richardf8: (Default)
I sent this to Senator Dayton today, via his web form.

I expect senate Democrats to fillibuster this nomination. The purpose of an opposition party is to defend the people of this nation from the tyranny of a grasping Majority.

The decisions of Samuel Alito on every court on which he sat betray a consistent elevation of corporate and government power over individual freedom, on topics ranging from the FMLA to discrimination to abortion. His ascendancy to the Supreme Court would eliminate the last, wafer thin, barrier between the US as a Constitutional Republic and the US as a Corporate Feudal State.

If the Democrats Fillibuster, and the Republicans exercise the so called "Nuclear Option," so be it. It would demonstrate the barefaced brutality of the current regime.

However, if the Democrats do not Fillibuster, then we will find that we have already surrendered to a one party state in which elections are as meaningful as they were in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. There will be no reason to vote any more.

Finally, note that Sandra Day O'Connor has agreed to serve until a replacement is found. Her willingness to prevent an actual Vacancy implies a wish on her part that a Justice more reflective of her values than of Bush's replace her.

Do not fail her.
And do not fail the people of this nation.

Do not vote to end debate on this nomination.
richardf8: (Default)
It's been a while since I've written about Iraq, so I'm going to do a bit of that now. The pacifists say we should pull out now and cut our losses, because the longer we stay the more life will be lost without us ever achieving our objective. They are absolutely right.

On the other hand, the hawks say to us that we have to stay and finish the job because to do otherwise would demonstrate that we are weak and vulnerable, and another group says we have to stay because we broke it and have an obligation to fix it. They, too, are absolutely right.

How can they both be right? Aren't those positions contradictory and mutually exclusive? Well, yes. And that's the point. We have placed our selves in an impossible situation. There would have been no negative consequences from refraining from invading Iraq. Saddam would still be in power, yes, but he was, in many ways, a lesser evil than the bind we find ourselves in now. Because right now we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

Ultimately, I think I'm with the doves now. Although I have argued in this space that we should stay and rebuild what we broke, I don't know that it's really possible. Because while repairing broken infrastructure seems the moral thing to do, the thing we really broke was the regime of fear that kept Iraq from breaking down into civil-war and revolution during Saddam's rule. The tensions from all those years are being released right now, and they really want us out of their way so they can kill each other with impunity. And we don't want to go because we know that at the end of it all, there will be another Islamic Republic run by Shiites, and we really don't want that.

But these intramural hostilities simmered under Saddam, and they will simmer until our inevitable leave taking. That being the case, we might as well pull out and let them have done with it, knowing that the blood they spill will be on our hands, and that the atrocities that they will perpetrate upon each other will almost certainly exceed what Saddam perpetrated upon them.

Saddam was the pin in this grenade. And we pulled it.
richardf8: (Default)
Let's say your name is Osama Bin Laden. Your objective? A unified Arab world under Sharia Law and free of Jewish or Christian taint. You have a vast terrorist network at your disposal. Nothing organized enough to effect a coup, but certainly organized enough to execute a few operations that will piss people off and make them behave irrationally.

You look out upon the Arab World and see a secular despot. His face, not Mohammed's, is plastered in every schoolbook and hanging in every living room. His form, not Mohammed's is erected as statuary throughout the cities. And he holds good, Sharia loving Shiites bound in his iron grip.

You look at America. You see a president with a gray mandate and a visceral hatred of that Secular despot in Iraq. You know how to piss him off and make him behave irrationally. You know that any attack from the Arab world is ultimately going to be avenged upon Saddam Hussein. So you attack the US.

It takes its time. You probably weren't counting on the Taliban being scattered. But the payoff comes with the 2002 State of the Union address, when you hear your enemy enumerated among an "Axis of Evil." It's a pity virtuous Iran is on that list, and as for North Korea, who cares, really? You know Iraq is in the crosshairs.

The attack comes. Hussein is removed from power and eventually removed from the country. The Crusaders have done their job, and now, with a combination of insurgency and well timed attacks, it is time to get rid of them. They have done your bidding. Hence Spain, where an anti-war zeitgeist is easily leveraged to ensure a change in leadership (it might have even happened without you). Bush himself, you can't decide about. Do you want to rotate him out, or do you want to manipulate him into fighting another battle for you, perhaps in the too-secular-for-comfort Syria?
richardf8: (Default)
Those of you who have been reading my Journal for a long time know that while I opposed the war in Iraq, I did not think it unjustified. My opposition to the war can be summed up in a single name: George W. Bush. The craving of the Bush family's enfant terrible for this war convinced me that it was being waged with inadequate forethought and for the wrong reasons. Yes, this oil-industry entrenched, Halliburton-connected corporate sycophant was engaging in a simple transaction of blood for oil. And like some child screaming "I want it now Now NOW!" in the candy aisle and Target he managed to shout down anyone who reasonably opposed him.

But there was a case for war, and there is a link to 9/11.

This all comes around to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. When Bush accused Saddam Hussein of funding international terrorism, he was not lying. Let me repeat that: When Bush accused Saddam Hussein of funding international terrorism, he was not lying.

