Vietnam Part II: The Politics of Failure [September 11, 2007]
General Petraeus or General Betray-Us?
Let's put this failed war effort into perspective using terms that mean something to hard-working Americans: The money spent on one day of the Iraq war could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity, according to the American Friends Service Committee.Pentagon Report Shows Petraeus/Bush Lied
The war is costing $720 million a day or $500,000 a minute, according to the group's analysis of the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard public finance lecturer Linda J. Bilmes. [26. Update 9.23.07]
Update 9.22.07: As noted below, Bush and the Republicans again attempt to deflect criticism of their failed policies by attacking anyone who criticizes the failure. MoveOn.org isn't the problem. Bush's incompetence is. A new report from the Pentagon illustrates the failure.
Read Pentagon Report: Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq (9.2007)
Deeper in Debt: $200 Billion More Wasted
Not only does Bush lie to the American public about "success" in Iraq, but he now wants a record high increase in funding to continue his failure. After smothering efforts by war critics in Congress to cut US troop levels in Iraq, President Bush will ask lawmakers this week for another massive spending measure -- totaling nearly $200 billion -- to fund the war through next year, Pentagon officials said. If Bush's spending request is approved, 2008 will be the most expensive year of the Iraq war. Further proof Bush's strategy has failed. 
Attacking the Messenger
On Thursday, 9.19.07, George W. Bush called the MoveOn.org political ad that criticized the top US commander in Iraq "disgusting." Mr. Bush, we believe you are disgusting. Your illegal war for oil has killed over a million Iraqis. That, sir, is disgusting. The lies you told that took us into war were disgusting. Your continued fear-mongering is disgusting. Rather than say more, we have posted comments from some of the brave soldiers who have served this nation. Do you call them disgusting as well?
I have given a son to this country. My brother, my father, my uncle have all served honorably and bravely. I am a loyal American. I am outraged and sick to death of the tactics this administration uses to try to silence dissent to a war that is unjust, built and maintained on lies, political power, and greed. I was content to let others fight more loudly, but no more.Dick Cheney also continues his deceptive strategies. Didn't we hear Cheney [Darth Vader], over two years ago, on June 30, 2005, claim, "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." Now, he blasts MoveOn.org and millions of Americans who are fed up with the lies!
"LikeIn sharp contrast to the lionization of General David Petraeus by Cheney and members of Congress, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (Centcom), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad in March:
Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that." [16. UPDATE 9.17.07]Maher: "Isn't a dirty trick on the American people when you send a military man out there to basically do a political sell-job?"
Senator Chuck Hagel (R), Nebraska: "It's not only a dirty trick, but it's dishonest, it's hypocritical, it's dangerous and irresponsible. The fact is this is not Petraeus' policy, it's Bush's policy. The military is - certainly very clear in the Constitution - is subservient to the elected public officials of this country ... but to put our military in a position that this administration has put them in is just wrong, and it's dangerous."
[13. UPDATE 9.17.07]
More Republican Hypocrisy: On the September 11 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called the [MoveOn.org] advertisement "contemptible" and "indecent." However, months earlier, on his radio show, he told his audience that he had a new name for Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE): "Senator Betrayus." (Senator Hagel served in Vietnam and has two purple hearts.) [25. UPDATE 9.23.07]
Majority of US Favors Troop Pullout
Last week's congressional testimony by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, followed by President Bush's address to the nation, has not changed bottom-line public attitudes toward the war in Iraq.
Opinion about whether to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq has remained stable for most of this year. Currently, 54 percent support a troop withdrawal, which is virtually unchanged from measures dating back to February. [23. UPDATE 9.19.07]
The Military Reality in Iraq
It surprises us that Americans expect the lead general during a time of war to provide an honest assessment of the situation. George W. Bush selected General Petraeus to support his plan -- not provide negative reviews. Petraeus, a good soldier, did what Bush wanted. Yet today's Pentagon report paints a dramatically different picture than portrayed by the general last week:
Security is deteriorating in southern Iraq as rival Shiite militias vying for power have stepped up their attacks after moving out of Baghdad to avoid U.S.-led military operations, according to the latest quarterly Pentagon report on Iraq released yesterday.
Bush [AND YOU] Responsible for 1,000,000+ Iraqi Deaths
In the week in which General Patraeus reports back to US Congress on the impact the recent 'surge' is having in Iraq, a new poll reveals that more than 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have been murdered since the invasion took place in 2003. 
