Friday, March 28, 2003

THEY DID PROMISE US A ROSE GARDEN!

Some commentators to this and other blogs have said "Hey, nobody ever said this war was going to be a cakewalk / walk in the park / etc etc etc."

Yes they did. Here are some examples, courtesy of Salon:
Richard Perle, recently resigned chairman of the Defense Policy Board: [. . . ], in a PBS interview July 11, 2002:

"Saddam is much weaker than we think he is. He's weaker militarily. . . .Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder. "

Ken Adelman, former U.N. ambassador, in an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2002: "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.

Vice President Dick Cheney, on NBC's "Meet the Press" March 16: "The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but that they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that." [. . . .]

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN March 23:

"The course of this war is clear. The outcome is clear. The regime of Saddam Hussein is gone. It's over. It will not be there in a relatively reasonably predictable period of time."

"And the people in Iraq need to know that: that it will not be long before they will be liberated."

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars March 11:

"In a meeting last week at the White House, one of these Iraqi-Americans said, 'A war with Saddam Hussein would be a war for Iraq, not against Iraq.'"

"The Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator. They know that America will not come as a conqueror. Our plan -- as President Bush has said -- is to 'remain as long as necessary and not a day more.'"

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a breakfast meeting March 4, 2003:

"What you'd like to do is have it be a short, short conflict. The best way to do that is have such a shock on the system, the Iraqi regime would have to assume early on the end is inevitable."

Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair writer, in a debate Jan. 28, 2003:

"This will be no war -- there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention.
"The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling ... It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on."
Sounds to me like some pretty high rollers in the administration and its supporters expected a cakewalk -- and were trying to sell the American people the same. Those of us who opposed the war, for whatever reason, realized that it wouldn't be a cakewalk. And it isn't.

Here's the quandary: I don't want another American, Brit, Aussie or Iraqi killed in this war. That means it should stop now. Of course, that would mean the US and Britain to leave with their tails between their legs -- which the Cabal would never allow, certainly not this early. So we have to stay in "as long as it takes." As long as it takes to do what? To get into Baghdad? We'll get there, no doubt of it. To get beaten? The only hope for an early end to the conflict is for us to get quickly, decisively beaten -- which means Americans die, and I do not want that. It would be even stupider than the entire starting premise to claim that more must die so we can end the war. So we have to win and occupy Baghdad. Then, however, the Cabal is vindicated: see, they will say, we did it and it only cost us a hundred or so dead GIs. Parades will start, and so forth. Huzzah.

No, it still looks like the only way out of this is to change the administration in a year. So I keep at it.

IF IT STINKS LIKE A BRIBE...

Nebraska's Legislature is currently considering several proposals to increase the level of legal gambling in the state (we already have pickle cards, bingo at St. Alfonzo's, keno and a state lottery but no casinos). This weekend about one-third of the legislators are going to a conference in Las Vegas sponsored by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. The gang is being put up at a hotel which has lobbied them on the gambling issue. They're being put up for free.

Only one of the bunch, Pam Brown of Omaha, declined the hospitality out of concern for an appearance of impropriety.

The conference, just to keep things straight, is not a gambling conference. But if you believe that the legislators won't "happen" to discuss the issue with various folks during the fun weekend, you're living in the same world as those who believed we'd be greeted with flowers in Iraq. Ooops, I forgot to read the rest of the article:
Former state Sen. Chris Abboud is a registered lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands Inc. His brother, Andrew, is a registered lobbyist for the Venetian.
Chris Abboud said there was no plan to do any direct lobbying of Nebraska lawmakers during the ALEC conference.
"But they're going to be out there," he said. "We'll show them around if they want. Nothing formal."
Something is rotten in the state of Nebraska.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

HUMANIZING THE HEROES

Over at The Daily Kos there's quite a to-do because as part of his effort to run a piece on at least one victim in the war, he's run a picture of Spec. Jessica Lynch, who is missing after her supply column was ambushed. Kos has always included a picture of the soldier or Marine in his comments. The picture of Jessica looks to be a senior picture, rather than a basic training picture. Some readers are angry: this makes Spec. Lynch too human. She's not a uniform; she's a "pretty girl" who is now dead.

