What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Watching Kate O'Beirne on Meet the Press.
Posted at 8:57 AM
Not the ball-drop that most people watch on New Year's, but I guess to each their own.
The General likes to say that "no plan ever survived the first contact with the enemy." But in Iraq, Tommy Franks' plan did. A force half the size of the force that won the Gulf War defeated Saddam Hussein's regime and reached Baghdad in less than a month, the fastest, longest armored advance in the history of America warfare.
Today the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are building a secure and permanent democratic future. One of the highest distinctions of history is to be called a liberator, and Tommy Franks will always carry that title.
When America and our coalition needed a seasoned diplomat and a manager to help the people of Iraq emerge from decades of oppression, I knew where to turn. For 14 months, Jerry Bremer worked day and night, in difficult, dangerous conditions, to stabilize the country, to help its people rebuild, and to establish a political process that would lead to justice and liberty. The job was demanding, requiring personal courage, calmness under fire and hundreds of decisions every day.
Yet, Jerry not only rose to the challenge, he found time nearly every day to study the Arabic language. Jerry Bremer earned the respect and admiration of Iraqis, and helped to assemble an exceptional group of Iraqi leaders for the Governing Council. With his help, these leaders drafted the Transitional Administrative Law which charted the country's political future and established a bill of rights. In the final days of hammering out consensus on this landmark law, Jerry sat through day-long meetings, sometimes without ever speaking. His silence was essential to reassure Iraqis that the new law was entirely their own. Yet his presence was essential to reassure Iraqis of our coalition's steadfast commitment to their future and their success. Every political benchmark that the Iraqis set for themselves and that Jerry helped them meet was achieved on time or ahead of schedule, including the transfer of sovereignty that ended his tenure.
Saddam to the gallows. It was an easy equation. Who could be more deserving of that last walk to the scaffold - that crack of the neck at the end of a rope - than the Beast of Baghdad, the Hitler of the Tigris, the man who murdered untold hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis while spraying chemical weapons over his enemies? Our masters will tell us in a few hours that it is a "great day" for Iraqis and will hope that the Muslim world will forget that his death sentence was signed - by the Iraqi "government", but on behalf of the Americans - on the very eve of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the moment of greatest forgiveness in the Arab world.
But history will record that the Arabs and other Muslims and, indeed, many millions in the West, will ask another question this weekend, a question that will not be posed in other Western newspapers because it is not the narrative laid down for us by our presidents and prime ministers - what about the other guilty men?
No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don't gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn't invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead - and thousands of Western troops are dead - because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.
In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent - we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam's shame at Abu Ghraib - and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created.
Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.
And the mass killings we perpetrated in 2003 with our depleted uranium shells and our "bunker buster" bombs and our phosphorous, the murderous post-invasion sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, the hell-disaster of anarchy we unleashed on the Iraqi population in the aftermath of our "victory" - our "mission accomplished" - who will be found guilty of this? Such expiation as we might expect will come, no doubt, in the self-serving memoirs of Blair and Bush, written in comfortable and wealthy retirement.
This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.
President Bush worked nearly three hours at his Texas ranch on Thursday to design a new U.S. policy in Iraq, then emerged to say that he and his advisers need more time to craft the plan he'll announce in the new year.
I and some other journalists had lunch with Senator Joe Lieberman the other day and we listened to him talking about Iraq. Either Senator Lieberman is so divorced from reality that he's completely lost the plot or he knows he's spinning a line. Because one of my colleagues turned to me in the middle of this lunch and said he's not talking about any country I've ever been to and yet he was talking about Iraq, the very country where we were sitting.
December 29, 2006:
I saw firsthand evidence in Iraq of the development of a multiethnic, moderate coalition against the extremists of al-Qaeda and against the Mahdi Army, which is sponsored and armed by Iran and has inflamed the sectarian violence. We cannot abandon these brave Iraqi patriots who have stood up and fought the extremists and terrorists.
The addition of more troops must be linked to a comprehensive new military, political and economic strategy that provides security for the population so that training of Iraqi troops and the development of a democratic government can move forward.
In particular we must provide the vital breathing space for moderate Shiites and Sunnis to turn back the radicals in their communities. There are Iraqi political leaders who understand their responsibility to do this. In Anbar province we have made encouraging progress in winning over local Sunni tribal leaders in the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorists. With more troops to support them, our forces in Anbar and their Sunni allies can achieve a major victory over al-Qaeda.
The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents.
