Friday, August 31, 2007

JUAN COLE: FIGURES GIVE LIE TO REPORTS OF PROGRESS IN IRAQ

Juan Cole is rightly incredulous that anyone in Washington thinks that the situation is improving in Iraq. Writes Cole:

"I personally find the controversy about Iraq in Washington to be bizarre. Are they really arguing about whether the situation is improving? I mean, you have the Night of the Living Dead over there. People lack potable water, cholera has broken out even in the good areas, a third of people are hungry, a doubling of the internally displaced to at least 1.1 million, and a million pilgrims dispersed just this week by militia infighting in a supposedly safe all-Shiite area. The government has all but collapsed, with even the formerly cooperative sections of the Sunni Arab political class withdrawing in a snit (much less more Sunni Arabs being brought in from the cold). The parliament hasn't actually passed any legislation to speak of and often cannot get a quorum. Corruption is endemic. The weapons we give the Iraqi army are often sold off to the insurgency. Some of our development aid goes to them, too."

And how about Iraqi civilian casualties? Perhaps they are down. Not so, says Cole:

"The average number of Iraqis killed in 2007 per day exceeds those killed in 2006. Independent counts by news organizations do not agree with Pentagon estimates about drops in civilian deaths over-all. Nation-wide attacks in June reached a daily all-time high of 177.5. True, violence in Baghdad has been wrestled back down to the levels of summer, 2006 (hint: it wasn't paradise), but violence levels are up in the rest of the country. If you compare each month in 2006 with each month in 2007 with regard to US military deaths, the 2007 picture is dreadful."

Well, then, how about U.S. military deaths? They certainly must be down. Wrong again, and here Cole presents a table comparing U.S. deaths in 2007 versus 2006:

"I saw on CNN this smarmy Bush administration official come and and say that US troop deaths had fallen because of the surge, which is why we should support it. Just read the following chart bottom to top and compare 2006 month by month to 2007. US troop deaths haven't fallen. They are way up. Besides, they would be zero if the US were not occupying Iraq militarily, so if we should support a policy that leads to fewer troop deaths, that is the better policy."

"Here are the US troop death via Icasualties.org.

77 in August 2007 vs. 65 in August 2006
79 in July 2007 vs. 43 in July 2006
101 in June 2007 vs. 61 in June 2006
126 in May 2007 vs. 69 in May 2006
104 in April 2007 vs. 76 in April 2006
81 in March 2007 vs. 31 in March 2006

81 in February 2007 vs. 55 in February 2006
83 in January 2007 vs. 62 in January 2006

Comparing the numbers, the U.S. casualties for 2007 are much worse than 2006. For example, in August 2007, the number of U.S. military deaths was 77, as compared to August 2006 with only 65. And this increase of 2007 over 2006 applies to every month so far.

So how can Bush or anyone else say there is "progress" in Iraq? Or that violence is down? Or that the surge is working? The spin here from the Bush & Co. is incredible, and it is all for the purpose of continuing this unjustified and immoral war.

GAO PAINTS BLEAK PICTURE OF BUSH'S "PROGRESS" IN IRAQ

So now that the GAO has found that Iraq has missed or failed in 15 of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks, the White House and the Pentagon are disputing the findings. In other words, fit the evidence around the policy. If the report is not what Bush and Cheney want to hear, then change it!

Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks write in yesterday's Washington Post:

"Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.

"The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. They are expected to describe significant security improvements and offer at least some promise for political reconciliation in Iraq."

This is truly embarrassing for Bush & Co. We know that the White House is writing the report to be given by Petraeus and Crocker, notwithstanding Petraeus' protestations that he is writing his own report. And we can predict the content of the WH report: good progress is being made in Iraq; the Iraqis are standing up so Americans can stand down; Al Maliki is creating a unity government, etc., etc. ad nauseam. Does Bush think that anyone really believes his spin? Even Republicans must cringe when they hear Bush's propaganda on how good things are going in Iraq.

Karen DeYoung writes a follow-up in today's WashPo:

"Democrats seized on the GAO draft conclusions, first reported in yesterday's Washington Post, to warn that President Bush would be likely to distort the Iraq situation when he makes his own report to Congress in mid-September after long-awaited testimony by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. "As in the past, President Bush stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the facts on the ground about the sectarian civil war in Iraq or the growing bipartisan opposition to his failed policies," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

"Pelosi cited negative conclusions in the GAO report and last month's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq to say that "the Iraqi government has failed to achieve required reforms." Influential Republicans have joined Democrats in recent months to demand that Bush begin drawing down U.S. troops. Bush has argued that the strategy he announced in January, which increased the U.S. presence to more than 160,000 troops, is succeeding and deserves more time."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

PREDICTIONS ON BUSH/CHENEY CAMPAIGN TO ATTACK IRAN



Barnett Rubin tells of hearing from Washington insider friends about a roll-out of a campaign after Labor Day to sell an attack against Iran. The Office of the Vice President is directing the campaign. As Rubin points out, it sounds much like the Bush campaign in Fall 2002 to sell the war against Iraq.

Rubin quotes Elizabeth Bumiller in The New York Times from September 7, 2002:

"White House officials said today that the administration was following a meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein.The rollout of the strategy this week, they said, was planned long before President Bush's vacation in Texas last month. It was not hastily concocted, they insisted, after some prominent Republicans began to raise doubts about moving against Mr. Hussein and administration officials made contradictory statements about the need for weapons inspectors in Iraq.

"The White House decided, they said, that even with the appearance of disarray it was still more advantageous to wait until after Labor Day to kick off their plan.

"''From a marketing point of view,'' said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, ''you don't introduce new products in August.''

"A centerpiece of the strategy, White House officials said, is to use Mr. Bush's speech on Sept. 11 to help move Americans toward support of action against Iraq, which could come early next year. "

Bush and Cheney seem determined to strike Iran. Even though there is no evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, and even though there is no evidence that the government of Iran is supplying IEDs and other sophisticated explosive devices, Bush/Cheney will take any hearsay or innuendo however without basis to mount a campaign against a Muslim nation that took U.S. embassy workers captive some 30 years ago.

This would be a disastrous act of military aggression, even more catastrophic than the Bush adventure in Iraq, something hard to imagine. The Middle East would be roiled for the next 500 years. An attack would exacerbate the already-existing animosity between Sunnis and Shiites, animosity which the world now observers in the dislike between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan (Sunni and Arab) and Iran (Shiite and Persian).

The United States under Bush/Cheney is heading for a precipice that poses infinite dangers for Americans and the rule of law. Responsible statesmen and concerned citizens must not allow Bush/Cheney to attack Iran.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

U.S. HUMILIATES EIGHT IRANIANS - THEN ADMITS IT WAS MISTAKE

So now it appears that the U.S. military made a "mistake" when it arrested eight Iranians in Baghdad yesterday for being in the company of seven Iraqis whom the U.S. said were carrying three small arms without permits. U.S. soldiers followed the Iranians into their hotel and then led them out blindfolded and handcuffed.

Why would the U.S. blindfold and handcuff suspects against whom there were no charges? Or why did the U.S. arrest these eight Iranians in the first place? What did they do wrong that the U.S. would storm into their hotel and lead them out blindfolded? This incident is sure to raise tensions between Washington and Teheran, and Teheran has reason to take offense.

