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Jun 10 07 6:17 AM
Quote:...The only hint the Vatican statement provided regarding the views the Pope and his aides expressed on those many issues was contained in the following sentence: "On the part of the Holy See, hope was once again expressed in a 'regional' and 'negotiated' solution to the conflicts and crises afflicting the region" of the Middle East.This seems clearly a diplomatic way for the Holy See to express its view that Middle Eastern conflicts should be solved, not by foreign (i.e., American) intervention, and not through a unilateral, militarily-imposed solution, but through a multilateral, negotiated settlement.This is an view that has been expressed in more direct language in the past by Cardinal Ratzinger, before he had the spotlight of the papacy upon him. "It is necessary that the community of nations makes the decision, not a particular power," the then-cardinal told Avvenire newspaper in 2002. He went on to state his personal conclusion that "the damage would be greater than the values one hopes to save."He also disagreed with the concept of preventative war, pointing out that it does not exist in the Catholic Catechism. Speaking in his capacity as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Ratzinger explained that while "it is true that the Catechism has developed a doctrine that, on the one hand, does not exclude the fact that there are values and peoples that must be defended in some circumstances; on the other hand, it offers a very precise doctrine on the limits of these possibilities."Cardinal Ratzinger was always careful to temper these points by consistently acknowledging that political questions were not in his competence, that it was not "heretical" to disagree with the Pope on matters of war, and that the appropriate authority for making the final decision to engage in war are public officials, not the Church.He did, however, clearly state that the authority to make such decisions should lie solely within the power of the United Nations (even if "the U.N. can be criticized" for a number of inadequacies) as "it is the instrument created after the war [World War II] for the coordination -- including moral -- of politics."The Vatican's nuanced support for the United Nations is a complex topic for another article, but it is worthwhile to point out that despite U.N. approval and international cooperation for the first Gulf War in 1991, John Paul II still condemned the war as unjustified, as did much of the Iraqi Chaldean hierarchy.One of the central reasons -- prior to both the first Gulf War and the current crisis -- for their objection to attacking Iraq was stated in an Inside the Vatican interview with the late Iraqi priest Fr. Ragheed Ganni just a few months before the invasion: "If there is a war, the first victims will be Christian; on a local level, the people will turn against the Christians."The End of the Church in Iraq?Tragic events affecting the safety and sustainability of Christians in Iraq over the last few weeks only seem to reinforce Benedict's prediction that the damage to Iraq caused by war might be greater than the values saved, at least from the perspective of the Iraqi Christian community. The June 3 murder of Fr. Ragheed Ganni and three deacons following a Mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul-- a parish which has suffered numerous attacks over the last four years -- was followed by the kidnapping of another Chaldean priest, Fr. Hani Abdel Ahad and five boys on their way to visit a minor seminary in Baghdad (the boys were later released but Fr. Ahad is still being held). Both terrorist actions hint at a systematic campaign to eliminate the future leaders of the Chaldean Church.And these are only the latest in a series of increasing sectarian attacks on Christians that have led the Chaldean hierarchy to fear that Christianity will soon be extinct in Iraq after a 2,000 year history. Along with Muslim Iraqis, Christian Iraqi civilians have been flooding out of Iraq, decreasing the population from more than half a million in 2003 to a little less than 20,000, according to figures cited by an Apcom article written today by Serena Sartini and Iacopo Scaramuzzi.The figures show a rapid decline in the Iraqi Christian population in recent months. An October 2006 report sent from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice numbered the Christian population at 600,000. In a covering letter, the US bishops asked the State Department urgently to find ways to improve the security of Christians, even to consider establishing an "administrative region" in the Nineveh Plain Area for them. Christians make up 40 percent of the refugees fleeing Iraq, though they are just three or four percent of the total population.Benedict XVI, drawing upon the reports and opinions he receives from the Chaldean hierarchy, the Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq, and the Congregation for Oriental Churches, has made the situation of Christians in Iraq a priority.President Bush himself made mention of the Holy Father's deep concern for Iraqi Christians in a press conference yesterday afternoon. "He was concerned that the society that was evolving (in Iraq) would not tolerate the Christian religion," the president told the press, "and I assured him we were working hard to make sure that people lived up to the (Iraqi) constitution -- that modern