Archive for the ‘Military’ 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.

From Korematsu to Shinseki

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on December 18th, 2008

President-elect Obama has announced numerous qualified and interesting cabinet appointments, but there is one in particula770_shinseki_testifying_2050081722-14090.jpgar that has caught my attention – retired General Eric Shinseki, who Obama plans to appoint as the Head of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  Shinseki has a disinguished military record.  He served in the army for 38 years, earned two purple hearts and four bronze stars for his service in Viet Nam, and was the first Asian American to be appointed Four Star General.  Shinseki is also well known for his testimony before Congress that the Iraq war would require a significantly higher number of troops than planned by the Bush Administration, a prediction which ultimately proved to be correct though it angered the Bush administration and probably led to Shinseki’s retirement.  All of these are good reasons to notice Shinseki, and to expect that he will be a strong leader for our nation’s veterans at a time when they really need it.

However, there is another reason to notice Shinseki.  He will be the first Asian American to head the Department of Veteran’s affairs.  Shinseki was born in Hawaii to parents of Japanese ancestry in 1942, during a time when the United States was at war with his country of ancestry.  It was also a time when the United States government was rounding up Japanese Americans on the west coast and transporting them to detention camps.  Indeed, some of those Japanese Americans who were rounded up and dislocated had sons and husbands who were serving in the armed services at the time, bravely fighting for their country (the United States) as Shinseki did in a later generation.

The Japanese American detention program was challenged by a young Fred Korematsu. Korematsu lost his case in the United States Supreme Court in 1943 but was ultimately vindicated when Congress apologized to Korematsu. Korematsu was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts in 1998.

I do not know whether Shinseki’s parents, or any members of his family, suffered from this program. However, I do know that Fred Korematsu was speaking for Shinseki’s family and thousands of other Japanese Americans as he stood before the United States Supreme Court. Korematsu helpd to pave the way for Shinseki’s success. Both Korematsu and Shinseki are American heroes who were not afraid to speak truth to power.

Chutzpah, Thy Name is William Kristol!

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on June 1st, 2008

William Kristol’s column today in the NY Times “What Obama Left Out” says more about Kristol than it could ever say about Obama. Kristol,famous, inter alia, for being one of the most strident voices urging war with Iraq and then Iran, but never thought it necessary to serve his country during the Vietnam War has the gall to fault Obama for not recommending military service to Wesleyan graduates. Kristol has no qualms about stretching the United States military dangerously thin, has never made it a primary concern to properly arm our soldiers in battle, and has not once insisted on providing the requisite resources to treat their injuries through an effective, properly funded VA once they return home; yet he has the temerity to condemn Obama for a speech. If the United States military had to choose one friend and the choice was between Kristol and Obama, Obama would win hands down. Check out Kristol’s brazen hypocrisy on stilts here.

Audie Murphy: An American Hero

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on May 26th, 2008

I just saw (again) “To Hell and Back,” the story of Audie Murphy, the most decorated combat soldier in American military history. He entered the Army at the age of 16, after being turned down by the Marines, Navy, and paratroopers. By 19, he had became an Lieutenant and won the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest America decoration, and a host of other decorations from the United States Belgium, and France. After returning from the war, Murphy suffered from PTSD and kicked addiction to Placidyl cold turkey. Later in his life he championed the needs of veterans and was the first military hero to publically speak about psychiatric problems soldiers endure. He became an actor and played himself in the starring role in “To Hell and Back.” For more read here. When I told my daughter about Murphy, she replied, “That’s great, but he was probably a Republican.” I responded by saying “Nobody’s perfect.”[1]

In a war necessary to America’s survival (See Ken Burns’ “The War”) pace Patrick Buchanan and other World War II revisionists, every American can honor Murphy and the other men and women who served our country fighting against the German nation, whose monstrous leaders had meticulously planned the administration of the conquered American territories. We should also honor the men and woman who have fought in all of America’s wars, especially the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld, completely unnecessary war, a war driven by a false–even incoherent ideology–designed by men, who never served in the military, but who with temerity sent others to die for their distorted, corrupt, and evil designs. This cadre of cowardly neocons who so vigorously advocated the foolhardy invasion of Iraq, and who encourage cherry-picking the intelligence concerning Iraq’s WMD program, should also be remembered as an example of the dark side of American leadership and the perversion of American ideals.

