Category Archives: Military

Bush Approval Among Military Families Down 50% Since 2004

iraqmarinescoffinflag.jpg

Reprinted from RawStory.com 

Support for President Bush and his Iraq war policy is nearly as anemic among US military families as it is in the general population, according to a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.

The survey finds that almost 60 percent of the military community — which was defined as active and former service personnel as well as their families — disapprove of the president’s handling of the war. The same percentage of the group disapprove of Bush’s overall performance as president. Meanwhile, only 37 percent of the family members approve of Bush. Among civilians polled, the war garnered support from 32 percent of respondents.

Families that include veterans of wars presided over by the president were found to be just as critical of the war in Iraq as other Americans, with a full 60 percent saying the war was not worth the cost.

“Patience with the war, which has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II, is wearing thin — particularly among families who have sent a service member to the conflict,” reports the Los Angeles Times‘ Faye Fiore. “One-quarter say American troops should stay ‘as long as it takes to win.’ Nearly seven in 10 favor a withdrawal within the coming year or ‘right away.'”

The new numbers stand in stark contrast to a poll of military families conducted by the University of Pennsylvania three years ago, in which twice as many individuals approved of the president’s performance.

The poll also finds more support for Democrats than Republicans when it comes to “treatment” of active-duty military personnel, indicating that a “plurality of military-family members, 39 percent, say they believe Democrats are likely to do a better job handling those issues, compared with 35 percent for Republicans,” according to Bloomberg news.

A military sociologist told the Los Angeles Times that flagging support for a president from servicemembers’ families in a time of war wasn’t typical. “You generally expect to see support for the president as commander in chief and for the war, but this is a different kind of war than those we’ve fought in the past, particularly for families,” he said.

One Army mother responding to the poll, whose son was wounded in Iraq, told the Times that she feared casualties in the conflict were for naught.

“I don’t see gains for the people of Iraq…and, oh, my God, so many wonderful young people, and these are the ones who felt they were really doing something, that’s why they signed up,” she said. “I pray to God that they did not die in vain, but I don’t think our president is even sensitive at all to what it’s like to have a child serving over there.”

Complete polling results are available here.

Advertisements

Petraeus Says Things are Getting Better in Iraq, but are They?

pet.jpg

David Petraeus, Bush’s top American general in Iraq, has expressed his satisfaction on the progress made in Iraq, but said the military was still far from any victory.

“Nobody in uniform is doing victory dances in the end zone,” Petraeus told reporters. Gates said on Wednesday that the violence in Iraq had dropped to levels not seen since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in the central town of Samarra that unleashed brutal Shiite and Sunni conflict nearly two years ago. He said the reduction in violence meant the “goal of a secure, stable and democratic Iraq is within reach”.

But is it?

Petraeus, who in September announced to Congress the first possible elements of an American troop drawdown in Iraq, was more cautious on Thursday when he said, “We work hard to build up on the progress made” but “we have to be careful not to feel too successful.” He went on to add, “Certain days we certainly feel very good but there are still attacks. We have seen continued improvements,” he said, adding that there was “much hard work still to be done and issues to be addressed”.

iCausualities.org, a website dedicated to tracking Iraq casualties, puts the death toll of American troops for November 2007 at 37, down one from 38 in October. However there have been months with lower death totals. January of 2003, August of 2003, September of 2003, February of 2004, March of 2005, and March of 2006, all saw lower troop casualties. Furthermore, the data clearly shows consistent peaks and valleys in troop casualties and violence throughout the last four years. Furthermore, there has been no period of more than six months that shows a consistent downward trend, before violence increased again. As of now, we appear to be in one of the ‘valleys.’ This is to say, the data supports no conclusions regarding violence trends. Maybe this is why Petraeus isn’t counting his chickens just yet.

Just yesterday, there were a series of bombings that rocked several major cities.

Iraqi civilian deaths are pegged at 800,00 to 1,200,000 depending on what source you reference.

ibcsurgeanalysis.jpg

The chart above displays civilian casualty numbers from this year.Although casualties from shootings and bombings is down in the ‘Green Zone’, they appear to be flat or trending up outside of Bagdad. What conclusions can we draw?

Here is some ICCC data…

iccccivcas.jpg

No one can say if al Qaeda has been quashed. For all we know, there may be another surtge in violence around the corner or worse. What we can conclude from the data I believe is that petraeus is painting a rosie picture for the American people and the administration. The troop surge has resulted in a reduction in casualties overall in Iraq, but this reduction is far from the knockout blow Bush is looking for. I do think that all Americans sincerely hope that the declining casualty trends continue, as I do, but I would not jump to any conclusions right now. Al Qaeda, as demonstrated in Afghanistan, is alive and well. In that country, violence and casualties are on the rise, poppy production is at an all time high, and the civilian landscape is in chaos.