It turns out that all eight Iranians had passports, and two of the eight had diplomatic credentials. The U.S. should have ascertained this fact before leading them out as if they were war criminals.

What this shows is that Bush & Co. hate all Iranians in Iraq, even those like the eight who are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. Some like president Ahmadinejad say that Iran has nothing to fear - the U.S. is now incapable of mounting an attack. I am not so sure, given the reckless and war-mongering disposition of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

GEORGE BUSH CALLS IRANIANS "MURDEROUS" - PRELUDE TO A WAR AGAINST IRAN?


Today George Bush has ratcheted up his war-mongering rhetoric against Iran. He called the Iranians murderers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians in Iraq. Furthermore, he said Iran would be the cause of a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East if allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.


George Bush seems intent on military action against Iran. Just like his reckless words prior to the invasion of Iraq, where he said there were WMD and that Saddam Hussein was intent on developing nuclear and biological weapons, and that Iraq was an imminent threat to the entire region, so now Bush is up to his old tricks, this time substituting Iran for Iraq with words designed to inflame and demonize.

George Bush is dangerous to world peace. Under no circumstances should the United States be dragged into military conflict against Iran. It would be unjustified and baseless. The repercussions would be enormously dangerous to world peace.

SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R - IDAH0) ARRESTED IN MEN'S BATHROOM


See my post today in Public Radio & TV Stations in Utah on Sen. Larry Craig (R - Idaho) and his guilty pleas to misdemeanor charges after being arrested in a men's bathroom at the airport in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Talk about a hypocrite! Here we have a defender of traditional marriage and an opponent of gay rights who gets caught soliciting sex in a men's bathroom!

Monday, August 27, 2007

GONZALES QUITS! BUT WHY?

Finally we have gotten rid of Alberto Gonzales, the Bush enabler as to questions of allowing torture, depriving Guantanamo inmates of legal rights, and firing US attorneys for goals of obtaining political advantage in elections.

However, I thought Gonzales vowed not to quit. What has come down the pike, or is coming, to change his promise to stick it out?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

WHO LOST IRAQ? CERTAINLY NOT THE PEACE MOVEMENT

I want to comment on an article entitled "Who Lost Iraq?" in Foreign Affairs by James Dobbins, former assistant secretary of state to both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Dobbins claims that the entire nation failed in Iraq. Not only George Bush and Dick Cheney, but also the Democrats for not insisting on a full debate about the merits of invading Iraq, and also the generals for not objecting to what many considered a foolish invasion until they were safely retired and receiving their pensions.

I disagree most adamantly with Dobbins when he claims Iraq is the fault of the entire nation. It was most certainly not the entire nation. Has Dobbins ever heard of the anti-war movement? How about all those marches for peace and against George Bush's reckless war even before the invasion in March 2003? How about the thousands and hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters, myself included, who participated in demonstrations against the war? And how about figures like Cindy Sheehan and the Dixie Chicks?

Don't try to let George Bush & Co. off the hook by saying that the War in Iraq was the fault of the "entire nation." We all know who is chiefly responsible - the war mongers led by Bush, Cheney and the other neo-cons, such as John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz.

AL MALIKI RESENTS COMMENTS OF CLINTON AND LEVIN

The BBC reports today that prime minister Nouri Al Maliki has continued to respond to the criticisms of Senators Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin that Maliki is not doing his job and should be replaced.

"He [Maliki] said the Democratic senators were acting as if Iraq was "their property" and that they should "come to their senses" and "respect democracy". "

Imagine if you were Maliki and found American senators calling for your ouster. I feel sure we all would resent the "foreign" interference of Clinton and Levin. Is Iraq a "democracy" the way George Bush likes to say, or is it merely a colony of the United States? If it is an independent nation with its own prime minister and parliament, the intrusions by Levin and Clinton must be seen for what they are - unwanted meddlings by American senators who believe Iraq should do and act as they say.

Shame on Clinton and Levin.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

NIE'S COMMENTS ON IRAN SAY VERY LITTLE

I want to do some "statutory interpretation" on the plain meaning of the words contained in one paragraph on Iran in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released several days ago. Here's the paragraph:

"Over the next year Tehran, concerned about a Sunni reemergence in Iraq and US efforts
to limit Iranian influence, will continue to provide funding, weaponry, and training to
Iraqi Shia militants. Iran has been intensifying aspects of its lethal support for select
groups of Iraqi Shia militants, particularly the JAM, since at least the beginning of 2006.
Explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks have risen dramatically."

First, the use of "Tehran." Are we talking here about the government of Iran? If so, why not specifically state that's who is meant? Is this an attempt by the U.S. intelligence agencies to imply something that they don't want to say outright? Or an attempt to cover their backs if accused of loosely accusing the government of Iran? "Oh, we did not say the Iranian government, we just implied it was forces based in Tehran."

Second, the futuristic verb "will continue." This implies someone has provided "funding, weaponry and training to Iraqi Shia militants." Well, where is the evidence for such "providing." Why has there not been any proof presented in the past? All we have are charges by Bush and the U.S. military that the government of Iran is providing arms and training. Where is proof? So far, no proof, just accusations.

Third, the word "weaponry." Do we mean pistols or rifles? Do we mean explosive devices? Do we mean RPGs? And if any of these meanings is meant, how many weapons? Ten, 100, 1,000 or 10,000? Again, the word "weaponry" is so broad, it means nothing.

Fourth, the word "training." Has anybody been captured in Iraq who confesses to have been in a training camp run by Iranians? If so, where is that person? How long was the training? What did it consist of? Who exactly were the Iranians? Were they clan members, relatives or official Iranian government employees?

Fifth, the sentence, "Iran has been intensifying aspects of its lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants . . ." What does the word "intensifying" mean? It implies that the government of Iran has been stepping up supplying weapons and training to Shiite militants, but its premise rests on the same unsubstantiated charges discussed above.

Sixth, "lethal support." Again, where are the weapons and other lethal devices supplied by Iran?To date, all we ever see are explosive devices that could have just as well been manufactured in Egypt, Jordan or even in some basement in Baghdad.

Seventh, the sentence, "Explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks have risen dramatically." This would appear to be true given the increasing number of U.S. casualties from road-side bombs and other explosive devices. Note however, that this sentence is tacked right at the end of the paragraph on Iranian influence. Is the NIE saying here that the government of Iran is increasing its supply of EFPs? Again, it gives the intelligence agencies an aspect of deniability if someone challenges them as to whether they mean the Iranian government is responsible. Analyzed carefully as to what these words say, they don't say that the government of Iran has provided an increased supply of EFPs, merely that EFP attacks have risen dramatically.

This paragraph of the NIE tells us nothing. All it does is repeat the unsubstantiated charges and innuendo that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have been putting out over the past several years, as a prelude to justifying initiating military action against Iran.

Friday, August 24, 2007

U.S. DROPS BOMB ON BRITISH SOLDIERS IN AFGHANISTAN

Here's another example of the awful destruction of human life caused by war planes dropping bombs. Reuters reports that three British soldiers were killed by a U.S. war plane dropping bombs, supposedly on Taliban fighters, in Afghanistan.

Human civilization needs to get rid of war planes and the whole notion that dropping bombs on your enemy is moral or even reasonable. The practice is a barbaric act of trying to incinerate a human being on the ground. I call upon the U.S. Air Force and all civilized countries to put a stop to this barbaric and immoral bombing.