[1] This conversation cannot be independently verified.

Revealing More Disinformation about the Surge’s Efficacy

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on January 15th, 2008

Again the IPS tries to correct the disinformation about the “surge.” Consider: “Exactly one year after U.S. President George W. Bush announced that he would significantly increase the number of troops deployed to Iraq, the wisdom of his so-called ‘surge’ strategy remains very much in dispute here. . . . While even many Democrats, who have sought in vain to reverse the strategy since it was first announced, now concede that it has helped reduce the violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, critics say that its ultimate political objective — national reconciliation between Iraq’s three major ethnic and sectarian groups — remains as distant as ever. . . . Some even argue that the surge, which added some 30,000 troops to the 140,000 deployed to Iraq at the time of Bush’s announcement, may actually have enhanced prospects for a bloodier civil war by effectively permitting the warring sides — now more demographically segregated than ever — to re-group and re-arm in anticipation of a new round of bloodletting as U.S. troops withdraw. . . . ‘The thing that worries me most of all is what happens over the next 12 to 24 months in Iraq,’ ret. Army Gen. Douglas MacGregor, an outspoken critic of U.S. strategy in the Iraq war since the 2003 invasion, told National Public Radio (NPR) earlier this week. ‘Could we have actually made matters worse in the long term?'” For more click here. The salient point here is that we much challenge conventional media outlets that accept uncritically whatever the administration says. The perfunctory acceptance of the administration’s propaganda is more evidence, if any more is needed, that the current news outlets are typically propaganda machines supporting Rovian and Cheneyian “big lies.” The only democratic answer to bad media is good media. But that requires money and good media, opposed to the egregious corporate mentality involved in peddling news today, can’t compete with media giants whose primary purpose is profit. In these circumstances, where the profit-motive transcends the goal of accurate, comprehensive, and critical news gathering, democracy is challenged to the breaking point. Credit for Image

Gates on Attacking Iran

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on October 17th, 2007

Check out Kristen Robert’s article on Secretary Gates comments on attacking Iran: “U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday all options for dealing with Iran must remain open and called for international pressure and tougher sanctions to curb Tehran’s nuclear aspirations.’With a government of this nature, only a united front of nations will be able to exert enough pressure to make Iran abandon its nuclear aspirations — a source of great anxiety and instability in the region,’ Gates said in speech to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. ‘Our allies must work together on robust, far-reaching, and strongly enforced economic sanctions,’ he said, also noting a need for political and diplomatic pressure. ‘And, as President (George W.) Bush has said, with this regime, ‘we must also keep all options on the table,’ said Gates in comments prepared for delivery to the nonprofit group that advocates a link between U.S. and Israeli security interests.'” (Emphasis added) For more see here. The drumbeat toward attacking Iran continues. The Democrats should be ready to institute impeaching hearings for Messrs. Bush and Cheney the moment we learn of such an attack. We must stop the Bush-Cheney criminal recklessness in attacking Iran just before they leave office.

General Sanchez on the Blunder in Iraq

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on October 17th, 2007

Check out the NY Times piece on the repudiation of Mr. Bush’s war in Iraq by a former U.S. commander in Iraq. “In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration’s handling of the war ‘incompetent’ and said the result was ‘a nightmare with no end in sight.’ Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, blamed the Bush administration for a ‘catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan’ and denounced the current addition of American forces as a ‘desperate’ move that would not achieve long-term stability. ‘After more than four years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism,’ General Sanchez said at a gathering of military reporters and editors in Arlington, Va. He is the most senior war commander of a string of retired officers who have harshly criticized the administration’s conduct of the war. While much of the previous condemnation has been focused on the role of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, General Sanchez’s was an unusually broad attack on the overall course of the war.'” Regardless of General Sanchez’s motives, this is yet another repudiation of Mr. Bush’s war by one of the very top generals who carried water for the administration throughout the entire disastrous episode. For more on U.S. Generals repudiating Mr. Bush’s war see here.

