Why aren’t we celebrating? It’s the end of US combat in Iraq, isn’t it? – Voices from San Diego’s peace movement

by on September 1, 2010 · 31 comments

in Culture, History, Popular, War and Peace

Protestsigns

Candidate Barack Obama pledged to end the war in Iraq. More than any other Presidential candidate during that long, long campaign – Obama was the most poised to declare himself as the anti-war candidate.  And he did. And the peace movement and the left in general ate it up – for good reason.

IraqOilMap

What it all was about: Iraqi oil fields

The peace movement had been in the streets protesting the Iraq invasion, war and occupation by Bush for 6 long years, since the Fall of 2002.  Every year – in March – on the invasion’s anniversary, the peace movement would take to the streets.  We welcomed a candidate of Barack’s stature joining our side.  And we joined him as well, shooting his popularity up, beyond Edwards, Kucinich, Clinton, … and ultimately beyond John McCain.

inaugurationcrowd

Inauguration day, Washington, DC, for President Barack Obama.

In November 2008, the peace movement did celebrate when Barack Obama was elected.  In February 2009, President Obama promised in front of 3,000 cheering and  clapping Marines that he would bring the troops home by Summer 2010.

And last night, President Obama announced the end of combat operations for American troops, declaring an end to the war for us, but leaving 49,700 troops for security and training, and those would be pulled out in 2011.

The President emailed me himself yesterday and stated:

frank —

Tonight marks the end of the American combat mission in Iraq.

iraq_bombing_As a candidate for this office, I pledged to end this war responsibly. And, as President, that is what I am doing.

Since I became Commander-in-Chief, we’ve brought home nearly 100,000 U.S. troops. We’ve closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of our bases.

As Operation Iraqi Freedom ends, our commitment to a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq continues. Under Operation New Dawn, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain to advise and assist Iraqi forces, protect our civilians on the ground, and pursue targeted counterterrorism efforts.

By the end of next year, consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, these men and women, too, will come home.  ….

I’ll spare you the rest. He signed it:

President Barack Obama

IraqwardeadSo, it’s the end of the Iraq war for us, isn’t it?  Why aren’t we celebrating in the streets? Our demands have been met haven’t they?

You probably already know the answer.

I knew his speech was coming up last night, but managed to miss it. Meanwhile, Patty asked me, “Why aren’t we celebrating?” It was a natural question, straight from the gut and from the heart.

So, I decided to take an informal poll of peaceniks, anti-war activists, and those I knew who had attended peace demonstrations over the last 8 years.   The results were not surprising.

Vets4peace09The peace movement, anti-war activists, and progressive leftists in general are pretty pissed off at Barack Obama, and what is left in Iraq … and Afghanistan. Here are some quotes that people sent me via email:

  • I see this as another “Mission Accomplished” moment for the U.S. Until we remove all troops AND private contractors, we are still occupying and controlling Iraq. How can we celebrate when we are repeating our dreadful mistakes in Afghanistan?  Shelley Plumb
  • How does one celebrate a lie? Lies started the war, lies kept the war going and a trillion dollars later – of which we will feel the echo effect of squandering the national treasure for years to come – what is there to celebrate? It’s like celebrating a death after a long illness because it’s finally over.
  • I’ve been protesting the occupation of Iraq since it began in 2003. In fact, the occupation disgusted me so much that I started printing and selling anti-Bush t-shirts on the web and on the street.  A few years and a couple thousand shirts later, I was happy to see Bush leave — but sad to realize Obama would adopt many of the same misguided foreign policies. And Obama’s new announcement of some kind of withdrawal from Iraq feels like Bush-style “Mission Accomplished” propaganda because we’re still in Iraq with 50,000 soldiers, 18,000 soldiers-for-hire, and 84,000 support contractors. The occupation still rages on.  Shane Finneran
  • The end of US combat troops is not peace. This event is mere window dressing. It’s like saying AIDS is cured when there are only half measures available that prolong patients lives. The underlying policies of militarism and intervention in defense of corporate profits remain in place. Douglas Porter