constitution voted on by the people from different walks of life and different attitudes."President Bush's reference to this concern of Benedict's, coming just an hour or two after their meeting, makes clear that this was one of the central points the Pope made to Bush.While Iraq's modern constitution may protect Christians and other religious minorities from persecution in theory, facts on the ground strongly suggest civil authorities are at best limited in their ability to curb religious persecution and at worst turn a blind eye to it.In an unprecedented statement in May, the Iraqi Chaldean Patriarch, Emmanuel III Delly, lamented that "Christians are killed, chased out of their homes before the very eyes of those who are supposed to be responsible for their safety." Patriarch Delly went on to say: "Today, Christians are persecuted in a country where everyone is fighting for their own personal interests. They have always lived in Iraq and over the years they have done everything possible to contribute to its development together with their Muslim brothers."The terrorists responsible for the persecution, kidnappings, attacks, and murders are rarely captured, and blame is often attributed to the Iraqi government for their failure to provide protection and to the U.S.-led coalition for starting a war in their country."For a while, the Christian community has been subjected to kidnapping and threats with neither protection from the government nor the coalition forces," the Chaldean representative to the Holy See, Monsignor Philip Najim, said in his homily at a requiem Mass for Fr. Ragheed in Rome last week. "After the embargo, which was both unjust and imposed, and years of American occupation, there is still only a sectarian Iraq where Christians do not receive assistance, no one fights for their cause, and they were abandoned," Najim said. "This is a major historic, political, and human injustice. We need the Holy See to encourage unity in the Iraqi church and among all Christians."What, if any, solution to the current crisis the Pope prefers has not been discussed by any Vatican official, and it is highly unlikely he would ever choose to articulate an opinion on the matter unless the Iraqi hierarchy were to unite on a position and lobby the Holy See for support. With the debate over troop withdrawal from Iraq already dominating the 2008 presidential campaign, any Vatican statements on Iraq will be scrupulously examined for hints of an opinion on the matter, just as comments by Vatican officials during the lead up to war in Iraq made headlines around the world.Collaboration and Conflict"The United States is a great country and the current president has particularly distinguished himself in regard to some positive initiatives in defense of life from conception," Cardinal Bertone told Avvenire prior to Bush's visit. "There remain, however, some problems, already made manifest by that great prophet who was the Servant of God John Paul II, for example, the Iraq war and the dramatic situation of Iraqi Christians, which is always getting worse."The Vatican Secretary of State's comments reflect the major themes in the relationship between the Bush administration and the Holy See during Bush's six and a half years at the White House and with two different pontiffs. Speaking in general terms, there has been agreement and collaboration to an unprecedented level for an U.S. president and the Pope of Rome, but only on particular issues. On the other hand, the relationship has been marked by persistent tension because of the decision to go to war in Iraq, which the Vatican took many steps to prevent through diplomatic initiatives, as well as on the role and supremacy of international law. On the fight against terrorism in general, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI often lent their support in speeches condemning this "modern scourge," as John Paul described it, but in large terms....Just as he often spoke of his admiration for John Paul II, Bush yesterday described his first meeting with Joseph Ratzinger since his election as Benedict XVI as a "moving experience," saying he felt "awe" to be in the presence of the Holy Father, whom Bush described as a "very smart, loving man."And just as with John Paul II, Bush managed to maintain a great personal admiration for the Pope even when receiving papal criticism of his policies. At their first greeting, both men seemed pleased, even nervously excited, to be in one another's company.President Bush wore a more somber expression following their private discussions, however, as he introduced the Pope to his entourage that included Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff and master planner Karl Rove. As the group was ushered from the papal apartments following the final photographs, a woman with a clip board leaned toward Rove as he was passing by and told him reassuringly, "We're doing OK," referring to the minute by minute itinerary she was holding and checking off for the Bush delegation. Pope visit? Check. Next up, Vatican Secretariat of State followed by lunch with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and coffee with Silvio Berlusconi. The race was back on.Benedict's Agenda: The Christians of the Middle EastBenedict, proving he is just as much a man on a mission as Bush, left the Vatican in a motorcade shortly after his meeting with the president, while Bush was still in his meeting at