Could it be that Al Qaeda has shifted fronts and is helping the Taliban, knowing we can’t effectively fight this “war  on terror” on both fronts?

It makes for interesting conversation.

Democrats Ready to Fold Once Again on War Funding…

logo.jpg

A quick spine check of the Democratic Party has revealed Jell-O once again…

Reprinted fron the Washington Post

By Jonathan Weisman

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 5, 2007; Page A03  

Facing increasing evidence of military progress in Iraq, some Democratic congressional leaders are eyeing a shift in legislative strategy that would abandon a link between $50 billion in additional war funding sought by President Bush to a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Instead, they would tie the measure to political advances by the Iraqi government.

For nearly a year, Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to use war funds to push timelines for troop withdrawals, troop-training requirements, and prescribed periods of rest for weary soldiers and Marines.

Now, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) is examining a new approach, releasing war funds in small increments, with further installments tied to specific performance measures for Iraq’s politicians. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) also is searching for a new approach and has been briefed on the idea of more explicitly tying funds to political progress.

The new thrust has divided Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, some of whom say they will never approve additional funding for the Iraq war without troop-withdrawal timelines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) remains skeptical, House Democratic leadership sources said, and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has vacillated between seeking compromise with Republicans and holding firmly to troop-withdrawal language.

“We’ve been through all that,” Reid said yesterday of the new approach, suggesting the war-funding issue will wait until January. “I just think we need to figure out some way to fund a government and move on to next year.”

The new approach contains considerable political risks for Democrats. If they choose to adopt realistic measurements of political progress, they would be signaling a willingness to leave U.S. combat troops in Iraq far longer than Democratic voters want, said Michael O’Hanlon, a Democratic defense analyst at the Brookings Institution.

None of the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination is likely to embrace that, said O’Hanlon, who suspended his ties to the campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) after he wrote that Bush’s troop buildup was yielding positive results.

On the other hand, the year-long struggle to mandate troop withdrawals shows no sign of progress. War funding will begin running dry by mid-February, leaving Democrats with the choice of withholding money for the war, providing the money without strings attached, or finding a new approach that can win bipartisan support.

The House approved a $50 billion war spending bill last month that would have tied additional funding to a goal of removing all combat troops from Iraq by December 2008, but it fell to a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Bush had promised to veto it anyway.

A separate war funding bill approved in the spring laid out political benchmarks for the Iraqis and demanded that the Bush administration return to Congress in September with an update on progress toward them. It showed that the Iraqi government was woefully short of meeting those goals.

The new approach will get an airing today when USA Todaypublishes an opinion piece by O’Hanlon. He argues that Democrats should receive more credit for the positive changes in Iraq and lays out a fresh set of benchmarks linked to the provision of funds.

O’Hanlon shook up the Iraq debate earlier this year when he co-wrote an opinion piece hailing the progress that has resulted from Bush’s troop buildup. It also suggested that Gen. David H. Petraeus‘s counterinsurgency strategy could stabilize Iraq.

He suggests, for instance, that Congress should judge political progress by how much money the central government in Baghdadis sharing with Iraq’s provinces, and should recognize the ongoing de facto amnesty that Iraq’s government is offering political opponents with the hiring of former insurgents as police officers and soldiers.

Emanuel suggested yesterday that the Bush administration’s diplomatic outreach to Syria, its engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the new intelligence estimate on Iran‘s nuclear capabilities stem in part from the changing political climate brought on by the Democratic Congress.

“Our troops at every step of the way have done an incredible job,” he told reporters. “And at every step of the way, the people that are responsible for a political strategy for Iraq have failed to deliver one. And our views on the funding is that what we need and what we’ve asked for from Day One is a set of benchmarks the Iraqis have to meet for Iraq.”

Business as usual huh? The Democrat’s position and strategy on the war in Iraq has been a disgrace. I am finished with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  

Another Reason Not to Trust China…

sge_cgp42_221107060337_photo00_quicklook_default-164x245.jpg

Family members were left stunned in Hong Kong on Thursday (November 22) after a Chinese decision denying the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier entry into Hong Kong. 

The decision was later reversed by Beijing.

Hundreds of families poured into Hong Kong to greet servicemen from the aircraft carrier and fleet, which holds 8,000 of United States’ servicemen, airman and sailors, only to find out Thursday morning that the carrier would not come port-side.

The Kitty Hawk is not expected to make it back to Hong Kong by the end of the Thanksgiving day in Asia, according to the
U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is home to thousands of U.S. expatriates, with many gathering at midday for special Thanksgiving day service at the city’s oldest church, St. John’s Cathedral. Hong Kong is also a favoured stopping point for U.S. warships in the Pacific region. 

