A people’s strategy against perpetual war

© copyright 2008 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Challenging the bipartisan imperialist consensus

On the outset of the invasion of Iraq, I sat strapped in a cargo plane that swooped through the night sky dodging anti-aircraft guns. As we sat in darkness, not knowing if we would ever reach the ground, we suddenly dropped quickly from the air and slammed hard against a makeshift runway. Our plane was the first to land in the north. Our mission was to get in quickly, take the required territory and be relieved by heavy armor.

As we took our first steps on Iraqi soil, we expected to get back on a plane and leave within two months. Month by month, our deployment was extended. We read of the overwhelming military defeat across the country, and wrote home to our families that we would see them soon. We began to pack our bags as we watched the president declare the “mission accomplished,” expecting our return orders to come any day. We watched the blazing summer come and go, just trying to get through one more month.

We grew bitter as we ate a Thanksgiving dinner of macaroni and stale bread as the president smiled for photos in Baghdad holding a giant fake turkey. We spent the day dodging bullets when Saddam Hussein was captured, thinking maybe-just maybe-it was finally over. Even as we strapped back into a cargo plane a year after we landed, we expected to circle right back and continue to watch the months pass through a rifle sight. This was a reality for some; many in my unit were sent back within two months of returning home. Anyone who could not find a way to get out of the army was stop-lossed and sent back for at least one more tour.

Essentially, my year of watching the months pass represents the Iraq war as a whole-thinking it was going to end, but seeing only an increase in the size and brutality of the occupation. With the “end of major combat operations” declared in the early months of the war, we saw all-out sieges on Fallujah, Basra and other cities where the Iraqi people had stood up to the occupiers.

The American and Iraqi people demanded that the troops be withdrawn, yet they got the opposite-a massive troop surge. The surge, sold to the public as a temporary measure to bring an end to the war, has served as a justification to keep the number of soldiers in Iraq well above pre-surge levels. Furthermore, the number of U.S. soldiers occupying Iraq has been supplemented by private mercenaries, paid generously by the Pentagon to terrorize Iraqis with no legal consequences.

To ring in the New Year-the fifth of the occupation-2008 began with the war’s largest bombing campaign on one of Baghdad’s most populous suburbs. Month by month, the body count rises and the imperialist occupation of Iraq deepens.

Why not just vote for change?

In 2006, the masses of American people opposed to the war put their hopes in the Democratic Party, handing it control of Congress in what was widely understood as a vote against the war. Since then, funding for the war has continued to flow unimpeded and General Petraeus and the Bush administration have continued on their destructive warpath. In June alone, Congress approved $165 billion to fund the war without restrictions.

Now, many who still fail to recognize the true loyalties of the Democratic Party have thrown their support behind another Democrat posing as an anti-war candidate. Barack Obama, who began his campaign promising a total withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months-simultaneously pledging imperialist intervention elsewhere in the Middle East-has also begun to shift his position to prolong the occupation.

Obama now promises, using ambiguous language, to remove “U.S. combat troops” from Iraq. “Combat troops” do not include residual forces such as “counterterrorism” units, military training personnel and force protection units. Nor does it include private contractors and mercenaries, which number over 180,000.

Obama’s Iraq policy co-coordinator, Colin Kahl, advocates a residual force of up to 80,000 U.S. troops. Obama advocates a “careful” withdrawal, essentially subject to the advice of military commanders. General Petraeus, widely known for promoting a massive, brutal and indefinite occupation of Iraq, has Obama’s full support as the new commander of the U.S. Central Command. This position gives General Petraeus full control over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia.

Those who believe that they can “vote for change” will be voting for a slightly modified imperialist policy.

Charting an independent path

The reality is that the war against Iraq will continue unabated. This is glaringly evident in the new security agreement now being forced upon the Iraqi people. Keeping with the trend of further entrenching and increasing the occupation while the Iraqi masses are demanding an end to it, the security deal will guarantee the U.S. military 58 permanent military bases in Iraq-nearly double the current number-while once the public was assured that there would be no permanent military bases.

The security plan will strip Iraq of whatever sovereignty it has left, cementing its de facto status as a U.S. colony. It will give Washington control over Iraqi airspace and the ability to use Iraq as a staging ground for military attacks elsewhere in the region. It will grant U.S. troops and private contractors full immunity from Iraqi law, giving them the right to raid any house and to arrest and interrogate Iraqi citizens without permission from the Iraqi government

Not only does the security plan demonstrate the U.S. government’s determination to forever control Iraq, it sets the stage for further conquest in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that, if politicians in Washington get their way, the war will continue for years to come. Months will pass as they debate the complexities of the war and develop new strategies aimed at giving the appearance that the end is just around the corner. Months will pass and the lives of Iraqis will continue to be destroyed and soldiers will continue to strap into cargo planes only to be snuck home at night in flag-draped coffins.

The plan to permanently occupy and terrorize Iraq is staring us in the face. We cannot vote for change; change will come the way it always does in society-through the efforts of a dedicated, militant mass movement against the heinous crimes of those who claim to represent us. Without such a movement, the imperialist plans for the Middle East will stay on course, and war will be a permanent reality.

The author is an Iraq war veteran and the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s congressional candidate in Florida’s 22nd District. Click here to read more about his campaign. Click here to read more about other PSL candidates running in local and national elections.

America in Iraq; Bull in China Shop


“Bull in China Shop” Art By Vic Roschkov [Canadian Editorial Cartoonist]

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Americans are five years into a battle gone awry.  Citizens of the United States cry out, “too much blood has been spilled, too many lives and limbs were lost,” we the people want to, “Bring the troops home.”  Hence, Congress holds hearings.  The inquiry is intended to help define the future.  For many it is time to exit Iraq and end a futile war.  The people have questions; when and how will we complete a failed mission.  On April 8, 2008, the Senior Commander of multinational forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, American envoy to Baghdad, spoke to United states Senators and attempted to address the public’s concerns.

General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker described an Iraq torn and in turmoil.  Each official spoke of the significant, although still-tenuous political progress.  The civil servants assured the United States Senators, Iraq is more stable and secure than it was a mere seven months earlier.  However, they state improvement is “uneven.”  

Senators, who supposedly speak on behalf of the people, proposed there must be a plan.  Several said America needs to make a correction.  A few pronounced the course must be stayed.  All agreed; Americans must have a strategy if Iraq is to ever be a successful, sovereign nation.  These thoughts have been expressed for years, and little truly changes.  A near million [or more] innocent Iraqis have lost their lives and many millions more have no home.  For refugees and residents, employment is but a vision from eras long passed.  Electricity and essentials are not part of daily life.  Nonetheless, reports are progress has been made.

The rhetoric rises high up into the halls of the Capitol.  As the world listens, people cannot help but be reminded of a bull in a china shoppe.

In a boutique, filled with fragile leaded crystal, porcelain wares of superior quality, sumptuous silver, fine figurines, and cherished collectibles, a beast, unfamiliar with the etiquette or elegance in this setting, enters and effectively destroys what once was beautiful.  

Initially, the bovine is attracted to the glimmers of light.  Refracted beams glow as the bull observes the glorious finery.  The shiny surfaces are hypnotic for the animal.  In a stupor, the bull moves towards what attracts him.

The bovine is as Americans.  Citizens of this country are drawn to the radiance of black gold.  Those who depend on petroleum products are mesmerized when they think of a place where the supply seems as endless as their demand.  People who  profit from the sale of fuel are also charmed.  Indeed, those who have the means are more enamored.  The oil-rich know that they can profit from the sale of the substance.  Two of these tycoons work in the White house.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are the biggest bulls man has seen for some time.  These leaders of the herd were spellbound as they gazed upon fields of oil.  Moneyed moguls who work within the Executive Branch of government led the herd into a crystal palace, or a nation State known as Iraq.  