IRAQ  US TROOPS

  • How many mercenaries are left in Iraq and Afghanistan? I’m having trouble just glancing through my favorite blogs the last couple of days. I’m reading Chalmers Johnson’s newest book, I’m not feeling celebratory.
  • All troops are combat troops and when your in the service your first Rate or Military Occupational Specialty is combat soldier. They have not pulled out.
  • 50, 000 troops remain in Iraq but they are not there for combat. I’m not sure I understand why 50,000 soldiers have to be anywhere if there is no combat. If there is no war then wouldn’t it be better to have a different kind of personnel in Iraq to complete whatever the mission is that needs to be completed. Could it be that there aren’t 50,000 jobs in the US for these people to get so they need to stay in Iraq in order to have a job? Or, is there some other reason why 50,000 soldiers need to be in Iraq? I wonder, would the US public accept 50,000 soldiers from another country walking around the streets of San Diego or New York? For my part, if you want to convince me that the war is over then I want to see every soldier back at home {and no civilian (mercenary) force left to take the place of the soldiers}.  Hugh Moore, Co-chair Green party of SD County
  • Our sense of collective social awareness, civic involvement and participation is atrophied among progressives in the United States. The vacuum in the public square has been filled in a rush by the fascist, racist tea party folks (secretly bankrolled by the Libertarian, capitalist Koch brothers). The Iraq war was started for false motives with an arrogant and imperialist agenda. Its architects could never have moved forward with a drafted army. The Country wouldn’t have stood for it. So have a false war, draining national resources (greater than a trillion dollars), over 4000 deaths, and tens of thousands injured, fought by volunteers, mercenaries, and high paid private contractors. We continue waging war while we are laying off teachers and have 47 million without anyway to finance medical care. We have potholes, and state and city governments are going bankrupt. The middle class is imploding. We have had ineffective regulation of banks and the finance sector, egg producers, meat factories, hurricane response, and oil exploration. We have not faced Iraq’s political chaos, Iran’s nuclear threat, global warming, China’s growing technological power, nor the Euro Zone’s collapse. The president has not confronted an anarchistic and racist Republican Party. The ship of state is adrift. What is there to celebrate?  Jeoffry Gordon, MD, MPH
  • IraqbarrierOne person sent a one word answer: “Vietnamization”.
  • This is merely a re-branding of our combat troops, not a withdrawal. We have not only 50,000 in place but 45,000 mercenaries, many of whom will be contracted in the next few months. That is, we will have almost 100,000 troops in Iraq–probably for the next decade or two. That’s called an occupation of another country–a permanent occupation. And given that Obama is adding many thousand troops to Afghanistan and has expanded the war into Pakistan and that we probably have or might soon have a great many troops in Sudan and are threatening war with Iran and putting yet more pressure on North Korea, it is clear we have a typical imperialist pro-war President in the White House. And since the chap has backed down in the face of the extreme right-wing government of Israel, we are clearly going to keep letting those racist proto-fascists steal the last of the Palestinian homeland. Obama? He belongs in prison or at the end of a noose with Bush et. co. America’s greatest skill is mass murder. We have pretty much destroyed the state of Iraq; we have brought years of death and destruction with no end in sight. It’s what this country does best. Celebrating? Ya gotta be kidding!

Sadr City

  • From the Sanctions in the 90’s that killed many Iraqis especially children to the use of depleted uranium in the first and second gulf wars that killed even more people especially children to over 100,000 Iraqi’s killed by our bombs there is nothing to celebrate. US soldiers have been killed, and physically and mentally disabled with no consequences to the purveyors of these atrocities. We can celebrate when the leaders in this country and their enablers in the Congress and in the Media are put on trial for “crimes against humanity.  Elizabeth Fattah
  • The US acknowledges the presence of 49,000 “support” troops and military advisors, but talks less about special operations forces whose numbers always seem a bit murky, and plenty of military contract workers for more security. Then there are US bases, which look pretty permanent to me, and a growing number of UAVs or “drones” for air war.  Those 49,000 soldiers will not be teaching in classrooms and training on drill fields. They will be involved in “security operations,” theoretically with Iraqi troops-in-training. Some combat troops who are on their way home will be re-deployed to Iraq with a different name, “Advise and Assist Brigades.” There have already been combat deaths among these troops, and we will see more soldiers coming home in body bags, or medevac-ed home with combat injuries, or brought home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the new versions of “Gulf Syndrome” illness.  We can be glad for the reduction in forces in Iraq, and appreciate every single soldier or Iraqi who is alive because of this re-shuffling of forces. And we should remember that a central cause of this partial troop reduction is the anti-war movement here, leading Obama to promise an “end” of sorts and then trying to hold him to the promise. By the way, that movement is alive and growing in the military–soldiers and Marines continue to refuse orders to deploy or organize their buddies in protesting the war. I can tell you that few soldiers are fooled by the military’s shell games or new titles, and that anger about the continuation of the war is strong among those who are still being ordered to conduct it.  But I think we should be in the streets, and on our computers, and in our neighborhoods, and on and off bases, protesting the fact that the war is not over. We still have work to do. We’ll have reason to celebrate in the streets when every US soldier, contractor, CIA para-military type and drone are out of Iraq.  Kathleen Gilberd, Co-Chair of Military Law Task Force

This is why we’re not celebrating!

If you care to add your voice to why … please do so in the comments.

Here’s a few images from the last 7 years – not complete – but still representative.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Dave Sparling September 1, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Can Obama Meet the Next Iraq Deadline?
This is one of the more tame of many articles I am writing on this subject.

Darn I guess there is no point in asking questions like these huh?
1–Was there any possible way on earth that Cheney/Rummy/Blair might have been dead wrong in their reason for invading Iraq?
2–Should the obvious LIES told by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN be figured into the total picture?
3–Was the funny news clip of the Puppet President of the United States playing like he was looking under tables for WMD’s THAT FUNNY?
4–Is it possible that the citizens in Iraq who survived the massive SHOCK&AWE do not want a puppet government chosen by Cheney/Rummy/Blair?
5–What if there is more than one SHOE THROWER left alive in Iraq?
6–If Cheney/Rummy/Blair are Christian Men, what kind of story do you think they will tell their God when they leave this earth? Will it be good enough to get them sent UP, or is God smarter than that?
7–What if the ancient history of the ARAB world is true, and ARABS have very long memories?

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avatar john September 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm

“1–Was there any possible way on earth that Cheney/Rummy/Blair might have been dead wrong in their reason for invading Iraq?”