There are several issues which may have prompted Beijing’s action, including U.S. plans to sell Taiwan a $490 million U.S. dollar upgrade to its missile system and last month’s meeting between George Bush and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader whom Beijing considers a traitor.

The State Department and Defense Department said it remained unclear why the aircraft carrier strike group had been denied access at the last moment just as the crew of some 8,000 sailors and airmen were to celebrate the annual US holiday on Thursday.

“At present, it appears the USS Kitty Hawk strike group will not be making a port call in Hong Kong as previously planned as a result of a last minute denial by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson.

“The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not give an explanation for its denial. The United States is pressing the Chinese Foreign Ministry for an explanation and for a reconsideration,” she stated. 

A spokesman for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Commander John Daniels, said, “We don’t know the reason the Chinese have done this.”

It is no secret that China has an array of industrial spies roaming the planet. It freely pirates US technology with no regard for intellectual rights, and has used that technology to cyber attack countries like Germany, blast a satellite out of orbit and demonstrate that it can cripple US defenses if need be. 

It was only a few years ago that China could barely make a stable rocket launch. Now the Chinese turned that program around with purchased and stolen American technology.

So why did China bar the Kitty Hawk? 

They barred it because they are an aspiring global super power, and they want everyone to know that they could – a demonstration of diplomatic bullying. 

China is a quasi capitalist/communist super state that is rapidly expanding with a carefully controlled, state run ideology. The curious thing is, unlike the old Soviet Union, it is working. They believe in what they are doing, because their approach is producing tremendous wealth which conveniently for the Chinese, is driving the world’s fastest growing economy at the expense of U.S. workers. There is no period in history where so much wealth and economic power has been created in such a short period of time. In turn, from that wealth and industrial power, the Chinese are building military might. They are rapidly militarizing, and in a few short years, will be able to control events in Asia, without any interference from the U.S. 

Taiwan will become whatever China wants it to be, the U.S. economy will continue to suffer, and the United States will simply have to accept that, because we continue to cow-tow to a country that is run by Communist thugs and continues to ignore international law.

To neutralize, or at the very least, attempt to check this coming military might that China will undoubtedly exploit to its full advantage, the U.S. must begin to respond in kind to such diplomatic slaps in the face. Our current policy of bending but not breaking, in the name of an apparantly failed mutually beneficial economic relationship with the Chinese, must be halted immediately. That is to say, scrap globalism…it isn’t working as intended.

We must begin to rebuild from within, and that includes rigorous education reforms that focus on science and technology including medicine, a wholesale change in our international economic policy with regards to China, and a renewed push in the area of space exploration, as well as advanced defense technologies. 

Shoring up what little manufacturing we have left here might not be a bad idea either.

Anything short of this is suicide, and it can be done in as little as twenty years.

More to come on this. 

Group Says Wearing Their ‘Peace Shirts’ on Campus Verbally Attacked by Pro-War Advocates…

 swa.jpgStudents at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High are waging a war on peace by verbally attacking a group of ‘peace’ advocates.

Sophomore Skylar Stains decided to have ‘Peace Shirt Thursdays’ for her and her friend, Lauren Lorraine. They started wearing peace shirts and recruited other friends to wear them. Now, the “Peace Shirt Coalition” as they call themselves, has close to 30 students from all grades.

“We’ve worn handmade peace shirts every Thursday since the first week of school, without fail,” says Skylar Stains.

However, what started out as a light-hearted gesture soon started to be taken out of context. Students started approaching the group members and yelling obscene things at them. 

The heckling began early in the school year, according to group members. They say they were putting small posters promoting peace on friends’ lockers with their permission. They thought it was OK, because the cheerleaders and football players had signs on theirs. Eventually, though, group members say they were told by the school’s administration they could no longer hang up the posters.

“People just turned on us like that,” she said. “At least 10 boys stood up and yelled things at me at once, and we couldn’t even walk through the halls without a harsh comment being made.”

“People tore them down and drew swastikas and ‘white power’ stuff on them,” Lauren said, referring to the posters.

Skylar had similar things written on her posters.

“Someone taped an ‘I Love Bush’ sign over my ‘Wage Peace’ sign,” she said. “So I tore it down, threw it away, and the whole commons starting booing.

Someone also hung a sign that said, “I Love America, Because America Loves War.”

Lori Masterson, assistant principal at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High, said all students have the opportunity to form clubs and organizations on campus, but those wishing to do so must identify a sponsor and bring their written proposal to the principal outlining what the proposed group’s purpose and goals are.

“As of this writing, to my knowledge, no one has submitted a written proposal with an identified sponsor for a peace club,” Masterson said in an e-mailed statement.

But peace group members say they have submitted a written proposal and had a written sponsor.

As you might have expected, they were turned down.

Skylar and Lauren said that despite the backlash, the T-shirts and posters originally had nothing to do with politics, but the outburst from opposing groups have turned it into a political issue.