Boys and girls, every single mother f*cker who dies in Iraq is a human being. Whether Iraqi or American or Brit, they are real. They play soccer or football or cricket or shoot pool or throw darts or go dancing or to church or to the mosque. They prefer civilian clothes to uniforms. Instead of chasing around in the desert shooting at each other -- no matter which side they're on -- you can bet your ass they'd much rather be at home watching TV or reading or planting a garden or building a house or playing with their kids or listening to music or chasing boys or girls or doing the things that human beings like to do when we aren't killing each other!

I'd rather see pictures of every damn one of these "heroes" in their civilian capacities. Let's remember the father or mother or sister or brother who died; the neighbor who loaned someone a rake; the guy down the street who fixed your car; the girl you used to go to karaoke with, instead of some faceless someone in BDUs.

Then maybe we'd remember the real cost of this war.
FRIENDT GETS DOWN TO ISSUES

Glenn Friendt has a new set of commercials running on cable. It shows the number of jobs lost in Lincoln in the last four years, without specifically blaming it on the current city council or mayor -- but the inference is clear. He closes with the words (if memory serves me right) "We need to show business that Lincoln is open for development." His City Council web site (not an official campaign web site but damn close) says he is "family friendly . . . employer friendly."

Nowhere does it say he's worker friendly. Or neighborhood friendly. Lincoln gets businesses not because it bribes them to come here but because we have a well-educated, motivated work force who like it here. And we like the city because it's a city of neighborhoods. Any person who ignores those basic facts doesn't understand the fundamental appeal of Lincoln.

I fear that the "employer friendly" approach Friendt would take would turn Lincoln into Omaha. If we wanted to live in Omaha, we'd move sixty miles up the road.

No, Glenn, we don't want Omaha. We want to keep Lincoln friendly for the people who live here, not just developers and businesses. If you want uncontrolled growth and a city that is controlled by a few big businesses, and a city government that kowtows to those businesses, I suggest you move up the road a bit. And good luck to you.


SHOOTING OUR OWN PEOPLE?

The Iraqis have thrown the "rules of war" to the winds. Consdering that, from their point of view, they were invaded without provocation, that shouldn't be a surprise. Now it appears that they are getting their hands on US or "coalition" uniforms and approaching US forces and then attacking them, according to The Agonist. In response, our rules of the game have also changed. Sean-Paul of the Agonist says that
Because Iraqi forces have been found in American uniforms, rules of engagement have changed, officials say. If possible target not wearing a coalition chemical protection suit, and doing anything threatening to a coaltion soldier, officials say it is ok to fire on them.
We'll be killing our own people now. The Iraqis are bastards. We're bastards. The people who brought this war about -- Saddam Hussein, the Rumsfeld cabal -- are bastards. Jesus, what a disaster.

Where are the Iraqis who were supposed to greet us with flowers and waving American flags?

A MILITARY OFFICER'S ANALYSIS?

The Daily Kos has been running analysis by an anonymous contributor, referred to as "Officer X" in his daily commentary. I link to it for informational purposes.

I am not 100% convinced that Officer X is a field grade officer (a major or above). He does know something about military tactics and strategy but doesn't write as well as I would expect a professional officer to write. Still, his comments are thought provoking. On the other hand, so are the comments of my friends the Football Madman and Rennaisance Woman, whose comments I happily post.

Read them with however many grains of salt you require.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

TO THE BARRICADES QUIZ SHOW

Toss up question: Retired General Wesley Clark says that "there won't be a quick victory" in Iraq. For fifty points, name another war, planned by civilians and resisted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the time, where quick victory was initially promised, but failed and resulted in a long campaign with large numbers of American deaths.

