.
This purposeful inactivity during the midst of a war gone out of control ought
to be remembered by voters on Election Day 2008. We must never forget this lesson: Right wing ideologues
cannot be trusted with the lives of American soldiers. (Source: Newsweek, January 22, 2007) The war
in Iraq created by right wing zealots under the false pretense of helping people in need has been such a
disaster that it has taken away the credibility the United States needs to deal with genuine humanitarian
problems, like the genocide in Darfur. Human Rights Watch explains, "The US invasion of Iraq and the
Bush administration's belated attempts to justify it as a humanitarian intervention made it easier for
governments like Sudan's to build opposition to any forceful effort to save the people of Darfur." (Source:
Human Rights Report, 2007)
During a press conference in January 2007, White House Press
Secretary Tony Snow declared that "the President has invited all points of view" on the war in Iraq. For
those of us who have opposed the Iraq War from the start, this statement is a startling one. You see, there's one
point of view on the Iraq War that George W. Bush never invited or accepted: The point of view that the war
in Iraq never needed to take place and should now be ended as soon possible.
The United States needs a
President who is at least willing to consider the point of view of peace. A progressive President might not
always choose peace over war, but a progressive President will listen to voices who advocate peace. (Source:
White House Press Briefing, January 16, 2007) Reporters Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily released an
article on January 18, 2007 that discussed claims that the American war in Iraq is a religious war against Islam.
In the article, there are allegations of widespread vandalism against mosques and Korans by American
soldiers. "Photographs are being circulated of black crosses painted on mosque walls and on copies of the
Quran, and of soldiers dumping their waste inside mosques."
The article itself does not show those
photographs. Searching online, I can't find any photographs of black crosses painted inside mosques. I can't
find much news about them either, or even blog discussions saying that they exist. I did find a transcript of
Amy Goodman interviewing a soldier who was in Fallujah, referring to the rumors of vandalism. The soldier,
however, said he had not seen any himself.
This is not to say that the claims are false. Certainly, many
people in Iraq don't have reliable access to electricity right now, much less access to the Internet through
which they could publish evidence.
More fundamentally, it doesn't matter whether Americans have
really been painting black crosses inside mosques in Iraq. What matters is that many Iraqis believe that this
Christian vandalism is taking place. What George W. Bush and his pro-war followers never seem to have
considered is that their war, instead of bringing clarity, would damage the ability of people, in Iraq and in the
United States alike, to determine what is real and what is not. Given this ambiguity, the rumors of black
crucifixes painted in Iraqi mosques acquire an operational reality.
No surge in the number of
American soldiers can overcome the news of outrageous acts that have not been seen but are nonetheless
believed. In 2008, we need to choose a new President who understands that beliefs are stronger than bullets,
and will seek to persuade rather than invade. (Sources: Dahr Jamail's MidEast Dispatches, January 18, 2007;
Washington News Review, November 8, 2005) On Valentine's Day, 2007, George W. Bush described
his political philosophy quite aptly when he said, "Money trumps peace, sometimes. In other words,
commercial interests are very powerful interests throughout the world."
Bush was speaking in the
context of trying to get European countries to join in his belligerent efforts to provoke a more serious conflict
with Iran. Bush was trying to describe the motives of others, but in doing so, he ended up describing his own
right wing ideology.
For right wing politicians, money trumps peace. They see war as an opportunity
to expand profits and economic influence.
Progressives believe the opposite, that peace trumps
money. They believe that profit is not an adequate justification for war. Progressives believe that preserving
and strengthening peace is a worthwhile investment.
We've seen what disasters result when we have a
politician who believes that money trumps peace is given the power of the White House. Isn't it time that we
allow the other political philosophy a chance? (Source: The Guardian, February 14, 2007) On March 5,
2007, there was a surge in the Iraq War, a surge of death.
First, a bomb blew up in a book market in
Baghdad, killing 38 people and wounding 105. Then, the bodies of 30 people shot to death were found in
Baghdad. Several pilgrims were killed while travelling to a religious event in Kerbala. Nine Americans were
also killed in two separate attacks.
This surge in death is taking place in the middle of the
implementation of the Bush-McCain policy of escalating the Iraq War. So, how did George W. Bush and John
They issued a lot of statements, about other subjects. John McCain issued three press
releases announcing the addition of supporters for his presidential campaign in New Jersey, as well as the
creation of a Michigan finance team and Southeastern finance chair for his campaign. George W. Bush talked
about Latin America.
White House spokesman Tony Snow did say, however, that there are "a lot
of encouraging signs" in Iraq.
How well is the Bush-McCain escalation of the Iraq War working?
Every day, there are more people on the ground in Iraq who can't tell us about any progress they're seeing,
because they're dead. (Sources: Reuters, March 6, 2007; Associated Press, March 6, 2007; White House Press
Briefing by Tony Snow, March 5, 2007; John McCain 2008 press releases, March 5, 2007) Republican
Presidential Candidate Duncan Hunter is
running on the basis of his ties with companies that profit from war and military buildup. So, Representative
Hunter has established a political action committee entitled Peace Through Strength.
The idea of
peace through strength is that only by having an immense military and by waging wars all around the world
can we gain peace. The peace part comes later on, after a whole bunch of wars, through which anyone who
might stand up to the United States of America learns that resistance is futile.
Peace through strength
is as ridiculous an idea as establishing marital fidelity through sexual affairs. For a moment, however, let's
assume that the basic idea of peace throgh strength is not ridiculous. Let us suppose that, in theory, peace
through strength makes lots and lots of sense.
There's still a problem with the way that Republicans
like Duncan Hunter promote an agenda of peace through strength. They aren't strong.
Just take a look
at what's going on over in Iraq. Consider, for that matter, the mess of Afghanistan. Is that what Duncan
Hunter thinks strength looks like?
If you go to war with the ideology of peace through strength, and
then aren't able actually be strong in war, then you have neither peace nor strength. You have havoc through
The policy of havoc through ineptitude is what Duncan Hunter wants to continue. I think
that there's a better policy. It's called peace through peace. (Sources: Iraq For Sale; Federal Election
Commission) The Democratic backbone was too good to last. In April, 2007, just when we saw Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid team up
with Senator Russ Feingold to
sponsor legislation that would demand a withdrawal from Iraq and set a deadline past which funds for
continued fighting in Iraq would not be provided (though money for troops' other needs and for
withdrawal would be provided), the deal has been undermined by other Democrats in the
attacked the antiwar legislation early, saying that the Senate Democrats would not stand up to George W.
Bush on the Iraq War, and would give Bush the money for the war as requested. Roll over like a nice lap dog
for President Bush, Mr. Obama, because your status as an antiwar candidate for President has gone to the
Then, Carl Levin kicked
the antiwar proposal in the balls by saying that he thought it would be a good idea to go on giving billions
upon billions upon billions of dollars in funding to continue the war in Iraq without any end in sight, just so
long as President Bush gave his say-so that things in Iraq are getting better... you know, like Bush said last
year, and the year before that, and the year before that. What makes Senator Levin think that approach will
work, when it has failed so many times before? Levin said, "...we can keep the benchmarks part of the bill
without saying that the troops must begin to come back... what we will leave will be benchmarks, for instance,
which would require the president to certify to the American people if the Iraqis are meeting the benchmarks
for political settlement."
Senator Charles Schumer, who helped George W. Bush out four years
ago by voting in favor of starting the Iraq War, announced that he would help Bush prolong the Iraq War
now. Senator Schumer said that he would support President Bush's plan to continue the war in Iraq, and just
make a few suggestions for minor adjustments. Schumer explained he wants the Iraq War to go on for longer,
and just wants Bush to tweak his strategy for fighting the war there.
Senator Russ Feingold did the
right thing when he proposed legislation to end the Iraq War. Unfortunately, Feingold's effort to end the Iraq
War was betrayed by wimpy pro-war Democratic Senators.
Charles Schumer, Carl Levin, and yes,
even Barack Obama were afraid to stand up to George W. Bush.
Remember what the Democrats told
you in 2006? They said that you had to vote for creepy candidates like pro-lifer Bob Casey and habeas-corpus-
hating Michael Arcuri because the important thing was to get Democratic control of Congress. They said that
once the Democrats gained control of Congress, they would end the Iraq War, and that would be worth
electing some nasty right wing Democratic candidates.
We can see plainly now that the Democratic
Party was lying to us. There are a few good Democrats in Congress who are genuinely trying to end the Iraq
War, but they are in the minority. The majority of Democrats in the U.S. Congress are not doing anything to
end the war in Iraq. They just used anti-war activists to get elected and then betrayed us.
Barack Obama, a great disappointment. Now that Senator Obama has thrown in his hat with the pro-war Bush
lap dog Democrats in the Senate, why doesn't he write a new book, with the title The Audacity of Talking
Out Of Both Sides Of Your Mouth? (Source: Washington Post, April 8, 2007)
In an attempt to increase his public persona of a caring father, President Bush recently announced that when he thinks of his twin daughters, "I worry about letting these little girls get into a situation where something unpleasant could happen to them."
Isn't that sweet?
For the record, at the time George W. Bush made his comment, those "little girls" are 23 years old, 5 years older than tens of thousands of little boys and girls that President Bush knowingly sent into combat in Iraq, to fight a menace that Bush made up in order to score political points.
Bush never sent his "little girls". His own little girls spent the Iraq War partying back here in the United States. That's their right, I suppose, and I will not be among those who suggest that it is the duty of young Americans to join the military and march to their deaths at the order of the President. All young people deserve to remain free and to stay alive.
Still, it would be nice if President Bush would have shown some of the same concern for the little boys and girls of other families that he shows for his own little girls. After all, the "situation" that President Bush's little girls have to deal with is being young, wealthy, and famous members of the most powerful family in the nation. That's a situation that most little boys and girls would love to be in.
Bush is worried about his little girls? Cry me a river, Mr. President.
On April 7, 207, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the Iraqi city of Najaf to demand that the United States take its soldiers and leave
Iraq. They chanted "No, no, to the occupation, no, no to America." They painted slogans like "May
America fall" and "Bush is a dog" on the ground.
Who were these Iraqis protesting against the American
occupation? They were Shia. That's the group that the American invasion and occupation put into power.
That's the group that will continue to control Iraq if George W. Bush's war succeeds.
America, this is what your soldiers are fighting for: To create a government supported by people who hate
These huge anti-American protests make it plain to any rational person that the American
occupation of Iraq cannot succeed in creating a nation that will be reliably pro-American. The longer the
occupation of Iraq goes on, the more Iraqis, Sunni and Shia, despise the United States. If you want that to
continue, then vote for a right wing, pro-war candidate in the 2008 presidential election. If you want the
occupation to end, vote for a progressive. (Source: ITV, April 9, 2007) John McCain, the Republicans'
version of moderate, seems to think that bombing campaigns sure are funny. Responding to a Republican
voter's question about why the United States won't just hurry up and get into a war with Iran, Senator McCain
responded positively to the question by singing, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune
of an old Beach Boys tune. It appears that John McCain
has not learned anything from the Iraq debacle. Remember all the funny songs promoting war with Iraq that
came from the gung-ho Republicans? Fuq Irak? Time to Bomb Saddam? Ha, ha, ha. Nobody's laughing now.
McCain has been in Washington, DC far too long to carry off this kind of fun-fun war jokesterism. We
need a grown up in the White House who won't treat war like it's just a form of entertainment. (Marketwire,
June 13, 2007)
President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld held press conferences in order to denounce an Amnesty International human rights report that likened American security prisons like the one at Guantanamo Bay to Soviet gulags. The odd thing about that is that they all had used Amnesty International reports on Iraq as a part of the pretext to invade Iraq in the first place.
"I believe strongly that politicians in Washington shouldn't be telling generals how to do their job." -- George W. Bush, April 23, 2007
It has been more than six years since George W. Bush took control of the presidency, and he still hasn't
read the Constitution?
George W. Bush, a politician in Washington, is commander in chief of the
armed forces. His job is to tell generals how to do their job. The Congress, full of politicians in Washington,
has the sole power to declare and set appropriations for the various engines of war, which are two ways to tell
generals what to do in their jobs.
So of course politicians in Washington should be telling generals
how to do their jobs, at least if you believe the Constitution is an appropriately constraining document.
George W. Bush told America yesterday he either misunderstands the Constitution or disregards it. In either
case, he has violated his oath of office. And the anti-constitutional alternative Bush identifies -- letting the
generals carry out their jobs without instructions from Washington -- is the Filipino model of an Army, and it
leads to coups or attempted coups approximately once a decade.
Whether Bush is a fool or a scoundrel,
the sooner we can get him out of office and replace him with someone who understands the constitutional
basis of government, the better. (Source: White House, April 23, 2007)
Support the troops! Support the troops! Support the troops!
There, I said the magic words. Now
nobody can accuse me of being unpatriotic.
Now let's get to reality: If George W. Bush and the
Republicans running the Executive Branch really wanted to support the troops, they wouldn't lie to the
American people about how soldiers are really dying.
When U.S. Army Ranger and professional
football player for the Arizona Cardinals Pat Tillman was killed by another American soldier in a friendly
fire incident, military officials decided to lie to the public about what really happened. They made up a
story, saying that Tillman was killed by nasty Afghan insurgents while trying to save the life of another
Testifying before Congress, Pat Tillman's brother called the military's story "utter
fiction" and "deliberate and calculated lies". He's right.
What's worse, the lies were told in
order to keep Americans excited about the idea of going to war, and politically supportive of George W. Bush.
Right wingers say that they support the troops, but the reality is that they're just using American soldiers for
Progressives don't play that kind of game. Progressives call upon Americans to support
the peace, and end the lies about war. That's just one more reason America needs to elect a progressive
President in 2008. (Source: National Post, April 24, 2007)
An urgent message from the Union of Concerned Scientists brings us frightening news. At the same time that he is demanding that North Korea and Iran abandon their plans to develop nuclear weapons, President Bush has asked the US Congress to supply him with the money to devise and develop a new supply of nuclear weapons to be deployed by the American military.
In order to obtain these new nuclear weapons, President Bush plans to resume the testing of nuclear weapons on American soil.
Most frighteningly of all, President Bush says that these nuclear weapons would be "useable". Bush says that it would be okay for America to launch these nuclear weapons against an enemy, even if that enemy has no nuclear weapons itself.
Bush has claimed in the past that these new nuclear weapons would be only used to destroy underground enemy bunkers. Bush has claimed in the past that by exploding these nuclear weapons in attacks on underground enemy bunkers that no one but the bad guys we want to kill would get hurt. Bush even tried to make the new nuclear weapons sound cute by calling them “bunker busters”.
It turns out that Bush's new generation of cute nuclear weapons are not so cute after all. The National Academy of Science's National Research Council was asked to evaluate the scientific validity of President Bush's claims about the supposed bunker buster bombs. The council of scientists found that, even if exploded underground, Bush's new nuclear weapons could easily kill one million civilians living nearby. If exploded above ground, on purpose or by accident, Bush's new nukes would kill millions more. In short, the scientists found that President Bush has been lying to the American people - again.
Even if President Bush were telling us the truth about these new nuclear weapons he wants to build, what's the use? Really, what is the use of these bunker buster bombs? When, ever, has the United States of America lost a war, or even a single battle, because an enemy bunker could not be destroyed without nuclear weapons?
The answer is simple. It has never happened. Bush's nuclear weapons are completely unnecessary.
Why does Bush want to build these new nuclear weapons, then? Apparently, Bush just wants to prove to the world that he can do it. That makes me wonder: Once he gets his new nuclear weapons arsenal, what else will Bush want to prove that he can do?
I don't want to find out. Before it's too late, the American people need to put a stop to George W. Bush's terrifying lust for new arsenals of nuclear missiles. Luckily for us, the Union of Concerned Scientists is on the job, working to counter Bush's immense pressure upon his loyal Republican members of Congress to give him the new nuclear bombs that he craves. (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, June, 2005)
Jim Cottrell of Huntsville Alabama writes in a letter to the editor that "To say 'The war is lost' while our troops
are actively engaged in combat is treasonous behavior.".
Cottrell has got it wrong. To keep soldiers
fighting in a lost war, while insisting that the war is not lost, is the real betrayal to our nation.
Progressives understand that truth is not treason. That's another reason we need to elect a progressive
President in 2008. (Source: USA Today, April 26, 2007)
People get worried about North Korea's nuclear weapons, and rightfully so. However, before we all get hyped up for yet another war against a country on Bush's list of international evildoers, we ought to consider that there is an even greater threat to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. There is another country breaking the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and this country admits to having tens of thousands of nuclear weapons placed on missiles capable of striking any nation on Earth.
Yes, I'm talking about the United States.
People like to forget about it, but the provisions forbidding non-nuclear nations from developing nuclear weapons are only half of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The other half of the treaty is that the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China promised to get rid of all their own nuclear weapons.
George W. Bush has already launched one war and sacrificed over 1500 American lives on the premise of Iraq violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (which, it turns out, Iraq was not doing at all). But what is Bush's own record on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty?
Well, Bush waves his arms in panic about Iran developing nuclear weapons. But, Bush himself, far from eliminating America's arsenal of nuclear of weapons, Bush is pushing to expand it. Bush has developed a plan for building an entire new category of nuclear weapons that he calls "bunker busters". Bush says that he could use these nuclear weapons on the battlefield "safely". The Pentagon says that using just one of the new kinds of nuclear weapons Bush is seeking would cause one million civilian deaths, even if detonated underground. That's Bush's definition of the "safe" use of nuclear weapons.
When it comes to nuclear weapons testing, Bush blasts the North Korean government for threatening to test one nuclear weapon. However, Bush has himself unilaterally withdrawn the United States from the nuclear test-ban treaty, and has declared that he has the right to order as many nuclear weapons tests as he wants.
The terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty are clear. Nations like Iran and North Korea do not have the right to develop nuclear weapons. However, nations like the United States have no right to keep their nuclear weapons arsenals.
Not only is Bush failing to live up to America's obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He is actively moving backwards against the requirements of the treaty. This puts the Bush Administration in the same category as the governments of Iran and North Korea. So, before we use the treaty as a pretext to launch a war against either of those nations, we would do well to eliminate the shameful nuclear weapon arsenal and testing program in our own country first.
Over the last few weeks, the Bush White House
and David Petraeus, its newly appointed commander of the military occupation of Iraq have been busy
claiming that the Bush-McCain policy of a military escalation in Iraq is working. To support their arguments,
they have cited statistics purporting to show a reduction in civilian deaths and injuries in Iraq.
inaccuracy of those statistics were exposed yesterday by the United Nations, which conducted its own
investigation and found that the true extent of civilians killed and injured in Iraq was purposefully concealed
by the Iraqi government installed and supported by the United States. What's really going on in Iraq as a
result of the so-called surge? According to the United Nations, the crisis is "rapidly worsening".
Did General Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and President George W. Bush know about the
cover-up of the true extent of civilian casualties in Iraq? Did General Petraeus purposefully lie to Congress,
using what he knew were false numbers?
If President Bush knew about the deception, he ought to be
impeached and imprisoned for fraud. If Bush didn't know about the deception, then he ought to resign, having
been exposed as an incompetent leader who lacks the ability to keep track of the war he has responsibility for
as Commander-In-Chief. (Sources: USA Today, April 26, 2007 and Associated Press, April 25, 2007)
One juicy dichotomy of right wing claims about reality is enough to make a consistent person's head explode.
On the one hand: "The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the
facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons." - George W. Bush, September 26, 2002
On the other hand: "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or whether Iraq has or will
establish its chemical agent production facilities." - Defense Intelligence Agency report to Bush administration, September, 2002.
Unfortunately, the dichotomy of realities inherent in these two claims didn't make the war hawks' heads explode.
It didn't make them reconsider their idea of invading Iraq in a war of choice. They just kept right on chugging merrily along to a disaster
of a war. And that's why we need regime change in 2008. (Source: Washington Post, June 6, 2003)
General George Casey made the news in April, 2007 with his declaration that the United States Army
needs to become much bigger as soon as possible because the Army has been stretched thin. "We live in a
difficult period for the Army because the demand for our forces exceeds the supply," General Casey says.
Casey's solution: Expand the military to meet the demand.
There is another solution to the problem.
Instead of stretching American society thin to pay for a bigger military, we could reduce the demand for
military adventures around the world. The demand for huge numbers of soldiers is just as easy to manipulate,
if not more so, as the supply. The demand is caused, after all, by President George W. Bush's enthusiasm for
war and military occupation of foreign countries. End that enthusiam. End the wars. End the occupations.
Then, we will need a smaller Army, not a larger one.
See the more peaceful side of the equation. Vote
to elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: Associated Press, April 29, 2007) Pro-war right wingers say that we
Americans don't pay enough attention to their successes in Iraq. Well, okay, I'm game. Let's look at what the
right wingers call success in Iraq.
