The War

Oct. 5th, 2007 12:53 pm
lurkitty: (Pogo)
Like many on my flist, I watched Ken Burns' series, The War. I grew up with stories from my parents about WWII. On my blood father's side, I had an uncle my mom never met who was killed at Pearl Harbor, but not in the attack. He died in a motorcycle accident. My blood father never saw combat, but had served as an airplane mechanic in Hawaii.

I can remember playing with ration tokens in my mother' s button box, and making cake with vinegar, baking soda and apple sauce instead of eggs and oil like they did during the war.

My Dad (my stepdad) served in the Merchant Marines. During every war since 1775, the Merchant Marines, normally a commercial fleet, have been pressed into service ferrying troops and materiel for US forces. The seamen who served during the war were given veteran status by the government recognizing their contribution to the war effort. But not my Dad. He was black, one of 24,000 African Americans who served in the Merchant Marines in all capacities except command. Black sailors were not recognized for their service nor were they declared veterans until 1988. Ken Burns did not address the Merchant Marines.

Notwithstanding, I did find that that Burns documentary was well done. It is far more an anthropology piece than a military history. There are certainly better military histories, but this was a very good depiction of the effect of the war on peoples' lives. The striking thing was the impact of the experience on the people at home. They were called upon from the very first to contribute, to cut back, to save and to ration. The war cut deeply into their everyday lives. They were asked to buy war bonds; to invest in the US knowing that when the boys returned, we would prosper again. Everyone had a part to play. Not only was it considered unpatriotic to speak out against the war, it was unpatriotic to profit from the war. People trusted that everyone was making the same sacrifices across the board. They were in it together.

We are continually exhorted to "fight the war on terror", yet, far from being called upon to contribute, we have been informed from the very start that we are all suspects; subject to detention without trial. We are searched at airports, surveilled, caught on film, our phones tapped without warrant. No one is above suspicion. We find that while our soldiers live in barracks and tent cities, they are paid half that of mercenary "private contractor" forces living in posh hotels. Mercenaries who were recruited from the armies of former dictators like Milosevic and Pinochet are making a profit from the billions of dollars that we owe China. Companies like Halliburton cannot account for millions of dollars they were allocated. Iraqi insurgents are killing our soldiers with guns we supplied them.

Yet when we question these expenses and actions, we are called unpatriotic. When our soldiers, exhausted and wounded from tour after tour after tour, begin to question the logic of staying in a country that does not want our help, their patriotism is questioned by people who have never served a single tour of duty themselves.

We, as a country, have been sold a bill of goods. We have been asked to pay with the blood of our best and mortgage our future and the future of our children to line to pockets of a few conniving scoundrels in the name of false patriotism. I challenge them to watch "The War" and learn what patriotism really is, then repeal the obscene "USA PATRIOT Act", restore our Constitution and begin an orderly withdrawal from the quagmire. Our forefathers are rolling in their graves.
lurkitty: (Default)
(no - not that Harry!)

Say what you will about the Brits pulling out of Basra after having done exactly what they were asked to do. It's the other bit of news from across the pond that clearly shows their mettle: His Royal Highness Prince Harry will deploy to Iraq with his unit later this year.

No details are being released as to where or in what capacity Cornet Wales, as he is known in his regiment, will serve due to the particular danger of kidnapping or drawing fire. But the thought of remaining at home while his unit was in combat was out of the question to the second son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

This scenario begs the question: What are the Bush twins up to today?
lurkitty: (Pogo)
Stop me if you've heard this one. A Republican has two horses and he keeps mixing them up. One day, his friend, a Democrat, comes over and they discuss his plight.

"Have you tried cutting one's tail?" suggests the Dem.
"Yes, but it grew back," lamented the Rep.
"How about painting a mark on the side of one of them?" came another suggestion from the friend.
"Horses shed, and it came off," replied the crestfallen owner as both stared at the animals in question.

"I know! Why don't you measure them!" cried the Democrat.
At that, the two ran and got a measuring tape, and, sure enough, the black horse was six inches taller than the white horse.

There has been a great deal of discussion this week about whether or not the situation in Iraq has become a civil war. Amid all of the punditry, the most lucid commentary we have heard on the subject to date has come from Former Pres. Jimmy Carter, in an interview on Hardball with David Shuster.