I’m pretty sure we invaded Iraq because a leader with a history of regional conquest using WMD refused to honor his commitments to verify disarmment of same, and showed every indication he would continue this behaviour which placed our national interests in the Presian Gulf, and thus national security, in jeopardy.
I don’t think any information has surfaced since the war began to question that. There have been a lot of people manipulating statements to prove some irrelevant things, which I don’t feel is helpful.
Our action was always sold as preventative. Do you regret your childhood polio vaccine, since you didn’t get polio? One can speculate the middle east would be better off without the war, that once sanctions were relaxed and France, Russia and China directed enormous wealth into Saddam’s hands when they consumated their massive oil deals, that Saddam would have given up his lifelong track record of regional conquest for personal vanity, and shared the wealth with his people instead of directing the funds to weapons purchases.
Considering who opposed the war in the Security Council, and who was to start pouring billions of dollars into his pockets directly, some education is in order:

“Saddam’s weapons came overwhelmingly from the Soviet Union & other Soviet Bloc countries (69% during this period), followed by France (13%) and China (12%) and a string of smaller suppliers. (For example, according to a 1984 SIPRI report, “During 1982-83, Iraq accounted for 40% of total French arms exports.”) The figure for the US is 1%.

When it comes to Saddam Hussein’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs, the picture is a little more complex. It seems clear that France was far and away the biggest supplier for the nuclear weapons program. Supplies for Saddam Hussein’s chemical and biological weapons (which included dual-use materials also suitable for making agricultural fertilizer, pesticides, medicines, etc.) were bought from a variety of sources, which seem to have been primarily western European or Russian and primarily private rather than governmental. For one discussion of the role played by German firms, for example, in supplying Saddam Hussein’s poison-gas and biological-weapons programs, see The leading role of Germany in arming Iraq

Chemical agents? Biological agents? Machine tools and parts and materials for uranium enrichment and missile production? You name them and the Germans delivered them – and not only that: they supplied the plants and know-how for Iraq to make its own “pesticides” (“to protect the date harvest”), “vaccines” (“to eradicate smallpox and other contagious diseases”), and “x-ray machines”.”

http://jeffweintraub.blogspot.com/2003/03/who-armed-saddam-some-reality-checks.html

(the data is accurate, check the SIPRI link on his page)

do you feel the war is wrong, merely because what was stated to happen, which we intervened in to prevent, could not be proved would actually happen?

You want some polio?

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avatar Dave Sparling September 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm

I believe this is the same leader that Rummy shook hands with and saint Ronnie sold a bunch of stuff to. When we needed him to fight and kill hated people in Iran, he was our buddy. This is all a big game and the pee-dons will never know the names of the top players. The Iraq war was started to bring Western Big Oil back, that Mission was Accomplished. Cheney/Rummy/Blair did not prevent anything, except the lives of many children in Iraq.

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avatar john September 1, 2010 at 11:29 pm

And the same leader who can be seen in a French Nuclear Reactor with the most fervent opposition of the war (Jacques “Iraq” Chirac, who also entertained Saddam as a guest at his personal estate in those days) in 1975:

http://tammybruce.com/2006/09/flashback_nuclear_cooperation_.html

But then who would be so silly to stand on a point about top leaders in government having pictures taken with leaders of countries whose relationships might evolve later?

So in response to a furnished description of who sold what to Saddam Hussein, with hard numbers, with a link to a source which references the widely accepted SIPRI report database with detailed descriptions of exactly what Iraq bought and from whom, I get “Saint Ronnie sold a bunch of stuff”. (which you’ll find well detailed in our 1% share- looking into which finds was mostly in the form of some helicopters we sold which we refused to ship the full military version, Saddam had to have an Italian company furnish the missing equipment on them)

This is an inherent problem with so many arguing the anti-war position. Most people are not willing to reduce their foreign policy knowledge to the level required to share the talking points. But hey if you think partisan hatred passes for compassion for humanity’s suffering, go right ahead- just don’t think it’s going to help those who you pretend to care about.

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avatar Dave Sparling September 1, 2010 at 11:53 pm

I do believe there is no argument that at a time Saddam was in good favor of the American government. This is not unusual as we have many past and present dictators as friends. I see no need in a detailed who sold what list, I will just forever not buy Tony Blair’s sob story of how killing all those innocent Iraqi civilians and UN soldiers was worth it to rid the world of a Dictator that fell out of favor of western leaders.

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avatar kenloc September 2, 2010 at 10:51 am

How many other countries have leaders that are as bad or worse than Saddam? When are we invading Korea and Iran?Should the U.S invade country after country because their leaders are oppressive and they are arming themselves.We are going to be real busy this century if that’s the case.Why Iraq and not Iran or North Korea? Risk vs. reward I think.The easier country to defeat with the biggest rewards we could reap afterward.There are many countries with terrible leaders in this world who do horrible things to their people.TheUS does’t get involved because there is nothing in it for them.The propaganda machine to start this war was almost laughable. They have WMD’s.Iraq is in no way affiliated with Al Qaeda.Nothing to do with eachother.Oh,they don’t have WMD’s but now we have to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq(huh?)there or we will be fighting them here.We have to fight the insurgents,a.k.a. people who used to have normal lives before we bombed the crap out of them.Mission Accomplished? What exactly was accomplished other than too many people dead and a transfer of wealth and power?