“People just kept putting words into our mouths, like we said this or that about current politics,” Lauren said. “But we didn’t say anything.”

Soon, a second group started to wear Confederate flag shirts to oppose the peace group, Skylar said. She saw shirts with sayings such as “This is America, get used to it,” and “If peace is the answer; it must be a stupid question.”

“Now there are even ‘support our troops’ kids who don’t like us because I guess they think you can’t say peace and support the troops at the same time,” Lauren said.

Skylar later passed out yellow ribbons for her group to wear to show they support the troops as well as peace.

However, Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High sophomores Lydia Pace and Joseph Marianetti say the Confederate shirts they wear express support for the troops in Iraq, and nothing more. Joseph said the shirts have nothing to do with racism.

For the troops in Iraq? What?

“Someone took something that stood for peace and twisted it” in regards to the swastikas (drawn by a third group) and the Confederate flag, he said.

On John Lennon’s birthday, the group held an honorary Peace Shirt day and was confronted even more than usual, eventually causing some group members, including Cheyenne, to break down in tears.

The peace group members say their shirts continue to draw negative comments from some students, but point out that other school groups don’t receive similar treatment.

“Since peace is causing other problems, the peace kids are being punished,” Skylar said.

Do you think there’s a bunch of fat, white, old time, stuff shirt, war-hawk, racist, conservatives in Cocoa Beach, teaching their kids to be hate mongers?

I believe so.

Look at the demographics and draw your own conclusion…

The People and Families of Cocoa Beach

In Cocoa Beach, about 54% of adults are married. Lots of people in Cocoa Beach live independently, in one-person housing.

Among adults, males are better represented than women in the city. People 65 and older make up an important part of the community in Cocoa Beach.

Wealth and Education

In 2000, Cocoa Beach had a median family income of $51,795. Cocoa Beach isn’t a place with a large population of people in poverty. The city, compared to most cities like it, can boast of a large population of high-income unmarried people.

Political Inclinations

In the 2004 Presidential fund-raising sweepstakes, George W. Bush came out ahead among Cocoa Beach residents, with $8,770. Residents gave more to the Republican party than any of the others.

Cocoa Beach Housing

In Cocoa Beach, 71% of the houses and apartments are occupied by the owners, not rented out. The city sports a large amount of seasonal housing, typically for vacation or part-time use.

Commuting

In Cocoa Beach, 91% of commuters drive to work.

Stand tall against the rednecks Skylar. If you need any help on the blogs, we’re here for you. Anyone who wears a Swastika or a Confederate Flag shirt is a pinhead who endorses violence and racial hatred. They are as ignorant and foolish as our current president, who I believe also endorses these very things. 

Don’t be naive Skylar. What you are doing is political, just be sure to defend your position. The legion of ‘The Stupid’ that is the Republican party and its sorted conservative knuckleheads will not give up easily because most of these people are patently stubborn and intellectually rigid by default.

Good luck.  

Wounded Warriors Still Can’t Get Help from VA…

art_ty_ziegel_before_after.jpg

Ty Ziegel once was a bright eyed young man with his whole life in front of him. His once boyish face is now burned beyond recognition by a suicide bomber’s attack in Iraq around Christmas 2004.

He lost part of his skull in the blast and part of his brain was damaged. Half of his left arm was amputated and some of the fingers were blown off his right hand.

Sounds like a no-brainer for VA benefits right?

Wrong. 

His next battle would be with the VA when he returned home as a wounded warrior. 

In an inteview with CNN he said, “Sometimes, you get lost in the system.”

“I feel like a Social Security number. I don’t feel like Tyler Ziegel.”

His story is in many that exemplifies how the VA is simply ignoring wounded vets from Iraq. Many wounded veterans return home feeling that the VA has abandoned them. 

“The VA system is not ready, and they simply don’t have time to catch up,” said Tammy Duckworth, a wounded veteran who heads up the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs. 

VA Acting Secretary Gordon Mansfield said cases like Ziegel’s are rare. The majority of veterans are moving through the process and “being taken care of.” 

But are they?

More than 28,500 troops have been wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom, including about 8,500 that have needed air transport, according to the U.S. military. A recent Harvard study found that the cost of caring for those wounded over the course of their lifetime could ultimately cost more than $660 billion.

In Ziegel’s case, he spent nearly two years recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. Once he got out of the hospital, he was unable to hold a job. He anticipated receiving a monthly VA disability check sufficient to cover his small-town lifestyle in Washington, Illinois, but the check was much less than expected.

After many inquiries, Ziegel finally received a letter from the VA that rated his injuries: 80 percent for facial disfigurement, 60 percent for left arm amputation, a mere 10 percent for head trauma and nothing for his left lobe brain injury, right eye blindness and jaw fracture.