NEO-CONS PUSH FOR WAR AGAINST IRAN

For a concrete example on how certain neo-con elements are pushing for an attack against Iran, consider this article appearing in Bloomberg.com yesterday by Vernon Silver.

"Iran has two facilities that may become capable of making ingredients for atomic bombs, says Leonard Spector, deputy director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.

"One is a small research plant under construction in Arak, about 150 miles southwest of Tehran, that would produce plutonium, Spector says. The other is a centrifuge facility in Natanz, 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Tehran, where Iran says it's enriching uranium.

"``The activity is so suspicious and going on for so long in secrecy that it has the classic signs of heading for nuclear weapons,'' says Spector, 62, who runs the Washington office of the James Martin Center, the largest U.S. nongovernmental group devoted exclusively to research and training on nonproliferation."

Note that Silver is reduced to quoting sources that never do state that Iran is making atomic bombs, merely that there are facilities that "may become capable of making ingredients for atomic bombs." Also note the innuendo by quoting some guy who says the activity is "suspicious" because it is "going on for so long in secrecy" "that it has the classic signs of heading for nuclear weapons." And what are the "classic signs" of "heading for nuclear weapons?" Silver's source merely expresses his own suspicions, but so what? Where is tangible concrete evidence, some thing or action that proves Iran wants nuclear weapons?

And then there is the troubling headline for Silver's article: "Iran's Nuclear Threat Aided by Fake Firms, Rome Bank, U.S. Says." Silver quotes his authorities, but nowhere can I find where anyone in Silver's article representing the United States government says that fake firms or banks are aiding Iran to develop a nuclear threat.

Silver's whole article is riddled with suspicions and innuendo cast at Iran, as if to paint Iran as the world's pariah, populated with dangerous evildoers who would want nothing better than to drop nuclear bombs on peace-loving countries or supply atomic weapons to terrorists. Silver's article is one more attempt to justify reckless military action against Iran.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

JUAN COLE: RUMORS SWIRL OF POSSIBLE MILITARY COUP IN IRAQ

Juan Cole writes today that he is hearing rumors of some Iraqis planning for a military coup to topple the government of Nouri Al Maliki in Iraq.

"A rumor is circulating among well-connected and formerly high-level Iraqi bureaucrats in exile in places like Damascus that a military coup is being prepared for Iraq. I received the following from a reliable, knowledgeable contact. There is no certitude that this plan can or will be implemented. That it is being discussed at high levels seems highly likely."

This is an amazing development. That's why with all the turmoil and internecine fighting in Iraq, and now with these rumors of a possible military take-over, senators like Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton should refrain from calling for the replacement of prime minister Nouri Al Maliki. First, members of the United States government have no business dictating what should happen to the government of Iraq. And second, if a military coup takes place, these senators will be blamed for the ensuing uprising and violence, as will the United States.

Cole goes on to give the reports he is hearing:

"There is serious talk of a military commission (majlis `askari) to take over the government. The parties would be banned from holding positions, and all the ministers would be technocrats, so to speak. . . [The writer indicates that attempts have been made to recruit cabinet members from the ranks of expatriate technocrats.]

"The six-member board or commission would be composed on non-political former military personnel who are presently not part of the government OR the military establishment, such as it is in Iraq at the moment. It is said that the Americans are supporting this behind the scenes.

"The plan includes a two-year period during which political parties would not be permitted to be part of the government, but instead would prepare and strengthen the parties for an election which would not have lists, but real people running for real seats. The two year period would be designed to take control of security and restore infrastructure. . . .

"[I]t is another [desperate plan], but one which many many Iraqis will support, since they are sick of their country being pulled apart by the "imports" - Maliki, Allawi, Jaafari et al. The military group is composed of internals, people who have the goal of securing the country even at the risk of no democracy, so they say."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

JOHN BOLTON HOPES U.S. WILL ATTACK IRAN IN NEXT SIX MONTHS

Think Progress has video and verbatim words of John Bolton, neo-con and former despised U.N. Ambassador (by Bush recess appointment), hoping that the United States will strike Iran within the next six months.



This guy Bolton is always scheming for the U.S. to attack and bomb another country, like Iraq, Iran and North Korea. As reported by Think Progress from a video clip of Bolton appearing on Fox News, we get the following war-mongering:


HEMMER: One final step here, too, that I want to take with you. You told one of our producers earlier today that you don’t know if it’s true — and you’ve made that clear in our interview here, that you don’t know what the odds are or are not against that — but you hope it’s true. Why do you hope it’s true?
BOLTON: Absolutely. I hope Iran understands that we are very serious, that we are determined they are not going to get a nuclear weapon capability, and unless they change the strategic decision they’ve been pursuing for close to 20 years, that that’s something they better factor into their calculations.



Lest we forget: There has been zero evidence presented by Bush, Cheney or Bolton, or any of the other hangers-on that Iran has been supplying, arming or training any insurgent forces in Iraq. Secondly, there has been no evidence showing that Iran's nuclear ambitions have anything to do with obtaining a a nuclear weapon.

NOW U.S. SHOULD FREE FIVE IRANIAN DIPLOMATS

Iran has done the right thing and freed Haleh Esfandiari, the 69-year old Iranian-American academic. Now it is past time that the United States frees the five Iranians taken captive in Erbil last January.

The U.S. claims that the five were military operatives, but once again backs this charge up with no evidence. V.P. Cheney back in May insisted that the five not be freed but be held for at least six more months, notwithstanding the lack of credible evidence.

This is just provocation on the part of Bush/Cheney. The Bush administration is looking for a fight, itching to drop bombs and missiles on Iran. Instead of condemning war mongering and military bullying in others, the U.S. needs to back off from its own recklessness.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

WASHINGTON POST WANTS WAR WITH IRAN

I can't believe that an editorial in today's The Washington Post is calling for U.S. military action against Iran and its Revolutionary Guard.

"In effect, the Revolutionary Guard, a radical state within Iran's Islamic state, is waging war against the United States and trying to kill as many American soldiers as possible. In response, the Bush administration is considering categorizing the Guard as a "specially designated global terrorist" organization under a post-Sept. 11 executive order aimed at blocking terrorists' access to their assets. The measure is reportedly part of a package the administration is considering to increase pressure on Iran at a time when it is defying U.N. orders to freeze its nuclear program and is showing no hint of flexibility in talks with the United States and the European Union.

"This seems to be the least the United States should be doing, given the soaring number of Iranian-sponsored bomb attacks in Iraq. What's puzzling are the murmurs of disapproval from European diplomats and others who say they favor using diplomacy and economic pressure, rather than military action, to rein in Iran." (Emphasis added).

This is the same garbage and unsubstantiated charges that George Bush and Dick Cheney have been spewing out against Iran, assisted by Joe Liebermann. There has been no evidence produced by these war mongers that Iran has been killing American soldiers, or that the Revolutionary Guard has been at war with the U.S. It is all innuendo and whispering, without firm evidence or solid intelligence.

This is all that Bush/Cheney need to see - the WashPo supporting their military aggression vis-a-vis Iran. We have all seen this transpire before, i.e., in the run-up to the unjustified War in Iraq. First plant rumor that Iran (Iraq) is a threat to the United States, then appear to run out of diplomatic overtures, then field an army and a navy and an airforce, then give Iran (Iraq) some sort of deadline, then attack.