Is General Petraeus a “Political General”?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on October 9th, 2007

MoveOn.org’s ad–calling General David Petraeus a traitor caught hellfire and fury from many quarters, even even from the U.S Senate. Is the following piece any less offensive? “George Washington, U.S. Grant, and Dwight D. Eisenhower were all ‘political general’ in the very best sense of the term. Their claims to immortality rest not on their battlefield exploits–Washington actually won few battles, and Grant achieved his victories through brute force rather than finesse, while Ike hardly qualifies as a field commander at all–but on the skill they demonstrated in translating military power into political advantage. Each of these three genuinely great soldiers possessed a sophisticated appreciation for war’s political dimension. David Petraeus is a political general. Yet in presenting his recent assessment of the Iraq War and in describing the ‘way forward,’ Petraeus demonstrated that he is a political general of the worst kind–one who indulges in the politics of accommodation that is Washington bread and butter but has thereby deferred a far more urgent political imperative, namely, bringing our military policies into harmony with our political purposes.” Just what is the skill to translate military power into political advantage”? Is it that they used their military exploits to become President of the United States? And that’s good? Is it even true? Washington never wanted to be President at all. Nothing in Grant’shere. background as a virtual failure in civilian life suggests that he ever dreamed of becoming president. And the same is true for Eisenhower. While they were generals, where were their alleged political skills? Just what purpose does this locution ‘political general’ serve except to slander General Petraeus? Remind me why MoveOn.org’s ad was so offensive? Was it anymore offensive than this? Indeed, one might even say that this scurrilous attack was a “high-tech lynching” of General Petraeus. Read the rest of this gratuious diatribe

Will the U.S. Military Permit a War with Iran?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on October 1st, 2007

Check this piece about the possibility of war with Iran: “‘There have been some equally extraordinary reports about what appears to be the virtual refusal of senior military officials to permit a war with Iran. Several months ago, it was reported that the CENTCOM Commander, Admiral William Fallon, blocked what had appeared to be the successful efforts by Dick Cheney and administration neocons to send a third aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf and ‘vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM'” Admiral Fallon is no anti-war soldier. In the following video you can see his positive attitude to the so-called and changes in tactics that accompany the surge.

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Hence, if Admiral Fallon is so strident against war with Iran maybe there’s still a chance that the Bush-Cheney juggernaut will be stopped at least regarding the borders of Iran. This is the first positive evidence that the commanders-in chief, who themselves never enter combat, will be stopped by highly ranked military personell who have.

Fox News: Disgracing the U.S. Military

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on September 30th, 2007

Check out Glenn Greenwald’s piece on Fox News’ slandering of American military leaders: “As we learned from both our Senate and House last week, in the United States we must never ‘attack the honor and integrity . . . of members of the United States Armed Forces.”‘All good patriots from both parties agree on this.That is why I was so shocked and outraged — and more than a little upset — when I went to FoxNews.com this morning and saw this:

I naturally assumed that the ‘disgraceful military leaders’ attacked by the Fox headline must be those of another country, not those of the United States leading our Nation, putting themselves in harm’s way, during a Time of War. Yet when I clicked on the item, this is the anti-military filth that I found:

And the text of the article — by Fox News Contributor and frequent O’Reilly guest David Hunt — is even more Despicable, as it repeatedly attacks the honor and integrity of members of the United States Armed Forces in one smearing paragraph after the next, beginning with this first sentence . . . ” Continue reading Greenwald’s shocking piece. It’s worth a read.