Archive for the ‘War in Iraq’ Category

The Big Lie?

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on April 30th, 2009

Just before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, I had an argument with a friend of mine who supported the invasion.  I tocheney.jpgld him that I did not think there was any reason for the United States to invade Iraq.  He asked me whether I thought that the President was lying about weapons of mass destruction, and was astounded by my answer.  My friend was astonished that I believed that  the President of the United States, leader of the free world, would lie to the American People about such an important issue.   Oh, what an innocent time that seems now!  Now, we know that not only was President Bush lying then, but that members of his administration continued to lie about the reasons we were in Iraq after it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction.  Most notably, Vice President Cheney spoke often about the supposed link between Sadam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks, even though no such link was ever established.

The release of the torture memos last week gives us an upsetting glimpse into the inner workings of the Bush administration during that time, and may provide evidence that the administration was involved in an even bigger lie.  Why would the US intelligence officials use torture on terrorist suspects when not only were those methods prohibited by US and international law, but those methods had never been proven to work better than other interrogation techniques?  We have now learned that the torture methods used by US intelligence officials were modelled on methods used by the North Koreans to illicit false confessions from captured members of the US military.  Why would our government want to illict false information?  Could it be that our government used torture to try to manufacture a link between Iraq and 9/11, betwee Al Qaeda and Sadam Hussein?  If so, then our government was using inhumane interrogation methods such as waterboarding, that we have prosecuted as war crimes in the past, not to protect us, but to keep us in the dark.  It’s a shocking proposition, to be sure, but given what we have learned, we need proof that it’s not true.  That’s why we need an investigation into the Bush administration’s torture policies – to make sure our leaders didn’t use torture to support their lies, and to keep from telling the Big Lie to us again in the future.

The Truth about the Surge

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on March 31st, 2009

Since the increase in American troops in Iraq, everyone–Republican and Democrat alike–insist that the “surge” is responsible for the decrease in violence in Iraq.  The truth, of course, is that vtmpphpk0pc74.pngiolence has decreased in Iraq only as a result of the United States buying off former Sunni insurgents who are part of “the Awakening.” What decreased the violence in Iraq had little to do with the decision to increase the number of troops in Iraq.  Rather the cause of the decrease in violence was the decision  of insurgent leaders to cast their lot with the Americans and expel Al-Qaeda. The proof that the Awakening is the reason for decreased violence in Iraq is now complete.  Read what happens when Awakening forces become temporarily (?) estranged from their relationship with the Americans. Click here for the story. We purchased decreased violence in Iraq with tax payers dollars.  What happens when we leave Iraq?  Will we still be paying extortionate tribute to the former Iraqi insurgents? And will we still duplicitously insist that the surge worked?

Preserving the Historical Record of the Bush-Cheney Administration

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on February 13th, 2009

For a nation to maintain its honor it must be true to its morality, its politics, and its history. Its morality requires taking responsibility for wrongdoing. Politics requires holding those culpable of wrongdoing accountable for their specific crimes. History requires preserving the record of the nation’s wrongdoing in order for future generationtmpphpreyq501.jpgs to avoid repeating them. Although the dark days of the Bush-Cheney regime are beyond us, its shadow persists. Indeed, it may not be possible to emerge from this shadow without responding as a nation to whatever crimes were committed on the Bush-Cheney watch. The Obama administration seems inclined to be “forward-looking,” which means unless irrefutable proof of illegality is established to focus on how the United States can return to its principles and values, for instance, by eliminating torture. Others want to subject the Bush-Cheney years to critical investigations and prosecute where warranted. The first approach virtually turns a blind eye to the atrocities of the past eight years. The second approach conceivably will consume the Obama administration with congressional and judicial inquiries deflecting the administration from attending to the other egregious problems–such as the Iraq War and an economy in free fall–bequeathed to the nation from arguably the most irresponsible and incompetent administration in the nation’s history.  Neither approach is very attractive.  Senator Leahy, (D-Vermont) has suggested a third possibility. To preserve the historical record without requiring the current administration to engage in complex prosecutions, Leahy has suggested the formation of a “truth commission,” which would offer immunity to anyone who truthfully testifies to the facts of the debacle in Iraq. Anyone accepting immunity that lies would be subject to prosecution for perjury. Whatever the drawbacks of this proposal it satisfies the most important overriding value, namely, it preserves the historical record on possible war crimes committed by the Bush-Cheney administration.  Without such a record, America’s honor is severely compromised.