In response to the direct question of whether Iraq is a civil war, Carter said:

"I think it‘s just a matter of semantics. Obviously, the White House says it‘s not a civil war and you say it is. The civil wars in which the [Carter Center*] has been involved in the last few years are much more serious than the situation in Iraq. For instance, we worked for 19 years trying to bring peace to southern Sudan, in which two million were killed. And we just finished holding an election, the first Democratic election in the Republic of Congo, where four million people have died in the last eight years.

So comparatively speaking, to the American Civil War and to those, it‘s not a civil war. But I don‘t argue with the semantics of it. "


At this point, Shuster keeps pressing him.

SHUSTER: "Well, is Iraq headed in that direction?

And there was a U.N. report which suggested already 650,000 civilians have been killed. Do you think it has the potential of being as bad as the Sudan?"

CARTER: "I don‘t think so because Sudan was horrendous in that two million people died. And now they have some elements of peace there.

But it‘s obviously serious in Iraq. And I don‘t think that American intervention, even if we wanted to exert the power of our military force there, could successfully interrupt the internecine violence that is killing people still on the streets. "


So Mr. Carter will call it internecine violence, but not civil war because he's been on the ground in the midst of real civil wars and this is small in comparison. But he also acknowledges that no amount of US intervention is going to fix Iraq.

Skip down a bit and watch Mr. Carter take Shuster to school. This exchange was telling:

SHUSTER: There‘s been a lot of talk, of course, people look at Iraq, the difference between the Sunnis and the Shiites, and the idea that here in Washington, members of Congress, top policy makers are not steeped enough in these differences. If you ask a member of Congress, what is the major difference between a Sunni and a Shia, sometimes they just give you a blank stare.

Are you frustrated at all that Washington doesn‘t know more about the Muslim world, about these sectarian conflicts than we do?

CARTER: Well, I wouldn‘t personally assume that your premise is accurate. You know, I don‘t know what Congressmen know or don‘t know. I would guess the ones that are involved deeply in, say, the Defense Committee and the Appropriations Committee, that have responsibilities for Iraq policy and implementation of it, would become conversant about the difference between the two parties.

But I think it‘s more important to know what the two parties now want and what causes their dissension and their divide than it is to understand the nuances of their religious faith....


Mr. Carter goes on to eloquently describe the conflict in terms even Shuster can understand!

Shuster proves he is out of his depth in this exchange when he tries to throw Rwanda into Mr. Carter's discussion of Palestine:

CARTER: ...So the persecution of the Palestinians now, under the occupying territories—under the occupation forces—is one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation that I know. And I think it‘s—

SHUSTER: Even worse, though, than a place like Rwanda?

CARTER: Yes. I think—yes. You mean, now?

SHUSTER: Yes.

CARTER: Yes.

SHUSTER: The oppression now of the Israelis—of the Palestinians by the Israelis is worse than the situation in Africa like the oppression of Rwanda and the civil war?

CARTER: I‘m not going back into ancient history about Rwanda, but right now, the persecution of the Palestinians is one of the worst examples of human rights abuse I know, because the Palestinians—

SHUSTER: You‘re talking about right now, you‘re not talking about say, a few years ago.

CARTER: I‘m not talking about ancient history, no.

SHUSTER: Rwanda wasn‘t ancient history; it was just a few years ago.

CARTER: You can talk about Rwanda if you want to. I want to talk

about Palestine. What is being done to the Palestinians now is horrendous

in their own territory, by the occupying powers, which is Israel.

They‘ve taken away all the basic human rights of the Palestinians, as was done in South Africa against the blacks. And I make it very plain in this book that the apartheid is not based on racism, as it was in South Africa. But it‘s based on the desire, of a minority of Israelis to acquire land that belongs to the Palestinians and to retain that land, and then to exclude the Palestinians from their own property and subjugate them, so that they can‘t arise and demonstrate their disapproval of being robbed of their own property. That‘s what‘s happening in the West Bank.

And the people in this country, in America, never know about this, they never discuss this, there‘s no debate about it, there‘s no criticism of Israel in this country. And in Israel, there is an intense debate about the issues in this book. In this country, no. "


As an aside, Mr. Carter looks quite well. He has a ready smile and a calm demeanor. He looks like a man who sleeps quite well at night. The record of his good works since his tenure in the Oval Office speaks to his altruism and success as a world leader.

It is, therefore, laughable, when Ed Rogers, certifiable Republican hack, calls Mr. Carter a loser later in the show:

ROGERS: I love the idea of Jimmy Carter picking the next Democrat nominee. From one loser to another, from Jimmy Carter to Al Gore.

If Rogers could accomplish half as much in his lifetime as Mr. Carter has since losing his second bid for the presidency, Rogers might be considered a successful man.