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avatar Dave Sparling September 2, 2010 at 6:46 pm

I guess our government, like our people, claims the right to choose friends. Baby Doc in Haiti, Batista in Cuba, the Shah in Iran. Our guys never seemed to have the problems the people in those countries had with those guys. Something tells me MONEY just might be the key.

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avatar Leffdy September 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Geez! You peace people are certainly fair-weather friends! You elect the only candidate – let me repeat this – you elected the only candidate who had a chance to win AND was against the Iraqi war FROM THE GET-GO. He wins, goes to Washington, has to stare down the generals and admirals – not an easy task at all, has to fence with the tea party types, has to counter the right’s onslaught – withdraws by far most of the 180,000 American boys and girls who were over there – ON TIME, mind you. He pulled them out according to WHAT HE SAID HE WOULD DO. And now? You all wouldn’t be seen withing 2 miles of the dude. You are fair weather friends. He never said he was a progressive, he never said he wouldn’t go into Afghanistan. Remember John McCain? He wanted to bomb Iran, he wanted to win in Iraq if it took one hundred years. Hey leftists and peace protesters – go look in the mirror and see if you see any hypocrisy?

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avatar Ernie McCray September 1, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Looked in the mirror, saw no hypocrisy. Did see: a man who believes that staring down the generals and admirals is really pretty easy, especially if you’re their Commander in Chief and truly believe that illegal wars should not be fought and that teenagers, for sure, shouldn’t be sent off to fight them. Did see: a man who would spend more time doing what he feels to be right as opposed to fencing (besides I don’t know how to fence) with tea party types and countering the right’s onslaught. I like to set the tempo. Did see: a man who never felt that Obama was against the war FROM THE GET GO to any measurable degree.
Hypocrisy has nothing to do with what so many of us are feeling after losing so many of our fellow citizens to the madness. And as far as our relationship with Obama, whom we never took to be a progressive, I think we just wish he would lean our way and rally us just a little bit so we can feel connected to what he’s trying to do. Taking a strong stand against war – which kills our children and other nation’s children – and standing strong for gays and lesbians (a US president, if he or she does nothing else, should forever promote civil and human rights for all citizens) would have us in the streets, covering his back, before the whole world.
What do you see when you look in the mirror, Leffdy?

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avatar Molly September 1, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Leffdy, calm down. Ernie, not sure ‘staring down the generals’ is all that easy.

But to get the discussion to a point I feel has been overlooked: the left, the peace movement needs to take responsibility for what has just happened. By simply shaking our finger at Obama, we’re overlooking what we should be doing. We need to stand up and take credit that we (helped) force the US government to withdraw 70% of the troops that were at their peak in 2007.

Because of the strength of the peace movement, candidate Barack soared in popularity, it’s true. And the anti-war candidate won. Because of many factors, but a lot because the peace movement had come to represent a majoritarian position on the war.

The peace movement has forced the US ruling class to remove most of its troops from Iraq. Period. Do I need to say it again? Oh – and yes, many were moved next door. But the left has always been “weak” on Afghanistan (who initially didn’t want Osama bin Ladin caught?). We need to keep the pressure on the administration over Afghanistan.

Let’s take some responsibility here. Goddam it. We marched and demonstrated for how many long years? It’s bullshit to say that nothing has happened – that it’s “the same” … and yes, there are more contractors and I agree with the other criticisms of why we’re not celebrating.

That’s a different point. We have forced a split in the ruling class. One section wanted to “win” – and the other wanted something different, and Obama came to represent that view – and the view of the MAJORITY OF Americans was ‘get out of Iraq.’ Let’s see some credit where credit is due. Don’t sell yourselves short, you peace mongers. We did have an affect and today is the official acknowledgment of that.

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avatar Editordude September 1, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Molly, please email us to talk about making this comment a reader rant. obragblog@gmail.com

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avatar Ernie McCray September 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Hey, Molly. Love your points and I, like you, as a protester,have felt a part of what has been done. But, based on my feelings about young people in war and all the work I’ve done with Project YANO regarding the militarization of our youth on their school campuses – if I had the power over generals and admirals I’d have absolutely no problem telling them “Saddle up! We’re bringing the troops home!” The only people who have to shake in their boots around people that high up on the chain of command are those lower on the list.
I’m glad that Obama did what he did but I’m not cutting him any slack when it comes to war while he promotes Bush’s No Child Left Behind which still demands that schools, in order to receive federal funding, give the Pentagon information regarding students.
It’s hard to stare down people when you’re not fully committed to what you’re staring them down for.
Anyway, it’s great to hear your wonderful voice. We do have to remind ourselves to see the positives in situations and we should celebrate whenever we can.

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avatar john September 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm

“How does one celebrate a lie? Lies started the war, lies kept the war going ”

I don’t think so. Here is the sole document the government furnished to justify the war to the American people and the world:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/july-dec02/house_resolution_10-02.html

Regarding the issue of WMD, this is what it states:

Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in “material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations” and urged the president “to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (Public Law 105-235);

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

———————————

And the final ISG report JUDGES (meaning it’s their best estimate) that while Saddam Hussein LIKELY did disarm himself of most of his WMD stockpiles in the early ’90’s, he DID NOT abandon his biological weapons programs, continuing them until being caught a few years later, and did actively conceal and engage in deceit to obstruct the disarmment verification process up to the day the war started in 2003. Furthermore, he had not abandoned his programs, just converted them to underground, dual use commercial programs he could engage in under the nose of the UN, and intended to ramp that up when sanctions were relaxed.