Bonus question: An unnamed Pentagon official says that a Iraqi paramilitary organization appears to be larger, better organized, and is causing more problems for the US troops in Iraq than first anticipated. For another fifty points, name another country whose irregular forces were larger, better organized, and fought in non-traditional military tactics and killed thousands of US forces?

Jesus, people, it's only been thirty five years. Have we forgotten already?
ANOTHER REASON WHY IT'S GOOD TO BE THE VICE PRESIDENT

Since February 2000, Halliburton has had an office in Teheran, capitol of Axis of Evil country Iran. This won't come as a surprise to most news watchers. But I post this at the urging of my friend the Football Madman, who read my post about a Halliburton subsidiary getting the gig putting out Iraqi oil fires.

The office, according to the linked story, was opened while Dick Cheney was still CEO of Halliburton. Then Cheney became Vice President and now has to buy into the Axis of Evil.

Does anyone remember that Bush, during his most recent State of the Union address, told us that Iran is making progress internally?

This administration is rotten, rotten, rotten. It is killing our soldiers and Marines so Halliburton's stockholders can make a profit and continue to do so.

Imperium delenda est!
NATURE AGAIN

I could become a real nature freak.

Every morning I read the blogs and a few of the news websites and become depressed, being convinced that we face the End Of The World As We Know It. Then something happens to remind me that maybe it's not so bad; maybe there is Hope for the World.

A couple of cardinals are building a nest in the forsythia outside my window. Awwwww......
HALLIBURTON GETS LUCRATIVE IRAQ CONTRACT

A Halliburton subsidiary has been awarded a no-bid contract to extinguish oil well fires in Iraq. You will remember that the former CEO of Halliburton was one Dick Cheney, prior to his accepting his current post of deputy CEO of USA Enterprises. You will also remember that Cheney has been one of the most vocal of the proponents of the war in Iraq.

The President has asked for half a billion dollars for oilfield repair. There's nothing that specifically says all of this will go to Halliburton. However, the article says that after this announcement, Halliburton shares rose 54 cents, or 2.4%. It's good to have connections in high places.

I can't add anything to that. Except this: Six years ago Congress spent a great deal of time and millions of dollars investigating whether a former governor and sitting President had a questionable connection to a failed real estate deal. WHERE THE HELL ARE THE INVESTIGATORS NOW?!?!?!

Monday, March 24, 2003

GLENN FRIENDT, USMC?

Part of the GOP "shock and awe" campaign for Mayor in Lincoln right now is constant bombardment of the cable channels with Friendt ads showing what a nice guy he is. Reason: not many people know who he is, much less what a nice guy he is. The ads have a constant collage of pictures of him with a voiceover about Glenn. No substance of what he will do as mayor, just what a nice guy he is.

One picture that flashes by is a picture of Glenn in a Marine Corps dress uniform. It's certainly reasonable to think that Glenn is a Marine veteran, right? Well, let's look at the record. His official biography states that he served as a lance corporal (that's a private first class for you Army vets) in the Marine Corps reserves from 1965 to 1968. No active duty.

Does that mean Glenn Friendt isn't a veteran? You decide. In 1965, most Marines were going to Vietnam. Glenn Friendt was in the reserves and didn't make it past PFC. That's what the record says; his picture on the "shock and awe" commercial puts him on the same level with the guys who died in the rice paddys.

We on the Barricades think this is a bit of misdirection. And if he's capable of this kind of misdirection with regard to his military service, what will he be capable of as mayor?

Sunday, March 23, 2003

GERMANY THREATENS TO RESTRICT NATO OPERATIONS IN IRAQ FURTHER

According to the German daily newspaper Die Welt, the German government will pull its soldiers out of any AWACS reconnaissance operations in Turkey if the Turks enter into Iraq:
The Socialist - Green Party coalition [in Germany] will withdraw German soldiers from aircraft if there is any Turkish invasion.

The announcement by the socialist - Green government coalition to withdraw AWACS crews and Patriot missile crews threatened further to test the strength of the NATO alliance. This decision could endanger Turkey, a partner in NATO, from attacks by Iraq.