When the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq
Reconstruction took a look at a sample of reconstruction projects in Iraq that the pro-war American
government said were successfully completed, they found that seven of the eight projects they examined were,
in fact, failures. These projects were no longer successfully operating, even though they had all been officially
declared successful, some as few as just six months ago.
The right wing pro-war crowd has proven so
inept that even their successes are failures. Could there be any better reason than to work to elect a true
alternative, a progressive President in 2008? (Source: New York Times, April 29, 2007) USA Today
reports that American military officers working in Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers say that about half of the people that the Iraqi Army
has taken prisoner are not guilty of any crimes. The newspaper indicates that many of these people
wrongfully imprisoned by the American-backed Iraqi military end up spending months in prison, and that the
problem has become worse as a part of George W. Bush's new strategy of intensifying the fighting in Iraq.
George W. Bush said that his so-called "surge" would make life better for people in Iraq. Instead, Bush's
plan to prolong the war in Iraq is making the Iraqi government more like the brutal dictatorship that the
American invasion kicked out in the first place.
The next time some pro-war extremist tells me that
American soldiers are occupying Iraq to defend our freedoms here at home, I think I'll tell them about this
new revelation, and ask how putting huge numbers of innocent Iraqis in prison protects American freedoms.
I'm curious as curious can be to see what kind of response I'll get. (Source: USA Today, May 6, 2007)
May 9, 2007 brought news of yet another mass killing of civilians by the American military. This time, it
was an American bombing, from the air, of a village in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. 21 civilians were
by the American bombs. The week before, the Afghan government recorded 51 civilians killed in the Western
part of Afghanistan.
People who support war say that it's in the interests of the United States to kill
civilians in incidents like these. They say that killing civilians is worth it, because it enables the American
military to kill Taliban fighters too. They say that tactics like these are the only way to obtain victory in
Are they right? Well, the United States military has been killing and wounding civilians
in Afghanistan for more than five years now. For all the civilians that have been killed there, victory has not
been achieved. In fact, year after year, Afghanistan becomes more insecure. Year after year, the Taliban are
It's part of right wing ideology to say that killing civilians is part of a larger good.
Progressives look past this ideology, at the facts. The killing of civilians doesn't help anyone. We need a
President who recognizes this truth, and stops making excuses for massacres. (Source: Associated Press, May 9,
2007) In the Spring of 2007, all America heard the story of how the town of Greensburg, Kansas could
not get the help it needed after it was nearly completely destroyed by a tornado. We heard that the help from
the Kansas National Guard didn't come because the people and equipment that were supposed to be ready to
help had been sent to war in Iraq instead. We also heard the White House say that the problem was that the
Governor of Kansas didn't tell the Bush Administration what kind of help it needed, and so help could not be
So, it seems like the two messages neutralize each other. It seems that way, unless you pay attention.
You see, the White House has admitted that it wasn't really telling the truth. It turns out that the Governor of
Kansas really did send specific requests for help, and that the Bush Administration was not able to meet them
in anything close to a prompt manner.
War isn't just soldiers and civilians get shot at and blown up
over in Iraq. War is the aftermath of a tornado in Kansas, when people don't get the help they need.
We need a new President who won't suck America dry of the resources it needs to deal with the storms to
come. (Source, International Herald Tribune, May 7, 2007) To understand the depths of failure that
the war in Afghanistan has sunk to, consider this fact: This year, the national legislature of Afghanistan passed
a resolution demanding that the United States stop its military operations against the Taliban. The resolution
also demands that the United States enter into negotiations with the Taliban to establish a lasting peace.
This legislature is part of a government that was established by the United States and remains propped up
by the United States. Many of the people in this government were once opposed to the Taliban, when the
Taliban were in power. Now, thanks to the inept, clumsy way that the United States has fought a losing war
for years against the Taliban, they are calling for the occupying United States military to back off.
course, the United States military has no intention of backing off and declaring a cease fire with the Taliban.
The United States military won't negotiate for peace with the Taliban. That's because, as an occupying military
power, the United States does practically whatever it wants in Afghanistan. Afghan sovereignty is a sham.
We need a new Commander-In-Chief who is capable of radically reimagining the strategy behind
American policy regarding Afghanistan. We need a progressive President who is able to see beyond a
campaign of bomb after bomb after bomb. (Source: New York Daily News, May 10, 2007) Republican
presidential candidate Mitt Romney has admitted that he failed, along with other Republicans, to actually
prepare for war before applying massive political pressure to invade and occupy Iraq. "I don't think we
were adequately prepared for what occurred. I don't think we did enough planning. I don't think we
considered the various downsides and risks," Romney said.
What kind of a person admits that he
doesn't prepare, and doesn't consider downsides and risks, before going to war, then expects to be made
Commander-In-Chief of the military nonetheless? The kind of person who is thoroughly unfit to become
In 2008, let's elect a President who has enough sense to avoid sending
soldiers off to war without considering that bad things might happen to them. Let's elect a progressive.
(Source: Washington Post, May 11, 2007) In May, 2007, the Associated Press reported a massacre in the
Kurdish village of Hamid Shifi in Northern Iraq. In the middle of the night, families were taken out of their
homes. The men were separated out and shot. 15 of them did not survive.
The Associated Press called the
people who performed the massacre "gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms". That's a curious phrase.
It seems to skip and jump around a very uncomfortable possibility: That those "gunmen wearing Iraqi
army uniforms" were, in fact, members of the Iraqi army.
It's possible that the army uniforms
were part of a fraud. Hamid Shifi residents had expected a Sunni insurgent attack. Perhaps it was the Sunnis,
after all. If the Sunnis were behind the attack, however, how did they get the army uniforms?
massacre at Hamid Shifi orchestrated by the Iraqi government that has been installed and supported by the
American military occupation? I wasn't there. I don't know.
We would all be better served if the
American news media would stop pretending that it's not a possibility that gunmen dressed as members of the
Iraqi army were actually members of the Iraqi army. We would be best served if the American military would
stop propping up a corrupt and ruthless government that has been caught in so many barbaric acts that it can
be reasonably suspected in the massacre at Hamid Shifi.
For the sake of the victims of Hamid Shifi,
let's elect an antiwar progressive President in 2008, and stop compounding our nation's complicity in the Iraqi
bloodbath. (Sources: Associated Press, May 19, 2007; New York Times, May 20, 2007) An unforseen
result of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq: Farmers in Iraq have begun growing opium poppies
instead of rice. Opium poppies are the source of heroin, and it appears that criminal gangs that traffic in
opium are organizing the poppy cultivation.
Another economic opportunity for illegal drug gangs: Is that
what George W. Bush meant when he declared "Mission Accomplished?" (Source: The Independent, May 23,
2007) Earlier this year, I marveled as George W. Bush released the news that after we brought a war to
Iraq, al Qaeda continued with plans to attack the United States as a way of supporting his contention that the
U.S. military is fighting a war in Iraq over there so that al Qaeda won't attack the United States over here.
That's like a man showing a positive gonorrhea test to his wife and arguing that he couldn't be cheating on her
because nobody would sleep with him when he was dripping with pus.
Then came the news that before
the war, U.S. intelligence specifically warned the Bush administration that a war in Iraq could increase the
threat of attacks against the United States by groups like al Qaeda, not decrease the threat. But intelligence
agencies were told that the decision to war had been made long before — and the warnings proved futile.
What a dangerous man to be president. What a dangerous administration in office. We need someone who
listens to experts. We need a reality-based president. (Sources: Sioux City Journal, May 24, 2007) Late
May 2007 brought a harsh reminder that being a progressive and being a Democrat are not the same thing. In
the Senate, a huge number of Democrats went over to the Republican side to help George W. Bush get
funding for more war without any strings attached. In the House, 86 Democrats turned coat to help the
Republicans pass the pro-war legislation.
There was some small good news, at least on the presidential
campaign front. Most of the Democrats in Congress who are running for President in 2008 voted against the
pro-war bill. The following Democratic candidates for President voted against the bill to give George W. Bush
carte blanche to play shoot ‘em up some more in Iraq: Hillary Clinton
Good for them.
One congressional Democrat running for
President, Joseph Biden, chose to vote in favor of the legislation to prolong the American military occupation
At this point, after he has called Barack Obama remarkably clean for a black man, made jokes
about people from India in 7-11 stores, and now voted in favor of the Iraq War all over again, I don't
understand why Senator Biden insists on continuing his campaign for the Democratic nomination. How many
Democrats could get excited about voting for Biden?
Now for the Republican presidential
candidates. Tom Tancredo voted to prolong the war.
John McCain voted to prolong the war.
Duncan Hunter voted to prolong the war.
Ron Paul was one of only two Republicans in the House of
Representatives to vote against prolonging the war. Good for him.
What about Sam Brownback?
Senator Brownback didn't bother to show up to vote either way. (Source: Library of Congress)
With what kind of dedication does the Bush administration dismiss its diplomatic obligations?
A full 200 jobs in
the State Department, most of them overseas posts, have simply gone unfilled by the Bush administration.
You can't build a robust foreign policy of diplomatic engagement if you don't have members of the
diplomatic corps to do the work of engaging. As our foreign entanglements deepen, we need a progressive
administration that will take its diplomatic obligations seriously enough to let the work of diplomacy be
done. (Source: New York Times, June 6, 2007)
We've had almost seven years now of a President whose vision of foreign policy is to declare that he's going to defeat "evildoers". It's a silly attitude, but the consequences of it can be gravely serious.
One would hope that the Republican presidential candidates of
2008 have learned the lesson from George W. Bush's childish declaration of a war against evil. Unfortunately,
it seems that, at least for some, the lesson has not been learned.
Almost as soon as he announced the
formation of his presidential campaign exploratory committee, Fred Thompson followed in George W. Bush's
rhetorical footsteps. Thompson declared, of the military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, "This is a battle
between the forces of civilization and the forces of evil and we've got to choose sides!"
Oh really? It's
a battle against the forces of evil? So, then, will we be bombing the corrupt government of Pakistan? Will we
be throwing bank robbers into the gulags of Guantanamo? Will people be placed on no-fly lists when they're
caught being really mean to other people?
A vote for Fred Thompson is a vote for four more years of
sending the American military around the world on quixotic quests to rid the world of evil. In 2008, America
needs a more mature option. (Source: Reuters, June 3, 2007) This year, the American military presence
has passed a milestone. The Bush Administration finally admitted that it intends for the American military to
stay in Iraq for generations. What many have suspected is now out in the open: The Republicans don't want
American soldiers to leave Iraq. They have announced a new policy of continuing military occupation of Iraq
for a very long time into the future. How long? The White House is comparing the ideal military presence in
Iraq lasting as long as the American military presence in South Korea. That's well over 50 years and counting.
I've been calling what's going on in Iraq a "war", but it's clear to me now that the war part of the mess in
Iraq is over. The violence there now in which American soldiers are playing a part is the result of the struggle
to maintain American control over Iraqi territory. It's an occupation we're seeing, and armed resistance to that
Of course, there's also vicious fighting between different sects in Iraqi society. That
fighting, however, is uncannily reminiscent of the divide-and-conquer policy of the British occupation of
America is not at war in Iraq. America is struggling to establish and preserve an imperial
control over Iraq and its resources.
This is worse than war. It's killing for power, with sovereignty
and liberty tossed aside like unneeded props in a play that goes on for far too long. It is now clear that the
Bush White House doesn't intend for Iraq to be free and independent. It is the official policy of the Bush
Republicans to keep Iraq under American control for as long as possible.
That's not what Americans
agreed to, not even the Americans who trotted out their "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbons back when the
Iraq mess was still a real war.
Progressives recognize the horrible reality of the American occupation
of Iraq. Right wingers are proposing a decades-long fight against terrorists as a justification for imperial
policy. I can't think of a better reason to elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: The Australian, June 2,
2007) The United States has received a very low ranking on something called the Global Peace Index,
a new measurement put together by a consortium of of peace institutes. The United States is just one slot
above Iran, and even worse than Yemen. That's yet another excellent reason to vote for a progressive
President in 2008. Progressives encourage concrete work toward peace, whereas right wingers just pay lip
service to peace when it's convenient for them to do so. (Sources: Global Peace Index, 2007)
the Global Peace Index of 2007, India ranked 109th out of 121. We tend to think of India as the nation of
Mohandas K. Gandhi, but the truth is a lot less pretty. India ranks in the Global Peace Index as even less
peaceful than the brutal dictatorship of Myanmar. India has recently sent military supplies to Iran, and has
built its own arsenal of nuclear weapons. In spite of the aggressive stance taken by India, the American White
House and Congress recently agreed to send India nuclear technology and supplies that can be used to create
more nuclear weapons. (Sources: Global Peace Index, 2007, Congressman Ed Markey, November 14, 2006;
Huffington Post, March 3, 2006)
Israel is ranked in the Global Peace Index as 119th out of 121
nations. The reasons are many. Some of Israel's military activities take part as legitimate self-defense, but
many of its activities are agressive and reckless far beyond the bounds of legitimate response to the
aggression of its foes. The United States has offered uncritical support of Israel's militant behavior.
Progressives don't call for all American support for Israel to end, but they do call for an appropriate, selective
reduction in American support for Israel in order to pressure the Israeli government to abandon its
provocative and destabilizing tactics. (Source: Global Peace Index, 2007)
Iraq is ranked as the
least peaceful nation of all the nations listed on the Global Peace Index. Some of the responsibility for the
violence in Iraq lays at the feet of insurgents and non-government militia. However, the current bloodshed
throughout Iraq was provoked by the American invasion and occupation, and is perpetuated by American
support for elements in Iraq that are known to engage in genocidal violence. (Source: Global Peace Index,
When the secret, illegal prisons at Guantanamo Bay were set up, Donald Rumsfeld said
that the people being held prisoner there were "the worst of the worst". Since that declaration, we've started to
learn about the kind of people who were really shoved into Guantanamo Bay.
Take Omar Khadr. He was
captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan by the American government. His alleged crime: Throwing a hand
grenade on a battlefield. That was five years ago, at the age of 15. He had been coerced by his father into
going halfway around the world to join the Afghan government's effort to resist the American invasion. He
was a child soldier.
Omar Khadr is what right wingers believe that to be an example of the worst of
the worst. Progressives have a more realistic idea of who's a serious threat to American security. (Sources:
Village Voice, March 3, 2006; Montreal Gazette, June 6, 2007) If you ever need a reminder of how
important it is to vote progressive, just take another look at Joseph Lieberman. Lieberman has now come out
on the record as saying that he thinks it would be a good idea to start bombing Iran.
Lieberman says that
bombing Iran would be an effective way to calm down the violence in Iraq. Iran, on the other hand, has
promised to enter into no holds barred open warfare with the United States if it is attacked by the U.S.
military. So, with the United States waging war in Iran in order to try to get the initial mess of Iraq under
control, what would Lieberman's next suggestion be? Would he say that we ought to start bombing Azerbaijan
in order to get the violence in Iran under control?
Lieberman's plan to win one war by starting a new
war would lead to war around the world. It's not a plan for victory. It's a plan for magnifying the humiliation
of America's defeat.
Joseph Lieberman is going to be promoting his crazy ideas in the United States
Senate for at least five more years. In 2008, we need to elect a President who is willing to stand against the
Lieberman pro-war agenda, not help it become official American foreign policy. (Source: Financial Times,
June 11, 2007) Progressives support environmental protection and oppose massive military spending
programs. Most people don't put the two issues together, but an excellent series of articles by the Hampton
Roads Daily News reveals how closely they are linked.
The series examines how, for many years, the
American military has been dumping toxic chemicals, including chemical weapons such as mustard gas, into
the depths of the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean, with no reliable measures to guarantee that the toxic
materials will not leak out into the water, and no plans for a cleanup. How much toxic material has the
military dumped, and where is it? Some information is available, but the full information has yet to be
When the death and destruction caused by America's military extends even down to the
bottom of the ocean, it's a sign that our nation has taken its hunger for military power too far. Progressives
see the wisdom in pulling back and reducing the military to a more rational size. Right wing politicians,
however, refuse to acknowledge the problem and will not consider military reductions.
It won't just
be human beings that suffer the consequences if we allow military inflation to continue. (Source: Hampton
Roads Daily News, October 2005) There's no nice way to put this: In order to help push us into a war
in Iraq, Fred Thompson lied to America.
Back in 2002, when Fred Thompson was still in the Senate, he
issued a news release claiming that there was proof of a prolonged cooperation between Saddam Hussein and
Al Quaeda, among other terrorists. In that news release, Thompson wrote,
"What is the relationship
between Saddam Hussein and terrorism? The President pointed out that one of the most dangerous
circumstances that we can contemplate is having a regime such as his with the ability to transfer his
capabilities over to terrorists. We know that he has a long history of relationships with various terrorist
organizations, including some with Al Qaeda. Are we to assume that he would not ever use as a surrogate
someone to do his dirty work?
Iraq is extremely relevant to the war on terrorism. I think those who
urge that we totally clean up the war on terrorism before we address the situation in Iraq are missing the
The fact is that Fred Thompson had absolutely no evidence of any link between Saddam
Hussein and Al Quaeda. There never was any such evidence because there never was any such link.
Fred Thompson said "we know" Saddam Hussein had a "long history of relationships" with Osama Bin
Laden's organization. Plain and simple, that wasn't true. Fred Thompson did not know any such thing. Fred
Thompson was lying to America. He claimed to have secret information that didn't even exist.
it was Fred Thompson who was missing the point. Five years later, the United States is still trying to defeat
the Taliban and Al Quaeda in Afghanistan. In part, that's because of Fred Thompson's decision that the time
had come to divert resources away from the fight in Afghanistan to start a new war in Iraq.
Thompson wants to be elected as the next President of the United States in 2008, but he still hasn't explained,
much less apologized for, his decision to help George W. Bush deceive the American people so that the
disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq could begin. (Source: News Release from the Office of Senator
Fred Thompson, September 12, 2002) In order to better understand the political history that Fred
Thompson brings to his 2008 campaign for President, I took a look this morning at the issues that Fred
Thompson declared as most important at the height of his time in the Senate back in 1999.
One issue that is
conspicuously missing from Senator Thompson's 1999 list of important issues is Iraq.
Just three years
later, Fred Thompson was following the Republican party line in declaring Iraq to be a grave threat to the
entire world. So much of a threat was Iraq, Senator Thompson said, that a preemptive invasion of Iraq was
What changed in Iraq in those three years?
Oh, sure, some die hard
supporters of the Iraq War might still claim that Iraq was responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001 in
the United States. Everyone else recognizes by now, however, that there was no link between Saddam Hussein
and Osama Bin Laden. The two were adversaries, not allies.
So, what changed in Iraq in the three
years between the time when Fred Thompson concluded that Iraq was not an important issue and the time
when Fred Thomson declared Iraq to be a grave threat to the entire world? Nothing changed. Iraq didn't get
any new weapons, didn't invade any other country, and didn't make any new threats against anybody.
There are two ways to interpret the odd transformation of Fred Thompson's political opinion about
Possibility one: You might generously conclude that, in spite of the complete lack of evidence
for any such thing, Saddam Hussein was secretly involved in planning the attacks of September 11, 2001. Even
if you make this huge leap of faith, it does not reflect well upon Fred Thompson. After all, if Saddam Hussein
did have a plan to help Osama Bin Laden, Fred Thompson failed to do anything about the threat until the
United States was attacked. Even under this most indulgent acceptance of Republican conspiracy theories
about Iraq, Fred Thompson is exposed as failing to deal with the Iraqi threat when it might have mattered. As
his own records show, as a United States senator, Fred Thompson was more concerned with sending pork
barrel money to projects in Tennessee than he was with confronting Iraq, until 2002, when Thompson
performed an abrupt reversal.
Possibility two: Taking a look at the evidence, you reasonably conclude
that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden had nothing to do with each other. In that case, you reasonably
concede that Saddam Hussein was no more of a threat to the United States or to any other nation on Earth in
2002 than he was in 1999. If that's the case, then the sudden switch by Fred Thompson from ignoring Iraq to
pushing to start a war in Iraq was not justified by the security needs of the United States. In that case, it seems
that Fred Thompson changed his ideas about Iraq based on a change in the political climate, not based upon
The second interpretation fits the facts better than the first interpretation. Still, you have
your choice: Either Fred Thompson failed to confront a grave threat to the United States until it was too late,
or he pushed American into a bloody, costly war that he knew was not necessary. Whatever your choice, it's
clear that Fred Thompson is the wrong choice to become President of the United States in 2008. (Sources: Fred
Thompson Senate web site, 1999, http://thompson.senate.gov/important.html; News Release from the Office
of Senator Fred Thompson, September 12, 2002) This last week, Republican presidential candidate
Tommy Thompson did a fine job of showing how right wing ideology is capable of complaining about a
problem even while supporting the very same course of action that brought that problem about in the first
Tommy Thompson was campaigning in Iowa when he told an audience that the Bush
Administration's conduct of the war has "a degree of insanity stapled with it". Thompson also complained
that, "Eight and a half billion dollars a month and we still do not have a plan on how we're going to win the
war or win the peace."
