Thursday, September 23, 2004

"Could You Tell Me How to Get to Bush Square?"
So Kerry says that Dubya lives in a fantasy world........well, he's not the only one in this current administration. Here's some tidbits from fellow fantasy world inhabitant Richard Perle's speech he gave at a September 22nd 2003 keynote luncheon:

"So some of our friends and some of our allies are having trouble recognizing that we now feel it necessary to act, sometimes independently because we don't have an international structure, but it gives us an opportunity to protect ourselves through the instruments of international law and international practice.

Maybe we're in a transition period. Maybe we'll modernize the United Nations. Maybe we'll update our concepts of what constitutes a threat to which it is appropriate to respond. But until that happens, I suppose we will be accused from time to time of acting unilaterally."


"It, in fact, would be unreasonable to expect--to expect anyone in any other country to be as concerned and preoccupied as Americans must be. And it is probably unreasonable, therefore, to expect a degree of support that we're unlikely to achieve. So we will have to do what we must do in order to protect ourselves."

Just what Putin is saying! And who says that Dubya is not the Education President?

"It was an absurd and unnatural situation for Iraq to be isolated and sanctioned as it was and for anyone to think that was in the interest of any of Turkey's neighbors. I never understood how anyone could have thought that there was anything but a brighter future with Saddam Hussein out of the way. Well, now he's out of the way. And if we meet again next year at about this time, I expect there will be a really thriving trade in the region, and we will see rapid economic development, not only in Iraq but in Turkey, working closely with Iraq."

.......thriving trade in Iraq? RPG's, maybe.......and now, here's the great bit:

"So the problems that affect Americans and Turks are, I think, largely behind us. The problems in Iraq are ahead of us, but we're doing better than people think. And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they've been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation."

But wait, there's more examples of good personnel judgement:


"MR. PERLE: I've been asked to take questions, which, of course, I'm happy to do.

MS. : I have a question. I was reading [inaudible] a few days ago in the New York Times, and he said that the emphasis on our Ahmed Chelabi was too much. In fact, they tried to work with other Iraqis and build a post-war Iraq. But a great emphasis [inaudible] in Ahmed Chelabi, who is in exile. Did you read that article? What are your thoughts on that article?

MR. PERLE: The question was about Ahmed Chelabi and reference was to an article which I haven't read. But let me just say that the Iraqi people must choose their next government, their leaders. If they choose Ahmed Chelabi, I think they will have a very bright future.

I've known Ahmed Chelabi for more than a dozen years. He is a man, in my experience, of absolute integrity and courage, and he would be a great Iraqi leader. I read stories all the time about how he has the backing of the Pentagon. Some of us who are connected one way or another to the Pentagon who know him have a high regard for him. But he doesn't have the backing of the Pentagon. Whatever he is able to accomplish in Iraq will be on the strength of his own abilities, his character, his intelligence, and his commitment to the freedom of the people of Iraq. I can't imagine a leader who more fully embodies the values that caused the Americans to believe we should liberate Iraq. He believes in democracy. He believes in individual freedom. He's a Shia who does not want a theocracy in Iraq. And it pains me to see some officials of this government make disparaging remarks about him. For the most part, the disparagement comes from people who don't know him, who have never met him, and it's based on jealousies and in some cases embarrassment. Chelabi was right over many years when they were wrong. So it's been troubling to see the disparagement of this great man. But I have complete confidence that his qualities will lead him into a position of leadership in Iraq."

Wow. The same Chalabi who squandered millions of our tax dollars that were funneled through the Iraqi National Congress, the same Chalabi who the Iraqi people wouldn't trust with their backs turned. The same Chalabi who Dubya denied being involved with, but yet could still score a seat behind the First Lady at the State of the Union address!! Ahmed who? For a full account of the car salesman-turned savior, read this piece titled "How Ahmed Chalabi Conned the Neocons."

Here's a snip:

"When the definitive history of the current Iraq war is finally written, wealthy exile Ahmed Chalabi will be among those judged most responsible for the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein. More than a decade ago Chalabi teamed up with American neoconservatives to sell the war as the cornerstone of an energetic new policy to bring democracy to the Middle East -- and after 9/11, as the crucial antidote to global terrorism. It was Chalabi who provided crucial intelligence on Iraqi weaponry to justify the invasion, almost all of which turned out to be false, and laid out a rosy scenario about the country's readiness for an American strike against Saddam that led the nation's leaders to predict -- and apparently even believe -- that they would be greeted as liberators."

Fantasy world indeed.

Friday, September 17, 2004

"Yes, But Saddam is Gone......"
That's Dubya's typical stump speech tidbit regarding Iraq. A crazy despot is gone, but at what price? Now that the WMD issue is finally filed away:

"A draft report by the top U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq concludes no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were found, but there was evidence Saddam Hussein intended to resurrect weapons programs, U.S. government sources said on Thursday.

Charles Duelfer, the CIA-appointed leader of the weapons hunt, was still finalizing the roughly 1,500 page-report, which was expected to say no stockpiles of biological or chemical weapons were found, the sources told Reuters.

The perceived threat from weapons of mass destruction was the main justification used by the Bush administration for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 that toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein."


"His predecessor, David Kay, said when he stepped down in January that no large stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons existed in Iraq when the United States went to war.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Colin Powell told lawmakers he now thought stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons would probably never be found."

Nice. Going to war on faulty intelligence and outright lies from Chalabi. These issues were all brought up before the war, but were quickly shot down by this Administration. So, we now have a very bad situation getting worse, as outlined in this piece from The Guardian:

"Most senior US military officers now believe the war on Iraq has turned into a disaster on an unprecedented scale.