Saddam very openly supported the suicide bombings in Israel by essentially offering rewards to the families of suicide bombers. He even traveled to Gaza to present these awards in person. This is no secret, it is something he did with plenty of press coverage. After all, it was in Saddam's best interests to show the Arab world that even a secular state such as his was a useful ally.

And this brings us to the very nature of the intifada: Namely that the war between the Israelis and the Palestinians is a proxy war between the US and the Arab world. We pump money into Israel, they pump money into Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and the two sides kill each other. But proxy wars are long, drawn out, bloody, and ineffectual. And they don't really strike at the heart of the matter. We fought one against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Our boy was Osama Bin Laden.

So the Arabs would like to win this proxy war. While Saddam is doing his bit to keep the flow of suicide bombers streaming steadily into Israel, Osama decides, quite independently, and with the help of many people in the Saudi government who prefer to say that they were making "charitable donations," to staunch the flow of US Money into Israel. So he figures that striking out at the US might curtail that. The Arab world has been trying to destroy Israel since 1948, and the strike at our World Trade Center was an attempt to cut a supply line. It was also an ultimatum: continue supporting Israel, and more stuff like this can happen.

So, while Saddam and Osama would likely not give each other the time of day, they are working for a common goal: the elimination of the State of Israel. Now it's impossible for us to strike at the supply line feeding Al Qaeda because, well, we need Saudi Oil. So how can we reduce our dependence on Saudi Oil AND take out a supply line of money to suicide bombers? By taking out Saddam, and taking over Iraq.

There's only one problem with this plan: it violates international law. And unfortunately, given the UN's positions that wander between anti-Zionism and barely disguised anti-Semitism, preventing Saddam from killing Jews is hardly justification enough.

And that is why, when the war was being protested, the Anti-Semites on the left broke out their "Magen David = Swastika" signs, in addition to the more rational No Blood For Oil, and Let Inspections Work. And that is why I could not stand with them.

But Bush was lying. He was lying about direct connections between Hussein and al-Qaeda. He was lying about the state of Iraq's WMD programs, and the quality of our intelligence. And he asked congress to invest him with powers that he cannot constitutionally possess -- and they did it.

Now, one of the most disturbing things about Bush's lies is this: The Good, True reasons for fighting the war in Iraq, that we need to do something to staunch the flow of suicide bombers into the land of our ally, Israel, and that he is running a regime that tortures and kills its own, were not likely to be sufficient in the eyes of the world community. Bush's lies stemmed from the fact that he knew the truth wouldn't be good enough for a UN Secretary General who, when a Suicide Bomber walks in on a Passover Seder and kills a dozen people, vaguely condemns "violent methods," but when the Israelis respond by killing Palestinian terrorists and the kids they use as human shields, enumerates each death in gory detail.

Which raises the question in my mind: when the State of Israel was first created by the UN, did they really intend it as a safe haven for the Jews, or was placing it in the midst of hostile territory just a way of establishing a new kind of concentration camp?

This leaves me feeling -- well a bit lonely. To really have opposed the war in Iraq, to march against it, would have meant standing shoulder to shoulder with someone who apparently thinks my circumcised dick qualifies me as some sort of Brown-Shirt, while supporting it would have meant standing behind an oligarch for whom the wages of death is cash.
richardf8: (Default)
I'm happy about this, I really am. The Iraqi people deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing he's not going to return to trouble them. It's a happy day indeed. But it isn't the mission.

I worry now that with the capture of Saddam and the relief it spells for the Iraqi people, that the administration will lose its focus. There are problems with what we're doing in Iraq, although what we're doing in Iraq is a good deal better than what we wanted to do in Iraq.

What we wanted to do was to replace a puppet that went haywire (Hussein) with a puppet we hoped wouldn't go haywire (Chalabi). The Iraqi people rejected that option out of hand, and bravo to them for it. So now we're on to plan B, in which we ram a model of democracy that will not work for Iraq down its throat. The governing council is a fine bunch of people, heroes every one. But they cannot hope to unite Iraq. Hussein was only able to unite Iraq with a culture of fear and an Iron fist. We need to accept the fact that Iraq is three separate countries, one for Kurds (to Turkey's chagrin) one for Sunis and one for Shiites. The model we should be looking for is either that of three separate states, or else a federation. Iraq is not intrinsically monolithic and the means by which monolithic structured was imposed and maintained is being revealed in the mass graves. If we try to leave it as one monolithic structure, civil war is inevitable. If we can help them build a federation and internalize e pluribus unum as an ideal, we have a shot at building a stable entity.

But even that is far away. In the unlikely event that the Baathists all say "Well, they got Saddam, guess we might as well give up the fight," we still have to face the fact that Iraq has become a magnet for every radical wingnut in the Islamic world. And while Rumsfeld has argued that it is better to fight them in Iraq than on US shores, their continued presence does little to advance the cause of safety and stability.

