McCain was right. The surge worked. The war in Iraq is over. We won. Now what?

Iraq_map I’m voting for Barack Obama but it’s increasingly clear (U.S. combat deaths in Iraq in July: 5) to me that John McCain was right about the surge and that the war in Iraq is essentially over. 

The war was a huge mistake, but how to get out is the big issue now, as well as the growing threat of the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

How are the McCain and Obama campaigns dealing with these new realities?

337 Comments

  1. I was just starting to perhaps think about Obama as someone who might just be able to possibly work things out from the Oval Office, when that one commercial started popping up during the Olympics, where it shows him being the man who just thought of all these great green ideas and he is the one putting them into place, taking the credit and everyone so grateful to him for showing up. That kind of deception is so offensive to me and the millions of people who have promoted and researched and worked to manufacture the modern technology that is being invented and created and manifests in a more accessible form day by day for the last three decades and longer! Especially when the US government has had in place so many incentives for so many years, before BO was on the scene any where at all.
    And don’t look for me at the Republican camp either. Dang. Oh, no it’s on again! Argh.

    August 16, 2008
  2. Patrick Enders said:

    If the war is over, then it’s time to do what both Mr. Obama and the sovereign leader of Iraq want: start withdrawing, on a roughly 16 month timetable, subject to adjustment as needed as things evolve.

    August 16, 2008
  3. Gee, I have a lot of opinions. Just skip this if you tire of my posts…

    Our stay in Iraq, though through terrible battles and so forth, was not only about war, but also about peaceful efforts to give women and children a new way of life, a very, very new way of life and a very big hope for democracy and moving into the 21st century. Hallelujah!

    Our brave and courageous men and women have and will continue efforts to bring schools, state of the art hospitals, and many more amenities to Iraq. Hallelujah, again. I don’t know exactly where we get the money to give them, I know we even borrow from countries we have supported financially in the past, and we all know that what goes around comes around, so I hope it all works out for everyone who did that good work and I hope we continue to support them and all our brothers and sisters around the world who live under dire conditions.

    August 17, 2008
  4. Patrick Enders said:

    My understanding is that our invasion of Iraq was about eliminating the threat of WMD’s from a rogue nation in league with Al Qaeda.

    Nonetheless, even if it was “about peaceful efforts to give women and children a new way of life, a very, very new way of life”, it failed miserably at that, as discussed in the following articles (and elsewhere – but I’ve got to get back to packing):

    Washington Post: “Women Lose Ground in the New Iraq”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/15/AR2006121501744.html

    NPR: “Iraqi Women Face Greater Danger, Fewer Rights”
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18518858

    August 17, 2008
  5. Bruce Wiskus said:

    Patrick,

    I am willing to make a wager with you. If Obama wins we will still have troops in Iraq at the end of his administration whether it be one or two terms.

    Here is the basis for my wager. Back after the first build up and war the US left troops in the middle east in numerous countries around Iraq. During the administration of Bill Clinton these troops remained in the middle east in support of different operations to keep Iraq in check as well as maintain a presence in the area.
    Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Northern_Watch

    Now to add to this lets look at Bosnia. Yes that Bosnia of Hilary Clinton leaving the helicopter under fire fame. US military troops were sent to that region in the mid 90s during the conflict/civil war. The war itself has been over for a number of years, minus the occasional flare ups, however US and UN troops remain in that area.

    Here is another link http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/joint_guard.htm There are links on the right side of the page that will take you through the same operation but different name.

    I would also be willing to wager that the US/UN will keep troops in Iraq well after we “withdraw” as they will stay as peace keepers.

    Maybe I am wrong but I doubt it.

    August 17, 2008
  6. Patrick Enders said:

    Bruce,
    I expect you may well be right. There’s lots of wiggle room in “subject to adjustment as needed as things evolve.”

    Still, I do believe that Obama is more likely to leave us with far less troops in Iraq than McCain would. Why? Because McCain talks about staying in “until we win,” without actually defining victory, and declaring an indifference towards how many decades it takes. It’s a caricature, sure – I’m a slow typist, and I’ve got things I need to get on to, after all – but it doesn’t seem an inaccurate one.

    I also believe that Obama would be far more unlikely to avoid getting us into yet another stupid, unilateral war after Iraq. For me, the real test of judgement was back in 2003, when fools like Bush and McCain and Clinton got us into an unneccessary, unilateral (plus Britain, Poland, and Georgia) war.

    McCain also shows a tendency towards sabre-rattling vs. Russia. That’s a very dangerous game, when America now lacks both the political and military power to back it up – courtesy of our unnecessary and globally-unsupported war in Iraq, and our Republican administration’s effort to squander the goodwill of every other country in the world.

    August 17, 2008
  7. William Siemers said:

    Bright…

    Are we watching and listening to the same ad??? The one I saw is the ‘Hands’ ad, that goes like this…

    “The hands that built this nation can build a new economy,” the announcer says. “The hands that harvest crops can also harvest the wind. The hands that install roofs, can also install solar panels. The hands that build today’s cars can build the next generation of fuel efficient vehicles. Barrack Obama. A new vision for our economy. Fast track alternative fuels. Create 5 million jobs developing home grown energy technologies. America’s energy future is in our hands.”

    That’s the copy. It shows images of people working in the old economy and the green economy. I don’t see how he is taking credit for anything except his energy platform in this ad.

    August 17, 2008
  8. Patrick, the news you referred to is 8 months and the other one is from Dec. 2006. Yeah, there are casualties, but if you look at one quote from one Iraqui woman in the first article, she says, it’s because of terrorism that they suffer.
    Anyway, a lot changes over there month to month.

    As a pediatrician, I suspect you know how tough it is for some kids to give up the bottle. Well, imagine how difficult it is for a 16th century, or earlier, nation to move into the 21st. Maybe we should just leave them there? Okay, but that’s another discussion altogether.

    William, I saw and heard the same ad, but the visual aspect of it is much much more about BO than the workers. And the fact is that more than eighty percent of people learn visually. And even by the words, I hear that BO has discovered that people can re-train…like it is a new concept that he just thought of and he is so magnanimous as to share it with little ol us…like we have no confidence in our ability to restructure our industries, etc, and like wow man, don’t look now but a plan to go green industry been manifesting since way before anyone ever knew about BO and will move forward into the future with or without him.

    August 18, 2008
  9. William Siemers said:

    Bright…

    If anyone hasn’t seen the ad they can go to youtube and make up their mind.

    August 18, 2008
  10. josh Hinnenkamp said:

    I think it is a joke to assume that the surge in Iraq is working. There are so many levels of absurdity with this remark it is hard to know when to begin. If the local police force was able to afford another 30 officers for Northfield, do you think that crime in Northfield would go down? Of course it would. Does that mean that the “police surge” is working? Well that’s another question. The only way to keep things “working” (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) would be to keep these levels at that height. I don’t call that working. I call it occupation and a staving off of the inevitable. Unless we wish to make this surge permanent (which I wouldn’t call “working”) I don’t think numbers will stay this low. By numbers I mean human lives. Leaving aside the reasons for war and the fact that we are in an illegal occupation (hmmmm….the hyprocrite news reporters love to bring up the illegal occupation of Russia), there are many other reasons to say that this “surge” is not working, whether it be economic or cultural or the death of Iraqi civilians (some reports have put the toll higher than one million, but most news sources including NPR have done a great job of muddling or questioning the number and even continuing to use sources as far back as 2006). There is no doubt in my mind that the permanent military bases that have been constructed in Iraq will be home to a large number of American soldiers no matter who is elected president. In order to get this far in the presidential election process you would have to being cutting back door deals or bowing to pressures to get this far. It would be naive to think otherwise. Under McCain we would get more of the same. Under Obama we would have less in Iraq, but a distribution of other troops throughout the region. He would also consider upping the number of mercenaries in the region (Blackwater,etc.). Obama has said he would “have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months” which is about half of the troops. That’s still a lot of troops. If the U.S. wasn’t in Iraq as an occupying power, have military bases, or building the largest embassy in the world, there would be no need for such troops. Neither approach is going to make us popular in the region.

    You bring up Afghanistan and Pakistan. What did people expect. We took revenge on people that had nothing to do with planning or carrying out the attacks of 9/11. The region is completely destabilized, which means more violence and more dead civilians and American troops. We’ve also caused the tensions with Afganistan’s neighbors to grow. Most people don’t like it when their country is occupied and you can look at numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan to back this up.

    Are we just waiting for another war for oil. How about Iran? How about Darfur? ANWR? Stay tuned…

    August 18, 2008
  11. I think what we are NOT waiting for is for some nation or religious organization or for a group of criminals or mercenary soldiers or any combination of forces of the previously mentioned to come and bring
    the US and all of it’s population to it’s knees.

    I am no fan of war, nor am I for changing anyone’s culture around. On the other hand, I don’t think that sitting around letting any other human being get treated badly is what I wish to do as a person or as part of a super power nation. I am from Spanish blood, and my Spanish ancestors invaded Ireland and created the Black Irish…my ancestors. I am Iroquois, and my European ancestors came and invaded their territory early on. The Iroquois married the French Canadians, and those are my ancestors, too. The English and the Germans, all of them came here, and they all got together and made the USA as it is now, and as I am now. It’s the great melting pot of the world, and the world has taken that lesson and many others from us, and they will melt and they will take power and they will bloom, but they will never turn around and go back to oppressive rule without a fight and I can tell you that freedom isn’t free…not as long as there are mad men around who can engage the greedy, ignorant and evil. And those kind of men, like Saddam Hussein and that Bosnian dude do not engage in war by the rules. They send their children and women to do their dirty work.

    Maybe I am wrong, but I think the one million body count is about 90% too high. http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

    August 18, 2008
  12. Vicki Dennis said:

    William – thanks for posting the link to the Obama ad. I hadn’t seen that particular one.

    I’d agree with you that Obama’s not making any claims to have invented or developed the technologies mentioned in the ad – simply giving some detail to his energy and economic platforms.

    August 18, 2008
  13. This is not the ad I spokea bout, but even here it does say, “A new vision for our economy.” It’s not new. When I was touting wind energy, NASA had already developed an elegant wind machine based on the moebius strip back in 1970 or so. That’s about 40 years ago. BO was 8. Not to mention the wind mills in the Netherlands, etc.

    Besides the fact that government does not manufacture anything. The govt already has in place tax incentives for energy efficient goods…EPA has the Energy Star program which I am sure anyone who has bought any large appliance in the last 15 years is familiar with…http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=about.ab_history

    First BO said ‘change’, yeah things change no matter who is President, now he says ‘new vision’…that’s not new….he’s got nothing. I don’t care if he wins or not, what I want is people to see how full of hot air he is, just like all the policitians. He’s not Super Man, come to save us all. He’s just not.
    I am still hoping for some unknown miracle person to step up and to be the one, honestly.

    August 18, 2008
  14. Jane Moline said:

    Bright:
    Your comments are arrogant suggesting that Iraq was in the 16th century until we bombed their infrastructure and killed over 100,000 civilians. Your statements suggest that the only way to live is the American way and the only way those poor Iraqis can be free is if we force democracy on them.

    That is the great propaganda lie of the Republicans. People will not adopt a democracy that is forced on them. They have to choose. Most Iraqis were content with their country before we invaded. Our poorly planned and poorly executed invasion resulted in the destruction of their schools, hospitals and government systems, including electricity in a country that experiences summers consistently over 100 degrees every day. All of their educated people have fled the country, they have most of their medical and dental professionals and are pleading for them to return. Their society is split and will devolve into a civil war as soon as we leave–even though they had successfully integrated their schools, neighborhoods, business and government they are now divided after our invasion.

    Our government claimed that we invaded in order to prevent Iraq from using NON-EXISTENT weapons of mass destruction that our government KNEW did not exist.

    Bright, you claim that it is all worth it if we saved all those poor Iraqis from Sadam Hussein–a leader we supported and brought to power in Iraq! At a time when Sadam Hussein was losing support within the military and government, and would have gone the way of the Soviet Union, we invaded with massive power.

    Bright, I believe you are Republican who is attempting to do anything to sink Obama’s presidential aspirations. All of your comments start out with you suggesting maybe you would like him BUT and then you go on with insinuations and opinions to rally people against him. The first entry in this blog is exactly that, and reviews of any of your previous entries are the same. Besides being against Obama and for war as long as we only kill big people who should have known better than to oppose the USA, what are you for?

    August 18, 2008
  15. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright, that’s only a list of the individually enumerated dead.

    Johns Hopkins researchers did an excellent study, using well-established sampling and survey techniques, which estimates the number of additional dead (more than would be expected under prewar conditions) in Iraq since the invasion at 650,000 by 2006. (http://www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/press_releases/2006/burnham_iraq_2006.html)

    That’s not just those we killed, that includes all causes. But we were the creators of the chaotic situation in Iraq.

    August 18, 2008
  16. I decided a bit earlier that I was not going to be dragged into any political banter here because no one knows any facts for sure, and I don’t like war of any sort, so, I said what I said and people can read into whatever they want.
    I am not here to change anyone’s mind, especially anyone who has already made up their mind. That’s just a silly waste of time.

    Have fun, you all, and may the best man or woman win. God be willing.

    August 18, 2008
  17. john george said:

    Jane- Where did you get your information for this quote,”:…even though they had successfully integrated their schools, neighborhoods, business and government they are now divided after our invasion…”? In the analyses of the pre-war conditions I have found, there seems to be a consensus that the underlying tribal loyalties amongst the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds was greater than any sense of Iraqi nationalism. The only thing that kept this under check was the iron grip of Saddam. I think one of the things we are seeing now is the unleashing of this tribalism (hence, Bright’s reference to the 16th. century). This, I think, is a result of the attempt of the UN to define some type of stability in the region following WW II by establishing political or national boundaries along geological lines rather than ethnic lines. The same thing can be said for what has happened in Bosnia. I think we as Americans misjudge the strength of the ethnic undercurrents in that region because we have held nationalism to a higher value than ethnicity for the last 200 years or so. There are ethnic schisms in this region that go back thousands of years. If you look at the history of the region, peace has only existed during times of absolute rule of a powerful tribal leader. This upheaval was a time bomb waiting to happen, and we pulled the pin on the grenade by removing Saddam. My assessment of anyone who would try to bring peace into this region without addressing these ethnic divisions is that that person would be delusional. For democracy to work, there must be a consensus of nationalism. So far, I have not heard any understanding of this being expressed by any of the presidential candidates, so I personally do not have much hope for us being able to establish peace in this region no matter who is elected.

    On a personal note, is calling someone a Republican a new type of put-down of some sort? Just wondering.

    August 18, 2008
  18. Jane Moline said:

    John: I am starting with the end of your post, on whether calling someone a Republican is a put-down. Yeah, kinda, but that is not what I intended. I have some very good friends that I highly respect, and know of many other very good people who chose to affiliate with the Republican party. So being a Republican, in my eyes, is not an automatic put-down. However, it is somewhat suspect, in my opinion, due to the high-jacking of the Republican party by both single-issue politicians and by the Shrub-meisters who have approached “conservative” by adding “neo” in front and doing borrow-and-spend-and-destroy-nature-in-the-name-of-commercial-benefit approach to government.

    My statement about Bright was that she continually is swift-boating Obama–no real substance, just little “I used to think I might be for him but now I really know something better” statements–constant denigration. I think she is a Republican plant (but probably not a shrub.)

    Anyway, you may believe that the Shite and Sunnis in Iraq were only living together in peace because of the iron-fist of Saddam, but that is not what I have heard and read. Certainly Saddam famously gassed the Kurds and was known for various atrocities (especially in late years for those perpetrated by his sick sons.) None of which resulted in any military action by the USA.

    However, Iraq was for the most part peaceful, women had many rights and were educated and had professional jobs, their children could safely go to school and to the market and come home to a comfortable air-conditioned home.

    It is only in hind-sight that Americans, in trying to rehabilitate the atrocities performed on Iraq by Americans, claim that we were liberating these poor, backwards, down-trodden people. We liberated by killing a bunch, imprisoning some more, bombing and destroying their homes, businesses, infrastructure, schools and hospitals.

    Integrated neighborhoods became divided–Sunni and Shi’a that once worked together or socialized in neighborhood cafes were forced, for their own security, to leave one or another’s neighborhood and move to neighborhoods that are segragated by religious affiliation.

    Saddam was terrible, but how can anyone say that bombing and killing made it better? (Who are we to say that sacrificing any one Iraqi makes it worth it for any other Iraqi?) I am glad Saddam is done with Iraq. BUT: if the people of Iraq had been left to do it themselves, they might have actually come up with a working country.

    What is left after our ill-conceived invasion is so broken it will not be fixed. They are waiting for us to leave so they can kill each other. They will not have a budding democracy–they will have tribal wars that, since they have never tried to be a united country, cannot even be called civil war.

    Meanwhile, at over 300 MILLION DOLLARS A DAY, we cannot afford to run around and force democracy down anyones throat–it may very well be best for Iraq to be split into 3 different countries–Sunni, Shite and Kurd. It is not our place to tell them how they must and must not live. We have made a terrible mess and we have paid a terrible price–at some point somebody needs to say enough is enough.

    Meanwhile we stand by while millions die in Sudan–but, oh, I forgot, they don’t have any oil we might want. I am sick of any claims that the USA is fighting for the down-trodden. We are fighting for the good of the shrub in the oval office, for Haliburten and for Blackwater.

    We cannot win in Iraq–there was never any opposition, no game was called, we just went in and bull dozed them down. This is like claiming that we won by fielding a football team against the danceline, when we didn’t even tell the danceline there was going to be a game. We are the biggest bully in the middle east right now. War is not a game, and there are no winners. There are plenty of losers, though, and that certainly includes the United States.

    August 19, 2008
  19. Griff Wigley said:

    Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria wrote a piece a month ago titled: What Obama Should Say On Iraq.

    “Barack Obama needs to give a speech about Iraq. Otherwise he will find himself in the unusual position of having being prescient about the war in 2002 and yet being overtaken by events in 2008. The most important reason to do this is not political. Iraq is fading in importance for the public and, to the extent that it matters as an electoral issue, most people agree with Obama’s judgment that the war was not worth fighting.

    The reason to lay out his approach to Iraq is that, were he elected, the war would be his biggest and most immediate problem. He will need to implement a serious policy on Iraq, one that is consistent with his long-held views but is also informed by the conditions on the ground today. This is what he should say:”

    August 19, 2008
  20. john george said:

    Jane- Seems to me we have two different perspectives on Iraq, and that is our prerogative. What I hear you parroting here is the current liberal litany on the Iraq war. There are two sides to this issue, and we are on opposing teams.

    One thing to consider, which I haven’t heard expressed here, is that the current George Bush went in to complete what his father left incomplete. This is an idea we will probably never know the answer to in this life. It has been postulated that the original war over Kuwait was cut short because Saddam was the least of the possible evils available at that time. I don’t think this has as much to do about oil as the liberal think tanks would have us to believe. Of the top 15 oil exporters to the US, only one in the top five is a Middle Eastern country. Canada is actually the top, with Saudi Arabia second, so I don’t put much stock in the “big oil” argument.

    Another thing to consider is our relationship with Israel. Israel is, and has been for the last 50+ years, one of the molifying presences in the Middle East, no matter your personal opinion of the country. We are closely allied with Israel, and any threat to them is a threat to us, in that they are the first line of defense against attacks on democracy in that region. If we had an ally like this on the African contenent, we might see more US involvement in the situation with Sudan. This, I think, is unfortunate.

    As far as the Iraqies working toward ousting Saddam, I don’t think this was going to happen soon. This is the reason He attacked the Kurds, and we know the results of that. Under his regime, there was no place for a dissenting viewpoint. Those people who dared to do so were either killed or had to go into exile. It is our intelligence community’s reliance upon one of these defectors that got us into trouble in the first place. Since we had no “inside” way to verify his assertions, because of the iron grip of Saddam, we went into this thing knowing only one side. So I don’t put much stock in your assertion that the Iraqi people could have replaced Saddam without outside help. And, once the pin was pulled, the grenade blew up, because there was no framework in place for a unified government to build on.

    I could take offense at your opinions of us in the Middle East, but I choose not to. You have every right to your opinion, but I do ask you why you believe this? We each have our basis for our convictions, and we have a right to express them. I just think it is possible to express these without attacking the character of those who disagree with us.

    August 19, 2008
  21. Jane Moline said:

    John: You obviously don’t know me very well if you think I am parroting what I have heard. But I won’t take offense and think you are insulting by character.

    I read extensively. You claim we went into the war because we only had limited information from “one side.” This is absolutely false–the government only told you one side–they did not tell you the other side that they were suppressing.

    At the time that George Bush decided to invade Iraq, many sources that were superior to the exiled source the administration pinned their claims on were available and well documented. The Bush administration did not want to hear any dissenting view. Under the iron-fisted control of Karl Rove, a non-elected public employee, the White House was in lock-step to start a war with Iraq regardless of the “intelligence” community.

    The Bush administration used propaganda techniques to draw attention away from anyone against the war, including revealing the identity of an undercover CIA agent, making many speaches full of deceptive, frightening terminology like “mushroom cloud” and the deception that Iraq was attempting to purchase weapons-grade plutonium.

    The UN inspectors were in Iraq and verified that there were no WMD–but George Bush made them get out rather than finish their work. The documents that they claimed proved Iraq was after the plutonium were proved to be forgeries BEFORE the invasion. By our allies.

    The Iraqis may have never deposed Saddam Hussein. Maybe, maybe not, we will never know. But they did not have the ability to bomb Israel. Yes, they treated some of their people atrociously. However, they were not a third-world country–they were considered a developed country, and in spite of your concern for those that opposed the government and were killed, the majority of their country was living in peace. This is a specious argument, because we did not invade Iraq for humanitarian reasons–we were lied to, congress was lied to and the world was lied to–that we were in imminent danger from weapons of mass destruction.

    I am tired of hearing the same old Republican blather that we have liberated these poor down trodden people when we have destroyed their country and any hope of their being united. They need an iron-fisted military force–we substituted our guys for Saddams. It is hubris and arrogance to claim that our guys killing Iraqis is better than Saddam’s guys killing Iraqis.

    (I used the word “Republican” above because calling them “conservative” is an insult to conservatives. This is definitely a politcal party thing and not a political belief thing–the Republicans have long forgotten how to be conservative.)

    I am simply speculating that the people would eventually have prevailed–as they have in other countries around the world, like Chile (after a military regime supported by the USA destroyed the democratic government, took over, imprisoned, tortured and killed political prisoners–for decades.)

    Or Georgia. Where we cannot help them now because we are so overextended in Iraq. And don’t the Russians know it. We certainly cannot put up a big stink over invading a sovereign country or occupying it illegally or killing its civilians–because we look like the hypocrits that we are.

    I believe it is human failing that leads us to want to believe the best of any situation, and it is only through a struggle that we will find the truth. It is so much nicer to think that the surge is working rather to conclude that the only way to keep Iraqis from killing each other will mean permanant occupation by the USA.

    And if we cannot admit our failing, we can never atone of it. As long as we believe the decption that we are doing Iraq a bunch of good, we will never be able to really do them any good. So we should just get out.

    And Israel may be an ally, but a lot of the claim that we had to invade Iraq to save Israel is by radical religious right who believe that we need to get going on the End of Days.

    I enjoy arguing. Arguing is an excellent way to learn and get to know someone. I really like to have discussions with conservatives who may even still claim that Republican is the conservative party–we can each have our own opinions, and I enjoy hearing those that are well thought–or even those that are spontaneous to an active discussion, and may be changed or modified by learning through disagreement.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion–just not their own facts. (I thought this was a Winston Churchill quote, maybe not.) I think as long as we can’t agree on the facts we are going to have a difficult time being understood–you think I am nuts because you think I base my opinions on what someone else said than on what I believe are the facts.

    Why do you think I am attacking your character?

    While I was looking for the Winston Churchill quote, I found these that were on point.

    On me:
    “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat!”
    – Will Rogers (1879-1935)

    On the war:
    “If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?” ”
    – Will Rogers (1879-1935)

    On how to frame getting our troops out so most of the USA will still think we won:
    “We are not retreating – we are advancing in another Direction.”
    – General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)

    August 19, 2008
  22. josh Hinnenkamp said:

    In fall of 2006 the Washington Post did a story based on a study by Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. At that time the study differed substantially with the British-based Iraq Body Count research group as cited above by Bright Spencer. Since then various educated extrapolations have been made to come up with the over one million deaths. Believe what you wish but I think the study by Iraq Body Count is much too low. Also you must take in consideration that (estimates taken one year ago) 2.6 million people have been wounded, 1.5 million have been displaced internally, and 2 million have fled the country.

    August 19, 2008
  23. Okay, I am back. Not to argue whose sources are right, but to encourage more research…I believe that even the Washed Up Post and the Johns Hip Hop reports are subject to questioning. Remember, question authority?
    When I gave the British group reference, I started out by saying, “Maybe, I am wrong…” When I say, Maybe I Am Wrong, I meant that. I don’t mean
    to cover my back, or to appease anyone, I say what I mean.

    So, I am pleased to have my name raked through the mud, if it means someone else is gonna get to the truth and not just tote party brainwash lines. That goes for me, too.

    The reason I believe I am right about past Iraqi lives is that we helped an Iraqi man back in the 70s who’s progressive parents left Baghdad earlier, sometime in the 60s if I recall, and took assylum in London, England. The man’s name was Safaa Sadawi. He told me that was a very common name like Smith or Johnson.

    When I asked him why did they leave, knowing nothing about much back then, he could not bear to tell me of the atrocities, only that it was terrible
    and caused their family so much stress some became physically and chronically ill. So, I say, the best knowledge is first hand, or at least someone who has been there, over time, with no political agenda. Hard to find on the web, but we have a teacher or two here in town who do make it a point to share their knowledge whenever asked.

    So, keep questioning, Josh, and others, until you get to the whole truth.
    That would make me very happy.

    August 20, 2008
  24. john george said:

    Jane- I don’t know you at all, neither do you know me. Our interaction has only been on this web site. You are a person who is passionate about what you believe. That is commendable, IMHO, for if a person is not fully convinced about what they believe, then I question if it is worth believing. One thing in many of the discussions I run across in this blog and in other publications I read is a greater and greater tone of animosity toward those who do not agree with us. I have a concern for what I hear coming from both Republican and Democratic circles that has a tone of hatred aimed at the opposition. In fact, I differentiate between Democrats and “Bush haters”, just as I differentiate between pro-lifers and anti-abortionists.

    I didn’t mean to offend you by using the word “parroting”. I think that term could be used to describe me and anyone else who repeats back information we have read and believed. I also read a lot. The key term here is believe. There is probably not any one single reason we believe a particular ideology or perspective, but it is built up over many years of experience. My experience is different than yours. I can’t force you to change your beliefs any more than you can force me to change mine. As we share our beliefs, though, I think we can come to an understanding of one another and be able to agree on a course of action. This is, IMHO, the desired result of public discourse.

    As far as all the events leading up to the Iraqi war, I don’t think any of us has the full insight on this. None of us were personally involved in them. We do tend to embrace those articles that reinforce what we believe and discount those articles that we disagree with. That is human nature. Being the pragmatist that I am, my greatest question is what do we do now? I am going to judge a person’s ideas about this based on what I believe. Since I do hold to a Biblical perspective in my world view, there are certain traits and history of this region that I think fall under these standards. That is how I am going to evaluate what I percieve. You most likely will not agree with this, but your way is no better than mine in areas where we have no intrensic proof. Unfortunately, proof aften comes slowly, and this may be the case in this instance.

    One thing I have noticed about “critical thinking.” Everyone thinks it is a good idea as long as it is not their thinking that is getting criticized.

    I do not think you are nuts, by any means. You are strong in your opinion of what you believe, and, as I said before, that is commendable. I think it is interesting that you stated that you base your opinions on what you “believe are the facts.” I wholy agree, because I also base my opinions on what I “believe are the facts.” This leads me back to my first eveluation, we base our opinions on two different beliefs.

    I don’t think you have attacked my character in your thread, either. I do pick up an undertone of impatience, for lack of a better term, with those who disagree with you. I might be reading this wrongly, but it is an impression I walk away with after I read your comments. I don’t have a problem with this, as I think it fits with the way you are wired. And, we don’t have a lot of control over the way we are wired. We’re born that way.

    August 20, 2008
  25. David Ludescher said:

    Jane: The vote in the Senate to use force was 77-23; the vote in the House was 296-133. More than 50% of the Democrats in the Senate voted “yes” – about 40% in the House voted “yes”. Bush can hardly be blamed for starting an action that had more than 70% approval from Congress.

    August 20, 2008
  26. Randy Jennings said:

    Whoa, David. It is almost impossible to see the votes authorizing the use of force in Iraq as anything other than the result of fraud. Considering the fact that the Bush administration fabricated a justification for going to war in Iraq and flat out lied to Congress and to the American people, it hardly seems like a mandate. At best, it is an indictment of Congress’ abdication of responsibility to challenge the executive branch.

    Let’s not confuse a willingness to support the office of the President and the commander in chief, with an endorsement of the underlying policy, especially when the case for military action was made on the basis of deliberate misinformation. We haven’t seen an administration this morally bankrupt since the Nixon years.

    August 20, 2008
  27. Rick Esse said:

    David L:

    H. J. Res. 114 (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c107:1:./temp/~c1075RiE20::) was a set up from the start.

    These points in particular have been proven to be complete bull roar:

    “Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

    Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;

    Whereas Iraq’s demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

    At the time, it was obvious that the resolution would pass. The Bush administration craftily played on the post 9/11 sentiment to pursue its own purposes.

    It is a great disappointment to me that there was not more opposition, but for most Democratic members of Congress, opposing the resolution would have been political suicide.

    President Bush can indeed be blamed for starting the war against Iraq. The fact that his administration skillfully manipulated a spineless Congress does not absolve him of responsibility for the death, destruction and cost of this misguided and unnecessary venture.

    August 20, 2008
  28. john george said:

    Rick & Randy- Perhaps the old saying that hind sight is 20-20 is applicable here. The same could be said about President Clinton’s handling of the now known to be true intelligence that an Islamic militant extremist group was planning to attack the US with our own commercial planes. The lack of decisive intervention in this case cost the lives of 3000 US citizens on our own soil. So, when faced with conflicting data, not just opinions about data, what kind of decision would you have made? There is evidence that Sadam was actively involved in supporting terrorist groups. Do you just ignore that and wait until the next attack? I would hope not. I once heard that a mistake is evidence that someone tried to do something. My greatest disappointment in the Bush administration is its reluctance to come out and admit that they didn’t have complete intelligence and acted on what “they believed to be true.” Given the sentiments and accusations I have heard expressed here and in other media, this would not, I believe, have been sufficient for many people, and would have been political suicide. It seems the concept of zero tolerance doesn’t always produce unity, especially in the political realm. I believe that all your accusations about motives of people in the Bush administration only fester more division between people, not reconciliation. I don’t see it as any different than the Republican attack on President Clinton for his sexual infractions. The same underlying hope is still there, in that you would hope that those you put your trust in would not do these things. Unfortunately, given the state of men’s hearts, this probably will not happen.

    August 20, 2008
  29. John, you may be happy to know that I have seen and heard with my own eyes and ears, albeit on tv, that George W. Bush did indeed admit that he made a mistake and he wasn taken in by the CIA’s information.

    I had earlier read and may even have reported here at LGN, that Saddam Hussein was a master of deceit and wanted the world to believe he had WMD’s, in order to gain power and followers, etc. He tired to mislead and confuse his enemies and he succeeded. After awhile even liars start to believe their own lies, and that’s what’s known as ‘delusional’.

    Plus the ‘fog of war’, where you know it’s not wise to believe anything you hear because everyone is pushing their own agendas as hard as they can
    and smoke and mirrors becomes more like smoke of fifty volcanoes and one million mirrors.

    As an aside, even Truman, one of the most beloved Presidents of all time, chose not to run for a second term because his popularity was at an all time low of 25%. Even Nixon changed history in a positive sense when he opened the doors to China. I agree with John G, that it is much better to work together. All this divisiveness is a huge waste of time and energy.

    Oh, and I think it is so cool that McCain may be considering his pal, Joe Lieberman for VP. That is a move that even out cools Obama. Imagine a democrat and a republican running the country together. WOW!

    August 21, 2008
  30. David Ludescher said:

    Randy and Rick: Your points are not only well taken, but only accurate as far as they go.

    Only Congress has the authority to declare war. It is Congress’s responsibility to ensure that they have accurate intelligence.

    Rick’s assessment that to vote against it was political suicide probably played a much greater role in Congress’s decision than any of the “faulty” intelligence theories.

    Even if all the intelligence reports had been accurate, I would argue that there still was not sufficient justification to attack Iraq. All the talk about the false intelligence is irrelevant if one believes, as I do, that the there were insufficient prerequisites for this to be a just war.

    I’m standing with Pope John Paul II on this one. At the beginning of the attack, he called the attack a grave moral error. Even weapons of mass destruction, Saddam, and genocide could not and cannot justify America’s actions. As it turned out, it was also a grave political error by Republicans and Democrats.

    Griff asks, “Now what?”. My opinion – Admit that it was a grave moral error. Stop blaming Republicans or Democrats. Resolve to determine how to make sure that it never happens again.

    August 21, 2008
  31. Paul Fried said:

    I appreciate josh Hinnenkamp’s comment on the many levels of absurdity related to the claim that the surge is working, as well as Randy and Rick’s comments about the deception.

    David L., you’re wrong about congress and responsibility. The president has access to more intelligence than any one member of congress, and Cheney created the “Department of Special Plans” in the Pentagon to cherry-pick intelligence data and trump up the case for war. It was not known to congress at the time that this was happening. It was a massive deception for which Cheney and Bush should have been impeached along with Rumsfeld.

    I think the only rational excuse for why impeachment is off the table is that some Democrats may feel it’s too dangerous to risk an impeachment trial, and perhaps not find people guilty, or have only one found guilty, and the remaining one pardons the guilty party, or Bush and Cheney feel cornered and more desperate about bombing Iran.