U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman believes the U.S. will withdraw a "solid' contingent of its military forces in Iraq by the end of the year because of gains made by the Iraqi armed forces.
"There really has been progress made by the Iraqi military," Lieberman said Tuesday during a meeting with the Connecticut Post's editorial board. "Two-thirds of it could stand on its own or lead the fight with our logistical support."
The three-term U.S. senator said he believes a complete withdrawal is possible by late 2007 or early 2008.
Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.
We are now embedding a core of coalition forces in every Iraqi fighting unit, which makes each unit more effective and acts as a multiplier of our forces. Progress in "clearing" and "holding" is being made. The Sixth Infantry Division of the Iraqi Security Forces now controls and polices more than one-third of Baghdad on its own. Coalition and Iraqi forces have together cleared the previously terrorist-controlled cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tal Afar, and most of the border with Syria. Those areas are now being "held" secure by the Iraqi military themselves. Iraqi and coalition forces are jointly carrying out a mission to clear Ramadi, now the most dangerous city in Al-Anbar province at the west end of the Sunni Triangle.
Nationwide, American military leaders estimate that about one-third of the approximately 100,000 members of the Iraqi military are able to "lead the fight" themselves with logistical support from the U.S., and that that number should double by next year. If that happens, American military forces could begin a drawdown in numbers proportional to the increasing self-sufficiency of the Iraqi forces in 2006. If all goes well, I believe we can have a much smaller American military presence there by the end of 2006 or in 2007, but it is also likely that our presence will need to be significant in Iraq or nearby for years to come.
The Justice Department (under Ford) was headed by Edward H. Levi, a former University of Chicago president and perhaps the most nonpolitical attorney general in modern times. Serving under him, in various high staff positions, were such people as Rudolph Giuliani, Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia.
BAGHDAD, Dec. 27 — The car parked outside was almost certainly a tool of the Sunni insurgency. It was pocked with bullet holes and bore fake license plates. The trunk had cases of unused sniper bullets and a notice to a Shiite family telling them to abandon their home.
“Otherwise, your rotten heads will be cut off,” the note read.
The soldiers who came upon the car in a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad were part of a joint American and Iraqi patrol, and the Americans were ready to take action. The Iraqi commander, however, taking orders by cellphone from the office of a top Sunni politician, said to back off: the car’s owner was known and protected at a high level.
For Maj. William Voorhies, the American commander of the military training unit at the scene, the moment encapsulated his increasingly frustrating task — trying to build up Iraqi security forces who themselves are being used as proxies in a spreading sectarian war. This time, it was a Sunni politician — Vice Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie — but the more powerful Shiites interfered even more often.
“I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer America’s war in Iraq, but the Iraqi civil war where America is fighting,” Major Voorhies said.
A two-day reporting trip accompanying Major Voorhies’s unit and combat troops seemed to back his statement, as did other commanding officers expressing similar frustration.
“I have personally witnessed about a half-dozen of these incidents of what I would call political pressure, where a minister or someone from a minister’s office contacts one of these Iraqi commanders,” said Lt. Col. Steven Miska, the deputy commander for the Dagger Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, who oversees combat operations in a wide swath of western Baghdad.
“These politicians are connected with either the militias or Sunni insurgents.”
In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.
"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."
My Gods, Michelle Malkin is hosting the O’Reilly Factor tonight. This is the most awful and horrifying thing I’ve ever seen. Malkin just asked her guest why Hillary Clinton is polling behind Tom Vilsack among Democrats in Iowa. Her guest replied that it might, just might, have something to do with the fact that Vilsack is governor of Iowa. E. Gad. Stupidest woman alive.
The Bush administration has decided to propose listing the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, putting the U.S. government on record as saying that global warming could drive one of the world's most recognizable animals out of existence.
"You should continue to sanitize my crevasse and be grateful for the opportunity."
For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure (War with Mexico), and to this day regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
There were no possible means of obtaining news from the garrison, and information from outside could not be otherwise than unfavorable. What General Taylor’s feelings were during this suspense I do not know; but for myself, a young second-lieutenant who had never heard a hostile gun before, I felt sorry that I had enlisted. A great many men, when they smell battle afar off, chafe to get into the fray. When they say so themselves they generally fail to convince their hearers that they are as anxious as they would like to make believe, and as they approach danger they become more subdued. This rule is not universal, for I have known a few men who were always aching for a fight when there was no enemy near, who were as good as their word when the battle did come. But the number of such men is small.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - At least 36 Iraqis died Tuesday in bombings, officials said, including a coordinated strike that killed 25 in western Baghdad. Separately, the deaths of six U.S. soldiers pushed the American toll beyond the number of victims in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The three coordinated car bombs in western Baghdad injured at least 55 people, a doctor at Yarmouk hospital, where the victims were taken, said on condition of anonymity because of safety concerns. The attacks occurred in a mixed Sunni and Shiite neighborhood.
