Monday, November 24, 2003

"Donkeys of Mass Destruction"
Contrasting the pre-war hype over WMD with reality, Willaim Rivers Pitt lets fly with quotes we should never forget:

About a month into the Iraq invasion, Congress set aside $79 billion in funds for the military. Recently, Bush requested another $87 billion because the occupation was dragging on far longer, and was costing more in men and materiel, than the rosy pre-war forecasts had indicated. In total, this comes to $166 billion spent on Iraq by the Bush administration.


Why did we do this? We did this because George W. Bush and the members of his administration argued, day after day, week after week, month after month, that Iraq was in possession of massive stores of mass destruction weapons that would be delivered to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda for use against the United States.

The total amount of weapons held by Iraq, according to the administration, is described on a WhiteHouse.gov webpage entitled 'Disarm Saddam Hussein. According to this page, Iraq possessed 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 1,000,000 pounds of sarin, mustard and VX gas, 30,000 munitions to deliver these agents, plus mobile biological weapons labs, uranium from Niger to produce nuclear bombs, along with deep and abiding al Qaeda connections.

"Simply stated," said Dick Cheney on August 26 2002, "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

"We know for a fact that there are weapons there," said Ari Fleischer on January 9 2003.

"There is no doubt," said General Tommy Franks on March 22 2003, "that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction."

"We know where they are," said Don Rumsfeld on March 30 2003, later denying to the press that he ever said such a thing. "They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."

"We have sources that tell us," said George W. Bush on February 8 2003, "that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons."

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt," continued Bush on March 17 2003, "that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

In his February 5 2003 speech to the United Nations, Secretary of State Colin Powell warned of the "sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network."

George W. Bush, on March 18, had delivered a letter to Congress explicitly indicating that an attack on Iraq was an attack upon those who perpetrated September 11. Paragraph two reads, "The use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

On May 1 2003, when he announced the end of "major combat operations," Bush proclaimed, "We've removed an ally of Al Qaeda."

It is now the 24th of November. Some 9,000 American soldiers have been wounded in Iraq, according to an official Pentagon count. Well over 400 American soldiers have died. The occupation itself has almost completely bogged down. Even the 'safe' areas in northern Iraq have seen a startling upsurge in violence. The two Blackhawks recently downed, to the tune of 17 Americans killed, were attacked in northern Iraq. Two soldiers had their throats cut in northern Iraq today, with a third killed by a bomb outside Baghdad.

The uranium claims were based on crudely forged documents, the mobile labs were weather balloon launching platforms sold to Iraq by the British in the 1980s, the al Qaeda claims are utterly impossible to establish as true, any connection between Iraq and September 11 was publicly denied by George W. Bush himself recently, and the mass destruction weapons are utterly and completely absent. Despite the fact that Iraq lacks any aspect of the formidable arsenal described by the Bush administration, fighters against the American occupation have managed to slay and maim our troops with sharp and deadly accuracy.


The Palestine Hotel and the Iraq Oil Ministry building came under rocket attack last week. The missiles were not fired by Iraqi men, but from the backs of donkey carts. The fuses to remotely launch these missiles were fashioned out of car batteries. The missiles struck home, gravely wounding a civilian employee of the American petroleum company Halliburton.

Halliburton had fashioned huge siege walls to protect the Palestine Hotel, an interesting fact in and of itself. One is forced to wonder exactly how a company whose purpose is to pull oil out of the ground came to be so adept at preparing military-style defenses. More interesting, though, is the fact that those defenses were defeated by donkeys. Not anthrax, not botulinum toxin, not VX gas, not with any of the 30,000 munitions Bush claims Iraq possessed, not with a nuclear bomb fashioned with material from Niger, and not with the help of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Halliburton was attacked by pack mules.

Americans continue to die, the cost of this invasion continues to skyrocket, and all of the dire threats we were told of do not, in any way, exist. In short, the donkeys are kicking our ass.

Mogadishu Redux....
In a very unsettling story, two American servicemen were killed and then publicly mutilated in Mosul:

Iraqi mob mutilates bodies of US troops killed by guerrillas
By Phil Reeves in Tikrit
24 November 2003

Moments after Iraqi guerrillas killed two American troops yesterday, a crowd swarmed to the car and began pummelling the soldier's bodies with concrete blocks.

Witnesses to the assault in the northern city of Mosul said the mob mutilated the blood-drenched bodies, rifled through their pockets, looted their four-wheel-drive civilian car, smashed the windows and tried to set it on fire.

One man was seen brandishing a wad of blood-soaked Iraqi dinars, apparently stolen from the men. Bahaa Jassim, one of those who saw the attack, said the soldiers' vehicle smashed into a wall after they were shot and that the crowd stole their weapons and backpacks.

The attack was unusually ferocious, even by the ruthless standards of this seven-month conflict. It dealt a blow to the US strategy of promoting the view that the majority of Iraqi civilians are on the side of the "coalition", and that its only enemy is a small number involved in armed resistance.

"They hate Americans round here," said one Iraqi on-looker. "They've been doing many raids around here, so it's not surprising they were attacked."

I don't know how we're going to suppress these attacks while trying to win the "hearts and minds" of people that resent our strong-armed tactics within local neighborhoods....

Friday, November 21, 2003

How About Some Music, Paul?
And now here's the latest Top Ten List from Dave, and it's all about Dubya's trip to Jolly 'ol England:

Top Ten George W. Bush Complaints About England

10. "Clocks are five hours fast"

9. "Everybody's speaking some crazy foreign language"

8. "Harry Potter won't return phone calls"

7. "So touchy about minor things...like going to war under false pretenses"

6. "They don't know where Saddam is either"

5. "Queen Elizabeth not half as funny as 'King of Queens'"

4. "Disappointed to learn 'Big Ben' is just a giant clock"

3. "Pack a gum costs 2 pounds -- who carries two pounds of money?!"