Now I expect someone to come in here and say “oh don’t give us this tired story, there were NO WMD.” Well if you make that argument then you’re a bigger liar than you’d claim Bush is. No one can state that factually.

We went to war not over stockpiles of WMD, but because of a dictator who was bent on regional conquest, and despite his country being pumelled by a previous war, and sanctions, he continued to build palaces, poop in solid gold toilets, and had shown not one single indication he would change from the man who had attacked 3 of his bordering countries and contimued to provoke them with acts of war right up through 2003.

If you can show me a lie in that document above, I will concede the point. If you point to media blurts about “what Bush said” rather than the sole declaration under his control, the quality of the argument, or lack thereof, is apparant.

I would suggest activism toward reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels abundant mainly in unstable middle east countries would be far more constructive than protesting America’s support of its military commitments to its longstanding allies.

In case anyone just fell off the turnip truck, we owe almost every bit of American prosperity since 1973, to the Royal Saudi Family- and they were next on Saddam’s hit list.

A point of contention with me remains the use of DU ammunition by the US. It is apparant that people at several levels of government along the way have obscured data to give the illusion DU is perfectly safe, and that is utter bull. DU in whole form is. DU dust, and aerosolized particles, is very dangerous and evidence exists they knew this as far back as 1943. However before we get too excited blaming the US for birth defects one should google “tuwaitha looting water containers” and read what went on there.

Can one comprehend the stupidity of looting a nuclear materials storage facility, taking hundreds of drums full of yellowcake- marked with the internationally recognized symbols of nuclear radioactivity, AND the skull and crossbones- they dump the yellowcake in the river used for drinking and bathing- rinse the drums and used them for drinking water, milk, etc!

THIS IS THE NATION SADDAM LED. THAT HE EDUCATED. THIS IS HIS WORK.

If you care so much, you don’t look away. You do what is necessary to make it better. That’s what I believe we did. It will take several generations to reveral the results.

Most of the soldiers who have served feel this was the mission.

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avatar dave rice September 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm

That document is the SOLE justification for the war? You’re saying that Bush and other White House/military officials never gave speeches on the matter, that no other documents or journalistic coverage during the run-up to the war existed at all? You’re saying there was no national debate? Or are you saying we should discount everything that was said at the time that’s not in this one document, because when those WMD speeches were being televised we didn’t see Bush’s fingers crossed behind his back? Got us there!

Later on you say “If you point to media blurts about “what Bush said” rather than the sole declaration under his control, the quality of the argument, or lack thereof, is apparant (sic).” You’re saying this document was under his control, but the words that came out of his mouth weren’t? I might almost be able to follow you on this point…

You say Hussein “attacked 3 of his bordering countries and contimued (sic) to provoke them with acts of war right up through 2003.” Did I miss something? What act of war did Hussein initiate against his neighboring countries in 2003?

I think we’ve got genuine agreement when you posit that moving as a global society away from petroleum-based energy is as important, if not more so, as ending any particular military campaign. But then you go right on to lose me in your next paragraph.

“In case anyone just fell off the turnip truck, we owe almost every bit of American prosperity since 1973, to the Royal Saudi Family- and they were next on Saddam’s hit list.” In case you just fell off the turnip truck, Saudi Arabia fostered the culture and provided the attackers that struck us on 9/11, which , if you’ll recall, is the event that brought us back into hands-on relations with the Middle East. Now, I’d like to ask how we owe, in your words, almost every bit of American prosperity to the Saudis, but they get a free pass on that whole WTC bombing thing.

In conclusion, I do care about the people of Iraq. But I also care about my fellow citizens, the ones on the street because we have no money to help them (it all went to Iraq). The teachers getting laid off, the students (like my own daughter) crowded into over-capacity, mixed-grade classrooms, the city workers being furloughed, the educated professionals forced to take menial labor jobs at 30% of their usual pay, the laborers who’ve been squeezed out of work entirely. How much suffering could $1,000,000,000,000 have alleviated at home?

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avatar john September 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

This should be my last reply here, as I have been informed by Frank that my comments are now going to each be moderated because of my “extremist views” (ironic considering Frank’s situation of exclusion from OBTC candidacy allegedly for his views) but I believe Dave Rice deserves the respect of a reply for his commendable effort to address my talking points.