The two oilmen elected to office, bullies that they are, had smiled at the mere mention of Texas Tea in the fields of Iraq long before they ever claimed to have reason to invade the symbolic china shoppe.  The aggressive cattle, also known as the Bush Administration, may have appeared clumsy in their calculations.  However, these cows planned their entrance into the specialty store.  The tycoons expected to shock the shopkeepers, and awe their fellow Americans.  The bulls thought they would quickly clean up the mess they made.  Then, they would exit triumphantly with treasures in hand.  The bovine projected that they would accomplish their mission just as suddenly as they crossed the threshold.

However, the livestock did not understand; boutique proprietors and patrons might not welcome the destruction of valuable property.  

Raging bulls rarely contemplate how a perilous circumstance would effect any sane storeowner, shopper, or sovereign nation.  A charging bovine does not comprehend why the clientele within the walls of the shop, or civilians within the confines of a country’s borders does not greet the charging creature with rose petals and open arms.  

Again, we are reminded of an American Administration and the prospects the leaders of the herd envisioned as they proposed the United States and its allies attack Iraq.  

The bulls, President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and then Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice did not consider the culture, the civilization, or the fact that every being has the right to choose independence or his or her leaders.  Nor did the creatures who replaced a few of those in the corral.  Future leaders of the herd were as blinded by the light of power as the previous beefy bulls were.

The cattle now labeled the Cabinet, are no more conscious of what occurs when you purposely break the treasures of others than the earlier group of mammals was.

Hence, the axiom framed by the former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, cattle extraordinaire continues to guide Americans, “If you broke it, you must fix it.”

Indeed, the awkward, unaware animals busted the bone china, crushed the crystal, smashed the silverware, and flattened the figurines, and they continue to do so.  

Fortunately, these bulls have money; although admittedly they beg, borrow, steal, or print the dollars and cents used to fund a futile attempt to fix the country they fractured.  Regrettably, the beasts of burden do not realize they cannot repair what has never made sense to them.  The bulls cannot restore health to a shop that was not fashioned in a style they are familiar with.  Few of these creatures reflect on the wisdom of a physicist, the genius of a man who studied the scientific principles of matter, energy, force, and motion.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

~ Albert Einstein

What the bulls believe is best is send in the young.  Calves trained to act as the bigger beasts did and do, now crash into china shop doors and obliterate the fragile finery that is, or once was life in Iraq.  Generals and Ambassador, similar to the elders in a herd, gather the broken glass.  They collect the cattle in one locale or another.  The emissaries, just as the leaders in a pack, attempt to repair relations with proprietors and the public.  

However, these persons also approach those in the Persian Gulf as the Commander-In-Chief did and does.  To the people in Iraq a bull is a bull is a bull.

None of the livestock fully understand as long as they occupy the shop, more treasures  will be trampled.  The merchant wants no missionaries, or mammals to demolish what for him was his own.  Nor does the retailer appreciate a brutal beast in his shop or State.  The Iraqi citizens, just as customers in the shattered shoppe do not crave advise from cruel cattle.  “Correct” information from a bull who demolishes all creature comforts, seems contrary to those who have been terrorized by out of control cows for too long.

Information is not knowledge.

~ Albert Einstein

Money will not mend what was shattered and what will be razed as long as the bulls reside in country.  Yet, the bulls bellow that they cannot continue to finance the destruction they have done and do.  Cattle exclaim too much cash has gone to cracked crystal.  Senator Clinton, who aspires to be the Lead of the American beasts explains, “We simply cannot give the Iraqi government an endless blank check.  The question might be asked, why not.  

The cattle found the dollars to destroy as they desired.  Why might the Lead bulls and those who wish to have the title of Cattle Commander-In-Chief believe they have the resources to remain in the shoppe, with the promise to be less visible and destructive; yet, the bovine does not have greenbacks available for repair or recompense.

Might the bovines consider as long as Americans stay in the boutique and break the bone china, we owe the proprietor reparations.  We bulls cannot ever fully compensate for what we caused.  The only way we, “the American people,” can clean up the mess we allowed our herd to make is to leave now, with sincere sorrow, and issue a blank check as a meager attempt to pay for the horrors we have wrought.

We cannot turn back the clock; nor are we able to replace the antique vases, or extraordinary entities once titled Mom, Dad, son, daughter, friend, or family.  Bovine blunders and bungles will not provide property owners and patrons to live their lives free of fear and further folly.  Perchance the adage bulls might adopt is, “If you break it; you pay for it and then, please, immediately leave the premises.”

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

~ Albert Einstein

Sources and the Reality of Americans in Iraq; Bull in China Shop . . .

Human Cost of Occupation; 4000 American Soldiers Fall

4000 U.S Now Dead In Iraq

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Their names and faces are known.  Yet, these servicemen and women remain invisible for most Americans.  Their families suffer, and have for years.  When the troops were abroad, relatives worried.  Now that these four thousand are gone from Earth forever, the persons that love them still wish to bring them back.  Semper fidelis, always faithful and forlorn.

They were our soldiers, the American troops that served to protect us.  These military men and women took up arms to fight off terrorists.  They battled aggressors.  They [supposedly] kept us free from another attack.  Nevertheless, these persons were powerless against an Administration unbridled with absolute authority.  

None of those killed could stop the invasion into Iraq.  Upon entrance into the service, soldiers understood war was an option.  However, few could have imagined the reality or the risk.  Courageous lads and lasses sent to the Persian Gulf feared what could be a certain fate, death.  Yet,  they marched on.  Soldiers true to their country, had a mission.  They were intent on the hope of an accomplishment.

One in six were not old enough to legally buy a beer.  Nearly two dozen had lived long enough to qualify for an American Association of Retired Persons [AARP] card.  Eleven passed as the folks at home in the States sliced a turkey on Thanksgiving Day.  An identical number fell while the people celebrated the birth of Christ.  Five were  slain on the anniversary of their births.  The surname Smith belonged to one percent of the dead soldiers.

  • Ninety-eight percent were male (compared with 99.9% of those lost in Vietnam).  Three-quarters were non-Hispanic white (compared with 86% in Vietnam).  The most common age was 21 (20 in Vietnam).
  • Nine percent were officers, including 24 lieutenant colonels and six colonels.
  • More of the fallen were based at Fort Hood in Texas than at any other military installation.
  • New York City, which has lost 62 residents, had more deaths than any other hometown.
  • More than half of the nearly 4,000 (52%) were killed by bombs, 16% by enemy gunfire.  Five percent died in aircraft crashes.  Fifty-five people drowned, and 15 were electrocuted.  Almost one in five died from what the military terms “non-hostile” causes.
  • Since the war began in March 2003, the Pentagon has reported double-digit U.S. fatalities on 35 days.  The bloodiest was Jan. 26, 2005, when a Marine helicopter crashed in a sandstorm, killing all 31 aboard, and six other service members died in combat.  The bloodiest month was November 2004, when 137 died; the least bloody was February 2004, when 21 were lost.  On 460 days of the war, no service member died.

How many American soldiers were wounded?  Can we calculate the ones whose scars cannot be seen?  What of the families and friends affected?  One heart, mind, body, or soul tortured wounds more than a single individual.  Savage combat destroys a society.  

“Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”

~ Thomas Edison [Scientist, Inventor]

As of this evening, five years and four days after the first bomb blast, four thousand American troops have fallen in Iraq.  The carnage is incomprehensible.  Countless civilians were massacred.  War, or mass murder, was waged in the name of the American people, and yet, the people on terra firma sit idly by.

“It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

~ Albert Einstein [Physicist]

For month’s United States citizens, cozy, and comfortable in America have allowed themselves to be distracted.  Combat seemed less crucial than an economic crisis.  Presidential politics has entertained the electorate.  The situation in Iraq is less sexy than a juicy scandal or a sensational sermon.  Tonight as the four thousandth soldier took a last breath might we contemplate the meaning of this milestone.