the Secretariat of State.The meeting the Pope went to attend carried on the themes discussed during the meeting he had just held with the president, themes the president was at that moment still discussing with Cardinal Bertone and Archbishop Mamberti.The Pope went outside the Vatican's walls to the Congregation for Oriental Churches on via della Conciliazione at 12:30 pm to announce the appointment of a lifelong Vatican diplomat, the Argentine Archbishop Leonardi Sandri, 62, as the Congregation's new Prefect, replacing Syrian-born Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, the former Patriarch of Antioch.In the Pope's remarks, Benedict summarized his pressing concern for persecuted Christians that he articulated to President Bush: "From my heart, I invoke peace for the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon, and all the territories that are under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, and for other regions involved in a spiral of apparently unstoppable violence," the Pope said. "May the Churches and the disciples of the Lord stay where they were placed at birth by Divine Providence, where they deserve to remain because of a presence that dates back to the beginnings of Christianity."Also, in the few minutes between President Bush's visit and his short ride to the Congregation for Oriental Churches, Benedict found time to deliver another speech, in French, to the regional bishops' conference of North Africa, in Rome on their five-yearly ad limina visit. Here too, Benedict touched upon the issue of Christians in Muslim countries, this time highlighting the positive developments taking place in the relations between Christians and Muslims in their region: "I am happy to know that, because of initiatives of dialogue and places of encounter, such as centers of study and libraries, you are engaged in the development and the deepening of esteemed and respectful relations between Christians and Muslims to promote reconciliation, justice, and peace," Benedict said."On the other hand, in the sharing of the daily life, Christians and Muslims can find the essential base for a better and mutual knowledge," he added. "By fraternal participation in each other's joys and pains, especially in the most significant moments of existence, and by multiple collaborations in the domain of health, education, culture, or in the service of the most humble, you manifest an authentic solidarity, which strengthens the ties of trust and friendship among persons, families, and communities."These encouraging initiatives and collaborative activities that lay the foundation for peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims may do little to counter the rise of terrorism and the persecution of Christians on the global level, but they will certainly be examined by the Vatican as counter-measures to growing religious sectarianism at the local community level, particularly in Iraq. The Pope's "point men" on the issue of how to support the persecuted church in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will certainly include his two new appointments, Archbishop Sandri -- formerly the "Substitute" or Deputy Secretary for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State -- and Sandri's replacement, Arch-Bishop Fernando Filoni. Filoni was the Apostolic Nuncio in Jordan and Iraq from 2001 to 2006.So Benedict left a meeting with Bush to give a speech to North African bishops' focused on working in collaboration with local Mulsims, and to introduce two new, key appointments, one for the Congregation which oversees the Churches in the Middle East, the other for the Vatican's top diplomatic post, and the men he introduced were Sandri, an extremely savvy and experienced diplomat, and Filoni, who has just had five years of first-hand experience of the Middle East, and of Iraq in particular. In the delicate language of Vatican juxtaposition, the three meetings on the same day -- Bush, the North African bishops, the Oriental Congregation to introduce Sandri and Filoni -- speak volumes about the Vatican's focus and intentions. The Pope is giving his personal attention to the question of Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle East, and choosing the best men available to him to help him forge a policy to protect the remaining Christians of that region of the world.A U.S. diplomat once described the Vatican as the "best listening post in the world." Prior to his papal audience, President Bush said he would be in "listening mode" when he met Benedict, just as he said he would "be there to listen" commenting on his final visit to John Paul II in 2004.It is a wise approach, considering the accumulated wisdom of the Church on all matters pertaining to the lives of men, be they political, social, or moral. And given the new "intelligence team" Benedict has at his command, and his access to discovering facts on the ground in Iraq in places where even the powerful U.S. government cannot reach, listening to the Holy See is not only wise, it is essential to the long-term success of the U.S.'s mission.The Bush administration has continuously and effectively courted the Vatican in the hopes of deepening collaboration and avoiding conflict. It is a policy and an attitude that the Holy See appreciates and welcomes, but Pope Benedict will not flattered into a political partnership that could compromise the Church's moral judgments and principles.
