Sunday, September 21, 2014

AGAIN?

Americans have been called a nation of sheep, easily frightened and quick to look for a leader who will promise to conquer those fears.  They have an even more troubling tendency and that is how they refuse to learn from history and keep repeating the same mistakes with the misguided belief this time America's military might can defeat the boogey man and everyone can get back to watching men beat themselves into an early grave on Sundays and beat their significant other or progeny on Monday.

     I want to scream.  5,000 dead in Iraq and a couple hundred thousand wounded and broken.  1,000 dead in Afghanistan and tens of thousands wounded or broken.  Iraq and Afghanistan are dysfunctional and failed nations where religion and tribe are more important than nationalism.  We were told after September 11, the way to conquer our fear of terrorists...the way to strike back at those who attacked us...the way to prevent the bad guys from getting over more deadly weapons was to invade and conquer Afghanistan and Iraq.  We were told we could turn them into western democracies and that the people would welcome our assistance.  We were told the citizens of those two nations just needed our help to train them and then they would be able to defeat their enemies.

     Over 70% of Americans now say Afghanistan and Iraq were not worth the effort.  Pundits declared a new period of isolationism in this country.  Americans want problems here at home fixed...create more jobs...open up access to college...a payroll tax holiday...rebuild our crumbling infrastructure..stop being the world's policeman.  President Obama has been using this playbook for the last six years.  What a maroon!  Americans now say the President is too soft, and not aggressive enough in his foreign policy.  He is weak and after being horrified by videos of some gruesome executions by ISIS, the majority of Americans now want us to strike back.  Being no fool, Obama declares a long, open-ended campaign against the terrorist threat.  We are even told these terrorists represent a direct threat to this nation's security.  Lest anyone get too concerned, despite this imminent threat, we are told we aren't going to start Iraq War 3.0...no boots on the ground by the president.  Really?  Do you believe him?  Have you ever heard of the concept of incrementalism?

     It started with extra soldiers to guard American embassies and consulates in Iraq.  (150-300) Then, we needed troops on the ground to coordinate air attacks, identify targets, liaison with Kurdish and Iraqi forces.  (400?)  Then we are told about Special Forces being used to identify more targets and help train Iraqis (300) and all of a sudden there are as many as 1,000 American combat soldiers in Iraq.  They are there to defeat ISIS despite the fact no one can define what either victory or defeat would look like.

     Now, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has testified in front of the Senate that if the fighting in Iraq grows more difficult, we will need to put more combat troops on the ground in Iraq serving on the front lines alongside Iraqi military forces.  Gee.  I wonder what will happen then?

     What will John McCain, Lindsey Graham, every Republican presidential candidate, Dick Cheney and the gang say if ISIS kills American soldiers?  What will the American people do if an American soldier is executed horribly by ISIS?  If a battle is going badly, will the Pentagon hesitate to send in the cavalry?  How many?  For how long?  At what cost?  If ISIS retreats into Syria with American prisoners will the military be ordered to invade to get them back and defeat ISIS?  Are you sensing a pattern yet?  Regressive Republicans are frothing at the mouth at the thought of another fight...another bite at the Iraqi apple and they will clamor for another use of force vote in Congress.  Remember the last one?  Remember how Hillary, John Edwards, John Kerry and all but 23 Democratic senators voted?

     The Pentagon has issued an assessment of Iraqi military forces and essentially says they are useless.  They couldn't beat the Little Sisters of the Poor at Parcheesi.  They won't fight to save their own country.  (Much the same situation exists in Afghanistan)  Dempsey says American boots may be needed on the ground in Iraq "...if the fighting grows more difficult."  What do you think are the odds ISIS will kick Iraqi ass and we will be told the only thing that will save them, and of course save the United States, is for American combat troops to turn the tide.  This would be great satire if it wasn't so tragic and a recipe for disaster...again.

     The cherry on the top of this particular cake is a statement last week by Moqutada Sadr saying if American troops return to Iraq, his Sadr brigade will fight them again.  American soldiers would be caught between Sunni ISIS and Shiite Sadr and once again would be in the middle of an unwinnable civil war.