2. "I've been here for 36 hours and Prince Charles hasn't made a single move on me"

1. "Driving on the left reminds me of my drinking days"

Friday, November 14, 2003

The Ten commandments and Behavior Modification
OK, so I was listening to the ramblings of somebody on a religious talk radio show (the curse of the "seek" button) today, and he was saying that if only copies of the Ten Commandments were posted in schools, then all of our immoral behavior would go away. Well, let me give you some insight on the behavior of students in religious institutions, since I was a twelve-year survivor of Catholic schools: besides the fact that a list tacked up on a wall goes largely ignored by kids (whether it's God's words or a list of chores), students in religious schools break the same commandments as those in public schools, they just break them wearing matching uniforms. The most inflential factor for affecting kids' moral compasses has always been the influence of role models, whether it's parents, other adults or older kids. Not ten rules on paper.....

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Measuring Success

We are in Iraq for many reasons, most of them are now turning out to be either false or the results of bad information from power-hungry exiles. The question is now, "Is America safer?" "Will this action in Iraq result in a decrease in terrorism?" Can this even be measured by any of Rumsfeld's lost "metrics?" This article by Daniel Benjamin is a good overview as to where these measuring sticks can be found:

"Rumsfeld's Folly
How the war in Iraq undermined the war on terror.
By Daniel Benjamin
Posted Thursday, October 30, 2003, at 2:25 PM PT

In the week since Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's Oct. 16 memo appeared in USA Today, the press squall has churned mostly around the doubts it expresses about the prosecution of the war on terror and the way those doubts contradict the administration's public statements. But the memo is significant for an entirely different reason. It opens a window onto the Bush team's flawed thinking about the war on terror.

Two key passages stand out: First, Rumsfeld wonders, "Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists." Then, later, he asks, "Are we capturing, killing or deterring more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"

As foreign fighters pour into Iraq to attack U.S. troops and undermine the occupation, the questions are long overdue. They suggest that a top official is beginning to recognize what others outside and inside government have been arguing since Sept. 11, 2001: The United States faces an insurgency that is not tied to one piece of Middle East real estate or to one rogue state.

Instead, it is a global fight with lots of ideological fuel to burn. Rumsfeld observes that we have no "metrics" for judging how well we are doing in the larger war on terror. Surely a key issue is whose ideas are gaining ground. When I worked in the government, analysts closely followed the Friday sermons and the public statements of Muslim clerics. Review some recent ones, such as those posted at www.memri.org, and you can see preachers who are paid by the state, usually counted on for moderation, delivering pronouncements that approach Osama Bin Laden's in spirit, depicting America as the head of world infidelity whose presence in Iraq justifies jihad. Rumsfeld might also consider polling data, such as the June results from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which shows majorities in seven of eight Muslim nations surveyed believing their countries are militarily threatened by the United States—again, much as Bin Laden argues.

There is, in fact, overwhelming evidence that the radicalization of the Muslim world is deepening. That means more sympathizers, more fund raising, and more recruits for the jihadist camp. On the tactical side of the war on terror, counting the terrorists captured or killed, as the administration frequently does, is a somewhat useful approach—and the record is better than anyone could have predicted two years ago. But strategically, we're slipping.

Rumsfeld's memo, informal as it is, also says much about the basic assumptions of the Bush foreign policy team. It takes for granted that stopping the next generation of terrorists is the job of the Pentagon and, secondarily, the CIA. Is a new organization needed, Rumsfeld asks, to integrate efforts better? Unmentioned is the existing institution that ought to play the lead role in dealing with the long-term problem of radical Islam and terror: the State Department.

The military played a vital part in toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan, the world's first terrorist-sponsored state, and special operations forces continue to hunt for terrorists in South Asia. The Pentagon will be called on again if, for example, a training camp is found and targeted for destruction. But its role in dealing with the war on terror has ballooned far beyond what is justified—a consequence of construing the war on Iraq as part of the war on terror. Fighting terrorism requires intelligence and law enforcement agencies to do the tactical work of disrupting conspiracies and dismantling terrorist organizations. Over the long term, though, any strategy to confront radical Islam must be principally a diplomatic one. You don't win hearts and minds through military occupation, and there are too many countries where extremism is on the rise. Iraq seems to be stretching our resources well enough already.

The tools of such a strategy are programs to promote the gradual development of democracy in the Muslim world because only democracy can contain the strains these societies are experiencing and show that radical Islamists do not have the solution for improving the lot of ordinary Muslims. There needs to be support for economic liberalization in the Muslim world and educational reform to deal with the religious schools that are factories for extremists. Tremendous diplomatic pressure will be required to end the incitement, the anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism that fills the press and official rhetoric and lays the ground for jihadist recruitment and violence. This, under the best of circumstances, would be a tough road, and the effort would last decades. But given the right approach, it could work. It would require reinvigorating a Middle East peace process and sticking with it, the ticket of admission to being taken seriously in the Muslim world. Finally, it requires signing up allies because the United States is viewed as too toxic a presence for most Muslims."

Go read the rest...it's very good and emphasizes the fact that this region of the world is very complicated, with layers and layers of history, conflict and tribal loyalties.....and perhaps unwilling to have any kind of "non-theocratic democracy" imposed upon them without creating unrest by the tenfold.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?