Tag: Iraq

IMPORTANT: Bush’s Ex-Deputy CIA Director Admits Iraq War Based on Lies

This is explosive.

On MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews tonight, George Bush’s ex-Deputy CIA Director (and onetime Acting Director) MIchael Morrell admitted that when he briefed President George W. Bush on Iraqi activity around nuclear weapons in the run-up to the Iraq War, what he said on the subject “was not true.”

We’ve known this for some time, of course. But Morrell is the highest-ranking Bush Administration official to admit the truth in public. Morrell is the guy who was responsible for presenting the CIA’s intelligence analysis to Bush every day. And he now says his briefings, “in some aspects” at least, were outright lies and he knew it.

When President Obama took office, he almost immediately dismissed the idea of investigating or charging Bush or any of his cronies for their lies to the public about the war or for their role in carrying out illegal and immoral acts of torture. That was a huge mistake, as we are now continuing to see confirmed. In refusing to prosecute, Obama demonstrated that there is no fundamentally different moral compass for the two parties. It will always be policy based on their narrow views of what it means for America to do whatever it wants to get its way in the world.


So, Were They Wearing Pajama Footies?

camo-footiesPresident Obama promised us no “boots on the ground” in the latest round of the Mideast war he’s perpetuating without calling it a war. So when U.S. Special Operations forces yesterday reportedly killed a high-ranking leader of ISIL, I wondered what they were wearing.

Maybe the Army came up with some new hardened socks? It’s sandy out there, maybe they gave them snowshoe-like implements so they could avoid sinking? Or, given it was a night raid, maybe they just stayed in their PJs with reinforced booties?

It’s sad and I’m sorry to say it, but this is really starting to feel like 1968 all over again. I can’t just immediately trust anything Obama and his administration cronies say any more.

Conspiracy Theories, False Beliefs and the Echo Chamber

Today’s news brings a report about a study of political beliefs and conspiracy theories conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University. The poll finds surprisingly high levels of belief in conspiracy theories and other false beliefs about politics. According to the poll, Republicans and Fox News viewers are more likely to hold false beliefs about topics like the President and the Iraq war.

For example, a majority (51%) of Republicans and a surprising minority (42%) of all those polled believe the U.S. found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We didn’t. You can read a story about the poll here and the entire poll report here.

Dan Cassino, a professor of political science and the director of experimental research for the poll, said, “This sort of motivated reasoning is pretty common: when people want to believe something, they’ll twist the facts to fit it.”

And that’s the problem. People who “want to believe something” not only twist facts, they deliberately isolate themselves from contrary facts, as I’ve written about here before. The echo chamber of the Internet and 24-hour partisan cable news means it is not only possible, but easy, for anyone who wants to hold a particular opinion regardless of its accuracy to find plenty of “facts” to support them and a complete absence of contradictory evidence.

This is precisely the same problem as that caused by government propaganda, only its origin is not the government so much as it is private corporations driven by greed and unenlightened self-interest.

I don’t think this problem has a solution. But I think it has far-reaching and almost entirely negative repercussions. We are all forced to live in a world where most of our fellow citizens are intentionally uninformed or misinformed about the important issues of the day, whether by Fox News or MSNBC. Having discovered that blurring the line of distinction between facts and opinions draws loyal viewers and readers, the media are certainly not going to go on a diet of objectivity. The death of objective news reporting and factual information being readily accessible to and understandable by the average voter marks, I suspect, the beginning of the end for the type of democracy that ha been our governing principle for more than 200 years,

What comes next, I can’t even imagine.


Stabilizing Iraq? Are These Guys for Real?

Top Pentagon officials said Thursday that the U.S. military strategy in Iraq and Syria remains an “Iraq-first” approach aimed at stabilizing that country. (From a wire service report.)

I want some of whatever these guys are smoking.

First, Iraq hasn’t been stable in many years. The “stability” it “enjoyed” under Saddam Hussein was illusory and imposed by force.

Second, a large part of the reason for the current instability is the misguidedenss our our last attempt to stabilize the region.

Third, nobody can stabilize a country they neither understand nor appreciate and whose only value to them is economic.


Do Not Arm Rebels

At least two Senate Democrats — Jim Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Begich of Alaska — have stood up against Administration plans to arm the rebel forces fighting against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Manchin made the point that all too often arms we send to “moderate” or “friendly” rebel groups end up in the hands of our sworn enemies. Begich said the same thing and added that before he can support the latest first-step-to-war, “we must have greater assurance that we aren’t arming extremists who will eventually use the weapons against us.”

Nobody can give such assurances. It’s not in the nature of the combat, the conflict, or the culture. Anyone who claims to give such assurances is lying through his or her teeth and they know it.

Arming rebels is the first sound of the drumbeat of war that President Obama and his bellicose cronies and advisers would have us embark on. He should know better. We are a war-weary nation.

No arms for rebels.


Guide to Understanding the Iraq Mess: “It’s (Still) the Oil, Stupid!”

For some reason, my email inbox has been loaded with Iraq news and analysis today. I am not a student of the Middle East. I follow several journalists I consider reputable in an effort to understand what’s going on over there. Today I was pointed to a new writer whose work I didn’t know before, Michael Schwartz of TomDispatch, whose piece on the background issue in Iraq was picked up by Resilience.org. (And while you’re focused on TomDispatch, you may also want to read that alternative-news blogger’s view of Obama on the Iraq situation; it is devastatingly accurate.)

iraq_protestSchwarz, relying heavily on the Iraq Oil Report, an apparently authoritative, subscription-only news source for Iraq developments in English, says this “new” round of “terrorist insurgency” is — and always has been — about nothing more than control of the flow of oil and cash in and through the nation.

Here’s his summary paragraph, which seems to me to pretty well sum up the situation.

The oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein was racked with insurgency, and when vicious repression failed, it delivered a portion of the vast oil revenues to the people in the form of government jobs, social services, and subsidized industries and agriculture. The oppressive United States occupation was racked with insurgency precisely because it tried to harness the country’s vast oil revenues to its imperial designs in the Middle East. The oppressive Maliki regime is now racked with insurgency, because the prime minister refused to share those same vast oil revenues with his Sunni constituents.

The catalog of woes caused by the U.S. during its ill-fated and poorly managed sojourn the last decade is appalling and astonishing. We are largely, though not entirely, to blame for today’s increased insurgence. In our failure to understand the “nation’s patrimony” (i.e., oil) we have completely misunderstood what is going on on the ground in Iraq. Against that backdrop, any new or extended U.S. engagement on the ground in Iraq seems to be clearly folly.

This is an Iraqi problem of long standing. It concerns very directly and gravely the fates of Iraq’s neighboring states. But aside from oil prices, we really have no background, no basis and no business in Iraq. We should therefore quietly shut up.


Iraq-Vietnam Comparison Not Complete, But Not Inept Either

President Obama is reportedly sending about 300 troops into Iraq as “advisors” to help “retrain” Iraqi forces who have seemed from press reports to be increasingly out-fought and out-manned by insurgents in recent months. How in the world he expects 300 men to do what tens of thousands have already failed — quite recently — to do, is beyond me. As he withstands pressure to use airstrikes to help the increasingly beleaguered Baghdad government, this use of military advisers has the feel of appeasement.

iraqnamBut it is not perhaps imprudent to remember that the Vietnam War began in precisely this way. The early U.S. presence in Nam was called the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam (MAAG-V).That was later shortened to Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). Notice the word “assistance” as the focus of both names.

There have been reports — as well as a smaller number of weaker denials — that Iraqi military forces have abandoned their weapons and uniforms on the field of battle and melted into the civilian population rather than fight the ISIS forces. That, too, if true, would be eerily reminiscent of what we encountered fairly often during the first few years of the Vietnam War. In both cases what might be taken for cowardice might just be wisdom. Having been down this road before for many, many years, the futility of continuing to fight becomes a dominant meme.

Obama seems intent on alienating what little is left of his base by toying with the weapons and tactics of war. He has long since lost the support of those who, like me, falsely hoped for a progressive Presidency. Now he begins to shift to the right on military and foreign affairs and leaves behind the middle-left who have clung to their support of him because of his mediocre — but by contrast marvelous — work on social justice issues.

Such a waste, really. And perhaps a good, sound lesson. No politician can lead this nation in a progressive direction without deep roots in and understanding of the movement and the undeniable reasons for the necessity for it to begin to dominate our political scene. Behind that, if the best the Democrats can manage is a Clinton re-tread…well, then, hope for the nation is at best faint.

In Hindsight, Biden Looks Almost Prescient Regarding Iraq Partitioning

joe_bidenIn 2005, VP Joe Biden engaged in a New York Times Op-Ed debate with former Council on Foreign Relations executive Leslie H. Gelb on the appropriate U.S. strategy for the Iraq war. By then, it had become abundantly clear that President George W. Bush had no idea what strategy to pursue in the ill-advised war he personally started.

Biden offered a bold and innovative idea based in part on what had happened a few years earlier in Bosnia. He suggested a “soft partition” plan in which Iraq would be divided into three semi-autonomous regions based principally on ethnic considerations among the Sunni, the Shiites and the Kurds, held together by a viable central government in Baghdad. The Right Wing summarily dismissed the future Secretary of State and laughed him off the stage.

They believed that Bush would yet pull a rabbit out of Iraq and that a peaceful, grateful democratically governed ally would be the result.

Now that we see how that worked out for all concerned, maybe it’s time to dust off Biden’s earlier plan. It still shows some insightful thinking, a critical understanding of the socio-political realities in that part of the world, and a willingness to learn from others about foreign policy.


Are the Media, Complicit in Iraq Debacle, Patsies for Obama’s Team on Iran?

lamestreammediaAlong with Michael Calderone at HuffPo, I too am worried that the complacency of America’s mainstream media may play a key role in the run-up to yet another Mideast war by America, this time on Iran.

Ten years ago, a blindly subservient media corps — enamored of their privilege and worried about losing access — mouthed the Bush Party Line and lulled Americans into a false sense of complacency as we needlessly and foolishly entered on our biggest foreign policy blunder since Vietnam.

Today, many of the same national “leaders” are still in place, both in government and in the media, and the idiot sounds they are making with respect to Iran’s “nuclear program” are just as full of false bravado and certitude as they were a decade ago.

obamagrimaceMeanwhile, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Obama (I bet the committee wish they had that one back) is not as vocal but nearly as bellicose as his predecessor. Witness his observations today that the United States is pledging its “undying” support for Israel. He didn’t say but also means “unquestioning” support. The Israelis are at least as much to blame for the ongoing hostility in the Middle East as the other nations with which it is engaged there, but you’d never know it from U.S. media reports or State Department memos. Their “remarkable story of redemption” as Obama put it, apparently entitles them to be as pre-emptively warlike in the name of self-defense as…well…the United States in its new age of Imperialism.

The pro-peace movement needs to be on its toes this time around. The Iraq War was the first one in world history that was preceded by millions and millions of protesters all over the world. King George ignored the multitudes and we can now see to what end. This time around, peace-loving people must start sooner, speak more loudly, and issue a drumbeat that is at least as loud and insistent as that of the warmongers in U.S. policy circles.

Failing that, we are destined for another long, costly, deadly, meaningless war in the Middle East, all ultimately in the name of defending American oil companies’ interests. Nothing is worth that, not in an age of global climate change. Nothing.