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Jul 29 07 7:18 AM
Quote:When you hear the Bush Administration refer to "collateral damage" or "collateral injuries", what those terms really means is human beings - civilian Iraqi men, women and children - who have either been killed or, as in this article, maimed. And the U.S. is not the only cause of this, a good many of the maimed are the result of car bombs and suicide bombers and other attacks by either insurgents - also known as terrorists - or by Iraqis themselves through their sectarian violence. For the record, I despise the terms "collateral damage" or "collateral injuries" because they are designed to hide the truth.
Aug 13 07 5:32 AM
Quote:Mom, I had another friend die today from a massive ied [improvised explosive device] and many more wounded with shattered bones and scrapes. We used to be in the same platoon. 1st platoon and the same squad when I first arrived at fort hood for a good 7 months or so. He was 17 then and barely a day over 19 now that he has passed away.It's tearing me up so badly inside. I just can't stand it. I can't get rid of the feeling that I probably won't make it home from this war. I have this horrible feeling that his fate will soon become my own. I don't want to die here Mom. Don't tell Erin bc I know it will devastate her. But if somehow I don't make it, I want you Mom and Dad and all the family and especially Erin to know I love you all so so much and appreciate everything you all have done for me in the thick and thin.The most important thing I want you all to do, is to use all of your connections to do everything in your will to use my death as a tool with the media to end this pointless war. Contact Michael Moore or whomever it may be to get the word out about how disgusted with our government I am about forcing us to come here to wait for death to claim us. I want it to end. How many more friends, sons, daughters, mothers, and dads must die here before they say it's enough? And if you don't die, the worst part you have to live with is the guilt of surviving. Surviving this war and not dying like your buddies to your left and to your right in combat.I love you all so so much.love,ZachWednesday 08 August 2007, Baghdad
Aug 13 07 5:50 AM
Quote:What this administration is doing to its men and women is unconsionable. And it damn well needs to a better better job of taking care of these soldiers' physical and mental heath when they return. Right now, the V.A. is still way behind on helping the number of Iraq and Afghanastan troops who need it; and even further behind on veterans of previous conflicts and wars.
Aug 25 07 10:14 AM
Aug 25 07 5:17 PM
Aug 26 07 6:47 AM
Quote:Here's something to think about: The money the Bush Administration is esstentially flushing down the toilet in Iraq could have been used in the U.S. to keep Medicare and Medicaid costs in check; it could have prevented cuts in the child health care program; it could have ... well, you get the idea. The only thing worse than the taxpayers' dollars the administration is wasting in Iraq is that this boondoggle war based on lies has already cost the lives of more than 3,700 American soliders and who knows how many have been wounded or maimed, or how many are and will suffer mental problems from their experiences in Iraq. And let's not overlook the countless (because the U.S. military does not keep track of Iraqi civilian deaths caused by military actions) lives of civilian Iraqi men, women and children who have been killed, wounded or maimed.
Oct 14 07 6:28 AM
Quote:In his commentary Mr. Holt writes that Bush and Cheney invaded Iraq so that country's vast oil reserves will go to Western oil companies.
Quote:Iraq is "unwinnable", a "quagmire", a "fiasco": so goes the received opinion. Yet there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the U.S. may be "stuck" precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no "exit strategy". Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves. That is more than five times the total in the United States. And, because of its long isolation, it is the least explored of the world's oil-rich nations. A mere two thousand wells have been drilled across the entire country; in Texas alone there are a million. It has been estimated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a further 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil; another study puts the figure at 300 billion. If these estimates are anywhere close to the mark, U.S. forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world's oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today's prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the U.S. invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.Who will get Iraq's oil? One of the Bush administration's "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government is the passage of a law to distribute oil revenues. The draft law that the U.S. has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq's 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest - including all yet to be discovered oil - under foreign corporate control for 30 years. "The foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in the Iraqi economy," the analyst Antonia Juhasz wrote in the New York Times in March, after the draft law was leaked. "They could even ride out Iraq's current 'instability' by signing contracts now, while the Iraqi government is at its weakest, and then wait at least two years before even setting foot in the country." As negotiations over the oil law stalled in September, the provincial government in Kurdistan simply signed a separate deal with the Dallas-based Hunt Oil Company, headed by a close political ally of President Bush.How will the U.S. maintain hegemony over Iraqi oil? By establishing permanent military bases in Iraq. Five self-sufficient "super-bases" are in various stages of completion. All are well away from the urban areas where most casualties have occurred. There has been precious little reporting on these bases in the American press, whose