Why Americans Don't Hear The Truth: Following President Bush's address to the nation on Iraq, Fox was the only broadcast network not to air the Democratic response. 
Blackwater Security Firm Banned From Iraq
[29. Update 9.27.07] Back in the US, the private military contractor Blackwater USA "delayed and impeded" a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee probe into the 2004 killings of four of its employees in Falluja, Iraq.
Blackwater contractors Jerry Zovko, Scott Helvenston, Mike Teague and Wesley Batalona were ambushed, dragged from their vehicles and killed on March 31, 2004. The company stalled the committee's investigation into the incident by "erroneously claiming" documents related to the incident were classified, trying to get the Defense Department to make previously unclassified documents classified, and "asserting questionable legal privileges."
Blackwater took on the Falluja mission before its contract officially began and after being warned by its predecessor that it was too dangerous. It sent its team on the mission without properly armored vehicles and machine guns. And it cut the standard mission team by two members, thus depriving them of rear gunners."
[27. Update 9.23.07] Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against civilians without provocation in an incident last week in which 11 people died, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday. The ministry is looking into six other fatal shootings involving the Moyock, N.C.-based company.
"I saw women and children jump out of their cars and start to crawl on the road to escape being shot, but still the firing kept coming and many of them were killed. I saw a boy of about 10 leaping in fear from a minibus; he was shot in the head. His mother was crying out for him, she jumped out after him, and she was killed. People were afraid."Iraq's Interior Ministry revoked the license of Blackwater USA, an American security firm whose contractors are blamed for a Sunday gunbattle in Baghdad that left at least eight civilians dead and 14 civilians wounded. [As of 9.23.07, Blackwater agents have continued services due to the "security vacuum" created by their absence. There simply aren't enough troops to provide security.]
This is the testimony of Hassan Jabar Salman, a lawyer "shot four times in the back, his car riddled with eight more bullets" as he attempted to escape a fusillade from Blackwater hired guns guarding a US convoy in the middle of Baghdad on September 16. [28. Update 9.24.07]
"We have revoked Blackwater's license to operate in Iraq. As of now they are not allowed to operate anywhere in the Republic of Iraq," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf said Monday. "The investigation is ongoing, and all those responsible for Sunday's killing will be referred to Iraqi justice." [14. UPDATE 9.17.07]
A preliminary Iraqi report, by the Ministry of Interior, on the shooting found that Blackwater security guards were not ambushed, as the company reported, but instead fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman's call to stop, killing a couple and their infant. "The traffic policeman was trying to open the road for them. It was a crowded square. But one small car did not stop. It was moving very slowly. They shot against the couple and their child. They started shooting randomly."
Video shows the child burned to the mother's body after the car caught fire. This is the way the USA wins hearts and minds!
The report was presented to the Iraqi cabinet and contradicts the account by Blackwater USA claiming guards were responding to gunfire by militants. The report said Blackwater helicopters had also fired. The Ministry of Defense said 20 Iraqis had been killed, a far higher number than had been reported before. [21. UPDATE 9.19.07]
Meanwhile, U.S. diplomats in Baghdad are banned from leaving the Iraqi capital's Green Zone for a second day after the U.S. government halted all civilian ground movements outside the heavily fortified section. [22. UPDATE 9.19.07]
Generals Call For Iraq Withdrawal
Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (USA, ret.), Board Member, Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation, Brig. Gen. John Johns (USA, ret.), Board Member, Council for a Livable World, and Senator Gary Hart, Chairman, Council for a Livable World
"The series of recent reports on the situation in Iraq add up to only one clear conclusion: while there has been some limited success in recent months, there is little if any prospect of resolving the insurgency anytime in the next decade, if not longer."
Click here to download this statement in PDF
"Therefore, it is our urgent recommendation that all U.S. forces be withdrawn from Iraq in an orderly but expeditious manner."
[15. UPDATE 9.17.07]
No Strategy For Success
This was the week in which Americans hoped they would get straight talk and clear thinking on Iraq. What they got was two exhausting days of Congressional testimony by the American military commander, hours of news conferences and interviews, clouds of cut-to-order statistics and a speech from the Oval Office - and none of it either straight or clear.