Tommy Thompson also said that, if he were elected President, he would
nominate Colin Powell to serve as his Secretary of State. It was Colin Powell, some will remember, who
helped George W. Bush to the United Nations about fake evidence for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Colin Powell also had a special responsibility, as Secretary of State and former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, for ensuring that the Bush White House develop a plan for how to win the war and how to win the
peace. Colin Powell did not fulfill that responsibility, yet Tommy Thompson wants him back in the White
For proposing to reconstitute the political team that led America into Iraq in the first place, it's
Tommy Thompson who has "a degree of insanity". (Source: Radio Iowa, June 19, 2007)
"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Isaac Asimov
What kind of leadership could we expect from Fred Thompson as Commander In Chief? Thompson's record in the United
States Senate provides cause for great concern. On March 22, 2002, a year before the invasion and military
occupation of Iraq began, Fred Thompson wrote a column entitled Inspections Are Not the Answer to the
Problem of Saddam Hussein.
What problem of Saddam Hussein were inspections not the answer for?
Weapons of mass destruction, of course.
Why did Fred Thompson say that inspections were not the
answer for Saddam Hussein? Because the inspectors were not finding any weapons of mass destruction.
Fred Thompson presumed that there were weapons of mass destruction, and that Saddam Hussein was
hiding them from ineffective weapons inspectors. What we know now is that there were no weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq. All the evidence pointed in that direction, but Thompson refused to consider that evidence,
because he had already decided what the truth was.
Another year of weapons inspections, along with
an intelligent consideration of the evidence already available, would likely have enabled the American public
to figure out what many experts and progressive activists were already saying: That there was no evidence of
a need for war. However, Fred Thompson would not tolerate such restraint and consideration. He demanded a
rush to action. Thompson declared that looking for more conclusive evidence wouldn't help out at all.
When deciding whether to lead America into war, Thompson would make up his mind first, stop
gathering information about the situation, and then send American soldiers into unknown circumstances.
When confronted with an uncertain situation, Thompson's approach is to steadfastly refuse to gather more
After five years of an increasingly bloody occupation of Iraq, we have already seen the
consequences of Fred Thompson's approach to leadership. (Source: Senator Fred Thompson's Weekly Column,
March 22, 2002)
History is full of examples of wars for empire bankrupting wealthy nations, as the wars of George W. Bush are now bankrupting the United States of America. Back in the 1800s, English historian Lord Macaulay noted, "The reluctant obedience of distant provinces generally costs more than it is worth."
If George W. Bush had read history, he might have reconsidered before launching America into unnecessary wars for obedience of distant territories. Sadly, Bush seems not to have read much at all, history or otherwise. (Source: Routledge Dictionary of Quotations)
Right wingers have failed so often that their vision of success has become
frighteningly low. Years after promising a grand new blossoming of peace throughout the Middle East as a
benefit of his Iraq War, George W. Bush now says that he is holding out hope for ongoing bloody violence for
Iraq, but with a vote now and then.
No kidding. George W. Bush now says that his vision of success for
Iraq is to have ongoing suicide car bomb attacks and violence in the streets, with elections. That's the goal that
American soldiers are now fighting for.
We wouldn't accept that as a successful way of life here in the
United States. We ought not to accept that as a new lowdown definition of success for Iraq. (Source: Boston
Herald, June 29, 2007) In June, 2007, it was reported that something between 30 and 100 civilians were
killed in a military attack led by the United States in Afghanistan.
The American government
acknowledges civilians were killed, but says that their deaths were necessary.
Were those deaths
really necessary? How, if for about six years now, Americans have been fighting to defeat the Taliban and rid
the nation of Al Qaeda, and the Taliban and Al Qaeda still keep coming back, will killing civilians help change
Afghanistan from a haven for terrorists? Hasn't it now been proven that American military efforts are not
effective in ridding Afghanistan of terrorists and other militant extremists? If those military efforts are
ineffective, why are the deaths of civilians killed by the American military necessary?
think to ask these difficult questions. These questions don't occur to right wing politicians, who just keep on
supporting the same old failed war policies, and call the progressives' questioning "treason".
military authority. Vote progressive in 2008. (Source: Associated Press, June 30, 2007) Since he took
office in 2001, George W. Bush has chosen confrontation, disengagement and aggression over diplomacy in
his cowboy foreign policy. Bush asks the American people for "patience" as he gives his strategy of smash and
bash yet another year to work after six years of failure. But we can't let the policy of war and threats of war
continue; that policy is hurting the standing of the United States and undermining efforts to preserve
international peace. According to reports by the Government Accountability Office, the American Foreign
Service Association and the State Department itself, the number of countries in which American diplomats are
under security lockdowns is at a new high. In at least 28 nations, U.S. diplomats cannot leave their fortified
compounds because those foreign countries are no longer safe for Americans, even Americans with diplomatic
Because diplomats weren't allowed to do their job in the lead-up to Bush's pet war, the world
has become too unsafe and too anti-American for diplomats to do their job safely now. George W. Bush's
would-be successors want to continue down the same path in the future, jostling with each other in
presidential debates too see who can most fulsomely endorse the torture of foreigners. This is a road to
international chaos. We need to find another road. (Sources: Associated Press, July 7 2007; Los Angeles Times,
May 18 2007)
As America considers the difference between presidential candidates who supported the rush to invade Iraq and those who opposed that rush, let's remember of the words of U.S. General and Senator Carl Shurz, who said in 1898, "The man who in times of popular excitement boldly and unflinchingly resists hot-tempered clamor for an unnecessary war, and thus exposes himself to the opprobrious imputation of a lack of patriotism or of courage, to the end of saving his country from a great calamity, is, as to 'loving and faithfully serving his country,' at least as good a patriot as the hero of the most daring feat of arms, and a far better one than those who, with an ostentatious pretense of superior patriotism, cry for war before it is needed, especially if then they let others do the fighting."
Republican Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo voted in favor of
starting a war in Iraq in 2002, and in 2004 he took to the floor of the House of Representatives to try to explain
his vote, even in the context of the accelerating chaos in that country. Here's part of what Tancredo said:
"Was Iraq the proper thing for us to do, the logical extension of our war against terror?
Specifically, was it the right thing to do in our war against fundamentalist Islam? Because that is really what
we are at war with. I agree with some of the comments made earlier by some of the folks over here that said
that terror is not the thing with which we are at war. It is simply a tactic. I have said this on this floor many
times and now for several years, and I am glad to hear it being repeated by others because, of course, it is
important for us to understand who the enemy really is.
I think our friends on the other side did not
go as far as they needed to go to actually describe them. It is fundamentalist Islam with which we are at war,
make no mistake about it. And whether that fervor, that Islamic fervor leads you to do things like press for a
separation from Russia because you want to create an Islamic republic, it is still fundamentalist Islam with
which the world is at war. Or whether it manifests itself as it did here by planes crashing into buildings and
into the Pentagon and into fields in Pennsylvania, it is fundamentalist Islam with which we are at war. Around
the world, incidents occur. There are motivating factors that combine to create them, but when you sort of get
to the bottom line, what is the common element? It is fundamentalist Islam."
You don't get
much more clear than that. Tom Tancredo believes that the United States is at war against fundamentalist
Islam. He doesn't believe that America is at war against terrorists, or a gang of criminals, or against the
governments who protect them. Tom Tancredo believes that the United States is at war against a religion.
I don't like Islamic fundamentalism and what it stands for. I don't like Christian fundamentalism any
more than I like Islamic fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is unhealthy, irrational, disrespectful, and
antidemocratic. Nonetheless, I don't think that religious fundamentalism ought to be outlawed.
Fundamentalism should be contended with through democratic means and through the law, keeping theocratic
bullies from using the power of government to enforce their ridiculous beliefs.
Waging war against a
religion, as Tom Tancredo suggests we do, is a bad idea doomed to failure. Religion cannot be met on the
battlefield, because its adherents are mostly not on the battlefield. Religion lives in houses, with children, and
it walks in marketplaces, with its neighbors. Wage a war against religion, and you'll end up bombing houses
and marketplaces, much as the United States has begun to do in its directionless military campaigns.
war against Islamic fundamentalism can only make Islamic fundamentalism stronger. The United States
cannot hope to kill off all the world's Islamic fundamentalists, but if it tries, it will bring new converts into
Islamic fundamentalism out of sympathy for its stand against the bombs and bullets of the United States.
Tom Tancredo doesn't understand the folly of waging war against a religion. He thinks it's a great idea.
Tom Tancredo wants the United States to fight a religious crusade. If we follow Tancredo's advice, the United
States is sure to be as successful as the crusades of the medieval era were.
Go back in history if you
need a refresher on what that version of success looks like.(Source: Congressional Record, September 13, 2004)
The Republican Party likes to promote itself as the political party that knows how to run the
military, but the facts of rampant military mismanagement by the administration of George W. Bush indicate
otherwise. In June, 2007, the Air Force Audit Agency released a report indicating "at least 35 significant
deficiencies in critical areas" in the oversight of "the largest single facility construction project in the world",
the construction of the K-Town Mall at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
When the Air Force was
confronted with these failures, it admitted the problems. Yet, the Air Force leadership refused to solve many
of the problems.
With this kind of pathetic mismanagement by the military taking place even in
peaceful areas, it's no wonder that the Republicans in government have been unable to wage successful
military operations in the combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Source: Fact Sheet, House Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform, June 28, 2007) Remember back in 2004, when George W. Bush
said that his plan to train Iraqi police, soldiers, and other security forces would defeat evildoers and bring
order to Iraq? It was a sham then, and his claims of training are a sham now, and the Bush Administration
Iraqis trained by the American military are often using their training to increase the chaos and
violence in Iraq. For instance, this week, the American military had to attack a squad of Iraqi police that had
been acting as a death squad against Sunni Iraqis, as well as attacking American soldiers.
the American military is now fighting are not Al Quaeda terrorists. They are not Iranians infiltrating Iraq.
They are Iraqis, trained and armed by the USA. Here's what the Associated Press writes about this latest battle
between American soldiers and Iraqi police:
"The Iraqi police are believed to be widely infiltrated by
Shiite militiamen blamed for sectarian killings, creating a deep mistrust of the force among the Sunni Arab
minority. Purging the force of a militia presence is one of the political benchmarks sought by Washington,
though the Bush administration said in its assessment released Thursday that progress on purging the security
forces is 'unsatisfactory.'"
We can break that statement down to the following elements: 1. The
Bush Administration knows that the Iraqi police are full of militiamen (insurgents and members of death
2. The Bush Administration knows that the efforts to get the death squads out of the police have
not been successful
3. The Bush Administration refuses to stop training and arming more Iraqi
The American right wing Iraq policy for victory in Iraq is to train and arm the very people
American soldiers are fighting against. We cannot afford another four years of this insane idea. (Source:
Associated Press, July 13, 2007) On July 12, 2007, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a
measure to require a pullout of American soldiers from Iraq to begin within 120 days of final passage of the
bill by the House and Senate.
There is no issue more important than whether to end the bloody military
occupation of Iraq. Yet, two candidates for President did not even bother to show up for the vote.
Republican presidential candidates Tom Tancredo, from Colorado, and Ron Paul, from Texas, did not
even show up for the vote.
Tom Tancredo says that he supports continuing the occupation of Iraq.
But, he didn't take the effort to vote in favor of that position. He was nowhere to be seen.
says that he supports ending the occupation of Iraq. Yet, when he had the chance to cast a vote to end the
occupation, Ron Paul didn't do it. He wasn't even there to cast a vote.
It seems that Ron Paul and Tom
Tancredo are too busy talking about Iraq in their campaign speeches to actually do something about Iraq.
That's not the kind of leadership we need from our next President of the United States. (Source: Library of
Congress, Roll Call 624) "The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who
attacked us in America on September the 11th." George W. Bush, July 12 2007
Zoikes! Someone call Scoob
and the Gang. We need some real, honest-to-goodness ghost hunters here, because it's the ghosts of the 9/11/01
bombers who are out to get the Iraqis now. The very same folks, but now dead. And bullets can't stop the
dead. And spikes and garlic can't stop the dead, unless they're vampires, and stuff. No, even a cursory
television history tells us that the only ones who can stop the ghost terrorists are Scooby, Shaggy, Velma,
Fred, and Daphne, with the occasional help of Scrappy Doo and the Superfriends. After all, what do the
villainous fiends say at the end of every episode? "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for
those meddling kids." Say no more!
Maybe the Scooby Doo plan isn't as thorough, thoughtful, careful,
and precise as it could be. Unfortunately, it's about as well-conceived as the President's claims of a link
between the attacks of September 11th and the chaos in Iraq. America needs to choose a more clear-headed
leader in 2008, one who knows the difference between cartoon thinking and a realistic foreign policy. (Source:
New York Times, July 13 2007) Right wingers said that the 2004 fighting by American soldiers in the
Iraqi city of Fallujah was a necessary part of the liberation of Iraq. Liberation is not not what eight unarmed
residents of Fallujah received. They were taken captive by American soldiers, and then executed.
were the unarmed Iraqis executed? Had they done something wrong that made them deserve to be killed by
their American captors?
Indications are that the American soldiers killed their Iraqi captives merely
because the soldiers were given orders to go somewhere else, and decided that it would be impractical to take
the prisoners with them.
Such incidents are not isolated from the larger war. Rather, they take place
when stressed out soldiers are sent on futile missions into dangerous situations in civilian areas without a
clear idea of who the enemy is. Responsibility for these incidents rests with the soldiers who commit war
crimes, but the military leadership that creates the circumstances that makes the war crimes likely also shares a
substantial amount of the responsibility.
The President of the United States is at the head of that
military leadership. The buck stops with him. (Source: Reuters, July 5, 2007) Congratulations, Mr.
Bush, you can add "Restarted the Cold War" to your list of achievements.
On July 14 2007, Vladimir Putin
informed NATO that he would suspend Russia's compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe arms
limitation treaty and consider itself free to redeploy heavy weaponry on the continent.
because George W. Bush is deploying a missile shield in Europe& a missile shield that doesn't work. (Sources:
New York Times July 15 2007; Agence France Presse May 26 2007) On July 16, 2007 Anthony
Cordesman, Middle East expert and holder of the Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, released a report confirming the suspicion that the organization commonly referred to
as Al Quaeda in Iraq. The Center for Strategic and International Studies is by no means a leftist peacenik
organization, so the fact that Cordesman is refuting the Bush Administration's claims about the supposed
dominance of of Al Quaeda in Iraq is especially significant.
In his report, Cordesman says of Al Qaeda in
Iraq that, "Al Qa'ida in Mesopotamia is only one part of a mix of different Sunni Islamist Extremists and more
nationalist groups. There is a wide mix of Shi'ite extremists and militias. There are still no reliable estimates
of the strength of given groups, or of how many attacks of what kind a given group conducted, who their
leadership is many cases, or exactly what they stand for."
Cordesman also explains that officials in the
Iraqi government are prone to exaggerate the extent of Al Quaeda activities in Iraq, because, "it is easier for
them, particularly if they are Shi'ite, to blame as many of Iraqi's problems on foreigners and Sunnis as
Looking even at the public statements about attacks in Iraq, which Al Quaeda is particular fond
of making, Cordesman finds that only 17 percent are made by the Islamic State of Iraq, and Al Quaeda in Iraq
makes up only part of the Islamic State of Iraq.
Besides that, Cordesman points out that something
like 90 or 95 percent of the members of Al Quaeda in Iraq are not foreign fighters at all, but Iraqi natives who
took on the label of Al Quaeda after the American invasion in order to gain attention to their cause.
Thus, only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the people fighting in Iraq are even distantly connected
to Osama Bin Laden. The Republican claim that the fighting in Iraq is part of a global war against Al Quaeda
just doesn't match up with the facts.
The fraud of the Republican claim is plain to see through simple
research and reasoning. For some people, research and reasoning aren't enough. Some people need a person in
a position of authority to proclaim what's true for them. This reason is for them: The Republicans claims
about Al Quaeda in Iraq are wrong. Expert Anthony Cordesman says so. (Source: Center for Strategic and
International Studies, July 16, 2007) It has been a long time now since anyone believed what the Bush
Administration had to say about the death of Patrick Tillman, former player for the National Football League
and corporal in the United States Army. When Pat Tillman died, the Pentagon released stories about how he
was killed by terrorist evildoers, bravely defending his comrades in arms.
The trouble was that the
Pentagon story was a lie. Pat Tillman was killed by what the military calls "friendly fire". That means that
Tillman was killed by American soldiers accidentally firing their weapons at other American soldiers.
That death didn't make for good propaganda, of course. The Bush Administration seems to have decided
that a soldier as famous as Pat Tillman needed to have an honorable death, for the sake of keeping up support
for the war. So, they made up a fake story, and covered up what really happened on the battlefield.
the end, the Pat Tillman fiction was bad for the war effort, because it exposed the way that the American
military often lies to Americans about the way it wages war. As a result of the lies about Pat Tillman,
Americans have become more doubtful that what the military tells the public is true.
If the Bush
Administration had any sense, it would try to limit the damage by coming clean and telling the complete truth
about the Pat Tillman affair. Sadly, the Bush Administration doesn't seem to have any sense. Years after the
death of Pat Tillman, the Bush White House is still trying to cover up what really happened.
summer, when the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the House of Representatives
requested documents from the White House related to the death of Pat Tillman, the Bush White House refused
to comply. The White House said that it would continue to keep almost all of documents secret from Congress
and the American public, not because of national security needs, but because George W. Bush contends that he
has the right to keep such secrets if he wants to.
It is impossible to say what exactly information about
the death of Pat Tillman the White House is keeping secret. This much is certain, however: Even after it has
been caught in a coverup that distorted the legacy of a man who was considered to be an American hero,
George W. Bush and his Republican aides have not learned the lesson that it's best to tell the American people
In the short term, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will be
holding a hearing on August 1, 2007, exploring the continuing Bush White House coverup of the truth about
Pat Tillman's death. In the long term, we need a new, progressive President who will not use the power of
government to perpetuate lies about American soldiers, or keep the American people from knowing the truth
about what the military is doing in their names. (Source: House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform, July 13, 2007)
The McClatchy Newspapers have obtained statistics compiled by
Pentagon about the number of civilians that have been shot by American soldiers at security checkpoints in
Iraq. The statistics show that the military admits to having shot 429 civilians at these checkpoints in one year
These 429 civilians, mind you, are just the ones that were shot at checkpoints, and are only the
ones that the military admits to. Also, much of the time that the statistics covered was before the so-
called "surge", the escalation of the American military presence on Iraqi streets. It's safe to assume that
civilians are being shot at an even higher rate now.
There are two reasons to elect a progressive
President in 2008 in this story: Do it for the civilians who would never have been shot at checkpoints
in Iraq if the progressive policy of not starting a war in Iraq had been followed in the first place. The loss of
these human beings is good cause for America to consider a change in course.
Do it because the
military was lying when it told the American people that it didn't keep statistics about civilians killed and
wounded in Iraq. We deserve a government that won't lie to us about its darker side.
McClatchy Newspapers, July 11, 2007)
In May 2007, Senator Hillary Clinton sent a letter to
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. She wrote, "Given the express will of the Congress to implement a phased
redeployment of United States forces from Iraq and the importance of proper contingency planning to achieve
that goal, I write to request that you provide the appropriate oversight committees in Congress - including the
Senate Armed Services Committee - with briefings on what current contingency plans exist for the future
withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Alternatively, if no such plans exist, please provide an explanation for
the decision not to engage in such planning."
Republican Eric Edelman, Undersecretary in the Department
of Defense, responded to the letter by saying that the Department of Defense would refuse to allow the
Senate to conduct its constitutionally-established oversight responsibilities, writing to Senator Clinton
that "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy
Consider what Edelman's claim really means. He is claiming that, just by discussing the
issue of whether the military occupation if Iraq should end, Americans like Hillary Clinton are aiding the
enemy. He suggests that Senator Clinton just stop talking about the issue.
Edelman and his right wing
supporters just don't seem to understand the way that democracy works. In a democracy, government policies
are supposed to be arrived at through a process of lengthy and comprehensive discussion of possible
alternatives. In the United States, Congress is given the power of oversight of the Executive Branch, including
the military, in order to ensure that such discussions take place.
Besides, Edelman's credibility is
broken when he describes Senator Clinton's request for contingency planning for Iraq as "premature". The
American military has been bogged down in Iraq, making no progress on stabilizing the country, for four
years. The American public has been engaged in a debate about whether a withdrawal is appropriate for all of
Edelman further complains to Senator Clinton that "Such talk understandably unnerves the
very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks in order to achieve compromises on
national reconciliation, amending the Iraqi constitution, and other contentious issues."
government officials are unnerved at the processes of American democracy, ought we to squelch our
democracy to make them feel better? Edelman seems to think so.