  • The wounded figure since March 19, 2003, is now well above 29,000.  It is far, far higher than the number killed, and often has a more lasting impact on those who sacrifice as a human tragedy and in terms of costs.  If one counts the number of men and women whose lives have been virtually destroyed by critical combat wounds and adds that total to the number killed, we reached 4,000 long ago.  Far too much media coverage focuses only on “killed.”  There needs to be balance in counting all of the wounded, and far more attention paid to the number of critical physical and psychological wounds and disability cases.  In many ways, news reporting on the “stats” of the fighting now covers only half the sacrifice of those who serve in uniform. . . .
  • No one can really predict at this time whether we will be able to sharply reduce the future rate of casualties during 2009-2010, and move to “strategic overwatch” and reliance on the ISF for almost all the fighting.  We could see a failure of political conciliation lead to more intense U.S. fighting and a new rise in casualty rates or even to U.S. withdrawal.  The odds of success in Iraq now seem higher than those of defeat, and events seem more likely to steadily reduce U.S. casualties, but there are no certainties.
  • As for the present, all the same data that show a major decline in U.S. and Iraqi casualties since last summer also show that the reduction of casualties has now plateaued and may be rising.  Al Qaeda and the extreme elements of the JAM have every incentive to find ways to raise the U.S. casualties between now and November, and will be seeking ways to use bombings to raise the rate and number.  These attacks may be far more important over the months to come than the 4,000 figure.
  • There is a great deal of talk about the ultimate future dollar cost of the war if we stay.  Much of this discussion somewhat unrealistically assumes that the dollar cost of fighting and aid remains relatively constant.  In practice, success in moving to strategic overwatch and shifting the burden to the ISF and Iraqi government expenditures would actually sharply reduce the out year dollar costs.  The same is true of the longer term trends in killing and wounded.
  • But, if we are in Iraq through the end of the next administration, the real benchmark may still be more than 5,000 killed and 15,000-20,000 more wounded before the costs in blood are over.

These numberrs represent only the Americans.  What of the innocent Iraqis now perished.  If we are to truly tally the losses, we must consider the millions of Iraqi civilians displaced,  A year ago, there were four [4] million refugees.

Could we count the Persians and Americans deeply disturbed.  As the instigators of battle we, the people of this “peaceful” nation must ponder the thousands, perhaps, millions mentally and emotionally impaired, adults, and the children who will never be the same.  The scars are deep; the sorrow deeper.  Will we, the American people allow the bloodshed to be our birthright.  Are ‘lives lost’ the legacy we wish to leave our children.

By the time this treatise is read, the totals will probably be incorrect, the data outdated  One more life will have been taken.  Another will soon depart.  Those who live and suffer will not be evaluated, and few will reflect on the sign hung in Albert Einstein’s Princeton office.

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

May we stop for a moment, maybe more.  Might we bring the troops home now, before one more body falls.  Lets us all rest in peace before we are buried alive by the effects of a wasteful war.

Sources and Scars . . .

Exit Iraq; Public Opinion Changed. Support for War Sustained

Where Have All The Flowers Gone? – Peter, Paul and Mary

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

To everything there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones,

and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;

a time of war, and a time of peace.

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

They say life is cyclical.  Peace prospers in a era.  Epochs are filled with tales of war.  Currently, in the United States, this is the political season.  Issues are the topic of import.  While at times, it seems rumors rule during the ritual run for the presidency, mostly, people want to speak of what affects their everyday life.  Some say, “It is the economy, stu***.”  Others declare military defense and homeland security are the subjects we must speak about.  A few say, we must secure our boarders.  This theme ties the two aforementioned together.  Jobs and terrorism are the greatest concern.  Then there are those who inquire, “What happened to talk of the Iraq war?”

Well, you may recall months ago, in a September 2007, Democratic Debate, whilst citizens clamored for an end to American involvement in Iraq, a storm rolled in.  A tsunami of sorts washed over the American people, and talk of an exit plan was quelled.

The three top tier Democratic candidates all affirmed that they could not anticipate what they would find when they took office.  Each of the so-called “electable” Democratic “hopefuls” declared, they would not commit to end the war in Iraq until after their first term.  Perhaps, by 2013 a Democratic President would decide to remove troops from Iraq.  Before that, they would likely increase the number of battalions in Afghanistan, at least Hillary Clinton certainly would.  After all, Clinton and Barack Obama believed, that is where we “should’ have been all along.  Senator Obama stated, Afghanistan, and possibly Pakistan, were “the right battlefield” in the war against terrorism.”

Once the Democrat hopefuls adopted a strong war stance, the constituency adapted.  It was as if summer turned to fall.  The leaves fell from the trees, and citizens of the United States settled in for a warm winter nap.  

If Progressive leaders believed the war would not end, then perhaps, so too, must the public.  The Republican candidates never intended to exit Iraq anytime soon.  Each thought that would be unwise.  The faithful base was behind them.  A few faltered.  Those “independents” followed Congressman and Presidential contender Ron Paul down the anti-war path.  Perchance these scant few thought they could escape the cold brought on by combat.

However, for the most part, Republicans, even those who questioned the wisdom of the Persian Gulf War, did as the “right” does so well, they fell in line.  Conservatives were not ready for change.  The cozy comfort felt when the winds at home are calm creates complacency.  As long as the battles did not interrupt the lives of those who first endorsed an engagement in Iraq, all was well.

Was that not the umbrella used to protect the policy?  “We’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here at home.”  John McCain submitted his support for the surge early on.  For the Arizona statesman, war is always in season.  Residents of Derry, New Hampshire might recall.

The United States military could stay in Iraq for “maybe a hundred years” and that “would be fine with me,” John McCain told two hundred or so people at a town hall meeting.

Some seasons see no end, and perhaps war is one of those.  It seems throughout history there has been a battle somewhere on the planet no matter the time or temperature.  Senator John McCain recognizes this.  He revels in this truth.

Indeed, the Presidential aspirant thought America needed to send in more soldiers to surge in Iraq than the President proposed to do.  If we are to reign, then, we must pour on the pressure.  The tactic may not bring peace, and to those such as McCain, global harmony may be but a myth, but certainly, more military might, will result in a temporary win, a seasonal success of sorts.  That is far better than an admission of defeat.

In a Presidential Debate, June 2007, John McCain may have spoken for all the Republicans aspirants at the time, with the exception of Representative Ron Paul of Texas.  When MSNBC moderator Chris Matthews asked “Senator McCain, most of the public pessimism today has to do with Iraq.  How — what would you need, as commander in chief, to win the war in Iraq?” The former prisoner of war responded.

I would need to be able to show them some success in Iraq . . .

That strategy can succeed.  The young men and women who are serving are the best of America.  I believe that if we could bring around — about stability in the neighborhoods in Iraq  . . . you are going to succeed.

Surrender?  Defeat?

We must win in Iraq.  If we withdraw, there will be chaos, there will be genocide, and they [the terrorist] will follow us home.

Only two months before John McCain made this statement, in the Spring of the year, the Christian Science Monitor reported US public’s support of Iraq war sliding faster now.  Those who regretted our decision to attack Iraq outnumbered those who supported the war by 14 percentage points.  Republicans were the majority among the forty [40] percent of the Americans who remained stalwart.  Thus, the Senator’s stance did not shock these traditionalists.  Those who advocated a “stay the course” strategy, were, and possibly are, still in awe of what American military might can do.  According to the Pew Research Center in Washington, in the early Spring 2007, fifty-four [54] percent of the citizens in the United States objected to the current conflict.

