Tag Archives: Iraq

Lord, Try to Read Between The Lines

17 Jun

It’s a busy time, mostly thanks to the last couple of weeks of the school year, so this’ll have to do. 

1. Sometimes, when an upstate politician spits hatred at “downstate”, it’s nothing more than a stealthy way to express anti-Semitism. 

2. Pamela Brown is gone. Now, all the excuses are gone. She was given only 2 years to try and do an almost impossible job, so it follows that Carl’s crew should be given an equal period of time to turn everything around. Never forget that Dr. James Williams, who was given 6 years to accomplish little except strife, was the hand-picked choice of the business elites – M&T Bank’s Robert Wilmers paid for the search that landed him. But yeah, they’ve got it all figured out this time

3. We cut most of the cable cord a few months ago, and in that time I’ve watched entire series such as Peep Show, That Mitchell & Webb Look, and Breaking Bad. As good as Breaking Bad was – and the last few episodes are some of the best television I’ve ever seen – I really miss the Botwin family in Weeds. For some reason, (and I’ll admit that season 7 was just farcical), I really enjoyed watching that show and following that family’s misadventures. I just started Orange is the New Black. So far, so good. 

4. If you have SiriusXM, and you’re anywhere near my age, you should check out 70s on 7 on Sundays, (and all this week, I think), because they’re re-playing Casey Kasem era American Top 40 broadcasts. 

5. Hey, remember how going into Iraq was going to stabilize the Middle East and help Israel out, too? How’s that regime-y change-y thing workin’ out for you?

1. “Liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.” –  Kenneth Adelman, a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, Feb. 13, 2002

2. “The time has come for decisive action to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. … Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally Israel.” – Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., addressing the U.S. Senate, Sept. 12, 2002

3. “If left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.  Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well, effects American security.” – Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., addressing the U.S. Senate, Oct. 10, 2002

4. “It’s a slam dunk case” – CIA Director George Tenet told President Bush about evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Dec. 21, 2002

(About two weeks before the decision to invade Iraq was made, Tenet told Bush that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That statement played a monumental role in leading the U.S. to go to war with Iraq.)

5. “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” –Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when asked about weapons of mass destruction in an ABC News interview, March 30, 2003

(Rumsfeld later said those locations were “suspect sites” and were not unequivocally linked to WMDs.)

6. “The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction, as the core reason.” – Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, during a “Vanity Fair” interview, May 28, 2003

7. “Oh, no, we’re not going to have any casualties.” — Bush, discussing the Iraq war with Christian broadcaster Rev. Pat Robertson, after Robertson told him he should prepare the American people for casualties, March 2003

(Although this statement is disputed – Karl Rove said Bush never said that – Robertson emphatically maintained that Bush said there would be no U.S. casualties in the war. Atotal of 4,486 U.S. service members were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2012.)

8. “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . [in] weeks rather than months.” – Vice President Dick Cheney in a “Meet the Press” interview, Sept. 14, 2003

9. “We expected, I expected to find actual usable, chemical or biological weapons after we entered Iraq. But I have to accept, as the months have passed, it seems increasingly clear that at the time of invasion, Saddam did not have stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons ready to deploy.” – British Prime Minister Tony Blair, July 14, 2004

10. “I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.” – Vice President Dick Cheney, on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005

(Withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq did not begin until June 2009.)

11. “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” –President Bush, standing under a “Mission Accomplished” banner duriong a speech on the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier, May 2, 2003

(By May 2007, with U.S. troops still very much involved in Iraq, 55 percent of Americans said they thought the war in Iraq was a mistake.)

12. “Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. To deny that their sacrifice didn’t make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think does a great disservice…the progress has been immense.”  – Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in an interview with CBS July 22, 2008

13. “The capacity of Iraq’s security forces has improved, and Iraq’s leaders have made strides toward political accommodation” – President Barack Obama in a speech at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 27, 2009

14. “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement,” – President Barack Obama in a speech at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Dec. 14, 2011

What we did was expel all Sunnis, who had been the dominant political force under Saddam’s Ba’athist regime, from governing, and hand power over to a Shia majority that wasn’t at all inclusive, transparent, or ready to govern all of Iraq. When the Sunni ISIS/ISIL forces overran several cities, the Sunni locals whom the Shia government had oppressed for years greeted them as liberators. The Iraqi forces ran away, the government is unable to maintain control of its territory, and what we left is an unstable country boiling over with sectarian resentment and violence. 

It is as if we killed Tito and let one of the 6 constituent ethnicities or religions in the ex-Yugoslavia be a victor and oppress the other 5, and expect a good result. We all know what happened organically in Yugoslavia between Tito’s 1980 death and the 1990s. 

The Iraq war cost America about $1 trillion, when all is said & done. Just think of what we could have bought here at home for that sum of money. Fund health care? Better schools? Student loan relief? Tax rebate to everyone? It’s mind-boggling what we’ll willingly pay for with very little argument. Over 3,500 lives lost to set up a dysfunctional Shia government about to be overthrown by a ruthless hipster Taliban. 

Too many Americans have already died to “liberate” a country under false pretenses. Too much American treasure has been squandered to accomplish the same thing. Let the Iranians go after ISIS. Say what you want about Iran, but they have a functioning government that is interested in self-preservation, and is therefore someone with whom we can deal, as compared with the feckless Iraqi “government” or the Sunni jihadists overrunning Iraq and Syria in a power vacuum left after a Ba’athist dictatorship was overrun or weakened.  Heckuva job, ‘mrrka. 

Moral Authority Squandered

3 Mar

One of the most insidious hangovers of the Iraq war debacle is that the United States has now lost any moral or legal authority it previously had to criticize other countries’ unjustified military aggression. Even worse, all we have to show for it is Bosnia-in-the-desert and thousands of lives lost and harmed. 

As the latest in an eternal line of brutal Russian mafia dons prepares to destroy Ukraine, the only thing the US can do is shut down the Russian oligarchy’s access to its money, and urge other countries to do the same. Good luck getting the Swiss to play ball. 

The Long Walk: Released Today

10 Jul

Today is a big day for my friend and former WNYMedia.net colleague, Brian Castner. A book he wrote about his experiences in Iraq as a bomb disposal unit commander, and about his readjustment to civilian life, is released today. He led a group that would find and destroy IEDs, investigate the aftermath of their detonation, and conduct house-to-house searches for the perpetrators. Almost more chilling is what that sort of experience does to a person when they return Stateside. 

Brian is a gifted and intelligent writer and he offers a unique perspective on a conflict we who weren’t there understand only in the abstract. Congratulations to him – I hope the book is a hit, and I thank him for sharing his experience with a wider audience. 

Brian appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, and you can listen to his interview here. He has also talked with Nick Mendola, Artvoice, Publisher’s Weekly, and maintains his own blog here

Follow Brian on Twitter, and “like” his Facebook page here