Monday, November 14, 2005

Orchestration of Conventional Wisdom Gave US an Unjust War

Orchestration of Conventional Wisdom Gave US an Unjust War

At, Michael S. Rozeff wants to know how Saddam Hussein became such a "grave threat." He believes that our understanding of the history of how this all came to be conventional wisdom so quickly is important. We do not want our nation - our troops- our treasure - to go into avoidable wars. He says, "We have yet to see the full consequences of this war, in terms of shifting resources away from going after terrorists, in fostering new terrorists, in strengthening Iran’s hand in Iraq, in encouraging Islamic fundamentalism, in weakening the U.S., and in other as yet unrevealed ways."
"If Saddam Hussein was not a grave threat, how did so many people come to view him as one? When did common perception transform him into a mortal threat to America? Who stimulated this transformation and why? What accidental factors contributed to this error? .. If we can answer these questions in depth, perhaps we can learn more about the fundamental failings of our system of state and government. Perhaps we can change our system. Perhaps we can avoid similar errors in the future. This article merely begins to raise pertinent questions. It does not answer them. Perhaps it points in fruitful directions; perhaps not. It only begins to sort out the strange case of Saddam Hussein’s transformation from two-bit dictator and strong man into an evil the size of Hitler, capable of producing mushroom clouds over America, possessor of unmanned vehicles filled with biological diseases lying off the Atlantic shores.
We're in this strange place in time - where we must look back in order to avoid disastrous mistakes in the future. We're also in the middle of a war about which we cannot allow to bring our nation to be brought its knees - mired in failure and strung out alone playing unilateral savior to every nation whose geopolitical interests happen to coincide with ours. Bush's use of an alleged divinely-guided "national theology" as a reason for war is a perverted, partisan, and hollow abberation of religion and has not provided a sound moral basis to initiate war with another nation. Accusing Democrats of providing comfort to an enemy is the only defense of Bush's Iraq war policy that he can muster, and it also rings hollow and defies common sense. A patriot cares enough about his country and his people that he will gladly risk imprisonment, as H.D. Thoreau did in the nineteeth Century. (see Civil Disobedience)

Michael Rozeff's article is important. You were sold a war that your nation never needed to enter into. That much is true. It should be alarming that so many believed that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat.

Now that we are there - what will we do, as moral citizens with our careful eyes fixed upon America's best interests? How will we reconcile those interests with the due responsibility for what we have wrought in Iraq?

Why do we fail to trust political leaders who send out ideas to set things right? Is it because we see how one administration failed us so miserably (and betrayed our trust)? Is it because we hate war and know that there are better solutions to dealing with our international tensions?


*tip of the hat to Charlene B - the Duchess.

American Soldier Talks About Katrina Aftermath

American Soldier Talks About Katrina Aftermath
"It really bothered me when I would see innocent people being terrorized or harmed by thugs that tried to take advantage of the helpless in the aftermath of this disaster."

- American Soldier
We ask a lot of our soldiers - and we often fail to think about the dire circumstances under which they are discharging their duty. Life isn't pretty and crime happens. In places as diverse as Iraq and New Orleans, they see it all. From the best of what we can be as human beings - to the worst.
"So there I was in the middle of water. Stepping out of a police car, M16 in hand and ready to lay down the law. Some areas were a haven for very bad people. They would slap their own mothers if they were still around. In a land where people are pissed already because all that they had got washed away."
I was particularly moved by the story told about a frail elderly woman that the American Soldier assisted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I am reprinting his post with permission from the American Soldier
(Thanks, AS.):

American Soldier says,

I was asked if I really made a difference in the two weeks that I was in New Orleans. I sat back and I pondered the question for a moment. The faces still fresh in my head of the people I either helped or arrested. I took a deep breath of the country air that I now appreciate so much more. I responded with a solid yes.

I was busy from the moment I left. Not knowing what would come about in this mission. I was prepared for the worst. We arrived at a busy airstrip called Belle Chase. There were thousands of people there. This place normally only held about 500 or so people. Not now. It was the main hub for air support in the greater New Orleans area. Aircraft was coming in or out nearly every 2-3 minutes. One would take off and another would land. A very chaotic but amazing scene.

It wasn’t any more than a day or so and we were moved into the city area. On the way in under the cover of darkness the destruction could be seen. Poles ripped from the ground and thrown across the streets. Tree’s toppled and buildings pushed over like Lego’s.

Missions got under way quick and I found my nitch. I was tasked to work with the local police. Since LA was under martial law, the need for military assistance was obvious. These cops I must say are heroes. Despite losing all that they had, they still worked around the clock in order to preserve the city. My partner was normally a quiet and subdued guy. I think I brought out a side of him that he will appreciate moving forward. I was quickly known for the no bullshit approach that I have for stupid people but yet keeping that professional side of me.