By June, as the Summer sun set on the horizon, only a month after John McCain presented his proclamation, much had changed.  The public tired of the protracted war.  A win was not in the future.  Many Americans concluded they had been lied to.  Republicans were as war-weary as the Democrats.

Public support for the war in Iraq has fallen to a new low. Not only that, but Republican support is beginning to waver.

Thirty percent of Americans polled say they favor the war, the lowest level of support on record. Two-thirds are opposed.

Anti-war sentiment among Republican poll respondents has suddenly increased with 38 percent of Republicans now saying they oppose the war.

Moreover, 63 percent of Americans are ready to withdraw at least some troops from Iraq. Forty-two percent of Republicans agree.

Fifty-four percent of Americans do not believe U.S. action in Iraq is morally justified.

Now, as Americans look forward to the November election, we rally round rumors.  We speak less of peace and more of money.  Our leaders have helped us to realize that peace is not a viable prospect.

We have come to accept that another season passed and a newer storm is in view.  There was a time when the public realized soldiers were conveniently hidden from view.  People acknowledged that the wounded and fallen were flown home, into Dover Air Force base, in the dark of night.  Citizens questioned why the troops remained invisible to an American public uninformed or too caught up in apathy to care.  Many asked of the injured who were stored like cattle in hospitals such as Walter Reid.  People clamored in distress when they read of the awful conditions.  However, that moment too has passed.

Citizens of this country now care less that trillions have passed through our fingers.  We worry not when we contemplate what was spent on a war we remain mired in; yet, reluctantly, we acknowledge what the powerful told us was true.  The combat will continue.  We consent to the conflict in Iraq just as we had before.  

American public support for the military effort in Iraq has reached a high point unseen since the summer of 2006, a development that promises to reshape the political landscape.

According to late February polling conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 53 percent of Americans – a slim majority – now believe “the U.S. will ultimately succeed in achieving its goals” in Iraq. That figure is up from 42 percent in September 2007.

The percentage of those who believe the war in Iraq is going “very well” or “fairly well” is also up, from 30 percent in February 2007 to 48 percent today.  . . .

Democrats’ resolute support for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces may soon position them at odds with independent voters, in particular, a constituency they need to retake the White House.

Half of self-identified independents polled now believe the United States should “keep troops in Iraq until the situation has stabilized,” according to polling data assembled by Pew at Politico’s request. . . .

The uptick in public support is a promising sign for Republican candidates who have been bludgeoned over the Bush administration’s war policies. But no candidate stands to gain more than McCain.

The forecast for Democrats has changed.  The predictions may be grim.  Whilst slams and damns were exchanged amongst the Democratic aspirants, no one in the Progressive Party noticed that talk of the war waned.  People no longer thought the troops a profound topic.  The rain of rumors filled the air, as did what seemed more real and relevant to those here at home.  Foreclosures, financial woes, coupled with that early lack of commitment to end the war in Iraq, opened the door to a flood of futility.  Hence, the people resigned themselves to an endless war, and those that recall the fallen are left to ask, “Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing.” The answer is blowing in the wind.  The troops have gone to graveyards every one.  Might we inquire, “When will we ever learn?”

As the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war approaches, let us remember the 4,444 American soldiers who took a last breathe.  Lest we forget the more than 29,305 seriously wounded and the near 90,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. Please recall the than 4.2 million innocent Iraqi refugees, who have left their homes “many in dire need of humanitarian care.”  

Perchance, it is time, the season, to ponder. Would we wish to war for a few more years?  Are Americans prepared to eat, drink, be merry, and forget the cost of combat?  The answer may be “Yes.”  While we are currently concerned with the expense of food, fuel, wine, and water, the truth is, as long as citizens in this country do not have to see any of the death and destruction that occurs daily, we can still gossip and elect those who will sustain the slaughter.  Americans will not ask . . .

Where Have All the Flowers Gone

words and music by Pete Seeger

performed by Pete Seeger and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the flowers gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?

Girls have picked them every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the young girls gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the young girls gone?

Taken husbands every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the young men gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the young men gone?

Gone for soldiers every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the soldiers gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the soldiers gone?

Gone to graveyards every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the graveyards gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the graveyards gone?

Covered with flowers every one

When will we ever learn?

When will we ever learn?

©1961 (Renewed) Fall River Music Incorporated

All Rights Reserved.

Sources and Support for War . . .

Generals Insurgence. Bush Battles the Brass

General Batiste: “Protect America, Not George Bush”

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

VoteVets.org is correct.  I did ask for it. I am grateful that, with thanks to them, here it is.  Last week, when George W. Bush accused Congress of not listening to the Generals on the ground in Iraq, I immediately thought of the many Generals released by this Administration, merely because they dared to disagree with the neoconservative, opportunistic, capitalistic George W. Bush directive.

Dear reader, you too may recall.  The President of the United States has routinely rejected the wisdom of warriors when they did not say what he wanted to hear.

Jay Garner, the US general abruptly dismissed as Iraq’s first occupation administrator after a month in the job, says he fell out with the Bush circle because he wanted free elections and rejected an imposed programme of privatisation.

In an interview to be broadcast on BBC Newsnight tonight, he says: “My preference was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can, and do it with some form of elections … I just thought it was necessary to rapidly get the Iraqis in charge of their destiny.”

Asked by the reporter Greg Palast if he foresaw negative repercussions from the subsequent US imposition of mass privatisation, Gen Garner said: “I don’t know … we’ll just have to wait and see.” It would have been better for the Iraqis to take decisions themselves, even if they made mistakes, he said.

“What I was trying to do was get to a functioning government … We as Americans like to put our template on things. And our template’s good, but it’s not necessarily good for everyone else.”

I cannot confirm with infinite certainty whether a deep desire for oil was the cause that prompted the combat.

A U.S.-led ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries, and reshuffling world petroleum markets, according to industry officials and leaders of the Iraqi opposition.

Although senior Bush administration officials say they have not begun to focus on the issues involving oil and Iraq, American and foreign oil companies have already begun maneuvering for a stake in the country’s huge proven reserves of 112 billion barrels of crude oil, the largest in the world outside Saudi Arabia.

I know not decisively whether this war was meant to serve as retribution for deeds done against the father, George Herbert Walker Bush.

From the start, it has been obvious that personal motives have skewed the President’s judgment about the war. Saddam tried to kill his dad; his dad didn’t try hard enough to kill Saddam. There was payback to be had.

But never was Bush’s adolescent petulance more obvious than in his decision to ignore the Baker-Hamilton report and move in the exact opposite direction: adding troops and employing counterinsurgency tactics inappropriate to the situation on the ground. “There was no way he was going to accept [its findings] once the press began to portray the report as Daddy’s friends coming to the rescue,” a member of the Baker-Hamilton commission told me.

Financial gains definitely were incurred.  At least the evidence seems convincing.  Friends and families profited from this horrendous battle.

The only people who are benefiting from Bush’s war on terror are members of the Military Industrial Complex. Since 9/11, the pay for the CEOs of the top 34 defense contractors in the US has doubled, according to the August 2006 report, “Executive Excess 2006,” by the Institute for Policy Studies, and the United for a Fair Economy.

The bill is rising so fast because the level of war profiteering is unprecedented. The Excess Report lists George David, CEO of United Technologies, as the top earner, making more than $200 million since 9/11, despite investigations into the poor quality of the firm’s Black Hawk helicopters.

Halliburton CEO David Lesar made $26.6 million in 2005, and nearly $50 million since 9/11, an amount that even beats the $24 million that Dick Cheney received in exchange for the guarantee that Halliburton would be the number one military contractor during the Bush administration.

Cheney himself is also taking in war profits, contrary to what he told Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” in 2003, when he denied making any money off his former employer. “Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush’s vice president,” he said, “I’ve severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest.”