The White House insisted that President Bush had consulted intensively with his generals and adapted to changing circumstances. But no amount of smoke could obscure the truth: Mr. Bush has no strategy to end his disastrous war and no strategy for containing the chaos he unleashed. 
Streets Are Flowing With Blood
Sheik Jamal al-Sudani leads a group of volunteers with one of the most solemn tasks in Iraq: Collecting and burying the hundreds of unclaimed dead every month and giving them a proper burial.
The discovery of slain bodies in bustling, war-torn Baghdad is a daily fact of life ... Many of the bodies of the slain men, women, and children -- found on the streets, in the sewers and in the ruins of bombings -- have never been claimed because some are so mangled and charred, they're unidentifiable.
Bodies are laid side-by-side, two to a grave. The process overcomes the sheik, who is struck by the depressing otherworldliness of the tragedy. "Now you see Iraqis' houses, meant to be a family's safest place, have become like graves for their families, because any minute, any second, they're ready to die by explosion, airstrikes or car bombs."
The sheik emphasized the gravity of today's horrors, compared with other eras. He and his volunteers don't need military or congressional reports to tell them of progress in Iraq -- for they bear witness.
"Now it's as if the streets are flowing with blood." 
Arabs Oppose Petraeus Report
The long-waited report by the top U.S. general in Iraq, David Petraeus, offers no new ideas on ending bloodshed and suggests Washington has lost the war whether its troops stay in Iraq or go, according to analysts in the Arab world.
"The situation in Iraq looks increasingly beyond rescue. Things are not really moving forward," said Khaled al-Dakhil, a political sociology professor in Saudi Arabia.
Gulf Research Centre's Sulayman Awad Ibrahim is concerned about Washington reliance on tribal leaders to push out al Qaeda. "How can a few tribes, and these are really militias, in Anbar do what 160,000 U.S. soldiers could not do. There must be something wrong. The United States is after all the world's only superpower."
"When a government loses credibility, not just with the occupied people but with their own people, it is very difficult to regain the confidence that they can fulfill their mission," remarked Ibrahim."Whoever listened to David Petraeus ... was sure that the Americans have not learnt anything during the last period and are still in a state of arrogance and stubbornness which will only take the Bush administration to dead ends."
"We are astonished at how ... the United States cannot find the appropriate way to correct the large, abominable mistakes which it has landed itself in and, at least, not learnt from all the lessons which it has been through in the last six years," wrote the Syrian Thawra newspaper. 
Republicans Continue to Deceive
Because the Republican stratety for victory in Iraq "is working," George W. Bush shocked the world in August -- he compared the quagmire in Iraq to the tragic debacle our nation faced in Vietnam 40 years ago. Bush "flip flopped," as he had consistently stated we should not compare the two military [mis]adventures. Oh, well, such is life in a time of failure! Bush slants the history of the period by claiming that "one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam ... that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people', 're-education camps' and 'killing fields'."
Bush fails to point out that millions more Vietnamese, including hundreds of thousands of babies, kids, innocent men and women, paid with their lives as America fought "evil communists" in rice paddies thousands of miles from home. Fear motivated the 60s generation to send their boys into a foreign land -- over 58,000 came back in body bags and more than 300,000 received souvenir war wounds for their sacrifice.
While "evil communists" now make all the toys for our kids and the plasma TVs for adults, another American president from Texas successfully used fear as his strategy to cajole us into a violent and murderous abyss. "9/11 changed everything," Bush remarked. Although America has suffered numerous wars, the 19 men who hijacked four airplanes and smashed into three buildings appears to have created a "fear factor" in Americans far greater than did thousands of nuclear weapons the Soviet Union pointed at us for decades.
Have we become a nation of cowards? Beginning in the 1950s and continuing through the 1980s, the world's nuclear arsenals gave us a potential 15-minute life expectancy -- if the unthinkable occurred. We were a strong people "back in the day." We recognized humanity faced possible annihilation, yet courageously continued our lives as we worked to decrease world hatred. Did 9/11 truly change everything?
The attacks of 9/11 came from Usama bin Laden. Where is he? Pakistan? Bush continues to fail us here. Bin Laden murdered over 3,000 American citizens. Bush does nothing, but neither do you. On the other hand, Iraq had nothing to do with these attacks. We relented to Bush's rapid march to war due to our personal and social fears. Weapons of mass destruction they claimed! Mushroom clouds over our cities they cried! We trembled and hid under our beds. FOX, CNN and the nightly news boasted of our military prowess. "We will smash Saddam to bits," chanted Ford/Chevy truck owners across the nation.