    It’s ridiculous to claim the surge is working when the war was illegal and based on deception in the first place. It’s like Bush and Cheney committing rape, and then claiming later that the surge is working because the rape victim is not struggling anymore. It was still an illegal war, so “working” doesn’t make it legal.

    And whether it seems to be “working” is not at all apparent. While we have our real estate bubbles, Iraq is riding on a bubble of US money payments to various factions: The department of defense is paying Iraqis (largely unemployed) who might otherwise commit violent acts, paying them not to commit violence. Turn off the money, and the violence will probably begin again. This works nice for a Bush administration that wants to create the illusion that the surge is working, and make it look bad for the next administration if all hell breaks loose in Iraq, but it’s only smoke and mirrors, illusion, not substance and truth.

    The Bush-Cheney administration used reconstruction money through no-bid processes largely to line its own pockets. INstead of employing many of the unemployed Iraqis to rebuild their own country (whcih might have gone a long way toward winning hearts and minds), the BUsh-Cheney team gave no-bid contracts to businesses and individuals who went on to misuse and defraud the government of huge sums of reconstruction money. THis only contributes to the feeling of Iraqis that they are occupied by a corrupt nation. On that score, ask not if the surge is working, but why a surge was needed in the first place. Most Iraqis have long felt it was an occupation, not a liberation. Surveys in Iraq have shown this. The Bush-Cheney war in Iraq has been a complete failure from the start. Because it was based on deception and illegal. Because not enough troops were sent to maintain public order once they occupied the country. Because once they were in-country, the troops were not given the armor and supplies they needed. Because too-few troops became too-easy targets for urban violence, so they shot too often toward civilians simply in self-defense. Because reconstruction was so profoundly corrupt and mismanaged. Because of Abu Ghraib. And on and on.

    August 21, 2008
  32. David Ludescher said:

    Paul: Only Congress has the constitutional authority to declare war. If they don’t have the information, then they need to get it. Period. It is their most solemn job.

    Furthermore, it doesn’t matter. Even if all the information Bush gave them was true – it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t even close. All of America bears responsibility, even those of us opposed to it from the start.

    Griff is right – the surge tempered the violence. But, I don’t think that we are any closer to getting out just because we have more “peacekeepers”.

    August 21, 2008
  33. Griff Wigley said:

    In yesterday’s NYTimes: Exiting Iraq, Petraeus Says Gains Are Fragile.

    The surge, clearly, has worked, at least for now: violence, measured in the number of attacks against Americans and Iraqis each week, has dropped by 80 percent in the country since early 2007, according to figures the general provided. Civilian deaths, which peaked at more than 100 a day in late 2006, have also plunged. Car and suicide bombings, which stoked sectarian violence, have fallen from a total of 130 in March 2007 to fewer than 40 last month. In July, fewer Americans were killed in Iraq — 13 — than in any month since the war began.

    The result, now visible in the streets, is a calm unlike any the country has seen since the American invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in April 2003. The signs — Iraqi families flooding into parks at sundown, merchants throwing open long-shuttered shops — are stunning to anyone who witnessed the country’s implosion in 2005 and 2006.

    August 21, 2008
  34. Jane Moline said:

    I had added this at the end of my comment on the McCain-Obama candidates string and think it really goes here:

    At $300 million dollars a day the “surge is working” in Iraq. Whoopee. It has gutted our economy. Noticed unemployment numbers in Minnesota lately? I guess the surge is working to destroy the economic viability of the United States.

    War is wrong. We can only make it right by admitting it and getting out.

    August 22, 2008
  35. David Ludescher said:

    Jane: How are “we” going to make sure that civil violence doesn’t erupt if we leave? Pulling out in full force immediately may have more serious consequences for the Iraqui nation than the attack itself had.

    August 22, 2008
  36. Paul Fried said:

    David: Conspicuously absent from your remarks about the “most solumn” constitutional responsibilities are observations or admissions about the failure of the president to live up to his constitutional oath. If you want to gripe about the constitution not being upheld, see the American Freedom Agenda website, supported by conservativces Bruce Fein, Bob Barr (libertarian presidential candidate), and Richard Viguerie (who masterminded new uses of direct mail for Reagan and Bush I). The list of Bush’s offenses, to these conservatives, is much longer than those of congress.

    Yes, congress should have required better intelligence. Yes, Cheney should be impeached for creating the cherry-picking machine that was the office of special plans. The actions of congress relate in part to politics and fear (not wanting to seem soft on terror, wanting to get re-elected), and in part relate to the sense during the cold war that the president needs to be able to defend us at a moment’s notice. Power to declare war has been drifting from congress toward the executive for the last 50 years.

    Of course Petraeus claims the surge is working. It’s his job to claim that, and not to look deeper. If the goal is to have permanant bases there for 100 years (long range), and to make Bush look better as he leaves office (very short range), of course Petraeus would say this kind of stuff instead of looking deeper.

    So we violated the Geneva conventions, to which the US agreed as law. Who shall we attack next? If Japan and China hold most of our debt, shall we nuke ’em and see if our debt can be forgiven?

    August 22, 2008
  37. Jane Moline said:

    Guess we should have thought of that before we gutted their entire political and social networks. Our occupation does not put Iraq back together again. They are not going to have a democratic structure to their government just because we shove it down their throats and stand over them to make sure they swallow.

    We blew it, we wrecked it and now they will have to live with it. We are not entirely responsible for them hating each other.

    Some experts say that Iraq cannot be returned to a single country withour a militant dictatorship because the people choose to want to kill each other.

    I don’t know if they won’t find a peaceful solution after going the kill each other route, but it is their country to figure out, not ours “you broke it you buy it” goes for china shops, not countries. We need to get out and let them have the country they want, not what we think they must have.

    August 22, 2008
  38. David Ludescher said:

    Paul: Make no mistake, this massacre started with Congress’s overwhelming approval. They could have stopped it at any time, and they haven’t. So, now what?

    August 22, 2008
  39. David Henson said:

    Paul you said, “Surveys in Iraq have shown this” – that’s it in a nutshell. Surveys can be conducted in Iraq today. Would you have just left Saddam in place or sent Obama over to have Tea and Crumpets while suggesting to Saddam that he just stop acting so much like a madman ?

    August 22, 2008
  40. Jane Moline said:

    David Henson: The war was started by an insistent Bush administration that lied to congress, the public, the world, everybody, by claiming that there were weapons of mass destruction and an imminent threat of their use, not so that we could successfully conduct surveys.

    Being able to conduct surveys does not mean the surge worked. Three hundred million a day and just about anything “works.” Iraq as a democratic country does not work and may never work after our screw ups.

    August 22, 2008
  41. Paul Fried said:

    David L & David H: Thanks for the comments. David L.: Make no mistake, it happened during a Republican majority (when too many Dems went along for political reasons – for shame), and it happened because many of them were deceived, period. You say they’re responsible — not to trust that the president is telling the truth, and to suspect that perhaps the president is committing an impeachable offense? So whenever the president and VP cherry pick and cook the intelligence to deceive, there should always be an impeachment investigation? So now, to save the constitution, we need to impeach not on the PRes. and VP, but also congress, which you hold — strangely — more responsible than those who deceived them? So as a lawyer, when someone commits fraud and deceives someone, we should blame the victim, more than the criminal? Is this always your logic, or only when a Republican President is the one you’re defending?

    (If congress had done anything, as you claim, even if it were unanimous, Bush would have issued a signing statement and avoided having to comply….)

    David H: There are plenty of monsters one could take out if a nation were in the habit of breaking the Geneva Conventions and going after every one of them, perhaps at the risk of ruining that nation’s economy fighting endless agresssive wars. Weapons of Mass Destruction was the primary claim, not claims about Saddam’s wild sons. We didn’t find ’em, and our own weapons inspectors said that they thought most of them were gone, and wanted more time. We’ve killed more Iraqis than Saddam used to kill in the same stretch of time. Many Iraqis said life was better under Saddam. When Saddam was fighting Iran, we SENT him weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax. After anthrax letters were sent using US anthrax from Ft. Detrick or Dugway proving grounds, Bush tried very hard to blame it on Iraq.

    There is simply no way to claim that the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis we killed is better than Saddam.

    Listen to Bob Barr, who ran the Republican’s impeachment efforts against Bill Clinton (see some of his advocacy at American Freedom Agenda). Bush shredded the constitution. He used lies to take us to war. He used torture, wiretapping, and when congress passes a veto-proof law with a large majority, he smiles and signs it into law, and then issues a signing statement explaining what parts he’ll observe and which he’ll ignore. This goes directly against what the constitution requires.

    Why the myopic concern with surge, and the hope beyond hope that the crimes and disaster of our war in Iraq might have a happy ending after all? Are you Davids that much in denial?

    August 22, 2008
  42. David Henson said:

    Paul – Without out the lawyer speak : Is your answer to would you have just left Saddam in place ? Yes or No

    If yes what would you have thought prior to WWII, just leave Hitler in place ?

    August 22, 2008
  43. Paul Fried said:

    David H:
    Lawyer-speak? Maybe I only imagine that there was a time when people cared about the constitution and didn’t speak of it, or its basic concepts, as if it were only the domain and jargon of lawyers. That’s what a little torture and FOX news propaganda does to a nation. I’m for bringing back such times, if there every were any, and not treating the constitution as if it’s only for elitist lawyers, while the rest of us carry on by the Law of the Jungle.

    In other words, I’m a — gasp — a law-and-order, ethics-loving conservative at heart!

    (You don’t prefer the Law of the Jungle over the Constitution, do you, David? That’s my first question.)

    By the way, I’m glad you frame the two questions as questions, instead of assuming that one necessarily implies the other (it doesn’t). But still, the fact that you daisy-chain these two together implies perhaps that you may believe too much of the rhetoric of this president, whose ratings are in the toilet for good reason.

    Answers to your questions:
    1. Yes.
    2. No.

    Since you raise the issue of the comparison to Hitler, let’s compare. Hitler’s plans to invade other countries were very different from Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait after George H.W. Bush’s ambassador April Gilespie gave Saddam the green light, saying the US was neutral about Saddam’s plans for Kuwait. After HW’s gulf war, and continued sanctions under Clinton, Saddam was not a threat in any way close to the manner in which Hitler was a threat.

    I’ve never read of any indication that Hitler got the green light from FDR’s ambassadors to invade other countries (as Saddam did to invade Kuwait), but W’s grandad (great-grandad?) Prescott Bush was involved in financing the Nazis. It seems there was a lot of money to be made. Supply-side economics tends to move toward, and favor, the supply, often without bias about who’s on our side, or who’s on the side of a Nazi. (Does that mean it’s virtuous because it’s lacking prejudice, or scum because it profits from the Nazi war machine? What’s the conservative answer in an age where conservatism is increasingly associated with profits? And how large is our military budget compared to our allies and enemies? More than half of what the rest of the world spends?)

    Before WWII, some in the US speculated that there might be a war between the US and Great Britain over world empire, and even Calvin Coolidge was aware that whoever controlled world petroleum suplies might control the balance of power.

    Did we delay getting into WWI and WWII so that Germany (financed in part by interests in the US) could help take Great Britain down a notch or two, and so that the sun would set on the British empire while it rose on the US empire? Maybe.

    Does that mean I’m a peacenik who thinks Hitler and his financers should have been left alone to do any damage they pleased? Nope.

    What was more of a threat: Hitler in Germany, along with his US fans and financers? Or Saddam after the first Gulf war, who leaned socialist, and had received weapons from the US for the war with Iran — but didn’t seem to have much anymore? Hmmm…. No-brainer?

    Hitler & Co. posed a far greater threat to the US, and to world peace, than Saddam. We should have done more to have gone after those in the US who helped him. We basically slapped them on the wrist (inlcuding Prescott Bush), let them go home, and let their descendents in the White House, one with help from a supreme court ending a recount in Florida….

    If you had to leave one of the two in power – either Hitler & Co., threatening all of Europe, or Saddam, weakened after the first Gulf war and inspected, off and on, by international weapons inspectors — which would you leave in power? No-brainer?

    I would have left Saddam, with his weakened military, where he was, and tried as many means as possible to improve the situation for the people of Iraq, whose kids were dying for lack of clean water, and dehydration from diahrea.

    I think there was a big difference between Saddam’s Iraq in 2003, and Hitler’s Germany. Huge. Don’t you?

    August 23, 2008
  44. David Henson said:

    Paul – I think you can feel comforted that you are not alone in world in caring about the constitution however I don’t recall the Geneva Convention being mentioned in the document.

    I doubt you would find many Iraqis wanting a return to Saddam. Although many would have preferred a better attack plan.

    After the massive manpower losses of WWII the US built overwhelming air superiority which it turns out is not that useful in unseating dictators (or for much of anything except total destruction or clearing the way for troops that we no longer employ). Our two fairly incompetent parties reached a peace dividend decision to build lots hardware (pork) and scale way back on troops (overhead). The sad thing about the surge is those few extra troops used up front would probably have quelled the violence in months rather than years.

    If Iraq ends up a shining democracy and forms the foundation for a pan-Arab arrangement like the EU then, much to your dismay, history will probably look favorably on Bush’s decision.

    August 24, 2008
  45. Patrick Enders said:

    David H wrote,

    If Iraq ends up a shining democracy and forms the foundation for a pan-Arab arrangement like the EU then, much to your dismay, history will probably look favorably on Bush’s decision.

    Of course, if that happens, Bush will look much better on his invasion, retrospectively.

    However, there’s no reason to think that such a utopia is going to unfold any time soon – or even in 20 years. How long would you like us to wait before we are allowed to pass judgement on Bush’s policies? And will he really deserve the credit if such a paradise were, improbably, to unfold on the Euphrates 50 years from now?

    August 24, 2008
  46. David Henson said:

    Patrick – freedom can work amazingly fast but let’s give Iraq at least as long as it takes Northfield to settle the liquor store issue or sell the condos in the Crossing. Seriously, I think at this point in addition to finger pointing the US citizens need to keep unrelentingly pressure on insuring the Iraqis have rights to a totally free press, unrestricted travel, public assembly, etc. Basically all the things Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia do not offer their citizens.

    August 24, 2008
  47. Patrick Enders said:

    Oh, Iraq gets more time than that to get it right. But I think it’s safe to say that Bush’s sins (lies, flagrant constitutional abuses, torture, illegal detentions, violating the Geneva Convention, alienating most of the world, and squandering billions on – and horribly mismanaging – an unnecessary war) can be judged right now, on their face value.

    August 24, 2008
  48. Paul Fried said:

    Patrick: Thanks for bringing up the Geneva Conventions again.

    David, Article II, section 2 of the US Constitution gives the executive the power to enter treaties, but the senate has to approve by two thirds.

    The Geneva Conventions (four? of 1949?) were ratified by the US Senate in 1955. That makes the US obligated to observe them as law. They don’t have to have been discussed at the Constitutional Convention.

    And by the way, while the body count of US casualties may have gone down since the “surge” and money payment system (bribes for nonviolence), there are still an average of about 18 US soldiers who commit suicide every day, and an average of about a thousand under VA care of some kind who attempt suicide every day, as reported back in May from leaked emails, followed by congressional hearings about possible cover-up, and calls for at least one resignation. From the students I’ve spoken to who are Iraq war vets, many have seen and done things they wish they hadn’t. Many have failed to observe the rules of engagement. You may say they’re not so important, but they matter to some of the soldiers who have attempted suicide.

    And David, yes, much of that might not have been necessary if there had been more troops in the first place. But it was an illegal war entered into because of lies, by an administration that lies routinely, even more so than Slick Willie.

    We’ve taken hundreds of thousands of lives. The Rumsfeld policy of harsh interrogation that led to Abu Ghraib planted seeds for many more anti-US terrorists, and the world is now less safe for the US, according to a US intelligence estimate, than before the war.

    US intelligence agent who inspected Guantanamo after rumors of torture came back with at least two conclusions: First, that many there were innocent, rounded up because of reward money, and not because of guilt or suspicion of guilt. And second, they said that because some people were clearly being tortured, if some of those innocent were not terrorists before they were detained and imprisoned there, they are now.

    But David, you come back to your assumption that some Iraqis are happier now than under Saddam. Sure. Of course some are. They’re no more inclined to be homogenous than we are in the US about McCain, Obama, Barr or other choices. But the ability to take a survey doesn’t prove the success of the surge, or justify the war.

    August 25, 2008
  49. David Henson said:

    Paul- I’m glad to see you use the universal “we'”

    1) “We” use a whole lot of oil (Bush’s (and the democrats and the military’s) risk analysis no doubt included your need to drive a car and heat your house)
    2) “We” don’t limit trade to free and democratic nations – ‘monsters’ exist as you say but liberal engagement policies tend to create ‘rich monsters.’
    3) “We” don’t support a peacetime (or even a war time) draft which would give “us” more balance and control over the armed forces.
    4) “We”, and everyone else, create crazy rumors in wartime – many still believe because of the depression that Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor to be bombed just so he could enter WWII
    5) “We” need to understand that just like everyone in any culture does not want to be tortured – that everyone in any culture want freedom and control of their lives – when we enrich through trade nations and leaders who radically limit freedom we are investing in future security problems.

    August 25, 2008
  50. Patrick Enders said:

    David,
    I’m not following your point in that last post at all. Are you now using the royal “we”?

    August 25, 2008
  51. Patrick Enders said:

    PBS just reran the excellent documentary “Buying the War” yesterday. (You can watch it or read a transcript at http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html)

    It still makes my blood boil when I hear those carefully orchestrated choruses of “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” and especially to hear Dick Cheney go on Meet the Press in Sept of 2002 to cite his own administration’s intentionally-leaked bogus intelligence when he claimed:

    “There’s a story in the NEW YORK TIMES this morning, this is– and I want to attribute this to the TIMES. I don’t want to talk about obviously specific intelligence sources, but… It’s now public that, in fact, he has been seeking to acquire and we have been able to intercept to prevent him from acquiring through this particular channel the kinds of tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge and the centrifuge is required to take low-grade uranium and enhance it into highly-enriched uranium which is what you have to have in order to build a bomb.”

    Lies, lies, lies. They wanted a war for geopolitical purposes, so they cooked up a case to get us into one.

    August 25, 2008
  52. Patrick said, “They wanted a war for geopolitical purposes, so they cooked up a case to get us into one.”

    Could you say exactly what those “geopolitical purposes” are? I really want to understand what you mean.

    August 25, 2008
  53. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright,
    Invading Iraq and “finishing the job” that George HW Bush left undone in Iraq was a stated goal of the Neoconservatives throughout the 90’s. With the installation of the Bush administration in 2001, the Neoconservatives held great sway over US policy.

    From Wikipedia (yes, I’m lazy sometimes):

    Neoconservative foreign policy parallels their domestic policy. They insist that the U.S. military must be strong enough to control the world, or else the world will descend into chaos.

    Believing that America should “export democracy”, that is, spread its ideals of government, economics, and culture abroad, they grew to reject U.S. reliance on international organizations and treaties to accomplish these objectives. Compared to other U.S. conservatives, neoconservatives take a more idealist stance on foreign policy; adhere less to social conservatism; have a weaker dedication to the policy of minimal government; and in the past, have been more supportive of the welfare state. None of these qualities are necessary.

    Aggressive support for democracies and nation building is additionally justified by a belief that, over the long term, it will reduce the extremism that is a breeding ground for Islamic terrorism. Neoconservatives, along with many other political theorists, have argued that democratic regimes are less likely to instigate a war than a country with an authoritarian form of government. Further, they argue that the lack of freedoms, lack of economic opportunities, and the lack of secular general education in authoritarian regimes promotes radicalism and extremism. Consequently, neoconservatives advocate the spread of democracy to regions of the world where it currently does not prevail, notably the Arab nations of the Middle East, communist China and North Korea, and Iran.

    Neoconservatives believe in the ability of the United States to install democracy after a conflict, citing the denazification of Germany and installation of democratic government in Japan after World War II. This idea guided U.S. policy in Iraq after the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime, when the U.S. organized elections as soon as practical.[citation needed] Neoconservatives also ascribe to principal of defending democracies against aggression.

    Joe Klein, writing in TIME magazine, suggests that today’s neoconservatives are more interested in confronting enemies than in cultivating friends. He questions the sincerity of neocon interest in exporting democracy and freedom, saying, “Neoconservatism in foreign policy is best described as unilateral bellicosity cloaked in the utopian rhetoric of freedom and democracy.”[38]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservatism#Neoconservative_views_on_foreign_policy

    August 25, 2008
  54. David Henson said:

    Patrick – the point is the war is more the result of a lot of bad public policy, just as much generated by the Democratic party, than about one or two sentences stated by Cheney.

    August 25, 2008
  55. Patrick Enders said:

    David,
    “A lot of bad public policy” did not lead us to invade Iraq. Bush did.

    Watch the documentary I previously linked: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html
    Or try Frontline’s “Bush’s War”: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/bushswar/

    Or read The Downing Street Memo: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article387374.ece
    Or any of a large number of books, including Bob Woodward’s “Plan of Attack” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_of_Attack or Richard Clark’s “Against All Enemies”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Against_All_Enemies

    Iraq was a war of choice, chosen by the Bush administration, and sold to the American people by dubious means.

    The Democratic Party had nothing to do with starting the war with Iraq. The only role any Democrats played in this fiasco is that some Democratic members of Congress, to their eternal shame, rubber stamped the Bush march to war.

    To his eternal credit, Barack Obama realized that Bush’s War was a terrible idea from the start.

    August 25, 2008
  56. Patrick, while I don’t really trust wikiwiki articles on their own, I will agree that the US is the strong arm defender of democracy around the world. I think users of democracy and oil would be happy that the US is procuring more of the same. Especially Democrats who own tons of oil stock in Exxon, Phillips, and British Petroleum and don’t tell anyone, but you find out when you go to use their phone and a stock holders meeting letter is carelessly left out in the open.

    I think it is wrong to say we are not trying to make friends. All the world wants to be like Americans if they know us at all. We have given Africa more aid these last two terms than ever before, under the allied tutelage of Bush, the Senior and Clinton, the Bill. Never mind the whining of the French cafe set who have nothing better to do than criticize us when we show up and ask us where the hell we have been when we don’t.

    August 25, 2008
  57. Paul Fried said:

    David: Some responses to your points:

    1. The average person in the US has little direct control over the way our society is structured, with little mass transportation, with suburbs and malls (car-dependent), few realistic options for what powers our cars and how many miles to the gallon we get from fuel made largely from foreign oil. Automakers, the oil, nuclear, coal and natural gas concerns are in the business to make money, and they are powerful. They would prefer to stay in business, and to have few if any competitors. They have more money and PR power to determine the near- and long-range future of certain choices than do you and I. I agree, in part, with the democratic urge to spread the blame, but it’s not the whole truth.

    2. One should not confuse “liberal engagement policies” with liberals. “Free trade” is often praised by wealthy interests, but it’s often the freedom of rich interests to make as much money as possible without laws that restrict. It’s often very one-sided, and not about “fair trade.” The US subsidizes its own crops, Cargill sells them cheap to the world, but then we complain when other nations, even poor ones, subsidize their agriculture. May be free trade, but it’s not fair trade. Liberals like Bill Clinton can be fans of free trade as much as Republicans.

    3) Discussion of “to draft or not to draft” depends too much on assumptions like those of folks who believe we should have invaded Iraq anyway, even if it was illegal, or once having invaded illegally and killed hundreds of thousands, we might still “make it good,” get some oil, and maybe make life better for the folks there, or at least create the illusion, and forget about them.

    4) The rumors about Pearl Harbor were not simply wartime rumors. Roosevelt tried to provoke Japan to attack, just as Bill Clinton sent an envoy to General Zinni, urging him to provoke the Iraqi’s to attack (Zinni refused, unless the orders were in writing). The daughter of FDR’s head of the Red Cross tells of how her father, near his death, told her how FDR sent him to make preparations for after the attack, because he knew something was coming. He was told that he had to keep his knowledge secret. There are many other examples. Just because FDR was a 3-time elected popular president doesn’t mean he didn’t have the ability to keep secrets or act in a machiavellian way. We should not assume that Hitler had his Reichstag fire, and his faux-Polish attack on a German radio station, but the US never does such things. The cause for the sinking of the Maine has long been in question. The start of the war with Mexico (which Abe Lincoln opposed) was based largely on spin and misleading accounts of where blood was shed — on US territory, or clearly in disputed territory (Lincoln cited this for his reason for opposing the war as a congressman). The US joint chiefs designed plans (“Operation Northwoods”) to create “fake” terrorist attacks by Cubans against the US, so that we could justify overthrowing Castro’s government (the plans were never used, but it’s public knowledge, not rumor, that they existed). Johnson used misinformation about the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” to justify escalation of the Vietnam war. By speaking of April Gilespie, I don’t mean to single out and demonize Republicans for machiavellian behavior. Democrats can and have acted in similar ways.

    5. You write, “when we enrich through trade nations and leaders who radically limit freedom we are investing in future security problems.” You mean, buying Saudi oil? If so, I agree.

    August 25, 2008
  58. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright, you said,

    I think users of democracy and oil would be happy that the US is procuring more of the same. Especially Democrats who own tons of oil stock in Exxon, Phillips, and British Petroleum and don’t tell anyone, but you find out when you go to use their phone and a stock holders meeting letter is carelessly left out in the open.

    1. Democracy is not a finite resource thet we needed to procure for ourselves by invading other countries.

    2. Wanting oil doesn’t make killing to secure access to it right.

    3. I didn’t realize you were friends with the Rockefeller’s! Did you know that they accepted that invitation to the stockholders meeting, and used it to demand “that Exxon invest more in alternative energy.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/business/04suits.html?n=Top/News/Business/Companies/Exxon%20Mobil%20Corporation

    August 25, 2008
  59. Well, Patrick, I think that you are right. We don’t procure democracy for ourselves, we procure it for people who can’t get it for themselves. Listen, everyone wants to have freedom, unless they have not ever tasted it. And for a lot of people, it’s worth dying for. Some people are that selfless, those who want others to live well.

    Killing isn’t right, but then neither is sitting back waiting for the the big one to kill others or us. The one’s who are control freaks are the ones who won’t want people to be who they can become, but also won’t do anything but jack their jaws(a non-medical term from my old neighborhood),so I think it’s all a bunch of compost waiting for a turning anyway. I hardly have even heard of more than a few letter writing campaigns against this ‘war’.

    Furthermore, the oil companies are always researching everything. Who says it’s up to them anyway to do anything but provide oil and dividends to stockholders. Where is this great American ingenuity? Why are we so reliant on oil? Cuz no one cares enough to change it, they all expect the oil companies to change for them. Spoiled and lazy Americans.

    And, btw, while I am not a friend of the Rockefeller’s, I did live in the same building as one of the grandsons, in Chicago. He gave me his plants when he moved. Nice person.

    August 25, 2008
  60. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright,

    We don’t procure democracy for ourselves, we procure it for people who can’t get it for themselves.

    If you’re going to advocate exporting democracy by the barrel of a gun, why do you just favor exporting it to Iraq? Why not every other non-democratic country? Why not Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, or Burma? Heck, Equatorial Guinea is almost in our backyard, just waiting there for us to free them from their dictatorship, and bring them democracy.

    We do have a long history of trying to export democracy. But it’s not generally the way democratic governments take hold. Did you know that the Canadians have rejected our attempts to export it to them – twice? We invaded Canada both in 1775 (http://www.americanrevolution.com/his_first_phase_invasion.html) and in 1812 (http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mwar1812.htm). In spite of our failures, Canada managed to develop a fully functional democracy of their own – peacefully, without having to get lots of people killed.

    I’m all for encouraging democracy by peaceful means. However, you should ask the 650,000+ Iraqis who have died during our invasion and the chaos that resulted, whether they believe their deaths were justified by the faint sliver of a hope that a peaceful democratic state may someday arise in Iraq.

    August 25, 2008
  61. Patrick,
    I am not personally advocating anything. I am just saying what I have seen around. And I am not saying other countries cannot get it together without us. We all know many can. Some countries may not be ready for such a leap.
    Some countries may never be, I don’t know.

    I am just saying that people come in different shapes and sizes and they do what they do. Some are doves and some are eagles. The US is an eagle looking for snakes. We were taken by surprize once again and we don’t like that. If we appear like crazy lying not playing by the rules torturing war mongers, maybe that is just what is needed to defeat our enemies. I am not advocating anything, once again, I’m just sayin’, hoping for some good responses from people…which are not against me personally, but for what they think should be done.

    August 25, 2008
  62. Jane Moline said:

    We cannot force democracy on anyone–this “Eagle” of the United States is mean and destructive. We have destroyed democracies by military means or by supporting dictatorships in Chile, Iran and Pakistan to name a few–there are many more. We have installed more dictatorships than democracies by such a ridiculously high margin that we cannot claim to be leading for democracy.

    On the other hand, we have done everything to destroy democracies or throw in with dictators and religious radicals–including the Taliban in Afghanistan before we decided to oust them.

    We can claim that we have a higher moral purpose but the world judges us not on our rhetoric but on our actions, which have shown us to be selfish and self-interested-not fighting for democracy throughout the world, just saying we are.

    August 25, 2008
  63. Bruce Wiskus said:

    Patrick

    As to your comments that we invaded Canada twice to export democracy I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you. In both 1775 and 1812 the true battles were between the US and the British.

    The invasion of 1775 was an extension of the American Revolutionary war. The colonials went across the border to strike at the Brits. Somewhat of a multi front military strategy. Unfortunately without strong logistical support and command and control functions this strategy did not work so well.

    As for the War of 1812 this had more to do with our left over feud with the Brits as well as their war with France at the time.

    I do however agree with you that democracy by peaceful means is the ultimate goal. However I do not know of many instances of this happening.

    August 25, 2008
  64. Patrick Enders said:

    A few examples of peaceful implementation of democracy:
    Canada
    Chile
    Czech Republic
    Estonia
    Georgia
    Greece
    Honduras
    Hungary
    Latvia
    Lithuania
    Nicaragua
    Poland
    Romania
    Slovakia
    Taiwan
    Ukraine

    August 25, 2008
  65. Patrick Enders said:

    Oops. Apparently, Felicity logged on to LGN on my computer today. That last post was mine, not hers.

    August 25, 2008
  66. Griff Wigley said:

    She’s a lot cuter than you but I fixed it anyway, Patrick.

    August 25, 2008
  67. Jane Moline said:

    Now somebody give me a list of countries that we have invaded and occupied and forced into democracy. Anyone?

    August 25, 2008
  68. griff asks how mccain and obama are dealing with the after surge success…
    I didn’t want to be the first to bring this up, but don’t ya think that biden was an interesting pick for VP given that he is the foreign policy guy for the senate and that he is wash dc in a suit for 30 some years? Don’t ya think that is interesting?

    August 26, 2008
  69. Paul Fried said:

    Jane: I don’t think imposed democracy has ever succeeded. Sometimes we’ve invaded other countries, or supported coups, to protect banana republics and our business interests, but while we may claim we’re supporting freedom and democracy, it usually results in an oppressive regime. The older I get, and the more I learn about this history, the more I wish I had been taught the history when I was younger.

    Bright, you write, “Killing isn’t right, but then neither is sitting back waiting for the the big one to kill others or us.” This statement seems based on accepting the premise that Iraq was going to nuke us. If we base our morality and foreign policy on paranoia — don’t wait till others “drop the big one” on us, attack them first — then we’d have to attack Russia and China, not just Iran and N. Korea.

    Bright, also note how our richest traditions in the constitution were based on things like the following:
    – Innocent until proven guilty
    – No cruel or unusual punishment
    – The right to a fair trial with a jury of peers

    We have not always lived up to these ideals, but they’re still good ideals. The paranoia-based actions of preemptive war, and of torture, go directly against the grain of our best traditions. When we torture, we seem to assume the following:
    – They are probably guilty, although it has not been proven.
    – Even if they are innocent, they might know things about the guilty parties which they are withholding, and which only torture can extract.
    – Better to torture and extract information, even from the innocent, as long as it saves lives, than to not get the information and not be able to prevent some attack.

    This kind of thinking has been oblivious to the consequences: That like preemptive wars, torture makes many more enemies than friends, and plants more seeds for future terrorists than it prevents terrorist acts.

    A paranoid who acts this way could be said to be acting without conscience, a sociopath without care for morality or the harm inflicted on others. The safe thing to do with sociopathic paranoids like that would be to lock them up and observe them closely so that they don’t harm others.

    Right-wingers who defend torture and preemptive war should be criticized for being unAmerican, as in going against the ideals of the constitution. They can have free speech and say their opinions, but they are unAmerican opinions.

    Members of the military do NOT take an oath to the president, or to congress, or to their company commander, but rather, to uphold and defend the constitution. Any of them who participate in torture or preemptive wars could, potentially, be brought up on charges of failing their oath.

    But of course, when war fever hits, it’s much more popular, and more likely, for conscientious objectors and deserters to be prosecuted than those who conformed and, by doing so, broke the law.

    August 26, 2008
  70. Paul Fried, I didn’t say “attack them first”, you added that in.

    August 26, 2008
  71. BruceWMorlan said:

    Jane, arguably Germany, Japan, Korea. The latter two were clearly not democracies before we showed up. And the first is the best example of why being a democracy is not a sufficient condition to be our friend, because Hitler was elected initially. Cost? Tens of millions of lives and unmeasured money (well, I don’t know and won’t guess). Maybe we’d all be better off if we just adopted the Chinese model …

    Making it stick for 50+ years, priceless.

    August 26, 2008
  72. BruceWMorlan said:

    Paul (F) suggest there are some reasons why we torture. I, myself at least, have sometimes been known to say that perhaps 9/11 is the price we pay for not using torture, and “that’s okay” (ala Franken/Stuart Smiley).

    But if you want to use “that’s okay” you need to be honest about the cost. If good ideas can prevail in the long run (and that’s debatable) then perhaps it is okay. Personally, I believe that torture does not get valid information often enough to justify its use, and I just avoid living near grounds zero. I don’t even believe that torture gets valid information in general, and am willing to throw in that I just don’t think it is morally right either. So I guess I am against torture (period). So sue me.

    Footnote: I’ve recently heard that some US (UK?) torture in WWII was actually built more on a model of co-opting the prisoners by becoming their friend” (a good-cop, bad cop sort of strategy).