Bush’s Poisonous Legacy

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on December 16th, 2008

George W. Bush will soon be leaving the White House. Unfortunately, his pernicious legacy will plague us for decades. His gratuitous and catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq, his failure in Afghanistan, his failure to prevent the ruination of the American economy, and his corruption in awarding contracts in Iraq, the failure of the reconstruction of Iraq, and most recently his imposing “midnight” regulations, some of which the new president will have difficulty in overruling. Although there’s nothing particularly funny about the Bush administrations perfidy, watch the video below to see a portrayal of a morally impoverished individual who never should have been in a political leadership position, let alone president of the United States.

Concentrating on Mr. Bush might miss an important point. It’s those Americans who voted for him, especially those who voted for him in 2004 after they knew of how immoral, incompetent, and dangerous he is, that deserve special condemnation. What more do people need to know after learning that all the reasons the Bush administration gave for invading and occupying Iraq were a charade in order for them to condemn him and support anyone else running for president or refrain from voting entirely? What more did these people need to know before condemning a president whose legacy will certainly be that he is clearly the worst president in American history. So farewell Mr. President and shame on you and those Americans who made your presidency possible.

Obama: The Centrist in Progressive Clothing?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on December 1st, 2008

While any sensible progressive (no, not “liberal,” progressive) should support Presidential-elect Obama’s initial decisions and appointments even when they are or seem to be incompatible with Obama’s promises in his campaign, especiatmpphpjtu06q1.jpglly promises about the war in Iraq, Mr. Obama needs to be concerned about marginalizing the progressive Left. Mr. Obama’s decision, if executed, to retain Secretary of Defense Gates sends the wrong message to the kind of consensus-builder the President-elect intends to be. A promise of consensus is the sine qua non of Mr. Obama’s political theory, but it must be consensus that doesn’t obliterate core values. So far, it is isn’t all clear that the President-elect is sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the progressive Left. He should be warned that ignores this dedicated group of Obama supporters at his own peril.  Consider the following report in the New York Times:

In deciding to ask Mr. Gates to stay, Mr. Obama put aside concerns that he would send a jarring signal after a political campaign in which he made opposition to the war his signature issue in the early days. Some Democrats who have advised his campaign quietly complained that he was undercutting his own message and risked alienating war critics who formed his initial base of support, especially after tapping his primary rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, for secretary of state.

But advisers argued that Mr. Gates was a practical public servant who was also interested in drawing down troops in Iraq when conditions allow.

‘From our point of view, it looks pretty damn good because of continuity and stability,” said an Obama adviser, who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations. “And I don’t think there are any ideological problems.’

One, of course, can appreciate the value of stability in ending the war in Iraq. However, the President-elect needs to pursue stability and consensus while at the same time reassuring the tmpphp0mm4yb1.jpgprogressive Left of his intention to honor his promise and the compelling moral imperative to end the United States’ involvement in Iraq’s civil strife. While it may be true that the progressive Left has nowhere to go but the Democratic Party, Mr. Obama needs to retain (or increase) his majority in Congress. Ignoring the progressive Left might encourage many who now support Obama to stay home in 2010. Is it really true that Mr. Obama could not find more progressive perspectives to fill key cabinet selections or at least advisory positions in the White House? What about enlisting Ralph Nader and Howard Zinn in some capacity, private or public, to advice him on critical issues in both domestic and international relations.  Mr. Obama’s clarion call for change can’t be change merely between the Democrats and the Republics. Real change means including responsible progressive who have arrayed an arsenal of criticism of both major political parties. He needn’t adopt a progressive perspective in every case, but shouldn’t he be at least listening progressive voices? Mr. Obama must, at all costs, avoid the notion that he is an entrenched centrist in progressive clothing.