“I have no financial interest in Halliburton,” Cheney told Tim, “of any kind and haven’t had, now, for over three years.”

Those statements were proven false when financial disclosure forms showed that Cheney had received a deferred salary from Halliburton of $205,298 in 2001, $262,392 in 2002, $278,437 in 2003, and $294,852 in 2004.

In 2005, an analysis released by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), reported that Cheney continued to hold over 300,000 Halliburton stock options and said their value had risen 3,281% over the previous year, from $241,498 to more than $8 million.

“It is unseemly for the Vice President to continue to benefit from this company at the same time his Administration funnels billions of dollars to it,” Senator Lautenberg said.

Nevertheless, the conflict continues, contrary to the best advice of Generals on the ground in Iraq.  Only a week ago, Bush bellowed; he told Congress “Bring it on,” so that I may veto your War Funding Bill.  The President cut funds for the troops.  Consistent with the past, Bush declared, ‘If I cannot have it my way, [without timetables or benchmarks] I will not have it at all.’  You may recall the oft-repeated phrase, “You are either with us [me] or against us [me].”

President Bush acts unilaterally. He routinely ignores the pleas of the American people.  As the public cries end the war and “Exit Iraq!” Bush battles on.  However, times may be a changing.  In this moment, Bush is somewhat conciliatory.  He offers that he is considering “benchmarks” or is he.

Bush’s Proposal of ‘Benchmarks’ for Iraq Sounds Familiar
By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post.
Thursday, October 26, 2006; A17

The text of President Bush’s news conference yesterday ran to nearly 10,000 words, but what may have been more significant were the things he did not say.

The president talked repeatedly about “benchmarks” for progress in Iraq, using that word 13 times. But he did not discuss the consequences of the Iraqi government missing those targets. Such a question, he said, was “hypothetical.”

That response left unclear how the benchmarks would be different from previous times when the United States has set out intentions, only to back down. For example, the original war plan envisioned the U.S. troop presence in Iraq being cut to 30,000 by the fall of 2003. Last year, some top U.S. commanders thought they would be able to significantly cut the U.S. troop level in Iraq this year — a hope now officially abandoned. More recently, the U.S. military all but withdrew from Baghdad, only to have to have to reenter the capital as security evaporated from its streets and Iraqi forces proved unable to restore calm by themselves.

President Bush also spoke several times yesterday about his flexibility, apparently as a way of countering critics calling for a major change in his approach to Iraq.

We cannot be sure what to believe when President Bush is involved.  We know the pressure is on.  VoteVets.org is featuring three Generals speaking out publicly against the war.  Time Magazine Columnist Joe Klein reminds us,

General David Petraeus has repeatedly said, “A military solution to Iraq is not possible.” Translation: This thing fails unless there is a political deal among the Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds. There is no such deal on the horizon, largely because of the President’s aversion to talking to people he doesn’t like.

Nevertheless, we can hope.  Perhaps as the pressure builds, as George continues to lose support from those that count, whomever they might be, will become a rehabilitated warmonger.  One can dream.

The litany. The legacy. The literature . . .

  • VoteVets.org
  • VoteVets.org Launches ‘Generals’ Ad Blitz  VoteVets.org.
  • General sacked by Bush says he wanted early elections, By David Leigh.  The Guardian Thursday March 18, 2004
  • In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue, U.S. Drillers Eye Huge Petroleum Pool. By Dan Morgan and David B. Ottaway.  Washington Post.
    Sunday, September 15, 2002; Page A01

  • pdf In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue, U.S. Drillers Eye Huge Petroleum Pool. By Dan Morgan and David B. Ottaway.  Washington Post. Sunday, September 15, 2002; Page A01
  • An Administration’s Epic Collapse, By Joe Klein.  Time Magazine. Thursday, April 5, 2007
  • pdf An Administration’s Epic Collapse, By Joe Klein.  Time Magazine. Thursday, April 5, 2007
  • Crude Designs:
    The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth,
    By Greg Muttitt.  Global Policy Forum. November 2005

  • The Inexplicable Enrichment of Bush Cronies, The Iraq Money Trail.  By Evelyn Pringle.  Information Clearing House.
  • Bush Keeps Vow to Veto War Funding Bill, President Says Pullout Deadline Is ‘Date for Failure.’  By Michael Abramowitz and Peter Baker.  Washington Post. Wednesday, May 2, 2007; Page A01
  • ‘You are either with us or against us.’  Cable News Network. November 6, 2001
  • President Open to Benchmarks in Iraq Measure, By Carl Hulse and Jim Rutenberg.  The New York Times. May 11, 2007
  • Bush’s Proposal of ‘Benchmarks’ for Iraq Sounds Familiar By Thomas E. Ricks.  Washington Post. Thursday, October 26, 2006; A17
  • pdf Bush’s Proposal of ‘Benchmarks’ for Iraq Sounds Familiar By Thomas E. Ricks.  Washington Post. Thursday, October 26, 2006; A17
  • Reflections of A Solitary Peace Protester

    Another time; another place, a long protracted war.

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    “Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by.  I recall the tune; it rings in my head as I position myself at the intersection.  I plunk myself there each Saturday pleading for peace.  Today was the second time that I stood alone.

    The other protesters remained across the street.

    As I held up my index and middle fingers in the sign harmony, I thought of how I am not observing fancy, flashy, or forlorn females pass.  I am interacting with my community.  Men, women, the elderly, the young, and the middle age.  I cannot tell who will acknowledge me or how they might react to my request for an early exit from Iraq, Afghanistan, or war.

    The exchanges may seem superficial and distant; we are not necessarily meeting face to face.  However, when you are the sole person situated on a sidewalk, carrying a sign that speaks to love and not war, people look at you.

    They wave, smile, honk, or extend their fingers in a sign of triumphant tranquility.  Tears well-up inside me as I experience the responses.  As I hold my banner high and my digits higher, I work not to cry.  I am often overwhelmed by my feelings.  The public’s response is inspiring.

    The whole has its effect; however, the parts consume me.  The two young teens crossing the street declare, “If I had a horn, I would honk.”  They affirm their agreement.  They want the troops out of Iraq and believe working together for a common cause worldwide is essential.

    The man riding by on his bicycle stops.  He stays for a long time.  This gentle soul maintains a physical distance; however, he is enveloped.  His face glows; this chap cannot conceal his excitement.  He beams and smiles. Then, he silently slips away.  His expressions reveal that his heart was filled.

    Then there are the frequent and quiet exchanges. Inaudible loving words mouthed as I gaze into the faces of a driver, a passenger, or a car full of people.  These are numerous and uplifting.  The muted tones wow me as do those that I could not, or would not predict.

    The man that appears to be quite affluent sits in his new Mercedes Benz convertible.  The traffic light changes.  He approaches my corner.  His top is down.  His skin is golden and tan. This chap is very well dressed.  His hair coiffed, although, blowing gently and gracefully in the breeze.  I wonder; will he scorn my presence, scoff, or deliver a stern message.  No, he does none of these.  He looks in my direction. He grins, offers the peace sign, and then, almost as an after thought as he proceeds forward, honks his horn.

    It is an oddity, an enigma, to me.  Each week I walk to “work.”  I have a “job” to do.  I receive no pay.   Yet, I am rewarded.  I am deeply committed to the cause.  I feel as if I have a purpose as I stand before the people beseeching them to work towards ending conflict.  I pursue this passion with vigor.  I would not wish to be late.  My work is gratifying, satisfying, and stimulating.  It puts no money in the bank.  Nevertheless, it fills my heart and mind.  For me, there is nothing like watching peace grow.

    A wave of sound vibrates through the air.  Often, I can hear cars more than a block away tooting their horns in anticipation.  They know what they are fast approaching.  They have traveled these crossroads on many a Saturday.