“I’m not expecting to live in the lap of luxury,” he added. “But I am asking them to make it comfortable to raise a family and not have to struggle.”

Miraculously, within 48 hours of telling his story to CNN this summer, the Office of then-VA Secretary Jim Nicholson acted on Ziegel’s case. The VA changed his head trauma injury, once rated at 10 percent, to traumatic brain injury rated at 100 percent, substantially increasing his monthly disability check.

My question is, why does it take bad publicity on CNN for our government to take proper care of our war veterans?

You have to wonder about the fact that maybe this country won’t remember in five years that there are war wounded that need to be helped, and that their president and the VA don’t seem to be advocates for substantial change in the benefit system for vets.

Garrett Anderson with the Illinois National Guard, for example, has been fighting the VA since October 15, 2005. Shrapnel tore through his head and body after a roadside bomb blew up the truck he was driving. He lost his right arm.

The VA initially rejected his claim, saying his severe shrapnel wounds were “not service connected.”

“Who would want to tell an Iraqi or Afghanistan soldier who was blown up by an IED that his wounds were not caused by his service over there?” said Anderson’s wife, Sam.

After pressure from Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the VA acted on Anderson’s case. He has since been awarded compensation for a traumatic brain injury.

It is an outrage that that the VA system operates in a way that it takes people of power to get proper care to vets. 

In July, President Bush and a commission appointed to review the care of veterans returning from war announced the need for a complete overhaul of the disability ratings system, which dates back to World War II. The VA is now considering action on the commission’s recommendations.

However, no real change is happening.

We feed the war machine at the drop of a hat, but we never consider that the war machine comes home and that it also needs feeding there. 

I guess Americans just continue to pursue the path of least resistance…it’s easier to destroy than it is to repair, and when the destruction is in Iraq and the things that need repair aren’t in your living room, we can conveniently ignore them.

Iran and the coming of World War III… Huh?

fareed-thumb7.jpg Reprinted from Newsweek Written by Fareed Zakaria

At a meeting with reporters last week, President Bush said that “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” These were not the barbs of some neoconservative crank or sidelined politician looking for publicity. This was the president of the United States, invoking the specter of World War III if Iran gained even the knowledge needed to make a nuclear weapon.

The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is “like Hitler … a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism.” For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.

Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland’s and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?

When the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was elected president in Iran, American conservatives pointed out that he was just a figurehead. Real power, they said (correctly), especially control of the military and police, was wielded by the unelected “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now that Ahmadinejad is president, they claim his finger is on the button. (Oh wait, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear button yet and won’t for at least three to eight years, according to the CIA, by which point Ahmadinejad may not be president anymore. But these are just facts.)

In a speech last week, Rudy Giuliani said that while the Soviet Union and China could be deterred during the cold war, Iran can’t be. The Soviet and Chinese regimes had a “residual rationality,” he explained. Hmm. Stalin and Mao—who casually ordered the deaths of millions of their own people, fomented insurgencies and revolutions, and starved whole regions that opposed them—were rational folk. But not Ahmadinejad, who has done what that compares? One of the bizarre twists of the current Iran hysteria is that conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history’s greatest mass murderers.

If I had to choose whom to describe as a madman, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il or Ahmadinejad, I do not think there is really any contest. A decade ago Kim Jong Il allowed a famine to kill 2 million of his own people, forcing the others to survive by eating grass, while he imported gallons of expensive French wine. He has sold nuclear technology to other rogue states and threatened his neighbors with test-firings of rockets and missiles. Yet the United States will be participating in international relief efforts to Pyongyang worth billions of dollar.

We’re on a path to irreversible confrontation with a country we know almost nothing about. The United States government has had no diplomats in Iran for almost 30 years. American officials have barely met with any senior Iranian politicians or officials. We have no contact with the country’s vibrant civil society. Iran is a black hole to us—just as Iraq had become in 2003.

The one time we seriously negotiated with Tehran was in the closing days of the war in Afghanistan, in order to create a new political order in the country. Bush’s representative to the Bonn conference, James Dobbins, says that “the Iranians were very professional, straightforward, reliable and helpful. They were also critical to our success. They persuaded the Northern Alliance to make the final concessions that we asked for.” Dobbins says the Iranians made overtures to have better relations with the United States through him and others in 2001 and later, but got no reply. Even after the Axis of Evil speech, he recalls, they offered to cooperate in Afghanistan. Dobbins took the proposal to a principals meeting in Washington only to have it met with dead silence. The then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he says, “looked down and rustled his papers.” No reply was ever sent back to the Iranians. Why bother? They’re mad.

Last year, the Princeton scholar, Bernard Lewis, a close adviser to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal predicting that on Aug. 22, 2006, President Ahmadinejad was going to end the world. The date, he explained, “is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the Prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to ‘the farthest mosque,’ usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back. This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world” (my emphasis). This would all be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.