However, the premises of this
suggestion are flawed. First of all, the Iraqi government is making very little progress to achieve the
compromises that Edelman refers to. Secondly, as Senator Clinton suggested herself in the letter she sent to
Secretary Robert Gates, the Iraqi equivalent of the Department of Defense is making contingency plans of its
own for working with an American military withdrawal. Clinton explained, "Defense Minister Abdul-Qader
al-Obeidi is preparing plans in the event that the United States and its forces departed Iraq quickly, reviewing
worst-case scenarios, and conducting meetings with Iraq's political leadership on this issue."
United States of America to be less prepared for developments in Iraq than the Iraqis themselves? That seems
like a sure recipe for failure, but it is the course that Eric Edelman and his right wing supporters suggest.
Senator Clinton is right. We deserve better. (Sources: Office of Senator Hillary Clinton, Letter of May 22,
2007 and Response of June 16, 2007)
"I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war." - Albert Einstein, 1931
Speaking on July 23, 2007, Barack Obama used a phrase that I
hope will expand to become a complete policy promoted by the next President. Speaking of Iraq, Obama
said, "We have to begin a phased withdrawal; have our combat troops out by March 31st of next year; and
initiate the kind of diplomatic surge that is necessary in these surrounding regions to make sure that
everybody is carrying their weight."
A diplomatic surge is a good, solid progressive idea that can work.
George W. Bush spent the first months of his presidency neglecting diplomatic relations with the other
nations of the world, and he has had to play diplomatic catchup ever since, reacting to problems instead of
cooperating with other countries to deal with issues before they become problems. The Bush White House
never gained sufficient diplomatic momentum because it preferred thinking in military means.
Barack Obama has proposed a better way: Surge diplomatic efforts so that military surges are not
necessary.(Source: CNN, July 23, 2007) President George W. Bush has for some time been telling the
American people that Iraq is the central front in his war against terrorism. Bush makes this claim as if it is
self-evident, an item of Republican faith that cannot be questioned.
Now, anti-terrorism experts are indeed
questioning Bush's claim. In fact, the top anti-terrorism analyst in the government says that Bush is just plain
Edward Gistaro is the national intelligence officer for transnational threats, and in his
testimony before two committees in the House of Representatives yesterday, he directly contradicted the
assertion by President Bush that Iraq is the central front in the struggle against terrorism. According to
Gistaro, it is Afghanistan and Pakistan where the primary terrorist threat comes from, not Iraq. In spite of the
years-long war led by the United States in Afghanistan and supposed cooperation from the Pakistani
government, Gistaro says that areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan are a "comfort zone" for Al Quaeda.
Considering that one of the primary goals of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was to make
sure Afghanistan was no longer a safe haven for terrorists, it seems clear now that the war there has failed.
The Republicans have offered incompetent military and diplomatic leadership for years now. Gistaro's
testimony gives good reason for Americans to consider an alternative approach, and elect a progressive
President in 2008. (Source: Boston Globe, July 26, 2007)
When President George W. Bush learned that the number of serious terrorist attacks jumped threefold in the year 2004, he responded, not by changing the strategy in his so-called "War On Terror", but by trying to conceal the information from the American public. In 2008, we need to elect a President who understands that success cannot be defined solely on the perceptions of people who don't have all the information they need to make a meaningful decision. (Source: Washington Post, April 26, 2005)
President George W. Bush is about to send a
proposal to Congress to sell about 20 billion dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. This is in spite of
evidence that Saudi Arabia has been supporting Sunni insurgents in Iraq and the fact that most of the hijackers
involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001 were from Saudi Arabia. In its negotiations with the
government of Saudi Arabia, the Bush White House has not even asked that the Saudi government stop
meddling in Iraqi affairs.
The Bush Administration is aware of the alarm caused by its proposal, and has
come up with a solution that it believes ameliorates the threat. Bush's idea of a solution: To send even more
weapons into the Middle East. The Bush White House believes that it can deal with the criticism of its huge
arms deal with Saudi Arabia by sending more than 30 billion dollars worth of weapons to Israel.
will sending even more weapons into a volatile region make up for the 20 billion dollars worth of weapons
sent to Saudi Arabia help to bring about peace? How will the gift of billions of dollars of weapons to Israel
prevent Saudi Arabia from using American weapons to escalate the civil war in Iraq? The Bush
Administration won't say.(Source: New York Times, July 28, 2007) Part of George W. Bush's plan to
achieve victory and peace in Iraq is to get the Iraqi government to accept responsibility for completed
American reconstruction projects. The problem with the plan is that the Iraqi government doesn't want to play
along. Of 2,797 completed reconstruction projects that the American people have paid billions of dollars for,
the Iraqi government is only willing to take on responsibility for 435 projects. For the rest, the Iraqi
government says that the Americans will have to take care of them itself, or figure out an alternative plan.
If the Iraqi government established by the American occupation won't even go along with the American
efforts to reconstruct Iraq, how are we supposed to achieve victory and peace in Iraq? Well, the Bush White
House doesn't have an answer to that question. (Source: New York Times, August 28, 2007)
In between rounds of his vacation golf game in the summer before
launching a war against Iraq, George W. Bush responded to a reporter's
"QUESTION: Mr. President, yesterday in an interview I guess with
Scott, you described Iraq as the enemy.
BUSH: I described them as the axis of evil once. I described them as
an enemy until proven otherwise."
Bush's standard for launching a war was not that his administration
had to make a case, but that someone else had to show that the
administration is wrong.
Given what war did to the Iraqi people, we should have asked for more
than that. We should have done more than ask. We should have
demanded, loudly. We didn't demand loudly enough to stop Bush in his
prove-me-wrong war of 2003. It's too late for us to right that wrong.
The task before us now is to make sure that our next president is
better touch with reality. Is that too much to ask? (Source: White House News Release, August 10, 2002)
Bush, the Republicans, and right-leaning Democrats promised us that an invasion of Iraq would lead to
liberation for the Iraqi people. The true result of the ongoing violence there has been much more grim.
Oxfam and a network of non-governmental organizations have just released a report summarizing the
humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Here's what the report tells us about the costs of Bush's war of liberation: -
Almost one third of Iraqis is in need of emergency aid
- Four million Iraqis are unable to buy enough
food to eat
- 70 percent of Iraqis do not have adequate water supplies
- 28 percent of Iraqi children
are malnourished, and 92 percent are suffering from learning difficulties due to the stress of the violence and
chaos wracking Iraq
The impact of the failed Iraq War goes far beyond just the body count of the
people who have died in gun battles and bombings. Each one of these points of suffering is a sign of the
profound lack of foresight among those who so eagerly pushed for the United States to invade and occupy
Iraq. Each one is a good reason to vote in 2008 for a progressive presidential candidate who urged peace when
it mattered most - before the war was begun. (Source: Oxfam, July 30, 2007) United States Secretary of
Defense Robert Gates admitted yesterday that he, President George W. Bush and the rest of the Bush White
House had failed to take into account the deep animosities between Iraq's Sunnis and Shia in their work to
establish reconciliation there through a military escalation. "In some ways we probably all underestimated the
depth of mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together," Gates said.
The sad thing
is that progressives have been trying to get the Bush Republicans to pay attention to the severity of the
division between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq for years. When the progressives tried to bring the subject into
discussions about the future of Iraq, however, the Republicans said that we were just emphasizing the
negative too much.
Now, the negative consequences the Republicans' failure to anticipate the degree
of Iraq's internal divisions have come to pass. The Iraqi government has fallen apart after the departure of
disgruntled Sunnis of the Accordance Front from the cabinet.
"The difficulty in coming to grips with
those we may all have underestimated six or eight months ago," Gates says. Think back now to what was
happening six to eight months ago& Yes, that's right, it was the time when the Bush White House came up
with its surge plan to escalate the fighting in Iraq.
Now, as the September deadline for evaluation of
that plan nears, the Bush White House expects us to believe that their plan has been a success? Tell that to the
Accordance Front, and to the remains of the disintegrated Shia government that's left holding the ball.
(Source: Lebanon Daily Star, August 3, 2007) George W. Bush said it himself at the beginning of the
war in Afghanistan: The progress of the war ought to be judged according to whether or not Osama Bin Laden
is captured or killed.
So now, after six years of war in Afghanistan, how is it going? Well, George W. Bush
also says that when it comes to evaluating war, we ought to listen to the people on the ground. Afghan
President Hamid Karzai is definitely on the ground in Afghanistan, so let's see what he says about the hunt for
Osama Bin Laden:
"We are not closer, we are not further away from it& We are where we were a few
Hamid Karzai sums up the problem with the Republican leadership of the war in
Afghanistan. Six years into it, there's no major progress in the primary goal of the war: Capturing or killing
Osama Bin Laden.
When it comes to war, as much as they beat their chests, Republicans just don't
know how to get the job done. (Source: Associated Press, August 5, 2007) The Government
Accountability Office reports that the American military cannot account for 190,000 guns that it gave to
Iraqi "security forces". The United States military trained Iraqis how to fire the guns, and how to engage in
military operations, and then the guns disappeared.
Of course, the guns aren't really gone, and neither are
the huge number of Iraqis trained to be part of the "security forces" who walked off the job. Chances are that
the guns are now being used by insurgents and death squads in Iraq, or have been smuggled to militants in
other countries, now ready to make trouble on a larger scale. We don't know for sure, but maybe some of
those guns are even being used by Taliban in Afghanistan, to fight against American soliders there.
The Bush Administration assumed that if the United States poured hundreds of thousands of guns into a
country moving toward civil war, it would help make things there more stable. Call it the NRA foreign
policy, or, if you prefer to be blunt, call it one of the most profoundly stupid ideas in American history.
I could count each one of those guns as a reason to elect a progressive President in 2008, but instead of
taking that easy path toward growing the list of 2,008 reasons, I'll just count this as one very big reason with
190,000 little parts. (Source: CBS News, August 6, 2007) The Bush Administration is preparing a
September effort to convince Americans that the American military occupation is succeeding in diminishing
the violent unrest that was caused by, um& the American military occupation.
The facts on the ground
give a story that does not fit George W. Bush's optimism. For example, the Iraqi government reports that the
national power grid is on the verge of collapse, in large part due to insurgent attacks. That doesn't sound much
like a security improvement to most people, especially in a nation that has some of the greatest natural energy
resources of any country on Earth. (Source: CBS News, August 6, 2007) Rudolph Giuliani seeks to
promote his presidential campaign through a list of themes that he calls the "12 Commitments" - 12 promises
he makes about the kind of President he would be. These 12 Commitments are meant to condense the complex
issues of the Giuliani 2008 campaign down to bare essentials.
In abstract, that's not a bad idea. However, in
practice, the condensation of Giuliani's agenda down to concise commitments reveals how poorly conceived
Consider Rudy Giuliani's first commitment: "I will keep America on offense in the
Terrorists' War on us"
The awkward language of this commitment caught my attention right away,
because it indicates an awkwardness in the underlying thought.
Rudolph Giuliani says that he wants
to take America on the offense against terrorists, although such an idea has led America to repeated disasters
under George W. Bush. Deeper than that, though, I've got to wonder how Giuliani thinks he will be on the
offense if he persists in merely reacting to terrorist attacks.
Giuliani says that he will be on the
offense in the "Terrorists' War on us". If it's the terrorists' war on us that Giuliani is having America fight in,
however, then by definition, he is allowing the terrorists to set the terms of the war.
defensive stance, not an offensive strategy. Even when he tries to think of how to lead America to take back
the initiative, Rudolph Giuliani is trapped in a defensive mindset defined by terrorist organizations like Al
Quaeda. Rudy Giuliani has already committed, if he becomes President, to play the antiterrorist game by the
rules set by Osama Bin Laden.
That's a commitment that I hope Giuliani never gets the chance to
keep. (Source: JoinRudy2008.com) In 2006, the rate of suicides in the United States Army reached its
highest level in 26 years. Why?
Well, the place with the highest number of Army suicides was in Iraq,
where American soldiers have been asked to fight in a losing battle with missions that often don't seem to
make sense. Their deployments are extended from their promised lengths, and are put practically back to
Poor military leadership from the Republican Bush Administration has contributed to the
conditions that make the rate of soldier suicides so high. If we elect a progressive President the exceptionally
psychologically stressful circumstances created by George W. Bush will be ended. Suicides in the Army will
never go down to zero, but they can be greatly reduced.
It's a matter of supporting the troops. (Source:
Associated Press, August 16, 2007) Imagine what it would be like to wake up tomorrow morning and
find out that Catholics and Protestants had taken to fighting each other on the streets of the United States, and
that one group of Catholics had set off a bomb, killing Sonny Perdue, the Protestant governor of Georgia, on
his way to work.
That's the political reality that Iraqis are facing over half a year after George W. Bush
declared his plan to end the violent chaos in Iraq with a military surge. The purpose of the military surge was
to stop the violence wracking Iraq, so that political leaders would have the opportunity to develop peaceful
solutions to the problems fueling the disintegration of the country.
Mohammed Ali al-Hassani, the
governor of Muthanna, which lies in the south of Iraq between Basrah and Najaf provinces, was killed by a
roadside bomb as he travelled to work this morning. His assassination comes just nine days after the
assassination of the governor of Qadasiyah, the province directly to the north of Muthanna.
Hassani's assassination is just the latest of many indications that the surge strategy of military escalation in
Iraq is not bringing about the peaceful respite that President Bush had promised. Yet, Bush and his right wing
allies continue to insist that the escalation has been effective, and should be allowed to continue.
indications are that the next President will inherit the Iraq mess from George W. Bush. We need to make sure
that we have a President who, in January 2009, will be ready to establish a new direction of American strategy
for dealing with Iraq that is based upon a recognition of the severity of the problems there, not upon a
stubborn insistence that everything is under control.
Progressives understand that country where
governors are being assassinated is not a peaceful and safe place to live. Right wing politicians, on the other
hand, continue to insist that progress is being made in Iraq, in spite of the fact that its top officials are turning
up dead. (Source: Associated Press, August 20, 2007) Even Dick Cheney is an opponent of the war in
Iraq - the Dick Cheney of 1994, that is. Grand Theft Country has unearthed a video of an American Enterprise
Institute interview with Dick Cheney in 1994. Cheney explains why an invasion of Iraq and occupation of
Baghdad was a really, really bad idea. Here's the transcript of that interview:
Question: Do you
think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?
Dick Cheney: No.
Question: Why not?
Cheney: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There
wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab
forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq. Once you got to Iraq and took
it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very
volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up
seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it, Eastern Iraq, the
Iranians would like to claim; they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the
Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It's a
quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.
The other thing was casualties. Everyone was
impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans
killed in action, and for their families, it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of
whether or not we went on to Baghdad and took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was
how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we
got it right.
When even Dick Cheney himself disagrees with the choices and priorities of the
Bush White House, it becomes clear that today's Republican administration has driven itself to a crazy, crazy
place. (Source: Grand Theft Country, August 10 2007) In yet another sign that the American military
occupation of Afghanistan is going down the same bloody path as the American military occupation of Iraq,
Arsala Jamal, Governor of the Afghan province of Khost, was nearly killed in a suicide bomb attack. This
comes in the same month when the governors of two provinces in Iraq have been assassinated.
same day, Taliban fighters launched an attack against a military base used by the American-led occupation,
wounding eleven American soldiers.
This kind of violence from the Taliban and Al Quaeda is
becoming ever more routine as the American occupation of Afghanistan is set to enter its seventh year. Yet,
Republicans are still citing the American military operations in Afghanistan as an example of great success in
their war against fundamentalist Islam. (Source: Voice of America, August 22, 2007) The National
Intelligence Estimate released by the Bush administration's intelligence apparatus in August 2007 regarding
Iraq is full of cautionary and contingent language:
When we use words such as "we judge"
or "we assess"—terms we use synonymously— as well as "we estimate," "likely" or "indicate," we are trying to
convey an analytical assessment or judgment. These assessments, which are based on incomplete or at times
fragmentary information are not a fact, proof, or knowledge. Some analytical judgments are based directly on
collected information; others rest on previous judgments, which serve as building blocks. In either type of
judgment, we do not have "evidence" that shows something to be a fact or that definitively links two items or
We do not intend the term "unlikely" to imply an event will not happen. We use "probably"
and "likely" to indicate there is a greater than even chance. We use words such as "we cannot dismiss," "we
cannot rule out," and "we cannot discount" to reflect an unlikely—or even remote—event whose consequences
are such it warrants mentioning. Words such as "may be" and "suggest" are used to reflect situations in which
we are unable to assess the likelihood generally because relevant information is nonexistent, sketchy, or
So NOW that the United States has been stuck in a war with no good solution
or outcome for over four years, NOW we're hearing that the intelligence agencies actually "do not
have ‘evidence' that shows something to be a fact or that definitively links two items or issues." It would have
been nice to hear the intelligence agencies admit their level of ignorance on the issues BEFORE the nation
threw itself unilaterally into a mess of a war. Instead, we had Bush's director of intelligence asserting that the
existence of Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk", Bush's secretary of
state identifying "mobile biological weapons labs" with certainty. Then we had Bush's Secretary of Defense
telling us of the supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction that "We know where they are. They're in the area
around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." None of these statements were
true. All of them were based on flimsy intelligence that was characterized in public as solid. It's nice to see the
executive branch of government under George W. Bush learn that it is is fallible in a possibly fatal way, but it
has learned this lesson awfully late. (Sources: White House News Release February 5 2003; Washington Post
June 3 2004; Remarks of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld March 30, 2003) In the summer of
2007, President George W. Bush gave a speech in which he warned that if the American military occupation of
Iraq ended, then Iraq would suffer its own version of the Killing Fields of Cambodia. The Killing Fields were
places where large numbers of people were taken to be executed, in shallow graves or just left to rot on the
What President Bush and his pro-war supporters do not understand is that Iraqis are already
suffering from the kind of mass executions that terrorized the Cambodians in the 1970s. All over Iraq, huge
numbers of people have been taken away and executed. Their bodies are often found dumped in city streets
when people wake up in the morning. Still, these mass executions and dumpings occurred in urban
environments, so they couldn't be called "killing fields".
On August 25, however, a killing field of the
very sort that George W. Bush warned of was found in Iraq, south of Baghdad. There, outside the city, people
were executed and their bodies were dumped in a crater. Piles of skulls and rotting human flesh mixed up with
bloody clothing were frequented by wild dogs, who are suspected of feeding on the remains of the victims.
It's too late to warn that Iraq may have its own killing fields if the American military occupation ends
soon. There are already killing fields in Iraq, and they exist as a consequence of the American military
In 2008, we need to elect a President who is willing to acknowledge the reality of the Iraqi
killing fields, and put an end to the military occupation under which they are taking place. (Sources: CNN,
August 25, 2007; Observer-Reporter, August 26, 2007)
In 2005, a new phrase began to be used in elite
Republican circles in Washington, D.C.: The Salvador Option. What is The Salvador Option? The term
comes from back in the 1980s, when the Reagan Administration organized death squads in El Salvador,
creating shadowy groups through Salvadoran government that went through the countryside killing,
torturing and stealing at will. The Reagan Administration regarded the operation as a success.
present-day Republicans talk about applying The Salvador Option to Iraq, they're talking about creating death
squads there - organized and trained by the American military, but run on a day to day basis by the Iraqi
provisional authority (also known affectionately by some Iraqis as Bush's sock puppets ).
to some models put under consideration by the Bush Administration, these death squads would have been
authorized to roam the country searching for anyone defying the American occupation, and then killing them.
Under other models, the death squads would be more restrained, killing some targets but just snatching others
and then "interrogating" them. How gentle.
With so much secrecy about what's really going on over
in Iraq, it's hard to tell whether The Salvador Option was actually implemented. There certainly have been
many pro-government death squads in operation throughout Iraq. It's difficult to tell whether any of these
groups were sponsored by the American military occupation force. The mere consideration of The Salvador
Option, however, is enough reason to never trust its proponents with the power of public office. (Source: Salon, January 10,
2005) In Late August, 2007, The Independent reported,
The Iraqi Prime Minister
delivered a stinging rebuke to Hillary Clinton yesterday, telling her to stop meddling in the affairs of his
country as though it was part of America. Nouri al-Maliki said Ms. Clinton, the leading Democratic contender
for the US presidency, and the Democratic senator Carl Levin should "come to their senses".
The United States meddling in Iraq? Golly, gosh and gee, why yes, I suppose that the United States has
meddled in Iraqi affairs - by invading and enforcing a military occupation of the country, and setting up al-
Maliki as its puppet leader. Years after the American invasion, there still is no genuine sovereignty for Iraq.