    The junction is in the center of town.  It is a bustling place.  Numerous vehicles race pass me as I stand.  Some automobiles move slowly. They want to read my sign.  Words of affirmation are exchanged.  Drivers do not always beep.  Some gesture signs of support.  It fascinates me.  I never know what to expect or from whom.

    The city bus drivers usually sound their horns.  Only once did a transit worker ignore me.  Parcel truck operators from nationally renowned companies often hoot.  Each week I see suppliers for grocers drive by in their eighteen wheelers.  They never fail to salute and show their loud approval.  These people are not merely praying for peace; they are speaking their minds, honking their hearts out.

    What I find most interesting is that the young, the old, the disabled, those that appear extremely wealthy, and those of lesser means all join in.  Some are vocal; others shy.  Couples chant out together.  At times, only one person in the car calls to get my attention.  Very few shun me.  Fewer scream out in disgust.  Even automobiles with the American flag placed prominently on their window or bumper proudly point at me and say “Peace!”  “Bring our troops home now.”

    As I stand in solitude, I recognize a power that I am less aware of when with my compatriots.  Typically when with other activist we chat. ; We make eye contact with each other.  We address the persons as they drive by; however, I realize the interaction with motor vehicle drivers is not the same.  It is more intense, and such a delight to share in one-on-one.

    Today, a woman in the passenger seat of a car flashed a sign of good will.  I nodded and said thank you.  She smiled broadly.  We were literally inches apart from each other. Mutually, our hearts were warmed. Acknowledgment is much appreciated.

    On numerous occasions, a vehicle on the far side of the street will beep and beep while waiting for the traffic flow to change.  I have come to realize, they want my attention.  Me, a small, little insignificant, and unknown person curbside can change the way they feel about the world.

    Often, a person, or many individuals will wave and wave, toot.  and toot, until I turn, look at them directly, and acknowledge their participation.  It is important that they know I see only them.  Once I recognize a person that was anxious to express their beliefs, offer them a nod, direct my hand motions toward them, and say aloud “Thank you!” they go on. They, as we all only need to be understood, heard, cared about and cared for.

    I often wonder, if warriors were to meet and greet each other as individuals, not as enemies, if they were to see the face of their foe would they be able to shoot, to maim, or murder this person?  Might the human being, a few feet from them, be more real, if they could or would look into their eyes.

    Exchanging glances, being aware of the gestures, and allowing yourself to connect in an authentic way is so very powerful.  It is so pleasurable.

    Perchance, if combat did not take place on fields, if soldiers did not bare arms, but held signs, or spoke softly, the quality of the exchange would change.  If the troops stood toe-to-toe and gazed into the visage of those they disagree with, might they chat before they bomb each other to smithereens.

    Oh to think, if our adversaries had a face, a place in our heart, might the world be a more peaceful delightful space.  If only, we would try to engage rather than do battle.  Iraqi, Afghanis, and Americans alike could stand on the corner, serenely, sanguine, watching all the girls and guys go by.

    Bush Cuts Funds For Troops. Is Veto Victory?

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Murtha Slams Bush for Veto Threat
    Please pardon the obligatory commercial prologue.  Bush Renews Veto Threat

    Dear President George W. Bush . . .

    I was among the Americans willing to settle for some semblance of support for the troops.  I was willing to say bring them home months from now; although it seems to me a time in 2008 is more than a year.  Nevertheless, I called my Congressman and said please sign on to the silly Bill, the one setting an absurd and somewhat arbitrary time for bring the soldiers home.  However, in each of my conversations with Congressional Aides, I added my truer feelings.  I want the funds cut!  It seems that now, you do as well.

    I did not want the troops to travel abroad, to bomb innocent children and civilians.  Placing servicemen and women in “harms way” never seemed wise to me!

    The reason for this war and for the “rally ’round the flagpole” was always obvious to me.  Ego and egocentric attitudes abound!  America and its President arrogantly presumed to know what is best for people in the Middle East.  Posturing and propaganda were produced to support this swaggering stance.  If there was a battle to be had, my position was and is, let those that think there is reason to go to war go.  I am not referring to the young and agile, those led into service for they need the funds just to survive, I am speaking of the nations leaders, those that posture that combat will protect us [and our interests.]

    That is enough of my musings.  I am writing to state, George, you have the funds for the troops now.  Congress gave these to you!

    The Senate today defied a White House veto threat and narrowly approved a $122 billion war spending bill

    To veto the Bill leaves you and our military forces, those that you placed is such a deadly and precarious situation without funds!  Mister Bush, if I may be so bold, you are the person that is not “Supporting the soldiers!”  Stop.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shot back that Bush’s vow to veto the spending bill carries its own cost.  In a joint letter, they warned him against following “a political strategy that would needlessly delay funding for our troops.”

    Mister Bush, please, acknowledge the funds were granted.  It is your actions, or reactions, that will delay war efforts!  President Bush, you declare we must stop this silliness.  For the first time ever, we agree.  We can cease and desist.  Let us Stop the war!  This “caldron of chaos” boggles the mind; it is madness.  [However, I do submit my compliments to the speechwriter that created that phrase.  I truly admire such a classic construction.]

    George, you blame Congress for putting our boys and girls at risk, while ignoring the premise that your orders sent them to fight on false pretenses.

    The Associated Press helpfully chronicles administration statements on WMD before and after the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Among them:
  • “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” — Vice President Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002.


  • “Saddam Hussein is a man who told the world he wouldn’t have weapons of mass destruction, but he’s got them.” — Bush, Nov. 3, 2002.

    And let’s all remember that these comments came considerably before then-CIA Director George J. Tenet’s assertion that the WMD case was a “slam dunk,” in late December of 2002. By that point, Bush and Cheney had clearly already made up their minds.

  • It seems finding fault with others is your habit.  You blame “Intelligence” and Congress.  Might we expect the American people are next in line to receive your wrath.  After all, they did vote to end this war, to exit Iraq.  Nonetheless you persist, you resist.  Mister Bush you place the onus on the House and Senate, proclaiming these persons are not funding the feud.

    In combative speech yesterday, Bush said “the American people will know who to hold responsible” if funding for the war stalls.

    Dear Commander-In-Chief, the legislative branch has given you billions to play with!  Even this latest Bill finances this futile folly.  It will be your rejection of the measure that leaves the Defense Department without dollars to provide for this military mission.

    Bush ventured into sarcasm about the political battle Tuesday saying, “If Democrat leaders in Congress are bent on making a political statement, then they need to send me this unacceptable bill as quickly as possible when they come back. I’ll veto it and then Congress can get down to the business of funding our troops without strings and without delay.”

    Please, as you say, let us have no delay; cut the funds immediately!  Who knew that your own antics would slash the cash?  You Mister Bush are slicing your own allowance.  I am fine with that.  I only hope that Congress will realize, just as there will not be a win in this war, there is no triumph when battling with the Bushman.

    Perhaps Congress will listen to the speech you delivered today and conclude, we must “Bring the troops home, now!”  I would have preferred soldiers were never sent.  Nevertheless, since military maneuvers I must be realistic.  I can fantasize that the troops needed to be back in the states yesterday.  However, they were not. 

    President Bush, since you are now planning to “cut the funds” with your own veto pen, I say, let us do it.

    “If Congress fails to pass a bill that I can sign by mid-April, the Army will be forced to consider cutting back on equipment, equipment repair and quality of life initiatives for our Guard and Reserve forces,” Bush said

    Slice and dice as you will, as you are.  Do not send cash or soldiers.  The surge and the war need to end.  There was never a valid reason to start this crusade.  It is time; the hour, just as our young men and women, has long since passed!

    Exit Iraq!  Eliminate all Funding! The reasons and rationale . . .

