Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category


Populism done right

June 21, 2007

Twenty-some years after Dylan recorded “Sundown on the Union”, the matters he lamented had only changed for the worse. At that point James McMurtry recorded “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore”. Three years further on, thanks to YouTube, I’ve finally caught up with his video, a little masterpiece of populist truth in propaganda. He puts it all together in a righteous vernacular, without the least echo of A.N.S.W.E.R., even less of DLC. But I do sense a powerful whiff of Woody Guthrie withal. The country wasn’t ready for this song when he recorded it. But, buckos,  it’s ready now.

I’m just an old fart, lost musically in a sea of vinyl folk rock, and I hadn’t heard any of Mr. McMurtry. I mean to hear more of him.

Lyrics here.


This way to the egress

May 21, 2007

Barbara Ehrenreich, delivering the commencement address at Haverford:

You know, they say it’s not so easy to get out of Iraq. Well, I have a plan: Thousands of Iraqis flee their country every day. Just find out how they’re getting out and take the same route!


My, these MREs are tasty all of a sudden

May 15, 2007

I’m a few days late mentioning it, but the brass has clamped down on blogs and emails home from soldiers in Iraq. Every syllable must now be cleared with the boys upstairs. (A later decree blocks Youtube and MySpace altogether, except for those grunts rich enough to afford and maintain their own laptops and ISP connections.)

It’s bad enough that all those libruls and Senator Reid are bitching about the war, boldfacing our enemies or whatever, and demoralizing the troops. But they’ll be damned if they let our troops start demoralizing our troops. That’s just giving way too much away to the enemies of freedom.


War wasn’t the most important thing, it was the only thing

April 30, 2007

For Bushco, the only option which is always off the table is peace.

(1) George Tenet’s tell-all book is not the first, but the fourth reliable inside source saying that George W. was hell-bent on invading Iraq from the moment he set foot in the Oval Office. Actually, from some while before that. Juan Cole assembled the references for us yesterday. We’ve heard the same from Paul O’Neill, from Michigan journalist Osama Siblani, and from Mickey Herskowitz, Dubya’s original pick to ghostwrite his campaign biography.

Equally telling is the dog that hasn’t barked. There has never been a single circumstantial account from any insider of any discussion that ever took place in the Badministration of alternative ways to deal with Iraq. Which is to say: his endless lies on the question notwithstanding, Bush’s War never had anything to do with 9/11. The “liberal” media may be expected to obscure the fact, but with Tenet’s testimony it has now become a matter of public record.

(2) As we knew from the PNAC (Project for a New American Century) documents, and from the neocon dictum that “Anyone can go to Baghdad, real men go to Tehran,” Syria and Iran were intended to be the immediate follow-on projects to the smashing success of Rumsfeld’s picnic in Mesopotamia. Negotiations, concessions from the mullahs, moderations of the regime – in short, peace in any form – were not to be tolerated. In his NYT column Sunday, Kristoff spelled out the details of the massive Iranian peace initiative in 2003 which was rejected out of hand by warmongers certain that they would be disposing of the Islamic state (and presumably of a few insignificant tens of thousands of its civilians) soon enough.

Encouraged, Iran transmitted its “grand bargain” proposals to the U.S. One version was apparently a paraphrase by the Swiss ambassador in Tehran; that was published this year in The Washington Post. But Iran also sent its own master text of the proposal to the State Department and, through an intermediary, to the White House. I’ve also posted that document, which Iran regards as the definitive one.
In the master document, Iran talks about ensuring “full transparency” and other measures to assure the U.S. that it will not develop nuclear weapons. Iran offers “active Iranian support for Iraqi stabilization.” Iran also contemplates an end to “any material support to Palestinian opposition groups” while pressuring Hamas “to stop violent actions against civilians within” Israel (though not the occupied territories). Iran would support the transition of Hezbollah to be a “mere political organization within Lebanon” and endorse the Saudi initiative calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Iran also demanded a lot, including “mutual respect,” abolition of sanctions, access to peaceful nuclear technology and a U.S. statement that Iran did not belong in the “axis of evil.” Many crucial issues, including verification of Iran’s nuclear program, needed to be hammered out. It’s not clear to me that a grand bargain was reachable, but it was definitely worth pursuing — and still is today.

Instead, Bush administration hard-liners aborted the process. Another round of talks had been scheduled for Geneva, and Ambassador Zarif showed up — but not the U.S. side. That undermined Iranian moderates.