1. Yes, it actually is the sole document that outlines our jusifications for war. The reason I put that far and above in legitimacy over what people’s recollections of media coverage was, (<that statement addresses itself) is that we rarely see whole speeches, and if Bush said "we're going to war for his support for terrorism, his genocide against the Kurds, and the continued threat to the region of his WMD" CNN played the part saying "his WMD" every hour on the hour for 2 days and that's all we saw. Thus you had people actually claiming that WMD were the ONLY reason given and everything else was made up AFTER the fact when none were found. Look up Bush's speech to the UN general assembly of September 2002 (and the document furnished) and you will wonder how these people feel qualified to offer commentary on the issue.
Funny how many lies have been offered to try and prove Bush lied. (not by you but the above argument)

However let me expand upon that and actually concede the point. You mention "public debate" and put great emphasis on the speeches given in the runup to the war. What input did the public have on the decision to go to war when, say, he gave the 1/03 SOTU address with the 16 words? How about NADA? Our input would be to our elected representation in Washington before their vote on the Joint Resolution back in October 2002. When that passed into law the decision to go to war was sealed, only to be changed by Saddam, Bush, and the UN, as it should. A president should not look at opinion polls or television broadcasts of protests in the streets by 1% of the population for policy decisions.
My opinion, and I stress it is that, is that after the Joint Resolution passes into law the only duty Bush had in public addresses was to rally support for the success of the mission, and support for the troops he commanded. So yes they did over emphasize the WMD issue and try and scare the public a bit- however they believed in the intelligence, and there was not a body of intel claiming Saddam had disarmed. At all.
As for Colin Powell, (mentioned by someone else) The UN does not act with US interests in mind, and as with Bush, his duty was to garner support for the mission at that point.
The gist is nobody with any decision making power on this action was being lied to by anybody.

2. "What act of war did Hussein initiate against his neighboring countries in 2003?"

http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_247.shtml

"Since the year 2000, Iraqi MiG-25s were reported flying recce sorties over Jordan, and even penetrating the Saudi airspace: the Jordanian F-16As proved unable to intercept any, while in early 2003 even the USAF F-15s came too late to catch the Foxbat that flew 60km deep over Saudi Arabia. In December 2002, finally, an Iraqi MiG-25PDS shot down a USAF RQ-1B Predator armed recce drone (using a single R-40RD missile!) in a sharp engagement in which both sides opened fire."

The mig 25 flying at high speed 60 km deep into Saudi airspace is not a trivial matter. The Saudis employed Shahine and Hawk SAM (surface to air missile) batteries, most of them mobile, as their primary air defense capability. Mobile SAM batteries' only defense themselves is ambiguity of position. A high speed penetration run by a recon aircraft typically precedes a full scale bombing attack by getting them to give away their position through their instant on radar. The recon plane then returns with a full map of SAM locations for escorts to soften up. This is a grave matter between nations with tensions due to previous hostilities, and the Saudis most certainly had to uproot all those batteries and relocate them.

Keep in mind this was at a time when Saddam had signed UN 1441 pledging this was his final opportunity to cooperate with disarmment and show he would live in peace with his neighbors. Mig 25's are still the fastest combat jet on the planet and only Iraq's mosrt experienced pilots can fly them. He was not lost and this was no accident.

I cite this to say, Saddam had not changed and was fully expected to attack an ally we agreed to protect and our economy depends on.

3. " In case you just fell off the turnip truck, Saudi Arabia fostered the culture and provided the attackers that struck us on 9/11, "

True and false, and note I said the Royal Saudi Family. Osama Bin Laden is their enemy. The Royals have a very delicate situation ruling that country, and are our allies in fighting terrorism. In any case we have an agreement to protect them and in exchange they have used their oil to prop up our worthless dollar for 37 years. We owed them this.

Calculating the cost of the war is difficult and only relevant if you went back to 1973 and figured where we'd be now without all of OPEC's oil being sold in dollars, which meant industrialized nations giving America real goods and services for worthless paper as fast as they could consume OPEC petroleum. Google "petrodollars" if this is unknown to you.

4. The cost is covered above, but figure all of our military commitments to our allies are a seperate thing from domestic agenda. It's like saying "gee I'd sure like to have all the rent I paid over the years to put into a retirement account, look what I could have done…." but you had to pay the rent. We're in the middle east because we use oil, and because controlling the way the world's oil markets do business- in dollars- has made America fly higher than anyone for decades. It IS unravelling, slowly, but we're controlling that too.

Saddam knew this and his major weapon against us was in fact going to be his oil. He broke from OPEC in 2000 and, allied with France, began selling oil in Euros. As soon as Blix declared no WMD were able to be found, the combined oil exploration assets of France, China, and Russia were to split the country 3 ways and flood the world petroleum markets in Euros. All the proceeds going to Saddam, from his 3 largest weapons suppliers. At the same time he was sponsoring acts of terror by extremist Muslim groups in Israel, knowing their strong reprisals against the Palestinians would foment the flames of anti-Israel and anti-US sentiments across the Islamic Arab world.

To trust Saddam having peaceful intentions for all this would be irresponsible. George W. Bush cannot go in front of the American people, much less the world, and say we are going to war because Saddam is allying with three nations that are adversary to us intent with them on destroying our economy as part of his plan for regional conquest and restoting his honor lost in desert storm. However that's the way it was, and the people who DID have a vote in going to war- Congress- knew all of that.

I know Frank does have the integrity to publish this last reply of mine, and I will finish by saying I never hoped to change anyone's mind on the war. However opinions on these matters are based upon facts, and I am well researched on the facts of this, having thrown them up for debate across the internet. I merely hoped to offer you some facts and hope you can offer me some of yours, in the end knowing more facts only serves to strengthen positions for or against it, if you use them honestly.

I don't arue to promote any political agenda, just getting to the bottom of things, and while I think George W. Bush is as big a turd as anyone else, can only still agree we did the right thing in 2003.

Best of luck to you all.

