Category Archives: Iraq

Nixon in China

Robert Gates, telling Congress to cut it out.  Literally:

In a speech that was as welcome as it was remarkable, the Pentagon chief explained that the Congress, Department of Defense officials and defense contractors had allowed military spending to grow unchecked after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Warning that this sort of budgeting without checks or balances is unsustainable, Gates called for a radical shift in direction.

“What it takes is the political will and willingness…to make hard choices — choices that will displease powerful people both inside the Pentagon and out,” Gates declared on Saturday, in a speech at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, where the current Secretary of Defense noted that the, like many military men, the commander of U.S. forces in Europe during World War II worried about excessive defense spending and warned about the threat posed by the “acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

Here’s a nice background article on President Obama’s first defense budget last year.

Both articles are worth the time to read them.

You See, Michael Berry, These People are Your Friends

Michael Berry was trying to be all sensible and fair today — he says “fair enough” enough every day — but he sidestepped his good buddy’s complete nonsense last night — Rick Perry is who I am referring to.

Well, this nonsense has been brewing for a while.  These are the people who are Michael’s friends.   These are the people who think that the Constitution is everything and they are fighting for their FREEDOM — as Chris Baker is always stuck on.  Both of them are free to lie on a 50,000 watt scream machine, so I don’t know why they bellyache so much.

Doing pro bono work is part of being an attorney.  At times, some very good attorneys step up and do their best to protect individuals from the vigilantes in our midst.  Can Berry or Baker explain their brethren to me?  Why is there a problem with very good well-qualified attorneys working for the justice department?  Why the witch hunt?

Could it be that they see the writing on the wall?  With the embarrassment that was the Rick Perry election, do they know it’s actually now over and they are trying to take out as many people as they can?

Can anyone give me any insight into the crazy that is the conservative/republican/libertarian “movement”?

That’s the Ticket!

It’s a very good thing that our friend Kathleen is only in charge of a household and a blog and not the economy or the war effort in Afghanistan (or even foreign policy as I pointed out earlier).

On the economy, she has a post up about the deficit.  Her source is a blog post at the  American Enterprise Institute which has a pretty graph that was cooked up supposedly using OMB numbers, but there is no link to any specific OMB report(s).  The graph makes George W. Bush look pretty bad, given that it also includes the Clinton surplus.  But it makes projections for the Obama administration look horrible.  But that’s the point, right?  There’s no indication whether Obama’s ban on accounting gimmicks (piker, indeed) is calculated into the Bush numbers or whether the sunset of the Bush tax-cuts-during-two-wars are part of the graphic.

But unskeptical Kathleen runs with it:

Maybe THIS is why we protest now and not under Pres. Bush?

She’s still fooled by gimmicks.

In the long run, spin can only go so far. People can look out their doors and see what is happening to our economy.

Really?  In the Woodlands?  In my neck of the woods, we are holding our own.

The Labor Department will release the September unemployment report on Friday. It’s probably no coincidence that Pres. Obama is out of the country that day, deciding on a whim to go help out Michelle get those 2016 Olympic games for Chicago.

She just had to get in a dig about the Olympics.  I’m surprised that she didn’t go as far as Bill Kristol and telegraph possible travel to Afghanistan to the Taliban.

And today she realized that she’s just done with the Afghanistan war and has become a peacenik.  Oh, not really.  She’s just throwing a temper tantrum and wants to take her ball home.  She was never really into the NATO led military action in Afghanistan anyway.  She got her charge from the mostly US led actions in Iraq (which is telling). Again she sees President Obama as reactionary.  On top of that she doesn’t understand the chain of command and that bypassing General Petraeus (one of her heroes!) is not the way this sort of thing works:

When the news got out that Pres. Obama had only talked to the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan ONCE in the last 70 days, they quickly put together a conference call. This is a President that has no interest in war. Who doesn’t believe in ANY war.

He has no business leading one.