    August 26, 2008
  73. BruceWMorlan said:

    Patrick, your list of peaceful implementations of democracy seems to need a couple of footnotes:

    1. street violence not counting against the awarding of the “peaceful” label

    2. some of these are in the presence of a “Pax xyz” that allowed democratic institutions a safe playing field for development.

    August 26, 2008
  74. Patrick Enders said:

    Bruce,
    Yes, I agree – but I was trying to resist my natural tendency to be overly verbose and overdiscuss.

    Still, I would argue that limited street violence between citizens and their own government is an entirely different thing from outright civil war or invasion.

    Heck, our country has a fair share of street violence in its not-so-distant past, including that circling around the extension of democratic rights to major subsets of our citizenry.

    August 26, 2008
  75. David Henson said:

    In the discussion of forced democracy are we ignoring Germany, Japan and Italy ?

    August 26, 2008
  76. Jane Moline said:

    Germany was technically a democracy before the war. Italy was a mess and still has some unique challenges–and they were part of a world war, so it was not a “let’s run over and unseat Mousillini and make them be democratic–they were part of the entire European conflict–without a government after the war, and something had to take its place. Japan was without a government after the war–that they started.

    We really don’t have any, outside of World War II, where “forced democracy” succeeded. Which is interesting to talk about from a historical perspective, but nothing to compare with the failure that is Iraq. We started it and now we are claiming we did it to bring democracy to the heathens of Arabia. It is pompous and arrogant and doomed to failure–we can only stop them from killing us by paying them bribe money which they are using to stockpile weapons so that when we stop paying them or leave they can attack us or each other. Great. 300 million dollars a day. Every day.

    August 26, 2008
  77. Bruce Wiskus said:

    Paul as to your comment in post #71:

    “Members of the military do NOT take an oath to the president, or to congress, or to their company commander, but rather, to uphold and defend the constitution. Any of them who participate in torture or preemptive wars could, potentially, be brought up on charges of failing their oath.”

    Your statement that members of the military do not pledge an oath to the President or Superior officers is incorrect.

    The following is the oath of enlistment taken by enlisted members of the United States Military.

    “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

    As for Officers they do not take the same pledge as enlisted individuals. That oath does not specifically include the President or superior officers in the words of oath. However the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) covers this. Article 2 describes who is covered by the UCMJ while Article 92 of the UCMJ pertains to failure to follow any lawful order or regulation.

    Your belief that a member of the military could be prosecuted for acting on the the orders of the President or superior officers is also incorrect. A military member CAN NOT be prosecuted for following a legal and lawful order in fact as pointed out earlier the opposite is true. Once again UCMJ article 92 as well as 90 and 91specify the requirements to obey the orders given by the superior officers. If a military officer gives a legal and lawful order to a subordinate that person does not have the option to decide if they wish to follow it.

    Now your argument that they could be tried for the crime of torture that is correct. Article 93 is the source for that, think Abu Grhaib. To your argument that a military member could be prosecuted for participating in a “preemptive war” that is once again wrong. In this case you are speaking of the Iraq war. In this case the President has signed the order that sent those troops over to the conflict. This is a legal and lawful order that the member does not have the authority to disobey.

    As for your comment about the popularity of punishing those members who desert that is also covered in the UCMJ in Articles 85 – 87. Just because a person decides they do not want to serve anymore does not allow them to quit prior to the end of their enlistment.

    As to conscientious objectors they are not prosecuted for being conscientious objectors. Now there have been cases of prosecution of members who when given deployment orders to places like Iraq have than declared their status as conscientious objectors and refused to deploy. There is actually a process for documenting your status as a conscientious objector however this is a process that needs to be started before you are given orders to deploy. If your beliefs change and you decide you are a conscientious objector while in service of the military there are things that can be done to separate from the military.

    Adding information.

    Bruce

    August 26, 2008
  78. Paul Fried said:

    David H: Back in #45 you commented that you doubt many Iraqis preferred life under Saddam.

    In March of last year, a poll showed that about 26% liked life under Saddam better, which included about 51% of the Sunnis.

    http://www.opinion.co.uk/Newsroom_details.aspx?NewsId=67

    This is roughly the same as the number of US citizens who still support Bush-Cheney, oppose Cheney’s impeachment, etc.

    Ironic.

    August 26, 2008
  79. Paul Fried said:

    David H:
    Some responses to your 5 numbered comments in #50:

    1. Most Amercians have little choice regarding how autos are designed, what gas mileage they get, how suburbs ans shopping malls are designed, how much we depend on the auto because of it all, etc. So if our use of oil was considered, it was certainly as much to defend the profits of those at Cheney’s secret energy meeting as much as to look out for all of us guilty, oil-hungry, complicit folks. (See General Smedley Butler’s book, “War is a Racket,” also mentioned below.) There’s too much of a democratic impulse to blame the little folks by people defending the rich and powerful. Call a spade a spade.

    2. “We” limit trade when we subsidize our crops so that farmers in third world countries can’t afford to grow corn that competes with taxpayer-subsidized US corn. By this we displace the poor in these countries and contribute to our own immigration problem. This is not free or fair trade. “Free” trade, to the corporations, simply means trade free of any restrictions by the laws of these little countries, like other countries’ ag subsidies. It’s not free for everyone. We pressure such countries to remove all subsidies and trade restrictions, or suffer no support or loans from the world bank, or no renegotiation of their debt. This is the freedom of a gangster to extort, not free or fair to the victims.

    3. Any discussion of how the draft should be preferred assumes too much about the justification and chances of success for illegal, preemptive wars. Marine General Smedley Butler (“Old Gimlet Eye”), a Republican, confronted such assumptions with his little book, “War is a Racket,” which still has much wisdom about why we get into too many wars. If you fail to question what is behind the status quo, then sure, you can propose a draft as a solution. Then, when we enter wars, the children of the rich and poor alike would die for the racket Butler describes. Better to question the racket, as Butler did.

    4. “Crazy rumors” is a phrase often used to discredit leaked truth.
    – Documents obtained throught he Freedom of Information Act show that FDR and his aides worked and planned hard to provoke the Japanese to attack. There is dispute about when we broke their codes and if we knew the exact date, but FDR sent the chief of the US Red Cross to Pearl Harbor before the attacks and told him to prepare for an attack, but to keep it a secret. He did until telling his daughter decades later, when he was close to death.
    – During the Kennedy years, General Lemnitzer and the US Joint Chiefs planned and approved “Operation Northwoods,” a plan to fake terrorist attacks by Cuba against the US so that we could justify a war to invade and effect “regime change” there. It was never implimented, but it was later leaked, and is now widely acknowledged.
    – Lemnitzer went on to lead NATO, and NATO was later involved in similar “fake” terrorist attacks in Italy called operation Glaudio/Gladio, where bombs actually did go off, and innocent civilians were killed, so that they could be blamed on leftists and used to discredit the left.
    – Johnson distorted intelligence about the Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify escalation of the Vietnam war, which cost hundreds of thousands of lives (US soldiers and Vietnamese civilians), perhaps millions.
    – More than half of New York residents think Bush-Cheney knew about impending attacks in the summer of 2001, but did little to prevent them because they wanted justification for war.

    Hitler and his Reichstag Fire were not the only examples of Machiavellian planning by world leaders, and it’s not Republican presidents only, in the US, who have practiced these methods. Democrats have been guilty as well. Dismissing such stories as “crazy rumors” is a bit naive, like believing Clinton when he says he “did not have sex with that woman.”

    5. Do you mean Saudi Arabia? If so, I agree.

    In #47, you write, “US citizens need to keep unrelentingly pressure on insuring the Iraqis have rights to a totally free press, unrestricted travel, public assembly, etc.” We don’t even have those yet in the US:
    – The press/media is dominated by giant corporations whose tentacles stretch into the military-industrial complex. While the foreign press (even in Britain, Germany, France) was asking hard questions, the US media were cheerleaders for war.
    – We have a list of thousands, including church grandmothers in peace and justice groups, including many liberals/lefties, and at least a few US elected officials, whose names are on watch lists for travel. We don’t let Cat Stevens (“Peace Train”) come back to the US now that he is a Muslim with a Islamic-sounding name. This is not unrestricted travel.
    – Public assembly is not free if you consider that some peace groups are infiltrated and monitored. I’ve had students who wrote papers comparing the Bush White House manual for controling and removing demonstrators to guidelines in Nazi Germany, and they’re nearly identical.

    The war in Iraq was not about advancing democracy, or certainly not that as a top priority. More important:
    A. Oil.
    B. Bush wanting to be less likely to lose an election as a “wartime” president, even if it meant prolonging the war by not committing enough troops from the start.
    C. No-bid contracts with current and future major Republican donors, to ensure the cash-flow for the party, instead of hiring unemployed Iraqis to do the reconstruction themselves. Massive fraud, lots of money made, big future for Repug’ contribs. From this point of view, while the Iraq war has been a huge moral/ethical failure, it has been a limited (but questionable) financial success for the Republican party’s future (but this means you trade in many small contributions from middle class Republicans who are wising up and deserting the party in favor of big bucks from reconstruction contractors, private security firms, etc.).

    In #45 you wrote, “I doubt you would find many Iraqis wanting a return to Saddam.”
    – In March of last year, a poll found that about 26% of Iraqis would prefer Saddam. That includes about 51% of Sunnis.
    – Kind of like the number of US citizens who still support Bush-Cheney (including a higher percent of Republicans). Ironic?

    August 27, 2008
  80. Bruce Wiskus said:

    Paul,

    Please forgive my persistence on this issue. I would like you to retract your statement in #71 that states that members of the US armed forces could be charged with crimes for participating in a preemptive war.

    August 27, 2008
  81. Patrick Enders said:

    Bruce W,
    I am not any kind of an expert on military law, but my hearsay knowledge concurs with the following statement by General Peter Pace:

    “it is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral.”
    http://www.jcs.mil/chairman/speeches/060217NatPressClubLunch.html

    August 27, 2008
  82. Paul, Americans do have a choice about how autos are designed. In1997, my dh bought a Ford Aspire, using money he had saved from a Ford credit card deal where we bought it for $500 under invoice, with $1,000 Ford rebate and $2,000 from the credit card with Citibank where 5% of your purchases go toward a Ford purchase. That car got 40-42 mpg, for all of it’s 100,000 miles, albeit no a/c or automatic transmission, and it would still be going if a truck hadn’t hit it from the rear at a stop light. My dh was not hurt, but we got $3,000as the car was totalled by Minnesota standards, which we didn’t feel it was, paid from the driver’s insurance company, So it ended up costing us $5500 original cost, -$3000, $2500. Now, I know not everyone is gonna get all that, but it ‘s a good story. The point is that it was a great basic car with great gas mileage and Ford could barely give them away. It looks like a bigger VW, and had tons of room inside with a hatchback. We only had to replace the muffler and the windsheild the whole time we owned it…plus regular oil changes. Americans still want style and prestige when buying a car. We could not find anything to replace the Aspire within 700 miles of here. We looked for six months.
    Now, the cheapest Aveo gets 30 or so EPA miles…what happened? No one will buy a car like the Aspire when gas is cheap.

    August 27, 2008
  83. Three honest questions:

    1. From what I gathered in last night’s speech, Obama is about restructuring the military. Does that mean reinstituting the draft?

    2. The real issue is the Democrats voted for this preemptive war and all the subsequent funding of it. To say that it would be political suicide not to, is so much hogwash, no offense to hogs. So the democratic politicians will vote anyway they need to to save their jobs, and that’s okay with everyone, to the point they keep sending them back?

    3. And why is everyone so in favor of the Afghan war? Nations have been warring with them for decades and don’t seem to be able to make any lasting headway.

    August 27, 2008
  84. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright,

    You seem to be looking very hard for reasons to be disappointed with politicians – especially Barack Obama. I would love to hear you say something positive about a candidate or issue that you believe in. But since your questions are “honest”:

    1. No. See BarackObama.com for details of his platform.

    2. I believe in ousting politicians of all stripes who make such tragically poor decisions. Unfortunately, when the election comes down to choosing between a Democrat who voted for the war, and a Republican who also supports the war, we all have to make our decision on other issues.

    3. I actually agree with you: Afghanistan should be approached with extreme caution. However, both of the candidates are supportivev of further action there – so again, you’ll have to make a choice on other issues. Also, military efforts in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan are actually related to the people who really did attack our country in 2001, so at least our involvement there is based upon an actual threat to our security.

    August 27, 2008
  85. I am not looking for reasons to be disappointed, I am looking for reasons to hope. I am terribly disappointed in people who elect representatives and then don’t hold them to representing them, and who don’t do anything but vote and rely on the government for every little thing and then holler that there is too much government in our lives.

    And, I can read politicians websites all day long. I am computer literate since 1997, and I am married to one of this country’s best linux programmers. The reason i am on this site is to have an honest exchange with people in the real world. That is how I form some of my opinions.

    and Jsut so you know, if people cannot back up their beliefs with at least two or three well thought out reasons, in a rational and cool manner, I don’t give their opinions much stock.

    August 27, 2008
  86. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright,
    Have you found any reasons to hope? And yes, it’s an honest question, because I am much more likely to take someone’s criticisms to heart if I know what they believe in.

    August 27, 2008
  87. Paul Fried said:

    Patrick: Thanks for jumping in with the Pace quote in #83.

    Bruce W:
    I repeat: the oath soldiers take is to uphold and defend not the president, not an unspoken code of military loyalty, but the constitution — from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    If the enemy of the constitution is an impeachable president who gets us into an illegal, preemtive war, then just as David L claims congress was responsible, and as Bright implies everyone could have bought a Ford Aspire, there would have been no Iraq war if soldiers had refused.

    I don’t hold them anywhere near as responsible as the lying president and VP who tried to convince us that our survival was at stake, but there’s a tendency to be very democratic in spreading the blame to as few so-called “bad apples” as close to the bottom of the chain of command as possible. If you don’t like that, then you should be for impeachment, and you should be for new investigations of why higher-ups were not investigated more aggressively for intentional civilian deaths during Vietnam, and for similar incidents in Iraq.

    I don’t like the trend to find scapegoats at the bottom, I believe the greater blame should be placed as high up as it goes, but I also agree with a great deal of the democratic urge to observe that even the little people share the blame. This includes civilians (myself included) and foot-soldiers.

    August 27, 2008
  88. Paul Fried said:

    Bright:
    You made a good observation in #85 that I want to comment on. You wrote,
    “2. The real issue is the Democrats voted for this preemptive war and all the subsequent funding of it. To say that it would be political suicide not to, is so much hogwash, no offense to hogs. So the democratic politicians will vote anyway they need to to save their jobs, and that’s okay with everyone, to the point they keep sending them back?”

    You might find it interesting to read up about what Republican President Dwight Eisenhower said near the end of his last term about the danger of the “military-industrial complex” having too much influence regarding going to war. He was thinking of calling it the “military-industrial-congressional” complex.

    Here it is in a nutshell: During WWI, there were some complaints that companies that made boots, uniforms, munitions, guns, etc., were making large profits (“military profiteers”) while the average joe in the trenches was getting little pay in the name of service to country. This was the focus of some widespread complaints. But only after WWII, and during the cold war, was there a huge expansion of a permanant military industry, with tentacles in every state. This changed elections forever: If only a few elected officials came from states that depended on many government-military-related jobs, you might have a stronger chance arguing against war fever. But now, there are military contracts in pretty much every state in the union. There are many more military bases than there were between the world wars. So yes, too many politicians feel it necessary to vote in favor of war. Too few take a principled stand and vote against, or demand more information, or ask hard questions. Too many are willing to form coalitions, to vote in favor of every new weapon and piece of hardware, because they want to secure the jobs and votes in their state, so they’re willing to work with others who want to do the same.

    This is where military spending and pork intersect. It’s huge. Our military spending is reflected not only in the Pentagon budget, but also in special spending related to particular wars and conflicts (not in the regular Pentagon budget), and a big price tag for production and maintenance of nuclear weapons, which has always been a part of the Energy Department budget rather than the regular defense budget. Much of this is pork. We have become the number-one seller of weapons and general military hardware to the world, we train people from around the world at what was once called the “School of the Americas” at Ft. Benning in Georgia, some students of which have gone on to commit terrible crimes in support of authoritarian regimes (including the assasination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador). Such harsh regimes often help corporations maintain their position in various countries and keep the profits flowing. We have the largest military spending of any country in the world, in fact more than half of what the entire world spends. Democrats have often been just as responsible in getting us there as Republicans have been.

    Eisenhower witnessed this phenomenon and, in his last televised address as president, warned of it and its possible consequences. He was popular, and a military man, having attained the rank of general during WWII, and he was certainly guilty of his share of foreign intrigue and meddling (he approved the overthrow of a democratically elected leader in Iran, for which Iran’s collective memory may take a long time, if ever, to forgive). But he was right about the danger of the military-industrial (-congressional) complex. Some people today add to this three-legged stool a fourth leg: the media, which cooperates and, instead of asking hard questions, does’t want to appear unpatriotic (and have it affect their ratings and profits from sponsors). Freedom of speech in a mega-media dominated world is only as free as sponsors will allow.

    It’s very unfortunate that Eisenhower took till the end of his last term to speak about this to the country. If he had spoken about it at the start of his second term, there may have been hope for passing legislation to restrict the influence of the M-I-C and to protect us more from its dangers.

    August 27, 2008
  89. Well, certainly there is a lot of good things going on that don’t involve government…you know, things that people do for themselves, like taking care of family and growing at least some of their own food, pro bono work of the professionals, habitat home building, dancing and singing and playing instruments, even if they are pans and spoons, running with the family dog, watching sunrises and sunsets over the fields and lakes, research conducted by big companies and individual people, free and reduced cost prescription drug progams and policies, then the look in Chelsea’s eyes when she watches her mom, my nephew’s performances at Second City in Chicago, and when my hubby tells me about how he, through his programming work, has freed a perfectly intelligent man from having to do eight hours a day of complete drudge work on the computer and is given a job more suited to his abilities, and the happy look on my husband’s face when he sees one of my newest paintings, and when GW said this, “We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.” George W. Bush Trenton, NJ 23 September 2002, I got sort of hopeful that people would think things over again.

    I don’t believe in killing in any way shape or form, but I know that given the nature of mankind, that’s not about to end anytime soon…so I try to understand it and I try to find a reason to condone it, but really I cannot.

    I don’t believe in govt doing everything for people. People who by no fault of their own are sick they need help and if people won’t step up and take care of their own, or if they are the last of their clan and too ill to make friends, then govt has a place…not saying these are the only ones, just setting some criteria for discussion purposes, iykwim.

    I believe in the internet and open source as a great way to learn, educate, share and inform all the people of the world. I believe in the Olympics, but wish people would not strive so hard they hurt themselves for life.

    I loathe corruption and lies, and it seems like everyone but me has gotten really good at lying, covering up and mastered deceitful ways. Well, not everyone, I suppose, but it’s getting harder and harder to tell who smokes it up in the back rooms.

    I loved Hillary Clinton’s speech last night, and while I wouldn’t like to see her as President, she would be capable as far as having the intelligence and wherewithall. Same for Bill, now that he has learned his lessons, but I can
    never really forgive him for defiling the Office of President of the USA as he did. He opened the doors for Bush with that stunt…and has forever reduced his own believability even though he is one of the greatest political minds of the world.

    I fear that if Obama is elected, he will do to Biden what Clinton did to Gore, push him aside and send him to state funerals and opening ceremonies…or blame Biden for any mistakes he makes.

    I also fear that Obama is turning all the way conservative. He started out against the war, and they would bring the troops home just as soon as they could arrange it, and now he is saying what the Republican’s said in the beginning about bringing our troops home in a “responsible timetable.” Him and Speaker of the House, whose name has escaped me,
    but she’s from California, and has a bunch of grandkids and blew off the timetable she ran with, oh, yeah, Nancy Pelosi, I wanted to say Diane von Furstenberg. That’s pathetic that the name of a fashionista comes to mind before one of the most important political positions in this country. Pelosi has all but disappeared and I am shocked.

    So, that’s it for today, the sun is coming out, I can paint outdoors and the brownies are done cooling, I spoke to my sister, wrote to my ailing cousin,
    set up some help for her and some prayers, and now I am going to do my thing. Catch ya later!

    August 27, 2008
  90. Back for a minute, Paul, that was brilliant info and rings true. In Oklahoma there are numerous military manufacturing plants and it’s one of the reasons the south is so patriotic. Yours was a perfect example of the kind of truth
    that I want to hear about and that everyone should know. If we can find a way to make products for peace that are necessary to our safety and well being, we can make a fortune, but I don’t think solar and wind power items are enough. We need more peace sign earrings and belt buckles…just kidding,
    we need….okay this is where American ingenuity comes in, and this is where
    I still hope.

    August 27, 2008
  91. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright,
    Thanks for your response. I agree with many of your statements about what is good in our private lives. How about in public life? What are some things that a government and our elected officials do, or should do, that you are in favor of?

    Again, I’m asking because while I have a stong sense of some of the things that upset you about politicians, I’m not sure what policies you’d be pleased to see them enact. Thanks.

    August 27, 2008
  92. William Siemers said:

    Paul…

    You said in # 49, “…there are still an average of about 18 US soldiers who commit suicide every day, and an average of about a thousand under VA care of some kind who attempt suicide every day…”

    That struck me as an enormous number…the Army reported in May that 115 soldiers committed suicide in 2007…with two more incidents still under investigation. That’s about 6400 fewer suicides than your figure suggests. It is also a rate that is less than that of a comparable demographic group not serving in the military.

    As for veterans, their suicide rate is higher than the population at large and that is a problem that must be addressed. But still…in 2005 there were, according to a CBS investigative report, 6256 veteran suicides. Your figure suggests that 365,000 veterans, under VA care, attempt suicide every year. Given the total number of actual veteran suicides, I think your figure for attempted veteran suicides is as much a fantasy as your numbers for those on active duty.

    In general I agree with you about the Iraq war. But sometimes your ardor seems to get the best of your fact checking.

    August 27, 2008
  93. Paul Fried said:

    William: I’m glad you care about fact-checking.

    Of course, there’s no way I could do such research myself, and also, the figures shift each year depending on the numbers of suicides in a particular year.

    I was merely commenting on a story regarding a leaked email that made claims about those figures, and controversy over figures (and perhaps revelations that earlier figures were wrong, and actual figures are much higher).

    If someone internal to the DOD is sending an email containing such figures, and concerned about what might happen if the press found out, of course they might be in error, but one would think that there might be some basis for their figures, some reason for their anxiety about leaks, and that even if the figures are somewhat off, there might still be cause for concern.

    Some of the web sources conflict on some of the accounts, but here are a few that confirm the 1000 attempts-per-month:
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/04/22/va-hides-suicide-data/

    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/04/22/va-hides-suicide-data/
    (This one repeats the 1000 attempts per month, and says 4-5 actual suicides per day, but still much higher in the Iraq vet population than the normal population)

    http://www.knowthelies.com/?q=node/2215
    (This one repeats the 18-per-day figure; average for which days, which year?)

    Here’s another with the 18 figure, from an AP article, reprinted:
    “Erspamer showed the judge two e-mails written last year among high-ranking officials that said an average of 18 military veterans kill themselves each day—and five of them are under VA care when they commit suicide. Another e-mail said 1,000 veterans under VA care attempt suicide each month.”
    http://www.woundedtimes.blogspot.com/2008/04/18-veterans-day-commit-suicide-and-1000.html

    This blog at the last URL reprint of the article cites a link to another article at the San Jose Mercury News, but it’s a dead link — which often happens when fresh news gets moved to an archive.

    Does that mean that some of the controversy is because the 4-5 per day, or “more than 100” per year figure, is the conservative one, and the scandal that broke was the leak that insiders knew the figures to be much higher?

    Or does that mean that the emails from the insiders were in error, and one of the smaller figure of actual suicides per day was the accurate one? (I have not seen anything claiming this, but it’s possible).

    Accuracy about facts is important, William, but in fact, that’s part of what this story of the leak is about: How many suicides and attempted suicides are actually known about? Was there a cover up, and an attempt to feed lower figures to the public?

    I don’t claim to know the final answer, but such stories should be cause for concern. You’re correct to say I should not assume the 18 actual per day/1000 attempts per month is accurate. But when there’s news of a leak like this, I tend to trust that the insiders who were trying to keep the secrets have more accurate figures than the “fake” figures previously circulated.

    August 27, 2008
  94. Patrick, no small question did you ask! lol! I don’t claim to be a policy wonk. I really just want the government to allow business to do it’s thing, let the market decide what works and what doesn’t after of course, outlawing selling arsenic and the like for a cure all, hahaha, but after basic protections from ourselves and our foreign enemies, I don’t wish the government do much besides hold town meetings on air and in town and elections. I just wish everyone would quit hiding, covering up and lying. Let’s just be truthful that everyone wants an opportunity to work, enjoy life and make a better world for the next generation…and we all have our own talents and ways to make that happen, so let’s honor that about each other.
    If people want to drop out from that, good and well, but let them drop all the way out and do for themselves without all of us having to suffer for it.
    We want to be able to walk our streets and carry some money and socialize without the constant threat of criminal acitivity in the big cities.

    The things I want would be like the things the my art class kids told me when I told them I was going to DC to talk to people like a VP from 3M. They said they want renewable fuels, materials that never rust and a good way to get to the moon…and for me, maybe ice cream with no calories, too.

    August 27, 2008
  95. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright,
    Thanks for that. Have you considered the Libertarians?

    August 27, 2008
  96. Paul Fried said:

    William:

    I’m also noticing, belatedly, that you have a false assumption here:

    “Your figure suggests that 365,000 veterans, under VA care, attempt suicide every year. Given the total number of actual veteran suicides, I think your figure for attempted veteran suicides is as much a fantasy as your numbers for those on active duty.”

    This assumes that, of the 1,000 attempted suicides each month, they are all attempts by 1,000 distinct individuals, and over the course of a year, the recorded attempts are all by individuals who had no attempts previously recorded. This is a false assumption, and the reason why the math seems to be a “fantasy” (in your words).

    In fact, we should assume that a good number of the 1,000 attempts cited are repeat attempts by the same individuals.

    Your math suggests that perhaps a needed and revealing statistic, if it could be attained, would be a figure for the number of attempts by individuals for whom there were no previous attempts in a given year, or over a period of X number of years since the start of the war, etc.

    Another would be how many attempts, on average, are made by the same individual, or recorded for a given actual suicide.

    All grim statistics, but perhaps revealing if it could be tracked. The more the VA and the public learn about what is actually happening, the more, perhaps, that we might do to help.

    August 27, 2008
  97. No. Patrick, I have not. I guess I am not much of a joiner. This list is about as close as I have ever come to the political world. I did join the garden club, as I do in every where we have we’ve lived. I have been working with flowers in one form or other since I was five years old. The one thing I want to do most in this world is to add or bring out beauty. I define that in many ways, on this list beauty means understanding.

    August 27, 2008
  98. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright, I’m not suggesting that you join them, but check them out: you might find that some of their candidates may come close enough to your own views that you might support them or vote for them on a case-by-case basis.

    August 27, 2008
  99. Paul Fried said:

    BruceWM: I don’t buy the claim that 9-11 is the price for not using torture. 9-11 was the price we pay for entertaining methods and plans like General Lemnitzer’s “Operation Northwoods” of the 1960’s, and for our long black-ops relationship with Pakistani ISI since the Carter and Reagan years, which sent money to the terrorists on the orders of the ISI chief. The ISI leader was, in fact, in Washington on 9-11.

    We need a new investigation of 9-11. No one was found responsible. Instead, nearly 3,000 died, and folks got medals and promotions for their failures. Evidence was confiscated or destroyed (such as tape recorded statements from flight control staff, and video that captured images of the Pentagon crash). The Bush administration resisted an independent investigation for more than a year, then underfunded the commission and stonewalled them, not providing needed documents. They stacked the commission by appointing Condi Rice’s pal, Phil Zelikow, executive director. For comparison’s sake, the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky investigation was far better funded. That investigation, and the shuttle disaster investigations, the JFK assasination, Pear Harbor — independent investigations for those all started much more quickly.

    We need a new investigation. We won’t get it with McCain.

    August 27, 2008
  100. Paul Fried said:

    Bruce W: Sorry I missed your comments in #79 before. Under dispute is whether orders from the president to go into preemptive war are legal orders. On that, see the first eight lines of my comments in # 49.

    August 27, 2008
  101. David Henson said:

    Jane – from post #78 – I don’t think Germany was a rights based democracy before WWII. And I can guarantee you the Waffen SS were not sympathetic to free flow of political ideas. The 3 million Allied forces left after the war were a major factor in Germany’s future political success.

    Paul – from post #80 – given what Iraq has been through the fact that only 26% preferred life under Saddam is very telling (how would Bush rate if mortars were being tossed around Division). I also note that you choose … hmmmm … preSurge polling 🙂 .

    August 27, 2008
  102. Paul F, I did not think I said 9/11 happened because we did not torture, I said that even if torture prevents 9/11s, I would not advocate use of torture. These are not the same thing.

    August 27, 2008
  103. Patrick Enders said:

    Bruce WM,
    I was a bit confused by your previous post, and had the same misunderstanding as Paul. Thanks for the clarification.

    August 27, 2008
  104. Barry Cipra said:

    Paul Fried’s replies in postings #95 and #98 to William Siemers’s posting #94 indicate he’s unaware his original posting #49 cited a thousand suicide attempts per day, not per month.

    There may also be an apples and oranges effect in effect in the numbers Fried and Siemers discuss: Some apparently refer to soldiers on active duty while others pertain to veterans of all ages.

    August 27, 2008
  105. well, no one asked, but I am duly unimpressed by the speeches at the mommy convention tonight, but don’t expect the daddy party to do any better. In their desperation to regain power, some of my favorite politicians on the planet have resorted to brainwashing with their repetitive partly line lingo with no extraneous ideas allowed. They even reigned in and reduced BC, one of the most verbose speakers on either side of the Mississippi.

    “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what a world, what a world.”, she sighed.

    August 27, 2008
  106. john george said:

    Paul F.- Are you really seriously advocating another investigation of the 9-11 event? This sounds a little like the investigations down at city hall. We just keep doing them until we get a conclusion we agree with.

    As far as a reason we were attacked, just check out the rhetoric of the extremists behind that attack, and I won’t even give them the distinctioin of calling them Islamic. I would just call them America-hating extremists. You can theorize all you want that the reason they were jealous of us is because we are affluent/ religiously hypocritical/ morally corrupt/ only politically motivated/ supported their enemies at one time/ offended their mother-in-law/ or what have you, but it seems to me that these type of people must have something to focus their rotting hatred upon, so they chose us instead of one another. It still seems interesting to, me that President Clinton was offered Ben Laden’s head on a platter, but he chose not to take it. I’ve not heard the exact reason why, but if there was any hope in a negotiated settlement with these factions, it appears to me that it certainly wasn’t effective. Bush may have been asleep at the switch, but did anyone even tell him someone was about to trip it? Interesting grist for which we may never find the true answer for in this life.

    Bright- As far as politics, there is an interesting editorial in the Pioneer Press today. I think it is labeled their point of interest, or something like that. I checked for a URL for it, and the latest things on their web site were dated 08/26. If you can find a hard copy of the 08/27 edition, it is in the upper left hand corner of the editorial page, located in the Dakota section. I think you’ll like what the writer had to say.

    August 27, 2008
  107. Patrick Enders said:

    John G,

    Bush may have been asleep at the switch, but did anyone even tell him someone was about to trip it?

    I would’ve hoped that the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US” might have been a bit of a clue.

    August 27, 2008
  108. Mike Zenner said:

    I think you are all missing the boat with this talk or Republican’s vs Democrat’s on America’s war issues. What is going on is crystal clear when one takes off the rose colored glasses of American exceptionalism and hubris and can see America’s federal government for what it really is. American is the modern day Empire of Rome. Its currency is the currency of the world. It supports the largest, at least form a dollar perspective, the most powerful military force on the planet. This empire building started at the end of the 19th century and has gone into hyper-drive since the end of the cold war. As Ike warned us about at the end of his term “the Military Industrial Complex” has finally taken over America. This along with the other two legs of the stool, AIPAC and the global banking industry call all the shots in DC. Almost all the Congressmen (Modern day Roman Senators) and Presidents (Caesars’) are vetted out by these organizations. I thank the Bush Regime for finally pulling the rose glasses from my eyes with their blatant Imperial moves, and statements “you are either with us or you are against us”. Full Spectrum Dominance is the name of the empires game. However, the American empire is now dying just like all past empires have. The blood that drives modern empires is wealth and energy. Americans real economy (wealth) peaked in the 1970’s along with its own oil resources. The last 30 years the empire has been exploiting its fiat currency of the realm (green pieces of paper for real goods from Asia and the third world) to drive its economy. This is the modern day equivalent of sending tribute to the empire. At the same time oil imports top 70%. All advanced economies require oil to drive their economies and their militaries. This is where the Middle East comes in. 85% of all the worlds known reserves for oil and gas are in the Middle East and central Asia. He who controls the flow of energy from this part of the world ultimately controls and calls the shots in the world! Russia is a wild card in this game since they are still an exporter of oil and a nuclear power. Iraq was on the hit list long before 9-11 as well as Iran (see Project for A New American Century). We went into Iraq with the full intention of staying till the oil’s all gone. There was no and is no intention of leaving Iraq, or the Middle East, no matter what Barack O and John M tell us (their speeches to AIPAC is all you need to read). For America to take its guns and bombs and go home would cause the collapse of the empire much like the USSR at the end of their war with Afghanistan. It’s ironic that when the American empire leaves its occupation of Afghanistan it to will most likely collapse a few years later also. This is the real driving force that has the majority of both Republican’s and Democrat’s cheering on the War effort, not terrorism and spreading democracy. That is BS for consumption for the “American Idol” viewing crowd. Their seat of power lasts only as long as the empires war effort does! As Rumsfeld said we are in the “Long War”. The down side to the empire collapse is that World Wars tend to get started when this power vacuum is created.

    August 28, 2008
  109. William Siemers said:

    Barry…

    Agreed.

