Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bad News That Even Bush Can't Spin

You wonder how Bush can sleep at night knowing that American soldiers will be fighting -- and dying -- in Iraq while the parliament has decided to take August off.

White House spokesman Tony Snow sent critics of the recess to the Weather Channel, explaining that it gets up to 130 degrees in that part of the world.

blog it

Here is another following paragraph from this column by Margaret Carlson:

"Who could stand that? Certainly not Maliki government officials in their few minutes between leaving the climate- controlled Green Zone for their climate-controlled SUVs. They should try wrapping themselves in 75 pounds of armor and equipment while kicking in doors trying to carry out a foolish gambit to rid the place of weapons that don't exist to install a democracy that never will. "

Basically , " The latest National Intelligence Estimate concludes that al-Qaeda and its leader have only grown stronger since the inception of Bush's war.

While the president diverted the military to Iraq, the real terrorist threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan intensified. If he reads the estimate, he will weep for the more than 3,000 lives lost and billions of dollars spent in a war that's only heightened the hatred of Americans in the Islamic world and increased their desire to kill us -- here. "

This line of thought is also amplified by an article by Fred Kaplan found over at the Slate this previous Tuesday, the 17th of July entitled:

Read It and Weep:
Even Bush's intelligence report says the war in Iraq is making us less safe at home. It starts off:

"The National Intelligence Estimate that was released today—titled "The Terrorist Threat to the Homeland"—amounts to a devastating critique of the Bush administration's policies on Iraq, Iran, and the terrorist threat itself.

Its main point is that the threat—after having greatly receded over the past five years—is back in full force. Al-Qaida has "protected or regenerated key elements" of its ability to attack the United States. It has a "safe haven" in Pakistan. Its "top leadership" and "operational lieutenants" are intact. It is cooperating more with "regional terrorist groups."

Furthermore, he points out:

"Many times, President Bush has said that we're fighting the terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here. It is an absurd argument in many ways. But the NIE reveals that the opposite is the case—that because we're fighting them in Iraq, we are more likely to face them here."

I recommend both articles.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tipping Point?

Yesterday, in a paragraph that can be seen as a point at which the scales began to tip, against our involvement in Iraq, the senior Republican Senator from Virginia, had this to say:

"I am disappointed that, after great sacrifice by U.S. and Iraqi troops since the announcement of the surge in January, the Iraqi government has not met critical political benchmarks in that period," said Sen. John W. Warner (Va.), the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee and a bellwether of GOP opinion. "That government is simply not providing leadership worthy of the considerable sacrifice of our forces, and this has to change immediately."

Meanwhile Patrick Cockburn, a British reporter for the Independent in Iraq, who has been living in Iraq since 2003, has this to say in an article entitled, "The Decider in Denial" from today, July 13th, 2007. And I quote:

"Overall the "surge" has already failed. It was never necessary to wait for yesterday's report or a further assessment in September. The reason for the failure is the same as that for American failures since 2003. They have very few allies in Iraq outside Kurdistan. The occupation is unpopular and always has been.

Economic and social conditions are becoming more and more desperate. There is in theory 5.6 hours of electricity in Baghdad every 24 hours but many districts get none at all. It is baking hot in the Mesopotamian plain, where temperatures even at night are above 40C. People used to sleep on the roof but this has become dangerous because of mortar bombardments."

He further adds:
"The danger of the false optimism in the report is that it prevents other policies being devised. In January, President Bush decided to in effect ignore the most important recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton report, which were to talk to Iran and Syria and to disengage US troops. Instead Mr Bush sent reinforcements to Iraq, denounced Iran and Syria and added to the number of his enemies by threatening to clamp down on the Shia militias." - - - The Decider in Denial

Previously in an article from July 11th, he had this to say:"
The benchmarks the Iraqi government is meant to achieve in exchange for US support were never realistic and have more to do with American than Iraqi politics.

The weak and embattled Iraqi government is supposed to make changes which the US at the height of its power in Iraq failed to make stick. At stake are policies deeply divisive among Iraqis that are to be introduced at the behest of a foreign power, the US, in a way that makes the Iraqi government look as if it is a client of America.

One US benchmark is for the elimination of militias and an end to sectarian violence. But the Shia-Kurdish parties that make up the ruling coalition almost all have their own powerful militias that they have no intention of dissolving. In much of southern Iraq the militias and the local police forces are the same. In almost all cases units of the security forces are unwilling to act against their own community." - The Benchmark Blame Game

The reality of the situation in Iraq, from just watching daytime news programs, rarely gets depicted.

As just one antidote, if one wants to know how the occupation of Iraq is not working, for us or the Iraqis, I recommend reading : The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq by Patrick Cockburn

Here is a small review excerpt from Amazon:

"In March 2003, Patrick Cockburn traveled secretly to Iraq just before the invasion, and has covered the war from Baghdad ever since. In The Occupation, Cockburn describes the fighting on the ground as Saddam's armies collapsed, the looting of Baghdad, the failure of the US occupation, the springs of the resistance and how it turned into a full scale uprising. Explaining how the three main Iraqi communities, the Kurds, the Shia and the Sunni, responded to the growing conflict, he gives us a nuanced portrait of daily life in Baghdad, of how Iraqis themselves reacted to the invasion and the long war and occupation that followed."

In my humble opinion, it is one of the best books to read about the Iraq war, that there is.