© Newsweek, Inc.

 

Commentary from MJ “revoltingpawn”…

I had to post this article since felt there has been a lack of common sense and reporting of facts from the media in regards to Iran. Fareed Zakaria you are breath of fresh air on the Iranian situation and I am hoping more people will read this article. My questions are… Are the American people gullible enough to believe another set of lies from the Bush administration as we beat the war drum once again? Will the mainstream media again be a willing accomplice for another possible Bush manufactured war? Let’s hope we have different outcome with Iran then what happened in Iraq.

Did Bush Offer to Bomb the Kurds to Ease Oil Prices???

crw_4678_rj_2.jpg 

In another example of George Bush’s complete disregard for human life in the name of oil profit, he has announced to Turkish President Abdullah Gul via phone, his willingness to bomb the Kurds in Northern Iraq. The move would be an attempt to stave off an impending Turkish invasion of that country to fight the rebels.

The logic for yet another disastrous decision by an insane was put forth by Prime Minister John Howard, who said the tensions on the Turkey-Iraq border will not help the west’s battle for democracy in Iraq and cited evidence that the US was making headway in their battle against al-Qaeda in Iraq following the US troop surge. 

In response Iraq said it would shut down Kurdish operations based on its soil. “The PKK is a terrorist organisation and we have taken a decision to shut down their offices and not allow them to operate on Iraqi soil,” Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said. “We will also work on limiting their terrorist activities which are threatening Iraq and Turkey,” Maliki said after crisis talks in Baghdad with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.

Yesterday, the U.S. also warned Turkey not to attack Northern Iraq.

On the surface, all of this might seem like an attempt by Bush and others to stabilize Northern Iraq for political and military reasons. But…could it just be about oil prices?

The price of oil per barrel has spiked recently and peaked at record high levels. The easing in invasion rhetoric by Turkey has helped bring global oil prices down from those record highs. 

The Kurds have their own plans in the Iraq oil debate as outlined by Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed over the weekend.

This August, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq passed an oil and gas law to regulate the oil sector in our region. So far, we have signed eight production-sharing contracts with international oil and gas companies. We expect to sign another two in the near future. …
We hope our friends and supporters in the U.S. will understand that this is not an attempt to usurp the nation’s oil resources, but rather our best effort to move the process forward, leading by example to make these valuable resources work for the people of Iraq.

What does the referendum say?

It decides who controls the oil-rich region of Kirkuk. Companies like Shell, BP, and Exxon mobil will export a combined 5 million barrels from Kirkuk as reported by Reuters.

Once again, Bush is using the U.S. military to police corrupt inside oil deals as he plays chess with people’s lives. His complete disregard for human rights is criminal. Again I ask…when are people in this country going to stand up and hold these war profiteers accountable?

Democrats Must Stand Up to Bush on New War Funding Request for Many Reasons…

story.jpg 

The White House sent Congress a $189.3 billion request for funding for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader war on terrorism in 2008. The request adds $42.3 billion to the administration’s original request of $141.7 billion to cover 2008 war costs. It also includes 5.3 billion dollars that had been previously approved for mine-resistant armored vehicles known as MRAPS.US defense secretary, Robert Gates, outlined the rational for the additional war funding in congressional testimony on September 26. Monday’s action by the White House marks the formal request with all of the documentation to justify it the numbers. Gates said the request would include $6 billion to maintain US “surge” forces in Iraq through July.Gates and the Bush administration may have justified the increase in funding regarding the necessary costs of a war of their making, but they have not justified the human cost. After the veto of the SCHIP legislation last week the Democrats, as I have mentioned in prior posts, need to press this president on his priorities. The Democrats, in good conscious, cannot approve additional war funding until Bush concedes on SCHIP. The health and well-beings of children in this country is at least as important as the lives of the troops. Moreover, if the Democrats approve this request, they will have ultimately proved once and for all that they are more concerned with politics than principle. Bush already has the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people on his hands and has shown a blatant disregard for human life. Do the Democrats want to be his willing accomplices?It is time to take a stand. Bushes approval rating is down to 25% and continues to plummet. Congresses approval rating stands at 27%. Most Americans want war funding cut specifically. What are Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of these Democrats afraid of? Practically speaking, they have absolutely nothing to lose. They have talked the talk but nothing more. There is no way this country punishes the Democrats next Fall for pulling the war funding. The only thing they really need to be concerned about is how the right-wing spin machine will try to demonize them for the move. If they prepare for that predictable eventuality (which has already started really if you’re paying attention), then they should be able to do the right thing by the American people and still retain their political capital.

The Democrats were elected on a wave of anti-war sentiment. It is time to cash in the chips and deliver on what was promised…an end to this senseless war. But more importantly, Bush and the Republicans must understand that their arrogance and hubris can be restricted – if only to breath some life back into our system of checks-and-balances.     