    Paul…

    Personally, I think it is overreaching to use veteran or active duty suicide numbers (real or inflated) to support an argument in opposition to the Iraq war, which is how you used these statistics initially.

    August 28, 2008
  110. oh, sorry, that was meant for you, John. I shouldn’t post before 8am.

    August 28, 2008
  111. Barry Cipra said:

    William, I have to disagree. If it can be established that the suicide rate goes up when the nation goes to war, that is a legitimate point to make in arguing against going to war. It’s one reason for insisting on honest and accurate statistics.

    August 28, 2008
  112. nick waterman said:

    Re the surge working, if we deployed 50 additional police in Northfield, the crime rate would probably go down. Does this mean the surge “worked” or merely that a temporary increase in manpower creates a temporary decrease in the problem?

    Re honest and accurate statistics:

    http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

    August 28, 2008
  113. William Siemers said:

    Barry…

    Death is a pretty good reason for opposition to war, regardless of the type of death…civilians, combatants, bystanders die in droves from fighting wars and all the misadventure that goes along with it. So, yes, suicide by those who fight, and those who have fought, is a reason to oppose war.

    But is death a reason to oppose all wars? Are there wars that need to be fought regardless of the potential for death? I would answer yes to that question. Although I do not think that was the case with the Iraq war. But in opposing the war I don’t feel that it is necessary to propose that our troops are committing suicide at high rates because of guilt over their actions in combat in Iraq. Even if the high rates exist, (which they do not seem to) I don’t think there is any way that guilt can be proven to be the cause…at least to an extent that is higher than suicide rates during any conflict.

    August 28, 2008
  114. Bruce Wiskus said:

    Paul and Patrick,

    First and foremost I respect your opinions to disagree with the war in Iraq.

    However I disagree with both of you on the fact that you believe the orders given by the President are illegal orders in regards to the Iraq war. Congress has authorized troops to be in Iraq and carry out the Presidents orders. They not only initially did this back in 2003 they continue to make it possible by approving the money for it.

    Explain to me how a member of the military is suppose to look at the actions of those two parties of our government and come to the conclusion that the orders to go to Iraq are illegal?

    Now Paul one more time about the oath of enlistment. In comment #89 you said:

    Bruce W:
    I repeat: the oath soldiers take is to uphold and defend not the president, not an unspoken code of military loyalty, but the constitution — from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    First, since you either did not read the oath of enlistment I pasted into # 79 or you believe I made it up I would like you to google oath of enlistment and tell me what it says.

    Second, as to an unspoken code of loyalty, I can only assume you are talking about my reference to the UCMJ and Title 10 of the US Code. Neither of these are unspoken codes they are laws by which military members MUST abide. Feel free to google both of those as well.

    Once again I am not saying you are right or wrong in your opposition to the War in Iraq. In fact having vocal opinions about the actions of our government and working to make change is the foundation of our government.

    The greatest thing about this country is we all have the RIGHT to have different opinions and freely voice them. For that reason next time you see a member of the military say thanks, they appreciate it.

    August 29, 2008
  115. john george said:

    Bruce- Great post! It’s always good to hear from someone who has the goods to back up what they are saying. I always appreciate Paul’s and Pat’s comments, because they provide URLs to reference their opinions. Some of us don’t have time to do all this research, so thanks for an opposing viewpoint. I remember the Nam veterans coming home to protestestors who spat upon their uniforms and ridiculed the sacrifices they made. At least we don’t have that type of thing going on now.

    August 29, 2008
  116. Patrick Enders said:

    Bruce W,
    I disagree with both of you on the fact that you believe the orders given by the President are illegal orders in regards to the Iraq war.

    Your disagreement seems to be with Paul, not me. I did not suggest that the invasion was an illegal order. My entire post on the subject was:

    Bruce W,
    I am not any kind of an expert on military law, but my hearsay knowledge concurs with the following statement by General Peter Pace: “it is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral.”

    I really have no idea about what constitutes an illegal order, or especially what the legal definition is of an “immoral” order.

    While you and Bruce were disagreeing about the nature of a soldier’s oath, you seemed to have some knowledge in this area. I was hoping that you or someone else might have some knowledge of what General Pace was talking about, since whatever is behind his assertion might also be the source of the disagreement between the two of you.

    Apart from that quote from Gen. Pace about “absolute responsibility” and “illegal or immoral” orders, my only encounter with similar statements was from [Patrick, looking a bit embarrassed, quietly puts on a pair of Klingon ears and continues…] watching “Babylon 5.” [Patrick quickly removes said ears.] So a bit of expertise might be helpful.

    Gen. Pace suggested that an invasion of, or attack on, Iran might be an illegal order. I would wonder whether ordering or committing acts of torture might fall in the realm of both illegal and immoral. In general, though, I’m more concerned about holding the commander-in-chief responsible for those orders, rather than the soldiers who executed them.

    August 29, 2008
  117. Patrick Enders said:

    Repost, fixed:

    Bruce W,

    I disagree with both of you on the fact that you believe the orders given by the President are illegal orders in regards to the Iraq war.

    Your disagreement seems to be with Paul, not me. I did not suggest that the invasion was an illegal order. My entire post on the subject was:

    Bruce W,
    I am not any kind of an expert on military law, but my hearsay knowledge concurs with the following statement by General Peter Pace: “it is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral.”

    I really have no idea about what constitutes an illegal order, or especially what the legal definition is of an “immoral” order.

    While you and Bruce were disagreeing about the nature of a soldier’s oath, you seemed to have some knowledge in this area. I was hoping that you or someone else might have some knowledge of what General Pace was talking about, since whatever is behind his assertion might also be the source of the disagreement between the two of you.

    Apart from that quote from Gen. Pace about “absolute responsibility” and “illegal or immoral” orders, my only encounter with similar statements was from [Patrick, looking a bit embarrassed, quietly puts on a pair of Klingon ears and continues…] watching “Babylon 5.” [Patrick quickly removes said ears.] So a bit of expertise might be helpful.

    Gen. Pace suggested that an invasion of, or attack on, Iran might be an illegal order. I would wonder whether ordering or committing acts of torture might fall in the realm of both illegal and immoral. In general, though, I’m more concerned about holding the commander-in-chief responsible for those orders, rather than the soldiers who executed them.

    August 29, 2008
  118. Patrick, there was a lot about it not being declared a war and therefore a lot of what goes on does not or did not fall under the rules of war. I am not justifying any actions, just trying to give a little clarification that will certainly lead to more confusion. 🙂

    August 29, 2008
  119. Holly Cairns said:

    Did someone already ask this? Sorry if so.

    So, we’re the winners. Of what? What worked? What did we win? What were we doing, again? Liberating Iraq, getting rid of WMD, etc.

    I’m proud of our soldiers who worked hard there, but at the same time I wonder what the heck was going on. Let’s support our troops but what a confusing situation.

    August 29, 2008
  120. Paul Fried said:

    Bruce WM: I want to join Patrick in thanking you for your clarification. I think what confused me in that early post that began with those who’ve noted that 9-11 as the cost of not torturing, was that it began with that and didn’t challenge the assumptions.

    Barry: Thanks for pointing out that I blew it in the earliest post I made regarding suicides and attempts as 18 per day and 1000 per month, which I mangled in that first post, but corrected later on. My bad.

    Mike Z: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. There are many progressives, and some conservatives, who share your concern about global empire. So what do you suggest as a plan of action: Refuse to vote, and perhaps the sooner the Empire crumbles, the better for us, and/or the world? Buy a gun (or lots of them) and go survivalist in the woods? Vote for the lesser of two evils? Vote Ralph Nader, or Ron Paul, or Bob Barr as a protest vote?

    John G: Yup, I advocate a new investigation. History has shown that various assumptions about assasinations and the start of wars have been questioned, and sometimes history ends up siding with the original minority. As US representatives, Abraham Lincoln and former President John Quincy Adams opposed the Mexican-American war on grounds that there were lies about the first shots that were fired, and whether they were on US soil or in disputed territory. Lincoln said, “Show me the spot,” and was mocked, and called “spotty”: some interests were intent on war. There are similar valid questions about the sinking of the Maine and Pearl Harbor, as well as the assasinations of JFK, MLKjr, RFK. Early investigations often include cover-ups for the sake of policy objectives held by the people in power at the time. There are few examples as troublesome as the 9-11 investigation, considering these points:
    – the long refusal of the Bush administration to allow an investigation
    – the under-funding of the commission
    – the short time period in which the commission had to do its work
    – the very limited scope of the commission’s investigation (originally intended not to investigate the attacks themselves at all, but merely how to avoid a repeat in the future, based on the official administration explanantion of the events)
    – the prior agreement that the commissioners would agree unanimously and in a bi-partisan way to the results
    – the appointment of Phillip Zelikow as executive chair
    – the stonewalling by the White House, which refused or delayed release of requested documents, and then sometimes limited who on the commission could see the documents
    – The refusal, at first, of the White House to ask Condi Rice to testify, which changed only after the leak of the August 2001 PDB text warning of impending attacks
    – The refusal of Bush and Cheney to testify individually and under oath with a transcript, agreeing only to testify together, not under oath, and with no transcript.

    John, are you saying you were aware of all these troubling facts and still supportive of, and have no concerns about, the results of the official investigation? Or were you unaware? Or aware, but figure it’s water under the bridge? Or?

    (I’m aware that 9-11 relates to justifications for Iraq, and therefore to the surge, but it’s still thread drift, and I’d guess that LoGroNo moderators are not big on discussions of 9-11 or unconstitutional actions of the President and his administration — it’s Washington, not local)

    August 30, 2008
  121. Paul Fried said:

    William: Suicides may rise among veterans and soldiers of any war, even wars that have wide public support. But I’m not pointing to the suicide stats for their own sake.

    Some soldiers and veterans are asking questions about whether they are participating in something that was immoral and illegal, rather than a needed war to defend the US against a real threat, and to liberate an oppressed Iraq.

    Because the war was so poorly managed and under-staffed, soldiers are also put into the sad, tragic situation of having to be more aggressive toward civilians, especially when they go through certain areas, than they would normally be, and even than they feel the rules of engagement allow. I have had students who served in Iraq, and who have spoken of their PTSD and some of the circumstances they see as prompting it.

    So my point is not suicide in itself, but high suicide rates related to the questionable specifics of this particular war: It was illegal, it may have been entered more for oil, and reconstruction contracts, and for trading Iraqi oil via the US dollar instead of hte Euro, far more than to liberate the oppressed people of Iraq. The war was also badly mismanaged, as if the administration and defense department cared more about staying in Iraq through the 2004 election than for the shortest, safest, most successful war, if we’re going to do a war at all.

    When retired generals and admirals are openly critical of a war in progress, more than any other US war, and against tradition, you might assume that some in the lower ranks are asking the same questions.

    It’s not hard to see how this might result in a general sense of disillusionment, meaninglessness and hopelessness, and contribute to a higher suicide rate– higher than the average rate among soldiers and veterans from other wars (although Vietam vets had some of the same problems).

    August 30, 2008
  122. Paul Fried said:

    Bruce W: We know that the President and VP lied, and worked hard to construct lies (creating the office of special plans in the Pentagon) to cherry-pick intelligence. We don’t yet have proof that they were behind the forged documentation related to the yellow-cake, but they are the only ones who would benefit, so it would not be much of a surprise if more evidence to that effect came out in future years.

    You write,

    Explain to me how a member of the military is suppose to look at the actions of those two parties of our government and come to the conclusion that the orders to go to Iraq are illegal?

    Lying to convince congress and a nation to go to war is an impeachable offense, whether congress impeaches or not. Once we’ve been lied into a war, if there’s some Colin Powell mentality in congress that we’re responsible to see it through and restore order by approving funds, or if some vote to approve funds because they want military bases there for 200 years, this does not retroactively make the war or the lies legal.

    You also wrote,

    …either did not read the oath of enlistment I pasted into # 79 or you believe I made it up…

    See my comment #102. I was away from the web and checking LoGroNo for a while, saw your briefer, later summary of your comments, and responded to that instead of to your fuller, earlier post. Sorry I missed it. There was never an assumption on my part that you made it up.

    You write,

    …as to an unspoken code of loyalty, I can only assume you are talking about my reference to the UCMJ and Title 10 of the US Code…

    Nope. I was referring to the unspoken code of loyalty that makes some soldiers harass (for the sake of appearances and PR) others who uncover and report fraud, and makes others participate in cover-ups (like the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman).

    I also hear it sometimes when I talk to students who have served in the military. They speak as if their oath is to the military, or to their command, or to the President, even if these give orders that are immoral or illegal. That’s why it’s good that the oath starts out with the part about defending the constitution against foreign AND domestic enemies, and that, as Patrick and General Pace have noted, soldiers are obligated to disregard illegal or immoral orders.

    This is why Hugh Thompson, Jr., Lawrence Colburn and Glenn Andreotta were awarded the Soldier’s Medal for their actions at My Lai, and why Thompson’s actions influenced military ethics manuals, unlike the actions of Lt. Wm. Calley and others who were “just following orders.”

    The Thompson story is also instructive because it shows that, sometimes, in some situations, those who are in the right may be in a minoirty, and those who are acting unethically, and even illegally according to military code, may be the majority.

    It’s good to live in a country where at least some of the wrong-doers (as close to the bottom as possible) are prosecuted, and the ethical decisions of people like Thompson are rewarded to some extent.

    We should not assume that this means soldiers in Iraq will be dissenting any time soon and demanding to be sent home from an illegal war, or that those who did would be found innocent in a mililtary court. There is never any guarantee that courts always make the right decisions and provide justice, but we hope it’s better than some alternatives.

    I have students who are Iraq veterans, and who talk to me about those “Pvt. Ryan”-type scenarios, where a soldier acts ethically and strictly follows the rules of engagement as it applies to the treatment of civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan, only to get shot later because they let some civilian go, where they might have been saved if only they had disobeyed the rules of engagement and killed the civilian. The strong message of such speculation among some soldiers is that maybe it’s better, sometimes, to act illegally and unethically, because one day, it may save your own life.

    This is like the lies about Iraq: they have weapons of mass destruction, so by illegally engaging in preemptive war, we can save ourselves and our families and friends back home — but, oops, it was a lie, and now we have made the world a more dangerous place for our families and friends, and planted seeds of resentment and future terrorism. It would seem that it might be better, for families and friends back home, to obey the ROE and risk your own neck, rather than make many more enemies.

    And as your remarks about the oath indicate, their duty is to obey the rules of engagement, not to second-guess and improvise.

    If a war itself is illegal (as this one is), let’s hope we live in a country where dissenters in the military can act like Thompson, and most will not be shot by friendly fire, or before a firing squad, or shot when they gets back home:

    …Mr Thompson was shunned for years by fellow soldiers, received death threats, and was once told by a congressman that he was the only American who should be punished over My Lai.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/nolpda/ukfs_news/hi/newsid_4589000/4589486.stm

    August 30, 2008
  123. Mike Zenner said:

    Paul,

    I don’t have an answer for you. Unfortunately, outside of an all out revolt within a year or two, I fear the clock has run out for us. Major war will come first before any collapse. Washington Leadership is fully committed to full time war and ultimately world war. They see the economic power shifting to the east and find the only tool in their toolbox is military confrontation. Every global issue is a nail that needs to be hammered! Sadly, it will be America and Israel against the rest of the World. Pretty much all the NATO countries citizens will revolt and will not want to joint in our misguided effort. The odds are not in our favor. Russia, China, Iran and India are America’s ultimate targets.

    From Barack Obama speech Thursday nite:

    “I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”

    And Joe Biden:

    “The Bush foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole, with very few friends to help us climb out. And for the last seven years, the administration has failed to face the biggest the biggest forces shaping this century. The emergence of Russia, China and India’s great powers, the spread of lethal weapons, the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water. The challenge of climate change and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front in the war on terror.”

    I don’t get the sense of any peace coming our way anytime soon after reading these statements. “I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts”

    As Madeline Albright once quipped to Colin Powell “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about, if we can’t use it?”

    I don’t like the odds of 300 million Americans taking on over 3 billion. I feel for the antiwar crowd that think these guy’s are going to end America’s war’s.

    “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!”

    Revolt will not happen as long as they keep the majority of American’s busy with partisan bickering and distracted with American Idol and Britney Spears.

    August 31, 2008
  124. David Ludescher said:

    Holly: Griff asked: … We won. Now what?

    August 31, 2008
  125. Holly Cairns said:

    Right. What did we win?

    August 31, 2008
  126. john george said:

    Paul F.- Sorry about the delay in answering your questions to me, “…are you saying you were aware of all these troubling facts and still supportive of, and have no concerns about, the results of the official investigation? Or were you unaware? Or aware, but figure it’s water under the bridge? Or?…” This is a holiday weekend, and I always work all the way through them.

    1) I was no more aware of these things than anyone else at the time. These things came out later. Were you aware of them before the reports came out? And if so, what kind of insider intelligence operation do you subscribe to?

    2) As far as water under the bridge, I ask what good it would do to drag all this out through another investigation? Would this be for the purpose of being an I-told-you-so? As far as corruption and misguided interpretation of national intelligence, name me one president in the last century that always got it right. I do not agree with revisionist history. To look back and judge past behavior of anyone from a present perspective a little unfair at best. It seems that there are always skeletons to be dug up in any administration, but what good does it do? It is no more useful than the grand inquisition of former President Clinton about his White House indescretions. The basic intent of that investigation was to bring shame on a sitting president. I, for one, do not want to go down that road again.

    August 31, 2008
  127. David Henson said:

    http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan01/suicide.html …. points out Ronald Maris, PhD, director of the Center for the Study of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior at the University of South Carolina, “Occupation is not a major predictor of suicide and it does not explain much about why the person commits suicide.”

    One of the largest studies in the area was conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 1995, which concluded that there is a higher suicide rate in the medical field. But beyond that, NIOSH researchers said, the picture is equivocal: Often the studies are only of one geographic area, sometimes they have methodological problems, and sometimes they contradict each other…. ”

    Paul – I would be careful about drawing a cause and effect relationship based on a few discussions with you students. The suicide statistics may or may not be real but your interpretation of those statistics is completely unfounded.

    August 31, 2008
  128. Paul Fried said:

    David: Did the study you cite focus primarily on a comparison of civilian occupations, or on a comparison of civilian occupations to military? It sounds as if the study you cite has more to do with civilian occupations than it does with comparisons of suicide rates in the military (related to specific wars, for example) to rates among civilians.

    In fact, one of the things noted in many of the articles on suicide among vets and soldiers, and the need for more funding and support via the VA, is that the suicide rate they are seeing among Iraq veterans is higher than among civilians. Are you sure that the conclusions of the study you cite were ever meant to reflect on civilian vs. military suicide rates? It doesn’t appear to be the case at all from reading the article you cite. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    John G: Regarding water under the bridge: Note the position of Bob Barr, formerly a Republican US Representative, now a Libertarian candidate for President, and one of the creators of the “American Freedom Agenda.” He helped manage the impeachment of Clinton in the House of Representatives, but it turns out (considering the American Freedom Agenda list of complaints against Bush-Cheney) that he’s not just a partisan Republican, and he likes the Constitution. Now if a person were guilty of murder, we wouldn’t talk of water under the bridge. If Clinton lied under oath regarding sexual indiscretions, we can debate whether it qualifies as “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But Bush’s lies were much more serious, as was his handling of 9-11 and the multiple warnings he received in advance. Gross criminal negligence involving thousands of US civilian deaths and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani deaths, by a president whose strong agenda was to get us into war with Iraq, is not the kind of thing about which we should use the phrase, “water under the bridge.” Lies about the Gulf of Tonkin by LBJ should be similarly viewed as impeachable offenses. Writing them off as “water under the bridge” helps nothing.

    Regarding where folks get their information and when they know, you’re aware that it varies by person, depending in part on how much news they digest and how many stories they follow actively, as well as the timeline for how a story unfolds, as in the Bush/9-11 resistence, under-funding and stonewalling of the commission. But there are still many people who are unaware of the kinds of things I mentioned in the list. If more people knew, I think they would be concerned.

    September 1, 2008
  129. David Henson said:

    Paul – The article just highlights the complexity of the issue and the weakness of the data collection. You are suggesting the Iraq soldiers are suiciding because of immoral professional activities in Iraq but that is pure concoction on your part (even more dubious in that it fits your overall world view). In fact studies show that doctors in the US have among the highest suicide rates and certainly that is not do to their immoral activities. These rates can be higher because these professions are less likely to seek help, because they feel stress from the extreme importance they place on their work or many other reasons that would contradict your contentions.

    September 1, 2008
  130. Paul Fried said:

    David: An article by by Eric Schmitt in the March 26, 2004 edition of the New York Times was titled,
    U.S. Army Finds Its Suicide Rate in Iraq Is Higher Than for Other G.I.’s.”

    In 2001, the suicide rate in the military was only around 9% according to a FOX article in 2006, which is an interesting detail. Suicides in the military had reached a relative high in reacent decades around 1985, then went down to 9%.

    So why would suicides be higher in Iraq and Kuwait, and why, when suicides had been so low, would they start going up again in 2004, till the rate of soldier suicides was slightly higher than civilian suicides in the same age group?

    And why would this increase in suicides correspond with increased cases of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), often described by soldiers as accompanied by disillusionment?

    Might there be any connection? Is it such a stretch to suggest a connection? Or is it simply an attempt to affirm my own world-view?

    There are other studies that have been done, this one, a study of Irish soldiers and suicide rates from the ’70’s till more recently. The average suicide in that study was about as high as it was in the US military when it peaked in the 1980’s, but higher than the civilian population. They note this:

    Lower suicide rates might be expected in the military, compared to individuals
    of similar age in the general population, because of the “healthy worker effect” (19),
    pre-enlistment selection or screening, and the structured, supportive, often
    interrelated occupational and social environments in the military (19, 20).
    To maintain battle fitness, military forces have well-developed medical
    services, which together with the cohesiveness of the organization, might
    protect against suicide. On the other hand, suicide risk could be increased in
    the military because of access to weaponry, access to marksmanship training, and
    possible self-selection of more aggressive individuals (21),
    aggression being a possible suicide risk factor, particularly in young male
    subjects (22, 23).
    However, some researchers have suggested that military populations, despite
    consisting mainly of young men, are no more aggressive than the general
    population (24),
    and others have suggested that military training or discipline may moderate
    impulsivity (21).

    Note that many of these studies and statistics are related not to veterans, but to civilians (the study you cite) and to active-duty military (the NYTimes article cited here, and the FOX story cited here).

    But note that the disputed statistics for VETERAN suicides story (not the same as civilian or active-duty soldier suicides) came out in late 2007, and the whole premise of the story was that there were internal memos indicating a cover-up or withholding of information regarding real statistics.

    This led to investigations and a story this last may (2008) regarding the VA assembling a new panel of experts to study suicide among veterans.

    The story from last year regarding the possible cover-up of higher statistics, and the May development of the story about the study panel, are newsworthy, and, by the way, seem more in line with my own ideas expressed here than they do with your skepticism and the article you cite, David.

    I appreciate the question of whether I’m merely affirming my worldview–a healthy question to stop and ask–but it would seem more appropriate to ask if your skepticism is merely defending yours.

    September 1, 2008
  131. David Henson said:

    Paul – I am only mildly skeptic about the statistics themselves (as the issue is clearly a media hot potato). I am very skeptical of the YOUR interpretation of those statistics.

    FYI: I posted a length on ft.com before it became a monitored forum and prior to the US entering Iraq that:

    1) The US should not use aerial bombardment
    2) The US should enter with a force of one million
    3) That Saddam’s force would not fight and would simply go underground and pick away at US forces (Saddam had fought colonial powers in the past)
    4) The US should be forced to pick a death toll number for Iraqis after which the invasion would be deemed a failure (I believe that number was 30,000). At 30,000, by Bush’s count, he came forward and made an unprecedented statement that this number had been reached and was a problem.

    I’m not sure anyone actually read these posts but my belief is the US should not trade with non-democratic nations as this trade creates rich dictators and not engaged liberal regimes.

    The irony of our own freedom is we cannot control citizens going overseas and contracting with repressive leaders (a la China). I also believe every tax and regulation we impose domestically forces creative and competent people to operate offshore and if Obama (his platform) is elected capable people will just physically start leaving the country. Freedom from authority (elected or imposed) is what built American wealth and we are living off that wealth but the new creation is either slowing down or being radically mismanaged (housing). Software is an exception as it’s hard to control.

    I think had Katrina happened 50 years ago that everyone would have just grabbed hammers and fixed it. But now there is so much more money in giving permission to pick up a hammer that nothing gets done. 100s of millions were released into New Orleans and two years later everyone is excited they could force a mass exit since little has actually been fixed.

    The country needs new blood amongst the leadership and maybe Sarah Palin is a very small step in that direction.

    September 1, 2008
  132. Barry Cipra said:

    Paul F.,

    A suicide rate of “around 9%” would be truly alarming if it were in fact the case. A quick look at the source you cite indicates you’re off by three orders of magnitude. Suicide statistics are generally reported as numbers per 100,000 (per annum), not per hundred.

    September 1, 2008
  133. When I was coming up, men and women saw a need for service and if they had the energy and if they had the answer to the problems that would fulfill that need, then they would go to the people and tell them. And if the people agreed that the man or woman offering service did have the answers they thought would fix the problems, and bring everyone closer to another step for progress, they would elect that person.

    How did we ever get so far from that? I don’t feel like settling for these people who are good at what they do now, but once they hit the next level will fall like Humpty Dumpty.

    September 1, 2008
  134. Bruce Wiskus said:

    Paul F,

    You are either did not read the two articles you cited carefully or you purposely misrepresented the facts of these articles. I have two main points of contention with your “facts”.

    First, the suicide rate in 2001 was not 9% it was less than 1/10th of 1%.

    The suicide rate has increased since the onset of the war in Iraq, as it has with the other wars that this nation has been involved with. (Here is something we agree on, war is ugly and one suicide is one to many. ) However it still does not exceed 1/2 of 1% in the military.

    Secondly, you state that the military suicide rate out paces the civilian rate. Here is an excerpt from the NY Times article you linked:

    That number put the suicide rate at 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers, compared with 12.8 for the Army overall last year, and an average rate of 11.9 for the Army between 1995 and 2002, Army officials said. The civilian rate for 18- to 34-year-olds, the age range of most soldiers, is 21.5 per 100,000.

    You once again get the facts of the article you cite wrong. Even at the higher rates of suicide in 2004/2005 they are still BELOW the civilian population.

    Paul, if I missed something in the articles that make my corrections of your errors incorrect I will gladly correct my mistake. I hope that if you find that my statements in fact are correct you will acknowledge and fix your errors.

    September 1, 2008
  135. Paul Fried said:

    Barry and Bruce: The Fox article says 9.1 per 100,000 at the low point, and claims that figure is higher than the civilian rate in 2003. Over the years, it would seem that the rate has sometimes been lower than, and sometimes higher than, the civilian rate.

    You’re correct in pointing out that I typed percent (%) when I should have typed “per 100,000,” and I appreciate the correction, but I quoted from the FOX article in part because of FOX’s reputation as a conservative-biased news source. It claims the 9.1 per 100,000 rate was lower than the civilian rate, but that a more recent figure was higher than the civilian rate. The FOX article claims the figure for the age group was 12.19 for 2003. Here’s the quote from the FOX piece:
    …………………….
    The suicide rate for the Army has routinely fluctuated over the past 25 years, from a high of 15.8 per 100,000 in 1985 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001. Last year it was nearly 13 per 100,000.

    The Army rate is higher than the civilian suicide rate for 2003, which was 10.8 per 100,000, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the Army number tracked closely with the rate for civilians aged 18-34, which was 12.19 per 100,000 in 2003.
    ……………………….. (End quote)

    This means the Fox piece claims the rate was 15.8 per 100k in 1985, and nearly 13 in the more recent time-frame referenced in the article (dated April, 2006).

    The NYTimes article might be in error, or they might be looking at statistics for males only (Yet there are also female suicides in the military, some of them suspicious, which might be homicides) .

    It would seem that, according to the CDC, the figures in 2004 were like this:

    Ages 15-24: 10.3 per 100k
    Ages 25-34: 12.7
    Ages 35-44: 15.0

    All of these are lower than the NYTimes figure of more than 20, but the CDC claims that males in their eighties had a top suicide rate around 28 per 100k.

    HEre’s the URL for the CDC PDF file:
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr55/nvsr55_19.pdf

    I found it under “list of tables” and then “Table 9. Death rates by age, and age-adjusted death rates for the 15 leading causes of death in 2004: United States, 1999–2004—Con” (continued, not on the first page of the table in other words).

    I’d like to think that the NYTimes figure is correct, as they have a stronger reputation for fact-checking than FOX, but I’ve seen the “higher than civilian rates” (in the same age group) comment elsewhere. I suspect it may have to do with gender, and perhaps the recognition that there are more male soldier suicides than female.

    In spite of the “one is too many” comment, you may be operating under the assumption that if the military rate is lower or close to than the average civilian rate, then perhaps it can be ignored, because the general average is just showing up in the military.

    But the 9.1 per 100k rate in 2001, and the comments in the Irish study about possible reasons for expecting lower rates in the military, might indicate otherwise. It is not a matter of a simple display of a civilian rate, but a shift from a 9.1 rate to a 13 rate for soldiers, and other high numbers for veterans, which were suppressed, but as of this last May, are to be studied.

    Thanks again for correcting my mistake (9 percent/9 per 100k). I was being sloppy on that point. Regarding the other figures and claims for the general population and age group, FOX and the NYTimes can’t both be right.

    September 2, 2008
  136. William Siemers said:

    Paul…
    There are many good reasons to oppose the war in Iraq. I don’t think the suicide issue is one of them. In any case, the many incorrect statistics that you have offered, serve to diminish your credibility about the issue.

    September 2, 2008
  137. Barry Cipra said:

    Re Paul and Bruce’s postings #134, 138, and 139, a little extra googling turns up other news articles reporting the same numbers as the New York Times, but describing the 21.5 suicides per 100k for *males* in the 18-34 age bracket, rather than “civilians,” as the NYT had it. Such is the fate of statistics when reporters don’t pay close attention.

    Paul, I was unable to find the CDC claim for “males in their eighties” in the PDF file you gave a link to.

    September 2, 2008
  138. Paul Fried said:

    Barry: Thanks for your checking. The CDC table I cited (table 9) had general stats by age, but not by gender. I’m sure that if one dug deeper, one could find it by gender: I came across a number of documents from the CDC that reference high male suicides over 75, for example.

    As military suicides include women, I don’t know why some articles would restrict it to males alone. Perhaps a reporter who was really on his/her toes would do some careful math to adjust for the number of women in the military as compared to men, including the lower general statistics for women, before coming up with a comparison.

    On top of that, the statistics for suicide in soldiers who are serving in Iraq/Kuwait/Afghanistan are higher than for soldiers elsewhere, and the percent of women serving in those locations might not be the same as the general percent overall. One would need to adjust for this to see how war is having direct effects on some.

    I appreciate the earlier study about suicides by (civilian?) occupation, but my search also revealed studies of civilian (not military) PTSD and its effects on suicide. The suicide-in-the-military story is not just about an occupation: It’s also about the effects of PTSD.

    Certainly there are suicides in the military that are not so different from civilian suicides: For example, there have been murder-suicides perpetrated by men. Hard to tell if serving in Iraq or elsewhere created added stress and contributes to a cause, or if the same kinds of things may have happened to these individuals back home.

    There are many cases of PTSD-related suicide by veterans and active-duty soldiers, or soldiers on leave. Public concerns about VA staffing and suicide prevention in the last year have not been purely a figment of my imagination, in support of my worldview.

    September 2, 2008
  139. Paul Fried said:

    William: You’re right that suicide, in itself, is not a reason for opposing war. Suicide happens in and out of war, and perhaps increases even during wars that are considered “good” wars, receiving widespread public support. But consider rising suicide rates and PTSD as litmus tests regarding how soldiers feel about a war that was (1) on questionable grounds, (2) planned on the cheap with shortages of needed equipment, (3) understaffed, leaving soldiers more vulnerable than they might have been otherwise, and more easy targets, (4) utilizing them in restricted urban areas as police and occupying forces, roles for which many had not been trained, and (5) in a country where US efforts to win hearts and minds of the civilian population had been badly botched — not enough troops to keep the peace and win hearts and minds, and no-bid contracts that often employed people who were not Iraqi for the reconstruction, which fails to win hearts and minds — all making the occupying force the focus of more resentment.

    By nature of their job and training, soldiers do many things most of us would rather not do. There may be no such thing as an ideal war, but we can be much better in making sure that we go to war for the right reasons, with good planning, etc. We botched it in too many ways. Soldiers would like to believe that when we send them to war, it’s only as a last resort, and that those responsible are doing their best, not indifferent to their sacrifices.

    September 2, 2008
  140. Jane Moline said:

    Note that the invasion of Iraq is a war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunal (principals adopted in 1950 by the United Nations, of which the USA is a member.), and I quote:

    “Principle VI

    The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

    1. Crimes against peace:
    1. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
    2. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
    2. War crimes:
    Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or illtreatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
    3. Crimes against humanity:
    Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

    Principle VII

    Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principles VI is a crime under international law.”

    The United States invaded a country that did not attack us. It was a war of aggression, and it is an ongoing war crime. It doesn’t matter that some think it made us “safer.” That is not an excuse to attack a nation, bomb its infrastructure and occupy its sovereign land.

    War is wrong. There is no excuse for what we have done in Iraq. President Bush, VP Dick Cheney, and others may be subject to international war crimes charges. Perhaps even members of Congress who voted for the war.

    In addition, we are doing to another group of young soldiers what we said would never happen again–asking them to fight an unwinnable war that we should have never started.

    September 2, 2008
  141. Yep, and the terrible and sad events of Spetmember 11. 2001 weren’t acts of war on innocent civilians and at peace army personnel by non uniformed men who were not sanctioned by any reocognized country making their own rules of warlike engagement, it was just a bunch of wayward kids having fun with airplanes.

    Oh, and don’t forget who started all this with Saddam and Iraq and Iran…Jack Kennedy, D.

