Friday, April 27, 2007

The Best With the Least

Isn't it a basic truth in politics that those with the best things to say have the least money to say it with? Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska are clearly the front runners in content and appear to have the least amount of campaign funding to share their views.

After the Democratic presidential candidate debate in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Gravel made a comment that spoke to a basic fault line in political funding. Meeting the press directly after the debate, Gravel said he regretted that debate moderator Brian Williams had not asked about hedge funds.
“Every one of those people except Kucinich is taking hedge fund money. Hedge fund money is the manipulation of the economy overseas and nobody knows anything about it…. If the world economy tanks, it’s going to be because of the hedge funds.”

The deeply perverting impact of political fund raising is highlighted in Gravel's remarks.


The presidential debate was revealing in many ways. First of all it revealed the bias towards the so-called "front runners" who have the giant campaign war chests. The format was definitely targeted to the candidates with not all candidates being asked the same questions. Therefore certain "presidential" questions, like "What would you do if two American cities were attacked by terrorists on the same day?", were only asked of Obama, Clinton, and Edwards, as if they were the only ones capable of answering that question.

Still, even with the biased questioning process, the candidates did reveal themselves.

Our hero Dennis Kucinich ably presented the reality check of the debate. Though former Senator Gravel was energetic and refreshingly feisty and mostly there with the right points, none of the other candidates, even Gravel, would dare to support Kucinich's call for the impeachment of Vice-President Cheney. This showed that only Kucinich is in touch with the American people and the other candidates are still without the moral courage to do the right thing. By refusing to indicate that Cheney should be held accountable Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Dodd, Gravel, and Richardson all show their contempt for holding elected official responsible for lying to the American public to start an illegal war.

Clinton was asked if she agreed with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comment that the war is lost, and typical of Clinton, she dodged the question and didn't say whether she agreed or not, whether the war is lost or not. Gravel had the courage to say clearly and correctly, "This war was lost the day that George Bush invaded Iraq on a fraudulent basis."

Clinton said, again, that if she knew then what she knows now she would have voted differently, and Kucinich said that is no excuse because all the information was available then to everyone, and that is why he voted against the war. He said,
"If you made the wrong choice, we're here auditioning to be President of the United States, people have to see who had the judgement and the wisdom not to go to war in the first place. ... This isn't American Idol here, we're choosing a President and we have to look at the audition that occurred in 2003... and my colleagues here made the wrong decision."
This is the point that makes the most sense in deciding my choice. Edwards is to be congratulated for saying he is sorry for his mistaken vote, but Clinton won't even say her vote was a mistake. Only Kucinich can say he has consistently voted against the war and funding it and had ability to correctly analyze the situation and vote accordingly.

Gravel, of course hasn't been in the Senate in the last 10 years or so, and he should get full credit for pointing to Clinton, Obama, Edwards, and Biden for saying that nukes are on the table against Iran. Gravel said that was an immoral position.

Edwards says he does live a "privileged and blessed lifestyle" but we should remember his humble roots because he remembers them. This highlights a problem with Edwards' in that he equates his privilege with being blessed. Being privileged does not mean one is blessed. To see wealth and privilege as signs of being blessed is a core problem with most religious belief systems.

Kucinich said he wants to remove war as an instrument of policy. This is the fundamental problem that the "front runners" won't address as a systemic problem arising from the military-industrial complex because they are beholding to that war-money-making machine.

The "debate" mostly was not an actual debate in the sense of addressing each other's positions except for a few brief exciting moments such as when Gravel pointed to the candidates who immorally threaten the use of nuclear weapons against Iran by using codes phrases like "no option is off the table". But still, there is a lot information provided in the forum provided by MSNBC. No one can be a responisible voter without doing the homework of comparing the candidates.

Kucinich alluded to the biggest problem in elections, which is that too many voters approach them like a vote for American Idol and actually pick a candidate based on how he or she dresses or how attractive the person is, or they vote for the one they think has "the best chance of winning." If people really voted for the candidate that they thought expressed the greatest convergence with their own views, then I think Kucinich would have a real chance.