Bush vs. Jackson…The Similarities are Striking…

 gmdn14l.jpg

Andrew Jackson to George Bush – do they represent bookends of a centuries old ideology? Can the history of Native Americans in the United States offer any ideological understanding to the occupation of Iraq? Have we simply butchered other cultures in the name of ‘what we need or what we want?’To answer this question, one must define the framework and motives of American Imperialism.

The basic foundation of what I call ‘Resource Imperialism’ is comprised of capitalism, imperialism, and Christian fundamentalism. These three socio-cultural forces have slowly shaped American into a state that has greatly modified it’s political ideology over the past 100 years in order to preserve a way of life, often by eliminating whole cultures of people through war. The catalysts are quite apparent really. Capitalism constantly requires new markets and resources to survive, imperialism is present to secure those markets and resources via land grabs, and Christian fundamentalism provides a convenient veil for the true selfish reasons behind the violence – that is, the conquered must be made to understand that they are ignorant and thus must convert to a more culturally pure ideal in order to save themselves from damnation – Christianity.     

Since Gorbachev began dismantling the Soviet Union, the U.S. has engaged in a variety of military interventions including attacks against Bosnia, Sudan, Haiti, Yugoslavia, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the pillage of Palestine and now threats of new wars with Iran and Syria, as well as the attempted destabilization of Turkey which has resulted in recent Congressional debate regarding the Armenians. Throughout the 20th century, there have also been actions against Cuba, Vietnam, Korea – the list is long. George Bush’s current dominant political ideology of American Power is complex and aggressive. It covers up motives for war with abstract slogans and rationales such as building civil societies, opening free markets, instituting human rights, spreading democracy and freedom, national interests, security, and terrorism – much like the founding fathers did during the settlement of the West. In fact, one could argue that American violence directed at others cultures and nations surpassed more notorious regimes like Nazi Germany simply because the violence has taken place over a longer period of time. 

In 1830 the Congress of the United States passed the “Indian Removal Act.” Many Americans were against the act, including Davy Crockett – his non-support of the act would cost him his career. The bill passed and President Jackson quickly signed it into law. The Cherokees attempted to fight removal legally by challenging the removal laws in the Supreme Court and by establishing an independent Cherokee Nation. The court ruled against the Indians. In Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, the Court refused to hear a case extending Georgia’s laws on the Cherokee because they did not represent a sovereign nation. Native Americans were simply shut out in the name of land lotteries, rumored gold on Indian lands, and natural resources.   The Bush administration is simply applying the aforementioned ideology to modern times. 

The U.S is not interested in uplifting the Iraqi people from oppression. We invaded Iraq to secure scarce resources and entrench ourselves in Iraqi culture with the purpose of regional monopolization of power. Much like the Native Americans, the Iraqi government is not recognized as ‘legitimate’ in the strictest sense of the word. The United States, much the same way we took over all Indian territories in this country by imposing our culture and will on them, has done the same in Iraq. We are only interested in manipulating Iraq for position and power. In 250 years, nothing has changed.   Another equally important fact is that the U.S. virtually immune from international prosecution, that is to say that, the U.S. is unaccountable for all crimes it has committed since the time of the founding fathers. The U.S. has exterminated or killed Native American Indians, Africans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Nicaraguans, Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese, Panamanians, Serbians, Afghans, and Iraqis, or anyone else unwilling, afraid, or incapable of making the United States pay for its crimes or force it to change its policy of perpetual violence. As long as this dynamic is in place, this phenomenon will continue.

It begs the question…are the terrorists the first group in history willing to fight this continued exploitation, while being fueled by the current negative international sentiment regarding U.S. foreign policy? 

 

Pro-Democracy Crushed in Myanmar and the Chinese Do Nothing…

capt_xyan10309291342_myanmar_protests_xyan103.jpg 

Protesters continued to wave the peacock flag of the crushed pro-democracy movement on a solitary march Saturday through the bloody streets of Myanmar‘s largest city. Many dissidents said they are resigned to defeat without international intervention as regimes like China stood around and watch people being butchered in the streets – same as Kosovo, same as Rwanda, same as Iraq. 

A top U.N. envoy on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, arrived in the country but many protesters said they were nonetheless seeing a repeat of the global reaction to a 1988 pro-democracy uprising, when the world stood by as protesters were gunned down in the streets. “Gambari is coming, but I don’t think it will make much of a difference,” said one hotel worker, “We have to find a solution ourselves.” A young woman who took part in the massive demonstrations said she didn’t think “we have any more hope to win.” She was separated from her boyfriend when police broke up the protest by firing into crowds.