Nouri al-Maliki is half right. The United States should indeed stop meddling in Iraq, but not by
providing unconditional support to prop up al-Maliki's term as Prime Minister. Instead, our meddling ought
to end in the form of a military pull-out from Iraq.
In the summer of 2005, George W. Bush sent John Bolton to the United Nations as the United States Ambassador without a Senate confirmation. He did so knowing that John Bolton is an anti-United Nations radical. To send Bolton to be America's representative at the United Nations is an insult to the entire world. Surely, Bush knew that no one at the United Nations would take John Bolton seriously.
Just as surely, President Bush knew the message that the John Bolton ambassadorship sent to the world. President Bush put John Bolton into the job as America's ambassador with the intention of saying "Screw you!" to the entire world, to the United States Senate, and to the American people. The reputation of the government of the USA has developed accordingly.
Don't just accept the word of us peaceniks that it
was a dumb idea for America to start the war in Iraq. Take the word of British General Mike Jackson, who led
the British part of the original invasion of Iraq. General Jackson describes the American military approach to
the war as "intellectually bankrupt". (Source: Reuters, September 2, 2007)
There's a sports
cliche that has made its way into society in general. People say that they're going to make a 110 percent effort
to succeed. The idea of giving 110 percent has been overused to the point of being tiresome, but there's a good
idea behind it. Success is the usually result of a total commitment, not a half-baked ambivalent wandering
around, hoping for the best.
Unfortunately, the Bush White House and its Republican supporters don't see
things that way. For them, success is whatever they can get away with. In September, they're hoping that they
can get away with convincing the American people that 16.67 percent success in Iraq is good enough.
The Bush Administration is claiming that its surge strategy to maintain the military occupation of Iraq is
working. However, the Government Accountability Office looked at the available information and came to a
different conclusion. The GAO found that, out of 18 benchmarks set for the American military operations in
Iraq, only 3 had been successfully met. 3 out of 18 is 16.67 percent.
The Republicans say that meeting
16.67 percent of the goals in Iraq counts as success. The rest of us, who know better, will elect an anti-war,
progressive candidate for President in 2008. (Source: The Washington Post, August 30, 2007) Just as
the Bush White House was set to begin its effort to convince the American people that the security situation in
Iraq is all under control, thanks to the long-term military escalation that Republicans call the "surge",
Republican Senator Richard Shelby reports that his plane was "shot at by a rocket" as he was touring Iraq on a
Count this as a fact found: In a truly secure country, airplanes don't have rockets
fired at them on a routine basis. The latest rosy scenario about Iraq from the Republicans is no more
truthful than the previous rosy scenarios about Iraq from the Republicans have been. It's time for the
American people to stop getting false rosy scenarios, and to start getting the truth about Iraq. That truth will
only come from a progressive President. (Source: Tuscaloosa News, August 31, 2007) Republican
presidential candidate Duncan Hunter gets angry when anti-war activists suggest that the best option that the
United States has is to pull out of Iraq. Hunter proposes that the United States stay in Iraq until victory is
So, what is Duncan Hunter's plan for victory? It's the same plan that George W. Bush promoted
during his 2004 re-election campaign. Asked what his plan is to achieve victory in Iraq, Duncan Hunter said
last week, "Once reliability is established in the Iraqi military, they will be capable of rotating into the
battlefield throughout Iraq, displacing U.S. combat forces, that's how we leave Iraq, which will amount to an
unprecedented success in the most difficult region of the new era."
In June of 2004, George W. Bush
proposed the same plan, meeting with other NATO leaders in to provide for cooperation in training Iraqi
security forces. Condoleeza Rice explained the Bush plan for victory then by saying, "The key is to improve
Iraqi security capabilities, whether it is a police force or what they will turn into a kind of national guard,
their civilian defense force or the army, to improve those forces as quickly as possible."
In fact, the
Bush White House was working with the same plan for victory in Iraq as far back as November, 2003, when
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld commented, "You've got to get the security responsibility transferred
to the Iraqi people. & It's their country & We're not going to provide security in their country over a sustained
period of time."
Donald Rumsfeld was correct, in a certain sense. The United States never has
provided security for Iraq, even though the American military occupation of Iraq has been going on for four
and half years now.
The Bush-Rice-Rumsfeld plan for achieving victory in Iraq by training Iraqis to
do America's fighting for us has been a tremendous failure. It is too late for American voters to make the right
choice and reject the Iraq plan devised by the Republicans for the 2004 presidential election.
It is not
too late, however, for Americans to reject the same old plan when it is offered by Republicans again in
recycled form for the 2008 presidential election. (Sources: GoHunter08.com, August 27, 2007; The Weekly
Standard, November 10, 2003; USA Today, June 23, 2004; Deutsche Welle, June 26, 2004)
When Republicans like Congressman James Walsh of New York base
their policy on a follow-the-leader mentality rather than a reasoned
approach, the result is nonsense. Walsh informed the Syracuse
Post-Standard on September 21, 2002 that "I don't believe the United
States is under any imminent threat from Iraq." But the very next
month, Walsh voted to authorize a war against Iraq. When the Iraq war
turned bad, he insisted of the war that "in time, this will be a
model," but when it turned even worse he insisted that "the chaos,
including the guerilla activity that followed, was difficult to
foresee." We don't need more politicians who will say anything to
defend the talking point of the day, even if it is contradictory to
some other position. The way things look on the horizon, lemmings
like James Walsh are going to drive us off a cliff. (Sources: Syracuse Post-Standard, September 21, 2002; WRVO interview
with James Walsh, 2004)
There is no question that dealing with Iran will be a significant foreign policy matter for the next President of the United
States, even if only because George W. Bush has so profoundly mishandled American policy toward Iran that
tensions have escalated to a dangerous level. The intelligence and wisdom with which a presidential candidate
grapples with the escalating militant rhetoric that has come from both sides.
At an appearance last week,
Mitt Romney indicated that if America elects him President, we can expect to see more of the same tragically
mistaken approach toward Iran with which George W. Bush has bumbled us closer to war. Responding to a
question from the audience about nuclear weapons, Romney showed quite clearly that he is either ignorant of
developments in Iran or unwise enough to let facts rather than ideology drive his foreign policy.
Romney advocated escalating sanctions against Iran, saying, "It's time for us to dramatically tighten the
sanctions on Iran and to get our friends around the world to do the same." What Romney did not explain is
what makes now the right time to "dramatically tighten the sanctions".
That's a significant oversight
on Romney's part, because it just so happens that Iran has very recently made significant concessions to make
its nuclear energy program more transparent to United Nations inspectors, in order to prove that the program
is indeed civilian in focus, and not designed to make nuclear weapons.
Mohamed ElBaradei of the
International Atomic Energy Agency recently commented of the new developments in dealing with
Iran, "There are hopeful, positive signs. For the first time we've agreed with the Iranians on a sort of
roadmap, on a timetable to resolve outstanding questions & By November, or December at the latest, we
should be able to see whether the Iranians are sticking to their promises."
So, given that there are
recent hopeful, positive signs about the Iranians making their nuclear energy program transparent to the
outside world, why would Mitt Romney say that right now is the time to make sanctions against Iran more
strict and punitive? Wouldn't the positive move by Iran make this the time to avoid such escalation?
seems that Mitt Romney either doesn't know that Iran is softening its position on its nuclear energy program,
or he doesn't care. If the first possibility is true, Mitt Romney is too ignorant to be made President. If the
other possibility is true, then Mitt Romney is lacking in the wisdom and responsibility to be a good President.
(Source: Reuters, September 1, 2007) Dennis Kucinich is right on the issue of nuclear weapons.
Appearing on television last month, Dennis Kucinich criticized presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and
Hillary Clinton, who refuse to rule out using nuclear weapons against cities in other nations. Dennis Kucinich
takes the only sane position: That the United States of America needs to work toward ridding itself of its
massive arsenal of nuclear weapons.
He said, "I think we have to get rid of nuclear weapons. The idea that
somehow by having nuclear weapons you make the world a safer place is essentially insane & Under my
administration, we will work to abolish nuclear weapons and engage every nation which is a nuclear nation to
do the same and every non-nuclear nation not to develop nuclear weapons."
Holding nuclear weapons
as a threat against the civilians of other nations is a terrorist tactic of the worst kind. If the United States
maintains power above the rest of the world through such a terrorist threat, it is a power American citizens
ought to be ashamed of.
Whether Kucinich is the right candidate to lead our nation into nuclear
disarmament is a fair question. However, Kucinich is right to say that the next American President ought to
lead the United States into a program of complete nuclear disarmament. A nation that needs nuclear weapons
to be great cannot truthfully be called great at all.(Source: Dennis4President.com, August 12, 2007)
"We're kicking ass."
George W. Bush on the War in Iraq
"Now my son is dead. How did he
die? According to the Army, he was killed on Aug. 13 in western Iraq when an IED an 'improvised explosive
device' detonated near his vehicle. According to me, he was killed by the arrogance and ineptitude of George
W. Bush aided by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld."
Santoriello, mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq
"I saw the heads of my two little girls come
off. My girls I watched their heads come off their bodies. My son is dead."
Lamea Hassan, mother of
Iraqi civilians killed at a checkpoint in Iraq
(Sources: The Age, September 5 2007; Pittsburgh Post-
Gazette September 18, 2004; Knight-Ridder, April 2 2003) While Dennis Kucinich opposes the use of
nuclear weapons, other presidential candidates play coy games, refusing to rule out dropping a nuclear bomb
on a foreign city.
What Kucinich understands that these other presidential candidates seem not to
understand is that keeping an arsenal of nuclear weapons is a threat, not just to the people in other countries
against whom we might direct a nuclear attack, but to the people of the United States as well.
point was proven all too well in late August, when the lives of millions of Americans were endangered by an
all-too-casual flight of nuclear weapons across American air space. Unknown to the residents of the
midwestern states, the Air Force loaded a B-52 bomber with cruise missiles containing active nuclear
warheads, and flew the nuclear weapons over small towns and cities all the way from North Dakota to
The Air Force says it was an "accident". The commander in charge of the mission lost track
of where the nuclear warheads were. He thought they were somewhere else, and didn't even know that the
warheads had been fixed onto the cruise missiles.
What if the commander had ordered a test of one of
those missiles, or had otherwise been required to drop one of them? What if the B-52 had, like all-too-many
military aircraft, crashed during its mission? Huge numbers of Americans could have disappeared, vaporized
into a nuclear mushroom cloud on American soil. This kind of risk to American lives is unacceptable. It isn't
enough that the Air Force officer is being sacked. Other fallible human beings will be given control over other
American nuclear weapons. The Air Force declares of the commander that it "has lost all confidence in his
ability to handle nuclear weapons."
That loss of confidence was nearly too late. The important
question that intelligent Americans must now ask is: What led the Air Force to have confidence in the
negligent commander's ability to handle nuclear weapons in the first place? How many other slip shod Air
Force officers have gained the confidence of the Air Force in handling nuclear weapons in the United States?
The only truly progressive position on nuclear weapons is to abolish them. Disarmament will be a long
and tricky process, but right now, the American government is not truly working on the effort. Until
disarmament can be accomplished, we need to have a President who understands that it an unacceptable threat
to the American people to continue storing and transporting thousands of nuclear weapons within the United
States. (Source: MSNBC, September 5, 2007)
"Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest
and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder." --
George W. Bush, September 12 2002.
I couldn't have said it better myself. This is precisely why we should
not be using war as a policy tool. Too bad George W. Bush can't follow his own advice.
Three years after George W. Bush promised he could win
the war in Iraq by training Iraqi police, an independent committee formed by Congress and led by retired
Marine General James Jones has determined that the Iraqi police force trained by the Americans is in such bad
shape that the best way to deal with it is to dismantle it and start all over again. The committee found that the
Iraqi police are infiltrated by insurgent groups, are plagued by corruption, and fail to even show up for work
on one out of every three days.
The As-They-Stand-Up-We-Will-Stand-Down plan for victory is even
more unrealistic now than it was back in 2004. It seems that George W. Bush has inculcated his own
incompetence, corruption and laziness into the Iraqi police. (Source: NPR, August 6, 2007) After
speaking to experts and evaluating the integrity of the Bush White House's assertions that the so-called surge
has been successful in Iraq, the Washington Post writes, "The U.S. military's claim that violence has decreased
sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the
government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore
It seems that, in order to justify continuing the military occupation of Iraq, the White
House is taking thin data and extrapolating upon it far beyond the limits of its validity. In other words, the
same problems with twisting intelligence for political purposes that got the United States into Iraq in the first
place is even now keeping the United States stuck there.
George W. Bush and the pro-war Republicans
still have not learned one of the most important lessons of the failure of the Iraq War: Do not found American
foreign policy upon dishonestly manipulated information about what's really going on in the world outside
our borders. (Source: Washington Post, September 6, 2007) The most under-read news story of the
week: Two top CIA officers have confirmed to reporter Sidney Blumenthal that Tyler Drumheller, the former
CIA chief of clandestine operations for Europe, was telling the truth when he told 60 Minutes in 2006 that the
CIA had briefed President George W. Bush in information indicating that Iraq had no weapons of mass
destruction at all. Bush was given this information in September, 2002.
Instead of paying attention to that
information, George W. Bush ignored it. He continued to claim with absolute certainty that Iraq had weapons
of mass destruction, and that it was therefore necessary to start a war by invading Iraq.
what he was doing. He didn't just get it wrong on Iraq. He lied. (Source: Salon, September 6, 2007)
Whenever the Republicans worry that their beloved wars may come to an end, they resort to depicting
American soldiers as weaklings with thin skins who cannot withstand any doubt in their mission. That's the
message in a new Republican email sent out this morning, whining that, "MoveOn.org is openly attacking our
generals and troops. This week they ran full page newspaper ads attacking the integrity of our top military
commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, as he was testifying before Congress."
Oh, give me a break. The
Republican Party knows very well that MoveOn is criticizing David Petraeus on a political level, because of
the political work that Petraeus is doing for President George W. Bush. MoveOn is not engaged in a military
Besides, why do the Republicans think that American soldiers are such wimps? What are we
supposed to believe, that our nation's soldiers have been trained to confront bullets and bombs, but they
crumple into crying, shivering lumps when someone questions the validity of their mission? It's a ridiculous
idea, and the Republicans ought to know better than to promote it.
The American people ought to
know better too, than to accept the Republican picture of the meek and timid American soldier. In 2008, let's
put an end to this nonsense, and elect a progressive President who knows better than to depict soldiers as lily-
livered victims of democratic debate. (Source: GOP.com email, September 10, 2007) One of the most
absurd lines of argument tossed out by right wing supporters of war is that people should stop criticizing the
heinous things that go on in war because it demoralizes soldiers. This argument was made tonight by a reader
of Irregular Times who commented, under the name of "Joseph", "The troops are there to DO A JOB. They do
their job best when they ARENT DEMORALIZED."
The capitalizations are his. Apparently, he believes
that his sentences take on a different meaning with a little bit of shouting.
Let's consider the two parts
of what Joseph is saying.
1. Soldiers are at war to do a job. That's sort of a tautology, though it is
missing a couple of unspoken elements of the full tautology, which is: Soldiers are people who have chosen
the profession to fight wars. They are at war to do their job, which is to fight wars.
Taken literally his
is a profoundly pointless statement. I might as well say that convenience store clerks are there to do a job.
Well, yeah, but so what?
The real intent of this statement is to say that soldiers are only doing a job -
that is to say, that they are not fully invested in the wars as human beings, following orders, and so they aren't
responsible morally for what they do. If that's true, then the rape and pillage and torture and cold blooded
executions of civilians that have been going on in Iraq aren't the fault of the soldiers who do them, because,
gosh, they're there to do a job, and what happens as a result of the war that's an essential part of that job is
2. They do their job best when they aren't demoralized. This is plainly false. It's
remarkable that people accept this statement without laughing at the absurdity of it.
The people who
train soldiers to do their jobs know that soldiers cannot do their jobs best unless they have been demoralized -
by the military. That's what basic training is all about. The military takes young people who have been
previously told by society that they ought to act in one way - not killing people. Then, the military breaks that
moral code within each soldier, and re-teaches them a morality that it's okay to kill people so long as someone
with authority over you tells you to do it. The transformation of young citizen into soldier is made through a
brutal process of demoralization. With some soldiers, like snipers, there are further processes of
What antiwar activists who criticize the military do is attempt to re-moralize soldiers,
not demoralize them.
It isn't the fault of antiwar activists that soldiers are coming home with post
traumatic stress disorder. The support the troops mantra has been chanted far too consistently to lay that
blame at the feet of protesters, who have been almost universally respectful, and have embraced Iraq War
veterans, championing the cause of their decent treatment.
It's the fault of pro-war enthusiasts and the
fault of the civilian and military leadership of the war that soldiers have been coming home with post
traumatic stress disorder. Send a soldier into a war that makes no sense, to commit acts of violence in a foreign
country where the people who were supposed to be allies have turned into covert opponents, withhold
adequate supplies, extend their tours of duty to obscene lengths, give them no clear understanding of victory,
give them inadequate medical care, and punish them for seeking mental health assistance, and that soldier is
quite likely to come out of the experience without a solid mental balance.
Soldiers who have been put
through that kind of hell are not becoming unhinged because some Americans are questioning the quality of
the work that General David Petraeus is doing as a political agent of the President in Washington D.C.. It isn't
as if these soldiers were feeling just fine until they heard antiwar protesters calling General Petraeus
Yet, that's what "Joseph" and his pro-war, dissent-squelching allies want you to believe.
They want you to believe that everything would be going along just fine, and soldiers in Iraq would be
having an enjoyable adventure, if only it weren't for the criticism of General David Petraeus. They ask you to
believe that soldiers who have strong morale and are gung ho to fight in Iraq suddenly fall to pieces when
they hear that someone has called General Petraeus a liar.
It's amazing that this public relations ploy
in favor of the war has gone as far as it has. Don't let it go any farther. Don't accept the unspoken premises of
the pro-war right wing. Stand up to the cock and bull story that soldiers are incapable of doing their jobs if
anybody in America questions the integrity of a general doing a political job in Washington D.C.
time for Americans return to a simple truth. Political speech in a democracy does not sap the spirit. It's war
that is demoralizing America.
Generations ago, Mark Twain perfectly sketched out the despicable political character with which most of the United States accepted without struggle the need to invade and occupy Iraq: "Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception." (Source: Mark Twain, Chronicle of Young Satan)
Alan Greenspan's new political memoir does not just criticize the
George W. Bush and the Republican Party on economic grounds. Greenspan, who had plenty of inside
connections with the Bush White House as the long-time Chairman of the Federal Reserve, also had some
harsh things to say about the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Greenspan writes, "I am saddened that it is
politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." If Alan
Greenspan, a lifelong Republican, is willing to admit that American hunger for oil is the principal motivation
behind the ongoing American military occupation of Iraq, it shouldn't be a big point of controversy for the
rest of us with more moderate political leanings.
Let's follow through on Alan Greenspan's hint, and
elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: The Age, September 17, 2007)
Republican plans for Iraq
share one element in common: The transfer of responsibility from American military units to Iraqi
counterparts. Yet, Republican leadership of the military occupation of Iraq has not made enough Iraqi
military and police units ready for such a transfer. On the contrary, recent Republican leadership of the
misadventure in Iraq has actually reduced the number of Iraqi security forces ready to take over from the
According to the statistics assembled by the Bush White House itself, and presented by
General David Petraeus, there are fewer Iraqi military and police battalions ready to conduct combat
operations without help from the US military now than there were at the beginning of 2007. In January, 2007,
15 such battalions existed. In September, 2007, only 12 such battalions remained.
In spite of what the
Bush White House claims, this backwards slide does not represent military progress in Iraq. In 2008, America
needs to elect a President who understands the nature of true progress, and is more interested in presenting an
honest presentation of the status of the American occupation of Iraq than in creating a dishonest
representation of conditions in Iraq in order to obtain more time for a policy that has clearly failed. (Source:
Boston Globe, September 16, 2007)
Republican presidential candidates say that it's important to
continue the American military occupation of Iraq in order to prevent massacres of Iraqi civilians. They aim
to keep American soldiers in Iraq so that they can train more Iraqi police and soldiers as part of a plan to
establish security, thus protecting Iraqi civilians from slaughter.
