Thursday, December 15, 2005

On the second day of Fitmas.....

Nevermind the Christmas vs. Holidays vs. Chanukah vs. Kwanzaa debate. The second day of Fitmas is coming! Decorate your Fitmas tree with all your indictment wishes.

For those of you who are really annoyed by the whole made up "War on Christmas", why not send an email to the concerned women for america ( It was one of their spokesMen who recently compared people that say Happy Holidays to nazis.

Here's the text from my email (short and to the point):

Happy Holidays!

How's you're War on Chanukah going?

peace on earth
goodwill towards men (and women)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An outline for an UnHoly war

Balled up in the Fetal position, I watched as the campaigner in chief made his first in a series of "stay the course" and "progress in Iraq" speeches and read the bush pamphlet "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" or as I like to call it "An outline on nation building". There were a couple of new twists. The word "insurgents" has morphed, like so many rationales for war, into "the enemy" (rummy ran blocker on this one) and made up words like "rejectionists" and "saddamists". The no responsibility president almost admitted mistakes with statements like "we've faced some setbacks" and that "we learned from our early experiences." But most striking to me was the display of emotion when quoting a victim of his War in Iraq. The president held back the tears when quoting a letter left "on the laptop" of Corporal Jeff Star, getting choked up on the words "I'm here helping these people so they can live the way we live".

"I'm here helping these people so they can live the way we live."

Does that sound imperial to anybody else? Coupled with the old "you're either with us or you're against us" it sounds a little like the "god warrior" from trading spouses. Now, the bigger war of "ideologies" (AKA War on Terrorism) may have started with the attack on the US on September 11th, though it is argued that it started long before with previous attacks by "terrorists" or by US foriegn policies. Regardless of its beginning, the president of the United States seems to truly believe in its extension. He believes that the world would be better off if "they" lived like "we" do, or at least how we live ideally. Not how they are currently living along the US Gulf Coast or how the have nots and homeless live. But how we live to speak our mind freely without fear of retribution, unless of course you disagree with the president's policies (then it's watch your wife's covert status). It's, you know, Our freedom to choose Coke or Pepsi, Walmart or Target, Halliburton or Bechtel, protestant or evangelical.

It's hard to continue to argue about how bad an idea the hurried invasion/preemptive strike on Iraq was. An invasion "based on intelligence" that others believed, but no one was going to war over. Iraq was not a "urgent" threat to the United States. Before the sanctions on Iraq even started, back in Gulf War I, all they could try and hit us with were misguided scuds. Remember the surrendering Iraqi armyists? After getting beat back to Baghdad and over ten years of crippling sanctions, this was the greatest threat posed against us?

The argument that "we are fighting them there, so we don't have to fight them here" seems short sighted. What happens when it's over, assuming it ever will be? Where are the "terrorists" that attack our soldiers in Iraq today going to go when, and if, we leave? I understand that we will have men and women serving in Our multi-billion dollar bases there for a long time to come. But if Iraq does somehow, miraculously, stabilize, where will the "foreign fighters" turn. And then there are the "terrorist" attacks that have taken place in Europe and elsewhere while we were fighting "them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them at home".

This War in Iraq was not about saddam or the wounds left open from Gulf War I. WMDs were only a decent, at the time, enough excuse. Faux-patriotism and fear were used to ram a war through a, for the most part, gutless, rubber stamp congress and a confused and apathetic public who was bombarded with propaganda when it should have bombarded with discussion and debate. Last week the vice president came out of his undisclosed location to give a speech to American service men and women as part of the campaigner in chief's latest offensive. He said, among other things, that "The terrorists want to end American and Western influence in the Middle East." American influence in the Middle East. Now that sounds like the reason we are in Iraq. And why is that influence so essential. Oil! That's what this has always been about. We are building a nation and its military, for access to its oil and the contracts to drill and refine it.

This president, his administration, and Our toothless, rubberstamp congress have gotten us into this war (it is still a war and not "the peace"). We will not "cut and run", though I would be very surprised if troop levels don't come down significantly by the 2006 elections. As for leaving a "stable democracy" as a "model for the region", with the influence of "republics" like Iran on the Shi'ites, the continuous moves toward independence by the Kurds, and the assisinations and uprisings of the Sunnis, that's a little far fetched even to me.

We stopped when we did, and it was a unanimous recommendation on the part of the President's advisors, civilian and military, we stopped when we did because we had achieved our objectives. We had said from the outset that our purpose was to liberate Kuwait and destroy Saddam Hussein's capacity to threaten his neighbors, his offensive military capability, we did that. We destroyed about two-thirds of his army in that portion that he sent in to Kuwait and Iraq, and stripped him of most of his weapons of mass destruction.

Once we rounded up Saddam, then the question is what do you do? You're going to put a government in his place. Presumably, you're not just going to turn your back and walk away. You have to put some kind of a government in its place. And then the question comes is it going to be a Shi'a government or a Kurdish government, or maybe a Sunni government, or maybe it ought to be based on the old Baathist Party regime, or some combination thereof. How long is that government to be able to stay in power without US military support to keep it there? How long can we maintain the coalition?

How long could we have maintained that coalition of Arab states if we had been involved in the long-range occupation by the US in Iraq? I would guess if we had gone on to Baghdad I would still have forces in Iraq today. I don't know how we would have let go of that tar baby once we had grabbed hold of it.

How many additional American lives is Saddam Hussein worth? And the answer I would give is not very damn many.

-excerpts of then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney's 1992 speech to the Discovery Institute in Seattle