Demonstrations began last month as a result of the crumbling economy in Myanmar, as people angry over massive fuel price hikes took to the streets — shortly afterward it ballooned into tens of thousands after monks began marching in protest. The Junta, who are oppressive militaristic rulers of Myanmar and closely tied to China, responded by shooting into a crowd of protesters that included monks and clubbing them with batons.

What is remarkable, is that China continues to back these criminals and has done nothing to interfere with the terror wrought on the protesters. Of course China’s reaction was predictable. After all, they did roll over the Chinese Democratic party with tanks in the Tiananmen Square Massacare in 1989. And don’t forget that Myanmar (Burma), is also resource rich, so why interfere? Let’s just let them beat the hell out of each other, then roll in and take over when the timing is right under the guise of liberation. Can anyone say Iraq? Funny how the drive for limited energy resources by developed nations is resulting in more and more of these nasty little skirmishes lately – don’t you think? 

But I digress…

Little more than lip service by the U.S., Russia, and China is being offered in order to restrain these thugs. The United States, which possesses limited leverage, froze any assets that Myanmar leaders may have in U.S. financial institutions and prohibited American citizens from doing business with them. The United Nations has resorted to the usual ineffective attempts at reconciliation that never really seem to fly. So the U.S. and others have turned a hopeful eye toward our ‘friends’ China. When they’re not busy poisoning our kids with lead paint, their busy poisoning Myanmar’s kids with lead paint, as they too are Myanmar’s biggest trading partner. 

However, China does not seem prepared to go beyond words in their dealings with the Junta, ruling out sanctions as they jostle for a chance to get at Myanmar’s bountiful and largely untapped natural resources, especially its oil. Can’t offend a friend I suppose. Human rights will have to be the bridesmaid yet again. Some Chinese academics and diplomats say the international community may be overestimating what Beijing can do. “I actually don’t think China can influence Myanmar (Burma) at all except through diplomacy. China’s influence is not at all decisive,” said Peking University Southeast Asia expert Liang Yingming.

Really? I have a few ideas to offer.

Key backers of this group of murders in Myanmar, particualrly China, must pay a cost for the blood they will have on their hands. Women were killed, the young, the old, children, monks were beaten are now holed up behind barbed wire – someone must answer…I say start with China. Specific businesses and their management should be targeted with sanctions as well as the Chinese government for the role they have played in furthering the interests of the Junta, in the name of oil and profit. China should be questioned and brought to bare before the world why they have backed these butchers for years. Name must be named, and the dead must be avenged. The U.S. must act and empower the U.N. as well, to impose sanctions against the junta and China if need be. If the Chinese people really back human rights, they should boycott these Chinese companies as well. There’s an old American saying folks – put your money where your mouth is.

Bush himself, lacks the credibility, intelligence, nerve or grammar to take on this regime and its backers in the world’s eyes, so we must rely on Congress to act so credible damage might be done to the reputations of China and the Chinese companies that do business in both Myanmar (Burma), and the U.S. Congress, along with the U.N. , should impose immediate sanctions on Chinese firms, while going after some of the illegal drug money that the Junta uses to finance these murder sprees. 

Maybe pull a Ronald Reagan.

Train and equip rebellious groups operating within Burma and along its border areas.  These groups are not exactly the proverbial good-guys, (given their history of drug trafficking), however some of them represent ethnic groups that have faced murderous behavior from the Junta that amounts to little more than ethnic cleansing – much like this last week. They could be a valuable ally in this struggle. If China wants to support the Junta, then it will have to accept the consequences of such support as well as running the risk of destabilizing all of Southeast Asia. Let’s see if they like that shit sandwich?

In my opinion, the time is now to finally send a message to China – you cannot simply do what you please whenever you please (or not in this case) without stiff consequences from the rest of the non-communist, non-dictatorial, non-civil rights violating, non-murdering, countries in the world. For the sake of the human condition, our government must take a stand on this situation. I urge Nancy Pelosi (who is cool at best on China) and the rest of the Democrats to act on a resolution that will put these policies into motion. There is no reason why we should tolerate this type of behavior in the name of failed globalistic economic ideals. At some point, the sanctity of human life must supersede the garnering of oil on the totem pole of foreign policy. 

An Original Bush-Related Poem I Think is Relevant…

 

The President’s War                                             

 George the Third ,the appointed one        

Who thinks he’s the anointed son,

Decided that he should start a war        

Many wonder what its for 

To the victor belongs the spoil,      

Beneath Iraq there’s much oil,

So many will die for the rich man’s sake,

The very thought should make one shake. 

This “Land of Liberty” I once was told         

Where freedom’s worth was more than gold,

Has no meaning anymore,         

When Bush can start a needless war. 

Many soldiers Bush has sent       

To take away the choice of government.

That this is done in Freedom’s name,        

Should make him hang his head in shame. 

                                                            – Ken Bellet