    September 3, 2008
  142. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright wrote…

    Yep, and the terrible and sad events of Spetmember 11. 2001 weren’t acts of war on innocent civilians…

    Bright,
    I sense a bit of irony(?) in your comment. Assuming that you meant your statements ironically, I think that I should point out to you that the attacks of Sept 11th were definitely crimes and attrocities.

    But that’s irrelevant to discussing our invasion of Iraq because Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11..

    It’s like saying, “Canadians murdered 2,000 Americans, so we have every right to invade Mexico.” It just doesn’t add up.

    September 3, 2008
  143. Patrick Enders said:

    Oops. Bad HTML. Trying again.

    Bright wrote…

    Yep, and the terrible and sad events of Spetmember 11. 2001 weren’t acts of war on innocent civilians…

    Bright,
    I sense a bit of irony(?) in your comment. Assuming that you meant your statements ironically, I think that I should point out to you that the attacks of Sept 11th were definitely crimes and atrocities.

    But that’s irrelevant to discussing our invasion of Iraq because Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11..

    It’s like saying, “Canadians murdered 2,000 Americans, so we have every right to invade Mexico.” It just doesn’t add up.

    September 3, 2008
  144. Hi, Patrick. I wonder why no one will admit that using Iraq as a mouse trap for the terrorists and all those who would fight against democracy was a completely legitimate plan. The only real error was in that no one around here much understood the Middle Eastern tribal system.

    September 3, 2008
  145. Paul, I believe I mentioned my awareness of police and the range of activities they are involved in. I also know first hand how brutal and outrageous demonstrators can be, having lived through and marched with the Chicago, 1968 anti war protestors. Many people were up to no good from the start, especially the ones from New York. And the cops hadn’t been through sensitivity training, ever.

    My Old Town fourth floor walk up apartment was one block from Lincoln Park, I hosted many reporters who could see the park and get camera shots from up there. I talked to the cops and told them being in the park after hours was no reason to shoot anyone. I did.

    But, I had told myself to stay out of this discussion until people got cooler and less intolerant of the truth. So, you call can have the last word, and
    I’ll just pray for the best results, no matter what cuz it all works out in the end. Oh, and just one more thing, who is the National Lawyers Guild anyway? They haven’t a new thing on their website since June, 2007.
    I have never heard of them til now.

    September 3, 2008
  146. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright, you wrote,

    Hi, Patrick. I wonder why no one will admit that using Iraq as a mouse trap for the terrorists and all those who would fight against democracy was a completely legitimate plan.

    Three things:
    1) That wasn’t the plan.
    2) If it had been the plan, it can only be described as a miserable failure. Even the CIA agrees that the terrorist threat is larger now than it was before we invaded Iraq.
    3) I can’t believe that you or even George Bush would condone a military action resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths in order to “trap” a thousand or so extremists.

    September 3, 2008
  147. Jane Moline said:

    Bright:

    Bright, you wrote,

    “Hi, Patrick. I wonder why no one will admit that using Iraq as a mouse trap for the terrorists and all those who would fight against democracy was a completely legitimate plan.”

    The USA invaded a country that had not committed any aggression against it. That is not legitimate–it is an illegal act that can be prosecuted as a war crime. That is not legitimate.

    September 3, 2008
  148. Mike Zenner said:

    Patrick,

    Bright , like most Americans , both conservatives and liberals, is content with taking the blue pill and living the false reality of the American exceptional-ism Matrix. To take the red pill and see the truth would destroy her comfortable life in the flag waving contentment of this alternative reality provided by a deceitful government and a compliant media. Once the truth is realized by all, we can heal the wounds of division and begin to make things right again in America.

    Democracy dispensed from the end of a gun barrel has been America’s story line for over 100 years to expand the Empire. I can believe that Bush would intentionally make Iraq a living hell hole of death and destruction. Where else besides Palestine and Georgia can the Military Industrial Complex expend it’s wares! Harsh reality , I think I will need to switch back to the blue pill!

    September 3, 2008
  149. Paul Fried said:

    Bright: I think you meant to post your police comments on the other thread. But consider that we might never have achieved indepencence from King George of England if you were as critical of the Boston Tea Party and the gorilla warfare of the revolutionaries as you are of protesters. In Chicago, some of the violence you may have witnessed may have been from extreme discontent of a popultion that wanted to get out of Vietnam, against a government that was working to extend Vietnam, and also working covertly to infiltrate and discredit the peace movement. So in the end, it’s hard to tell who to blame for Chicago in 1968: The rebels who were acting in the spirit of the revolutionary founding fathers, or the government that was acting contrary to the will of the people, and infiltrating, and inciting people TO violence so that they could discredit the very violence they helped create.

    When things get that bad, one has to look at the system and recognize the sickness has spread far.

    Regarding Iran and Iraq, it may have been JFK who was responsible for some of what happened in Iraq, but it was Dwight Eisenhower who was responsible for the CIA-British intelligence coup in Iran.

    Regarding the use of another nation as a mousetrap, I agree with Patrick (and Jane, and Nuremberg) that it’s not legitimate.

    Regarding 9-11, you assume too much. The Republicans have been responsible for far too many conspiracies to listen to their complaints about wild conspiracy theories. Nixon had Watergate and Pinochet. Reagan and Big Daddy Bush had Iran-Contra. Rove became famous for campaign dirty tricks (conspiracies), and Cheney created the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon to cherry-pick intelligence and distort it so they could go to war (conspiracy). Bush and Cheney received warnings of the 9-11 attacks in the summer of ’01, but instead of having greater airport security, and picking up terrorist suspects on watch lists, and putting the air force on alert, they scheduled multiple training exercises for the time around 9-11, whose effect may have been to confuse the air force about what was drill and what was real. Videotape of the pentagon area at the time of the crash was wisked away, most of it never to be seen again, and flight controler audio tape reports taped immediately after 9-11 were destroyed.

    When a group is as guilty of as many conspiracies and proves themselves as untrustworthy as the Bush administration, US citizens should not listen to their whining about those bad, bad conspiracy theorists, or their claims that it’s unpatriotic to give them any heed. Instead, it’s time to wake up and smell the rats. At the very least, they knew it was coming and did nothing because they wanted a new “Pearl Harbor” as some have called it, so they could get the public to support a war. The war has been a cash cow for certain contractors and certain Republicans, but the rest of us are going to be stuck with the bill if they have their way, and the little people are the ones who die in battle.

    I think the more we can investigate and learn the truth about 9-11, the more we’ll see that the whole war on terror and against Iraq is on shaky grounds. We should not tolerate criminal negligence and treasonous conspiracy in our own government, so instead of having Republicans control the executive directorship of the investigation (the fox minding the hen-house), we need a new and truly independent (not merely bi-partisan) investigation. Bee need Republicans who have been critical of Bush on the committee, perhaps Ron Paul and Bob Barr, maybe even Newt, who has been quoted saying the war on terror is a “sham.”

    September 3, 2008
  150. Patrick Enders said:

    At the very least, they knew it was coming and did nothing because they wanted a new “Pearl Harbor” as some have called it, so they could get the public to support a war.

    Paul,
    I have a very low opinion of the Bush administration, but the last eight years make it quite clear that incompetence is something these people are very good at. You don’t need to look any further for a root cause of the lack of an effective response to the warning that “Bin Laden [was] determined to strike in US.”

    Claiming intentional indifference to the terrorist threat is an exceptional (and alarming) claim, and would require exceptional evidence. Stick with what is supported by the available facts – and those are plenty alarming enough.

    September 4, 2008
  151. Paul Fried said:

    Patrick: The evidence of the planned military exercises that took resources away from the coast is clear, factual evidence. The evidence of the August 2001 PDB is clear, as is evidence of lies after 9-11 that painted the Bush administration as having absolutely no warning as was indicated by the August 2001 memo. The evidence that foreign countries passed or warnings, and later expressed surprise that the US was unable to stop the attacks before they happened, is fact. The foreign press has written about this at length, and the documentary, “War Made Easy” shows how the press in the US has often — historically, not just in recent decades — backed away from asking hard questions for fear of appearing unpatriotic. People in foreign countries often know much more about 9-11 than the average US citizen does for this reason. Their journalists, editors and publishers (in Germany, France, and sometimes in the UK, and elsewhere) don’t have to fear being labeled unpatriotic and unsupportive of the troops, so they can ask the hard questions we are not asking. It was a newspaper in India that first reported on the head of the Pakistani ISI (like our CIA) approving a wire transfer of thousands of dollars to Mohamed Atta shortly before 9-11, the same ISI director who was in Washington on 9-11. It received brief attention in the US media, but there are many other facts and bits of evidence that get no press.

    David Ray Griffin documents a lot of the evidence in a book called “9/11 Contradiction: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press.” He advances no conspiracy theories in this particular book, but lists evidence and reported facts, and then asks hard questions that the official 9-11 investigation didn’t explain, or explain sufficiently.

    Paul Thompson’s book and internet-based 9-11 timeline also collects a lot of evidence, much of which appeared buried in US newspapers if it appeared at all. It is well-documented, including things from TV, newspaper, and web sites for major media. He connects the dots, and one soon sees that the official story does not explain the facts, the evidence.

    For example, Bush, Cheney and Rice all claimed that they and no one in the administration ever dreamed that they’d use planes as missiles. But there’s a great deal of evidence that they did, and that the idea was widely anticipated. Bush attended a conference in Europe, but stayed on a boat instead of in a hotel because of the risk of air attack. There had been a pilot who crashed on the White House lawn, and another who landed near the Kremlin in Moscow. They were very aware of the risk. There were anti-aircraft guns on top of the White House and other DC buildings for a long time, and even the place in Florida where Bush stayed before reading about the goat had anti-aircraft guns on the roof.

    The evidence of such lies (and others) shows that the official Bush administration explanation of events has many holes. The reported evidence raises more questions rather than supporting the official story.

    It’s just that it’s so many picky stories from page 3 or the foreign press, and sure, if you make it a hobby of following it (or if you’re an English teacher with students who sometimes write about it), then you might get an education. But you have to go looking. The mainstream media isn’t going to turn this into a Watergate.

    The film, “9/11: Press for Truth” documents the story of some of the families of 9-11 victims who pressed for an independent investigation, only to be refused for more than a year, then agreed to after the release of the Aug. ’01 PDB, only to be under-funded and stonewalled. It does a good job using a variety of sources from news, interviews, press conferences, and more. It’s quite an eye-opener.

    But if you want to cling to the official government story, don’t see it. As Mike says, take the blue pill instead (or was it the red?).

    September 4, 2008
  152. Patrick Enders said:

    You seem to paint a good case that the administration ignored the warning signs, and then lied to cover their a**es after the fact. Let me know when you have convincing proof of intentional maliciousness against the American public, to boot.

    Real or not, I’m going to remain in the present world, and make sure we see these criminals* out of office in a few months. And not replaced with ‘more of the same’ (TM).

    *: Criminals for what we all know they’ve done after the war – torture, lie, politicise the Justice Dept., detain without charges, and generally pooping on the constitution.

    September 4, 2008
  153. Barry Cipra said:

    Just a little update on the suicide watch, from an Associated Press article online today:

    By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON – Soldier suicides this year could surpass the record rate of last year, Army officials said Thursday, urging military leaders at all levels to redouble prevention efforts for a force strained by two wars.

    So far this year, there are 62 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers and Guard and Reserve troops called to active duty, officials said. Another 31 deaths appear to be suicides but are still being investigated.

    If all are confirmed, that means that the number for 2008 could eclipse the 115 of last year — and the rate per 100,000 could surpass that of the civilian population, Col. Eddie Stephens, deputy director of human resources policy, said at a Pentagon press conference.

    September 4, 2008
  154. Paul Fried said:

    Thanks, Barry. And regarding the panel of experts chosen to study vet suicide this past April or May, I s’pose we’re still waiting for completion of that study and a report. I don’t know the time line. If the surge is resulting in at least a temporary lull in the violence for now, does that mean we may see a drop in suicides? Less stress for soldiers? Fewer redeployments?

    Another consideration: One source I came across said that the suicide rate may be lower in the military because it’s a screened, select group. But reports have noted that, when recruiting drops, the military sometimes gets less selective and lets in certain — questionable characters? Criminally inclined? etc. When that happens, does this increase the suicide rate because people more prone to suicide may be let in? And/or because it affects the overall morale?

    Like the Pink Panther’s Commissioner Dreyfus in the asylum after a breakdown induced by of Inspector Clouseau, we could say, “Every day, in every way, we’re getting better and better….”

    September 4, 2008
  155. Paul Fried said:

    The original premise of this thread about the war being won is challenged in the following clips from an article, which acknowledges the drop in violence, but places that in the larger context of the Bush administration hopes for domination in the Middle East through an Iraqi government aligned with US interests. It makes it sound as if Iraq was treated like another banana republic, or the sort of misadventures that Marine General Smedley Butler described in his book, “War is a Racket” (a short version of which you can find online). Here is a clip from the start of the piece, which appeared Monday at TomDispatch, and I first found reprinted elsehwere:
    …………………
    Is American Success a Failure in Iraq?
    (Is the Maliki Government Jumping Off the American Ship of State?)
    by Michael Schwartz

    As the Bush administration was entering office in 2000, Donald Rumsfeld exuberantly expressed its grandiose ambitions for Middle East domination, telling a National Security Council meeting: “Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that’s aligned with U.S. interests. It would change everything in the region and beyond.”

    A few weeks later, Bush speechwriter David Frum offered an even more exuberant version of the same vision to the New York Times Magazine: “An American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the replacement of the radical Baathist dictatorship with a new government more closely aligned with the United States, would put America more wholly in charge of the region than any power since the Ottomans, or maybe even the Romans.”

    From the moment on May 1, 2003, when the President declared “major combat operations… ended” on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, such exuberant administration statements have repeatedly been deflated by events on the ground. Left unsaid through all the twists and turns in Iraq has been this: Whatever their disappointments, administration officials never actually gave up on their grandiose ambitions. Through thick and thin, Washington has sought to install a regime “aligned with U.S. interests” — a government ready to cooperate in establishing the United States as the predominant power in the Middle East.

    Recently, with significantly lower levels of violence in Iraq extending into a second year, Washington insiders have begun crediting themselves with — finally — a winning strategy (a claim neatly punctured by Juan Cole, among other Middle East experts). In this context, actual Bush policy aims have, once again, emerged more clearly, but so has the administration’s striking and continual failure to implement them — thanks to the Iraqis.

    In the past few weeks, the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made it all too clear that, in the long run, it has little inclination to remain “aligned with U.S. interests” in the region. In fact, we may be witnessing a classic “tipping point,” a moment when Washington’s efforts to dominate the Middle East are definitively deep-sixed.

    The client state that the Bush administration has spent so many years and hundreds of billions of dollars creating, nurturing, and defending has shown increasing disloyalty and lack of gratitude, as well as an ever stronger urge to go its own way. Under the pressure of Iraqi politics, Maliki has moved strongly in the direction of a nationalist position on two key issues: the continuing American occupation of the country and the future of Iraqi oil. In the process, he has sought to distance his government from the Bush administration and to establish congenial relationships, if not an outright alliance, with Washington’s international adversaries, including the Bush administration’s mortal enemy, Iran.

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174973/michael_schwartz_is_american_success_a_failure_in_iraq_

    September 9, 2008
  156. One of the reasons for the war was to divert the terrorists focus from the US homeland. That it did. We are free from further attacks as of now. And if we had allowed them to continue to bash us with our own airplanes, or whatever, none of what any of us have posted would matter in the least. We would all be struggling for survival, wondering if our water was safe to drink, if our air would be breathable, if our food supply was poisoned. Unable to get medication or medical help.

    We take an awful lot for granted around this country, and one of the things 911 taught us was to lock the doors. Literally. My dh used to work for a company where they trained pilots with flight simulators, and the doors were wide opened all the time, even on the weekends with no one around.
    When I was on the Public Advisory Panel to the Chemical Manufacturer’s Asssociation in the 90s, we were visiting one of , if not the largest gathering of chemical industries in the world, and they had us to pass thru
    a gate and then that was it security wise. While they were addressing us, I asked about their security, and the guy explained about the ground security and I asked what would they do if someone dropped in from a helicopter, and the guy looked upwards like he never had known there was a sky, and said nothing. People, we were not prepared, or secure. And the September 11, 2001 sad and terrible events are the price we paid for being an open and free society. You may say, that it is worth it, if you were not affected by it directly, but if it was your brother or friend who died in those towers or plane or Pentagon, you may have another view entirely.
    So what I am saying is let’s not become a nation that lives in fear, or a nation that is not free, but have some sense about survival.

    We try and make friends around this world. Sometimes I think some places start up wars just so we will bring aid to them. So be it. They might need help. Then, they become our friends and want to be like us. Good. We will help them. Sometimes help doesn’t help right away. Sometimes we need patience.

    If you don’t believe that people hate the US and that they will try t destroy us, then none of this makes sense. But, if you realize that people, even very poor people can come and do damage to us, then you will understand what I am trying to say. I wish with all my heart that the world would be peaceful and progress and make life good for everyone overnight, but it doesn’t work that way and that’s not my fault. It takes a lot of broken eggs to make a big cake.

    September 9, 2008
  157. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright wrote,

    One of the reasons for the war was to divert the terrorists focus from the US homeland.

    Bright, could you provide some evidence to support this assertion? I mean, beyond the nonsensical talking point of “we’re fighting them there, so we won’t have to fight them here!”

    September 9, 2008
  158. Paul Fried said:

    Bright: I’m also interested in your response to Patrick’s question, but you write, “We are free from further attacks as of now.” The intelligence community in the US compiled their best information after we’d been in Iraq for a few years, and they said that our actions there were having the opposite effect: They said that the world was more dangerous for the US, and that we were planting seeds of resentment, inspiring future terrorists.

    So while the rhetoric says, “We fight them over there so we don’t have to over here,” it’s a lie, a distraction. Some of it was for oil, some was for influence in the region, some was for all those no-bid contracts that helped more Republican contributors and contractors get richer so they would have more money to influence elections. Read “War is a Racket” by Marine General Smedley Butler, who was a Republican, and the most decorated general, the only one to win the medal of honor twice.

    Also, since none of the terrorists came from Iraq, we would have done better to have attacked Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan, or Egypt, or even Canada, through which some of them came at certain points. But not Iraq.

    Ready for regime change in Canada? Transportation to get our troops there would be less expensive, since we share a border. We could make them stop that socialized medicine stuff, which makes us look bad. And get them all to speak English instead of that French some of them so love. They have oil shale/oil sands. They’re could have a long-term open Northwest passage (more polar ice melting every year). They have some really cool old buildings that Americans would feel right at home in. And it would be easier for us to use our Alaskan oil. Everybody wins, including Canadians, who would get liberated. Or so the official line of thinking goes.

    September 9, 2008
  159. this is my second time posting this, so in case it comes up again, you;ll know I at least have short term memory if nothing else…plus I added a little this time around.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/-fifth header down

    Patrick and Paul, if you don’t believe, then you just don’t. I believe stuff if it rings true in my heart and my realm of experience, movies not included, not just because they come from the White House.

    September 9, 2008
  160. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright,
    I’m afraid your link didn’t work, but I would hardly consider the White House to be a reliable source on this. They’re the ones who thought there were WMD’s in Iraq, and have been well-documented to spread a web of carefully selected half-truths (or worse) to support their decisions.

    Also, the White House’s internal National Intelligence Estimate of 2006 contradicts your claim:

    An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

    The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/world/middleeast/24terror.html

    Perhaps you could find a reliable third-party source?

    September 9, 2008
  161. Patrick, just take off the word “fifth” which got underlined with the link.

    I am not gonna try to prove any of this to you beyond the White House front page focus newsletter. You were just a child when the sad and terrible events of September 11, 2001 occurred. Just like I was not even born when the awful Pearl Harbor disaster occurred. It is hard to imagine what adults felt, but children have a sense of immortality until something dreadful happens or almost happens to them, then they realize what death is, so you don’t have the same impact upon you about this that I do. So, given that, I am not gonna keep trying. I said what I said, I believe it in the deepest recesses of my being, and I am sticking with it. Do with that what you will.

    September 9, 2008
  162. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright wrote,

    You were just a child when the sad and terrible events of September 11, 2001 occurred. Just like I was not even born when the awful Pearl Harbor disaster occurred. It is hard to imagine what adults felt, but children have a sense of immortality until something dreadful happens or almost happens to them, then they realize what death is, so you don’t have the same impact upon you about this that I do.

    Umm, no. On Sept 11, 2001, I was 31 years old and a postdoctoral researcher working on infectious diseases in Baltimore MD – smack dab in between DC and NYC. I remember the chaos, and the rumors of missing planes, and of bombs on the Capitol mall. I remember the Anthrax mailings, and the fighter planes circling the Capitol just to the south of us. I also remember volunteering as a test subject in an experiment to figure out if our nation’s smallpox vaccine stocks were still able to generate immunity, and whether they could be diluted to protect more people than they had doses for.

    In the wake of Sept 11, I trained in public health at Johns Hopkins in 2003, with an emphasis on risk management, infectious disease detection, and potential outbreak response. Because of the terror threat – especially the apparently home-grown Anthrax threat – a lot of that training dealt with dealing with a potentially catastrophic terrorist biological attack.

    Meanwhile, many of my friends in the military and reserves were called up and shipped out to Afghanistan and elsewhere to deal with the terrorist threat. It was very real, very close, and very heartfelt.

    But if you think your experience was somehow more valid than mine, that’s fine with me.

    On the brighter side, I guess I should be flattered that you think I look so young. 🙂

    September 9, 2008
  163. Patrick Enders said:

    Oops. Bad formatting again. Repost:

    Bright wrote,

    You were just a child when the sad and terrible events of September 11, 2001 occurred. Just like I was not even born when the awful Pearl Harbor disaster occurred. It is hard to imagine what adults felt, but children have a sense of immortality until something dreadful happens or almost happens to them, then they realize what death is, so you don’t have the same impact upon you about this that I do.

    Umm, no. On Sept 11, 2001, I was 31 years old and a postdoctoral researcher working on infectious diseases in Baltimore MD – smack dab in between DC and NYC. I remember the chaos, and the rumors of missing planes, and of bombs on the Capitol mall. I remember the Anthrax mailings, and the fighter planes circling the Capitol just to the south of us. I also remember volunteering as a test subject in an experiment to figure out if our nation’s smallpox vaccine stocks were still able to generate immunity, and whether they could be diluted to protect more people than they had doses for.

    In the wake of Sept 11, I trained in public health at Johns Hopkins in 2003, with an emphasis on risk management, infectious disease detection, and potential outbreak response. Because of the terror threat – especially the apparently home-grown Anthrax threat – a lot of that training dealt with dealing with a potentially catastrophic terrorist biological attack.

    Meanwhile, many of my friends in the military and reserves were called up and shipped out to Afghanistan and elsewhere to deal with the terrorist threat. It was very real, very close, and very heartfelt.

    But if you think your experience was somehow more valid than mine, that’s fine with me.

    On the brighter side, I guess I should be flattered that you think I look so young. 🙂

    September 9, 2008
  164. Patrick, Patrick, Patrick, referring to your post no. 167, first of all, I never said my experience was “more valid” than yours, nor did I intend that meaning. I meant that the impact was different on me as an adult, than on you, as a child. This is a perfect example of why people have such differing views on the descriptions they read about things the candidates did or didn’t do…people put their own filtered response onto the words of others and then it changes the whole meaning.

    Anyway, I would love to have flattered you, but the truth is, I must have misunderstood you at our f2f meeting at the Frog, when I thought I heard you say you were twenty three years old. Ooops. btw, I never guess people’s age, cuz it’s too tough for me to get that right.

    September 9, 2008
  165. Paul Fried said:

    I don’t know whether the surge “worked” and we “won” the war — but lost the foreign policy objective? But here’s a short list (could be longer) of some things we know worked:

    1. The anthrax letters, which Bush and McCain claimed at first probably came from Iraq, helped spread fear and contribute to the connection some people believe exists between 9-11 and Iraq.

    2. Other lies by Bush/Cheney and company have similarly worked, establishing a connnection between 9-11 and Iraq where Bush later admitted there was none.

    3. Bush-Cheney -Rove and company have demonstrated that the Nazi propaganda truisms still hold: If you tell a lie often enough, people start to believe it. If you tell a big lie often enough, it still works on many people because they base their opinions more on fear and emotions than on seeking the facts and avoiding being manipulated.

    September 10, 2008
  166. I have proof that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    1. We have been selling Iraq WMD for a couple of decades at least, in parts, and biological sorts.

    2. Saddam Hussein himself was a WMD.

    You can look it up for yourselves if you are interested. Furthermore, I believe the WMDs are either still in Iraq or possibly in Iran or Pakistan.

    Patrick, I am going to hide a tiny corner of a postage stamp in my back yard. I will invite you over to find that tiny corner of a postage stamp, and Felicity is welcome to accompany you, and I will give you ten hours of daylight to find it. Now remember, it can be underground, in the tool shed, or over at my neighbors yard. Don’t forget, ten hours.

    Oh, btw, kudos on your significant accomplishments in the field of medicine. Really.

    September 10, 2008
  167. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright,
    Your odd analogy is not proof – but I expect you already knew that. If you can’t be bothered to offer facts, I can’t take your assertions seriously.

    September 10, 2008
  168. Jane Moline said:

    Hey Bright, I have proof that Bush-Cheney lied.

    1. We supported Saddam Hussein’s regime and were instrumental in his acquisition of weapons and we knew exactly what he had, what he had used and what was obsolete.

    2. We knew that inspectors had discovered that the Iraqi biological weapon stock pile was obsolete–the biological elements were beyond their shelf life–they died. So Bush ordered the inspectors out so he could start his little war.

    3. Bush-Cheney had confirming intelligence from several foreign allies that Iraq was not acquiring nuclear weapons–but sent Colin Powell off to the UN–and directed one of their minions to out a CIA agent to draw attention away from their lies.

    Although I also believe things deep in my heart of heart, I make the most of my ability to get information from multiple sources, and use my education and experience to understand the perspectives of the information source–whether they overtly or covertly support a particular political goal–and then make my conclusions on truth.

    So–the surge worked so well we can never leave–8,000 maybe, (at this rate we will be there for 7 to 10 MORE years. At 300 million a day about another TRILLION dollars) when we need about 30,000 troops right now in Afghanistan. Well, sure glad we won. What did we get? Besides a crappy economy, high unemployment, the world hates us, the Taliban and Al Queda are stronger, our civil rights have been shredded, we get to be searched at the airport, we can’t bring shampoo on the plane, and we have to buy water in the airport for 4 bucks a bottle. If I can afford a plane ticket where I have to pay for my checked luggage which I have to have since I can’t carry anything on the plane.

    War is wrong. The USA, the American people, and Bush-Cheney are to blame for prosecuting an illegal war–and we are paying for it, with our wrecked economy, our shredded constitution and bill of rights, and our current political animosity. (He will never be MY president, but this is my country, and we need to take responsiblity for what he has done. in our name.)

    We need to admit our mistake. Then we need to try to fix it.

    September 10, 2008
  169. Paul Fried said:

    Here’s a very different take on the surge and the reduction of violence in Iraq, a view from Patrick Cockburn of the Independent/UK:

    “Iraq: Violence is down – but not because of America’s ‘surge'”
    If fewer US troops and Iraqis are being killed, it is only because the Shia community and Iran now dominate
    By Patrick Cockburn
    Sunday, 14 September 2008

    (I’m going to break up the URL a bit so that it doesn’t get deleted or messed up, but if you copy-and-paste it into Wordpad or Notepad, you can reconstruct it and then paste it into a browser:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/
    news/world/middle-east/
    iraq-violence-is-down-ndash-but-not-
    because-of-americas-surge-929896.html
    ………
    According to the article, the idea of surge=victory has been promoted in the US media, but might not be the reality on the ground….

    September 16, 2008
  170. David Ludescher said:

    Paul: What is your proposal for what America should do at this point?

    September 16, 2008
  171. Peter Millin said:

    It is time for us to withdraw all of our soldiers wherever they might be in the world. For too long we have been trying to be the policemen of the world.

    We could use the money in a much more productive way.

    September 16, 2008
  172. Paul Fried said:

    Peter: Interesting proposal, which, of course, sounds radical and unwise to the multinational corporations that have a foothold in many countries: We have to continue to project the image and reality of power in order to “protect our (their) interests.”

    DavidL: The purpose of a discussion like this isn’t just to figure out what George and Dick should do, with the hope they’ll drop in and learn from us. That only happens ever so seldom. The purpose is also to learn from each other and to be inspired to learn more, and come back and share. Here’s what I learn: If the writer from the UK is correct that the US media got it wrong (patriotism, imbedded forces, all that), and that the reduction in violence is because one of the two major factions is becoming more dominant, well, then this gives us an opportunity to learn:
    1. Our media gets it wrong sometimes for specific reasons: They’re trying to sell a product to a nation that wants to hear pro-US stuff on the news. They’re biased in favor of that angle?
    2. Pay more attention to the foreign media for balance?
    3. Come to new conclusions that challenge the current assumptions about the surge: Instead of “we won! eventually US military might works!” maybe we should be looking more carefully at the realities — unless we want another war in Iraq when they hear we’ve decided not to leave by the timetable they request.
    4. Consider working toward some kind of Islamic multinational force to go in and help keep order between the factions, as factional violence is still a grave problem.

    Or we could look at it very differently:
    1. Assume that global warming is a myth, as is peak oil.
    2. Assume we should be in Irq indefinitely, regardless of the wishes of the people of Iraq, who we said we were liberating, and for whom we would help build a democracy.
    3. Only liberate them enough to do what we want ’em to do, and if they refuse, we waste the ungrateful scum. Ignore their democratic system, the majority view of the people there, and just kill as many of them as we have to so that we can protect oil profits and make sure that Iraqi oil is sold by the dollar, not by the Euro. If this doesn’t sell well with the US public, we crank out a lot of anti-Islamic propaganda that demonizes the enemy (this has always been easy to do in wartime, and we’re doing fine there with the radio shock jocks, the “camel jocky” country western songs, and the anti-Islam hate emails.
    4. Remember what the great Republican, Marine General Smedley Butler, the only general to receive two (or was it three?) congressional medals of honor: War is a racket. We go to war for corporations and their profits, not to defend the weak. Butler advocated something like Peter said: Use our army to defend our homeland, not for so many military bases in the world. But we could use his advice backwards and keep running the racket.
    5. Keep Chevron and Exxon and the likes in business as long as possible, and direct as little public funding as possible toward renewable fuels. Make sure we defend their profits, as we did during the Eisenhower years when our CIA and the British intelligence helped stage a covert coup and put the Shah in power. Keep the oil in the hands of our corporations as much as possible, and for as long as possible, and be a country by the rich, for the rich, and of the rich.

    So we’re at a crossroads. Which path to take?

    There are other ways of being global in vision besides having military bases, and loans from the IMF, in so many countries. There are other paths besides spending more than all the rest of the nations of the world on our defense (when you include pentagon, and nuclear weapons under the umbrella of the Dept. of Energy, and interest on debt related to military spending).

    We are drunk on media, materialism, military and oil, we go to an oil-rich country and kill many civilians, and we’re asking, gosh, our media tells us that all hell might break loose if we don’t keep on the same path….

    We have rich and anonymous donors, who just might be CEO’s of Blackwater, KBR and Lockheed Martin protecting their profits, supporting “Freedom’s Watch” commercials to convince us that we should stay the course in Iraq — which keeps the money flowing for them….

    Maybe we’re deluding ourselves, and we’re like addicts that need treatment before we can assume we have a clear vision of reality.

    So if you’re asking me not what we can learn from this, but what we should do, I’d say we need treatment, first, for multiple addictions. And yes, this would require, at least for now, getting out of foreign entanglements (like Iraq) from which certain large and historically manipulative corporations richly benefit.

    While we’re in treatment, I’d say that we have to think about how we teach literature, and figure out why so many people love (and overlook the weaknesses and contradictions in) Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” with its philosophy of self-interest, and why some of these are the same folks who love Reagan for saying Greed is Good. Rand claims that people should be honest, but here’s the problem: Honesty often conflicts with self-interest, priority number one, so people compromise honesty too quickly. It’s just a fact. This alone should spoil the book if you’re not just a sheep, and actually paying careful, reflective attention. (There are other problems with the book, which Alan Greenspan loved, says it changed his life). Rand’s philosophy is a religion, and we don’t examine how some folks practice it while calling themselves Christian for PR purposes.

    And while I’m king of the world, we’d play community, inter-generational slow-pitch softball in the US on Wednesday nights: A kind of oasis in mid-week. No TV on Wednesdays.

    That’s what I’d do.

    September 16, 2008
  173. Peter Millin said:

    As always the truth is somewhere in the middle of two extremes.
    Like most people, including 90% of the senate and 80% of the congress, I supported the war in Iraq.
    Like most our judgement was impaired by the lust for revenge in the emotions of 9-11. History always seems easy in hindsight.

    The current reduction in violence is a combination of overwhelming force from us and the wisdom of the factions involved.

    Did we win the war? Only history will tell. The only satisfaction I can extract from this, is the knowledge that we have removed a brutal dictator named Saddam Hussein.. That alone doesn’t justify the war.

    The notion that this war was fought for oil doesn’t hold up on the realities of today, just go and get a tank of gas.

    I also oppose the notion of the US being the source of evil in this world. Have we always managed to do the right thing? No, but the good outweighs the bad. Coming from Germany gives me a great appreciation of the good the US has done in the world.

    September 17, 2008
  174. Jane Moline said:

    Peter: Unfortunately there is no winning of any war. There is definitely defeat, but there is no winner. We defeated Nazi Germany, and we defeated Saddam Hussein–we defeated the Hmong’s during the Vietnam war, but they were on our side, so that didn’t quite work out. And it looks like we are going to defeat the Iraqi people right along with the insurgents–just like we are defeating the Afghans when our claimed enemy is the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    This ridiculous idea that we “win” a war is disgusting–pride goeth before a fall. Until we can see that we cannot WIN a war, until we see them for what they are–an adventure dangerous to the Republic for which we stand–we will never stop. Next Iran, then Syria, just keep going.