The plan may be well-meaning, but it is
profoundly misdirected. Those who support the Republican plan are ignoring recent history in Iraq. During
2006, when American-trained Iraqi forces took the lead in operations Together Forward I and Together
Forward II, the soldiers committed abuses against Sunni Iraqi civilians, including massacres.
plan that the Republicans propose to protect Iraqi civilians from genocide will actually empower genocide to
take place. (Source: Boston Globe, September 16, 2007) In order to counter the idea that no progress is
being made in Iraq, the Bush White House sent General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker to
Congress in September 2007, to report on the state of affairs under the American military occupation. Petraeus
and Crocker were supposed to be making an argument in favor of maintaining the occupation. During all of
their many hours of testimony, however, Petraeus and Crocker failed to identify any long term strategy
through which victory in Iraq, even as redefined by the Bush White House, could be achieved. Their
arguments were instead based upon the hope that, with time, the military occupation might somehow turn
around. As the editorial board of the Philadelphia Inquirer comments, hope is not a strategy.
the military occupation on hope alone, without a strategy through which hope can be achieved, is a betrayal of
both the American soldiers hanging on in Iraq and the Iraqi people they are supposed to be protecting.
(Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, September 16, 2007)
Years after the illusion that an international
coalition was behind the invasion and occupation of Iraq was shattered, George W. Bush is still trying to get
people to believe in the illusionary coalition of the willing. Bush cites Bulgaria's participation in the invasion
and occupation of Iraq, and has even visited Bulgaria as a thank you for that participation. What Bush fails to
mention is that Bulgaria has only 150 non-combat soldiers in Iraq.
In 2008, we need to elect a progressive
President who is willing to acknowledge the clear truth that 150 non-combat soldiers does not represent
anything more than a symbolic contribution to the American military occupation of Iraq. (Source:
International Herald Tribune, September 13, 2007) When referring to the armed mercenaries working
for Blackwater, George W. Bush calls them "folks". That statement sums up the difference between right
wingers like Bush and the rest of America. For most of America, mercenaries are dangerous people who
demonstrate their rejection of decent moral values by offering their services as hired guns, not "folks".
you agree with George W. Bush that mercenaries are just ordinary "folks", then maybe you need to vote for a
right wing candidate for President. Otherwise, cast your vote to elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source:
The Guardian, September 20, 2007) Pro-war right wingers say that the American occupation of Iraq is
making that country a better place to live. That's not the story reported by the World Health Organization,
which says that a new outbreak of cholera has begun in central Iraq and has the potential to spread quickly
throughout the country. 2,116 cases of cholera have been officially confirmed, but about 30,000 Iraqis have
symptoms consistent with cholera without being confirmed to actually having been confirmed to have the
The reason for the outbreak, and the cause for concern about the disease's rapid spread is that most
of Iraq's systems for delivering clean water to the Iraqi people was destroyed by American bombing. Almost
five years into the American occupation of Iraq, clean water has yet to be restored to huge numbers of
With this cholera outbreak, Iraq is experiencing a surge all right, but it isn't the kind of surge
that brings people warm and cozy feelings of security in the middle of the night. (Source: World Health
Organization, September 25, 2007) On September 25, 2007, Representative Henry Waxman, chair of
the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza
Rice requesting information on the activities of Blackwater USA in Iraq. In that letter, Representative
Waxman noted to Secretary Rice, "Blackwater has informed the Committee that a State Department
official directed Blackwater not to provide documents relevant to the Committee's investigation into the
company's activities in Iraq without the prior written approval of the State Department."
implications of of letter are clear. Someone in George W. Bush's State Department told Blackwater to not give
relevant documents to government investigators who are looking into the contractor's record of violence and
corruption in Iraq.
That's a coverup. (Source: Letter of September 25, 2007 from Henry Waxman to
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) "We haven't even tried. That's what's so discouraging about
Hillary Clinton, disparaging George W. Bush's failure to engage in diplomacy with Iran, while
refusing to agree with Tim Russert's demand masquerading as a question that the United States use all tactics
needed to counter Iranian military capability. That's code language for nukes.
followed up by agreeing with Hillary Clinton: "we've got to talk to our enemies, not just our friends."
It's now clear to most of the world that Saddam Hussein was not a serious threat to global security, as
George W. Bush and his supporters have claimed. There was no massive arsenal of weapons of mass
destruction. There was no link to Al Quaeda. There was no plan by Iraq to launch any attack against any other
Still, let's say for the sake of argument that those things actually did exist back in 2003. Even if
that were the case, it was still unnecessary for the United States to start the war by invading Iraq.
reason: Saddam Hussein told the American government that he was willing to step down voluntarily, without
any shots being fired. A transcript of a 2003 conversation between George W. Bush and the Prime Minister of
Spain shows that Bush knew of Saddam Hussein's offer to go into exile, but chose to go to war instead of
accepting the offer. George W. Bush kept Saddam Hussein's proposal a secret from the American people, who
largely believed instead that Hussein was stubbornly holding on to power.
Even by Republican pro-
war standards of reality, the Iraq war was completely unnecessary. All of America's losses, of life, of money,
of reputation, could easily have been prevented. (Source: The Daily Mail, September 26, 2007) The
latest in the growing list of 2,008 reasons to elect a progressive President in 2008 comes from a right wing
supporter of the lobbyist corporation Unity08. It's a quote from John Stuart Mill: "War is an ugly thing, but
not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that
nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing
which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free
unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
Consider what this means, for a
moment. John Stuart Mill is actually claiming that it's a good idea to go to war in order to keep people to
feeling patriotic. It's better to bomb, shoot and stab people in massive numbers, John Stuart Mill says, than to
allow people's patriotic feelings to wane a little bit. Sending your own countrymen off to their deaths is
better, from this point of view, than seeing some people wave the flag a little bit less fervently.
isn't a theoretical argument. It's one of the main justifications behind the invasion and military occupation of
Iraq by the United States.
Please, don't vote for a candidate that supports this bloody and wasteful
philosophy of war. Let's do the time warp again. Speaking to a gathering of citizens in Newton, Iowa,
Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson explained that the American invasion and occupation of
Iraq, starting in 2003, was justified by the fact that Iraq had once had an active weapons of mass destruction
program, more than ten years before that.
Justifying the Iraq War, Thompson said, "We can't forget the
fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, he clearly had had
WMD." So, starting the Iraq war was justified because, although Iraq did not have any weapons of mass
destruction when American invaded, Iraq "had had" weapons of mass destruction years before? By that logic,
the United States should invade and occupy Germany, because Germany used chemical weapons in World War
I, and was trying to develop nuclear weapons in World War II. Or, maybe Fred Thompson thinks that we
ought to impose sanctions on South Africa because, as recently as the 1980s, South Africa imposed a regime of
racial apartheid. Of course, there's a more serious threat from Mongolia. Why, do you realize that just a
few centuries ago, Genghis Khan engaged in a merciless sweep across central Asia? We cannot let the Mongol
threat go unanswered! Here on the Home Front, I suggest that Fred Thompson take a look at our
transportation system. Word is that some people over in Rome have invented the road. Please keep us
informed of more of these current events, Mr. Thompson. (Source: Des Moines Register, October 2, 2007)
Hardly any mainstream news sources are reporting on it yet, but there was a very important vote in the
House of Representatives this morning. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the MEJA
Expansion and Enforcement Act of 2007, by a vote of 389-30. MEJA stands for Military Extraterritorial
Jurisdiction Act, a law that was designed to make sure that contractors working overseas for the American
government would be held accountable for any criminal behavior that they engage in.
The trouble with
the original Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act is that it created a huge loophole because it applied to
contractors hired by some government agencies, while allowing contractors hired by other government
agencies to get away with criminal behavior scott free. The MEJA Expansion and Enforcement Act of 2007,
H.R. 2740, fixes this loophole, by making the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act apply to all government
contractors, regardless of which agency hires them, so long as they are working within a "contingency area"
designated by the Department of Defense. Iraq would be such an area. The new law also forces the
Department of Justice to compile reports of suspected criminal incidents by contractors and to give those
reports to Congress.
The MEJA Expansion and Enforcement Act of 2007 thus closes the loophole that
has allowed Blackwater mercenaries hired by the US State Department to literally get away with murder,
violently attacking Iraqi civilians without provocation in huge numbers without any fear of punishment. The
State Department has also helped Blackwater executives cover up those crimes, and ordered Blackwater to
withhold information about the crimes from Congress. Those actions are now without a doubt illegal.
I would like to think that it is common sense that nobody should be allowed to get away with murder.
Unfortunately, it isn't really common sense. 30 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the
MEJA Expansion and Enforcement Act of 2007.
Among these 30 House Republicans are two of the
Republican candidates for President in 2008, congressmen Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo. Tancredo and
Hunter voted to keep Blackwater, and other mercenary firms like it, in a special place above the law. Tancredo
and Hunter thought it would be a mistake to have Blackwater mercenaries accountable to the American
government, and seem to prefer the current system of allowing employees of companies like Blackwater USA
to commit whatever crimes they want, so long as they are not on American soil.
Let me put this in
terms that a Republican voter can understand. With the vote today, we can see that Tom Tancredo is soft on
crime. Duncan Hunter is soft on crime. They favor letting murderers walk free. Tom Tancredo and Duncan
Hunter show how truly dangerous right wing ideology can be.
I'm grateful that most members of the
House of Representatives saw that the position of Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo is morally bankrupt.
Two other presidential candidates, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, had the basic decency to say no to amnesty
for murder and assault with a deadly weapon. (Source: The Library of Congress)
On July 9, 1955, a group of leading thinkers came together to draft and sign a manifesto calling for a more reasoned approach to human relations. They wrote, "There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death."
Those who signed the manifesto: Max Born, Percy W. Bridgman, Albert Einstein, Leopold Infeld, Frederic Joliot-Curie, Herman J. Muller, Linus Pauling, Cecil F. Powell, Joseph Rotblat, Bertrand Russell, Hideki Yukawa
Barack Obama has made his intentions for how to deal with America's nuclear weapons clear: "Here's what I'll say as
President: America seeks a world in which there are no nuclear weapons."
No nuclear weapons. Who is
against that? Well, it's not clear. The Republican presidential candidates refuse to commit to such goal. Hillary
Clinton regards it as naive to even say what she intends to do with nuclear weapons, whether she will
vaporize entire cities full of civilians or not.
It's amazing to me that this is even a question. The Cold
War ended 20 years ago. We should be a great deal further down the road toward global nuclear disarmament
than we are now. Yet, thanks to the weakness of Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and to the aggressive ineptitude of
George W. Bush in this decade, the United States policy has actually encouraged other nations to develop
nuclear weapons arsenals.
We can do better. Four more years of pretending that the United States has
a special right to threaten the rest of the world with nuclear weapons will just bring us four more years of
There is no good excuse for dropping a nuclear bomb, period. Thanks to Barack Obama for
aiming America toward that obvious truth. Shame on Hillary Clinton for playing on the fears of past
generations for the sake of political gain. (Source: The Associated Press, October 3, 2007) Doing
research on another subject, I came across an old article from 2002, describing politicians' rationales for their
votes in favor of starting a war in Iraq. Here's what the article records John McCain as saying: "Giving peace a
chance only gives Saddam Hussein more time to prepare for war on his terms, at a time of his choosing, in
pursuit of ambitions that will only grow as his power to achieve them grows."
My jaw actually dropped
when I read that statement. Back in 2002, there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was planning to launch a
war against the United States, or against any other country. There still is no evidence of any other plans. All
the facts indicate that, back in 2002, the Iraqi government was focused on hunkering down and preserving
itself, not going off to war.
Yet, John McCain presumed that Iraq was planning to attack the United
States. Starting with that presumption, Senator McCain was incapable of imagining the truth, that war with
Iraq was unnecessary. McCain never gave peace a chance. All his thinking started out with the presumption of
So it is that when John McCain argued against giving peace a chance, he could not even grasp the
concept of peace. For him, peace only meant going to war at a later time instead of in the present. McCain's
comments show that he is incapable of conceiving of alternatives to war. The only choices he can imagine are
war now or war later.
As the sabers are being rattled by John McCain's allies for yet another war, this
one against Iran, America cannot afford to elect a President with an imagination that is so small. We need a
President who has the mental capacity for understanding the choice of peace. (Source: CNN, October 11, 2002)
Those who support indefinitely continuing the military occupation of Iraq must come to grips with
the following bloody math: In an attack yesterday, the American military admits that it killed 15 civilians in
order to be able to get to 19 suspected insurgents. Children were among the 15 civilians killed. Three more
children were wounded.
Politicians who support keeping the US military in Iraq support more incidents
with that kind of ratio. They'll tell you that they're going after the "bad guys". What they won't mention is
that in order to get to the "bad guys", they've got to mow down whoever happens to be in the way. (Source:
Reuters, October 12, 2007) George W. Bush and his Republican supporters are always saying that we
should listen to the generals when it comes to Iraq. So, let's listen to what Lieutenant General Ricardo
Sanchez, the man that Bush chose to lead the fight in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, has to say about Bush's past and
present strategy in Iraq: "After more than four years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in
Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war torn country, or in
the greater conflict against extremism. From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan to
the administration's latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize its
political, economic and military power. The latest revised strategy is a desperate attempt by the
administration that has not accepted the political and economic realities of this war, and they have definitely
not been able to communicate effectively that reality to the American people."
No strategy that could
achieve victory and no effort to devise such a strategy: That's what a general has to say about Bush's record in
Iraq. Why isn't George W. Bush listening? (Source: Voice of America, October 12, 2007)
Even the Pentagon doesn't deny it anymore: Military recruiters have become downright abusive to American teenagers. This week, all across the country, the Pentagon was forced to stop military recruitment activities for an entire day to try to deal with the backlog of complaints about harassment and abuse by military recruiters. In short, military recruiters have been anything but a welcome presence in American neighborhoods.
One recruiter told a teenage boy that he would be arrested if he did not show up to a military recruiting center and agree to sign up. One of our readers tells us of a military recruiter who was approaching teenagers with mental illness and telling them to lie on their applications about their prescriptions to anti-depressants like Prozac. Repeated, threatening calls from military recruiters at all hours of the day and night have become a part of life for American families with teenage children. Recruiters have a terrible track record of downright lying to teenagers and their parents - in one case, a teenager was told that he would get training as an auto mechanic if he signed up, and instead was sent to be a prison guard at Abu Ghraib, without any training in how to do the job. Military recruiters have even convinced some teenagers to become child soldiers, fighting before they're even old enough to legally smoke cigarettes.
Yet, the Bush Administration has pushed to give military recruiters new, unprecidented powers to get quick access to kids, whether parents are aware of it or not. Part of President Bush's disastrous No Child Left Behind legislation required public high schools to give personal information about their students to military recruiters. It was also made illegal to refuse permission to come onto public school campuses to harass children.
The same Republicans who are refusing to allow high school students learn the facts about sex are forcing high school students to endure harassment and abusive pressure from military recruiters to get into uniform and be instructed on how to shoot people with guns. That's a cruel double standard.
If you're a high school student or the parent of a high school student, there is something you can do about this problem. A coalition of progressive organizations has created a campaign called Leave My Child Alone - designed to help American families to protect their teenagers from harassment and abuse by military recruiters.
The New York University Center on Law and Security has completed a review of cases classified by the federal courts as
terrorism related, starting from September 11, 2001 and going up through September 11, 2006. The report,
using data compiled by a team of NYU law student researchers, shows that of the 510 defendants classified as
terrorism defendants, only 163 were actually charged with terrorism or material support of terrorism. Only 4
of these defendants were convicted on charges of terrorism during the period. Of the 163 defendants charged
with terrorism, not one was charged with activities having to do with the use of nuclear, chemical or
biological weapons of mass destruction in the name of Islam. Only 72 of the 510 defendants in cases classified
as terrorism-related were affiliated with al Qaeda; the rest were affiliated with groups such as the Tamil
Tigers or Columbian rebels.
The report concludes, "The overall record revealed in these charts suggests
the presence of few, if any, prevalent terrorist threats currently within the US." Will our next American
president accept and act upon this revelation, or will we have another eight years of authoritarianism
grounded in hype? (Source: Terrorist Trial Report Card, US Edition, September 11 2001 - September 11 2006)
p> There is little actual basis for the belief that the United States is facing an out-of-the-ordinary, ongoing
threat from terrorism. Yet, right wing political ideology requires the belief in some great big sinister foreign
enemy against which we must all unite, leaving our liberty in the dust. As the American people start to realize
that Islamic terrorists cannot plausibly be that great enemy, where will the right wing turn?
Look for a
hybrid enemy. This evening, I read in the Times Online, "President Putin forged an alliance with Iran
yesterday against any military action by the West and pledged to complete the controversial Iranian nuclear
power plant at Bushehr."
It chills me to see that a Russian-Iranian military alliance against military
action "by the West" has now been formed. Less than seven years ago, Russia and the United States were
treating eachother as partners. Now, the posture of military enemies has been adopted. If the United States
plans to attack Iran, that posture will become set.
Surely, the right wing Americans who are pushing
to start a new war against Iran must recognize that if the United States attacks Iran, war between the United
States and Russia becomes a likely possibility. Has it been their aim all along to push Russia and the United
States back into positions of military opposition to each other again, whether war with Iran takes place or not?
The news of Putin's announcement of a Russian-Iranian military alliance against the United States
makes it clear: The Cold War has started back up again. (Source: The Times of London, October 17, 2007)
More inappropriate pre-war hype from the Bush administration,
funneled through Fox News, made its way to the light of day on
February 24, 2003:
"Iraq could be planning a chemical or biological attack on American
cities through the use of remote-controlled 'drone' planes equipped
with GPS tracking maps, according to U.S. intelligence.
The information about Iraq's unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program has
caused a 'real concern' among defense personnel, senior U.S. officials
tell Fox News. They're worried that these vehicles have already been,
or could be, transported inside the United States to be used in an
attack, although there is no proof that this has happened."
Of course, these claims turned out not to be true after the war, and
of course Fox News reported the Bush administration warnings with the
caveat that "there no proof that this has happened." But Americans
paid attention to the first paragraph, not the last sentence of the
second paragraph, as intended. And so Americans allowed themselves to
get freaked out into supporting an unnecessary war.
Are we going to allow this to happen again? Are we going to fall for
ruses like this in the future?
==> A meteor could have been put on course by nefarious space aliens,
set to destroy all human life tomorrow afternoon...although there is
no proof that this has happened.
==> The moon landing could have been an elaborate hoax designed to
deceive the American people...although there is no proof that this has
==> Bigfoot could be living in the East Wing of the White
House...although there is no proof that this has happened.
==> There could be a sleeper cell of angry grannies in South Dakota
planning to blow up Lincoln's nose on Mount Rushmore...although there
is no proof that this has happened.
==> Anybody with a credit card could buy a "remote-controlled drone
plane" with GPS guidance by flipping through Model Aviation magazine
or hobby-lobby.com/. The entire middle class of the United States
could be plotting a terrorist drone plane attack right now...although
there is no proof that this has happened.
Sadly, with our gullible American populace there are no guarantees.
But we can try and elect a new administration in 2008, one that won't
try to pull these kinds of tricks in the first place.
Bush announced that the development of nuclear weapons by Iran would trigger World War III. He
said, "Yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon, and I
know it's in the world's interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian if Iran had a nuclear
weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace. But this we got a leader in Iran who has announced
that he wants to destroy Israel. So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems
like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear
Just think back for a second to the darkest hour of the Cold War: The Cuban Missile Crisis. It
seems that George W. Bush and his Republican supporters are preparing America for a sequel of those dark
times - and doing it for their personal political benefit. (Source: Presidential Press Conference, October 17,
2007) In October, 2007, Vice President Dick Cheney declared that Iran is "a growing obstacle to peace
in the Middle East".
Growing? How are the obstacles that Iran presents to peace in the Middle East
growing? In what way are they increasing?
Iran is actually cooperating more with the international
nuclear watchdog group than it was in the past, not less. There are no new developments in the Middle East
that merit Dick Cheney's pronouncement of an expanding Iranian threat.
If there any single country
is to be condemned for acting as an obstacle to a peace in the Middle East, it should be the United States, which
has created a dynamic of growing instability in the region. Dick Cheney's declaration of growing threats is
more of a reflection on his own behavior than that of Iran. (Source: Reuters Canada, October 21, 2007)
Another reason we need a switch to a progressive administration in
2008 is that we're all up to our ears in conservative doublespeak.
Here's a classic example from 2003:
"There is, unquestionably, a responsibility on the executive branch to
provide to the legislative branch an estimate about what the war would
cost, what the humanitarian operation would cost. And that is a
responsibility the administration takes seriously. Because we take it
seriously, I'm not in a position to speculate about what the number
White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said that to the press on February
26 2003, just as the nation was about to go off to war. The estimate
never came, and the reality was dismal.
In just one bloody day this year, the American military managed to kill civilians in attacks from the sky in
both Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, eleven members of one family, including children, were killed by
an American bomb. Only one member of that family survived, but is so wounded and psychologically
traumatized by the American attack that he is unable to speak. On that same day in Iraq, at least 9 civilians
were killed, again including children, when an American helicopter opened fire on an Iraqi house. (Source:
Reuters, October 23, 2007)
The Republicans say that they have a plan for victory in Iraq. So, what
kind of tactics does their plan include?