  • President Bush Makes Remarks on the Emergency Supplemental.  The Rose Garden. White House.
  • Bush: Clock ticking on funding for war troops. Cable News Network.  April 3, 2007
  • Senate Passes Iraq War Funding Bill, By Shailagh Murray.  Washington Post.Thursday, March 29, 2007; 2:06 PM
  • pdf Senate Passes Iraq War Funding Bill, By Shailagh Murray.  Washington Post.Thursday, March 29, 2007; 2:06 PM
  • Bush Derides Iraq War Measure, He Says Democrats Will Be Blamed if Funds Are Held Up. By Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman.  Washington Post. Thursday, March 29, 2007; Page A01
  • pdf Bush Derides Iraq War Measure, He Says Democrats Will Be Blamed if Funds Are Held Up. By Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman.  Washington Post. Thursday, March 29, 2007; Page A01
  • A Big-Name Brutus in a Caldron of Chaos, By Ben Brantley.  The New York Times.  April 4, 2005
  • Once Again, No Regrets, By Dan Froomkin.  Special to Washington Post.  Thursday, January 13, 2005; 11:43 AM
  • pdf Once Again, No Regrets, By Dan Froomkin.  Special to Washington Post.  Thursday, January 13, 2005; 11:43 AM

    The Text.  The Transcript.  George W. Bush Tells it his way. . .

    President Bush Makes Remarks on the Emergency Supplemental
    April 3, 2007 10:09 A.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I’ve just had a good meeting with Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and General Pete Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Secretary Gates and General Pace updated me on the deployment of American reinforcements to Iraq.

    At this moment, two of the five additional U.S. Army brigades we are sending for this mission are operating in Baghdad. A third brigade is now moving from Kuwait, and will be fully operational in Baghdad in the coming weeks. And the remaining two brigades will deploy in April and May. It will be early June before all U.S. forces dedicated to the operation are in place. So this operation is still in its beginning stages.

    The reinforcements we’ve sent to Baghdad are having a impact. They’re making a difference. And as more of those reinforcements arrive in the months ahead, their impact will continue to grow. But to succeed in their mission, our troops need Congress to provide the resources, funds, and equipment they need to fight our enemies.

    It has now been 57 days since I requested that Congress pass emergency funds for our troops. Instead of passing clean bills that fund our troops on the front lines, the House and Senate have spent this time debating bills that undercut the troops, by substituting the judgment of politicians in Washington for the judgment of our commanders on the ground, setting an arbitrary deadline for withdrawal from Iraq, and spending billions of dollars on pork barrel projects completely unrelated to the war.

    I made it clear for weeks that if either the House or Senate version of this bill comes to my desk, I will veto it. And it is also clear from the strong support for this position in both Houses that the veto would be sustained. The only way the Democrats were able to pass their bill in the first place was to load the bill with pork and other spending that has nothing to do with the war.

    There was — one leading Democrat in the House said, “A lot of things had to go into that bill that certainly those of us who respect great legislation did not want there.” That’s an honest appraisal of the process that we just witnessed. Still, the Democrats in Congress continue to pursue their bills, and now they have left Washington for spring recess without finishing the work.

    Democrat leaders in Congress seem more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than in providing our troops what they need to fight the battles in Iraq. If Democrat leaders in Congress are bent on making a political statement, then they need to send me this unacceptable bill as quickly as possible when they come back. I’ll veto it, and then Congress can get down to the business of funding our troops without strings and without delay.

    If Congress fails to act in the next few weeks, it will have significant consequences for our men and women in the Armed Forces. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pace, recently stated during his testimony before a House subcommittee, if Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-April, the Army will be forced to consider cutting back on equipment, equipment repair, and quality of life initiatives for our Guard and reserve forces. These cuts would be necessary because the money will have to be shifted to support the troops on the front lines.

    The Army also would be forced to consider curtailing some training for Guard and reserve units here at home. This would reduce their readiness and could delay their availability to mobilize for missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. If Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-May, the problems grow even more acute. The Army would be forced to consider slowing or even freezing funding for its depots, where the equipment our troops depend on is repaired. They will also have to consider delaying or curtailing the training of some active duty forces, reducing the availability of these forces to deploy overseas. If this happens, some of the forces now deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq may need to be extended because other units are not ready to take their places.

    If Congress does not act, the Army may also have to delay the formation of new brigade combat teams, preventing us from getting those troops into the pool of forces that are available to deploy. If these new teams are unavailable, we would have to ask other units to extend into the theater.

    In a letter to Congress, Army Chief of Staff General Pete Schoomaker put it this way: “Without approval of the supplemental funds in April, we will be forced to take increasingly draconian measures, which will impact Army readiness and impose hardships on our soldiers and their families.”

    In a time of war, it’s irresponsible for the Democrat leadership — Democratic leadership in Congress to delay for months on end while our troops in combat are waiting for the funds. The bottom line is this: Congress’s failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. And others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to. That is unacceptable to me, and I believe it is unacceptable to the American people.

    Members of Congress say they support the troops. Now they need to show that support in deed, as well as in word. Members of Congress are entitled to their views and should express them. Yet debating these differences should not come at the expense of funding our troops.

    Congress’s most basic responsibility is to give our troops the equipment and training they need to fight our enemies and protect our nation. They’re now failing in that responsibility, and if they do not change course in the coming weeks, the price of that failure will be paid by our troops and their loved ones.

    Let the Battle begin or end.  Again I plead, Exit Iraq Now!

  • Iraq, Four Years Later. All We Are Saying is “Give Peace A Chance!”

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    It may have been a January evening; perhaps it was earlier.  The year was 2003.  I was living in Orange County, California.  I saw Gretchen as I exited the pool.  She and I were newly acquainted.  Quickly we realized we shared a solid belief; war is not an option!  On this night, Gretchen mentioned there was a peace vigil at the corner of Anton and Bristol in Costa Mesa.  Protestors were gathering across from one of the swankiest market places in the nation, South Coast Plaza.  Certainly, Americans would be there, for in 2001, after the Twin Towers fell President Bush and Vice President Cheney encouraged citizens to go shopping. 

    In an afternoon conversation, Gretchen’s son spoke of the event.  He had been in the past and she was on her way there now.  She asked if I would like to join her.  I am as far from spontaneous as a person can be.  Nevertheless, there are times when principles are more important than habits.  Neither of us hesitated.  Gretchen did not have to convince me to go.  We attended our first peace vigil together.  We were there within minutes.  That was the beginning of an all too long and all too important series of protests. 

    The Orange County Peace Coalition organized that event and many others.  Gretchen and I attended most rallies.  We marched; we sat, and we sang, all in hopes of promoting the philosophy, “Give Peace a Chance!”

    Each of us was present at Coalition meetings.  We were willingly part of the peace movement!  Gretchen and I pleaded for harmony before the first bombs fell in Iraq.  We were appalled by the attacks in Afghanistan.  We had read too much.

    On Monday, October 29th [2001], citing Reuters, The Times of India reported from Kabul, “a US bomb flattened a flimsy mud-brick home in Kabul on Sunday blowing apart seven children as they ate breakfast with their father.  The blast shattered a neighbour’s house killing another two children . . . the houses were in a residential area called Qalaye Khatir near a hill where the hard-line Taliban militia had placed an anti-aircraft gun.”

    The Afghan town of Charikar, 60 kms north of Kabul, has been the recipient of many US bombs and missiles.  On Saturday, November 17th, US bombs killed two entire families — one of 16 members and the other of 14 — perished, together in the same house.

    On the same day, bomb strikes in Khanabad near Kunduz, killed 100 people.  A refugee, Mohammed Rasul, recounts himself burying 11 people, pulled out of ruins there [ibid].