[W]hen Clinton was considering lifting the ban on gays in the military, all the military was up in arms, and all the top generals - starting at the top with Colin Powell - practically mutinied. But when Bush decides to continue a criminally negligent war that is a disaster, all because he's too arrogant and stupid to change course, our generals sit back and shut up. I guess the deaths of 3,000 of our soldiers aren't nearly as big a deal to the generals as a couple of gay guys wanting to enlist.
"McMaster stresses two elements in his discussion of America's failure in Vietnam: the hubris of Johnson and his advisors and the weakness of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
To look at the glass half empty, The Post will have fewer people reporting on what you need to know, and those who are doing it will have to work harder in three platforms -- print, the Web and radio -- with less space for news.
But to look at the glass half full, the contraction could make The Post crisper, more compact and more readable. A leading reason for canceling subscriptions is "no time to read." Reporters tend to want to write everything they know; I did it myself. Readers want to know only so much. The perfect length is a moving target. From the front page to the last page, The Post needs to be edited to respect readers' time.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told The Associated Press on Thursday that Iraq is "worth the investment" in American lives and dollars and said the U.S. can still win a conflict that has been more difficult than she expected
Here at TPM we spent a good part of the day trying to find out where the congressional leadership in both parties and in both houses stand on President Bush's to increase the number of troops in Iraq by 30,000 to 50,000. The basic story was pretty clear: The Democrats are united against it; and the Republicans won't say one way or another.
The U.S. military on Wednesday said American-led coalition forces captured a senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader last week in the northern city of Mosul.
Five others described as "suspected terrorists" were arrested in Thursday's operation.
The leader wasn't identified, but the U.S. military said he is implicated in insurgent activities in Mosul and the Karkh region of Baghdad last year when he was a "military emir."
"The 'murican people gotta understand we will prevail against these terrorist killers and that we are fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here like what happened on 9/11 which is a lesson I'll never forget, even though the lesson is hard, and by the way we will prevail. I'm the Commander-in-Decider-in-American People Protector-in-Chief.
Nice dress Martha; you too Gregory. heh heh heh"
“Failure in Iraq would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility and endanger Americans for decades to come.”
- Robert Gates 12/18/2006
What is "failing" and what about not failing it is so important that not having it is a "disaster"?
Only in the cocoon of 43rd Street could such a writer, who gets everything wrong, contradicts himself from day to day, and writes in prose worthy of Anne Lamott could still get front-page play day after day.
THE COMING SPIN: You can see it now. Chaos. Looting. Disorder. Losing the peace. It's not that there won't be some truth to these stories; and real cause for concern. The pent-up fury, frustration and sheer anger of three decades is a powerful thing, probably impossible to stop immediately without too much force. And the last thing we want is fire-power directed toward the celebrating masses. The trouble is that they could become the narrative of the story, especially among the usual media suspects, and erode the impact and power of April 9. By Sunday, or sooner, you-know-who will probably have a front-page "news analysis" that will describe the joy of liberation being transformed into the nightmare of a Hobbesian quicksand of ever-looming cliches. Speaking of whom ...(April 10, 2003)
SPIN AND SQUIRM: Mickey - "Don't Rush Me, Rush Rummy" - Kaus is backing his friend (and mine) Bob Wright for the following assertion (made only two days ago!) that
as the war drags on, any stifled sympathy for the American invasion will tend to evaporate. As more civilians die and more Iraqis see their "resistance" hailed across the Arab world as a watershed in the struggle against Western imperialism, the traditionally despised Saddam could gain appreciable support among his people. So, the Pentagon's failure to send enough troops to take Baghdad fairly quickly could complicate the postwar occupation, to say nothing of the war itself.
It's a valiant effort, even as Bob's piece seems to be moving inexorably toward a von Hoffman award (not yet, but it's not looking good for the earthling U.N.-lover). Here's a pitch-perfect rear-guard "spin and squirm" what-did-the-Romans-ever-do-for-us?" pirouette from Mickey:
It's true that the military picture has seemingly improved since Wright's piece was posted; his how-can-we-trust-the-hawks-who-muffed-the-war-
to-remake-the-Middle-East argument has less force than it did even 24 hours ago. But the hawks were surprised by initial resistance in the South (even if it was mainly resistance obtained at gunpoint), and Rumsfeld still did send too few troops, it seems -- even if the war overall is going well so far. So there's still room for doubting the hawks grander rosy scenarios.