The Washington Post is an out-and-out enabler of George Bush and Dick Cheney in their plans for military aggression against Iran. Don't let them start a war against Iran!

SEN. LEVIN MEDDLES IN IRAQ, CALLS FOR REPLACEMENT OF AL MALIKI

Who the heck does Senator Carl M. Levin (D. Mich.) think he is, calling for the replacement of Nouri Al Maliki as Iraq's prime minister?

So even for a Democratic senator, it is okay to meddle in the internal affairs of another sovereign nation? Or is it that Iraq is merely America's puppet?

Suppose some French or Italian senator called for the replacement of George Bush as president? We know that Bush is a crummy, self-serving and awful president. Yet even though getting rid of Bush might be good in itself, most Americans would bitterly resent the meddling and interference of someone who was not even a citizen of the U.S. calling for the replacement of the elected president.

Levin's reckless statement is another unfortunate example of "American exceptionalism," whereby Americans think that only they have the ultimate answers and that they are always on the side of righteousness and justice.


ASSASSINATION OF SECOND GOVERNOR SHOWS ANTI IRANIAN BIAS OF MAHDI ARMY IN IRAQ

Once again, Juan Cole writes with insight on the goings-on in Iraq, especially regarding the assassination of the second Shia provincial governor within the last week. Cole concludes that it is the result of Shia vs. Shia internal strife involving the Badr Corps (with close ties to Iran) against Al Sadr's Mahdi Army who resent the Iranian connection.

"Mohammed Ali al-Hassani, was assassinated on Monday by a roadside bomb. This killing was the second in recent days of a provincial governor from the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC).

"In both Muthanna and Qadisiya, the site of the other assassination, the Badr Corps paramilitary of SIIC has been locked in power struggle with the Mahdi Army of the Sadr Movement, loyal to young Shiite nationalist, Muqtada al-Sadr.

"SIIC and Badr are very close to Tehran, and some southern Shiites see them as unpatriotic. The Sadrists have complained that the provincial government of Muthanna is corrupt and has not delivered necessary services to the people.

"Since some observers don't get this right, I just want to underline that these assassinations have been strikes against Iranian influence in Iraq, by nativists probably at least loosely connected to the Sadr Movement. Likewise, if an EFP was used in the bombing, it is unlikely to have come from Iran, since Tehran has no interest in knocking off its own clients (SIIC and Badr), and, indeed, would go out of its way to protect them."

So how does this fit in with the Bush/Cheney spin that Iran is the source of all evil in Iraq? Two governors allied with the SIIC and Badr are assassinated with IEDs and shaped explosive charges. The Bush line (repeated verbatim by his generals) is that Iran is supplying these deadly explosives to Shias to kill Americans. As Cole points out, surely if Iran were the source, it would make no sense to ship IEDs into Iraq to be used against the SIIC and Badr-allied governors.

Monday, August 20, 2007

ICE ARRESTS & DEPORTS ELVIRA ARRELLANO, MOTHER WHO LIVED ONE YEAR IN CHICAGO CHURCH SANCTUARY

Doesn't ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) have anything better to do than chase after and arrest Elvira Arrellano, the mother of the six-year old, who has spent the last year in a church sanctuary in Chicago? Apparently not. The immmigration police no doubt have arrested all the criminals and felons, and so now they devote their time to picking up mothers who simply want to live in peace and provide food for their families.

Writes the BBC:

"A Mexican woman whose fight to stay in the US with her US-born son attracted national attention has been sent back to Mexico as an illegal immigrant. Elvira Arellano was arrested in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon and deported several hours later . . . "

"She became a prominent figure after taking refuge in a Chicago church for a year to avoid being separated from eight-year-old Saul, a US citizen . . .

"Ms Arellano took refuge in the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago last August, defying a deportation order.

"But this weekend she left the church to travel to Los Angeles to back calls for immigration reform.

"On Saturday, Ms Arellano had said she was not afraid of being arrested by US immigration officials.

""From the time I took sanctuary the possibility has existed that they arrest me in the place and time they want," she said.

""I only have two choices. I either go to my country, Mexico, or stay and keep fighting. I decided to stay and fight.""

UNITED STATES TAKES SIDES IN IRAQ AGAINST SHIA MAJORITY

Juan Cole in Informed Comment publishes a letter today from Jerry Eagan, a VietNam veteran, in a follow up to the op-ed piece yesterday in the NY Times from the five soldiers in Iraq. This is an important and insightful analysis of the Bush administration's siding with Sunni militias against the Shiite majority in Iraq, and what it means vis-a-vis Iran.

Writes Eagan:

"I'd contend, we've already begun our war against Iran. Arming Sunni tribal sheiks and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf nations, are the opening rounds of our war with Iran. Bush will do all he can to instigate an Iranian military response. I'd guess, in the near future, sometime this year, if Sunnis begin battling Shia in open militia combat, al-Maliki will ask Iran for Quds Brigade support in the south. Bush won't allow that. He'll intervene, hoping -- hoping -- he can finally precipitate an open military strike against Iran."

PEOPLE IN PERU NEED FOOD AND WATER AFTER EATHQUAKE

Univision, the large Spanish-speaking TV network, does far better a job in reporting news from Latin and South America than any American network. Its coverage of the Peru earthquake has far surpassed the meager coverage on NBC, ABC or CBS.

When you see people in Pisco stopping news reporters and cameramen on the street begging for water or food, or you watch five-year olds saying they are hungry and have not had any food in the last several days, the question arises why Bush and the United States government have not mounted an all-out disaster relief operation to help out with food and water and other life's necessities.

Once again, the U.S. ignores what is happening to its south. Almost as if the lives of Peruvians don't matter as much as those of gringos.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

PUBLIC EDITOR NY TIMES DEFENDS STORIES SAYING IRAN SUPPLIES WEAPONS

I was surprised at the Public Editor's take on the series of stories by NY Times reporter Michael Gordon purporting to show how Iran was supplying and aiding Shiite militias in Iraq. Many readers wrote in to complain that the The New York Times was once again coming out with dubiously based stories that enable Bush/Cheney to foment another war in the Middle East. Clark Hoyt writes in today's NY Times:

"I don’t buy the view that The Times — in the words of a Crystal Gayle song of the ’70s — is headed down that wrong road again. I reviewed virtually everything the newspaper has published about Iran this year, and the record is a very good one. The Times has broken important stories on Iran’s nuclear program and on an internal debate within the administration over the option of military action, to name just two."

But wait. The stories by Michael Gordon present no evidence to back up the assertion that Iran is supplying arms and specially designed explosive penetrating devices to Shiite militias who are then using these arms to kill American soldiers. All we have in the Gordon stories is the accusation cast by U.S. military, following the Bush/Cheney line out of Washington, that Iran is involved.

Even Hoyt recognizes that the NY Times is not without responsibility for presenting hearsay and accusation without more. Writes Hoyt:

"But there are special lengths that The Times — or any other news organization — must go to when dealing with an issue so protracted, so complicated, and so politicized. It must take pains when reporting today’s events to add yesterday’s perspective. It must attribute information exhaustively to keep sources’ credibility and motives in view. And it must be willing to revisit old ground when new developments change the context.


"The recent article demonstrates some of the pitfalls. I think it had avoidable problems that helped lead to the eruption of criticism, a view vehemently disputed by Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times, and Michael Gordon, who wrote the piece.