Well, Saddam is dead now, but he taunts us from the grave. Do you hear him laughing as he whispers, "Bring it on, dude!" Bush ran our military into the quicksand of Mesopotamia and we can't get out. When over a hundred million war-exhausted Americans rallied to demand a withdrawal from Iraq, Bush amplified the fear factor by warning, "if we leave now, the Islamofascists will follow us home."
Republicans buy this completely. They're always scared of something. Democrats simply don't know what to do! Karl Rove framed his legacy by confounding them completely.
There's nothing to fear, but fear itself...
Where Are We Now?
Madeleine Albright remarked, "A cynic might suggest that the military's real mission is to enable President Bush to continue denying that his invasion has evolved into disaster. A less jaded view might identify three goals: to prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for al-Qaeda, a client state of Iran or a spark that inflames regionwide war. These goals respond not to dangers that prompted the invasion but to those that resulted from it. Our troops are being asked to risk their lives to solve problems our civilian leaders created. The president is beseeching us to fear failure, but he has yet to explain how our military can succeed given Iraq's tangled politics and his administration's lack of credibility." 
An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq's security forces recommends remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings.Yes, Of Course, Start Over!
Statistics assessing the situation in Iraq are murky. An unofficial Iraqi Interior Ministry claims the number of Iraqis who died violently in August was less than half the number in January, although a Government Accountability Office report on Iraq said it was "not clear if sectarian violence has been reduced." 
The intelligence community has its own problems with military calculations ... according to one senior intelligence official in Washington, "If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian. If it went through the front, it's criminal." At the same time, the number of Iraqi corpses found dumped on street corners was higher in August than before the security offensive began and the number of Iraqis leaving their homes has increased significantly in recent months. 
"Where could we move? The whole Iraq is the same now," said Um Abdullah, a 33-year-old mother of four children who lives in Dora, another dangerous neighborhood. In a capital carved up by checkpoints and sectarian no-go zones, Um Abdullah is more isolated than ever from her parents, speaking to them only by telephone. "I would never go back to Saidiya," she said.Bush was beaten by Arab fanatics living in caves on September 11th. He lost New Orleans to a hurricane. Security in Afganistan is slipping away and mothers in Iraq wonder why America has destroyed their streets and homes -- things mothers think about! Even a majority of Australians now believe George W. Bush is the "WORST AMERICAN PRESIDENT EVER."
How About Our American Boys and Girls?
With the national "No Child Left Behind" program, the federal government demands heavy penalties for schools and teachers that fail to meet established benchmarks. With Iraq, we allow George W. Bush to evaluate himself. Do we believe he will simply say, "Whoops... I fucked up!. This is his war, his legacy, so we expect he will continue to claim "the strategy is working" or victory is "just around the corner." How does it look from the perspective of the troops on the ground? The illustration below compares U.S. troop fatalities in June, July and August for 2003 through 2007. Up, Up and Away: a picture does convey a thousand words!
Remember Bush On May 1, 2003
After pretending to land a jet on a US aircraft carrier, Bush pranced around in an aviator flight suit with the troops. This was his "Top Gun" photo op. Prior to 9/11, Bush vacationed in Texas as he wanted to create an image of a "Ronald Reagan" ranch hand. Yet that vacation ended in the 9/11 attacks -- so much for imagery. Standing on a US aircraft carrier, beneath a banner famously marked "Mission Accomplished," Bush declared:
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.The Reality
Major combat operations haven't ended. Some experts estimate we will be in Iraq for another ten years -- unless you do something now. This mission has failed. George W. Bush lost the battle for Iraq.
How Did George W. Bush Lose?
Nobody disputes the awesome fire power and skill of the US military forces. Yet Donald Rumsfeld, under the direction of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, failed to use these resources properly. The well-known [Colin] Powell doctrine of military strategy demanded "overwhelming fire power" be applied whenever US force was needed. Donald, Dick and George wanted to change this. They wanted war on the cheap.