    Just because we failed so miserably at obtaining control of Iraqi oil does not mean that was not the overriding purpose of the Bush-Cheney war–Cheney met with “experts” on energy–all oil executives and lobbyists–to establish energy policy. One of their tasks was to divide up Iraq among the oil companies for after our invasion–and this meeting is documented and took place many months before the invasion. The American public do not want to know the truth. They would rather not believe our ‘leaders” would act with such greed and disregard for human life. But they did.

    September 17, 2008
  175. Peter Millin said:

    It is very simplistic to blame the war on Bush and Cheney alone. Do they bare responsibility? Yes, because Bush is the commander in chief, and the buck stops with him.

    Let’s don’t forget that the vast majority of the congress and senate was for the war as well.
    They claim “we didn’t have the right information” ., a quiet frankly this is BS. If they really didn’t have the right or sufficient information, wouldn’t it be their responsibility to get it?
    If not are they voting blindly to send our kids in to harms way?

    The lack of personal responsibility in light of an election campaign is much to be concerned about.
    Why not just admit that you were wrong?

    September 17, 2008
  176. Jane Moline said:

    I agree Peter. I think this avoidance of admitting congress’ mistake is terrible–and one reason I could not support Hillary Clinton in her bid for endorsement as a candidate—she just would not say that it was a big mistake. However, congress, democrats and republicans alike, were provdied false information by the Bush administration, especially Cheney in private meetings with, oh, Dick Armey where he claimed that Saddam Hussein had ties with Al Queda and that Iraq was going to provide “dirty bombs” to Al Queda–these were not mistakes, but outright lies.

    This is a sore spot with me, as information was available refuting the Bush-Cheney “Iraq threat” claims from reputable news sources all over the world–like the BBC. I felt alone in continually arguing about this goofy information that kept being repeated in the newspapers and on television–and who do you believe–the vice president of the United States or Jane from Dundas?

    Well, I was the one telling the truth. Now, six years later I am right and I keep hearing about how they were using the intelligence available at that time–that is a lie. They picked what they wanted to use and made up the rest. Bush-Cheney should be prosecuted for war crimes–for starting the war and for using torture and for illegally imprisoning Iraqis, for kidnapping foreign nationals and “extraditing” them so they could torture them more in another country. Bush is an embarassment as a president. The day he leaves office he should suffer his own policies–he should be kidnapped and “extradited” to The Hague to stand trial for his crimes against humanity.

    War is wrong. Vote for peace.

    September 17, 2008
  177. David Ludescher said:

    Paul: I didn’t understand your answer as to what the U.S.A. should do. (post #176).

    Violence is down for whatever reason. If the USA leaves now, don’t you think that there will be an all-out civil war with consequences much more dire than the fiasco we have perpetrated?

    September 17, 2008
  178. Anthony Pierre said:

    misinformed and still scared shitless from 9/11 I assume, plus, everything following was a lie.

    In October 2002, a few days before the U.S. Senate voted on the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, about 75 senators were told in closed session that Saddam Hussein had the means of attacking the eastern seaboard of the U.S. with biological or chemical weapons delivered by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs.)[35] On February 5, 2003, Colin Powell presented further evidence in his Iraqi WMD program presentation to the UN Security Council that UAVs were ready to be launched against the U.S. At the time, there was a vigorous dispute within the US military and intelligence community as to whether CIA conclusions about Iraqi UAVs were accurate.[95] In fact, Iraq’s UAV fleet was never deployed and consisted of a handful of outdated 24.5-foot (7.5 m) wingspan drones with no room for more than a camera and video recorder, and no offensive capability.[96][97] Despite this controversy, the Senate voted to approve the Joint Resolution on October 11, 2002 providing the Bush Administration with the legal basis for the U.S. invasion.

    September 17, 2008
  179. David Ludescher said:

    Anthony: Congress still must assume responsibility for its decision, bad information or not.

    September 17, 2008
  180. Jerold Friedman said:

    Jane: In answer to your question (#180), I’d say, “Jane from Dundas.”

    I can’t wait for a new president to assume office. Anyone. I’d take Quayle over Bush. I’m undecided on Palin, though.

    September 17, 2008
  181. Jane Moline said:

    Thanks, Jerold. I really have had a difficult 8 years, with the end of 2000 and 2004 being especially awful.

    I know a lot of Republicans. Most of them are reasonable. But I don’t understand how some of them can think the methods of Karl Rove, Rush Limburger, and other non-elected operatives who spew lies and distractions in order to garner votes, while lying to cover their failed policies–blaiming the Democrats for their disaster.

    They make generalized claims that we should be afraid of Obama because he is a liberal. Then they claim that he will raise taxes. Well, how should he pay the interest on the debt the “conservatives” in power ran up? (Real conservatives would not have wasted so much of our wealth–real conservatives should throw Bush, Cheney, and most of the Republicans in congress out of their party for their wasteful ways.)

    The Republican adminstration has driven us to the edge of an economic depression. McCain refuses to even acknowledge the economic reality.

    This is a no brainer. Vote for REAL change. Vote for someone who is going to give us the truth–even if we don’t like it. Vote for Obama.

    September 18, 2008
  182. Peter Millin said:

    Jane,

    As a conservative I am at odds with Bush and McCain. However to make the leap from there to Obama is a stretch.

    My values haven’t change despite the fact that the GOP has changed theirs. I still believe in less government is better government. I still believe that we the people know better what is right for us then any bureaucrat ever can.

    The sad truth is that almost all of our politicians are out of touch. If you live in a bubble and you have more money then you know what to do with, then how can you relate to me? You can’t.

    Supporting conservative causes at least slows down (or used to) the Washington money grab.
    There is no real relieve for the middle class we are always being squeezed it’s just a matter of how much.

    And Obama is no different. His change is not about change. It’s just more of the same dressed up in a new package.
    Think about it McCains new programs will cost us $ 500 billion dollars. Obamas new programs will cost us $ 800 billion dollars. Where is the money going to come from? We either print it and deflate our currency even more or we borrow it and leave it to our kids to pay for it or we tax those who work the hardest…which one you pick?

    Real change means living within your means. Real change means(just like at my house) you cut things you can’t afford.
    I haven’t seen any of it yet.

    September 18, 2008
  183. Paul Fried said:

    Griff: I may have two of the same posts. Please delete the first (and this message) if there’s a duplicate. After hitting “say it,” I got a blank browser, so I resubmitted.

    September 18, 2008
  184. Paul Fried said:

    DavidL: Consider your assumptions:
    – You’ve been told by a fawning media that a US withdrawal from Iraq could lead to civil war.
    – The media acts more like stenographers for the White House than like journalists who ask hard questions and dig for the real story. There may be journalists who are getting more of the real story, but it never makes front page because the editors and publishers fear appearing unpatriotic, anti-American, critical of the war, unsupportive of the troops. The major media establishments also fear being cut off from access to stories, black-listed if they are too critical.
    – So the historically honesty-challenged White House tells the media there will be civil war, the media passes that on to you, and you believe it.
    Consider your own biases: You’re a libertarian-leaning Republican, and here at LoGroNo, historically, when someone blames Bush-Cheney for the lies that played a large role in getting us into the war, you want to blame congress instead — deflecting blame from Bush-Cheney.

    The US was not interested in counting civilian dead, they claimed, when hundreds of thousands were dying from our predominantly air war, before any major sectarian violence broke out. So why do you trust that they care so much about civil war and civilian casualties now? Why don’t you ask, instead, if the talk of the risk of civil war is more about access to oil, and continued profits for the military-industrial-security-privatized military regime as the status quo?

    There may be civil/sectarian strife if and when we withdraw, especially if we do so now. Or not. But if there was, there’s a strong chance that some of it would be due to our own actions.

    Who planted the bombs that blew up the mosque in Samara, Iraq in February of 2006, dressed in the garb of Iraqi security forces, planting bombs in the middle of the night?

    Why were British covert forces dressed in civilian Iraqi garb and shooting at Iraqi police in 2005, arrested and taken by a crowd of Iraq civilians to an Iraqi jail, only to be sprung by British soldiers in a large display of force that blew a hole in the building where the two Brits were being held?

    Why were the Brits, before being taken to the jail, found to be carrying concealed bomb-making materials?

    It seems that the covert actions by Brits and the US may have been a divide-and-conquer strategy: Take the pressure off of US forces by inciting sectarian violence among Iraqi factions, to divide the opposition against itself. Sectarian violence was a relatively late development in the war, but a convenient excuse for staying: All we have to do is claim that we’re somehow saving them from civil war.

    You might say that the lie-prone White House would never do this, nor would our military. But in the 1950’s and early 60’s, the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs, then led by General Lemnitzer, came up with a plan to stage fake terrorist attacks by what US citizens would be told was Cuban terrorists. Not real Cuban terrorists, but we’d be told that. Real people would be hurt, and these attacks on our own people would be staged to convince the US public to support an invasion of Cuba and “regime change” there.

    W’s dad tricked the US into supporting the first Iraq war via the mega PR firm of Hill & Knowlton, and the front group they created, “Citizens for a Free Kwait.” Some Dems were complicit in the deceptions.

    So David, in the gospels, Jesus says we have to be innocent as lambs but cunning as snakes. If you buy the argument that we have to stay to save the Iraqis from civil war, you’re not being as cunning as you should. Instead, you’re letting in only the facts and interpretations that support your assumptions and world-view: That if anyone is responsible, it was the Republican-majority congress, but not Bush-Cheney, and that we should stay in Iraq as long as it takes, and prevent civil war in the process.

    This kind of reading of the situation is not supported by the many facts: The lying White House; the history of covert actions whose ethics are highly questionable; the tendency of the fawning media not to tell the whole story, etc.

    But the mind that is trying to protect its assumptions always tries to fix the leaks in the sinking boat: It says, “There must have been a good reason for those covert British agents to have that bomb-making material on their persons, and to be shooting Iraqi police; this is probably not evidence of wrongdoing by Bush-Cheney or the military, which probably had valid reasons for them being there; the last people we would trust would be the crowd of Iraqis who brought the Brits to the jail, etc.
    Denial is more than a river in Egypt, David.

    So if you want the straight and simple answer to your question, you can say that I advocate a withdrawal from Iraq, and I’m one of those crazies who would risk not saving the Iraqis from civil war. Sure. If that’s the only frame that works for you, look at it that way.

    September 18, 2008
  185. Paul Fried said:

    DavidL: Some of my replies have been having trouble today (maybe they’ll all appear tomorrow), but briefly:

    – Yes, I favor withdrawal.

    – No, I don’t think civil war is a serious risk, any more than it is in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran.

    – To the extent that it is a risk at all, we promoted sectatian violence covertly in a “divide and conquer” strategy, so that the Iraqis who were attacking US forces would attack eachother instead.

    – Our leadership was not that concerned about civilian casualties from the start in Iraq, so this claim of the risk of civil war is not a true one reflecting authentic concerns and discussions, but one whose goal is to receive sympathy and hesitation from the opposition.

    – The fawning media passes this now we have to stay there to “save Iraq from civil war” line because they are acting more as stenographers than real journalists. Stenographers acting for a historically unreliable source (Bush-Cheney) will always pass on unreliable information.

    – Many of our generals who opposed the Iraq invasion and criticized its execution don’t believe the claims about the risk of civil war. Why do you?

    – Participating in the hoodwinking makes us complicit. We have to wake up and stop the hoodwinking.

    – The people who benefit most from our hesitation and concern over civil war are the profiteers, the military-industrial-security-privatized military groups. There’s nothing conservative about billions spent to redirect wealth in the form of higher national debt so that these groups can get wealthy today. We should put an end to it.

    September 18, 2008
  186. Paul Fried said:

    Cheney’s Incredible and Deadly Lie:
    By Deceiving a Congressional Leader, Cheney Sent Us to War on False Pretenses and Violated the Separation of Powers – as Well as the Criminal Law
    by John W. Dean

    http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20080919.html

    Self-described Goldwater Republican Dean recounts the story of a crucial lie told by Cheney to then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, without which we might not have had a war in Iraq. The story of the lie comes from a major newspaper series of investigative pieces that led to a recent book — I’ve posted a link before to an article about the book.

    DavidL: With all this lying going on by Cheney to the Republicans, how can some Republicans keep blaming congress and not Cheney? Or is the jury still out on this? (No intended pun on jury related to criminal Cheney, lawyer Dean, or your own profession, David).

    September 19, 2008
  187. David Ludescher said:

    Paul: I blame Congress because the Constitution says that war is their job. Regardless of the information from Cheney et. al., Congress ratified a preemptive “war” against Iraq.

    Now that your and my Congress and President, on our behalf, have engaged in this war, they need to figure out how to get out without leaving Iraq in any worse mess than it already is.

    September 20, 2008
  188. Paul Fried said:

    DavidL: There’s more in the constitution regarding war than the article that mentions who declares it. One has to wear blinders to only look at that — and not consider the evolution of war powers since the cold war, and Bush’s increasingly imperial executive, and a new imbalance of powers.

    If that’s your approach, then it’s Dick Armey’s fault that we’re at war because he should have known better than to believe a Vice President of his own party when he was being lied to. Dick Armey, like Lt. Calley, should become the scapegoat for the VP’s lies.

    September 20, 2008
  189. I have to jump in here for a silly season minute and then I am jumping right back out. I don’t want my words to be held to the fire, either,s o I am keeping them nonpartisan, where I truly belong.

    First of all, even the Catholic church distinguishes between venial sins, and mortal sins. Can you tell in all fairness which lies truly undermine the country. When Clinton lied about Monica, really, doesn’t matter to the good of the country. When Obama lies, he’s just trying to make himself look good. McCain lies to make sure Obama doesn’t undermine his years of proven service. So, every one lies when backed into a corner. So what. I’d rather believe a liar who has run the course a hundred times than one who never has. Oops, I got partisan there for a second. I am sorry. No, I am not, I lied. At least I have that right without getting shot. Oh,oh. Maybe not…incoming!

    As for war being wrong. Yes, it is, but If there weren’t people who believed otherwise, you and i might very well be kept from saying even that…ie, people fight for freedom cuz other people want to control every word that comes out of people’s mouths and control every aspect of people’s actions, Much much much more than how we now live in the USA.

    If we sat here with no weapons, no government willing to defend us to the hilt, we might soon be overtaken. Who would stop those people who have weapons, and who make weapons out of machines intended for peaceful purposes? You would come out and tell them, “Listen, this is wrong. You must stop now cuz I said so.” I don’t think so. Now, if you could get the whole country to visualize peace all at once. Maybe THAT would work. Maybe. But no one wants to take that chance at the rise of endangering their progeny if not themselves, or do they?

    September 20, 2008
  190. Paul Fried said:

    Bright: Lying by the Pres and VP to their own party and to congressional leaders, the whole country and the nation would fall under the category of very serious mortal sin. If hundreds of thousands of lives were lost (yes, in this case), and if some of it was related to greed (yes, no-bid contracts), so that greed, money, power, etc. were more important that other people’s lives …. Yup, that climbs the charts for some of the most serious of mortal sins committed in history.

    Lying to your daughter, who is on her way to get her picture taken for school, and who recently fell and got a black eye, and telling her that she looks beautiful and hardly anyone will notice unless they look close — that’s a venial sin. No one was killed. Hundreds of thousands were not killed. War profiteers and no-bid contracts were not involved. Greed for control of world resources wasn’t involved. Definitely venial. Maybe an “our father” and a few extra special acts of kindness to strangers, and you’ve done your penance.

    Penance for Cheney and Bush? It will take generations, and as the bible says, the effects of the sin will be passed down through them. Just listen to Palin in her interview, sounding just like Bush and Cheney. The sin is already being passed down. You have a choice, to pass on the sin and lies, or to resist. This is not to say Obama or Ron Paul or Bob Barr are perfect alternate options, but nothing is easy.

    September 20, 2008
  191. David Ludescher said:

    No, Paul. My approach is that the war would not be justified even if Bush/Cheney were accurate. For my support, see http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm.

    Do I think that Congress thought the information was accurate? Not a chance. They had to have known that the Bush Administration was blowing smoke, and if they didn’t they shouldn’t be in Congress. Where was Bush’s evidence? Did Congress and/or Dick Armey go to war solely on Dick Cheney’s word? Congress has an affirmative obligation to ensure that the intelligence is accurate, especially if it means going to war. It didn’t do its job. Period.

    When it comes to war, there are no Republican nor Democratic wars. They are American wars.

    September 20, 2008
  192. Paul Fried said:

    David: You’re emphasizing again that congress didn’t do it’s job. I agree. But you have never said that Bush and Cheney failed in their job. You keep saying congress, congress: you claim, if they didn’t know the information from the president was not accurate, they should not be in congress. But in reality, things don’t work that way, not in congress, not in marriages, not in city hall and with the police and fire departments. If the police chief says a gun was found on a suspect, who was shot, there may be rumors that the gun was planted, and certainly if there are any such rumors, an investigation would be helpful. But usually, we expect the police to do their jobs with honesty. We expect the Pres. and VP to do theirs with honesty. If congressmen question the honesty of the president and VP regarding intelligence claims, and if there is no evidence such as the yellow cake forgery, people are all over the congressional skeptics, calling them disrespectful and unpatriotic.

    When I open a map, I have to trust that the mapmakers did honest work, and that if I follow a road listed on the map, it will take me where the map says it will. Life and the world and reality is filled with demands on our trust like that.

    When we find that our trust has been betrayed, then we lay the blame on the betrayers of trust, not on the victims.

    At the time, Bush and Cheney didn’t have that long a known history of lies. Now we are at a point where it’s hard for anyone to trust them. The war was not sold to congress as a war against the people of Iraq so much as a liberation of an oppressed people from a dictator, and the elimination of a clear and immediate threat to the US.

    Definitions matter. And lies matter. In one context, if someone takes you by force to a location far away and locks you up, you might call it kidnapping. You might call it jail. You might call it being committed for a serious mental illness or chemical addiction. If it is sold as one thing, but the reality is another, then there’s nothing wrong in recognizing the lie and its seriousness.

    David, you seem to not want to deal with any of the blame for Bush-Cheney, or with the issue of betrayed trust, in your insistence on blaming congress.

    Are you as literal in your reading of all other parts of the constitution as you are of this part, relating to declaration of war?

    Are you as opposed, for instance, to Bush signing statements, even in cases of a majority large enough to override a veto? This is clearly unconstitutional. Do you fault both the president for the signing statements, and the congress for not impeaching? Or do you fault only the congress (which would imply there’s nothing the president has done wrong to deserve impeaching)….

    September 20, 2008
  193. Mike Zenner said:

    YOU GUYS ARE KILLING ME!

    You are all in DENIAL about US Government’s(ruling elite’s) true motives.

    Congress and the Bush Regime were fully aware of what they were doing. There NEVER was and NEVER will be an exit plan for Iraq because the plan all along was to stay indefinitely!

    To exploit the 911 tragedy for imperial gains goes beyond the pale. We want to BELIEVE (denial) that GOOD Americans would not do such a thing. Sorry folks, but that’s the TRUTH!

    While we bicker back and forth about this Iraq issue our “Representatives” are cooking up another war. This is where we should be focusing. Let us not be sold another “Bad Map” that is fully endorsed by our leaders!

    Here’s a link to an article written at Antiwar.com This is a good web site to keep ahead of what our leaders have in store for us. This web site has been running since the mid 1990’s when our leaders were misleading us on the Kosavo war. Their general political philosophy is Libertarian/conservative , but they pull no punches for either party.

    http://antiwar.com/lind/

    The clip below pretty much sums up the reality of US foreign policy:

    “Here we see the central reality of American politics shining through the smoke and mirrors. America has a one-party system. That party is the Establishment Party, and its internal disagreements are minor. Both McCain and Obama are Establishment Party candidates. They agree America must be a world-controlling empire. Both men are Wilsonians, believing we must re-make other countries and cultures in our own image. Neither man conceives any real limits, political, financial, military or moral, on American power. McCain and Obama vie only in determining which can drink more deeply from the poisoned well of hubris, around which, unremarked, lie the bones of every previous world power.

    Such is the “choice” the American people get in November. “

    September 20, 2008
  194. kiffi summa said:

    Regardless of the supposed outcome… whenever… IF ever … this war “ends”, it can never be over.

    The treatment of returning veterans is a shame that this country will never be able to forget.

    When the Veterans Administration, boosts its numbers of “resolved claims” by the suicides of untreated, despondent, damaged soldiers … we ,this administration and all of us … are in a moral slough that no amount of hand-wringing and arguing about who started it, how it started, who is responsible, etc., can evade.

    I am as anti-war as a person can be… I am as anti this administration as a person can be.

    To treat the returning soldiers in the way they are being treated … actually thousands of them NOT treated … is a horror against humanity so mind boggling that it is difficult to accept as happening in THIS country.

    What has happened to this, OUR country?

    September 21, 2008
  195. Kiffi, I am with you on the anti war note. No one wants war, except the warriors, who signed up for it voluntarily. Maybe they don’t want war but they do want freedom or some other ideal.

    Anyway, as for the care of the wounded vets, the AMA has a proposal that might help at

    http://www.voicefortheuninsured.org/

    and the American Medical Students Association has a response at

    http://www.amsa.org/uhc/response_AMA.cfm

    Vote your conscience on this issue.

    Also, for Vets who have emotional problems there is a whole network of people who will help, churches, mental health agencies, and 1-800-SUICIDE
    is an active number where some help and listening ears may be found. Pass it on.

    September 21, 2008
  196. Barry Cipra said:

    Kiffi writes:

    “To treat the returning soldiers in the way they are being treated … is a horror against humanity”

    Back when he was alive and campaigning, I recall hearing it reported that the anti-war “ultra-liberal” Paul Wellstone had the support of veterans’ groups. Does anyone know or recall what it was Wellstone did to garner that support?

    September 21, 2008
  197. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    Pardon the use of that almost cliché statement, but it’s the root beneath all of the posts in this thread. It’s why I don’t see *much* difference between Republicans and Democrats. There are some exceptions, for example, I favor Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).

    It was chilling to me that some of the more ‘liberal’ radio shows that I used to listen to reported U.S. deaths like a mantra, but never Iraqi deaths. I liked, at least, that U.S. deaths were reported as reason to leave Iraq, but the inference is that Iraqi deaths don’t matter.

    September 21, 2008
  198. Barry Cipra said:

    Bright, thanks! But that’s just one bill, passed fairly late in his second term. Surely there was more.

    September 21, 2008
  199. Sorry, Barry, I meant You, not Kiffi. I don’t see any thing else except his fight for mental health along those veteran lines. And this search has been very informative for me. We moved here just a few weeks before Wellstone’s plane crashed and I was given the distinct impression that Wellstone was a man of peace, yet he voted for every operation including Dessert Fox…see

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Wellstone

    I think he had that Jack Kennedy aura, you know, the one who got us into Viet Nam, where you thought he was the greatest thing since lo cal pizza, and it turns out he was really high fat beef wellington. Oh, well, the well is deep.

    September 21, 2008
  200. Barry Cipra said:

    Bright writes:

    “he voted for every operation including Dessert Fox”

    Clearly not “every.” For those (including myself) with short memory, here’s Wellstone’s record, from the Wikipedia article Bright links to:

    “Senator Wellstone voted against authorizing the use of force before the Gulf War on January 12, 1991 (the vote was 52–47 in favor). He also voted against the use of force before the Iraq War on October 11, 2002 (the vote was 77–23 in favor).

    “Wellstone supported requests for military action by President Clinton, including Operation Restore Hope in Somalia (1992), Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti (1994), Operation Deliberate Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995), Operation Desert Fox in Iraq (1998) and Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia (1999).”

    I had quite forgotten the name “Dessert Fox” for Clinton’s impeachment-distraction foray. I thought Bright was talking about Erwin “Ice Cream” Rommel….

    September 21, 2008
  201. I misspoke. I meant to say ‘almost’ which I am almost always thinking in my head cuz I know there is little around that is always, if anything at all.
    Yeah, that’s right Rommel was the Dessert Fox. Cool, at night anyway.

    September 21, 2008
  202. Paul Fried said:

    Here’s yet another claim that it wasn’t the surge, but other internal elements shifting that produced the drop in violence. From Foreign Policy in Focus, Stephen Zunes:

    “…in what was perhaps his most stunning failure of the evening, the Democratic nominee effectively conceded McCain’s claim that President George W. Bush’s “troop surge” in Iraq — long advocated by the Republican nominee and opposed by Obama — brought about the dramatic reduction of violence in that country in recent months.

    In reality, a shift in the alignment of internal Iraqi forces and the tragic de facto partitioning of Baghdad into sectarian enclaves contributed more to lowering the death toll, and the current relative equilibrium is probably temporary. The decision by certain Sunni tribal militias that had battled U.S. forces to turn their weapons against al-Qaeda-related extremists took place before the announcement of the surge, and militant opposition leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s unilateral ceasefire resulted from internal Shia politics rather than any U.S. actions.”

    From a longer article here:
    http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5562

    September 30, 2008
  203. One of the great reasons why we are doing so well in Iraq, relatively speaking, is because of our troops on the ground and the great headway they have made by helping to rebuild and build new educational and medical buildings, and moreover, how their winning ways of befriending and adopting and caring for the people of Iraq, who could so now use a helping hand and kind heart after all their years of living in strife and repression and oppression.

    Human beings need to live freely in order to thrive The example of the American soldier, and I am sure many other country’s military personnel and civil workers, have stepped up and made us all proud.

    Hooray for American military men and all who have pitched in with their strong hands and their brave and kind hearts to rebuild a country!

    October 1, 2008
  204. Make that military men and ‘women’. It’s still early for me. Sorry about that.

    October 1, 2008
  205. Anthony Pierre said:

    It would be pretty nice if the US govt did the same thing for the US infrastructure, but the small govt guys dont want to spend money on frivolous things like roads/bridges/schools in the US.

    October 1, 2008
  206. I don’t understand all of it, but I know that in Oklahoma, it has been very difficult to find anyone to do any labor at all, on farms or on road work. This country has been very set on sending kids to college and not promoting physical labor as a viable way of life. True, it is hard and many people get injured with back problems and such. Better ways to work should be developed using more machinery to break and make roads and bridges.
    Better money and more might be required.

    One thing now we have is 160,000 or so men and women trained to re build a country. We also have a million men in jail who could do a little work now and then, don’t you think? They used to have road crews from prison that worked well.

    On the second part, so few people go out there and try to make our govt REPRENTATIVES hold to their promises or make the Tough Choices that might not get them re-elected. Politicians don’t build roads, they sit in offices and go around and shake hands and make neutral statements that people can read into and interpret any way they want to make themselves feel good…except for Ray Cox. 🙂

    This is taxation with out representation…but we haven’t let the reps know we want them to take care of our country and our people and not so much their own personal agendas…so they are not to blame, we are.

    October 1, 2008
  207. Anthony Pierre said:

    People in jail do work. Do you know how much they get paid. 25 cents an hour. I know this cause one of my buddies is in prison.

    Ya, I know the politicians blow ass. That’s why we should vote them all out and vote in people like Jon Dennison. He has no alternative agenda except making the city work better. Everyone else owns businesses in town, or have some other interest in mind.

    October 1, 2008
  208. Oh, I feel so sorry for your pal, Anthony. I also feel sorry for the American people who are footing the bill to pay for your friend’s room and board, food and clothing and medical care, recreational equipment and other amenities like t.v. to the tune of $30,000 and rising EVERY YEAR PER PRISONER.

    Certainly many of them can do better than laundry, license plates and sign making, imho. Some do work, some do not work, depending on the state.

    I know many people would rather go to jail and get a promised place to live and food to eat for the duration of their incarceration than live out in certain quarters.

    October 1, 2008
  209. Anthony Pierre said:

    lol, do you know why he is in there? He took meth. Guess how much rehabilitation he has done in there? 0.

    The war on drugs is a lost cause, because all they do is throw addicts in the clink. Do you think that is good policy? I don’t. Your buddies who love the war on drugs do, because they make a lot of money. Prisons are a big business.

    October 1, 2008
  210. Anne Bretts said:

    Bright, where do prison road crews actually prove to be a good program? Not being sarcastic, I just am really curious.
    I think prison is overused to handle property crimes and personal drug use and the results of untreated mental illness, and not used enough for white collar crime. A guy who steals $500 from a convenience store gets 20 years and a guy Tom Petters will probably do a few years for fraud that could exceed a billion dollars. Infuriating. Even the Enron guys and the old Nixon gang got off relatively easy compared to poor street guys with bad lawyers.

    October 1, 2008
  211. Anne, I think the prison issue would need a whole new thread. I was just trying to think of some solution to get our infrastructure worked on.
    You are right, though, it’s a sticky and complicated area. My best advice, if you don’t like prisons, try your best to stay out of trouble. 🙂 🙁

    I wonder what Obama and McCain feel about it….oh, Obama wants less incarceration, McCain wants better systems.

    October 2, 2008
  212. Anthony Pierre said:

    Do you know what prison actually is? It is college for criminals. Anyone going in there is going to be a better criminal when they get out. Anything we can do that reduces the amount of people in prison without compromising the safety of americans is welcome.

    also did you know we have a higher percentage in prisons in the US than anyone in the world? Even china.

    Draconian Drug laws are the problem.

    October 2, 2008
  213. Holly Cairns said:

    Hey, let’s keep this thread going forever and ever.

    October 2, 2008
  214. Holly Cairns said:

    I meant topic.

    October 2, 2008
  215. Sure, Holly, I’ll be happy to end it with this…the beginning tenets of our government.

    The Constitution of the United States of America

    We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    See the rest of this document at;
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.overview.html

    October 2, 2008
  216. Peter Millin said:

    Anthony what do you suggest if not prison for criminals?

    October 2, 2008
  217. Anthony Pierre said:

    depends what you call a criminal. I don’t consider someone with substance issues a criminal. legalize the drugs and tax them. Peter then can have all of the tax breaks he wants.

    October 2, 2008
  218. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright wrote,

    I know many people would rather go to jail and get a promised place to live and food to eat for the duration of their incarceration than live out in certain quarters.

    Bright, that sounds suspiciously like hyperbole.

    October 2, 2008
  219. Oh, Patrick, sometime when you are in Chicago, around 11th and State Street, there’s a police station there, hang around for a few days, speak to some of the detained and then talk to me.

    Or more immediately, here’s a phone number, call it and ask the desk officer if it’s true.

    (312)746-8386

    Why would I say that? Because cops have told me that. Why would inmates say that? Because they don’t have a place to live, because some one is looking to gun them down over a bad deal or personal encounter and jail offers some safety in that regard.

    Why do you immediately attack the messenger?

    Why don’t you first try and ask questions that would help you understand if my statement is accurate or not?

    October 2, 2008
  220. Patrick Enders said:

    Bright,
    Your assertion sounded very unlikely, so I questioned your assertion. You offered further explanation. Now that you have explained what you meant by your previous statement, it is easier to understand why you might think that. Hence, answering my critique strengthened and clarified your own statements.

    October 2, 2008
  221. Yeah, but I really didn’t want to go there. I don’t want to talk about prisons or jails or criminals right now. Too busy, school’s in session!

    October 2, 2008
  222. Paul Fried said:

    You folks have such interesting ideas for other threads, I hate to yank it back to surge and success in Iraq. And I’m often guilty of thread drift myself… but here goes. (Sorry, Holly)

    Bright, you give voice to pure myth in #209.
    – Haven’t you read the stories about massive fraud in Iraq related to many of the no-bid contracts?
    – Haven’t you read the stories of how whistleblowers on fraud have been punished and silenced?
    – Haven’t you read stories of US soldiers who have served in Iraq and found it hard to comply with military rules of engagement because they are outnumbered and sent into hostile urban areas and act in a kind of policing capacity, when their training was for warfare?
    – Haven’t you read of the building with all the bad plumbing that will have to be torn down, millions of dollars of US taxpayer money gone to waste, wealth relocated to the no-bid contractors?
    – Haven’t you read of the high civilian casualty rates, and the resentment toward what is perceived as a US occupation, and the requirement by the new Iraqi government that the US set a timetable for withdrawal?

    I get the feeling from your post #209 that your only source of news is FOX. There have been studies done that have shown how people who watch FOX are much more likely to be misinformed about Iraq, and believe that Saddam had something to do with 9-11 (many to this day), while even Bush admitted that they had nothing to do with it.

    It seems to me that there’s a sad bi-polar tendency going on in many Americans: On the one hand, they want to believe that, if the violence in Iraq has decreased, the only possible reason is the surge, and all the good things FOX tells us we’ve done there.

    It’s a form of racism: Those Iraqis are assumed to be crazy, uncivilized animals who could never, through their own good and bad choices, have anything to do with the reduction in violence. It’s American tunnel-vision. Only our might and generosity could have accomplished any shift toward peace, because some of us would like to believe that US mililtary might brings peace. Some of us want very badly to believe this propaganda.

    Here’s the other side of the bi-polar thing: Suggest to some of these folks that elements within this same USA, without which flies in Iraq cannot land on sheep dung, may have allowed the 9-11 attacks to occur, and suddenly they shift into a totally new kind of psychic mode:

    “Oh, no, no, no. The US, without which the wind cannot blow and the sun cannot rise, got lazy because of Clinton, and that’s why we were not prepared.”

    Isn’t there something kind of dangerous about this kind of bi-polar disorder? I mean, I’m concerned that bi-polar people like this might flip out and become violent at some point. Do meds work? How can we be sure these folks take their meds?

    October 3, 2008
  223. Paul Freid,

    Have you ever heard of people showing up to vote, even though their lives were threatened? So hungry for democracy and freedom are they.

    Have you ever heard of a glass being half full?

    Have you ever heard of loose lips sink ships?

    Have you ever heard of the fog of war?

    Have you ever heard of PBS news? or C-SPAN? I have.

    Show me where I said Saddam was responsible for the sad and terrible events of Septemer 11, 2001. Never did. Never will. It’s all about setting theatre in a strategic location, and getting rid of a man that should not be a leader of such fine and intelligent people as the Iraqi people. I guess you missed my thread about my Iraqi friend from the late 70s.

    No, I am no expert on the truth. I never claimed to be. But I know one thing, and that is the American people, all sorts of them, doing and thinking and believing all sorts of things, because they are free to do so and I am free to think how I want to about it all. Thanks to the American defenders of freedom!