So while we celebrate the trophy buck now hanging on the wall, let's remember that it's the meat, not the rack that feeds the kids. Here's hoping we get it dressed and processed before it spoils; it's a little far along already.
richardf8: (Default)
Thinking about Iraq.

"Bring the troops back home" is very popular with the anti-war crowd. Most democratic candidates are advocating this as the solution to the problems Dubya has created over there. It's a bad solution though, because it ignores the fact that WE made a mess of the place. But as flags that were being waved a year ago get draped over coffins today, more and more people seem eager for a pull out. And now it looks like the Bush administration, always more mindful of the next election than of the Right Thing To Do, appears eager to look for a way to pull out of Iraq in time to get re-coronated, er elected, to the throne, er presidency of the US. That, anyway, would seem to be the latest from a meeting with Paul Bremer.

There are problems with this. The first is that, left to itself, an Iraq that has to be rebuilt by Iraqis after being destroyed by the U.S. is not going to be very friendly to the U.S. Bush began this enterprise having been told by protestors in the streets that we did not have the stomach for such an enterprise, but the time to heed that was then. Now all that pulling out can do is make matters worse, like the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. And the way we have shuffled the deck, we could wind up with something far worse than the secular autocracy that was in place before.

But now that Bush's rah-rah "I'm An American and I Have A Big Penis" war has gone sour, he seems willing to trade in the "Marine Hymn" for the the "Ballad of Sir Robin," who "Bravely turned his tail and fled." But then, it worked for him so well during Vietnam, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
richardf8: (Default)
My take on this is grant it. Unconditionally. The democratic plan to finance this through Iraqi oil futures is every bit as morally bankrupt as was this war in the first place. Iraq is already a nation deeply in debt. To add to its debt burden to rebuild the infrastructure that we chose to destroy is absolutely unconscionable.

The Democrats in congress by and large have no cause or business balking at Bush's request. There are exceptions, of course, but by and large, congressional democrats voted to grant Bush the authority to execute this war back in fall of 2002. That vote was this vote and any democrats who vote against Bush's funding request after having voted to give him that authority last year are simply refusing accountability for their actions.

Democrats acquiesced in this expensive situation, over the objections of the UN, and the 53% of Americans who did not want to go to war without UN backing. Having got on the roller coaster, they cannot suddenly decide to get off when they see a big drop ahead of them.
richardf8: (Default)
I wrote this piece back in February, before the war-noises became the war. Those of you who pay attention to GPF's forum might remember me posting it there. Sadly, as I look at it today and contemplate the way things are unfolding there and at home, I find it remains as current today as it was six months ago (except that Hussein is no longer on the world stage, though he may yet be in the wings). So I'm going to present it here.

Hussein and Bush: Doppelgangers?
by Rich Furman

Saddam Hussein is a bad man. Elections in his country are a mockery of democratic process, he tortures his people, starving them while he reserves wealth for his elite, and he has imperial dreams that include bringing Israel under Iraqi control. While any connections he has with Al-Qaeda are specious at best, it is an undisputed fact that he funds terror campaigns in Israel. He assures suicide bombers that their families will taken care of after they are gone. So, on an Arab Street where poverty fuels resentment and desperation, suicide bombers perform terroristic acts for reasons that may be more Willy Lomanesque than Osama Bin Laden-esque. He is a bad man and for all these reasons should have been removed from power long ago.

Thus, I should applaud W.’s campaign for regime change, yet I don’t. I am concerned that W.’s motivation is less about making Iraq more like the U.S. than it is about making the U.S. more like Iraq. My theory is that W. looks at Saddam and suffers from a case of regime-envy. The Bush family has already given him a good start. His brother in Florida, and his father’s appointee to the Supreme Court (Clarence “Oreo Houseboy” Thomas) have made a mockery of democratic process. Evidence is growing that prisoners are being tortured . His economic policies fuel a growing disparity between rich and poor, and through a combination of treaty defections, coercive foreign policy, and a willingness to make the International Community buy what we break (i.e. Afghanistan), we have now achieved Iraq’s popularity and credibility in the worlds eyes.

Bush learned a lot from 9/11. He learned that in the wake of a terrorist event, Congress rolls over and plays dead, giving him a free hand to do whatever he wants to the Bill of Rights. How to apply this lesson? March into Iraq and use the inevitable terrorist response to further increase surveillance, reduce freedom of movement, and move us closer to a police-state. He learned that even the threat of terror can make the American People obey the most ludicrous orders. This time the panacea was Duct Tape and sheeting. He also learned that people who are poor enough, given something to blame will gladly kill themselves to kill it. He learned this from Osama, but could just as easily have learned it from Hitler. And hence we have deficit spending, tax cuts for the wealthy, cuts in education spending, the decimation of health-care for the poor, and the gutting of even the meager workplace protections left intact by Reagan.

Our President has a vision. He wants to create a U.S. Street that is similar enough to the Arab Street that he, like Osama, can raise an army of the damned to . . . to . . . I’m almost afraid to ask. Perhaps after we have occupied Iraq and Iran and nuked North Korea, we’ll start working on the next Axis of Evil: France, Germany and Russia.

August 2017

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