     You have it in your power to stop this in its tracks now.  It's an election year.  American politicians have to be gob smacked about the head and arms by constituents telling them there will be no vote on the use of force.  Obama has to hear loud and clear there is no grey area...no wiggle room...incrementalism will not be allowed.  Will Americans once again be frightened into wasting blood and treasure on a fool’s errand?

   Stop it now!  Write, call or email Hillary and ask her what her position are vis-à-vis Dempsey’s comments.  Will she once again cave to political expediency like she did in 2002?  Is she afraid of being accused of being soft on ISIS?  Didn't she say in an interview in the Atlantic Obama is too soft and not aggressive enough and she would arm "moderate" Syrians (whatever that means) and support a more focused Iraqi response?  Let the White House know how dangerous this incremental ratcheting up of force truly is.  We already know what the Republicans will say.  Are we going to stumble and bumble and create monsters in the night so that once again we will commit America to an unwinnable strategy?


     I sit here amazed, aghast and agog to be writing about a new military adventure in Iraq because Americans are pissed at the brutality and immorality of ISIS.  Is it possible they have publicized all of this brutality just to evoke this exact response and lure us into an intractable situation?  Are they using Iraq and Syria as a tar baby?  When will we ever learn...when will we ever learn?

9 comments:

  1. If you're too lazy or feel you are not articulate enough, simply copy and paste this blog .. and in the subject line write something like, "I agree with this man!!". Easy. Done and done.

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  2. Amen, Bernie. Can't wait for you to say it from the the podcast mountain top--can't wait to hear your voice again. Be well, stay strong, and for crying out loud, get your podcasts (and broadcast program!) going ASAP!!
    Best,
    Chuck Miller

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  3. Hey Bernie,
    Just want to leave this site with you if that's ok.and you don't know about it already. It's telling it like it is as you used to do every night! My best wishes and mantras go with you. An old (really old) listener and fan. http://bordellopianist.blogspot.com/
    Cheers, Jim Daley(pseudonym)

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  4. Americans are a nation of sheep. We Americans lack resilience that even third world countries have. I think it's the RepubliKKKLan party that is wrong with America. I love my country, but I hate the cancerous RepubliKKKLan party and right-wing leaning media. I want to scream too Bernie.

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  5. Bernie, as the years go by, I am inspired again and again by your persistence in communicating with us despite *limitations* on your freedom.
    Let me share here Jeremy Scahill's latest from Democracy Now today.
    I'll post a link for those who can bring up the program
    and I'll post the transcript here also for those who can only read but not view.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2014/10/3/jeremy_scahill_on_obamas_orwellian_war

    To talk more about the crisis in the Middle East, we’re joined by Jeremy Scahill, who first reported from inside Iraq before the 2003 U.S. invasion. He’s co-founder of the TheIntercept.org and author of the book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. The paperback version of the book has just been published.

    Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Jeremy.
    Talk about the war in Syria and Iraq now.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, first of all, it’s sort of like the terrorist flavor of the month that we’re dealing with here. You know, first we had al-Qaeda as this huge global threat. Then it was ISIS. And then the Khorasan group was produced. And the thing is, almost no one in Syria had ever heard of the Khorasan group. In fact, my understanding is that it was a term that was sort of used in the U.S. intelligence community and actually isn’t the name of the people that they claim to be attacking.

    And what the entire policy boils down to is that the Obama administration has, in a very Orwellian way, changed the definition of commonly understood terms—primarily, the term "imminent." They were saying that the Khorasan group represented an imminent threat to the United States. But we know from a leaked white paper, that was put out in advance of John Brennan’s confirmation to be the CIA director, that the Justice Department actually has officially changed the definition of the word "imminent" so that it does not need to involve an immediate threat against the United States, that it could be a perception that maybe one day these individuals could possibly attempt to plot—not even carry out—a terrorist attack against the United States. That flimsy justification has been used now to expand this war from Iraq to Syria, potentially beyond.