Republicans swept into office over the last decade by championing "low or no" taxes. How could Bush finance a major military operation in the Middle East under Republican conditions? First, use a small, lightly equipped volunteer army. Second, borrow the money from China.
No new taxes. No need for a major increase in the voluntary military forces. Our kids today, mostly from rural America, would shoulder the burden of fighting. The kids of tomorrow will pay the debt run up by Republicans in 2003 and beyond. You will not be getting your retirement checks as you naively believe!
Neglect responsiblity; ignore accountability; lie to the American people; and inevitably, lie to themselves.
This isn't the America we believe in. This isn't the America our fathers and mothers have died and sacrificed to create. This is an illusion and Iraq is the medicine. On the battle field, where the metal meets the flesh, the truth is exposed. Bush has failed -- and more importantly, America has failed.
This is his legacy to you... the failure of the red, white and blue!
 "It's Working? That Old Line Again?," Thursday, September 6, 2007, www.democrats.org
 "How To Change Iraq: Bush Should Start By Admitting Fault," Thursday, September 6, 2007, www.washingtonpost.com
 "Panel Will Urge Broad Overhaul of Iraqi Police," Friday, August 31, 2007, www.nytimes.com
 "Despite U.S. Buildup, Families Still Fleeing Baghdad Homes As Violence, Rivalries Loom Over Paralyzed Iraqi Government," Wednesday, September 5, 2007, www.washingtonpost.com
 "Experts Doubt Drop In Violence in Iraq: Military Statistics Called Into Question," Thursday, September 6, 2007, www.washingtonpost.com
 "Despite U.S. Buildup, Families Still Fleeing Baghdad Homes As Violence, Rivalries Loom Over Paralyzed Iraqi Government," Wednesday, September 5, 2007, www.washingtonpost.com
 Ibid., www.washingtonpost.com
 "Volunteers Collect Baghdad's Nameless Dead," Monday, September 10, 2007, www.cnn.com
 "Arabs Say Petraeus Report Offers No Iraq Solution," Tuesday, September 11, 2007, www.nytimes.com
 "September 2007 - More Than 1,000,000 Iraqis Murdered," September 2007, Opinion Research Business
 "Fox only broadcast network that did not air Democratic response to Bush speech," Friday, September 14, 2007, www.mediamatters.org
 "No Exit, No Strategy," Friday, September 14, 2007, www.nytimes.com
 "Petraeus dog and pony show," Monday, September 17, 2007, www.crooksandliars.com
 "Blackwater security firm banned from Iraq," Monday, September 17, 2007, www.cnn.com
 "Senator Hart, General Gard, and General Johns Call For Iraq Withdrawal," Wednesday, September 12, 2007, Council for a Livable World
 "Petraeus Out Of Step With US Top Brass," Friday, September 14, 2007, www.AsiaTimes.com
 "Cheney Blasts Anti-Petraeus Ad at GOP Fund-Raisers," Monday, September 17, 2007, www.cnn.com
 "Delegates Mock Kerry With 'Purple Heart' Bandages," Wednesday, September 1, 2004, www.cnn.com
 "Security Took 'Turn for Worse' In Southern Iraq, Report Says," Tuesday, September 18, 2007, www.washingtonpost.com
 "Key Sunni Ally of US Assassinated," Thursday, September 13, 2007, www.cnn.com
 "Iraqi Report Says Blackwater Guards Fired First," Wednesday, September 19, 2007, www.nytimes.com
 "Iraqi Leader Rrges US to Cancel Blackwater Contract," Wednesday, September 19, 2007, www.cnn.com
 "Petraeus' Proposals Favored, But No Lift in War Support: Increases in Optimism Mostly Limited to Republicans," Tuesday, September 18, 2007, www.people-press.com
 "Iraq War Budget Jumps for 2008," Saturday, September 22, 2007, www.latimes.com
Copyright © InfoImagination 2007
RECENT IRAQI OPINION POLL
ABC News/BBC/NHK Poll
Iraq: Where Things Stand
Iraqis' Own Surge Assessment
Monday, September 10, 2007
[download PDF Original]
--Attacks on US Acceptable
--Invasion Was Wrong
--US Should Leave Now
[click image to enlarge]
Support for US Forces
--All Iraqis: 79% Oppose
--Kurds: 70% Support
--Shi'ites: 84% Oppose
--Sunnis: Get the Fuck Out!
[click image to enlarge]