John (the guy who used to own the hearse on W. Pt. Loma)

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avatar Frank Gormlie September 5, 2010 at 10:32 am

John is right, this is his last comment on our blog. We don’t support the Iraq war, George W Bush, or the extreme rightwing views of commenters, native american genocide deniers, or T.I.’s. There’s plenty of other places for them to go.

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avatar dave rice September 7, 2010 at 11:02 am

John – appreciate the response, even though you’ve ruffled feathers and take a viewpoint contrary to mine and most on here, including the owner and publisher of this site, who I know personally and whose decisions regarding what content he wishes to publish I respect. I hope you at least check back by to catch this reply.

1. I’ll concede that the document you link to was the written authorization for Bush to go to war. However, I do place great importance on the public debate prior to the war, which was heavily focused on WMDs and support for al Qaeda (both points were false, as Hussein and bin Laden didn’t see eye to eye at all, though Hussein did support other extremist groups).

Why would I discount the other points, including persecution of the Kurds and support for other terrorist groups? Simple – at that point in our history, general public opinion was in support of routing al Qaeda – those guys that attacked us. Even amongst my hawkish friends (and living in East County at the time, I had plenty), I couldn’t find anyone who really believed it was going to be possible for us to simultaneously engage every bad guy in the world and come out on top in each instance. Therefore, while Hussein was a bad guy, if he had nothing to do with attacking us on 9/11, we don’t deal with his mess until we clean up the more pressing one (unless we thought he was genuinely funneling aid and WMDs to the people who’d actively attacked us, rather than rattled sabres from thousands of miles away). I don’t believe our elected representatives were giving equal weight to the ‘we should go back and finish what my daddy didn’t’ provision when they voted either. Many have since stated publicly that this was not the focus of their vote.

Let me also throw in a quick reminder that the Kurds were treated so poorly in large part because Bush I during Iraq War I encouraged them to rise up against Hussein, with the implication they’d receive American support in doing so. The Kurds believed Bush, fought, and then Bush did nothing but stand by and watch the slaughter.

2. The most heinous ‘act of war’ committed was flying an intel mission 25 miles or so across the border? While I’ll concede again that this was most certainly an unacceptable action, our reaction seems to make a case that the USSR would’ve been justified in unleashing nuclear annihilation on the world for our flying spy missions over their territory during the Cold War.

3. The Saudi Royal Family reigns over the largest group of followers of the Wahhabi (sp?) sect of Islam. Think of them as the Evangelicals of the Islamic world – the most extreme branch, and the one that preaches conversion or death to non-believers. They use their money and influence to spread this extremism to less-developed parts of the Middle East and Africa. It’s my opinion that this does more to spread terrorism than anything they might otherwise be doing to fight it.

I also think there are enough other countries dependent on the dollar that one kingdom of oil-rich royalty does not make or break our nation or our currency. If the cost of Iraq is to be chalked up to providing them defense, they’ve cost us more than they’ve helped.

If OPEC abandons the dollar, where are they going to go? A switch to the Euro was discussed a few years back, but unsurprisingly those rumblings seem to died off lately.

4. I think where we differ is in the value we place upon our commitments to our allies around the world. While I can certainly appreciate the need to provide aid and security around the world, I don’t think our investment in other countries (especially in one with surplus funds of their own like Saudi Arabia) should trump our investment in our own people.

Ultimately, neither of us is going to change our mind on this matter, but it’s nice to be able to at least have some civil discourse with an opponent…it’s easy for me to sometimes get caught up in a bubble where I see the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics at Tea Party rallies and figure all conservatives or war hawks or anti-immigration types or whatever are just batshit insane.

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avatar Frank Gormlie September 8, 2010 at 10:28 am

Dave, thanks for your patience. Once again, John here in the midst of his very-often very long rants, would end up praising George W Bush and keeps supporting the Iraq war and invasion and occupation. And when we followed his rants around the blogosphere, we found some that were way over the top, including denying there was ever any genocide of American native peoples when the Europeans arrived, and basically blaming the Indians for their own demise. These are not just views that ruffle feathers, these are very extreme rightwing views for this day and age. And again, we vowed not to be a platform for racist, extremist ranters.

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avatar barbara September 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

Thanks so much Frank, for sticking to principle. And thanks for your great blog. Every day since the Obama speech that was subject of your blog, there has been something in Iraq. Just yesterday 2 soldiers were killed by a guy they had trained! War profiteering is rampant. Many of the major participants in this crime against America have written books, history is being revised daily….Nope, not me. Not ready to turn any page on Iraq. Every crime must be examined and dissected so that this cannot happen again. Congress is as responsible as Bush. The Robert Byrd speech to an empty chamber echoes in my mind when I think of turning the page. And it makes me weep for what this country has done.

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avatar john September 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Dave, thank you again for another intelligent and open minded reply, addressing points head on. To avoid this enduring in the face of an unfriendly audience, I will reply to just this one important point:

” I couldn’t find anyone who really believed it was going to be possible for us to simultaneously engage every bad guy in the world and come out on top in each instance. Therefore, while Hussein was a bad guy, if he had nothing to do with attacking us on 9/11, we don’t deal with his mess until we clean up the more pressing one (unless we thought he was genuinely funneling aid and WMDs to the people who’d actively attacked us, rather than rattled sabres from thousands of miles away).”