One item that may have missed your notice: The Republican-run
U.S. State Department gave the government contractor DynCorp 1.8 million dollars to buy an X-ray security
scanner that then never was used at all. They just sent it to Iraq and then let it sit there, like a file cabinet.
If you think that this sort of thing is going to bring glory to the United States in Iraq, then voting
Republican will make sense to you. If not, voting for a progressive candidate for President in 2008 makes a lot
more sense. (Source: Reuters, October 23, 2007) Just a few weeks after it was discovered that a B-52
was allowed to fly across the United States with ready-to-launch nuclear missiles because the commander
responsible for the flight just forgot where the nuclear weapons were, another nuclear botch in the United
States military has been uncovered. In this case, sailors aboard the USS Hampton, a nuclear-powered military
submarine, got tired of checking to make sure that the systems that keep the nuclear reactor on the submarine
operating safely were still working. They didn't perform mandatory tests and observations of the nuclear
reactor, and then lied on official records in order to make it appear that the tests and observations were in fact
The cooling system on the submarine's nuclear reactor was running without any supervision or
maintenance. If the cooling system fails, the nuclear reactor can go into meltdown, a Three Mile Island
underwater. Trying to minimize the threat, the Navy said, "There is not, and never was, any danger to the
crew or the public."
If there was no threat from the safety procedures not being followed, then why
were the safety procedures in place? The USS Hampton lies in the waters next to San Diego. Are we really
supposed to believe that a nuclear meltdown right next to San Diego would not be a threat?
wingers support continuing along with the nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed military much as it is today.
Progressives oppose nuclear weapons, and are open to alternatives to nuclear power. Not all progressives
would favor decommissioning nuclear-powered submarines, but there are few, if any, non-progressives who
do.(Source: CNN, October 22, 2007)
In the runup to a war of choice against Iraq, the Bush administration trumpeted the existence of missiles in Iraq with a range beyond that permitted under international agreements. While George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld flogged this story over and over in front of the cameras, acting as though dear American babies were somehow at risk, this little tidbit got lost in the shuffle: the acceptable range was 93 miles. The actual range of the missile was 108 miles... when the guidance system, which of course has mass, wasn't on board. These missiles were never a serious threat. But that didn't match the need for pro-war hype, so the Bush administration hyped away. Don't believe the hype, and don't support the hypers. (Source: CBS News, January 18, 2003)
At the very same time that the Bush White House has instituted a
new set of sanctions against Iran in order to punish a supposed nuclear weapons program there, Mohamed
ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is uttering a simple, contradictory truth: There
is not any proof that the Iranian government is, in fact attempting to produce nuclear weapons. "We haven't
received any information there is a parallel, ongoing, active nuclear weapon program," ElBaradei says.
the man who supervises the weapons inspectors who work in Iran, ElBaradei is in the best position to know.
Back in 2003, ElBaradei tried to warn the international community that the US government's claims about
Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were not backed up by any good evidence.
In a time of escalating
sanctions and threats of a new war in the Middle East spawned by the right wing in Washington D.C., the facts
sanction skepticism of the nuclear hype about Iran coming from the U.S. government. (Source: Agence France
Presse, October 28, 2007) Since they gained control of the federal government in 2001, right wing
politicians have been making the mistake of confusing action with direction. They've been focused on a
foreign policy of fighting, without knowing what they're fighting for.
Congressman John Tierney
described the problem this way: "Even with the amazing amount of money and energy expended and
more importantly lives lost so far on military engagements, homeland security and intelligence since
September 11, 2001, there remains an inescapable sense that ours is a national security policy adrift."
It's time for America's foreign policy to stop drifting. We need to set a progressive course, according to the
strong direction offered by the disciplined pursuit of international peace and cooperation instead of the
unthinking reaction of throwing bombs at every problem that comes along. (Source: Subcommittee on
National Security and Foreign Affairs, October 10, 2007) The International Federation for Human
Rights, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and
the French League for Human Rights have filed an official criminal complaint against Donald Rumsfeld in
France, where Rumsfeld was attending a lecture organized by Foreign Policy magazine. In order to avoid
human rights lawyers, Rumsfeld left that lecture by a side door. The charges, brought under the 1984
Convention against Torture, which has the force of law in the United States as well as in France, accuse the
former American Secretary of Defense of ordering and authorizing the torture of prisoners under his control.
I long for the days when the phrases "White House" and "war crimes" could not be so easily uttered in the
same breath. I aim to bring them back by voting for a genuine progressive candidate for President. (Source:
Center for Constitutional Rights, October 26, 2007) There's an idea I hadn't heard except in street
protests for a very long time, and it is the idea of the peace dividend. I hadn't heard it spoken of for a decade
until the Democratic Party debate of October 30, 2007:
"There's a statue above the House of
Representatives of a woman whose arm is outstretched, and she is protecting a child sitting next to a pile of
books. The title of this statue is Peace Protecting Genius. We need to have a country that stands for peace, that
gets us out of the wars. We see the connection between global warring and global warming; we cut the
Pentagon budget 15 percent, and $75 billion will go into a universal pre-kindergarten program so our children
ages 3, 4 and 5 will have access to full-time day care, and more money would go into elementary and
That was Dennis Kucinich speaking, and his point is dead on. People like
John Edwards and Bill Bradley and organizations like Unity08 and Common Cause talk in generalities about
the "system not working anymore." But there's a very prosaic reason for the "system" being broken: We're
spending huge amounts of our money and borrowing money we don't have to pay weapons manufacturers
for more ammunition and weapons systems to replace the ones getting used up, ground down and blown up
in a war of choice we didn't have to choose. The war of choice in Iraq has been a boon for one industry: the
armaments industry. Investment in armaments is temporary and buys someone else's death. Investment in
schools, investment in education, investment in learning is lasting and buys a more productive, less
destructive adult. Thanks to Dennis Kucinich for having the courage to identify a major source of our current
troubles, and a possible solution to our future challenges. How do the British feel about Bush's War
on Terror? 69% supported it in 2002. 49% supported it in 2006. (Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project, June 13 2006) The French are turning
against American anti-terrorist efforts, but it wasn't always so. 75% supported Bush's War on Terror in 2002,
but only 43% supported it by 2006. (Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project, June 13 2006)
Among the Germans,
opposition to Bush's War on Terror is growing, too. Back in 2002, 70% of Germans supported it, but by 2006
support had dropped to just 47%. What if some real, honest-to-goodness terrorists emerge? Will we be able to
count on German support? It's less likely, thanks to Bush's intemperate, unsophisticated, arrogant approach to
world affairs. (Source: Pew Global
Attitudes Project, June 13 2006)
When was the last time you heard of the United Nations
being involved in global diplomatic affairs? The UN was a useful forum for the airing of differences and the
hammering out of accords. But Bush's unilateralism has broken that tool. You see, U.N. diplomacy required
some form of trust to work. Thanks to Bush's blustering around the world. that trust is gone.
your choice of a candidate to support for President in the 2008 election, consider this: Does your candidate
oppose the use of children as soldiers? You might assume that there is no real difference between presidential
candidates. You might assume that, of course, all presidential candidates oppose making children into soldiers.
The record shows quite clearly, however, that some presidential candidates have taken action on the issue
of child soldiers, while others have stood by and done nothing on the issue.
The stakes are high, if not
for the presidential candidates, then for the child soldiers themselves. According to Kindsoldaten vzw, a Dutch
organization that works toward ending the use of child soldiers, half a million people 17 years and younger
are enlisted in armies in 85 different countries. Of those, there are about 300,000 child soldiers actively
involved in wars around the world right now.
This year, there have been several pieces of legislation
in Congress attempting to deal with the worldwide problem of child soldiers. The Child Soldier Prevention
Act of 2007 would require the President of the United States to cut military aid to countries in which the army
or government-affiliated security forces use children as soldiers. The bill would also establish investigations
by United States embassies into the extent to which child soldiers are being used around the world. The Child
Soldier Prevention Act of 2007 exists in four different forms - one in the Senate and three in the House of
There is also H.CON.RES.75, a resolution that would express the sense of the House
of Representatives that the use of child soldiers is unacceptable and ought to be ended. This resolution would
not actually do anything, though it is, as an official positive statement against the use of child soldiers, slightly
better than doing nothing.
There are three tiers of presidential candidates serving in Congress,
according to the status of their participation in congressional efforts to combat the use of child soldiers:
1. Presidential Candidates Who Have Cosponsored the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007
candidates are: Chris Dodd and Barack Obama.
2. Presidential Candidates Who Have Cosponsored
Only Dennis Kucinich has cosponsored this resolution.
Candidates Who Have Done Absolutely Nothing On The Issue Of Child Soldiers
Joseph Biden, John McCain, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, and Ron Paul have done absolutely nothing on
the issue of child soldiers. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.
There's another group of
presidential candidates, of course: Candidates who are not in Congress. These candidates can't do anything
other than talk, but we can at least examine them according to whether they bother to bring up the issue of
child soldiers on their campaign web sites. Let's take a look at them, then:
1. Presidential Candidates
(not in Congress) Who Discuss Child Soldiers On Their Campaign Web Sites
Not a single one.
2. Presidential Candidates (not in Congress) Who Say Nothing At All About Child Soldiers On Their
Campaign Web Sites
Talk is cheap, but the following presidential candidates are too cheap to even
talk about child soldiers on their presidential campaign web sites: Alan Keyes, Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney,
Fred Thompson, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Mike Huckabee, Rudolph Giuliani.
There's a whole lot
for America to be ashamed of in the collective inaction of the presidential candidates on an issue that ought to
get some mention and dedicated action. Two presidential candidates, however, do have something to be proud
of. Good for Chris Dodd and Barack Obama for setting themselves apart from the apathetic crowd on this
issue. (Sources: Kindsoldaten vzw; Library of Congress) Dissidents, opposition party leaders, authors,
judges, lawyers, schoolteachers and human rights activists have been rounded up and taken away by security
forces in vans in Pakistan. These forces are known to use torture on their detainees. The Pakistani constitution
has been suspended. The Supreme Court has been disbanded. Domestic news media have been shut down.
Parliamentary elections once scheduled for January are off the calendar.
George W. Bush hasn't made so
much as a single phone call of protest to Pakistan. The Bush administration has signaled that it will continue to
send weapons to the Pakistani military and continue to support the undemocratic rule of General Pervez
Says Pakistani Minister of Information Tariq Azim Khan of the Bush administration's
continuing support, "They would rather have a stable Pakistan albeit with some restrictive norms than have
more democracy prone to fall in the hands of extremists." I'd say the situation is pretty extreme right now.
Highly militarized, antidemocratic and torturing dictators propped up by the United States in the name
of fighting terror. If you think hard, you should be able to name more than a handful of these in recent
American history. Can you name them? And how did those situations turn out? (Sources: New York Times
November 5 2007; Human Rights Watch November 17 2007) On November 5, 2007, five American
soldiers in Iraq were killed. Their deaths made 2007 the deadliest year of all for American soldiers in Iraq, so
far. Even more American soldiers have been killed in Iraq in 2007 than were killed in 2003, the year of the
American invasion. This new bloody record was reached with still over a month and a half in the year to go.
There's nothing that can support those dead soldiers now but their coffins.(Source: CNN, November 6, 2007)
During the leadup to the war in Iraq, the Knight Ridder newspapers were often alone among major news
outlets in reporting on the significant problems in the Bush administration's supposed "slam-dunk" evidence
that Iraq was then in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Now Knight Ridder has been sold and
dismantled. Without this voice of reason in the media that cried virtually alone in the dark, speaking truths
about the rush to war that most Americans would only learn later, we need progressives in government all the
more. (Sources:American Journalism Review August/September 2004; Associated Press June 26 2006)
Listen to founding father Thomas Jefferson speak on the corrupting
autocratic impulse of war: "War... is not the most favorable moment
for divesting the monarchy of its power. On the contrary, it is the
moment when the energy of a single hand shows itself in the most
seducing form." We have seen this borne out in the first impulse of
George W. Bush to declare war, and in the second impulse of Bush to
use the cover of wartime to extend autocratic authority. (Source: Letter of Thomas Jefferson to to Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, 1788)
When it comes to evaluating the success of the escalation of the fighting in Iraq by American soldiers, who
are you going to believe - Republican politicians in Washington D.C. or the people who are living in Iraq and
see what's going on first hand?
The Iraqi people say that the so-called surge is not a success. 70 percent of
Iraqis, when asked, reported that security has gotten worse in the areas targeted by the American escalation
than it was before the surge. (Source: Harper's Magazine, November 2007) Pro-war politicians
describe the surge strategy in Iraq as a success. That's sad, considering the human consequences of their idea of
success. Since the beginning of the implementation of the surge, the number of Iraqi children between the
ages of nine and seventeen kept as prisoners by the Americans has risen by 540 percent.
count nine year old prisoners on the tally sheet of military victory. (Source: Harper's Magazine, November
2007) Unlike their right wing counterparts, progressives are able to recognize enthusiasm for war as a
pathological form of aggression. That psychological pathology itself cannot be done away with, perhaps, but
progressives realize that it can be expressed in the relatively benign alternatives to war. Larry Nocella of
Royersford, Pennsylvania, for example, suggests that the world could be a much more peaceful place if only
people like the Republicans in the top leadership positions in the Bush White House were willing to express
their violent tendencies on a television monitor instead of in the real world.
Royersford writes, "I
find myself lamenting the fact that men who make a habit of causing wars (e.g. George W. Bush, Dick
Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Osama bin Laden) are not addicted to video games instead. The world would be a
better place if they were." (Source: Harper's Magazine, November 2007) Another unsettling
statistic gives yet more credence to the progressive push for peace: In November, with a month and a half left
in the year, 2007 became the deadliest year in Afghanistan for American soldiers yet. The longer Americans
fight in Afghanistan, the stronger their enemies become. (Source: Associated Press, November 10, 2007)
One of the justifications for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been that, before
the invasion, the Taliban attacked people just for trying to get an education. The presumption of most
Americans has been that, since the American invasion of 2003, that problem has been all cleared up.
report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization shows that this presumption
is unfounded. The report finds that, when it comes to violence intended to intimidate people into avoiding
educational opportunities, "the worst-affected in the past five years include Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq,
Nepal, the Palestinian Autonomous Territories, Thailand and Zimbabwe."
The "past five years" that
this report refers to as particularly bad for anti-education violence in Afghanistan have all taken place after
the American invasion, and under American military occupation.
The justification of the war in
Afghanistan as a tool of educational liberation just doesn't up to the facts on the ground. (Source: Associated
Press, November 9, 2007) One of our readers provided a great example of the insanity of Homeland
Security, in the form of an experience she had while trying to buy something at a Walgreens pharmacy. She
"I was in the Walgreen's yesterday getting a print cartridge refilled, when the clerk asked me for
my zip code. I told her I didn't want to give it to her because you never know where that information will end
up..After all, the government is secretly collecting information on people who use the library.
informed me icy cold that people were using the library to make bombs."
The obvious problem with
the Walgreen's employee's statement is that people are not using libraries to make bombs. If anyone is
gathering information on how to make a bomb from a book, then they're using the information in those
books, which are available for sale online as well as in a library. The information on how to build a bomb is
also, probably, available online for free, if you know where to look for it.
There's another, more
insidious illogic in the clerk's argument, though, one so preposterous that it ought to have caused a snort of
laughter among anyone overhearing the conversation: Even if libraries were being used to make bombs, and
the government therefore had no choice but to keep track of all the library books that all Americans are
reading, that still doesn't justify the collection of zip codes by Walgreen's into electronic databases that are
vulnerable to government data mining under the Patriot Act.
Does anyone know, after all, how to use
a zip code to make a bomb? Can someone with technical expertise mix a zip code and a phone number in just
the right way to create a weapon of mass destruction?
The refusal to provide Walgreen's with a zip
code in no way helps terrorists to build a bomb, but in the psychology of Homeland Security, the assumption
is that any resistance to the gathering of private information by the government, or even by corporations, is
tantamount to helping terrorists kill Americans.
In 2008, we need to elect a progressive President who
can step back from the hype, recognize that zip codes are not terrorist weapons, and put an end to the paranoid
Homeland Security system that has made everyday life in America an exercise in absurdity. There's
been yet another case of mercenaries hired by the American government getting away with murder in Iraq.
This time, a mercenary hired by DynCorp International, working for the US State Department, pulled out a
gun and shot a man sitting in his taxi cab.
There was no apparent reason for the shooting other than the
pleasure of the American mercenary. Eyewitnesses say that there was no fighting in the area, and that
Mohamad Khalil Khudair, the taxi driver, had done nothing to provoke attention at all, much less give the
appearance of being a threat to the passing DynCorp mercenary convoy. When an Iraqi Army sergeant
inspected the taxi, there were no bombs, no guns or any other weapons found.
What happened to that
American mercenary? Nothing. DynCorp won't even release his name. (Source: New York Times, November
"Our deepest fears now haunt us. Yet I am convinced that military
action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism
against the United States. I know that this use-of-force resolution
will pass although we all know that the President can wage war even
without this resolution. However difficult this vote may be, some of
us must urge the use of restraint. There must be some of us who say,
let's step back for a moment and think through the implications of our
actions today -- let us more fully understand their consequences." So
said Representative Barbara Lee in her September 14, 2002 speech to
the House of Representatives explaining her sole dissenting vote on a
bill sanctioning military action. Barbara Lee, who was right on the
money, is one of the most progressive members of Congress. How much
better off would we be if the nation had followed in her footsteps
back in 2002? Instead, she was called a traitor for voicing her
doubts. Let us not make the same mistake again.
When I was kid, trying to understand the scale of money, the way that I could always make a
dime or a dollar concrete was to think about how many gumballs it could buy. At the time, gumballs were just
a penny each. That's no longer the case, unfortunately. It's hard to find a place where you can buy a gumball
for a penny. I was however, able to find a web site, GumBalls.com that sells a package 1,080 gumballs for 45
dollars. That's a price of roughly 4 cents per gumball.
I'm thinking about the cost of gumballs today
because I'm thinking about the cost of war. How many gumballs would it take to pay for the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan? Well, in dollars, the cost is 2.4 trillion. Multiply that by 25, and you understand, from the
perspective of a bubble-blowing child, just how much America has lost: 60 trillion gumballs.
many gumballs is that? If you want to imagine the worst nightmare of a school custodian, that's enough to
give 797,872 gumballs to every public school student in the USA. That's 182 gumballs for every public school
student to chew every day of their lives between the ages of six and eighteen. In other words, it's more
gumballs than all the public school students in America could chew, even if given 12 years to accomplish the
At a diameter of .86 inches each, those gumballs could be stretched 814,393,939 miles. That's
enough gumballs to reach all the way to the sun and back four times, and then make it one third of the way to
the sun again.
It's enough gumballs to pave a road between Washington D.C. and Dallas, Texas 8.38
That's how much we're losing in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that's just the
financial cost, and with all that, we still haven't achieved victory in either place. (Sources: GumBalls.com;
Mapquest.com; Agence France-Presse, October 25, 2007; Near Earth Object Program)
Pop quiz: Is putting Major General George W. Weightman, the General who turned Walter Reed Army
Medical Center into a pit of suffering and despair for recovering American soldiers, in charge of weapons of
mass destruction A. A good idea
B. A really, really, really bad idea
If you're like most people,
you chose B. If you're like the Republicans in charge of the Bush Administration, however, you chose A.
Major General George W. Weightman did such a poor job of administering the Walter Reed Army
Medical Center that Pentagon leaders fired him and said that they "had lost trust and confidence" in his
Now, General Weightman is being put in charge of military biological weapons
research at Fort Detrick. Those biological weapons could include strains of anthrax, ebola, MRSA, and the
H5N1 virus, manipulated to become even more deadly than the standard varieties. What kind of idiot would
put someone with General Weightman's record of failed leadership in charge of these weaponized diseases?
The George W. Bush kind of idiot. That's who. As Commander-In-Chief, it's President Bush's job to
make sure that this kind of stupidity does not take place. This is just one more way in which Republican
leadership of the military has proven dangerously inadequate. (Source: Associated Press, November 13, 2007)
When was the last time you saw hundreds of people protesting in the middle of the day in favor of war? I
don't know that I've ever seen such a thing. However, anti-war protests of that sort happen all the time.
November 2007, huge numbers of high school students in Seattle, Tacoma and Minneapolis walked out of
class and walked down the street in protest against war. They didn't do it because they're afraid of being
drafted. That's almost certainly not going to happen. These protests took place because the participants can see
that war isn't working. (Source: Youth Against War and Racism, November 16, 2007)
Sometimes, the debate between war and peace is nuanced. Well-meaning people can have a genuine
debate over the best way to achieve and sustain peace in the long term.
At other times, however, the debate between peace-loving Americans and enthusiasts for war isn't nuanced
at all. Sometimes, there's a very clear-cut distinction between the interests of peace and the interests of war.