Does Bush’s Hypocrisy Know No Bounds?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on November 11th, 2008

Although the Iraqi government insists that the American troop withdrawal from Iraq be given with a fixed date of withdrawal, the Bush administration rejected this proposal. Check out the following story: “Two days after the election of Barack Obama, Iraq’s chief spokesman said with unusual forcefulness Thursday that his government will coniraqwithdrawal11071.jpgtinue to insist on a firm withdrawal date for U.S. troops, despite American demands that any pullout be subject to prevailing security conditions.  . . .   ‘Iraqis would like to know and see a fixed date,’ spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in an interview in which he also reiterated Iraq’s position that American forces be subject to Iraqi legal jurisdiction in some instances. Iraqi officials, who see President-elect Obama’s views on the timing of a U.S. withdrawal as consonant with their own, appear to be leveraging his election to pressure the Bush administration to make last-minute concessions. Dabbagh said negotiations to reach a status-of-forces agreement, which would sanction the U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond 2008, would collapse if no deal is reached by the end of this month.  . . . Iraqi leaders have typically voiced their insistence on a fixed withdrawal date in Arabic comments aimed at domestic and regional audiences, and U.S. officials have frequently said that their Iraqi counterparts have sounded more conciliatory in private discussions. Dabbagh spoke directly to The Washington Post on Thursday, and in English.  . . . Dabbagh said officials must return to the negotiating table, but a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said American officials presented Iraqi officials on Thursday with what she called a ‘final text’ of the agreement.” To  continue reading click here.

Didn’t the administration once concede that American troops would withdraw from Iraq if the Iraqis so desired?  If so, why is the administration now going back on its word. The moral depravity of the past eight years of American leadership has virtually destroyed our standing in the world and poisoned constitutional government at home. In rejecting the Iraqi leadership’s demand for a fixed date of withdrawal–similar to the wishes of President-Elect Obama, the Bush-Cheney machine continues to reveal it simply lacks any moral compass whatsoever.

The Surge Hasn’t Worked!

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on September 8th, 2008

Can we please stop saying the “surge” worked? Senator Obama justifiably opposed the surge as did several military brass. The increase of American troops was designed to reduce violence in order to bring about the ultimate goal of allowing the Iraqi government to settle its factional differences. If the means didn’t bring about the end, then the means hasn’t succeeded.  That’s just a feature of the logic of means-ends relationships. The surge was a means to an end. That end still eludes us. Consequently, the meaniraqprotest1.jpgs–increasing troops to reduce violence–has failed to stabilize the fragile Iraqi government. (Kurdistan is virtually an independent state.) How many different ways does one have to say this to see that reducing violence was only an intermediate means to the ultimate goal of stabilizing Iraqi government? Since this has not happened, the surge has not yet worked. Only if the surge was designed with the ultimate end of reducing violence could it even be suggested that the surge worked.  That was not the end of the surge.  Why is this so difficult for Americans to understand? The Iraqis understand this. Perhaps that’s why they want Americans out now. Alternatively, if Senator McCain wants to take credit for the surge working why doesn’t he acknowledge that Senator Obama was right about a timetable for drawing down American troops about which the prime minister now seems to embrace?  The better policy would be to discuss the different plans McCain and Obama propose for ending our involvement in Iraq as well as for stabilizing the region. McCain seems conspicuously silent on these issues. His only proposal is to continue the war. Until what?  How long should we remain in Iraq? Until it’s a stable democracy? Without tyrannical rule Iraq will not have a “stable” government for the near future.

Is It Too Late To Impeach Mr. Bush?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 6th, 2008

Is it too late to bring impeachment hearings against Mr. Bush? Consider the latest evidence: “President Bush committedtmpphpjbc84e1.jpg an impeachable offense by ordering the CIA to manufacture a false pretense for the Iraq war in the form of a backdated, handwritten document linking Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, an explosive new book claims. . . . The charge is made in The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind, released today. . . . Suskind says he spoke on the record with U.S. intelligence officials who stated that Bush was informed unequivocally in January 2003 that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, his book relates, Bush decided to invade Iraq three months later — with the forged letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam bolstering the U.S. rationale to go into war.” Of course, we will probably never find dispositive evidence of Mr. Bush’s guilt. Consequently, Mr. Bush will probably never be held accountable by any American institution. Tragically, the United States government and American society will never get its house in order without discovering why this catastrophe occurred, why governmental institutions failed to provide accountability, and most important, why nearly one third of Americans still support this reckless, malevolent, and clearly unconstitutional venture and the president who orchestrated it.