We’d roll up on a call and normally people would just gracefully walk away but when some Army guys gets out of the vehicle with an M16 fully loaded people stop and just don’t know what to do. Some people tried to test the limits of the law but my partner and I were having nothing to do with that. You drop an attitude and you were finding yourself chin to hood and that distinct sound of handcuffs closing around your wrists. I can’t tell you how many times that scenario played out.

Not all calls were in response to bad guys. We did a lot of status checks on people. At first I was like whatever, lets go check this person out. Then the trend hit me. These people were elderly and their young and able family members were calling the police to check on them. Most of these older citizens were left behind. I began to get pissed when we would go to these calls. I wanted to call the son or daughter and ask them why in the hell they left their father or mother behind! There was a call that I will not soon forget. I touched on it slightly in my 9/11 post. There was a lady who was 90 years old. Some workers flagged us down and advised us of an older lady in her apartment. They felt she should be taken to safety.

As we approached the apartment, the side of it was completely blown off. The roof was also in bad shape. We went up the stairs walking around fallen dry wall and glass. We got to the door and knocked. At first there was no answer. We opened it up and there sat a very delicate lady. We walked in and she gave us a smile. I put my weapon behind my back. And I took a look at the condition of her home. Mangled was my first thought. Her apartment was complete exposed to the elements. Mold had already formed all over the ceiling. We asked her if she had enough water and food. She said that she was fine and comfortable. I was confused because all I saw was about 15 bottles of water and some MRE’s unopened. I asked her if we could bring her to a shelter or a place that she could be more comfortable. She looked at me and told me “Child, I’m going to be ok and I’m comfortable now.” As much of a man and tough soldier that I am, for that moment I felt vulnerable. I felt helpless. This woman, who has probably lived a full life, was choosing to stay. I took a look at the walls and I could see years of happiness. Pictures of family were all around her.

As I write this right now, I have tears in my eyes. The reason is because at the time I couldn’t help her and a few days later we responded back to her apartment where she had passed. She knew her fate and for whatever reasons she decided to live her final days in such chaos surrounded by remnants of happiness that once filled her life.

We got so many calls for looting. We’d either find people fresh out of a store with cartons of smokes or alcohol. Mind you, there were no stores open. We’d see these people just casually walking about like we weren’t going to stop them. We had a standing rule while on patrol. Arrest only felony subjects. So if a person had some items, it was at best a misdemeanor charge. So we’d stop them, search them for drugs and question them. Some people cooperated with us. Some decided to act like asshats and try to resist or run. I always enjoyed when they ran. Gave me a chance to flex my running skills and quick hog-tying skills of mine.

I will expand more on the run and snatch calls in another post. I’m still decompressing from this experience.

"American Soldier" is writing a book titled Soldier Life: A Day in the Life of an American Soldier.
I look forward to reading the book. It's a special kind of person who can write about his or her often-difficult experiences in a way such that we are made to better understand - to be shocked sometimes - to be inspired to make change where it's necessary. Many thanks to AS and all the soldiers who are out there doing their job in the service of their nation.

Who Voted For This Knife in the Constitution's Gut?

Who Voted For This Knife in the Constitution's Gut?
Most Republicans; A Few Democrats

Senator Lindsey Graham's Constitution-killing amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Act was proposed and passed with no real debate about its far-ranging implications - and it was passed without any hearings. Our troops are fighting for Iraq's freedom while Constitutional freedoms become more and more limited - with fear used as a political tool to convince citizens that it's necessary. The lack of discussion calls to mind the Iraq Resolution of 2002 when, absent of meaningful debate, an all too trusting Congress hurriedly provided Bush and Rumsfeld the authorization to "do the right thing." That was a big mistake. Will we keep letting Congress make these big mistakes until our freedom has vanished altogether?

The Democrats who voted for this Amendment should be scrutinized. Who are they?

-Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut
-Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana
-Ben Nelson of Nebraska
-Kent Conrad of North Dakota
-Ron Wyden of Oregon

Republicans who deserve credit for voting against the bill were:

-Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
-John E. Sununu of New Hampshire
-Gordon H. Smith of Oregon
-Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island
In blatant defiance of the Constitution's guarantees of Habeas Corpus and separation of powers, the Senate on Thursday approved the Graham Amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 49 to 42. Five Democrats joined all but 4 Republican Senators in giving the President unfettered power to hold prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for the rest of their lives, with no criminal charges, and no right to challenge their confinement by Habeas Corpus [...]

Only a handful of prisoners at Guantánamo have been charged with crimes. Their cases will be heard in military commissions that George W. Bush established to impose long sentences and even execute detainees with virtually no judicial oversight. Without habeas access to federal courts, Bush and Donald Rumsfeld will ostensibly serve as prosecutor, judge and executioner in the military commissions. This flies in the face of the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.
- Marjorie Cohn, Truthout