That's the case when it comes to a plan hatched by the Republicans in the White House to sell 20 billion
dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. The plan includes high technology bombs that are guided by
satellites to hit their targets.
What in the world does the United States need to provide satellite-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia for?
What do we lose if Saudi Arabia does not have those bombs?
Saudi Arabia is still officially at war with Israel, and we're arming Israel at the same time as we're arming
Saudi Arabia. How does that make sense?
Well, actually, it makes perfect financial sense if you're a powerful corporation that makes and sells
weapons systems. It just doesn't make sense if you're interested in establishing a peaceful and stable world
community. (Source: Agence France-Presse, November 20, 2007)
Pro-war politicians trying to convince Americans to support a new war against Iran say that Iran should be
bombed because it's a source of foreign fighters attacking Americans in Iraq. However, of 25,000 people
captured by the United States in Iraq and suspected of being foreign fighters, only 11 have been from Iran.
(Source: The Guardian, November 22, 2007)
Files seized by American soldiers from an insurgent camp in the desert listed details of over 700
foreigners who had come to Iraq in order to fight during the last year. None of the foreign fighters listed in
those files were from Iran. 41 percent were from Saudi Arabia, and 18 percent came from Libya. Those two
countries are described as "allies" of the United States by the Bush White House. In spite of this striking lack
of evidence for a strong presence of Iranians fighting Iraq, right wing politicians continue to push for war
against Iran. (Source: The Guardian, November 22, 2007)
After invading Afghanistan and setting up a puppet government, the United States promised to rebuild the country. It didn't promise to kill the people who were trying to rebuild Afghanistan. Yet, that's just what happened this autumn, when the American military killed 14 engineers and workers who were trying to rebuild a road in eastern Afghanistan. Oops, said the American military. They called it an honest mistake. When this sort of killing of civilians takes place with the high frequency we've seen in the American occupation of Afghanistan, this sort of mistake can no longer be called honest. (Source: The Guardian, November 28, 2007)
In the summer of 2007, the American government authorized the use of military satellites to spy on the
private activities of people within the borders of the USA. Over in Europe, which Republicans like to dismiss
as "socialist", they've designed satellites to use for a different purpose. The European Tropospheric Emission
Monitoring Internet Service uses satellites from the European Space Agency to identify current problems with
air pollution in different countries, and then predicts the patterns of air pollution those countries can expect in
The program provides the pollution tracking information to countries free of charge. If we follow the
Republican mode of thinking, that's dangerous socialism. If we follow a progressive way of thinking,
however, we can see that the Europeans are using their space technology to take care of business, instead of
snooping into people's business. (Source: Scientific American, October 30, 2007)
George W. Bush and his right wing supporters have been caught in another great lie. Threatening military attacks and increased sanctions against Iran, pro-war politicians have claimed that Iran is on the verge of creating nuclear weapons that can destroy us all.
The Bush White House has even brought us to the brink of another Cold War against Russia, by establishing anti-missile bases in Europe to protect American nuclear missiles right next to Russia, under the pretext that Iran threatens Europe with a nuclear weapons attack.
Now we've found out that it's all a sham. Iran abandoned its efforts to build a nuclear bomb four years ago. Who says so? The White House's own intelligence experts say so. A recently released National Intelligence Estimate report says so.
And so, as a result, the Bush White House says that it's going to stay the course, and continue its belligerent threatening of Iran. (Source: USA Today, December 4, 2007)
Grist magazine asked Ron Paul, "What about being independent from the Middle East, so we're not buying oil from hostile countries?"
Ron Paul answered, "I think it's irrelevant."
Irrelevant? Is the fighting we're stuck with in Iraq irrelevant? Is the hold that the Saudis have over us irrelevant? Is the wealth pouring into unstable regimes across the region irrelevant?
It's Ron Paul's right wing libertarian economic philosophy, which leads him to promote inaction on energy independence, that ought to be irrelevant. (Source: Grist, October 16, 2007)
"Let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose falsehood as his principle. At its birth, violence acts openly and even with pride. But no sooner does it become strong, firmly established, than it senses the rarefaction of the air around it and it cannot continue to exist without descending into a fog of lies, clothing them in sweet talk. It does not always, not necessarily, openly throttle the throat, more often it demands from its subjects only an oath of allegiance to falsehood, only complicity in falsehood." (Source: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Lecture in Literature, 1970)
Illinois Senator Barack Obama spoke forcefully about the Fall 2007 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iran, which concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program far back in 2003:
It is absolutely clear that this administration and President Bush continues to not let facts get in the way of his ideology. And that's been the problem with their foreign policy generally. They should have stopped the saber-rattling, should have never started it, and they need now to aggressively move on the diplomatic front.
Delaware Senator Joseph Biden also spoke out, directly referring to the fact that after learning about the new intelligence on Iran in August of 2007, George W. Bush continued to proclaim that Iran was in fact determined to arm itself with nuclear weapons:
With all due respect with anybody who thinks that pressure brought this about, let's get this straight. In 2003, they stopped their program.Senators Biden and Obama are right. We cannot trust George W. Bush to tell Americans the truth when he makes claims about the size and scale of threats against the United States. But it's not just George W. Bush. There's a large and powerful war machine in this country that gains more wealth and further control over the population every time we head off to war, and the people who work for this machine cannot be trusted to tell us the truth, either. We need a president who stands outside the military machine and is willing to stand up to it and speak the truth. (Sources: National Public Radio Democratic Presidential Debate of December 4 2007; Seattle Post-Intelligencer December 5 2007)
Once, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that he supported the idea of allowing homosexual soldiers to remain in the military. Now, Romney says he doesn't support that position any more. He says, "This is not that time. We're in the middle of a war."
You cannot trust this president. He is not trustworthy. He has undermined our security in the region. He has undermined our credibility in the world. He has made it more difficult to get cooperation from the rest of the world. He has caused oil to go up roughly $25 a barrel with a security premium because of his threat of war.
It is outrageous, intolerable, and it must stop. The president of the United States — it was like watching a rerun of his statement on Iraq five years earlier. This — Iran is not a nuclear threat to the United States of America. Iran should be dealt with directly with the rest of the world at our side, but we've made it more difficult now because who is going to trust us? Who in Europe, who in China, who in Russia? It's outrageous.
So, in the middle of a war, when the military is having problems recruiting, it's not the time to stop kicking people out of the military for private behavior that has nothing to do with their ability to perform their duties as soldiers? We don't need someone who really believes that as Commander-In-Chief. (Source: Mother Jones, November, 2007)
Republicans like to say that they promote "peace through strength". The Republican idea of strength, unfortunately, has turned out to be a clumsy kind of bravado that makes the United States look more like a bully than a brave defender of peace.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has specifically promised to replace the oafish aggression of the Republican Party with a responsible emphasis on diplomacy. "Our ability to lead has been set back by our bluster and our refusal to talk to nations we don't like," Obama explains. It's time for America to lead again, with a policy of peace through wisdom. (Source: Associated Press, November 27, 2007)
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says that he will keep America secure if he is elected President. How, though, does Huckabee intend to keep America secure if he doesn't bother to even look at the intelligence reports about threats to the nation that are available for him to consider?
One full day after news about the National Intelligence Estimate revealing that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program was released and was the top story in all the major news outlets, Mike Huckabee was asked for his opinion. Huckabee told the reporters that he had never heard about it. A day after that, Huckabee was asked for his opinion about the National Intelligence Estimate again. This time, Huckabee said he had heard about it, but didn't know enough to answer any questions about it.
Apparently, Mike Huckabee thinks that it's just fine for a President to be uninformed, not to read intelligence reports, or even to read the newspaper. We've already had two terms of a Republican President with that attitude, and we don't need another. (Source: ABC News, December 9, 2007)
It may not seem like a big deal to the kind of people who regard the killing of civilians by soldiers as something ordinary that ought to be expected as part of any military operation, but to me, it seems like a reason as important as any: Vote in 2008 in memory of the child who was shot dead in late November 2007, along with at least four other civilians, by American soldiers in Iraq. (Source: Associated Press, November 27, 2007)
With the unrest going on in Pakistan, and the nuclear weapons programs of both India and Pakistan, anyone can see that South Asia is a very dangerous place that could erupt into uncontrollable violence with the slightest provocation. Well, anyone can see that except a Republican in the White House. In the spring of 2005, you see, the Republicans in the Bush White House sent Condoleeza Rice to India and Pakistan , in order to negotiate the terms for sending F-16 attack military aircraft - to both countries. You got that right - the Republicans' bright idea for making the world a safer place is to provide powerful weapons to two nations on the verge of going to war against one another.
Sending F-16s to both India and Pakistan does not benefit anyone other than the extremists in both countries who are itching for a fight. With American soldiers in Afghanistan right next door to both India and Pakistan, it does not serve the American national interest to encourage the nuclear arms race between these two nations. Yet, the Bush Administration's decision to send more weapons to both India and Pakistan will certainly be interpreted as a signal that the Bush White House will look the other way as nuclear weapons are developed, and is willing to add more fuel to the fire that burns towards nuclear war.
I found another reason to express relief at Tom Tancredo's withdrawal from the 2008 presidential campaign: The War On Radical Islam Bond.
On July 31, 2007, Congressman Tancredo introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would "provide for the issuance of War on Radical Islam Bonds."
Imagine what Tancredo's law would have done, if passed. It would have created an official act of Congress to declare war against a religion. After all, you can't have War Against Radical Islam Bonds without there actually being a War Against Radical Islam. That would not have just been in violation of the first amendment to the Constitution. It also would have been extraordinarily kooky.
There is no threat to the United States from radical Islam in itself that is so grave that there is any need to declare war against radical Islam. The problem is that a very small number of followers of radical Islam are willing to try to enforce their beliefs through violence. That small number of people need to be arrested and charged for whatever crimes they have committed. There aren't enough of them, however, for the United States to truly wage war against them. It's the violence, not the radical Islam, that is threat to American security, as much as that threat exists.
In a war against a Radical Islam, there could be no objective military goals, and no standards by which to judge whether progress was being made. How would Tancredo's War Against Radical Islam be fought? With missionaries sent around the world to convert people to non-radical religions? Who would get to pick which versions of Islam are radical and which ones are not radical? Would an official American government council of Muslim Imams be established to determine which forms of Islam are radical and which ones are not, or would Christian leaders get to make official declarations about which kinds of Islam are radical?
I'm thankful that Tom Tancredo has been unable to gain any co-sponsors for his legislation to establish Radical War On Islam Bonds. There will be no official religious war. Still, there are many in the Republican Party who support the notions underlying Tancredo's kooky legislation: That the United States is a Christian nation, and that religious wars are the proper course for the United States to set into the future. (Source: Library of Congress)
Republicans fret and bother and spend trillions of dollars to do what they call "winning the war on terror", and still they haven't won it. In fact, there's no victory in sight. They talk about fighting the "war on terror" for generations to come. That's not not really winning the war, is it?
Well, progressives have a simpler way of solving the problem, something akin to the action that Alexander the Great took when he undid the Gordian Knot by cutting it in two with his sword.
You want to win the war on terror? Okay. Don't be afraid.
That's all that's required, and the war on terror will be over. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen on Election Day, 2008, if we make the right choice.
At the beginning of March in 2005, the U.S. State Department released a report that described the new Iraqi government as rotten to the core. Condoleeza Rice did her best to rephrase the findings to reflect positively on Bush's efforts to mold Iraq into a free state, but the findings contradict this great spin of denial.
The report described widespread acts of "torture, impunity, poor prison conditions — particularly in pretrial detention facilities — and arbitrary arrest and detention" by the current, American-created-and-supported government of Iraq, along with "corruption at all levels of the government." The document also reports that the Iraqi government is inflicting "arbitrary deprivation of life" upon the Iraqi people. Don't you love that language? Folks, "arbitrary deprivation of life" means killing. President Bush's own people are telling him that the Iraqi government is killing people all over Iraq - with no real reason (that's what arbitrary means).
Remember how, a few years ago, the Bush Administration was getting all bothered about the Iraqi government "killing their own people" and "torturing their own people"? Oh sure, this wasn't the primary excuse for the unprovoked invasion of Iraq - the primary excuse was the existence of huge stockpiles of imaginary weapons of mass destruction - but overthrowing tyranny in Iraq and establishing freedom there is about the only excuse for war that the Bush Administration still has to hold onto.
Now we see that this sole remaining excuse is a sham too. When Bush's own top advisors release a report indicating that the new Iraqi government is engaged in the same awful abuses that Saddam Hussein was accused of, you know things are bad in Iraq. In fact, you can pretty safely assume that the new tyranny in Iraq is much worse than what Condoleeza Rice is admitting to - Secretary Rice has a long history of lying to the American people.
I guess that when President Bush announced that he was bringing freedom to Iraq, he just didn't bother to mention that he was talking about freedom for the new tyrants of Iraq to do whatever they want to the Iraqi people - just so long as they make friendly with America.
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending
spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of
diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder
the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In
fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence
multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid
of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." (Source: Martin Luther King, "Strength to Love," 1963)
It's time for a new regime in Washington because the old regime suffers from a dangerous lack of imagination. After all the old reasons for invading Iraq — weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist, democracy that wasn't implemented, torture that continued — fell away, this is what the hawkish Bush administration had left: well, we had to do something.
You'll hear this refrain repeated on right-wing talk radio shows and websites: when someone points out that the war in Iraq didn't work, the exasperated defender of it all spits out the phrase, "well, we had to do something!"
Perhaps we didn't have to do something, and perhaps we did. That's an argument for historians to settle, but for the moment let's just accept the premise that something did have to be done regarding Iraq. In the dichotomous black/white, on/off, good/evil vision of the Bush administration and its ideological sympathizers, there were and are only two options: war, or nothing. For dichotomous thinkers like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, there is only one kind of action and only one tool, and that is the action of violence with the tool of warfare. Bush and his fellow travelers are blind to other opportunities, and so they are incapable of taking them.
If we want a government which will look for and seize non-violent opportunities for action in the world, we need to put people in charge of the government who can see them. That means we'll need some regime change in 2008. But don't be worried by the use of that language. You see, there are plenty of non-violent ways of bringing regime change about. The election of progressive candidates with open vision is one of them. Open your eyes and be on the lookout.
When I was a teenager, I attended a camp called Boys State. It was described to me by my high school principal as an opportunity for high school boys to engage in a simulation of a state-level legislative session while staying on a college campus. It was a chance to get away from home for a few days, and it sounded like it would look good on a college application, so I agreed to go.
Little did I know what Boys State was really about. Run by the American Legion, Boys State turned out to be a gigantic recruiting operation. All throughout the camp, we were pressured to jon the military, to adhere to a conservative political agenda, and to behave as devout Christians. We were guided in these directions by a team of military recruiters who were given absolute authority over the boys at the camp, taking us through a miniature version of boot camp. Those who disobeyed the sergeants in any way were ritually humiliated in front of the other boys, so we all quickly learned to do whatever the recruiters told us to do. When they told us to take part in the prayers at evening meetings, we participated. When a Marine recruiter told us that Semper Fi, the motto of the Corps, meant loyalty to God, we responded with a "Sir, Yes Sir", because we knew that if we didn't, we'd be punished.
I reflect on this great mess of a teenage experience as I read an increasing number of reports confirming that American soldiers in military prisons have been engaged in the systematic desecration of the Koran. In a discussion of the growing scandal yesterday, someone asked me if I thought that the desecration itself was the real problem. I've been considering that question since, and this morning it occurs to me that no, the desecration of the Koran is not what I really object to. What I object to is that the American military is being used not just to attack people, but to attack a particular religion as well. The real underlying problem is that the military is being hijacked by members of conservative Christian sects to promote their particular religious views on the taxpayer's dime.
It doesn't appear that President Bush himself ordered the desecration of Korans, although the incidents were certainly facilitated by Bush's clear directions to push beyond the boundaries of interrogation methods agreed upon by free nations. Instead, the idea of using military authority to attack the Koran seems to have arisen spontaneously from the ranks.
We should not be surprised at pervasive attacks against non-Christian religion in the military, because Christianity has been co-opted as a tool of imposing authority throughout the military. We American taxpayers hire clerics to convince American soldiers that they are doing the work of God. A High-ranking general tours the country telling crowds that the war on terror is really a religious war against satanic Islam. Missionaries from conservative Christian sects are given exclusive access to military bases in the United States in order to gain converts among the soldiers. Military recruiters appeal to Christian faith as a reason to enlist.
A long symbiotic relationship between Christianity and the American military has developed over time, and this relationship has often encouraged abuse. Recent reports, for example, indicate that the leaders of the Air Force Academy have engaged in "the official promotion of evangelical Christianity" as part of the education there, and allowed ongoing harassment of non-Christian cadets.
The mixture of Christianity and the American military is dangerous to both Christianity and to the military. The moral high ground that Christianity seeks to claim is lost when its "turn the other cheek" message is cast aside in order to make it compatible with the institutional violence of the military. The American military's credibility is also called into question when it appears that it represents the will of only some of the American people. The separation of Church and State protects us all from abusive authorities who seek to use religion to take away our liberty. When the powers of religion and the military are mixed, we are all put at risk, whether we are members of the military or not.
When Democrats in Congress try to block funding for continued military action in Iraq, George W. Bush accuses them of not supporting the troops. Now, however, George W. Bush is blocking funds for the group, promising to veto legislation authorizing money for the U.S. military in 2008.
Why is George W. Bush now doing the same thing that he has blasted the Democrats in Congress for doing? It's in order to protect Saddam Hussein from post-mortem lawsuits. Really.
George W. Bush is upset that the defense authorization bill passed by Congress would make Iraqi government funds available to be frozen when lawsuits by those seeking compensation for atrocities inflicted upon them by Saddam Hussein. So, Bush says he will veto the legislation. Bush wants to deny legal justice for those harmed by Saddam Hussein, making his justification for invading Iraq tragically laughable.
First George W. Bush had Saddam Hussein hanged. Now, George W. Bush is protecting Saddam Hussein from lawsuits. That flip flop speaks to the absurdity of the Republican approach to foreign policy more than anything else I could imagine. (Source: Reuters, December 28, 2007)
For the second half of 2007, the talk of the political establishment and its supporters in the mainstream news media, has been the success of the surge in Iraq. Take a closer look at the narrative that justifies the surge, however, and you'll see that claims of success are full of holes.
First of all, as General David Petraeus has recently admitted, violence in Iraq is once again on the increase, not decreasing. Secondly, even those claiming success of the surge strategy in Iraq only claim to have reduced violence in Iraq to the levels of 2005…
…when things in Iraq were really, really bad.
Let us not accept the low standards of those politicians who try to convince us that daily violence across Iraq is an acceptable vision of success. (Source: Los Angeles Times, December 29, 2007)
Mike Huckabee is running for President of the United States on the basis of his status as a Christian leader. He's come right out and said as much in his television advertisements in Iowa. So, it makes a lot of sense to scrutinize what kind of Christian leadership Huckabee values, and how he would apply that kind of leadership as President of the United States.
Huckabee has said that he thinks that right wing extremist John Hagee is "one of the great Christian leaders of our nation." Hagee, in turn, has spoken quite freely about how Christian beliefs should be applied by the U.S. federal government.
On the subject of international affairs, for example, Hagee says that the U.S. government ought to let terrorists organized by God dictate American foreign policy. No kidding. Read Hagee's words for yourself.
"I want those of you in the State Department and in government in Washington to hear this: If America does not stop pressuring Israel to give up land, I believe that God will bring this nation into judgment, because I believe what this book says. And if God brings this nation into judgment, He will very likely release the terrorists that you've already let get here through the ridiculous immigration policy you refuse to stop, and this nation is going to go through a bloodbath that you have permitted because of what you have done. You have disobeyed the law of God, and now, we as a nation are going to pay a price for that."
The meaning of this kind of statement is pretty clear. According to Hagee, God has a bunch of terrorists that he is ready to release to attack the United States any time the American government breaks Christian religious law. What's more, Hagee suggests that the American government ought to listen to God's terrorist threats, and shape our foreign policy accordingly.
Mike Huckabee thinks that this kind of idea is an example of great leadership. That's just one more reason American voters must never allow someone like Huckabee to become the President of the United States. (Source: People For The American Way, December 21, 2007; New York Post, December 24, 2007)
At the beginning of his administration, George W. Bush had no idea who
Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf even was. At the end of his
administration, George W. Bush has no plan for what to do about
Pakistan other than continuing to support Pakistani dictator Pervez
Musharraf no matter what. The lack of creativity shown by Bush and
his fellow-travelers is making that part of the world, and therefore
this part of the world, a more dangerous place. (Source: Washington Post December 30, 2007)
In Catch-22, author Joseph Heller warns us, "The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on."
Take a look at who has got the most Americans killed. It isn't Osama Bin Laden. It's our own President, and the Congress that refuses to stand up to him.