"Readers said that, at a time of growing tensions between the United States and Iran, the article failed to offer persuasive evidence that Iran was the source of the bombs, known as explosively formed penetrators, E.F.P.’s, which can go through the armor of Humvees.

"In fact, strong evidence was provided in a 2,600-word article by Gordon and Scott Shane, published March 27, and Gordon said, “I do sort of assume that readers will have some familiarity with the body of our coverage over the past few months.” I don’t think that’s a reasonable assumption, and I believe The Times could have found a way to remind skeptics of the essentials in the March article without repeating it in its entirety."

It is in this last paragraph that Clark Hoyt goes off the deep end. What evidence in the story of March 27? And why was it "strong?" All it was was descriptions of explosive devices with serial numbers claimed by the U.S. government to have come from Iran. But those accusations don't make it so.

Why do the serial numbers prove the devices originated from Iran? Such weapons are made and manufactured all over the world, even in basements and garages in Iraq. These serial numbers are garbage if presented as "evidence." Second, how does the U.S. know the government of Iran supplied them? Suppose they were supplied by cousin Ralphie or Mohammad from some little town across the border in Iran. Does this make Iran itself complicit?

These are the type of questions that Michael Gordon and his stories in the NY Times never address, much less answer. All Gordon does is take the word of the U.S. generals who take their orders from Bush and Cheney. I thought a news reporter was to supposed to investigate sources and obtain corroboration on all the facts alleged in his/her story.

These are the areas Clark Hoyt as Public Editor should pursue. Instead of claiming that the story by Michael Gordon on March 27 presented "strong evidence," he should insist that reporters at the NY Times get off their rears and do the required leg work before their editors print such stories in the NY Times.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

NO EVIDENCE THAT IRAN IS SUPPLYING ARMS OR TRAINING TO SHIITE MILITIAS IN IRAQ

Juan Cole points out Gareth Porter's article on the spin of the U.S. military following the Bush/Cheney line that Iran is aiding and abetting Shiite militias which in turn are attacking and killing U.S. troops.

After four years of trying, the Bush/Cheney gang and their generals have not shown or exhibited one shred of evidence that Iran is training or equipping Iraqi militia. Furthermore, as Gareth Porter indicates, in spite of the U.S. claim that Iran is supplying EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) to Iraqi fighters to drive the Americans out, the U.S. military has discovered and uncovered mini-factories in garages and basements in Iraq itself manufacturing such weapons.

The evidence shows no Iranian involvement, although it does show increased resistance on the part of Al Sadr's Mahdi Army to the stepped-up patrols and raids of U.S. troops predominantly in Sadr City, a Shiite enclave in Baghdad.

The drumbeat of "evidence" alleged by the U.S. military, including people like Gen. Ray Odierno and Kevin Bergner, turns out to be nothing more than the unsubstantiated party line of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The latter would like nothing less than bombing Iran and starting another war before they leave office in January 2009. The U.S. generals become their facilitators in demonizing Iran and making Iran out to be the "enemy."

Friday, August 17, 2007

BUSH/CHENEY QUEST TO ATTACK IRAN

I have read commentators and bloggers who believe that naming the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a "terrorist organization" will allow Bush and Cheney to sidestep obtaining permission and authorization from Congress in their quest to launch an attack inside Iran. As you can see from the text below of the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMD) passed by the Congress in 2001, Bush has the legal authority to take military action against those he deems pose a threat of terrorism to the United States.

"That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

Making the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization allows Bush/Cheney to attack Iranians without need for further approval from Congress.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

BUSH TRIES TO MINIMIZE TESTIMONY OF PETRAEUS TO CLOSED DOOR SESSION

Jonathan Weisman and Karen De Young write in The Washington Post today that the White House (i.e., George Bush and Dick Cheney) want to restrict the testimony of "my man David" (Gen. David Petraeus) and Ambassador Ryan Crocker to a closed-door Congressional briefing. In their place giving the "report on progress" before the full Congress would be the Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, and the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates.


"Senior congressional aides said yesterday that the White House has proposed limiting the much-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill next month of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to a private congressional briefing, suggesting instead that the Bush administration's progress report on the Iraq war should be delivered to Congress by the secretaries of state and defense."


The question can only be why?

It is obvious that Bush/Cheney want to restrict Petraeus and Crocker to the background because they fear the truth these guys would present. Iraq is a disaster, the worst foreign policy blunder of the United States in in 221 years of existence. It is a black hole that continues to grow deeper and darker. There is no chance for military victory in Iraq, no chance to quell the Sunni-Shia violence, no chance to establish or help to organize a representative government.

Is Iraq better off since Saddam Hussein was overthrown by invading American troops? No way! It is so much worse off. Ask any Iraqi who has lost a father or son, wife or child, wither from the itchy trigger fingers of the U.S. troops or from the sectarian blood-letting. Ask any one of the relatives of the 650,000+ Iraqis who have been killed since the invasion if Iraq is better off now than under Saddam.

And how about the 3,600+ American soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq? Why? To preserve freedom? Freedom for whom? Americans in the U.S.? Iraq was never a threat to anyone in the U.S. And it would be foolish and naive to claim as do Bush/Cheney that Iraqi insurgents are going to follow U.S. troops back to Kankakee or Salt Lake City.

The Congress should not allow this sleight of hand. Petraeus promised to report back to Congress and Bush should not be allowed to relegate him to the closet. I don't mind if Robert Gates also testifies but Condoleeza Rice is just another Bush shill who has no business testifying on what is happening on the ground in Iraq.

BOMBINGS IN NORTHERN IRAQ REVENGE FOR STONING OF YOUNG WOMAN WANTING TO CONVERT TO ISLAM?

The multiple car bombings in Northern Iraq could continue to climb by the hundreds. The BBC reports that there are some 200 people unaccounted for.

Writes the BBC today:

"The governor of Tal Afar told the BBC the current toll of 250 dead and 350 injured was expected to rise sharply. Poor families in the Yazidi community hit by the bombings often crowd as many as 30 people in one home, he said. The bombing of two Yazidi villages near Mosul was one of the worst attacks in more than four years of war in Iraq. It already surpasses the killing of just over 200 people in car bombings and mortar fire in Baghdad's Shia stronghold of Sadr City last November . . ."

The U.S. military claims it was Qaeda-types who did the bombing. But the BBC World News TV last night showed a disturbing video of a Yazidi young woman recently being stoned to death by her family for wanting to marry a Sunni Muslim. Perhaps the bombing was revenge by Sunni Muslims against the dead girl's Yazidi family and clan.

This motive has not appeared anywhere else than on the BBC as far as I know. The video should be on You Tube but frankly I don't care to revisit it. Here's what the BBC writes today:

"Tensions between the Yazidi sect and local Muslims have grown since a Yazidi girl was reportedly stoned by her community in April for converting to Islam."

The BBC report today says "reportedly stoned," but the BBC World News, as indicated above, broadcast portions of the video showing the girl being stoned to death.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

BIG LIE - WOOLSEY CLAIMS IRAN COULD GET BOMB IN "FEW MONTHS"

Think Progress has video of James Woolsey, former CIA head, on CNN's Lou Dobbs, talking about how Iran could get a nuclear bomb within a "few months."

This is the same type of baseless scare tactics used by Woolsey and other neo-cons in their zeal to start the War in and on Iraq.