    You know, the Obama administration, in engaging in this policy, is continuing a Bush administration outcome of the decision to invade Iraq. And that is, they’re empowering the very threat that they claim to be fighting. Who is ISIS? What is this group made up of? Is it just people that are radical Islamists that want to behead American journalists? No. One of the top—and this almost is never mentioned in corporate media coverage of this—one of the top military commanders of ISIS is a man named Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri al-Takriti. Who is Izzat Ibrahim? Izzat Ibrahim is the leading Baathist, who was on the deck of cards, that the United States has not captured. He was one of Saddam Hussein’s top military commanders. He was not just some ragamuffin Baathist. He actually was a hardcore general in the Iraqi military during the Iran-Iraq War, and he was a secular Baathist.

    Why is he fighting with ISIS? Well, when Bush decided to invade Iraq, and then he put Paul Bremer, who was a radical neocon ideologue who had cut his teeth working for Henry Kissinger—when Paul Bremer was put in charge of the occupation of Iraq, one of the first things he did was to fire 250,000 Iraqi soldiers simply because they were members of the Baath Party. As one senior U.S. official at the time said, it was the day we made a quarter of a million enemies in Iraq. All of these Baathists have been jerked around by the United States, and the Sunnis in western Iraq, jerked around by the United States for a very long time. There was the period of the so-called surge, where the U.S. actually paid Sunnis not to kill the United States, you know, U.S. soldiers. And so, but then the U.S. turned around and put in power a Shiite-led government under Nouri al-Maliki that effectively operated a network of death squads that systematically attacked Sunnis.

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  6. Dear Bernie,
    I'm the guy who writes you on how incensed I've been over your conviction for doing virtually nothing. I've just heard an interesting interview on Terry Gross's great program, "Fresh Air" (Oct. 15, on NPR) of the author of an article in the Nov. Atlantic Monthly on the kids sexting scandals. Besides showing the existence of absurd laws about this practice it relates the trials and tribulations experienced by kids hassled by law enforcement for very innocent adolescent antics on email and the internet. The Atlantic site has an article on this :
    "Hysteria Over Sexting Reaches Peak Absurdity" which I commend to you along with the above article in the Atlantic.
    I look forward to your upcoming release and even hope you might begin an exoneration campaign (maybe using change.org as an initial platform).
    I usually write as "Jim Daley" - not my real name - but my real email address is technocrat2@juno.com, on which you can feel free to contact me, if desired.
    I wish you Godspeed in the coming months and hope to hear about your new efforts in this rapidly changing world. Many regards, "Jim"

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  7. Bernie,
    When do we get to hear from you again?
    Your insight to the travesties and failures of our system leaves me spellbound.
    Peace to you Bernie...

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  8. Hey Bernie, I drove a million miles listening to your wisdom, so when I found this site I thought Id drop a line. I am 58 and have clearly seen the crazy decisions made by our leaders as well as voters. How can we have possibly reelected George Bush. When that happened I was convinced we as a country are lost. The world wide damage of our strike on Iraq after we had disarmed th.em was a fifty year setback in world relations. I am absolutely sure that we have no military business in any of the Middle East countries. Those folks are backassward and it is there responsibility to defeat those bullies. Who made us the world Police, I liked it much better when were spreading medical aid and food to third world countries . But now its weapons and soldiers......our spoiled babies are paying with their lives in total disbelief and ignorance of the truth.

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  9. man...i'd have loved to hear what you'd say after last night's joke of an election. though maybe the most interesting response would be a non-address of it. at least for the 2 hours of show, then the 3rd would be an all-out WTF is wrong with the American people session. i'm still really amazed at how many regressive, unappealing and MEAN individuals won high office, even though I shouldn't be, considering we don't have much choice. Decent policies like weed legalization and the increase of the minimum wage in various places were positive; I think most people want those things. But they elected politicians who are hard-line regressives who are determined to push the average worker into slave wages, feudalism, pushing back women's rights(at this point it wouldn't surprise me if not only right-to-chose was taken away, but also the right-to-vote, not unlike how in Fascist Italy those rights that were new were suddenly revoked by Mussollini), cutting funds to everything save for war-making, and basically everything negative. I guess the system ALLOWED us since the overwhelming majority want policy changes and to deny that would probably cause a mass-revolt. Though actually, I doubt that would happen. I kept waiting for one since 2000, and then the Stupid Wars of 2003 onward, still waiting. I wonder when the best time is to jump ship before it takes us all.

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