dwindling corps of correspondents in Iraq cannot move around freely because of the dangerous conditions. (It takes a brave reporter to leave the Green Zone without a military escort.) In February last year, the Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks described one such facility, the Balad Air Base, forty miles north of Baghdad. A piece of (well-fortified) American suburbia in the middle of the Iraqi desert, Balad has fast-food joints, a miniature golf course, a football field, a cinema and distinct neighborhoods - among them, "KBR-land", named after the Halliburton subsidiary that has done most of the construction work at the base. Although few of the 20,000 American troops stationed there have ever had any contact with an Iraqi, the runway at the base is one of the world's busiest. "We are behind only Heathrow right now," an air force commander told Ricks.The Defense Department was initially coy about these bases. In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld said: "I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting." But this summer the Bush administration began to talk openly about stationing American troops in Iraq for years, even decades, to come. Several visitors to the White House have told the New York Times that the president himself has become fond of referring to the "Korea model". When the House of Representatives voted to bar funding for "permanent bases" in Iraq, the new term of choice became "enduring bases", as if three or four decades wasn't effectively an eternity.But will the U.S. be able to maintain an indefinite military presence in Iraq? It will plausibly claim a rationale to stay there for as long as civil conflict simmers, or until every groupuscule that conveniently brands itself as "al-Qaeda" is exterminated. The civil war may gradually lose intensity as Shias, Sunnis and Kurds withdraw into separate enclaves, reducing the surface area for sectarian friction, and as warlords consolidate local authority. De facto partition will be the result, but this partition can never become de jure. (An independent Kurdistan in the north might upset Turkey, an independent Shia region in the east might become a satellite of Iran, and an independent Sunni region in the west might harbor al-Qaeda.) Presiding over this Balkanized Iraq will be a weak federal government in Baghdad, propped up and overseen by the Pentagon-scale U.S. embassy that is now being constructed - a green zone within the Green Zone. As for the number of U.S. troops permanently stationed in Iraq, the defense secretary, Robert Gates, told Congress at the end of September that "in his head" he saw the long-term force as consisting of five combat brigades, a quarter of the current number, which, with support personnel, would mean 35,000 troops at the very minimum, probably accompanied by an equal number of mercenary contractors. (He may have been erring on the side of modesty, since the five super-bases can accommodate between ten and twenty thousand troops each.) These forces will occasionally leave their bases to tamp down civil skirmishes, at a declining cost in casualties. As a senior Bush administration official told the New York Times in June, the long-term bases "are all places we could fly in and out of without putting Americans on every street corner". But their main day-to-day function will be to protect the oil infrastructure.This is the "mess" that Bush-Cheney is going to hand on to the next administration. What if that administration is a Democratic one? Will it dismantle the bases and withdraw U.S. forces entirely? That seems unlikely, considering the many beneficiaries of the continued occupation of Iraq and the exploitation of its oil resources. The three principal Democratic candidates - Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards - have already hedged their bets, refusing to promise that, if elected, they would remove American forces from Iraq before 2013, the end of their first term.Among the winners: oil-services companies like Halliburton; the oil companies themselves (the profits will be unimaginable, and even Democrats can be bought); U.S. voters, who will be guaranteed price stability at the gas pump (which sometimes seems to be all they care about); Europe and Japan, which will both benefit from Western control of such a large part of the world's oil reserves, and whose leaders will therefore wink at the permanent occupation; and, oddly enough, Osama bin Laden, who will never again have to worry about U.S. troops profaning the holy places of Mecca and Medina, since the stability of the House of Saud will no longer be paramount among American concerns. Among the losers is Russia, which will no longer be able to lord its own energy resources over Europe. Another big loser is OPEC, and especially Saudi Arabia, whose power to keep oil prices high by enforcing production quotas will be seriously compromised.Then there is the case of Iran, which is more complicated. In the short term, Iran has done quite well out of the Iraq war. Iraq's ruling Shia coalition is now dominated by a faction friendly to Tehran, and the U.S. has willy-nilly armed and trained the most pro-Iranian elements in the Iraqi military. As for Iran's nuclear program, neither air strikes nor negotiations seem likely to derail it at the moment. But the Iranian regime is precarious. Unpopular mullahs hold onto power by financing internal security services and buying off elites with oil money, which accounts for 70 per cent of government revenues. If the price of oil were suddenly to drop to, say, $40 a barrel (from a current price just north of $80), the repressive regime in Tehran would lose its steady income. And that is an outcome the U.S. could easily achieve by opening the Iraqi oil spigot for as long as necessary (perhaps taking down Venezuela's oil-cocky Hugo Chavez into the bargain).And think of the United States vis-a-vis China. As a consequence of our trade deficit, around a trillion dollars' worth of U.S. denominated debt (including $400 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds) is