There is not one shred of evidence that Iran wants the bomb or even could get the bomb, if it so wanted, within a period of a few months.

Woolsey is just one of Cheney's lapdogs in the drive to start a war against Iran. The script is all too familiar. Cheney/Bush have brought the United States into a catastrophic and disastrous morass in Iraq. Now they want to do it all over again, to the tenth degree, in Iran.

BUSH/CHENEY TO LABEL IRAN'S REVOLUTIONARY GUARD "TERRORIST ORGANIZATION"

Robin Wright writes in The Washington Post that Bush/Cheney will designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a "specially designated global terrorist."

This is a dumb move that may be the predecessor to disastrous military action against Iran. Instead of applying pressure, let's sit down with the Iranians and work things out. There is no reason why Bush must treat Iran and Iranians as the "enemy." The U.S. should work diplomatically to make Iran a friend and an ally.

Some would launch military strikes against Iran for what President Ahmadinejad said against Israel and Jews, doubting the Holocaust. But calm down. These are only words. Iran has not taken any military action against Israel. Hezbollah and Hamas do not constitute Iran. Lebanon is not Iran. Syria is not Iran.

Instead of provoking Iran and starting another Mid-East war, let's put down our swords and start to talk.

Wright includes criticisms similar to my own of the Bush/Cheney designation, such as that of analyst Joseph Cirincione at the Center for American Progress:

"The administration's move could hurt diplomatic efforts, some analysts said. "It would greatly complicate our efforts to solve the nuclear issue," said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Center for American Progress. "It would tie an end to Iran's nuclear program to an end to its support of allies in Hezbollah and Hamas. The only way you could get a nuclear deal is as part of a grand bargain, which at this point is completely out of reach."

"Such sanctions can work only alongside diplomatic efforts, Cirincione added.

""Sanctions can serve as a prod, but they have very rarely forced a country to capitulate or collapse," he said. "All of us want to back Iran into a corner, but we want to give them a way out, too. [The designation] will convince many in Iran's elite that there's no point in talking with us and that the only thing that will satisfy us is regime change.""

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

KARZAI MEETS WITH AHMADINEJAD IN KABUL

Today there was a meeting between President Karzai of Afghanistan and President Ahmadinejad of Iran. Bush's saying he needs to have a heart to heart with Karzai about Iran's intentions has thankfully been dismissed.

Genuine thanks to Karzai for rejecting Bush/Cheney's hard line towards the Iranians. After so much bluster from Bush on the evil regime in Teheran and how the Iranian people should overthrow their government, Karzai's meeting with Ahmadinejad goes a long way to defuse the drums of war incessantly generated by Washington.


Robert Tait in The Guardian from London describes the meeting:

"Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, audaciously signalled his determination to counter US global power today by meeting his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, in open defiance of Washington's wishes.


"Mr Ahmadinejad led a high-ranking Iranian delegation to Kabul in a demonstration of growing Iranian influence in Afghanistan, where the US, Britain and other western powers are engaged in a bitter struggle with the Taliban.


"The visit - Mr Ahmadinejad's first to Afghanistan - was tailor-made to provoke alarm within the Bush administration, which accuses Tehran of destabilising its efforts while claiming that the Taliban is being armed with Iranian weapons. Iran, which is mainly Shia, denies helping the Taliban, whose puritanical Sunni ideology it has condemned."

The last sentence is illuminating. The U.S. claim made by Bush/Cheney is that Iran is arming all of the "enemies" of the United States, including the Taliban in Afghanistan. This claim is most ridiculous and ludicrous on its very face. Iran is mostly Shia muslim. The Taliban are fanatical Sunnis. Are we to believe that Iran is sending arms and aid to a group that tries to kill Shias as a matter of religious doctrine?

Writes Tait:

"Addressing a joint White House press conference last week, Mr Bush said: "I would be very cautious about whether or not the Iranian influence in Afghanistan is a positive force." Mr Karzai flatly contradicted him by describing Iran as "a helper and a solution."

"Departing from Tehran's Mehrabad airport, Mr Ahmadinejad paved the way to further deepen the disagreement by saying today's talks would cover arrangements for establishing Afghanistan's security and independence.


"Describing Iran and Afghanistan as "two brother nations with common interests, cultures and histories", he told reporters: "The present condition of the region demands more exchange and negotiations between Tehran and Kabul. In this trip economic cooperation, especially over Iran's participation in Afghan development plans, will be discussed.""

PAKISTAN STILL REELING OVER BARACK OBAMA'S RASH WORDS


At this early point in the 2008 presidential elections, I favor on balance Barack Obama. But I am still puzzled by his gratuitous statement that he would have U.S. forces go after Qaeda types in Pakistan if Pakistan itself took no action.

Assuming President Musharraf said the same about the U.S., i.e., that Pakistani forces would enter the U.S. to chase after some American terrorist threatening Pakistan, why the whole American people would rise up and react with anger and insult. So we can understand Musharraf's annoyance at Obama's gaffe.

In celebration of Pakistan's 60th anniversary of independence from British-ruled India, Musharraf again bristled at Obama's American moralistic unilateralism. Writes the BBC:

"President Musharraf marked the anniversary by staunchly defending sovereignty and calling on the nation to unite against terrorism . . .

"Both President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz launched strong defences of national sovereignty to mark the day.

"In comments released by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan, President Musharraf fiercely rejected allegations that his anti-terrorism platform was for the benefit of the US.

""We are not confronting terrorism for America, we are doing it for ourselves," he said.
"I see everything from Pakistan's point of view. Now if Pakistan's point of view suits America, all right." "

Here we see the results of the American heavy handed diplomatic (?) approach to Pakistan and Musharraf. "If you're not with us, your against us," as Richard Armitage, then deputy Secretary of State, was reported by Musharraf to have told the Pakistan government after 9/11. In other words, do what we Americans tell you to do.

No awareness of what the Pakistanis think. No awareness of how Pakistanis view extremists jihadists. No respect for the sovereignty of Pakistan.

Add to this Barack Obama's unilateralism and we are on the verge of making a friendly nation into a hostile one.

Monday, August 13, 2007

U.S. FORCES LAUNCH NEW OFFENSIVE AGAINST BOTH SHIA AND SUNNI INSURGENCIES

After writing (see my post just below) about Nathaniel Fick's article in today's Washington Post in which Fick posits four principles to "win" in both Afghanistan and Iraq, I see this article in today's BBC.com on the U.S. military launching a new offensive against both Sunni and Shia insurgencies.

Writes the BBC:

"Operation Phantom Strike was being staged throughout Iraq, specifically targeting al-Qaeda-linked militants and also Iranian-backed groups, it said . . .

"It consists of simultaneous operations throughout Iraq focused on pursuing remaining AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq) terrorists and Iranian-supported extremists elements," it said.

"Lt Gen Ray Odierno, the US second-in-command in Iraq, said that his aim was "to continue to pressure AQI and other extremist elements throughout Iraq"."

So The U.S. Army hires Fick to lecture about counter-insurgency, but then disregards all of his principles to launch a new offensive with guns and bombs and war planes against insurgent groups in Iraq. This is too surreal. Who is in charge over there? How does this fit in with Fick's four principles? It would seem that these last-ditch military actions are politically motivated by Bush to try to obtain the faintest signs of "progress," although definitely not progress if you accept Fick's main principles.