    Multiply these scenes by a couple hundred and the reality on-the-ground in the Afghan October and November is approximated.  This same reality is blithely dismissed by the Pentagon and the compliant U.S. corporate media with “the claims could not be independently verified.”  Whereas the military press calls reports of high civilian casualties as being “inflated by air.”  Another comments on the “humanity of the air war.”  Yet another, wails about too much press coverage of civilian casualties by a media unable to understand that some civilian casualties must occur but that “what IS newsworthy is that so many bombs hit their targets.”

    Afghanistan was and is a country living in the Stone Age. After eons of war, life is hard for all that live there. It is harder still since 2001.  With thanks to America there is a constant threat of death.  Yet, our Western civilized society bombs this nation, its homes, and inhabitants again and again. 

    Gretchen and I could not understand why further destruction was necessary.  Killing innocent non-combatants, mostly children seemed senseless to us.  It still does.  When considering the conditions in Afghanistan the need for civilian deaths is more confusing.

    Gretchen and I wanted no war.  Revenge did not and does not make sense to us.  Battle does not seem an apt solution.  Thus, we ventured out on that night and demonstrated against the war in the Middle East.  As we asked for withdrawal, Bush proposed escalation.  Gretchen and I participated each week in Friday night vigils.

    Then it was evident.  George W. Bush was planning an attack on Iraq.  There was no stopping him.  Nevertheless, we wanted to be heard.  On March 19, a special service was held.  We knew that the bombs would fall, now, over Iraq.

    Four years ago tonight, March 19, 2003, Gretchen, and I held our breath.  We still do.  However, throughout the years we tired at times.  Eggs were thrown at us.  A few times cars careened up onto the sidewalk, attempting to mow us down.  Police were called out to protect us, the protestors.  We wanted peace; however, we were very much alone.  The majority of Americans, or at least those in a conservative county, were against us.

    Life went on in America.  It seemed many were untouched by the wars.  However, Gretchen and I were in tatters.  Our hearts hurt.  We could not ignore what was, even if the combat took place on fields far from homes, it affected us.

    The war filled our minds and took up much of our time.  Gretchen and I were part of one event, then another.  Often, each week, hours of our lives were consumed in a “fight” against the wars.  Gretchen and I attended seminars, sought out information.  We painted signs, built crosses,  stars of David, and crescent moons.  We mounted these in the sand and presented a facsimile of Arlington Cemetery.  I logged the number of allied deaths, picked flowers for the fallen, and spoke in defense of the soldiers.  Gretchen was also vocal and active in her individual efforts.

    Weeks became months.  Months turned into years.  I moved to Florida.  Gretchen stayed in California and continued to speak out, though she chose to be slightly less involved.  As I acclimated to this new locale, I too reduced my participation.  I wrote more and marched less.  I looked for political activists and found most were nowhere near my neighborhood.  I did see some at the corner, across the street from a shopping center here.

    Tonight, I joined them.  I held a “Peace, not War!” sign on a local street corner.  My arm was extended.  My index and middle fingers formed the sign of peace.  Now living in a Red State, though a Blue community, horns were honking continuously.  The turn-out was not huge, though the Progressive population in Florida seems less politically involved.  Possibly, it is that I have not been here long enough to know what is happening.  It is my hope to learn more and to participate fully again.

    I suspect here in Florida, many were mired in Bush haze for years.  Perchance they had given up.  With George in the White House and Jeb in the State House, residents in Florida may have felt they had no power.  There was no reason to believe.  I know I was disillusioned this November as I read that twenty-three percent of the Democrats were planning to vote Republican.

    I understand from long time residents, change in this southern state is exceedingly slow.  Nevertheless,  in the last few months, I sense glimmers of hope.  A transformation seems possible.  Perhaps, that is just a dream, one that many of us share.  Nonetheless . . .

    Tonight, as I held my sign, fellow protestors spoke of this.  The times they are a changing.  Transformation is in the wind. The young and old are rising up.  Children gathered with their parents at the corner where we stood,  Youngsters, less than five years of age held up their signs and chanted words of peace.

    The white-haired man standing at my side said, this was his first time, his virginal vigil.  He grabbed a sign that expressed his sentiment, “Grandfather saying bring our troops home!”

    Later, a middle aged man pulled up near the curb in a late model Sports Utility Vehicle.  A elderly gentleman accompanied him; he was sitting in the passenger seat.  The light was red; the driver, the younger of the two, stopped.  He opened his car door, jumped out, and dashed to the far side of the vehicle.  In the back seat, there was a folding chair.  The younger man placed the structure on the lawn within the crowd of protestors.  The senior citizen exited the car, sat in the seat now stable on the grass.  He took a sign and joined those requesting “Exit Iraq!”

    This evening I thought of Gretchen.  I wondered; were Californians, even in a Republican ruled Orange County now ready to end this futile folly.  Were they too saying “It is time to leave!”  “Impeach Bush!”  “Bring our soldiers home now!”  Has this nation, long divided found a reason to unite?  Might peace be the answer.  Let us give peace a chance, please!

  • Orange County Peace Coalition.
  • Afghanistan. Reuters.
  • A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting.  By Professor Marc W. Herold  Ph.D., M.B.A., B.Sc. Whittemore School of Business & Economics. University of New Hampshire.
  • Military Wo/Men and the Public Unite. Exit Iraq or Not! ©

    I offer this brief appeal for redress.  In this treatise, I ask those of you that are able, veterans and active duty service men and women alike to express your angst.  If you are against the war, please sign the petition below.

    An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq

    Many active duty, reserve, and guard service members are concerned about the war in Iraq and support the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation. The Appeal messages will be delivered to members of Congress at the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.

    The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.

    As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.

    If you agree with this message, click here.

    The Appeal for Redress is sponsored by active duty service members based in the Norfolk area and by a sponsoring committee of veterans and military family members. The Sponsoring committee consists of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.

    Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress. To learn more about the rights and restrictions that apply to service members click here.

    Attorneys and counselors experienced in military law are available to help service members who need assistance in countering any attempts to suppress this communication with members of Congress.

    Click here to send the Appeal to your elected representatives.

    If you are for a withdrawal, you have company.  Others still think we must stay.

    Today, William Boettcher and Michael Cobb of North Carolina State University ask how many war deaths will you tolerate.

    “Casualty unacceptability is only somewhat related to the number of actual casualties,” Boettcher and Cobb said in a joint e-mail. “If you oppose the war, dislike President Bush, are a Democrat, would like to increase troops, would like to decrease troops etc… you may find casualties unacceptable without having any knowledge of the actual number.”

    The way casualties are framed can also influence how we think of them. It is sobering, for example, to say that the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq is now close to the number of Americans who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But the losses in Iraq are less than one-tenth the size of U.S. losses in Vietnam and less than one-hundredth the total of U.S. losses during World War II.

    Boettcher and Cobb, who work at North Carolina State University, recently came up with mock newspaper stories to show how framing the same information differently can influence whether people think the war is going well.

    The fake news articles described a battle in Karbala. Two-thirds of the volunteers in the experiment described the battle as a success when the article they were given said 25 Americans and 125 insurgents had been killed. But a little more than a third of the volunteers called the battle a success when the article said 25 Americans were killed without any mention of insurgent casualties.

    The people voted in November.  Their voices may have been heard or misinterpreted.  Decisions are yet to come.  Challenges exist.  What is a “graceful exit” and is one possible.  Might we “cut and run?”  For now, we know not with certainty what will happen once Congress reconvenes.

    This topic is worthy of much more investigation.  Exit Iraq, a beginning . . .

  • An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq

  • Tolerance for a War’s Death Toll Depends on How You Look at It, By Shankar Vedantam. Washington Post. Monday, December 18, 2006; A02
  • Poll: Opposition to Iraq war at all-time high. Cable News Network. September 25, 2006
  • About Face: Soldiers Call for Iraq Withdrawal, Marc Cooper. The Nation. December 16, 2006