The puppy dog theory of terrorism

April 27, 2007

Of all the dumbed-down slogans used to sell the invasion of Iraq, and now to sell Bush’s plan to stall and bleed until it’s some other President’s problem, none is quite so blindingly, obviously moronic as “We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”

One thing and one thing only has prevented another major Al Qaeda attack in America: the scale of Usama bin Laden’s success on September 11 took him by surprise. He never dreamed the towers would actually collapse. Now, just blowing up a truck bomb in Boise, or offing a few carsfull of subway commuters with poison gas, would constitute a PR setback for him. It would make his movement look less powerful. He accidentally gave himself a supremely hard act to follow, and has no present means to inflict damage on the same scale. He needs kilodeaths, not the hundred or two he knows how to reliably produce. So – for now – he holds back.

On Wednesday Richard Clarke nailed the silliiness of that slogan with the derisive rephrasing it deserves (and the fact that his op-ed was granted space in the New York Daily News, of all places, shows how weak a half a leg the war’s popularity now wobbles on):

Does the President think terrorists are puppy dogs? He keeps saying that terrorists will “follow us home” like lost dogs. This will only happen, however, he says, if we “lose” in Iraq.

The puppy dog theory is the corollary to earlier sloganeering that proved the President had never studied logic: “We are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that we will not have to face them and fight them in the streets of our own cities.”

Remarkably, in his attempt to embrace the failed Iraqi adventure even more than the President, Sen. John McCain is now parroting the line. “We lose this war and come home, they’ll follow us home,” he says.

How is this odd terrorist puppy dog behavior supposed to work? The President must believe that terrorists are playing by some odd rules of chivalry. Would this be the “only one slaughter ground at a time” rule of terrorism?

Whoever contemplates 9/11 for three seconds will recall what it took in resources: half a million dollars altogether (one day’s poppy crop in Afghanistan more than covers it), 19 volunteers, and 19 boxcutters. Bush’s war has, by the military’s own estimates, created at least 10,000 active recruits for the jihadist cause. Chancellor Bush asks you to believe that, so long as our soldiers keep dying, so long as fresh unavenged Iraqi deaths keep creating thousands of new Islamicist recruits, UBL will never be able to find 19 extra pairs of hands to spare. Has there ever been a balder-faced line of hooey than that?

It is the American Gulliver who is tied down unable to budge from Iraq, not bin Laden’s swelling Lilliputian horde. It’s long past time to put the puppy dog theory of terrorism to sleep.


Happy Talk Express: the Aftermath

April 4, 2007

From the Timesof London, via Talking Points memo:

…The latest massacre of Iraqi children came as 21 Shia market workers were ambushed, bound and shot dead north of the capital. The victims came from the Baghdad market visited the previous day by John McCain, the US presidential candidate, who said that an American security plan in the capital was starting to show signs of progress.

There can be little doubt that those 21 innocent people would be alive today, if McCain and Graham had not conducted their offensively deceitful photo op. I don’t expect either of these gentlemen to rise to feeling shame. But one hopes at least the news will temper the ebullient joy Senator Graham had expressed at the expedition’s great coup: five beautiful native rugs for five bucks.

The two Senators have exposed themselves, in this arena at any rate, as contemptible buffoons. Cold fury, however, should be reserved for its proper targets: the insurgents who, had they not killed these innocents, would have spent the day killing or plotting to kill some other batch of Shi’a. And the feckless, ruthless, truthless devotees of summary imprisonment and torture in the White House, who chose to submerge the world under this protracted nightmare, just to prove to us all how very decisive, how very Churchillian, how very manly they all were.


Good News Express

April 1, 2007

John McCain, senior Senator from Arizona (accent very much on the “zone”), distinguished himself last week by telling Bill Bennett;, and later Wolf Blitzer;, that our first wave of five or six thousand troops have turned greater Baghdad into a garden spot of tranquility and worry-free evening strolls.

Not so much, it turns out. The WPost reports that the Green Zone has been attacked on six of the last seven days, and by Wednesday things had got so bad that:

embassy personnel received a bulletin citing the “recent increase of indirect fire attacks on the embassy compound.” It included strict instructions: Body armor and helmets would now be required for all “outdoor activities” within the sprawling embassy complex, even short walks to the cafeteria. There would be no group gatherings outside, including at the famed Palace Pool. No “nonessential” visitors would be allowed in the compound.A U.S. official in Baghdad characterized embassy personnel as “anxious and alert.”

No, wait. Does this really contradict the good Senator’s account? Perhaps what’s happened here is that we have driven so many terrorists out of the Red Zone, that they’ve been reduced to attacking us where we are most heavily fortified.

It’s like they’ve always told us. If we defeat them there, they’ll only follow us here. The trick, now that the surge has made the Red Zone safe, and driven them into our embassy, is to defeat them in the Green Zone. Then they’ll follow us to the steps of the Capitol and the Lincoln Bedroom — and we’ll finally have them just where we want them.

Now, follow the bouncing ball, and sing along with me: “Oh, the old great war, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be…”