Well, at least, Odierno doesn't exactly conflate Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) with Shiite militias, although he seems to be verging on it. It has been done before by Bush and his gang including chief military spokesman General Bergner (former White House aide to Bush) when they try to say that Iran is providing deadly shaped penetrating charges to AQI and other Sunni insurgent groups, as if Shiite Iran would supply arms to rival Sunnis who have been known to kill Shia Iraqis just because they were not Sunni.

Juan Cole has some insightful comments on the whole George Bush spin towards AQI in his post today in Informed Comment.

"Sunni Arab guerrillas deployed an explosively formed projectile (a kind of roadside bomb) against 4 soldiers who had come in a humvee to investigate the sniping death of a fifth soldier. All four were killed. Unfortunately the LA Times calls the guerrillas "al-Qaeda-allied." This terminology is from the Bush administration lexicon. I very much doubt that the LA Times knows whether the group that set the bomb is allied with al-Qaeda or not. Indeed, for all we know, this cell belonged to the Baath Party.

"Note too that the Sunni Arab neighborhoods have the explosively formed projectiles, just as do the Shiite neighborhoods. Iran is not giving them to Sunnis, and certainly not to 'al-Qaeda-allied' Sunnis. Ipso facto, Iran cannot be the only source of EFPs, and it is not established except by allegation and innuendo that they are a source at all. (If the Sunni Arab guerrillas can make EFPs, so could Iraqi Shiites).

"It is always surprising what you can conclusively deduce just from reading the newspapers without the spin that the administration and the Pentagon manages to implant in the stories."

COUNTERINSURGENCY IN THE EYES OF FORMER MARINE CAPTAIN

The most important article in today's The Washington Post is not the story on Karl Rove's resignation but the opinion piece by former Marine captain Nathaniel Fick. Fick wrote the best seller, "One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer."

Fick writes on the paradoxical world of counterinsurgency warfare where winning is accomplished not by killing or bombing but by assisting the local population in returning to normalcy.

Writes Fick:

"The objective in fighting insurgents isn't to kill every enemy fighter -- you simply can't -- but to persuade the population to abandon the insurgents' cause. The laws of these campaigns seem topsy-turvy by conventional military standards: Money is more decisive than bullets; protecting our own forces undermines the U.S. mission; heavy firepower is counterproductive; and winning battles guarantees nothing."

Fick was in Kabul recently as a consultant to the U.S. Army in providing workshops on the goals of counterinsurgency to American, Afghan and NATO officers as well as Afghan policemen. Fick serves up four basic tenets of "winning" in Afghanistan or in Iraq:

"The first tenet is that the best weapons don't shoot. Counterinsurgents must excel at finding creative, nonmilitary solutions to military problems."

Second, "The more you protect your forces, the less safe you may be. To be effective, troops, diplomats and civilian aid workers need to get out among the people. But nearly every American I saw in Kabul was hidden behind high walls or racing through the streets in armored convoys."

Third, "[t]he third paradox . . . is that the more force you use, the less effective you may be. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are notoriously difficult to tally, but 300-500 noncombatants have probably been killed already this year, mostly in U.S. and coalition air strikes. Killing civilians, even in error, is not only a serious moral transgression but also a lethal strategic misstep. Wayward U.S. strikes have seriously undermined the very legitimacy of the Karzai government and made all too many Afghans resent coalition forces. If Afghans lose patience with the coalition presence, those forces will be run out of the country, in the footsteps of the British and the Soviets before them."

And lastly, "[t]he academy's final lesson is that tactical success in a vacuum guarantees nothing. Just as it did in Vietnam, the U.S. military could win every battle and still lose the war. That's largely because our primary enemies in Afghanistan still have a sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan . . . Chasing terrorists and the Taliban around Afghanistan leads to little lasting progress as long as they can slip across the border to rest and regroup. . . . The Durand Line, which separates Afghanistan from Pakistan, is a mapmaker's fantasy. Without political reform, economic development and military operations on both sides of the border, we can do little more than put a finger in the dike that's keeping radicalism and instability in Pakistan from spilling back into Afghanistan."

These are words of wisdom from someone who fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq. How come Bush has not heard these words? He still counts "progress" as so many insurgents killed. He still equates insurgency with terrorism instead of understanding the fear and rage of local populations when they are bombed or shot at.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

U.S. ARMY'S ACCUSATION OF IRAN JUST SO MUCH SPIN

I have been long suspicious of the Bush/Cheney claim that Iran is supplying powerful IED's and shaped charges to Iraqi "insurgents" used to kill U.S. troops. There has been absolutely no evidence, not one piece of evidence that would hold up to scrutiny in any court of law. These unfounded assertions just seem like so much spin, to back up Bush/Cheney mistrust of Islamic Iran, and to provide the basis for preparing American people for an attack against Iran and Iranians.

So this morning's post by Juan Cole shows this spin from recent events involving the killing of the governor and police chief of Qadisiya Province. Both died as a result of a powerful roadside bomb. Both were members of the Badr organization, originally founded in Teheran in the 1980's.

Writes Juan Cole:

"Gov. Khalil Jalil Hamza, of the Badr Organization and police chief Maj-Gen Khaled Hassan were returning to Diwaniyah from a funeral. This kind of incident is one reason for which I am very suspicious the Pentagon story that Iran is providing roadside bombs to militias in Iraq. Look, the Badr Corps, the paramilitary of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, was formed in Tehran in the 1980s, trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and may still be in some part on the Iranian payroll. So Iran is sitting pretty, with a Badr commander as governor of Qadisiya province. And having gotten their guy into power, they would kill him in cooperation with scruffy anti-Persian Mahdi Army goons--- why? That roadside bomb did not come from Iran; if Iran was going to give such bombs to anyone, it would be the Badr Corps itself, not the enemies of Badr."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

STOP MEAN AND HARSH CRACK DOWN ON UNDOCUMENTED LATINOS!

Bush's endorsement of "his administration's" half-baked plan to "crack down" on immigration enforcement shows how mean and how shallow he and his cronies are. Since "congress" did not pass his lousy immigration bill, Bush is now showing his vindictive and irrational mind. If "congress" does not act, then, by gosh, Bush will.

But wait! By "congress," Bush is trying to falsely imply that it was the fault of Democrats in congress. Actually, it is the Democrats who are in favor of providing a pathway to citizenship and legality to some 12 million undocumented immigrants. The ones who torpedoed any hope of compromise on immigration reform were the Republicans, such as that racist Tom Tancredo (R. - Col.) who insist that the illegality of crossing the border without proper documents should be punished by death, or at least by deportation, something close to the death penalty.

Bush's unfortunate and ill-conceived plan to crack down on mostly Latinos probably emanates from the small mind of Julie Myers, head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who just happens to be niece of the former General Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs several years ago and toady to Don Rumsfeld. Talk about nepotism! And how about Michael Chertoff, former federal appellate judge and now secretary of Homeland Security, signing off on it? What does that say about the character of those who are running the government? Why can't they give the little guy a break? The United States, land of the free and home of the brave, sees fit to force the firing of people who have done nothing more than cross the border without documents in order to put bread on the table for their families. How mean is that?

The Washington Post in a story by N.C. Aizenman this morning reports that:

"Particularly controversial are new guidelines for employers who receive a "no-match" letter from the Social Security Administration informing them that 10 or more of their employees have Social Security numbers that do not correspond with government records.

