Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

It’s the “end” of the Iraq war

August 31, 2010

The President is delivering a speech later today to announce the supposed end of the Iraq war. But as far as I’ve gathered, there isn’t even a substantial change in our foreign policy inre: Iraq today. Or even yesterday, or the day before. There was an announcement made by MSNBC a week and a half ago where the last full US combat brigade left Iraq.

So if you break that down, that would mean that brigades which are only partially for combat would not necessarily have left. And then you still have the “non-combat troops” tasked with completing the training of the Iraqi police and military. And for each one of those “non-combat troops,” there are two private contractors and/or mercenaries whom are not really affected by this pseudo-deadline except to the extent that their job is dependent on the presence of “full US combat brigades.” It’s not so much the qualitative change those of us who have been against the war were hoping for as much as it’s a quantitative reduction of an ongoing military occupation.

And seriously, I don’t buy this whole idea of “non-combat troops.” There have been a lot of military officials making a big deal of how the remaining troops won’t be doing any fighting. But I haven’t yet heard a journalist ask any of them what these “non-combat troops” are to do in response to an attack by insurgents. I would think they would, well, combat the people shooting at them. Right? Either they would combat them, in which case they can’t be said to be “non-combat;” or they wouldn’t, which is just absurd.

It could be that by “not fighting,” these military officials mean that troops aren’t actively seeking out insurgents and so the chances of something like this happening are greatly reduced. That would be a fair point, but the whole nature of this war from its beginning has blurred the line between what used to be seen as illegal war actions and legitimate defense. We were told that our military involvement in the Middle East is a “preemptive defense,” a way to “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” And so the supporters of the war would object to terms like “invasion” and “occupation” on the grounds that the whole thing was, at its core, a form of defense.

It’s not like any of that matters to Iraqis though. None of the families of casualties from this point on are going to be consoled by the fact that their loved ones were killed by a stray bullet fired by “non-combat troops” post August 2010 when they would have been outraged if they were killed by a specifically-designated combat troop in 2003 through the present. This kind of distinction really matters to the audience of the occupation moreso than those actually involved in it.

The same defense of the war in 2003 can now be applied on a smaller scale to the prolonged quasi-withdrawal of 2010-whenever.And at the same time the Democrats can hope to capitalize in the mid-term elections on their “end” of the war. In the end, this is more about the superficial talking points than any substantial change in the real situation.

no end in sight

June 3, 2010
  • “The Department of Defense announced yesterday the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Pfc. Jake W. Suter, 18, of Los Angeles, Calif., died May 29 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.”
  • “The Department of Defense announced yesterday the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pfc. Alvaro R. Regalado Sessarego, 37, of Virginia Beach, Va., died May 30 at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, of injuries sustained April 18 from a non-combat related incident at Dahuk, Iraq.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.”
  • “The Department of Defense announced yesterday the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Spc. Jonathan K. Peney, 22, of Marietta, Ga., died June 1 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when he was shot by enemy forces.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.”

Collateral murder

April 6, 2010

So there’s this wiki site called WikiLeaks. It’s a good way for people to anonymously leak documents which some people might not want you to see. A typical example would be a former Scientologist keeping some weird doctrine or incriminating document and putting it online. And like Wikipedia, it’s best not to always take everything you read there as 100% true. But it is a good starting point for people trying to find information about topics.

With Wikipedia, you’d want to find the cited source. With WikiLeaks, you’d want to see if whatever organization had their info made public has acknowledged that the document really did come from them. It’s basically a good starting point for new data to the extent that it’s peer-reviewed and fact-checked.

A couple of weeks ago, they started tweeting about being followed, intimidated, and detained by the governments of Iceland (???) and the United States. And they claimed that it was because they were scheduled to release a film on April 5.

What seemed kind of weird about this is that the whole nature of a wiki site like this where people can immediately release whatever information they happened to have obtained is to avoid this kind of intimidation when a release (like the release of this film) is pending.

If you go around telling people that you’re about to print the Pentagon Papers in the NY Times, then chances are good the Pentagon is going to try to exercise prior restraint against the Times. The WikiLeaks format of just releasing whatever and whenever is a great antidote to that problem. If you just release info in real time, the spin from corporate media necessarily has to be after the release of the information, and so the public is influenced by it in its rawest form. That”s how the truth can out. But in this case that purer method really wasn’t being used.

As it turns out, this was a case of hyping their release because they are now backing off on some of their earlier claims. And it’s difficult to be very upset about that since the video they released showed US troops killing civilians in Baghdad back in July of 2007 when they mistook a Reuters reporter’s camera for an RPG. Here is the video (people get killed and children are injured in it, so consider yourself warned).

It’s easy to be angry at the kids in this video with their weird mixture of video game playing stoner enthusiasm for shooting people from a helicopter and unnecessary military/corporatespeak. But as Glenn Greenwald pointed out, this isn’t some strange anomaly in the midst of a normally benevolent military occupation. Killings like this are the inevitable consequence of war on a day to day basis. And we’ve had 2,576 of those days since the beginning of this war. It’s really more surprising that we’re shocked by a killing like this than the fact that it happened at all.

Some more background information the killings, including interviews with the surviving widow and her two children (pictured above) were also released by WikiLeaks on their Collateral Murder website. If you didn’t watch the video, they were trying to take the wounded reporters and civilians to a hospital after they were attacked, only to be shot at themselves.

Pic of the day

January 7, 2010

This is a sand storm at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq in 2005:

Shoe thrower to get early release

September 3, 2009

Remember that Iraqi journalist who threw both of his shoes at Bush last winter? He’s getting released early for good behavior next month.

It was a pretty stupid thing to do, but then again it’s easy for me to say that when I haven’t been living in an actual war zone for the past 6 years. So he got his 15 minutes, got himself beat up a bit, according to Democracy Now and some other sources (Guardian/Observer, CBS):

Muntadhar al-Zaidi has been held in prison for over a week. His attorney said al-Zaidi has been subjected to repeated beatings in jail. He has internal bleeding in his left eye, as well as bruises over his face and stomach. (DN)

and then he got his statue:

Kind of a lame way to be remembered, all things considered

Kind of a lame way to be remembered, all things considered.

And now that he’s paid his fine for his speeding ticket at the Indy 500, he’s going to get to move on. I hate to say it, but I kind of hope he drifts into obscurity. He’s like the Code Pink women – people I generally agree with, but still kind of make me cringe in their methodology.

John McCain’s hypothetical foreign policy = Obama’s actual foreign policy

August 28, 2009

Transcript from This Week With George Stephanolokolopopuloukopopolous:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would we be fighting these two wars any differently if you were president now?

MCCAIN: Not now, but it’s very obvious that, for at least three years, we conducted the war in Iraq in the wrong fashion. And we paid a very heavy price in American blood and treasure. And we developed a strategy that worked. That strategy is adopted to the different conditions in Afghanistan.

So in other words, here we have John McCain admitting to both his base and Obama’s, that his foreign policy in regards to Iraq and Afghanistan would have been identical to what Obama has done by escalating the war in Afghanistan while ever-so-gradually pulling out of Iraq.

And since Obama is actually following through on his campaign promises in these matters, this proves that any of the alleged differences in foreign policy during the campaign were simply manufactured – from the Obama supporters making a fuss over McCain’s 100 years in Iraq to McCain supporters hysterically claiming that Obama was going to dissolve the military or something retarded like that.