The phrase "it seems -- even if the war overall is going well so far" is the qualification only a master blogger could pull off. So's the final sentence. If there's room for doubting the hawks' "grander" rosy scenarios, is there no room for doubting the less grand ones, like, er, that Rummy hasn't obviously screwed up so far? In fact, to the naked eye, he's kicking butt. Surely the best neoliberal criterion should still be Kenneth Pollack's (partly because it wasn't made with any of the current debate in mind):
Probably the most likely scenario would be about one third of Iraq's armed forces fighting hard, limited use of tactical WMD, and some extensive combat in a few cities. In this most likely case, the campaign would probably last four to eight weeks and result in roughly 500 to 1,000 American combat deaths.
To argue that the war has taken much longer than necessary seems to me at this point to be pushing credulity. At the current rate of progress, it looks as if we're going to come in at the lower end of Pollack's estimate. But I guess the anti-neo-cons have got to grasp at something. If things continue at this pace, it's going to be a cluster of von Hoffman awards.
BITTER, PARTY OF ONE: One of the things that people like me have long under-estimated is the legacy of Vietnam among the boomer generation. I wasn't even in this country; and others in my under-40 generation in America also don't get it. But for men like Howell Raines or Johnny Apple or others who command the heights of academia, Vietnam is still the prism through which they see everything. I'm not saying this isn't understandable; and a sense of history is vital to understanding a chaotic war like the one we have just witnessed. But the bitterness can also cloud judgement. Just look at Allan Gurganus' essay in yesterday's New York Times Magazine. The man is still in shock. The visceral hostility he feels to the U.S. government, the Pentagon, or, indeed, any American authority figure stems in part from the experience of that war. I don't think this is curable. In some ways, it's pointless to rail against it. It's just part of the psyche of a generation with enormous power - now, in part, the power to denigrate and undermine any real American military victory. Not all of this generation is hopeless, of course. Some are doing amazing work in this war even now. But for others, it will never recede. It's their point of reference, their precious. And they will nurture it even more passionately if the world now proves them wrong.
VON HOFFMAN AWARD NOMINEE: "The main flaws are now plain. First, the strategy left very long supply lines exposed and vulnerable. Troops require water and tanks require gasoline. Without these, no force 250 miles from base will be useful for long. Second, Iraqi soldiers embedded in civilian populations - both those along supply lines and in Baghdad - can only be destroyed alongside those populations. Thus the Iraqis could force the transformation of the second strategy into the first. And, being military realists, they have done so. The dilemma is now acute. Retreat is unthinkable. George W. Bush's neoconservatives (standing safely in the back) will figuratively execute any who quail. The level of violence will therefore be raised. Meanwhile, the prime stocks of precision munitions have been drawn down, and speculation about the future use of cluster bombs and napalm and other vile weapons is being heard. And so the political battle - the battle for hearts and minds - will be lost. If history is a guide, you cannot subdue a large and hostile city except by destroying it completely. Short of massacre, we will not inherit a pacified Iraq. For this reason, the project of reconstruction is impossible. No one should imagine that the civilians sent in to do this work can be made secure. To support "the groundwork" for this effort is to support a holocaust, quite soon, against Iraqi civilians and also against the troops on both sides. That is what victory means. You can watch the beginnings (if you have satellite television) even now, as injured children fill up the hospitals of Baghdad. The moral strategy would be to avoid the holocaust. To achieve that from the present disastrous position, the United States would have to accept a cease-fire, which would lead to the withdrawal of coalition forces under safe conduct. There would be no military dishonor in such a step. It would, however, entail the humiliation of the entire Bush administration, indeed its well-deserved political collapse. Too bad the moral strategy is not a practical one." - James Galbraith, the American Prospect. How can a single person get so much so wrong?
V-H AWARD III: "The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we cannot win. "We do not have the military means to take over Baghdad and for this reason I believe the defeat of the United States in this war is inevitable. "Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for ten years in Vietnam, but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost." - Scott Ritter, South African TV...
...V-H AWARD IV: "Iraqis, very clearly, do not want to be 'liberated,' even many who had long opposed Saddam's brutal regime. To the contrary, the US-British invasion appears to have ignited genuine national resistance among 17 million Arab Iraqis, just as the 1941 German invasion of the USSR rallied Russians and Ukrainians behind Stalin's hated regime. ... The nasty, bloody urban warfare the Americans and Brits sought to avoid at all costs is now confronting them." - Eric Margolis, ForeignCorrespondent.com....