held by China. This gives Beijing enormous leverage over Washington: by offloading big chunks of U.S. debt, China could bring the American economy to its knees. China's own economy is, according to official figures, expanding at something like 10 per cent a year. Even if the actual figure is closer to 4 or 5 per cent, as some believe, China's increasing heft poses a threat to U.S. interests. (One fact: China is acquiring new submarines five times faster than the U.S.) And the main constraint on China's growth is its access to energy - which, with the U.S. in control of the biggest share of world oil, would largely be at Washington's sufferance. Thus is the Chinese threat neutralized.Many people are still perplexed by exactly what moved Bush-Cheney to invade and occupy Iraq. In the September 27 issue of the New York Review of Books, Thomas Powers, one of the most astute watchers of the intelligence world, admitted to a degree of bafflement. "What's particularly odd," he wrote, "is that there seems to be no sophisticated, professional, insiders version of the thinking that drove events." Alan Greenspan, in his just published memoir, is clearer on the matter. "I am saddened," he writes, "that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."Was the strategy of invading Iraq to take control of its oil resources actually hammered out by Cheney's 2001 energy task force? One can't know for sure, since the deliberations of that task force, made up largely of oil and energy company executives, have been kept secret by the administration on the grounds of "executive privilege". One can't say for certain that oil supplied the prime motive. But the hypothesis is quite powerful when it comes to explaining what has actually happened in Iraq. The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration's cavalier attitude towards "nation-building" has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades - a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the U.S. had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics - dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final "surge" that has hastened internal migration - could scarcely have been more effective. The costs - a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of U.S. motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) - are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.Still, there is reason to be skeptical of the picture I have drawn: it implies that a secret and highly ambitious plan turned out just the way its devisers foresaw, and that almost never happens.
Quote:There are a few points that need to be made about the scenario Mr. Holt has described and none of them reflect on the validity of what he wrote. First, if we are in Iraq solely to grab that country's oil reserves then it is immoral. The oil reserves, whether Americans like it or not, belong to the Iraqis. In determining right from wrong I have found that it helps to put yourself in the other person's - or country's - position. How would Americans feel if another country invaded us for, say, our wheat or fresh water supplies? We would, it is safe to say, be outraged, condemn the action and resent and resist the people who were doing this to us and who arrogantly called the dead Americans resulting from their invasion and occupation as "collateral damage", and we would despise them for rewriting "our" laws. Obviously, this would be wrong and immoral. I see no valid reason why what the U.S. is doing in Iraq is any less immoral and wrong. Second, if you were a U.S. soldier in Iraq, would you consider it honorable to face death so Big Oil can seize control of Iraq's oil and become even more wealthy, bearing in mind that the more wealth they have, they more they can "buy" U.S. politicians and, by doing so, control America's domestic and foreign policies? Is this Bush and Cheney's big plan - to have the U.S. fight war after war for big oil and other big industries? Industries that have "outsourced" many of Americans' jobs. If so, it is a bankrupt policy for it means the U.S. will always be at war and history has taught us that no nation, no empire, no regime can be at war for long without collapsing by both internal and external forces.Third, illegally seizing Iraq's oil reserves also means the U.S. taxpayers have paid almost a trillion dollars now so America can continue to contribute to the release of carbon dioxide emissions that will inevitably speed up the process of global warming and climate change. Bush and Cheney told Americans, and the world, that the U.S. had to invade Iraq to fight global terrorism and to eliminate Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. These were lies. To date, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and there were no terrorists in Iraq - at least not any terrorists attacking the U.S. - until well after U.S. forces had driven Saddam from power. By every account, the terrorists constituting al-Qaeda in Iraq arrived from outside that country and, because they are also killing Iraqis, the people of Iraq do not want them there any more than the U.S. field commanders want them there.Meanwhile, more than 3,800 of America's honorable and bravest sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and fathers and mothers in uniform have died in the Iraqi effort, and at least an equal number of them have been wounded and/or maimed for life. There is no fixed number on how many American troops are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but it is a given that you need to multiply any "official" numbers by at least three to approach the true numbers. I also need to make it clear that any dishonor in this effort belongs to America's political and military leaders, and should not reflect on America's fighting men and women in the field, who do what soldiers in every country do - follow orders and trust that their leaders have asked them to fight for an honorable cause. Sadly, in this case, that trust has been betrayed.These things are on my mind and I felt I should share them.