"The administration issues about 130,000 no-match letters a year. Many are the result of innocent mistakes -- a worker miswrote his Social Security number on a form, for example, or failed to notify the government of her new, married name. . ."

"The impact on immigrant-dependent industries such as construction and agriculture -- whose workforce is at least two-thirds illegal -- would be "devastating," predicted Craig Regelbrugge, government relations director for the American Nursery & Landscape Association.

"There's no replacement workforce," he said. "This will give people a set of bad choices: Either they terminate their workers, or they take a deep breath and duck and hope the law doesn't catch up with them. Or, for a lot of people, they're just going to make the decision to get out of the business.""

Friday, August 10, 2007

WAR IN IRAQ BRUTALIZES U.S. SOLDIERS IN TREATMENT OF IRAQI CIVILIANS

The Nation has published (July 30, 2007 issue) a distressing but important story by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian last week, called "The Other War - Iraq Vets Bear Witness." The article describes events that show how brutalized war makes soldiers, yes soldiers of the United States in Iraq. We like to think that the Americans are exceptional, that we are all bound by the rule of law, that we are motiviated by good will and idealism towards fellow human beings. Here is another side of America that demonstrates that Americans can be cruel, mean and sadistic.

"Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts."

Here's only one description out of many from the article. The account describes the policy of army convoys speeding down Iraqi roads and highways.

"Convoys did not slow down or attempt to brake when civilians inadvertently got in front of their vehicles, according to the veterans who described them. Sgt. Kelly Dougherty, 29, from CaƱon City, Colorado, was based at the Talil Air Base in Nasiriya with the Colorado National Guard's 220th Military Police Company for a year beginning in February 2003. She recounted one incident she investigated in January 2004 on a six-lane highway south of Nasiriya that resembled numerous incidents described by other veterans.

""It's like very barren desert, so most of the people that live there, they're nomadic or they live in just little villages and have, like, camels and goats and stuff," she recalled. "There was then a little boy--I would say he was about 10 because we didn't see the accident; we responded to it with the investigative team--a little Iraqi boy and he was crossing the highway with his, with three donkeys. A military convoy, transportation convoy driving north, hit him and the donkeys and killed all of them. When we got there, there were the dead donkeys and there was a little boy on the side of the road.

""We saw him there and, you know, we were upset because the convoy didn't even stop," she said. "They really, judging by the skid marks, they hardly even slowed down. But, I mean, that's basically--basically, your order is that you never stop." "

Thursday, August 9, 2007

BUSH SEEMS INTENT ON DEMONIZING IRAN AS GROUNDWORK FOR ATTACK

George Bush and Dick Cheney seem intent on creating a bogeyman out of Iran so that they can have "justification" to attack.

Yesterday, Juan Cole points out, when Iraqi prime minister Al-Maliki was visiting Teheran, the U.S. generals in Iran staged a raid against Al Sadr Shiite militia within Sadr City, during which the U.S. generals asserted over 30 Shiite fighters were killed. The generals claimed they were going after Iranian-backed insurgents. Residents claimed the killed and injured included civilians, women and children.

Additionally, Bush gave a TV interview to Neil Cavuto of Fox News saying that Iranians aiding insurgents would be brought to justice, and giving a non-committal answer to Cavuto's question on whether Bush was planning an attack on Iran.

And just today at a news conference before beginning his month-long vacation, Bush again tried to cast Iran as the troublemaker in Iraq. According to this AP story appearing in the NY Times web page, Bush spoke with hostility.

"The president described Iran as ''a destabilizing influence in the Middle East.''

"Noting that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in Iran Thursday, Bush said he hoped his message would be the same as the United States' -- that Tehran should halt the export of sophisticated explosive devices into Iraq or ''there will be consequences.''"

Wait! Bush says Iran is exporting "sophisticated explosive devices into Iraq." The U.S. government has never given any proof for this assertion. There has been no evidence that Iran is doing this. All we have is the word of George W. Bush. Why is Bush saying this? Why is he threatening Iran with "consequences"?

For some reason, Bush & Co. want a military confrontation with Iran. Americans must not allow him to do this. Don't let George W. Bush start a war with Iran.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

BUSH WAR MONGERS PAINT IRAN AS "ENEMY"

The word must be passed down from Bush and Cheney - prepare the American people to think that Iran is the "enemy" and is supplying IED's and other deadly munitions to the Shiite militia. Witness Bush the other day at a news conference with Afghan president Karzai claiming without any basis in reality that the Iranian government and its leaders have expressed a desire for nuclear weapons. In fact, Iran has never expressed a desire to have nuclear weapons, only nuclear power for its grids. But Bush wants Americans to believe that those Iranians are an imminent threat! War is the only answer! Bomb Teheran!

Switch to the U.S. military in Iraq, especially former White House aide and now chief military public affairs officer, Gen. Bergner, who claims, again without evidence, that Iran is training, arming and supporting militiamen who kill U.S. troops. Even Sen. Joe Lieberman got into the act last month by sponsoring a resolution calling on Iran to stop killing American soldiers. Unbelievably, the rest of the feckless Senate went along with Lieberman, even though there is not one shred of evidence that Iran is clandestinely involved in the war.

Juan Cole in Informed Comment has this perspicacious analysis of the American war mongers and saber rattlers:

"The US military appears to continue to ascribe all roadside bombings in Baghdad deploying explosively formed projectiles to Shiite militiamen, but this conclusion is shaky for all sorts of reasons. There is every reason to believe that Sunni Arab guerrillas could manufacture these devices, since the plates involved are made for the Iraqi oil industry, as well. And, if Iran did give any to anyone it would have been to the Badr Corps paramilitary, which may have failed to secure its warehouses or which may have some corrupt members that have sold off some of the munitions.

"Unfortunately, the Pentagon allegations, which are attempting to implicate Iran in the killing of US troops, have already been used by Senator Joe Lieberman in a saber-rattling resolution against Tehran, and are a foot in the door for the war party in Washington with regard to getting up military action against Iran. That it is mostly based on innuendo, unsubstantiated assumptions, and faulty reasoning will do us no good if the politicians start believing this stuff and using it to throw more billions to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other arms manufacturers."

U.S. BOMBING KILLS 30 IN SADR CITY, REPORTS OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN AMONG DEAD

Once again, we see the U.S. military claiming to kill so many "militants" in Iraq, only to learn afterwards that many of the killed were women and children.

The BBC describes the results of a U.S. air raid on Sadr City yesterday :

"US-led forces have killed 30 militants in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, the US military has said. They said most had died in an air strike following a raid in the Shia district of Sadr City. Twelve people were also detained in the operation.

"The US military said the dead were part of a network that was smuggling weapons from Iran, but witnesses said women and children were among those killed."

First, why is the U.S. command and David Petraeus ordering air strikes of residential areas such as crowded Sadr City? As I have opined here before, air strikes are notoriously imprecise and can be expected to kill many innocent bystanders, residents and civilians. Air planes are instruments of war atrocities, right from the beginning of the use of the air plane in war fare.

Furthermore, killing women and children will never gain "hearts and minds." Imagine if your wife or husband, your child or your mother was the victim of a U.S. bombing raid. How would you feel towards the U.S.? How would you treat the U.S. soldier on the ground patrolling your neighborhood?

Those of us who protested going to war against Iraq could foresee all of these atrocities. This is why Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell and all the rest who supported or enabled the war are all implicated in war crimes and should be held to account.