    When I saw your list of Haven’t you’s, the first thing that came to mind was, Yeah, I have heard of most of those things in one or two of my old neighborhoods.

    October 4, 2008
  224. Peter Millin said:

    Paul you sound like an editor of common dreams.

    You are right on the issues, but your conclusions are typical of those on the left.
    You are no different than the right wing fanatics you are just on the other end.

    I personally feel insulted, because I do watch Fox….but I also listen to NPR to get the whole picture.
    Extreme partisan ship does nothing more then play in to the hands of those who are in power.
    The Washington behavior around the financial crisis should boldly illustrate that.
    United we stand divided we fall……..that refers to “we the people” versus the political establishment.

    Between your extreme left views and others extreme right views the truth lies in the middle.

    October 4, 2008
  225. When I was watcing pbs the other night, a newsman said that McCain complained that when he was campaigning in the SE of the US, and not
    making any negative comments about his opponent, he got exactly no
    coverage wahtseover nationally. He was forced to do the blame game
    just to get coverage. The American people’s thirst for fighting is to
    blame, and the media’s pandering to it, or vice versa, don’t know which
    came first.

    I for one really dislike seeing all this blaming going on here in a community newsletter that WE have control of, within rules set down, with very few
    civil suggestions, leaving out the venom, on what WE can do as citizens
    to get this ball rolling forward. I vote for a postiive suggestion, positive solution and positive descriptions of why we like what we like and what can we do once a problem is sufficently identified, no matter when the first utterance by the first person of whatever parties did start it.

    October 4, 2008
  226. Paul Fried said:

    Bright: Your optimism is great. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t doubt for a minute that some good things happen in Iraq, that soldiers in Iraq (some of whom I know) have done good things, and that some of the reconstruction turned out fine and will be put to good use.

    Your optimism is great. Nothing wrong with that. But a more realistic approach should keep all the information in perspective. There is the joke about how Mussolini kept the trains running on time, told in stark contrast to his overall record (Snopes.com claims improvements to the trains system can’t be credited to him because much of it happened before he came to power, and that in fact his trains were in fact not punctual:
    http://www.snopes.com/history/govern/trains.asp
    – so optimism certainly can be a good thing, but in some situations it becomes the object of jokes).

    And I love the photos of people with the ink on their thumbs. You write, “people showing up to vote, even though their lives were threatened? So hungry for democracy and freedom are they.” Yes, and now their democratically elected leader wants the US out. Shall we deny them the democratic process we claim to have helped give them?

    Now your quote applies to US citizens contemplating how much more dangerous the (already dangerous) world had been made for us by our own president, and how we are more aware after these eight years of the damage global climate change is doing:
    “people showing up to vote, even though their lives were threatened? So hungry for democracy and freedom are they.”
    That’s what election 2008 in the US is now about.

    October 4, 2008
  227. Paul F, we still have far fewer American soldiers wounded or killed than in that debacle JFK got us into, a little thing called Viet Nam. WE have a volunteer army, no draft, and a lot of people are into it as a way of life.
    I am not, don’t shoot the messenger, but you are gonna have to do an awful lot of talking to change people’s minds.

    Even Obama is now being referred to as a ‘cut throat politician’ as he fought his way to the junior senator position he now holds.

    My dad used to say, “It’s a dog eat dog world, and look out for number One.”
    There’s a reason for that, and I am no pie in the sky optimist. I am trying for balanced reporting around here, cuz it looks like that’s the best we can be. 🙁

    October 4, 2008
  228. And the joke is, she chimed in hours later, that I did not vote for any of these yahoos, no offense to Yahoo, not one of them. I have met politicians left and right since I was a very young woman and not one of them asked me what I wanted to see happen or what I needed, I’ll stop there, but it’s not the end of the story.

    The sincere ones are so few and far between, it’s truly a tragedy.

    That is the real joke, and it’s not funny.

    October 4, 2008
  229. Peter Millin said:

    Paul,

    If we would follow the lefts advise and leave Iraq today in a hurry the country would collapse.
    Restoring Democracy in a facist country is no easy feat. Even in Germany it took years not month.

    We should celebrate the fact that Iraqis are free to vote and not use it for partisan politics.

    I am for one are grateful that America took Hitler out, despite of a lot of nay sayers at the time.

    It is much easier to sit back in the armchair and cry over all the bad that is happening in the world then to go out and do something about it.

    October 4, 2008
  230. Anthony Pierre said:

    peter: for a fiscal conservative, you sure like to spend trillions of dollars in iraq. That war is bankrupting the USA. The terrorists are winning because we are in iraq. They are bleeding us dry of money.

    Here is an article from 2004. It is a tactic Bin Laden uses.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/nov/03/usa.alqaida

    October 4, 2008
  231. Mike Zenner said:

    Anthony,

    Sorry, but spreading “American style democracy” does not come cheap!

    1 million dead Iraqis ( this is OK with Bright as long as they are not American soldiers) , 1 million refugees, and a 1 Trillion dollar bill for the American taxpayer!

    With this GOOD the US empire spreads in the world, I just can’t understand why all them backward countries aren’t jumping at the chance of assimilation.

    October 4, 2008
  232. Alright Zenner, I am disappointed in you, too. How do you know how I feel about the Iraqis? I am still waiting for one of you to show any remorse or honor or even do you know one name of anyone who died in the great tragedy of September 11, 2001?

    I don’t even like any of this. I don’t like politics, and I am trying very hard to understand what people think and why they think the way they do because I feel like I should know more. But, don’t you doubt for one minutes that when I was young and physically able, that I was out protesting against the Viet Nam war with all my ability. And don’t you doubt for one stinking minute that when I meet a soldier from that war, or any other that I don’t take his or her hand in mine and look them in the eye and pray with them.

    I know it all has truth to it, not just your view or my view or anyone’s else’s view. It is all of our views together and no one should be shut down or insulted or put upon, or anything but you should hear them and acknowledge their story as presented, not what you frilly it up with to suit your own needs. Have your story and let me have mine.

    Don’t take my words and make them into your awfully limited thoughts about what I think. Don’t ever do that to anyone online that you don’t really know. It is very foolish.

    October 4, 2008
  233. Peter Millin said:

    Anthony …..I am glad in 1940 money wasn’t an issue…..

    October 4, 2008
  234. Paul Fried said:

    Bright (233): It was LBJ who was president during the Gulf of Tonkin era, which sparked the key escalation of the war. During the JFK era, we were meddling and sending “advisors,” but it wasn’t a quagmire yet. You have your history wrong.

    So are you saying that when we’ve killed as many Iraqis, or had as many of our own killed, only then should we be concerned?

    October 4, 2008
  235. Mike Zenner said:

    Bright,

    Sorry if I offended you, I didn’t want to jump into the pick on Bright pile-on, but your comments in #229 and #233 really tripped my trigger.

    #229 – “Show me where I said Saddam was responsible for the sad and terrible events of Septemer 11, 2001. Never did. Never will. It’s all about setting theatre in a strategic location, and getting rid of a man that should not be a leader of such fine and intelligent people as the Iraqi people”

    #233 – “Paul F, we still have far fewer American soldiers wounded or killed than in that debacle JFK got us into, a little thing called Viet Nam. WE have a volunteer army, no draft, and a lot of people are into it as a way of life.”

    My reading between the lines above comes to this interpretation:

    The US picked a third party county Iraq , because someone thinks it’s a good “strategic location” to take on terrorists, and we can take out Saddam at the same time. The cost of which is “still have far fewer American soldiers wounded or killed than in that debacle JFK got us into, a little thing called Viet Nam”.

    To me picking an innocent country to use as a battle ground to fight some other enemy from somewhere else, say’s to me that you either did not think carefully about what you wrote, or you have a cold callous disregard for the lives of foreigners, since the measure is American lives. Why would we want to destroy 1 million lives of “fine and intelligent” Iraqi peoples for “strategic
    location”?

    Personally, I feel it is careless writing, and I am again sorry for taking a shot at you. I can tell from your writing that you really do care greatly for others.

    October 4, 2008
  236. Well, if anyone had asked in a civil manner I might have told you that I didn’t include the numbers of Iraqi’s or Vietnamese or Cambodians or Taiwanese or Koreans or Chinese or any is that I don’t know the real numbers, I don’t know who killed the people in all unbiased factual truth. It is for those countries to talk about their losses to me at this point in my understanding and I don’t hear from them, so I leave it alone.

    But, because I don’t comment on everything including many personal reasons why I do not wish to comment on certain aspects of certain subjects
    is no reason why I should not post or be subject to ridicule and having all sorts of imaginary party line ideas dumped on me.

    Anyone can post one idea or twenty thousand, and shouldn’t be afraid of these false attacks, like I get, just because I don’t agree with most of you.

    October 5, 2008
  237. Holly Cairns said:

    Hey, McCain was right. McCain was right. And this is still going. And going.

    Okay, to add to this so it’s still going on, Mike Zenner in post #198 added something very interesting to the pot, but no one responded as far as I can tell. So I will a bit late, even though I don’t like this topic. 🙂 Because of the title.

    Mike wrote

    Congress and the Bush Regime were fully aware of what they were doing. There NEVER was and NEVER will be an exit plan for Iraq because the plan all along was to stay indefinitely!

    I wonder, sometimes, about bases and our need to have them in the middle east. Do you think that factored into our need to be in Iraq?

    October 5, 2008
  238. Holly, I think the plan is to make every friend we can, and then back up that plan with weapons and places to put weapons and friends to defend and who will defend us, or at least let us shoot from their place. I have heard that military bases would be put up somewhere in that general area, but I don’t remember if it would be on Iraqi land or just somewhere within shooting range.

    And, it is good to be right, but people will now ask, “What have you done for us lately? With this war and economic mess, and it could have been planned the whole time, I think they might have put McCain up, knowing the American People were going to give the Republicans the boot, knowing he wouldn’t win because of his age, which is not a kind of thing people can blame party stuff on, and then let Obama go in there and not be able to do anything cuz of the lack of funds, lack of trust from the people toward all government and wallet street merchants of greed and corruption, and then be able to come back in 2011 saying look you need us Republicans again.

    I didn’t read this, but now I am starting to think like a political strategist. Any takers? 🙂

    October 6, 2008
  239. Mike Zenner said:

    Holly,

    Below are a couple links to the issue of US bases in Iraq. The fact of the matter is we have over 700 bases in 130 countries around the world. I feel the reasons we are setting bases in Iraq are to get out of the growing discourse against the Bases in Saudi Arabia, and to have a forwarding point for a future attack on Iran.

    Just think about how much money would flow into local economies if these bases were back in the US! Realistically, there is no reason for these bases other than 19th century gunboat diplomacy and intimidation, or future attacks.

    We have B-2 bombers that can fly from Missouri to bomb Iraq and back. We have quick response special forces that can deploy anywhere in the world in 48hours. We have Nuclear subs that can travel around the world underwater for months on end and each have enough explosive(nuclear) firepower, then all of what was expended in conventional explosives in WWII.

    http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0319-26.htm

    news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2984547.stm

    October 6, 2008
  240. Holly Cairns said:

    Bright said

    I think they might have put McCain up, knowing the American People were going to give the Republicans the boot, knowing he wouldn’t win because of his age, which is not a kind of thing people can blame party stuff on, and then let Obama go in there and not be able to do anything cuz of the lack of funds, lack of trust from the people toward all government and wallet street merchants of greed and corruption, and then be able to come back in 2011 saying look you need us Republicans again.

    Maybe that is why the Repbulicans picked McCain/Palin. You are sadly mistaken, my friend, If you think the Democrats picked Obama because he’s anything less than superb. Although Obama is upright and stoic, he is not the next Carter (who was also upright and stoic). He’s better at communicating, and better at asking his party to help him get things he needs, and I hope he doesn’t take blame on to himself as an individual.

    Although you are right on the swing back and forth thing– we do need two parties to keep things in line around here.

    Mike, military bases in different countries must provide a lot of benefit for us, I would think. What do I know, but I hope we don’t plan to be on the offensive against Iran. I think we want to protect another country over there (besides Iraq) and we weren’t in good position to do that. Does good position now prevent us from a huge war? That would be nice. Trying to find the golden lining, although our entry into Iraq seemed so deceptive. We lost lives and messed up that country, and for what… oil comes to mind, but we are friends with a country that right wing religious folks think we need to protect.

    The worst of it, to me, is the torturing that has been happening. I thought we were above that. Well, though, we didn’t have a “hostage crisis.” Maybe we showed them we can play under the radar, too. I still don’t think it’s right.

    October 7, 2008
  241. Paul Fried said:

    Holly: If your feelings along these lines are strong, you might consider asking Griff to either change the title to the form of a question, or close comments on this post and open another with a less subjective title. He did this on the presidential posts, and being a generally good listener and open-minded person, he might consider your request.

    I agree with you on the title, as I think would Mike and Jane and some others who have contributed earlier.

    Instead of repeating the phrase from the blog post title you dislike, you might at least end it with question marks (McCain was right??), or start your comment with your disagreement. Otherwise you come off, at first, as agreeing with the title (with which, in fact, you disagree).

    You placed those words regarding McCain at the top of your comments, where they are the first thing (and sometime the only thing) people read of your comments when they see the right-hand column menu of recent comments here at LoGroNo. I think your intention was to convey a kind of sarcasm that comes across better in conversation than it does in the short clip in that right-hand LoGroNo menu/column that previews recent comments. (Pardon my lengthy explanation here, but I hate to see the lack of question marks make you seem to repeat the very thing with which you disagree.)

    Regarding whether the purpose for the war was for oil, or protection of Israel, or liberating and spreading democracy, or other stuff, consider:

    – Alan Greenspan said it was mostly for oil, but then was pressured and retracted. Kind of like that movie scene and line: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain: The Great Oz has spoken.”

    – Consider that the Republicans are capable of multi-tasking, and that the no-bid contracts, fraud, and “The War on Whistleblowers” (see article by that name at Salon.com) has made a climate in which current and future GOP contributors have made millions, often by corrupt means that have, at many turns, gone unchallenged. In this way, Bush-Cheney-Rove used the war, in part, to insure future donations to their party.

    – Consider that Bush-Cheney vastly expanded the general privatization of the military, which is not the same as the no-bid reconstruction contract, but whose effect in resulting in more money for the future of the GOP may be the same. The war was used (part of the multi-tasking) to advance this agenda, and even if the view from Iraqi civilians is that the war and occupation has been a disaster of sorts, some of these multi-taking goals have been a grand success for the war profiteers.

    – Consider that little old book from the post-WWI era by Smedley Butler, a retired Marine general who set a record for the number of times an individual received the congressional medal of honor. The title of his book was “War is a Racket.” You can Google it and find at least a condensed version online. He speaks of his realization that the wars he fought in during his long career were not about democracy and freedom, or about helping he oppressed, but about being a kind of strong man (gangster-style) for corporate interests in the various countries.
    Side note: And he was a Republican, like Jeanette Rankin, who, (correctly) according to Wikipedia, was “the first woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives and the first female member of the Congress.” These were in the days when Republicans and small government could mean not getting involved in complicated and costly foreign entanglements where corporate bosses make a killing while the soldiers killed get low wages — and it was fashionable in soom circles to discuss this openly. Now we have Ron Paul representing this kind of thinking.

    Regarding military bases and their purpose:

    – Consider as a source retired Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, a 20-some year military vet, who worked in the pentagon and watched as Cheney invented the “Office of Special Plans” there, which cherry-picked intelligence and spun it as a web of lies to sell the war.
    Regarding the bases: In a documentary called “Hijacking Catastrophe,” Kwiatkowski speaks specifically about the location of the US military bases, their proximity to oil fields, and their strategic location to prepare for future oil-grabs.
    Side note/background: Kwiatkowski has been compared to Daniel Ellsberg, who served in the military and who later worked for the Rand corporation, and who initially supported the Vietnam war, but who leaked the Pentagon Papers when he realized that lies were being told, and we were still in Vietnam although it had been concluded that the war was unwinable. Kwiatkowski wrote “The New Pentagon Papers” (I think there is an article by that name at Salon.com) and leaked information about what she saw going on at the Pentagon regarding twisted, out-of-context intelligence. Having worked there in various capacities, she had access to the way the analysts were interpretting the data, and she could see how it was being twisted to sell the war.
    – Kwiatkowski is an interesting voice on this subject of bases in part because she voted for Bush in 2000, she was military, worked in the Pentagon, taught classes at a military college, etc., but was a “convert” and became a strong critic of the Bush-Cheney disaster as it was unfolding.
    – Kwiatkowski is a former Republican, now a libertarian and supporter of Ron Paul. She spoke at a “Vets for Peace” rally in SE MN or SW Wisconsin this summer. I did not attend, but I heard about it from some who did.

    October 7, 2008
  242. Paul Fried said:

    Mccain was wrong according to this piece from the UK, which offers compelling analysis:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-mccain-is-deluding-himself-over-the-surge-952490.html

    The reason for the drop in violence was not the surge, but the fact that formerly mixed areas where Sunni and Shia lived in close proximity have experienced ethnic cleansing and an exodus of refugees to other countries to flee the violence:

    “By the time the US troops arrived, there were no more mixed areas left. The easy pickings – the Shia who lived next door, or the Sunni who lived up the road – had all been attacked. Sunni and Shia weren’t killing each other any more because they had retreated into vast enclaves, cleansed and armed, surrounded by barriers manned by militias. Four million people had been driven from their homes. ”

    The author draws upon methods to track ethic cleansing in other countries, but turns them on Iraq to support its conclusions.

    October 7, 2008
  243. Holly Cairns said:

    Thanks Paul, McCain was wrong. Wrong! By my repeating of the title, I was trying to make it obvious that the title was being written over and over again for anyone who is visiting LoGroNo. Possible subliminal effect, but who worries about those things.

    You’re right about my wording. Good thing you brought it up so I can be clear. 🙂

    Thanks also for the reading suggestions. I’m on it. I also read Mike’s suggested link about military bases.

    Okay, I’ll try it. Griff, would you be so kind as to change the title of your post, or would you open another one when this post starts to go adrift, again?

    October 7, 2008
  244. Mike Zenner said:

    Paul,

    I agree with your Smedley Butler qoute “war is a racket”. However, you tend to paint this as strictly a Republican operation. I strongly disagree, it is an American imperial project supported by BOTH parties. If it ain’t Iraq then is Kosavo.

    Both parties are BIG Israel supporters and BOTH parties are gunning for Iran, which I am sure we’ll hear about in the debate tonite by both sides on how a nuclear Iran is bad. Not a word about nuclear N Korea, or Pakistan, but an OIL and natural gas rich country of Iran is a BIG problem, why?

    See my previous post #110 on how it really is in DC.

    October 7, 2008
  245. Paul Fried said:

    Mike: I agree about both parties having roots in the empire project. Part of our reasoning for getting into the world wars so late in each case was due in part, I know, to a variety of factors, but I believe also due in part to the advantage of timing: Let Germany take some of our European colonial competitors down a few notches, and then come in as the hero who can take his pick of the spoils. Calvin Coolidge speculated that the future of nations might be decided over petrol, and some speculated before WWI that the US might go to war with Britain, on whose empire (at the time) the sun never set.

    But consider that the cases of Smedley Butler and Jeanette Rankin, both Republicans, might urge us not fall into the black-and-white, “binary” (thanks Carol), with-us-or-against-us conceptualizing that has characterized the current occupant of the White House.

    The Democratic party of LBJ is also the party of Dennis Kucinich and Paul Wellstone. The Republican party of Reagan, Nixon and the Georges was also the party of Smedley Butler and Jeanette Rankin. It’s also the party of John Dean (former White House counsel under Nixon, who has advocated impeaching Bush). It’s the party of Bob Barr (Republican from Georgia who led the impeachment against Clinton, and now is a harch constitutional critic of Bush), and of Ron Paul and John Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), who opposed the Iraq war on traditionally conservative grounds.

    Consider: My Republican mother-in-law is planning to vote for Obama.

    It’s good to leave room for people to surprise you. They don’t always act like lemmings. FDR turned out to be a surprise to many; some thought he’d be a pal of the rich because of his roots, but look what happened (perhaps in part due to influence from his wife, and courage to use his power, and luck not to get taken out in a fascist coup by corporate fans of Benito M.).

    October 8, 2008
  246. Mike Zenner said:

    Paul,

    Surprise is what I am most worried about with Obama. Most of his supporters are convinced he’s “The Man of Peace” even though he continues to talk about expanding the GWOT! Must be collective delusional ism!

    I have no doubt he will win by a landslide (assuming no Oct surprise), due to the “it’s the economy stupid”

    below is an article about my concerns on Obama:

    http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13564

    October 8, 2008
  247. Holly Cairns said:

    Well, Mike, if you are worried about possible war mongering, consider the alternative (McCain).

    October 9, 2008
  248. Mike, I read the article, linked at #253, and agree. The problem with Obama is that he is an unknown. Did he vote against the Iraq War just to set himself apart and set himself up for the youth vote which is traditionally anti war, or did he ever actually mean it truly? Either way, you are right, Obama looks like McCain on paper. Too sad.

    I am an anti war person by action, by word, and by heart . But,I know the reality is that this nation thrives on war. When Clinton was President and not much going on, compared to the last eight years, and many other years, war wise and natural disaster wise, yeah, people were working, but a lot of people had two and three part time jobs to make ends meet. It has been a different time since Bush came in,I feel. I don’t have all the facts at my disposal, but me and all my immediate connections have done much better in this economy until now. So, I guess it was a rolly coaster ride, as opposed to the smooth, but boring nineties.

    What will McCain bring with him? What will Obama bring? We know what McCain has going on, do we know what Obama has going on? Is Obama well liked in Congress? I hope the next debates will reveal more, but I doubt it.

    October 9, 2008
  249. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s NY Times: As Fears Ease, Baghdad Sees Walls Tumble; The dismantling of blast walls is the most visible sign of change in Baghdad as the surge strategy draws to a close.

    Iraqis are already taking on many of the tasks the Americans once performed, raising great hopes that the country will progress on its own but also deep fears of failure.

    On Oct. 1, the Sunni-dominated Awakening movement, widely credited with helping restore order to neighborhoods that were among the most deadly, passed from the American to the Iraqi government payroll in Baghdad

    October 10, 2008
  250. I just learned that a veteran from the Iraqi Veterans Against the War or a similar organization will be giving a presentation in the meeting rooms behind Just Food Co-Op, this coming Monday (10/20) at 7:00 p.m. Among other things, he’ll be specifically talking about the “surge”, the sustainability of our occupation, and the rationale behind having our military in foreign nations, such as in Japan and South Korea.

    I hope to see you all on Monday…

    October 17, 2008
  251. Paul Fried said:

    The new Bob Woodward book explores the possibility that the reduction in violence was due more to ethnic cleansing and increased refugees to Syria than it was to the surge.

    The following is from an article that mentions the Woodward book, and which makes even firmer claims about the real reason for the reduction in violence than Woodward’s claims:

    “According to Bob Woodward, in his new book The War Within (Simon & Schuster, 2008), the biggest factor behind the reduced violence in Iraq was “very possibly” not the Surge, but a resort to Death Squads. A “Top Secret” memo viewed by Woodward indicates that the Sunnis were systematically targeted and assassinated. ”
    …………….
    Below, the clip above is shown in a larger context of the article (still just a part of the article):
    …………….
    From article:
    “Iraq: Did the Surge Work?”
    by George Hunsinger

    Violence, Alexander Solzenitsyn once observed, finds refuge in falsehood, even as falsehood is supported by violence. “Anyone who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose falsehood as his principle.” (Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1972) A practical rule can be deduced. Where there is violence, look for falsehood; where there is falsehood, look for violence. If Solzenitsyn is correct, they go together.

    According to conventional wisdom, it seems that the “surge” in Iraq was a huge success. For example, a recent CNS News story was headlined: “With Success of Surge, NY Times’ Iraq War Coverage Drops to All-Time Low” (October 21, 2008). The Times’ coverage has dropped 60 per cent since 2004, and this is not terribly different from other news outlets. The media has lost interest in Iraq. Whether the surge really “worked,” however, is another story.

    In September 2007, Juan Cole, the respected Middle East expert, wrote an article called “Big Lies Surround the Iraq ‘Surge.'” At that time he stated: “US troop deaths in Iraq have not fallen and . . . violence in Iraq has not fallen because of the Surge. Violence is way up this year.” But, one might reply, that was then and this is now. How do matters stand more than a year after this gloomy verdict? A widespread consensus exists today throughout the political campaigns and the mainstream media that the great success of the Surge is beyond doubt.

    The so-called Surge — a euphemism for escalation — was designed to increase security in Iraq. U.S. presence in the country was to be increased by 30,000 personnel along with a three-fold contribution in Iraqi forces. Additional troops were to be provided by coalition partners. Baghdad was selected as the center of the campaign. If security could be increased for the country’s largest city, the rest would surely follow. A Shi’ite and Sunni “fault line” ran throughout the city.

    In January 2007, a year after being launched, the Surge was widely acclaimed as a triumph. Contrary to naysayers like Cole, violence across the country was said to be down by 60 percent. Al Qaeda in Iraq, expelled from Baghdad and Anbar Province, was said to be on the run, and the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior reported that it was 75 percent destroyed. Not only was the violence in Iraq reduced, but Al Qaeda was being decimated.

    Again, however, Cole, who relies on independent sources in the original languages, argued otherwise. What actually seems to have happened, he wrote in the summer of 2008, was that, first, the Sunni Arabs in Baghdad were disarmed by the escalation troops. Then, “once these Sunnis were left helpless, the Shiite militias came in at night and ethnically cleansed them.”

    Mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad ended up with almost no Sunnis. In 2007 Baghdad went from being predominantly Sunni to being overwhelmingly Shiite. According to Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress, Baghdad, once having a 65 percent Sunni majority, “is now 75 percent Shia.”

    “My thesis,” wrote Cole, “would be that the U.S. inadvertently allowed the chasing of hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs out of Baghdad (and many of them had to go all the way to Syria for refuge). Rates of violence declined once the ethnic cleansing was far advanced, just because there were fewer mixed neighborhoods.”

    Cole’s thesis has received important confirmation. According to Bob Woodward, in his new book The War Within (Simon & Schuster, 2008), the biggest factor behind the reduced violence in Iraq was “very possibly” not the Surge, but a resort to Death Squads. A “Top Secret” memo viewed by Woodward indicates that the Sunnis were systematically targeted and assassinated. What took place was reminiscent of the infamous Phoenix Program instituted by the U.S. in Vietnam. It was a strategy of summary executions.

    Yet another confirmation appeared in a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of California. Based on an examination of satellite photos across Baghdad, the study observed that Sunni neighborhoods, which showed a dramatic decrease of nighttime light in Sunni neighborhoods, had been abandoned by their inhabitants. The surge, the study concluded, “has had no observable effect.” The study attributed the tremendous decline in Baghdad’s Sunni population to relocations and ethnic cleansing.
    [….]
    According to UN reports, the number of Iraqi refugees has spiked during the Surge. Between 2.5 and 4 million are now estimated to exist outside their country, while another 2.5 are internal refugees. At least 2 million Sunni refugees cannot return to their homes without fear of being slaughtered.
    [….]

    Here’s the URL for the article above:
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/10/23-3

    October 23, 2008
  252. Joe Dokken said:

    When did Bob Woodward become an expert on Iraq’s challenges for national sovereignty and ethnic identity?
    Not to mention military battles and strategy?
    I thought he was a reporter?
    I know he spent a few years in the Navy, five maybe a little longer?
    Maybe someone with a lifetime of actual military experience would be a better source?
    He is an excellent reporter, journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and decent man.
    I don’t think his printed materials make him anything more than another armchair observer.
    Maybe not…..
    I guess that’s all I am …

    October 24, 2008
  253. Griff Wigley said:

    Tom Friedman’s column today:

    In the last year, though, the U.S. troop surge and the backlash from moderate Iraqi Sunnis against Al Qaeda and Iraqi Shiites against pro-Iranian extremists have brought a new measure of stability to Iraq. There is now, for the first time, a chance — still only a chance — that a reasonably stable democratizing government, though no doubt corrupt in places, can take root in the Iraqi political space.

    That is the Iraq that Obama is inheriting.

    November 30, 2008
  254. Peter Millin said:

    The Iraqi government just approved a plan that will have our troops out in three years.

    Finally.

    December 1, 2008
  255. Anthony Pierre said:

    so… when are the war crimes hearings

    April 7, 2009
  256. Jerry Friedman said:

    I thought the “just following orders” defense was thrown out at the Nuremburg Trials. I don’t understand how Americans could cause torture. Our culture has a vested interest and a history of opposing it. Nor do I understand how Americans could commit economic disasters like Enron and Madoff. Perhaps American values are just a veneer, in which case, I am afraid of what else remains hidden.

    April 7, 2009
  257. kiffi summa said:

    The links posted here are beyond acceptance without extreme anger, repulsion, sickness… how has this country of ours fallen into such criminal hands as those who sanctioned this behavior?

    Many articles have been written by brave investigative reporters and they were always discredited by the Bush administration,some major news vehicles, and those who had lost the ideals or purpose of a free country with principles and the rule of law.

    Will the ICRC now be discredited by those same Bush administration higher-ups who have thrown the principles of America into the trash bins of the world? The complete hypocrisy and religious righteousness with which the Bush Administration negated human rights as belonging only to like-thinkers is a shame on all of us who read the ongoing reports of torture and only decried it in small groups, or with friends. Is this what it felt like to be a German citizen in the time of the Nazi atrocities?

    Some have asked: What good will it do to prosecute those of the former administration, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and shamefully, on and on, and on through the ranks of the Justice (?) Dept, CIA, etc.

    The good it will do is to say that we, the public, were stupid, scared of our own government and its abuse of power, and yes… afraid in our own country, in our own small towns, in our homes, afraid of our own government which showed such lack of respect for the rule of law that we were afraid it could somehow touch us all… touch us through our telephones, our associations, or even the library books we read.

    Bring on the “war crimes” trials; better yet, just bring on the trials based on the violation of the rule of law in this country. We are all dirtied by what we did not protest against; We all stand in shame. Let them be brought to public account for the violation of the public trust which Americans of any party persuasion should be able to expect of their elected representatives.

    It will only be “a new day” if it starts with a thorough cleansing of the old and darkest night. “Sweeping it under the rug” will not serve to restore the image of our country; we must Prove “a new day”, and we must insist on that being done.

    April 7, 2009
  258. john george said:

    Jerry- Your comment, “…Perhaps American values are just a veneer, in which case, I am afraid of what else remains hidden…” is, unfortunatley, probably a correct evasluation. When we began teaching that there is no absolute moral foundation, and that morality is something that can be made up from time to time for expediency, then I think this is an example the result. What else is going to be revealed? Hold onto your hats.

    April 7, 2009
  259. Jerry Friedman said:

    In another context, a friend Buddhist recently remarked what harm she thinks atheism has done to the moral actions of Chinese. Without an atheistic religion, the atheist Chinese have no fear of consequences in the afterlife.

    I do want society indoctrinated into a sound, moral system. You and I disagree on the soundness of each other’s systems. I enjoy large chunks of Utilitarianism, and small pieces of other systems, none of which rely on the supernatural.

    April 7, 2009
  260. john george said:

    Jerry- “…I do want society indoctrinated into a sound, moral system…” Yep, same here. Being the pragmatist that I am, it seems expedient to see where agreement can be had on results without having to have agreement on source. If we are really going to be able to affect change in society, we need to work together. I’m all for unity without compromise of principle. Perhaps I am too idealist, but I think that is possible. Just because I vote conservative doesn’t mean I approve of everything conservatives do. I’m sure there are liberal officials that violate your convictions, also.

    April 8, 2009
  261. Peter Millin said:

    Is this what it felt like to be a
    German citizen in the time of the Nazi
    atrocities?

    Not even close.

    Kiffi, following your logic we should have trialed Truman and Johnson as well????

    April 9, 2009
  262. David Henson said:

    I would be against torture but I think readers should focus on what the report actually says :

    One of the fourteen detainees, for example, tells the Red Cross investigators

    The detainees may not be entirely reliable.

    April 11, 2009
  263. Paul Fried said:

    There was a book written recently, reviewed on NPR, about the first 100 days at Guantanamo. Remarkably, in the absence of specific orders to torture, or to go against the established military rules, the book claims Guantanamo was very legal and above board at first. Which leads to…

    Jerry, you wrote, ‘I thought the “just following orders” defense was thrown out at the Nuremburg Trials. I don’t understand how Americans could cause torture. Our culture has a vested interest and a history of opposing it.’

    What happened at Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib was that there were orders from the top, memos signed by Rumsfeld, urging more extreme measures for getting information. This has long been documented: the memo with Rumsfeld’s signature and a hand-written “Do This!” on it.

    The other thing that happened was that a great deal of the gathering of information from prisoners was outsourced to private contractors who, somehow, were thought not to be held to the standards of the military, because they were, well, non-military.

    The argument for outsourcing was that it would save us money, but it would seem that healing wounds after Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib would get very expensive, as they became great recruitment tools for terrorists.

    The old fashioned military in which less was outsourced may have been more expensive up front, but it was better in the long run.

    But we’re being told in recent decades that such thinking is either socialist (to have a US military, paid for directly by taxpayers, without more folks making a profit), or impractical (when the economy was better, it was harder to recruit kids; this is changing).

    We need a war crimes investigation, but Obama “doesn’t want to look back, but look ahead,” and the US mainstream media and TV-watching public takes a national emergency, and sexy headlines and scandals, to get them off their butts and demanding something that serious. Wall Street would not like a war crimes investigation of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush. After all, they are from the party that champions lower taxes and smaller government.

    April 11, 2009
  264. Paul Fried said:

    David H: You wrote, “The detainees may not be entirely reliable.”

    The point is that the US was NOT reliable. We rounded up too many innocent people in exchange for bounties, so people turned in the neighbor they didn’t like. This has been extensively documented. Under Bush and Cheney, some were released, but sometimes the ones who should have been kept were let go, and the ones who should have been released remained in custody.

    Not that there were no guilty people in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, but there were simply too many who were detained, who were innocent. We cast too wide a net.