The security cabinet decided this weekend tat if there is a Turkish invasion, they would call back Bundeswehr soldiers from the NATO reconnaissance aircraft. Immediately prior to this, it was announced that about 1,000 Turkish soldiers were on the march into northern Iraq. The Turkish government denied the report.

"If Turkey takes military action in Iraq, it would result in a new situation that would lead to us withdrawing our German soldiers from the AWACS, despite months of political maneuvering." said Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Green Party). Defense Minister Peter Struck (Socialist Party of German) said that the same would apply to Patriot anti-aircraft missiles in Turkey [my translation]


Remember that there is a very large Turkish population in Germany, and that the Kurdish independence movement is quite active in Germany. The Turks in Germany are now in the second and third generation -- those who can vote and participate in German government. The Green/SPD coalition is treading a fine line: certainly the conservative Christian Democrats are no more going to support their Turkish minorities than the GOP will do for the Hispanic immigrant laborers in the meatpacking plants, and largely for the same reasons. However, if the Green/SPD coalition loses the support of the voting Turkish block, it will have to scramble to replace those votes.

Still, it's clear that no matter which way Germany goes, the US no longer is interested in holding NATO together. If the Germans pull their airmen from the AWACS, they can be replaced quickly by American GIs -- or even Turks, I suppose. We'll take anyone who's willing -- right, Dubya?

CALL ME PARANOID. . .

I'm not even going to try to keep up with the warblogging. Instead, I want to look beyond the immediate war itself. The current issue of The American Prospect seems to be dedicated to examining the motivation behind this war, and finds (as many of us have already found) that it's the first step in the "neo-conservative cabal's" (their words, not mine, according to the Prospect) plan to Rule The World . . . er, to make the U.S. truly the dominant power in the world.

Many writers have taken up this theme, from the New York Times to the Washington Post to the Atlanta Constitution. I've summarized some of the writings here.

But one underlying factor in all of these premises is that Bush will be re-elected, and that after Bush will come another, similarly minded conservative president. What happens if the Democrats manage to convince the country that the shambles Bush has made of the economy outweigh his success (if it succeeds) in Iraq? What happens if, horror of horrors, not only a Democrat but a liberal Democrat gets elected -- like Howard Dean?

We've already seen that the Rumsfeld - Cheney - Wolfowitz cabal is willing to throw international agreements and law to the winds when it suits them. We see that John Ashcroft happily plays very close to the edge -- and over it -- with Constitutional protections when it comes to "fighting terrorism." So let me ask the question that I haven't seen asked yet:

Will the "cabal" take steps to prevent or nullify an election that removes them from power?

The Constitution doesn't have any provision for suspending its provisions for elections and change of presidencies. We even held an election during the Civil War, and it went forward peacefully. We did the same during the Second World War, and kept Roosevelt in office, but again, without any controversey. Note, too, that the goals of the neocons cannot be accomplished through Congress -- warmaking and diplomacy (if you can call it that) is the office of the President. So the bottom line is this: the neocons need a president. And Bush is their boy right now. If they are to succeed, they need to have a president for a long time -- maybe more than eight years; certainly more than two. So if the election looks like it's going to the Democrats, one who won't follow the goal of the "Pax Americana," they have to do something or lose everything they've worked for so long. Either they have to make sure the Democrat loses, or they have to stop the election altogether.

Don't laugh. Three years ago I didn't want to believe that Bush's election was anything but a fluke. Now I am beginning to wonder. Three months ago I was defending Chuck Hagel and his connection to the company that makes voting machines, saying "Chuck would never do anything like that! [use that connection to throw an election]" Maybe Chuck wouldn't -- but Perle or Karl Rove would, in a New York minute. They are following a "higher calling" that, in their minds, means that little things like legalities shouldn't get in the way of the ultimate goal of bringing America's rule of law to all the world.

Richard Nixon is in heaven right now.