Nov 18 07 2:33 PM
BAGHDAD (AP) October is on course to record the second consecutive decline in U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths and Americans commanders say they know why: the U.S. troop increase and an Iraqi groundswell against al-Qaida and Shiite militia extremists.Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch points to what the military calls "Concerned Citizens" both Shiites and Sunnis who have joined the American fight. He says he's signed up 20,000 of them in the past four months."I've never been more optimistic than I am right now with the progress we've made in Iraq. The only people who are going to win this counterinsurgency project are the people of Iraq. We've said that all along. And now they're coming forward in masses."
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch points to what the military calls "Concerned Citizens" both Shiites and Sunnis who have joined the American fight. He says he's signed up 20,000 of them in the past four months.
"I've never been more optimistic than I am right now with the progress we've made in Iraq. The only people who are going to win this counterinsurgency project are the people of Iraq. We've said that all along. And now they're coming forward in masses."
I was at home in the United States just one day before the magnitude hit me like vertigo: America seems to be under a glass dome which allows few hard facts from the field to filter in unless they are attached to a string of false assumptions. Considering that my trip home coincided with General Petraeus testimony before the US Congress, when media interest in the war was (Im told) unusually concentrated, its a wonder my eardrums didnt burst on the trip back to Iraq. In places like Singapore, Indonesia, and Britain people hardly seemed to notice that success is being achieved in Iraq, while in the United States, Britney was competing for airtime with O.J. in one of the saddest sideshows on Earth.No thinking person would look at last years weather reports to judge whether it will rain today, yet we do something similar with Iraq news. The situation in Iraq has drastically changed, but the inertia of bad news leaves many convinced that the mission has failed beyond recovery...
No thinking person would look at last years weather reports to judge whether it will rain today, yet we do something similar with Iraq news. The situation in Iraq has drastically changed, but the inertia of bad news leaves many convinced that the mission has failed beyond recovery...
Nov 18 07 2:34 PM
Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated, according to Sheik Omar Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party and a member of the widespread and influential Jabouri Tribe. Speaking through an interpreter at a 31 October meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters in downtown Baghdad, Sheik Omar said that al Qaeda had been defeated mentally, and therefore is defeated physically, referring to how clear it has become that the terrorist groups tactics have backfired. Operatives who could once disappear back into the crowd after committing an increasingly atrocious attack no longer find safe haven among the Iraqis who live in the southern part of Baghdad. They are being hunted down and killed. Or, if they are lucky, captured by Americans.Colonel Ricky Gibbs, the American brigade commander with responsibility for the Rashid District in south Baghdad today told me, So goes South Baghdad goes Baghdad. General Petraeus had told me similar things about the importance of South Baghdad. In fact, Rashid is quickly developing into what might be one of the final serious battlegrounds of the war.During the meeting, another member of the Iraqi Islamic Party said that al Qaeda has changed its strategy now that fomenting civil war between Sunni and Shia has backfired. Al Qaeda has shifted targets, now trying to generate friction between tribes. This time, however, the tribes are onto the game early, and they are not playing.
Colonel Ricky Gibbs, the American brigade commander with responsibility for the Rashid District in south Baghdad today told me, So goes South Baghdad goes Baghdad. General Petraeus had told me similar things about the importance of South Baghdad. In fact, Rashid is quickly developing into what might be one of the final serious battlegrounds of the war.