The important question is not whether Iraq is a civil war. The important question is why we are still using our military resources in a fight that we cannot possibly win. Leave it to Mr. Carter to show us the horse of a different color

*Note: I saw the interview. I believe he said "Carter Center" where the transcript reads "inaudible".
lurkitty: (Pogo)
Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the Army, was almost apologetic in his announcement that he was stocking his cupboards for another four years of war in Iraq.
"It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot."
He cautioned that he was not predicting that things would get worse or that they would be there, but the nations top generals are becoming more vocal in their assessment that we are not leaving Iraq anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the debate over the methodology of the study of Iraqi civilian casualties in the recent Lancet article continues. This is the same methodology used to determine death rates in regions like Darfur, and in presidential poling. Even if the low end estimate is used, the the numbers we have been given by the Bush administration are off by an order of magnitude.

It is a damned inconvenience for us to have to put our toothpaste and shampoo in plastic bags and take off our shoes to fly across the country to visit mom. It is frightening to see our right of Habeus Corpus suspended for the first time since the Constitution was written, our citizens now subject to warrantless searches and detention without trial on suspicion of terrorism.

It is the reality every day in Baghdad that you may be killed by an IED, kidnapped, tortured held and executed by militia groups and police alike. Regardless of whether it is 600,000, 400,000 or 50,000, Iraqi citizens are dying in greater numbers everyday. It has to be demoralizing to read that the US army is preparing to be in country until 2010, even if it is just precautionary. We cannot begin to know what is in the minds of the average Iraqi, but we can imagine how soul-crushing it must be to face the horrors of death counts every day. When they look to us and ask how this happened, and who is responsible, what is our response?

Donald Rumsfeld, when asked whether he bore any responsibility for the mistakes in Iraq, said,"...why do we have to keep going through this? Of course I bear responsibility, my lord, I'm the Secretary of Defense. Write it down, quote it. You can bank on it."
That was no apology, it was the snippy answer of an aggravated adolescent.

We are not the ones whose cities are being blown apart, who have no running water, no electricity for days on end when substations are targeted. We are not the ones who were promised an end to political imprisonments and torture only to find the police trained by their new occupiers refilling the same prisons and using the same methods as the old regime.

Given this atmosphere of unrelenting terrorism, and our lack of sympathy for their continued suffering, is it any wonder that Iraqis would like to see the Americans leave? Yet we refuse to give them any sliver of hope, any notion that we will ever go away.

There is a Buddhist saying, "Not to decide is to decide". To say that outlining an exit strategy for Iraq is giving "the terrorists" a plan that they can use to their advantage is poor logic. We submit to you that not having an exit strategy is a plan in and of itself. Having no clear exit strategy is as good as announcing that you plan to occupy the country indefinitely. Any announcements to the contrary won't be believed because they are not backed up with timetables. It's just like when your parents said, "We'll see."

Mr. Bush, you told us you were "The Decider". Stop hiding behind a failed and illogical tactic. Make a decision, if you can.
(crossposted to lj democrats)
lurkitty: (Default)
I have a friend who is an avid gun collector. He loves shooting in all its forms. He thrives on full-auto shoots. I know that he and his wife are always packing, and they both have concealed weapons permits. I have never felt at all uncomfortable around them despite my dislike of handguns. I know they are extremely safe and cautious. They keep their guns in a safe, they lock weapons so no children can access them. They are responsible gun owners.

They voted for Bush.

Why? Because the Republican Party convinced them that the Democrats were going to take away their guns. Even though no Democrat had made taking guns from licensed, responsible gun owners part of their platform, they were convinced by Republican rhetoric that it was going to happen.

Flash forward to yesterday in Baghdad. The Bush Administration policy in Iraq is to take away guns from the citizens. On the surface, it sounds great. Protect our troops by getting the guns off the street. But the reality of the situation is that they are taking the guns from the law abiding citizens and leaving them in the hands of the well-funded, highly organized terrorists. They are leaving themselves with no citizen backup in the fight and not enough troops on the ground to keep the situation under control.

So, it was the Republican Bush Administration that disarmed the citizens of Iraq, that has not allowed them the "Right to a well-ordered militia" that we were guaranteed under our constitution. With all of the lies they have told, all of the malfeasance suffered under this administration, can we trust that the same will not occur here in response to another terrorist attack? Or will the American people simply roll over blithely and hand over their guns to this fascist regime, guns they thought the Dems were going to "rip from their cold, dead hands??"

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