'Bring them on!" President Bush challenged the early Iraqi insurgency in July of last year. Since then, 812 American soldiers have been killed and 6,290 wounded, according to the Pentagon. Almost every day, in campaign speeches, Bush speaks with bravado about how he is "winning" in Iraq. "Our strategy is succeeding," he boasted to the National Guard convention on Tuesday.

But, according to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost. Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."

Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after the second world war in Germany and Japan."


"We have a growing, maturing insurgency group," he told me. "We see larger and more coordinated military attacks. They are getting better and they can self-regenerate. The idea there are x number of insurgents, and that when they're all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed. The political culture is more hostile to the US presence. The longer we stay, the more they are confirmed in that view."


"If you are a Muslim and the community is under occupation by a non-Islamic power it becomes a religious requirement to resist that occupation," Terrill explained. "Most Iraqis consider us occupiers, not liberators." He describes the religious imagery common now in Fallujah and the Sunni triangle: "There's talk of angels and the Prophet Mohammed coming down from heaven to lead the fighting, talk of martyrs whose bodies are glowing and emanating wonderful scents."

"I see no exit," said Record. "We've been down that road before. It's called Vietnamisation. The idea that we're going to have an Iraqi force trained to defeat an enemy we can't defeat stretches the imagination. They will be tainted by their very association with the foreign occupier. In fact, we had more time and money in state building in Vietnam than in Iraq."

General Odom said: "This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies."


"General Odom remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and the senior military officers over Iraqi was worse than any he has ever seen with any previous government, including Vietnam. "I've never seen it so bad between the office of the secretary of defence and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaida. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic."

And then, there's more on the "V" word from Bob Herbert:

"Wars are all about chaos and catastrophes, death and suffering, and lifelong grief, which is why you should go to war only when it's absolutely unavoidable. Wars tear families apart as surely as they tear apart the flesh of those killed and wounded. Since we learned nothing from Vietnam, we are doomed to repeat its agony, this time in horrifying slow-motion in Iraq.

Three more marines were killed yesterday in Iraq. Kidnappings are commonplace. The insurgency is growing and becoming more sophisticated, which means more deadly. Ordinary Iraqis are becoming ever more enraged at the U.S.

When the newscaster David Brinkley, appalled by the carnage in Vietnam, asked Lyndon Johnson why he didn't just bring the troops home, Johnson replied, "I'm not going to be the first American president to lose a war."

George W. Bush is now trapped as tightly in Iraq as Johnson was in Vietnam. The war is going badly. The president's own intelligence estimates are pessimistic. There is no plan to actually win the war in Iraq, and no willingness to concede defeat.

I wonder who the last man or woman will be to die for this colossal mistake."

Right-wing pundits often say that the "liberal media" reports nothing but bad news out of Iraq........where's the good when even the Green Zone comes under fire, and citizens still do not have steady power? Here's a bit from an Iraqi:

"August was a hellish month. The heat was incredible. No one remembers Baghdad ever being quite this hot- I think we broke a new record somewhere in mid-August.

The last few days, Baghdad has been echoing with explosions. We woke up to several loud blasts a few days ago. The sound has become all too common. It’s like the heat, the flies, the carcasses of buildings, the broken streets and the haphazard walls coming up out of nowhere all over the city… it has become a part of life. We were sleeping on the roof around three days ago, but I had stumbled back indoors at around 5 am when the electricity returned and was asleep under the cool air of an air-conditioner when the first explosions rang out.

I tried futilely to cling to the last fragments of a fading dream and go back to sleep when several more explosions followed. Upon getting downstairs, I found E. flipping through the news channels, trying to find out what was going on. “They aren’t nearly fast enough,” he shook his head with disgust. “We’re not going to know what’s happening until noon.”

But the news began coming in much sooner. There were clashes between armed Iraqis and the Americans on Haifa Street- a burned out hummer, some celebrating crowds, missiles from helicopters, a journalist dead, dozens of Iraqis wounded, and several others dead. The road leading to the airport has seen some action these last few days- more attacks on troops and also some attacks on Iraqi guard. The people in the areas surrounding the airport claim that no one got any sleep the whole night.

The areas outside of Baghdad aren’t much better off. The south is still seeing clashes between the Sadir militia and troops. Areas to the north of Baghdad are being bombed and attacked daily. Ramadi was very recently under attack and they say that they aren’t allowing the wounded out of the city. Tel Affar in the north of the country is under siege and Falloojeh is still being bombed."

Time will tell if this war was one of the most colossal blunders in recent times. Will we experience a severe "blowback" from this war?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Hurricane Shuffle
OK, I'll try to post a few things in between the last hurricanes (Charley and Frances) and the next one (Ivan)! Man, We've been getting hit pretty hard down here, but that's the random nature of these tropical systems. What impact does global warming have on these storms, in terms of frequency or strength? No one knows for sure, but since the larger definition of "weather" would be the Earth trying to achieve a hot/cold balance, then any change in temperature is bound to alter storm patterns. A great deal has happened in the political world since I last posted, but none of it a surprise if you go and read this (supposedly!) satirical Onion piece from 2001 that was depressignly right-on with Dubya's administration. And, of course, Dubya is now backing out of one of three planned debates. Incredible. His public appearances are filled with screened participants, he has participated in an all-time low amount of televised news conferences (remember the planned once-a-week updates on Iraq he was supposed to deliver??) and he can't face unscripted audiences.........and people still believe he is a leader?

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