Iraq War

Just moments ago I came in the door after a morning run. Greeting me at the top step of the stairway of my apartment was my Pitbull Marcus. I hadn’t been this happy to see him in a while.

Marcus woke me up by vomiting this morning. The moron had broken into a Ziploc bag containing his dog food (despite his earlier dinner) and hours later, had to let it out some way.

I cleaned up the barf (really makes me wonder why anyone wants kids) and put on my shoes for a run.

Crossing Madison Avenue I noticed a headline on our local paper, the Times Union. Apparently now a paper known for its restraint is handicapping a war or at least the chances of one.

More than 50 years ago Mohammed Mossadeg, the aging, bird-like but grandfatherly president of Iran made his first transatlantic flight to address the United Nations. The issue he was here for, one on the minds of so many Iranians: The right to protect their national interest and get a fair return on the oil pumped from their land by a heartless company based in the dying British Empire. Michael Kirzner’s All the Shah’s Men, a fabulous book, recounted the secular president’s trip as one of do or die consequence. If the United Nations could not understand how a sovereign nation could demand better treatment of its workers on its own oil fields operated by a foreign state-run petroleum company bent on withholding as much in dignity as in money, then his country was surely doomed.

A cane-carrying Mossadeg, erudite but emotional, kind but stern, made his appeal to the newly formed world body, a passionate address in which he urged member nations to see the plight of underpaid workers and the sorry state of his country, which had long been dominated by imperial interests. Tears streamed Mossadeg’s face, newspapers reported. A subsequent meeting between him and U.S. President Harry S. Truman was pleasant and Truman urged the leader to stay a few days longer while he negotiated with the British to no avail. Mossadeq left the U.S. embittered and broken. Within two years he was arrested in a U.S.-backed coup d’etat brokered by a lukewarm Dwight Eisenhower and lived out the rest of his life under house arrest, a broken man.

Former CIA director George Tenet is now passing the buck for Iraq back towards Dick Cheney, probably the war’s biggest supporter. In a new book written by the ex-spy chief, Tenet argues that Cheney, former Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz and others within the Bush administration mishandled the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Saddam Hussein did indeed possess unconventional weapons and misused his “slam dunk” statement to support the weapons surveillance.

Tenet’s book, certainly not the first from a former administration official or ally, unfortunately serves as another example of someone directly involved with the war passing the buck up the chain of command. So much do people do that that it seems no one wants to take responsibility for this garbage. Cheney, several months ago during one of his softball batting practice sessions with Tim Russert, asserted that he had been influenced by the national intelligence estimate so much as to support the invasion.

Well see what happens. Naturally, this book will be all the chatter, but isn’t it just another example of people washing their hands of what is rightfully their responsibility. This attitude of exculpation has come from active war supporters including Colin Powell and Richard Pearl.

This however all comes as the Democratic House of Representatives considers issuing more subpoenas to the Bush administration for documents and testimony relating to U.S. Attorney firings as well as well as pre-war intelligence.

It seems as if the mankind is hurling towards the destruction at a faster rate each day. People remain willfully ignorant of the things in life that actually threaten our survival: CO2, nuclear proliferation, overpopulation and warfare. Objective analysis is met with derisive, incendiary, criticism and insults. Suddenly experts; scientists, researchers, doctors and the like are subject to insults and paranoia for expressing the profound but nevertheless accurate opinions that things as they are are not really benefiting our survival. Anything besides the merits of their argument becomes fodder for people who make a living off of trashing others.

Nothing offends my sense of fairness more than the fact that morons I’m sorry, I’m trying to be positive, foolish people, become experts on things for which they are either a: totally lacking in knowledge about or b: have a subjective pre-determined opinion on that upholds their livelihood. In other words, asking Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity to give a fair analysis of the mounds of legitimate evidence for global warming caused by CO2 is probably not a good idea if you’re looking for a way of getting towards the truth.

Some day will we look back on ourselves and wonder why we blindly followed foolish people into a ditch? If we have conscience enough to recognize that, I suppose we will really hate ourselves. As water pours into our houses from flooding we’ll say, “Fuck, I shouldn’t have listened to Ann Coulter as a rational scientific source. ”

Will we listen to our voices of reason after the next terrorist attack against us and say, “Shit, Laura Ingraham was only speaking out of her ass when she said we could end terror by having a war with Iraq.”

I kinda hope not, so that way we wont be aware that all the while we were fucking ourselves.

This last weekend, Pope Benedict XVI told Easter celebrants at St. Peter’s Square that the war in Iraq was a futile mess. This isn’t the Pope’s first statement as such. Being a big believer in collective security and global cooperation, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke out against the war two years before he was elevated to become the Bishop of Rome. Nevertheless, Benedict has a rational viewpoint on the war which he has expressed. He has a religious viewpoint on the war which he has expressed as well. But he’s not a Hollywood guy, not a musician or an athlete, so it’s unlikely anyone will turn on him. He represents very conservative interests too. We wont hear Michelle Malkin calling him a moonbat anytime soon, which is the right wing insult it seems to be hurled at anyone with a point lately.

Is Benedict at filthy hippie? I hardly think so. Just because he is Pope doesn’t make his opinion sacrosanct, but let’s face it, this is a very smart man who has spent so much of his life in academia. He has studied the European Union and has a knowledge of how things work in the world, certainly much more than Jonah Goldberg or any other chickenhawk out there. I haven’t heard the hue and cry about Benedict’s opposition to the war yet from Hannity or O’Reilly. They don’t have the guts to take him on. Not that Benedict would have to defend himself, but I’m sure many Catholics would take umbrage with these guys attacking him.