A Low for Charlie Rose

On April 26, 2007, Charlie Rose interviewed General David Petraeus. I have seen some pretty bad interviews by Charlie Rose, but the interview with General Petraeus was the worst in recent memory. The fawning obsequiousness that Rose showed to this Washington-Pentagon mouthpiece who would say anything to get his paycheck was an example of the worst kind of Washington inside the beltway back slapping that passes for journalism. That Rose would not ask a single challenging question nor would he do anything but accept the pablum being offered was so sad to see.

This interview ranks with Dan Rather saying that he would march to any directions the President gave him at the beginning of the war. This is a perfect example of the belly-up cowardice of the major media passed on the presidential propaganda leading up to the war on Iraq without so much as a whisper of doubt. Rose shows he has not learned a single lesson from the four years of war on Iraq.

Charlie Rose clearly was setting up the General with puff questions and made it obvious that Rose accepts 100% the baloney that the Bush administration is saying through their mouthpiece General Petraeus. Charlie Rose should read on the air the short excerpts from the 1933 speech of Major General Smedley D. Butler who wrote a longer version in pamphlet form "War is a Racket". That would do more to inform the American People than ten hours of General Petraeus.

In contrast to Rose's providing a platform for the president's propaganda, the recent program of Bill Moyers Journal titled "Buying the War" on the cheer leading by the media leading up to the war is the story of the journalists like Charlie Rose who aide and abet the lying criminal activity of this villainous president.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The War IS Lost

Harry Reid, US Senate majority leader, is right: the War in Iraq is lost.

"This war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week."

He's late in coming to the realization, but in this case, better late than never. Also the War in Afghanistan is lost. And based on its flawed conception from the beginning, Bush's whole phony "War on Terrorism" was lost from day one.

Bush's inchoate wars on the world are so bizarre that they can only be grasped under the category of truth is stranger than fiction.

Today's example of the lost war in Iraq is the BBC story Bombs hit Baghdad police station

Two car bombs have exploded at a police station in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing at least 12 people and wounding about 82 others, police say.
The attack took place in the southern, mainly Shia neighbourhood of Bayaa.

The first bomber sped through a checkpoint before exploding his car in front of the station, the other detonated his car at the checkpoint.

So much for Bush's "surge" strategy which is all public relations and no reality check. Yet Bush has the continuing unmitigated insanity to state in the face of the facts that his surge is "meeting expectations". Whose, expectations? It must be the private expectations of his perverted fantasy world, because it is not the expectations he has voiced to the American people that are being met.

There is no basis to believe that the surge strategy of adding 30,000 troops to a lost war is going to turn it into victory. The surge of bombings is winning.

An average of 80-90 Americans die each month. And US personnel have just had their tours extended by another three months.

But, as it has always been since the 2003 invasion, it is the Iraqis who suffer most.

No-one knows the exact figures, but at the end of another week of unspeakable, random carnage, hundreds more Iraqi families are grieving.

There is just no way that a US "surge" of any amount of troops, even 300,000, can "win" this war. Why? Because even if 500,000 troops are inserted into the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it will never defeat the spirit of the people of Iraq for self determination. The most that can ever be accomplished by Bush's war of occupation is to turn Iraq into a prison nation under lock down.

In fact this is exactly the US strategy, as it is building the first prison wall around the Sunni enclave of Adhamiya:

US troops in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, are building a wall around the Sunni district of Adhamiya, which is surrounded by Shia communities.
The 5km (three-mile) concrete wall is part of a strategy to "break the cycle of sectarian violence", a US military spokesman said.

At least two more walls are on the drawing board demonstrating only that the twisted imaginations of the Bush administration know no bounds.