...V-H AWARD VI: "Meanwhile, a German government report due to appear in a newspaper on Monday says that up to two million people could die in a war on Iraq. The report released by the Environment Ministry says many civilians would be unable to get food or clean drinking water. The paper quotes the report as saying that a quarter of the population in southern Iraq already has no access to drinking water." - Deutsche Welle...
...V-H AWARD VIII: "Have you ever seen such amazing arrogance wedded to such awesome incompetence?" - Molly Ivins, March 16, 2003. No, Molly, I haven't. The liberal media have had a terrible, terrible war.
The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intense debate.
Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops for a mission of possibly six to eight months is one of the central proposals on the table of the White House policy review to reverse the steady deterioration in Iraq. The option is being discussed as an element in a range of bigger packages, the officials said.
But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.
The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.
Attacks in Iraq on U.S.-led forces, local security personnel and civilians have surged 22 percent to record levels, the Pentagon said in its latest quarterly report on Iraq published on Monday.
The report also noted a rise in civilian casualties and said this was directly linked to the rise of sectarian death squads, which were helped by elements of Iraqi forces.
six months after Operation Forward Together and then Together Forward and then Together Forward II: Electric Boogaloo was supposed to be our one last shot at this very critical juncture blahblahblah...
Blood and Money
In what might be called the mother of all surprises, Iraq's economy is growing strong, even booming in places.
Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming...
Yes, Iraq's problems are daunting, to say the least. Unemployment runs between 30 and 50 percent. Many former state industries have all but ceased to function. As for all that money flowing in, much of it has gone to things that do little to advance the country's future. Security, for instance, gobbles up as much as a third of most companies' operating budgets, whereas what Iraq really needs are hospitals, highways and power-generating plants....
...Salaries have gone up more than 100 percent since the fall of Saddam, and income-tax cuts (from 45 percent to just 15 percent) have put more cash in Iraqi pockets. "The U.S. wanted to create the conditions in which small-scale private enterprise could blossom," says Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight. "In a sense, they've succeeded."
HILO, Hawai'i — A Big Island man who was on his fourth tour in Iraq died Friday of injuries he suffered two weeks ago when a roadside bomb exploded near an armored Stryker vehicle he was riding in as part of a convoy, a family member said.
Henry Kahalewai, 44, was a senior enlisted man who planned to retire next year after 20 years in the Army to build a home on land he owned in Upper Puna, said Joseph Aguiar, Kahalewai's cousin.
Kahalewai had a grown son who lives in Honolulu, and two younger daughters who lived with him and his wife in Tacoma, Wash., Aguiar said.
"He's our hero. Four tours of Iraq is enough for one person," Aguiar said.
This year, we invited readers on our Web site to ask you questions. Here's one: Nina Frazier of New Braunfels, Texas, asks: If you believe in the war, why didn't you encourage your own daughters to fight for your country? Or did you?
THE PRESIDENT: I believe Americans can contribute to the security and well-being of our country in a variety of ways. That's why we have a volunteer army. What we say to young people is that if you want to serve your country you can do so in the military, or you can do so by teaching children in inner-city Washington, D.C., like one of our daughters did. Or you can help form education programs in New York City, like our (other) daughter. There are all kinds of ways to serve.
Backdoor Draft for Jenna
c/o The American Embassy Argentina
Av. Colombia 4300
(C1425GMN) Buenos Aires - Argentina
The first Adelie penguin chicks of the season -- black fluffballs small enough to hold in the hand -- started hatching this month, and the simple fact that there are more of them in the south and fewer of them further north is a sign of global warming, scientists say.
The Pentagon called them "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the Earth," sweeping them up after Sept. 11 and hauling them in chains to a U.S. military prison in southeastern Cuba.
Since then, hundreds of the men have been transferred from Guantanamo Bay to other countries, many of them for "continued detention."
And then set free.
*Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.
*Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial. The AP identified 14 trials, in which eight men were acquitted and six are awaiting verdicts. Two of the cases involving acquittals — one in Kuwait, one in Spain — initially resulted in convictions that were overturned on appeal.
*The Afghan government has freed every one of the more than 83 Afghans sent home. Lawmaker Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission, said many were innocent and wound up at Guantanamo because of tribal or personal rivalries.