During his Easter Sunday address to thousands of Catholic faithful, our Pope, Benedict XVI, mentioned the futility of the ongoing war in Iraq. I have provided a news story about the pontiff’s address. Pope Benedict has been a vocal critic of the war since his days as Cardinal. Benedict called into the question the morality of preventative or preemptive war and has caught the ire of many people for that. I’m proud that my Pope, like his predecessor, John Paul II, can speak strongly on the matter in Iraq. All Christians–even Protestants and Orthodox–should be grateful that there are Christian leaders throughout the world who are willing to speak up on this matter so bluntly. God Bless us all this year and thank you Benedict for your words. I only wonder why so-called conservatives such as Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh haven’t turned on this guy. The second a celebrity speaks out against the war they’re trashed. What about the leader of the largest Christian body in the world? The thing is, these men are cowards. None could hold a candle to the decency and integrity of Il Papa. On this day of the Resurrection (sp.), I’m proud to call Benedict my Pope.

Pope: ‘Nothing positive’ from Iraq

By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 30 minutes ago

In an Easter litany of the world’s suffering, Pope Benedict XVI lamented that “nothing positive” is happening in Iraq and decried the unrest in Afghanistan and bloodshed in Africa and Asia.

“How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world,” the pontiff told tens of thousands gathered Sunday at St. Peter’s Square on what is Christianity’s most joyful feast day.

Benedict, delivering his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” Easter address from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, read out a long list of troubling current events, saying he was thinking of the “terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons.”

“Afghanistan is marked by growing unrest and instability,” Benedict said. “In the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees.”

He singled out what he called the “catastrophic, and sad to say, underestimated humanitarian situation” in Darfur as well as other African places of suffering, including violence and looting in Congo, fighting in Somalia — which, he said, drove away the prospect of peace — and the “grievous crisis” in Zimbabwe, marked by crackdowns on dissidents, a disastrous economy and severe corruption.


The following is an excerpted opinion column by Bishop Gabino Zavala, an auxiliary with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, published in Catholic Peace Voice, a publication of PAX Christi USA, the Catholic peace organization.

In November 2006, the president of the United State Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB), Bishop William S. Skylstad, issued the statement, “A Call for Dialogue and Action on Responsible Transition in Iraq.” In it, the Catholic bishops of the United States expressed our prayers and concerns for our military personnel in Iraq, as well as the suffering people of Iraq, “who are also our sisters and brothers and deserve our care and solidarity.”

This important statement also noted: “The Holy See and our Bishops’ Conference have repeatedly expressed grave moral concerns about military intervention in Iraq and the unpredictable and uncontrollable negative consequences of invasion and occupation.”

We have witnessed many of those negative consequences come to fruition: deadly sectarian violence engulfing the Shia and Sunni communities; the justification by our leaders of the concept of preventive war; the practice of torture and abuse of prisoners and detainees; and the evermore precarious safety of the men and women who serve int eh U.S. military.

In addition, the bishops urged that “the Administration and the new Congress need to engage in a collaborative dialogue that honestly assesses the situation in Iraq, acknowledges past difficulties and miscalculations, recognizes and builds on positive advancdes, and reaches agreement on concrete steps to address ther seirous challenges that lie ahead.”

The statement also offered this: “Our nations’ military forces should remain in Iraq only as long as their presence contributes to a responsible transition.”

This last point is my starting point. I would offer that our presence in Iraq has long passed the capacity to contribute to anything positive.

Even with the president’s desire for a new “surge” of troops in Iraq, our soldiers are unable to stop the deepening spiral of violence. It is time to bring our occupation of Iraq to an end.

This is not to say that we are to ignore our responsibility for the destruction and chaos that has been unleashed. But a U.S. presence, front and center, is breeding hatred that will punctuate our world for generations. Even a CIA study concluded months ago that, in effect, this war and occupation is creating terrorism, not stopping it.


More than four years after the invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation of a formerly sovereign–albeit corrupt and dictatorial nation–the United States has lost more than 3,100 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors in the conflict. Compared to the numbers of my father and grandfather’s conflicts, Vietnam and World War II respectively, the totals of American dead are much less. In comparison to the the combined combatant deaths of the American Civil War (1861-65), the amount of armed forces personnel is miniscule, less than 1 percent, in fact.

Taken into consideration that the total loss of American life in Iraq, which includes armed forces personnel, private contractors, public officials and journalists,  is relatively low, Americans who support the war tend to write off the sacrafice that is paid in life.

On their syndicated radio programs, both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have used the comparatively low armed forces deaths as a rebuke towards the anti-war movement.

Limbaugh cites scurilous statistics to conclude that an Army soldier is safer in Baghdad than he or she is in the streets of crime-plauged American cities such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Not only does this reasoning cheat Americans of a fair analysis of the War in Iraq, it is also wholly irrelevant. Our is a nation based upon the Enlightenment principles of reason and intellect, not simply emotion. Our joy and tears should take a back seat to the objective measurement of cost and benefit.

Wars are not fought with the consideration of the soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines fighting them, but of the compelling national interest that would motivate Congress to pay to send people into harm’s way–the Constitution in particular.

As long as a war in Iraq is fought the troops will and must be a consideration. The problem is however, that both sides treat armed forces personnel like children and until they stop doing that an objective analysis of the war and its costs will scarcely be considered.


A neat column from the Web site encapsulates a lot of my feelings on Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas reaffirms his longstanding opposition to this affair and offers a good critique of the spending bill passed last week by the House, which added more than $120 billion in spending to the mess. (more…)

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