I see.  That last comment is followed by another surprising comment — given that Kathleen supported the surge in Iraq and would presumably remember how long it took in 2007 to get more troops into Iraq.  But no:

43 U.S. troops have died since Gen. McChrystal called for reinforcements.

How many U.S. troops died while the surge was is process?  How many Iraqis died in 2007?  Her memory is so short she should be tested for Alzheimer’s.  The last insult?

we need to bring our boys and girls home

I watch The News Hour every day and This Week every Sunday.  I see the military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan each time they pay tribute to them.  I stop what I am doing and pay attention — pay tribute.  They are not boys and girls.  Kathleen is not old enough to patronizingly call them “boys and girls.”  Perhaps she feels free to write that sort of thing because no one in her family, including herself, have ever served in the military.  To her it is just a game, or a petty way to make a political point.

Iraq

I saw this link earlier today, and I can’t really summarize it — the post and the links in it are well worth reading.  The UN mandate in Iraq ends December 31st.  However this agreement shakes out, it looks like there very well may be a limbo period of time in Iraq between then and the 20th of January.

http://www.atlargely.com/2008/10/iraq-agreement.html

At the very least, hopefully, our people over there won’t be huge targets, though I don’t know enough to feel very confident about that.  Bottom line is that things are going to be very difficult all the way around.

SSgt. Wuterich on 60 Minutes

(I’m going from memory here since I’m still taping.)

The easiest thing to do in any controversial or criminal case is to jump to conclusions.  (The second easiest thing to do is second guess a jury.)  I try very hard not to come to any conclusions, but of course most people do.

SSgt. Wuterich was a participant in the killing of 24 people in Haditha, Iraq in late 2005.  60 Minutes devoted two segments to Wuterich and what happened.  He’s the only one out of those charged who agreed to speak.  I know why — and I don’t mean that in a cynical way.  He believes he was following the rules and his training as he understood them.   He doesn’t want to go to prison.  I understand that.  Wuterich, nor any of the others, should have been put into the situation in the first place.  If I understand what Wuterich said correctly — he made a choice.  That choice was to protect those who were his responsibility.  That choice led to the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians.  The rules he was given to follow determined his actions.   Who issued those rules?  Who put Wuterich in the impossible situation he found himself in?

I have one answer to that question:  Donald Rumsfeld.  Remember how long Rumsfeld got to linger last fall?  Remember how he was cheered as he left his office?  Well, this fall, The Claremont Institute, will award Rumsfeld with the 2007 Statemanship Award.   Can you believe that?  This Claremont Institute has already decided that Donald Rumsfeld — a man who was the first out after the 2006 election — is the STATESMAN of the year c. 2007?  Now that makes sense.  Oh wait, that’s Mr. Bill’s party, so there really should be no surprise.

Back to the serious stuff.

Wuterich stated that he shot the men who were in the nearby car.  He stated that the men were running.  Photos taken at the time show something that makes that assertion questionable at best.  Two of the men on Wuterich’s team had been in Fallujah when the U.S. military had declared that anyone left in the city was a justified target.  Those two lost a team member there.  It goes to the background of the situation in Haditha that morning.  It also supports my point above.  Fallujah was a very bad idea very badly executed.  Wait that goes back to my original point.

I doubt that in my limited number of days on this planet that those responsible for this completely disastrous foreign policy wrt Iraq will ever pay the slightest price for it.  In Cambodia it has taken years simply to indict anyone responsible for the deeds of the Khmer Rouge.  The Vietnamese are still struggling, but moving forward.  The Chileans have elected the daughter of a tortured and disappeared opponent to Pinochet.  Argentina is still a mess — with little resolution.  Wingers can’t figure out that the policies that they supported in the ’80s in Central America have their direct result in people coming here to the U.S. illegally to work.  (It’s just one aspect, of course.)  W will leave office and spend time on his new ranch.  Wolfowitz will enjoy his job at the World Bank, Pearl will keep showing up on teevee shows — perhaps he will even get to advise the next Republican administration a la Kissinger.  Condi will go on a speaking tour with Ann Coulter and then move on to run for president.  Poppie and Bar will set world records for longevity.

It goes without saying — for me — that Wuterich and the others charged MUST have a fair trial.

I just wish there could be a trial for some other people.