During the meeting, another member of the Iraqi Islamic Party said that al Qaeda has changed its strategy now that fomenting civil war between Sunni and Shia has backfired. Al Qaeda has shifted targets, now trying to generate friction between tribes. This time, however, the tribes are onto the game early, and they are not playing.
Coalition forces saw a possible glimpse of the future in Hawr Rajab recently, when they observed Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) at a checkpoint come under attack from insurgents, defend themselves, and then receive reinforcements from Iraqi Army troops, Oct. 31.
... the greatest progress hasn't been on the military front, impressive as those strides have been. The real breakthrough has been with the Iraqi people. Throughout Iraq, Iraqi citizens have decided that the fighting must end. They have tired of the sectarian strife that made swaths of their country a killing field. Having sampled something that could be called a civil war, they have collectively decided that they would rather live in a peaceful society. This means that each sect will have to tolerate the other sects' presence.Throughout Iraq, ordinary citizens have tipped off American troops to the presence of not only al Qaeda forces but members of their own sect bent on violence. They have also tipped off American troops to the presence of hundreds of IEDs, saving countless American lives. And they have done all of this knowing that they were risking death by doing so.Although grassroots politics in America is of a less perilous sort, this too is a form of grassroots politics. Ordinary people have involved themselves with the fate of their nation, and made an enormous difference. While the Iraqi government remains mostly dysfunctional and enmeshed in squabbling, the Iraqi people have chosen the course their country will take.
Throughout Iraq, ordinary citizens have tipped off American troops to the presence of not only al Qaeda forces but members of their own sect bent on violence. They have also tipped off American troops to the presence of hundreds of IEDs, saving countless American lives. And they have done all of this knowing that they were risking death by doing so.
Although grassroots politics in America is of a less perilous sort, this too is a form of grassroots politics. Ordinary people have involved themselves with the fate of their nation, and made an enormous difference. While the Iraqi government remains mostly dysfunctional and enmeshed in squabbling, the Iraqi people have chosen the course their country will take.
Recently, I've been puzzled by the reactions of friends or colleagues who ask after my family in Baghdad. When I reply that the relatives say things are getting better, I hear: "Better than what?" I also get strange looks and laughter. So, I remain quiet.In a way, I can't blame them. Most friends and colleagues get their information from rented experts (whether American or Arab) who know nothing about Iraq. And stories such as this get little play in the media.The Associated Press reports: "In a dramatic turnaround, more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods have returned to their homes in the past three months as sectarian violence has dropped, the government said Saturday." . . .
In a way, I can't blame them. Most friends and colleagues get their information from rented experts (whether American or Arab) who know nothing about Iraq. And stories such as this get little play in the media.
The Associated Press reports: "In a dramatic turnaround, more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods have returned to their homes in the past three months as sectarian violence has dropped, the government said Saturday." . . .
Nov 18 07 2:42 PM
Wednesday's closure of the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars at the Umm al Quraa mosque marks a dramatic shift in the Sunni religious establishment. Prominent Sunni clerics, who once supported, justified, or remained silent about al Qaeda's terror tactics, have now turned on the leading Sunni religious establishment that supports al Qaeda in Iraq.On November 14, Iraqi soldiers surrounded the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars after Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al Samarrai, the leader of the Sunni Religious Endowments, or Waqf, ordered the mosque's closure. "The association has always justified killing and assassinations carried out by al Qaeda," Samarrai said the day the troops shut down the Umm al Quraa mosque.Samarrai's criticism of the Association of Muslim Scholars was pointed. He accused the Association of collusion with al Qaeda in Iraq and held the group responsible for the murder of Iraqi Sunni and Shia alike. . . .
On November 14, Iraqi soldiers surrounded the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars after Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al Samarrai, the leader of the Sunni Religious Endowments, or Waqf, ordered the mosque's closure. "The association has always justified killing and assassinations carried out by al Qaeda," Samarrai said the day the troops shut down the Umm al Quraa mosque.
Samarrai's criticism of the Association of Muslim Scholars was pointed. He accused the Association of collusion with al Qaeda in Iraq and held the group responsible for the murder of Iraqi Sunni and Shia alike. . . .
Aug 27 08 7:20 PM
Iraq Prelate Laments Widespread Kidnappings
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