Who Decides U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on July 21st, 2008

eca4.jpgAn astounding political event occurred pitting Iraq’s Prime Minister against President George W. Bush. “Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says U.S. troops should leave Iraq ‘as soon as possible,’ according to a magazine report, and he called presidential candidate Barack Obama’s suggestion of 16 months ‘the right timeframe for a withdrawal.’ . . . In Baghdad, however, the chief spokesman for al-Maliki issued a statement Sunday saying the prime minister’s comments were ‘not conveyed accurately’ by Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. . . . Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said al-Maliki did not endorse a specific timetable but instead discussed a ‘an Iraqi vision’ of U.S. troop withdrawals based on negotiations with Washington and ‘and in the light of the continuing positive developments on the ground.’ . . . The Der Spiegel article, released Saturday, quoted al-Maliki as giving apparent backing to the withdrawal plans discussed by Obama – the Illinois senator and likely Democratic nominee has pledged to withdraw combat troops from Iraq within 16 months if he is elected.” To continue reading click here.

What does the average American–whoever that is–think when he or she hears that the Prime Minister whose country our men and woman are dying for wants us to leave, but the administration refuses to do so? There is so much wrong with this picture. But one thing is for certain; the administration never intended to leave Iraq even when asked by a duly elected government. Anything to the contrary was unadulterated hype. What pressure can be brought to bear against such a lawless administration? Impeachment and removal from office was designed especially with this sort of lawlessness in mind. But that will never happen because pusillanimous Pelosi refuses to permit the House even to discuss it. One thing we can do is punish the Republican Party by voting against Republicans in every race from president to dog catcher. The goal is to strike a blow against those Republican faithful who supported Bush simply to follow the party. They must be brought to realize that there are some occasions when lawlessness by the president (even when, or especially when, it’s your party) must be stopped or punished. That occasion is now.

How do those naysayers regarding Senator Obama’s credibility as commander-in-chief spin this one?

Is Iran the Next Iraq?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on June 25th, 2008

If John McCain wins the presidency will he use military force to attack Iran? Here’s one possible answer: “In the race for the White House, John McCain has trumpeted Iran as a paramount threat to the United States (and its close ally Israel), and has asserted that Iran will be the No. 1 foreign policy problem facing the next administration. McCain uses Iran as a prime example of what he depicts as his opponent Barack Obama’s naive and guileless approach to U.S. foreign policy. Just like the president hopes to succeed, McCain has sought to deploy Iran as a political weapon of mass destruction. . . . In an interview with the Atlantic in late May, McCain said that ‘Iran is hell-bent on the destruction of Israel, they’re hell-bent on driving us out of Iraq, they’re hell-bent on supporting terrorist organizations, and as serious as anything to American families, they’re sending explosive devices into Iraq that are killing American soldiers.’ In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee this month, McCain again mocked Obama’s willingness to enter into dialogue with the Iranians, saying, ‘The idea that they now seek nuclear weapons because we refused to engage in presidential-level talks is a serious misreading of history.’ . . . The problem with McCain’s alarmist rhetoric throughout the presidential primaries and now in the general campaign is that he’s got the Iran problem almost entirely wrong. Notwithstanding his deep resume on national security matters, his statements seem to reflect little understanding of the realities America faces in terms of dealing with Iran. Moreover, despite how highly he rates the problem, and his own foreign policy credentials, McCain seems to have no clear plan for actually dealing with Iran.” For more click here.

The past seven years have conclusively demonstrated that using war as a primary method of foreign policy is arrogant, myopic, and extraordinarily dangerous. Our constitutional democracy must reform itself to grant the people power to prevent unaccountable and unscrupulous individuals from dragging the nation into the purgatory, no the damnation, of war, especially when Congress acts as a rubber stamp to madness. Historians sometimes say great presidents are born in war. This means that these presidents had war thrust upon them. It doesn’t mean if you want to be a great president initiate unnecessary wars. The present administration refuses to see this distinction.

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