    Sure, the testimony of some detainees might not be reliable. But you can’t assume it’s not reliable. I don’t think the terrorists would have a strategy of going to the Red Cross to tell about how they were mistreated. The Red Cross is not staffed by a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears doves who are blinded by their rose colored glasses. We might assume they ask the same kinds of questions you do: Can we trust this testimony? Or this statement? Stressing how unreliable such stuff may be only allows Americans to remain in denial about the effects of their country’s foreign policy, and to persist in the illusion that we’re always the good guys, and everyone else may have it out for us in some way.

    April 11, 2009
  265. Jerry Friedman said:

    Paul:

    What happened at Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib was that there were orders from the top, memos signed by Rumsfeld, urging more extreme measures for getting information. This has long been documented: the memo with Rumsfeld’s signature and a hand-written “Do This!” on it.

    I understand what happened. What I don’t understand is why Americans wouldn’t tell Rumsfeld to go smoke a joint… or a worse expletive. I don’t understand why McCain, who was tortured, would not be manifest in opposing torture. I don’t understand why the Republican Party, sworn to honor the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law, would treat them as yesterday’s laundry.

    I keep thinking of David Bowie’s song, “This Is Not America.”

    April 11, 2009
  266. David Henson said:

    Paul, I agree that US leaders should always be forthrightly against torture, I am against the death penalty and I would release half the people now in US prisons. However, terrorists use Red Cross vehicles to conduct operations in the Middle East so you can be sure they know exactly what to say when being debriefed. The part of the Red Cross report posted was highly misleading because the poster made the quotes seem like they a position of the Red Cross when they were in fact just excerpts from interviews with detainees.

    Truth is the first casualty of war

    sadly, on all sides.

    April 11, 2009
  267. Paul Fried said:

    Jerry: We have many wonderful ideals enshrined in the constitution and Declaration of Independence, but they’re ideals: US history shows that justice, equality and rights are more things we strive for than achieve. Do you remember those studies in which subjects were asked to give what they believed to be an electrical charge to a person who had given a wrong answer in what seemed to be a behavioral psychology learning situation? Most subjects willingly gave what they thought to be an electrical shock. People were shown to be more willing to conform and obey orders than to resist because of ethical concerns.

    That’s also America, and human nature. It has always been a project that involves seeking to listen to our better angels, among the other various choices.

    April 12, 2009
  268. Peter Millin said:

    AQ members are not a regular army. They don’t play by the Geneva convention rules. They have slaughtered thousands of people in a most cowardly way.

    They have not earned the right to be treated as human beings, they are cowards..period.

    Call it torture called it enhanced interrogation techniques. I don’t care. In this case the ends justify the means.
    GWB did what he thought was necessary and while some of you might disagree. The fact is that he has kept us safe since 9-11.

    Now it is Obama’s turn and he has the duty to do what he thinks is necessary to keep us safe. Only history will tell us how he did.
    Judging by his handling of four guys in a life raft I do get a bit worried.

    Seems like lot of people have a romantic Hollywood notion on war. Well, let me describe war in the words of Ulysses Grant ” War is about killing”.

    So, if we are foolish enough to engage in war (which in itself is another question), then by God let’s do everything to win it.

    April 12, 2009
  269. Jerry Friedman said:

    Ulysses Grant did not conceive the nuclear warfare. War is not about killing.

    Even the CIA admitted that GWB’s policies have made more terrorists, have put the U.S. in greater risk.

    April 12, 2009
  270. Peter Millin said:

    Jerry,

    Au contraire mon ami……War is all about killing. The one that kills the most wins….

    April 12, 2009
  271. Jerry Friedman said:

    I am sad that people share your view.

    War is about ending war. Killing the most is not necessarily winning, unless you’re endorsing genocide.

    From the estimates I’ve seen, 6 million Axis soldiers died, 14 million Allied soldiers died. Thankfully, your premise and conclusion are wrong.

    April 12, 2009
  272. Peter Millin said:

    Jerry,

    In a political sense you are right, but i am talking about the military side of war.

    The military goal of warfare is to kill your opponent and to kill as many as necessary to make them stop fighting.
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a “good” example of this.

    April 13, 2009
  273. Jerry Friedman said:

    Peter: Strange choice for an example. By targeting civilian populations, those responsible for dropping the atom bombs are war criminals.

    Mustard gas was outlawed after WWI because its effect was too horrible.

    The military side of war is morally and legally compelled to follow the rules of war. It’s not about killing as many as you can. Again, I am sad that you and others hold this mass murdering opinion.

    April 13, 2009
  274. Jerry Friedman said:

    Paul: That must be why I (mostly) idealize Mohandas Gandhi. His war to remove the most powerful military (Great Britain) from India resulted in a few thousand deaths, most of them being against his wishes. He knew that people would die, but he never took arms to kill his enemy, and he told his followers to do the same. Yet in European nations and former European colonies, people think that it takes murdering millions to win a war.

    I don’t claim all wars are equal, and maybe that’s the point. If our politicians and military leaders would get out of the killing business, if they would aggressively search for how to win wars without a military, we could save untold billions of dollars for more important things and not make enemies out of our neighbors.

    Gandhi’s lessons have mostly been forgotten. India has embraced nuclear weapons, and most Americans believe the way to win wars is to kill.

    April 15, 2009
  275. Paul Fried said:

    Peter: In 276 you say war is about killing, and the side that kills the most wins.

    But this is not what they teach in US military colleges. The goal is to win, not necessarily to kill the most. They do think, in fact, about limiting casualties, and about winning hearts and minds, and about making sure that the military policy does not create more military problems that can’t be solved by exclusively military means. I listened to an interview with an instructor from a military acadamy who explained all this quite clearly. I think you mischaracterize military objectives in war. While some warriors may be mislead, they’re still human beings, and the best thinkers and teachers about warfare see it in a much larger context than you allow.

    Peter, you also write, “AQ members are not a regular army. They don’t play by the Geneva convention rules. They have slaughtered thousands of people in a most cowardly way.”

    One of the main reasons for this has to do with what the CIA calls “blowback.” We wanted Muslim radicals to flock to Afghanistan to help in the war against the USSR. We trained them and created networks of unconventional fighters. Much of this has persisted in what is now called Al Qaeda.

    It’s like the story of the Frankenstein monster: You create a moster for one reason, to serve one purpose, but then eventually the monster turns on you, so you have to kill it or be killed.

    The people of Afghanistan are now living with the wreckage and after-effects, or blowback, of the US cold war (as proxy war) against the USSR. To paraphrase Colin Powell’s words to George W., we broke it, so now we seem to act as if it’s ours, or at least a problem we’re responsible to fix.

    We talk about moral peril related to certain actions with bail-outs and banks, but how have we managed the moral perils of being the Frankenstein creators of what eventually morphed into the Taliban and Al Qaeda?

    The unconventional methods of Al Qaeda do little to justify any US methods, when we were the mother of the blowback.

    A Christian who knew his or her Bible verses might chime in here with a line from the New Testement: Don’t pluck the splinter from the eye of your neighbor when you have a plank in your own. First remove the plank.

    April 15, 2009
  276. David Henson said:

    “When the enemy is relaxed, make them
    toil. When full, starve them. When
    settled, make them move.”

    “In conflict, straightforward actions
    generally lead to engagement,
    surprising actions generally lead to
    victory.”

    “Thus those skilled in war subdue the
    enemy’s army without battle …. They
    conquer by strategy.”

    April 16, 2009
  277. Jerry Friedman said:

    and to that I’ll add…

    War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace. -Thomas Mann

    and my favorite…

    Food, not Bombs.

    Imagine if we spent half our military budget on feeding the people of Iraq, Iran, and other troubled nations. We would have no enemies.

    April 16, 2009
  278. john george said:

    Paul- A couple more principles- do not return evil for evil, but instead, a blessing. Also, bless those who despitefully use you. Another- make friends with your enemy on the way to the court. Then, when you come before the judge, you will have an ally. Another- you will reap what you sow. I dare say that Christendom in general has not done well in these respects. And our current cultural focus on “self” satisfaction and accomplishment does not foster these principles, either. Self denial (take up your cross…) flies in the face of current cultural mores.

    April 16, 2009
  279. Peter Millin said:

    Imagine if we spent half our military
    budget on feeding the people of Iraq,
    Iran, and other troubled nations. We
    would have no enemies.

    Good luck with that…history is not on your side here.

    I thought I made it clear earlier..please read my first post on this issue.
    I believe that war is not a solution…but if we decide to go to war, we should be in it to win it, and take all steps necessary to do so.

    Our casualty rate in Iraq would be a lot lower if we would have done so. But again the politics of the day trumped military common sense.

    April 17, 2009
  280. john george said:

    Peter- I’m with you on this one. I believe that if we had spent the whole military budget on feeding the extreemists in the middle east, they would still hate us. The reason being, in my opinion, is that they are not a people of reason, as so much western thought embraces. The idea that we can negotiate with everyone in the world presupposes that everyone else thinks like us. They don’t.

    As far as going in to win this war, I’m not sure how that can be accomplished with superior technology. The problem we face there is the same problem we faced in Viet Nam. We are fighting an enemy that does not wear a uniform and cannot be distinguished from the average citizen on the street. In fact, many of the extreemist soldiers are average citizens on the street. it seems that the only way to win in this case is to turn the hearts of the people away from their false tenets. This is a long term, painstaking, inside out endeavor. It is evident that helping them with a common enemy does not gaurentee that they will not turn on us. It is like the proverbial dog that bites the hand that feeds it.

    April 17, 2009
  281. Jerry Friedman said:

    Peter: I don’t follow. Wiki asserts that we spend $515+ billion on U.S. military. When in history have we spent half of that on feeding troubled people of the world? When in history have we comforted our friends and enemies in meaningful magnitude?

    The U.S. is already responsible for more Iraqi deaths than murdered tyrant Saddam Hussein was accused of. How can we be liberators if we are worse than their tyrant? Point being, a military solution is always unpredictable and cannot be controlled. And an all out military solution, as you endorse as a last resort, will hurt everyone. Even if our casualty rate was less, the ‘innocent’ Iraqi casualty rate would be more, and the U.S. economy suffers with huge military spending, meaning Americans suffer generally.

    An annual $250+ billion food program would be a major boon to American farmers and economy, and would lure all but the most anti-American Iraqis to our side… instead, through killing nearly 100,000 Iraqis, through wrecking their infrastructure, through bombing them into puppet democracy, we are creating more anti-Americans. The CIA admits this. The all-out-war solution will drag this conflict out, to our detriment, because it creates more enemies.

    Sun Tzu writes in “The Art of War”, the most efficient way to win a war is to disrupt your enemy’s alliances. Feeding the Iraqi people is just that. The hardest way to win a war, he says, is to attack your enemy’s military. I am informed that all U.S. military are required to read “The Art of War” but it seems that so few people apply its lessons.

    Remember that we had world sympathy on 9/11. A few years later with an illegal war and the world hates us. War is bad, and all out war is worse, unless your agenda is genocide, in which case it’s evil.

    April 17, 2009
  282. Jerry Friedman said:

    John: If you are narrowly referring to Al Qaeda and its sympathists, their reasoning is different than ours. The way to beat them is for the U.S. to be of such impeccable character that their supporters no longer give them shelter. This relates to my recent post to Peter, that the best way to win a war is to disrupt your enemy’s alliances. I accept that some of them surely are hateful and irrational, but that doesn’t mean we should kill them.

    If you are broadly referring to Arabs and Muslims, the idea that they are not people of reason, and that the “white” man should introduce them to reason, is orientalist, colonialist, and poor reasoning.

    Remember that the Arabs have contributed vast intellect to the world culture. Their literature and poetry, fine art and architecture, mathematics and astronomy, medicine, physics and chemistry, and philosophy advanced inferior European science and culture. (Ever wonder why we no longer use Roman numerals?)

    So it’s more true to say that “They don’t reason like us, but we reason like them.”

    As far as the dog who bites his feeder. The history of the West vs. Middle East, Christian vs. Muslim, European vs. Arab, however you compare the two, has been the Europeans (and former European colonies) being orientalists and colonialists. European culture is to regard Arabs (and other Muslims) as irrational. If we treat them as inferiors, no wonder why they bite.

    April 17, 2009
  283. john george said:

    Jerry- I will go back to my original statement, and I don’t mean to say the middle eastern thought process is inferior:

    The idea that we can negotiate with
    everyone in the world presupposes that
    everyone else thinks like us. They
    don’t.

    So much of what I hear from various factions in this country is that if we just negotiated with these people, we wouldn’t have any problems. It is that type of reasoning that I think is unfruitful, and I’m not saying you are one who thinks that way. In fact, I’m not sure we can reverse 5000 years of history in one fell swoop. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work toward understanding, but I at least like to have my expectations realistic.

    Your assertion, “…The way to beat them is for the U.S. to be of such impeccable character that their supporters no longer give them shelter…” is idealistic but unrealistic. Two things we Americans tout as freedoms flies in the face of much of the middle eastern thinking, since it is based in Islamic doctorine rather than humanistic doctorine. One is equal rights for women. The other is equal rights for gays. I know there are some minority voices in middle eastern accademia that are challenging this, but they do so under threat of their lives. I think we need to approach negotiations, if we are to have them, with this in mind. One of the things the last administration mistook in their handling of Iraq was that people would be flocking to the chance for freedom. Some did, but many did not.

    April 17, 2009
  284. kiffi summa said:

    People of reason? … people of reason … who gets to define who is a person of reason?
    John, you just cannot help but put your foot in your mouth. (#280.4)
    With the remarks you have made about gays, how can you align ‘western’ thought as being supportive of gays when you ( decidedly a ‘westerner’) have said “not ALL homosexuals are pedophiles” … I believe that is a direct quote from you on the atheist thread. Sounds to me pretty much like what you might think is some prejudicial ‘eastern’ thought.. not something from a ‘person of reason’.

    Right now Iowa has the hate speech, and films, and TV commercials, and advertising, out in full force, trying to overthrow their Supreme Court decision , and that’s IOWA, not BASRA.

    Is there no end to your disdain for other cultures?
    If the ‘westerners’ wouldn’t have burned the ‘easterners’ library at Alexandria, we westerners might not have been stuck in the Dark Ages for several hundred years.

    April 17, 2009
  285. Peter Millin said:

    Jerry,

    You assume that the reason why the muslims hate us is because they are hubgry???

    You couldn’t be anymore wrong.

    It is a bunch of religous wackos hellbend to force their religion on us.

    April 18, 2009
  286. Peter Millin said:

    Jerry,

    The reason why we lost Vietnam was politicial. Our apprehension of fighting it full force hurt us. You can’t win a war with one hand tied behind your back.

    The same is true for Iraq. I wonder how many of our soldiers died needlessly because we were concerned about a Mosque?
    Al-Sadr was alowed to go free and kill hundreds of our soldiers because he was hidding in a mosque..this is obsurd.

    April 18, 2009
  287. kiffi summa said:

    Peter: Do you think there are any “religious wackos hellbend (sic) to force their religion on us” in this country?

    April 18, 2009
  288. Jerry Friedman said:

    Kiffi: Of course Americans are all reasonable. We reasonably use universal jurisdiction to go after Somali pirates. For this reason, when foreign courts go after us for torture, using universal jurisdiction, naturally our government will hand over the CIA operatives, military personnel, and private contractors who have committed the gravest offenses against humans. There is no law that permits torture, and every law that contemplates the subject prohibits torture.

    Of course Americans are all reasonable. We attacked a foreign sovereign against U.S. law, int’l law, and foreign treaties, killed their leader, and occupied it. More than once.

    Of course Americans are all reasonable. We lead the world in energy consumption and pollution. We spend $500+ billion in our military. We pay women less than men for the same work, colored people less than whites.

    Of course Americans are all reasonable. We have enough nuclear weapons to destroy human life on Earth.

    You are unreasonable to dare think that Americans are unreasonable.

    April 18, 2009
  289. Jerry Friedman said:

    Peter: Offering humanitarian aid, such as food, will win allies. Shooting, bombing, and killing won’t.

    April 18, 2009
  290. Jerry Friedman said:

    Peter: Depending on what you mean by “political”, you might be right. The way I see it, when the U.S. was dropping napalm and burning Vietnamese babies, there was quite a political backlash. When we sent mostly minorities to fight in Vietnam, and privileged white men, like Bush Jr., escaped the bloodbath, there was quite a political backlash. When student protesters were murdered by the National Guard in Ohio, there was quite a political backlash.

    If Vietnam was a clean war, we might have been lucky enough to be fighting it today. The military minds screwed up so badly that we lost it decades ago.

    April 18, 2009
  291. David Henson said:

    Jerry, you are so anti USA but compare one of your critical moments Kent State

    Four students were killed and nine
    others were wounded,

    To a non-USA critical moment : Tiananmen Square

    The official death toll according to
    the Chinese government was 200 to 300,
    but Chinese student associations and
    the Chinese Red Cross reported 2,000
    to 3,000 deaths[3].

    I mean is your criticism of the US in comparison to the rest of the world or to an unachieved ideal?

    April 18, 2009
  292. David Henson said:

    Food Aid is dumping and wipes out domestic production of crops in Africa (tough to sell produce when others give away) causing famine. How would your buy-local-buddies feel if China just starting give food away here in MN for free. I just cannot fathom how liberals can both preach ‘buy local’ and ‘food aid’ when they contradict each other in such a sickening way.

    April 18, 2009
  293. Jerry Friedman said:

    David: Do you remember Isaiah 2:4?

    “And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.”

    I realize that you’re Mormon but the Hebrew Bible still applies.

    You commit a strawman fallacy, by oversimplifying my argument in order to make it easy to knock it over. John thought that Americans were, on average, more rational than Arabs, but when Americans commit fallacies to win arguments, it shows that we are just as irrational as they are.

    If your stereotype is right, that liberals preach “buy local” and “food aid”, is the other stereotype right, that conservatives want to send young Americans to Iraq to kill or be killed? Peter said the goal should have been to kill as many as possible. Why the bloodlust?

    China is importing food. The Chinese do not make enough to feed its billion citizens. Nonetheless, if a foreign nation bombed the U.S., wiping out our infrastructure, the right thing to do would be for our invaders to feed starving Americans. If you want to make comparisons, you might as well avoid the strawmen and make the comparisons equal.

    There is a core of pro-Americans and anti-Americans in Iraq who are not likely to change their views. There is a huge number of Iraqis in between. Giving the in-between aid will encourage them to view Americans as humanitarians. Granted, that will be more difficult after we’ve smart-bombed their nation, but we might as well start sooner rather than later.

    If the U.S. spent an additional $250+ billion on local agriculture, then American farmers and the economy they support would be doing so much better, and we can still buy local.

    April 19, 2009
  294. Jerry Friedman said:

    David: Don’t be silly. Peter and I were talking about the political backlash that made Vietnam impossible to win. Tienanmen Square is irrelevant.

    Once again, you’re bringing red herrings to the discussion, and strawmen. Might you find interest in a logic class, to learn the classic fallacies, and avoid them?

    April 19, 2009
  295. David Henson said:

    Jerry, I am not nor have I ever been a Mormon (where do you get these ideas?)

    The major wars of modern times were conducted by: Wilson, Roosevelt, LBJ (conservatives?). And now on a much smaller scale Bush which even if poorly thought out and conducted was in response to an attack.

    April 19, 2009
  296. Jerry Friedman said:

    David: I thought that you said the Book of Mormon was inspired and genuine. Doesn’t that make you Mormon?

    April 19, 2009
  297. Jerry Friedman said:

    David: Pardon my oversight. Are you comparing WWI and WWII to the Iraq war? And what was the attack that Bush responded to when the U.S. attacked Iraq?

    April 19, 2009
  298. David Henson said:

    Jerry, I think you asked about a variety of books (not I)and I responded that I thought they were all inspired and genuine.

    April 19, 2009
  299. David Henson said:

    I would need a brain transplant to keep up with your use of logic, mine starts smoking just trying to see the connections within each paragraph.

    April 19, 2009
  300. john george said:

    Kiffi- I think it was Jerry who proposed the idea that morality was better based on reason than religion, but I may be wrong on that. I think it was in a different thread. Do you remember, Jerry?

    If you want to take my various comments out of context, re. the homosexual/pedophile comment, then I guess you can, but it doesn’t really accomplish anything. This comment was in response to someone else’s reference to gays being attracted to adolescents. Not my association.

    Your comment, “…Right now Iowa has the hate speech, and films, and TV commercials, and advertising, out in full force, trying to overthrow their Supreme Court decision , and that’s IOWA, not BASRA…” is evidence of what I have posted before regarding my fears of infringement on my freedom of speech. It seems you are saying that anyone who opposes gay rights and has the audacity to express it in public, is guilty of hate speech. I thought this was something I was supposed to be assured of never happening in this country?

    On what are you basing this accusation, “…Is there no end to your disdain for other cultures?…” Is it just my observation that other cultures do not think as we do? And how does this further discussion of whether we “won the war”? Part of being able to discuss opposing views is recognizing one’s own prejudices and being able to understand how these filter one’s perceptions of events. That is something I am trying to do in my involvement here. That is why I feel free to discuss these issues with Patrick and Jerry, because I sense a mutual respect for where each of us is coming from. We are not necessarily looking for agreement, just understanding without condemnation.

    April 19, 2009
  301. Jerry Friedman said:

    David: Inspired is the term that theists use to explain that a given text came straight from Biblegod (albeit maybe in a circuitous route). Genuine means that it’s real, so it should prevail over other inspired texts. Sorry if I misunderstood your response, but it looked like you held the Book of Mormon as straight from Biblegod and the preferred text to use.

    If you don’t consider it as inspired and genuine, on what basis do you choose not to?

    April 19, 2009
  302. David Henson said:

    Jerry, the books are not God. Over preoccupation with the books becomes idol worshiping.

    April 19, 2009
  303. kiffi summa said:

    John: What I am basing my Comment on (“is there no end to your disdain for other cultures? ) is from your post of April 17th, # 280.1,lines three and four, which says (referring to middle easterners): “they are not a people of reason”.
    Sorry, John , straight from your keyboard.

    And I challenge you to look at some of the advertising, video and otherwise, from the movement to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court decision. The assumptions made are ‘hate speech’ by any definition, Just like your statement that I quoted, in which you said “not ALL homosexuals are pedophiles”. That was not out of context, John, that statement of yours was in the context of your religious belief that you can ‘cure’ a lifestyle choice that you feel is a sort of sickness.

    And furthermore, if you are concerned about “thread drift” …re: your comment to me as to how this relates to how “we won the war” … how do abortion,homosexual life styles, pedophilia, etc., enter into a discussion of “is NF atheist friendly”? You singularly introduced the three aforementioned topics into that thread, and persisted at it; was it “thread drift”? or just plain proselytizing.

    April 19, 2009
  304. kiffi summa said:

    Boys: Gentlemen: Whatever:.. I am not looking for agreement; I am just looking for discussion without extreme gender … as well as other types… of prejudice.

    John: it would appear that you would look for a game of softball with the boys, while the girls do a little scrap booking! ( see comment #281.3 )

    April 19, 2009
  305. Jerry Friedman said:

    David: Much simpler than a brain transplant would be a class in logic.

    April 19, 2009
  306. Jerry Friedman said:

    David: Again a strawman. I ne’er said that the books were Biblegod, nor that we should be preoccupied with them.

    I am trying to understand which book memorializes your beliefs, your faith, and why you chose it, in the furtherance of my understanding where you’re coming from.

    April 19, 2009
  307. john george said:

    Kiffi- I’m still a little perplexed as to why you evaluate my comment about middle eastern thought processes as expressing disdain for other cultures. Are you judging my comments through your own prejudices? This geographic region simply processes things differently than we do. My point being that we need to take this fact into account when we relate to them.

    As far as you assertions about my homosexual/pedophile comment, you are still wrong in your conclusion about it. I was responding to an earlier commenter about homosexuals being only attracted to adolescents. A few years ago, there was an organization called NAMBLA that did promote these types of relationships, but, according to Jerry, they are no longer in existence, thankfully.

    I have ascertained form your comments that you believe same sex attraction is a physical trait like skin pigmentation. I do not believe this, and there is research supporting my position. I also personally know people who have successfuly turned from this lifestyle, so don’t tell me it is not possible. I’m not even going to try the links. There are a number of people of color who do not embrace this belief, either.

    I have not read nor watched any of the Iowa ads or articles you refer to, so I cannot make a blanket determination on them. Your comment comes across as saying that anyone who voices an opposition to the court’s decision is expressing hate speech. Is this really what you mean? Am I just not understanding what you wrote? Do you believe the opposition to this decision has any right to demonstrate against it?

    April 19, 2009
  308. David Henson said:

    Jerry, “trying to understand” is not “an argument” and therefore I cannot be accused of “a straw man.” Unless you really are not trying to understand but rather offering a Trojan horse question with the purpose of flooding my confines with your logic minions upon my acceptance of the gifted premise.

    April 19, 2009
  309. kiffi summa said:

    John: anyone in opposition to the Iowa Supreme Court decision has a right to seek to overturn it, but fairly … not with the lies of ‘hate speech’. Saying that allowing marriage for same sex couples will cause all sorts of crimes against vulnerable people, society, humanity etc, etc, etc is not only false, but hateful.

    The courts have defined hate speech; look at the advertising examples; see what you think. You have said you “fear infringements on your freedom of speech” … if your ‘freedom of speech’ qualifies as being against the law, is this ‘western country’ no longer a country of ‘reason’ ?

    Whose freedom is impaired if they are assailed by the “freedom of speech” of others? Do you believe in the freedom to libel others? Obviously you do believe what the United States of America’s courts have defined as “hate speech”, is not that? Or am I mistaken in that assumption? Examples might be helpful.

    April 20, 2009
  310. Peter Millin said:

    Jerry,

    The war in Vietnam was lost due to lack of polticial will to fight it all the way.
    Political considerations trumped military necessity.

    The same has happened and is happening in Iraq. I submit that the length of the war and the death of soldiers could have been cut in half, if military consideration would have been first, rather then political correctness.

    The fact that we let Al- Sadr escape in to a mosque and didn’t pursue, very early in the conflict, extended the conflict longer then it should have been.

    April 20, 2009
  311. john george said:

    Kiffi- I can only find one ad on the internet produced by a group NOM. It does not appear to be hate speech. I did find these interesting accounts on a couple web sites:

    One day earlier, the Democratic
    leaders of the Legislature said they
    would not allow legislative action
    this year to pass a constitutional
    amendment that would ban gay
    marriages. “It will not come up,”
    Senate Majority Leader Michael
    Gronstal pledged to reporters in Des
    Moines. In a joint news release
    issued before the decision, Gronstal
    and Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy had
    welcomed homosexual marriage to the
    state. “When all is said and done,
    we believe the only lasting question
    about today’s events will be why it
    took us so long,” the legislative
    leaders said. “It is a tough question
    to answer because treating everyone
    fairly is really a matter of Iowa
    common sense and Iowa common decency.
    Iowa has always been a leader in the
    area of civil rights.”
    Congressman
    King, meanwhile, said the civil rights
    language makes him angry. “I don’t
    think they’ve examined it,” he told
    CNSNews.com. “I think they’ve gotten
    mentally lazy, when they say, ‘It’s a
    civil right to be married. Why are you
    discriminating against gays?’ But it’s
    not a matter of discriminating
    ‘against’ anyone – it’s a matter of
    bullying traditional marriage. The
    state has a vested interest in
    promoting traditional marriage.”
    Over
    recent days, key leaders such as Mike
    Gronstal and House Speaker Pat Murphy
    have been deluged with requests and
    telephone calls by gay-marriage
    opponents calling for a vote on a gay
    marriage ban. So far they have refused
    to budge on the issue, but they face
    vehement email campaigns as well as
    demonstrations outside of the state
    capitol. And now, another onslaught.

    It is unfortunate that the Democrats have dug their heels in on this. To refuse to allow the voting public a chance to weigh in on this is closed minded at best. Being from Iowa and having many relatives there, this will be a hot political potato in the future.

    Back to my original point on the international front, since Islam has passed Christianity in sheer numbers as a worldwide religion, I think it prudent to recognize their position on the matter. It is just this type of idealogical thing that turns them against us and deters meaningful cooperation.

    On a pragmatic vein, you and I believe what we do because we have chosen to believe it, and we have the freedom of that choice in this country. Neither of us has had our ideology forced upon us. This is not the norm in many other countries of the world.

    April 20, 2009
  312. john george said:

    Just for reference, here are the two web sites i lifted those quotes off- “WHO-13 News” & “CARE2”. When I did the block quote, I unfortunately forgot to separate them.

    April 20, 2009
  313. Jerry Friedman said:

    Peter: We agree. Had we nuked Hanoi and other key cities, we would have won the Vietnamese war. Had we kept our soldiers off the ground and burned their jungles to ashes, we would have won.

    Alternatively, had we stayed out of the Vietnamese Civil War, we would have saved even more U.S. lives and resources. The best defense is not to be there.

    And if we decided to be involved in their civil war as diplomats and mediators, we may have saved even more lives.

    Winning is not about killing as many of them as possible. Winning is about forging peace.

    April 20, 2009
  314. Mike Zenner said:

    Jerry,
    I finished my logic homework,

    Inductive Arguments?

    Premise1: America is considered a Freedom loving county
    Premise2: Middle Eastern Terrorists hate the Freedom of American military intervention in the Middle East and American corporations free exploitation of their natural resources.
    Conclusion: Middle Eastern Terrorists hate American Freedom.

    Premise1: The 911 Terrorists were from countries in the Middle East
    Premise2: Iraq is a Middle Eastern country
    Conclusion: Iraq is a Terrorist country deserving retribution.

    April 20, 2009
  315. Mike Zenner said:

    Korea, Vietnam, Iraq1, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq2, an ill harvest of conflict(NOT WARS since none were constitutionally declared) that was caused by 100+ years of sowing the ill seed of American empire, hubris and exceptional ism.

    I don’t see how you “win a war” against a failed state, unless its a war of genocide which appears to be our intention for the Middle East.

    If they don’t conform to the “American Freedom” then they must be our enemy and need to be eliminated! Just look to the treatment of the Native American to see how this program works!

    April 20, 2009
  316. Mike Zenner said:

    For all you American exceptional-ists out there (Peter,David etc) the book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins should be reqiured reading. A link to a book summary is below. The section on Saudi Arabia is particularly enlightening.

    http://www.wanttoknow.info/johnperkinseconomichitman

    Is it any wonder why they “Hate our Freedom”.

    April 20, 2009
  317. Peter Millen said:

    Kiffi,

    Yes of course their is..religion and religious doctrine is one of the leading causes for war.

    April 20, 2009
  318. Jerry Friedman said:

    Mike: You make me proud.

    Al Franken made a video documentary about his interest in running for Senate. I don’t remember the clip exactly, but he cited a clip from Fox News anchor Brit Hume. Hume said that California and Iraq are equal in size (Calif: 163,707 sq. mi.; Iraq 167,400 sq. mi.), and they had nearly the same total fatalities in whatever year (I think 2005), and since California fatalities can be considered “normal” that the deaths in Iraq should therefore be considered “normal”.

    In other words, don’t worry about the 50,000 or so Iraqi civilians who were killed because of the U.S. invasion.

    Franken showed the live clip on the video. The sleight of logic here is alarming. I am alarmed from the pretzel logic that the right and the left offer to advance their agendae.

    I don’t mind if reasonable people come to reasonable disagreements. I enjoy discussion and debate on most subjects so long as either side conforms to the purpose of the discussion: to discover truth. When false statistics, red herrings, and other fallacies become the center of discussion, my grief waxes and my interest wanes.

    April 20, 2009
  319. Peter Millen said:

    Jerry,

    You know that is not the political loss I am talking about.
    The reason why the USA lose Vietnam was their inability to take the war serious and the lack of commitment to win it.
    You can’t go seriously in to a war and be half fast about it. You need to commit all the force and all the weapons that are available to you.
    Do whatever it takes to win and sort out the political implications after wards.

    Iraq is a prime example where political correctness has cost us an early victory and prevented more deaths of US soldiers. If we would have taken out AL- Sadr out when we had the chance we would be ahead by two years.

    This has nothing to do about if we should have gone to war or not.
    Personally I think the war in Iraq was needless and unproductive..however once we committed to it we should have used everything available in our power and win it.

    April 20, 2009
  320. David Henson said:

    Mike, did you read this book? The review is bemoaning and besmirching big government bureaucracies for being devious and unable to bring about their stated goals … what content is it that you think I would take exception to?

    So from the analysis you vote higher taxes and bigger government?????????????????????????????

    April 21, 2009
  321. Griff Wigley said:

    Time to update this 2008 blog post. I got this via President Barack Obama’s email list yesterday:

    Good afternoon,

    After nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is ending.

    In recent days, many of our troops have come home and been reunited with their families for the holidays. Over the next few days, a small group of American soldiers will begin the final march out of Iraq.

    This moment of success is because of their sacrifice. More than 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq. More than 30,000 of these brave men and women were wounded. Nearly 4,500 gave their lives. America’s military families have borne a heavy burden.

    As we mark the end of this war, we need to show our veterans and their families that they have the thanks of a grateful nation.

    Take a minute to look back at the moments that brought us to this point, then share a personal message of gratitude with those who have served.

    Part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it. It’s not enough to honor our heroes with words; we must do so with deeds.

    That’s why we’ve worked to send 600,000 veterans and family members back to school on the Post-9/11 GI Bill. That’s why one of Michelle’s top priorities as First Lady has been to support military families and why she’s worked with the private sector to get commitments to create 100,000 jobs for those who’ve served and their spouses. That’s why we worked with Congress to pass a tax credit so that companies have an incentive to hire vets and have taken steps to help veterans translate military experience to the private sector job market.

    In America, our commitment to those who fight for our freedom and our ideals doesn’t end when our troops take off the uniform.

    You can be a part of this effort to honor our heroes.

    Help mark this moment. Write a quick note that troops and veterans all over the world will be able to see:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/iraq

    Thank you,

    President Barack Obama

    December 15, 2011
  322. john george said:

    Griff- How can Obama do that? I thought the FBI took away his Blackberry?

    December 17, 2011