*At least 67 of 70 repatriated Pakistanis are free after spending a year in Adiala Jail. A senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official said investigators determined that most had been "sold" for bounties to U.S. forces by Afghan warlords who invented links between the men and al-Qaida. "We consider them innocent," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
*All 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, some within hours after being sent home for "continued detention."
"I can't wash the three long years of pain, trouble and humiliation from my memory," said Badarzaman Badar, an Afghan who was freed in Pakistan. "It is like a cancer in my mind that makes me disturbed every time I think of those terrible days."
Cuban President Fidel Castro is very ill and close to death, Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte said yesterday.
"Everything we see indicates it will not be much longer . . . months, not years," Negroponte told a meeting of Washington Post editors and reporters.
We are getting very excited.
Stop the lynching party! Donald Rumsfeld was briefly being pilloried as another Robert McNamara, the disgraced Vietnam-era secretary of defense who interfered with the military. With American tanks now in Baghdad, Rumsfeld criticism feels -- as the kids say -- like, so four days ago.
...if there's one consistent lesson from our experience in Iraq, it is to avoid half-measures -- go to war with more troops, more deadly force and more vigor rather than less. Muddling through and hoping to succeed with just barely enough resources, is a fool's policy.
The "surge" tactic is being generated by Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard and by Frederick W. Kagan and Bill Kristol, i.e. by the same plutocratic American Enterprise Institute (Likudnik Central) that brought you the Iraq War with champagne toasts in the first place.
Kagan has a recent book on Napoleon. Napoleon's most prominent characteristic was his willingness to waste his troops' lives lightly. On his return from Palestine in 1799, he even had some poisoned because they were ill with plague and he did not want to risk transporting them back to his HQ in Cairo. He took 54,000 men to Egypt in 1798; about half came back. His Russia campaign saw a similar dynamic, on a much larger scale.
Bush is the Napoleon of our age, trampling on whole peoples, a Jacobin Emperor mouthing the slogans of liberty and popular sovereignty while crushing and looting those he "liberated." And Kagan and Kristol (playing Talleyrand 1798) and Emperor Bush are readying a further slaughter of our US troops, 24,000 of whom have been killed or wounded, and of innocent Iraqis, 600,000 of whom have been killed by criminal and political violence since spring of 2003.
And you thought a mere election would make a difference. No one had to elect the American Enterprise Institute. No one needs to crown the emperor, he can do it himself. Welcome to Year 1 of the Empire.
Bath Resistance [Stanley Kurtz]
The continuing resistance in Um Qasr and Basra is being led by Baath party zealots. We still don’t know for sure whether large elements of the Iraqi public will welcome us a liberators, but the presence of armed Baath party gangs in Un Qasr and Basra surely has a lot to do with why it hasn’t happened so far. That confirms the need to de-Baathify Iraq after the war. The current administration plan is to replace a few key administrators at the top, but otherwise rely on Baath party bureaucrats in a post-war Iraq. Those bureaucrats may not be quite as vicious as the Baathists now fighting in Um Qasr and Basra, but they will have the power to sabotage the American presence in Iraq just as powerfully as their gun-toting comrades are doing now.
Posted at 10:53 AM
President Bush and Vice President Cheney met with the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday at the Pentagon for more than an hour, and the president engaged his top military advisers on different options. The chiefs made no dramatic proposals but, at a time of intensifying national debate about how to solve the Iraq crisis, offered a pragmatic assessment of what can and cannot be done by the military, the sources said.
The chiefs do not favor adding significant numbers of troops to Iraq, said sources familiar with their thinking, but see strengthening the Iraqi army as pivotal to achieving some degree of stability. They also are pressing for a much greater U.S. effort on economic reconstruction and political reconciliation.
John McCain has made clear that he doesn’t like the blogosphere.
Now he has introduced legislation that would treat blogs like Internet service providers and hold them responsible for all activity in the comments sections and user profiles.
President Bush, just now at the Pentagon (emphasis added):
"I thank these men who wear our uniform for a very candid and fruitful discussion about how to secure this country and how to win a war that we now find ourselves in."
AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian
Greetings. My name is Mbago Shoenecki and my sixth cousin, once removed, was President of the Republic of Nigeria sometime in the 17th Century, look it up, it's in Wikipedia...really. I am writing to you to obtain your name, social security number, and various credit card numbers (expiration dates too please) because of the possibility you are an incredible imbecile. That may seem presumptuous of me, but then again, your nation did elect George W. Bush so the odds cannot be all that bad.
But even so, not fat chicks or gays.