Why the surge won't work is clearly evidenced in the occupation scenario. The police who must have the support of a sufficient number of Iraqis to be credible simple cannot establish the requisite level of credibility while they are tied to the hip of an invading and occupying army. As the story about bombs hitting the police station clearly describes:

Police stations are often targeted by insurgents who say officers are betraying the country by working alongside government and US-led forces.

The only way to take away the rationale for attacking the police is to remove the US forces from the equation.

This is not occupied Japan with an Emperor who can maintain continuity and cohesion for the people during the rebuilding process. This is not Germany, divided and occupied by four conquering armies and totally devastated and shocked by its own attack on the rest of the world with a population feeling the guilt of its hubris and defeat.

Iraqis did not attack the world. They didn't attack anyone. They have not one iota of a national sense of defeat caused by their own military adventurism that would provide the mitigating factor to accept the humiliation from the presence of an occupying army. There is no point at this stage in discussing what the US might have done to make a transition possible. The US didn't protect the government structure or the public infrastructure and, instead, allowed wide spread looting of every public facility except the Oil Ministry, including hospitals and museums. Under that scenario after May 2003 the US has had no subsequent ability to appear credible by continuing the occupation.

Today, the only realistic and moral plan is to withdraw immediately and leave the Iraqis to be allowed to settle their own affairs. The war against Hussein was won quickly, but on the other hand, by a complete lack of planning and foresight, the war of occupation against the Iraqi people was lost quickly. This war is still lost. Now we owe the Iraqis reparation funds. We do not owe them an occupying army that only prevents reconstruction and reconciliation.

ADDENDUM 4/27/07
Last night I watched "Afghanistan: The Other War" from Frontline/World, and this story clearly demonstrates why the war in Afghanistan is as lost as the war in Iraq. The program is centered about a NATO unit attempting to make friends with a local village. Everything that could go wrong goes wrong. It is a completely updated demonstration of the old army slang SNAFU ("situation normal, all f**ked up").

A Canadian NATO unit comes to the Afghan village Elbak and makes wants to "win the hearts and minds" of the people. They promise to fix 12 generators used for pumping water. Well they couldn't find or buy the parts, such as spark plugs, anywhere and only end up fixing two. Then they set up a medical treatment day and announce it in the area only to have to close the clinic early with people standing in line wating for their children to see the doctors because, as they announce, they have run out of medications.

Then a US Special Forces unit comes into the area without consulting with the NATO unit and pick up a villager as a suspected Taliban. The villages vouch for the man to the Canadian NATO unit that is there to "make friends" and ask them to get the man released, but the NATO sergeant says she has no authority with the US unit. This of course highlights the complete absurdity of having two separate commands in the same area and demonstrates the fundamental inability of the war makers to understand how to "win" a war of occupation against indigenous resistance fighters. Failing any reasonable ability to "win" they have already lost.

Another more fundamental and completely misunderstood element of the war is that the NATO unit came to the village with the goal of working with the village so the people there would "be on our side" in the war. Words fail to describe the compete idiocy of the premise. From Alexander the Great to Ghengis Khan to NATO, thousands of years of history tell the tale of a people who have watched invading armies pass through. These people are smart enough to be "on the side" of the current invading army, whether they are NATO, US Special Forces, or the Taliban. The moronic notion that fixing some generators and giving a day of medical care (even if they were successful, which they weren't) will cause a people "choose a side" is so completely beyond any historical reality check that one wonders how these people waging war were able to travel the thousands of miles to get there in the first place.

Then to top it all off, after several weeks of setting up a temporary fort outside the village, the NATO unit is told to withdraw and go elsewhere completely taking down Camp Martello as if it was never there. The narrator laments the fact that this is now going to leave the village wide open and defenseless to Taliban retaliation for having cooperated with the invading army. One of the military people says what a shame it is that the villages "brought this on themselves" completely transferring the responsibility for their impending doom to the villagers who had no say in the NATO forces coming in the first place and no say in their departure.

The war in Afghanistan is as lost as the war in Iraq because the war makers are completely clueless about what it is that they are doing there and have no workable or reasonable plan for their presence.