This is all 100% true. However consider as we deployed troops in late 2002-early 2003, Kim Jong Il out of the blue started his own sabre rattling and some critics of our actions at the time actually suggested we forget about Saddam for the moment and rush to confront “real” threats in North Korea. (never mind that Kim Jong Il had no track record of invading anybody, only bluffing, and his tough talk at the time was surely because he knew we were busy with Saddam)
What they would be suggesting is that we go to war with problem nations at the drop of a hat, they say jump and we immediately react by sending whole divisions of men across the world, and of course it’s not that way at all. The road to OIF was long, actualy encompassing a dozen threatening UN resolutions since Desert Storm We had no such chain of events with Darfur, with North Korea, or anyone else- though had Kin Jong Il continued to push us, we would go a similar route, pushing for UN resolutions in incremental steps before a single shot was fired.
The language of UN1441 with Saddam was clear, as Blix reinforced in his interim report of January 27 2003, it was Iraq’s “final opportunity for peaceful disarmment”. Other previous resolutions contained similar strong words. Saddam was a unique case who thought he could regain lost vanity by pushing us to the brink and with the help of his friends who had their own agenda, get us to back down or lightly punish him.
However this sets precedent that all others would soon follow. Had Saddam challenged that clear ultimatum, and saw us unwilling to stomach a bloody war on foreign soil, imagine what that does to embolden people like Kim Jong Il and others. Every nation we file a resolution with would push us prove we would follow through in any ultimatum.
So while it may be hard to swallow for those less quick to fire a shot than I might be, part of what we did does come down to proving a point to immature people who think with the “code of the schoolyard”. We had to attack Saddam because he stood with the Kim Jong Ils of the world watching, and dared us to. Had we not, we would indeed be fighting a lot more wars. And this also shows we are slow, diplomatic and methodical about the way we do business, and can be counted on to do what we say we will. I think most of the world does respect that.
All my opinion, of course.
Finally an addendum to Frank, I find it curious you would be compelled to search the internet to find material on a separate issue never discussed in this blog by me, to build a case against my personal character, rather than do as Dave has and address relevant talking points I raise. Some might say that is a tactic which is normally employed when one’s postion on a topical issue is weak, I would offer merely it’s a waste of time as discrediting my person has no effect whatsoever on an issue of global scale such as the Iraq war. You’ll have millions (who share my views) more to go even if you did shoot me down, but there’s only one war.
I don’t have any apologies for my views but if you are going to use them to denigrate my person it seems fair to ask that instead of portraying them in a light of your choosing which appear ignorant and hate motivated, to objectively display them with a link. The native American issue is not one I argue often, the few places I have I believe I expressed my views with a solid rationale and opened myself up to those of others. I don’t believe I ever said there was no genocide, though I indeed place the displacement of them and ultimate dominance of the content by Europeans squarely upon their shoulders, and think you ridiculing me for it is ironic given your current endeavors, Frank.

It was due to their failure to utilize the written word, Frank. The same vehicle which allows you to know their fate and lament their sorrows. Without doing so, each generation is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the last, and humanity’s suffering is a perpetual cycle.
Research this almost taboo issue, the indigineous people of NORTH America have no known record of preserving knowledge between generations besides some limited cave paintings. All records began with the arrival of the Europeans. This gave the Europeans the advantage of technology, sustainable agriculture, (invention of the plough and taming of the hooved beast critical) medicine, studying disease. And coversely allowed the Natives to forget their own long history of nomadic warring tribes, and relate a romantacized view of themselves as living one with the land, not hunting each area to extinctinction and moving on- ultimately conflicting with others doing the same. In the end with all humanity expanding worldwide, no peoples would have the luxury to be allowed to remain on such vast fertile land untouched by another population who wisely built upon the accomplishments of each generation and shared that knowledge with the entire world.
Most importantly, the written word facilitates peace through diplomacy.
If it’s extreme to call things so bluntly, so be it.
Thank you for letting me explain my position. In writing.

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avatar Dave Sparling September 1, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Looks like WHEREAS is the magic word. Don’t necessarily need any real facts, if you can get congress to say WHEREAS enough time you can do whatever you want to do. I would love to see someone take that resolution and put what actually happened into a bunch of WHEREAS paragraphs. In fact I just might do that myself.

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avatar john September 1, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Making an issue of the recurring use of that in the document might impress an audience of those looking for any possible way to discredit it, however that doesn’t seem like an endeavor of lofty goals.
I furnished the passages merely to address that nobody promised we were supposed to find anything to show the world after we bombed every government facility in the country, then the people looted those buildings down to and including the plumbing fixtures.
I’m no lawyer but a long time philosphy of the profession seems apropriate:
“When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When the law is on your side, argue the law. When you have neither, pound on the table and shout a lot.”

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avatar Dave Sparling September 1, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Thanks to the internet I can just start with the first WHEREAS, add some new information on Gulf One and see how it reads. I will be sure and let you know when and where I post it.

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avatar Dave Sparling September 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm

OH John thanks again for the WHEREAS idea. Here is my first one.
Official United States Government IRAQ RESOLUTION– I will add a whereas to all their whereas. Let us all compare WHEREAS together.
Joint Resolution to Authorize the use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.

Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq’s war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

WHEREAS–Is the US State Department still keeping April Glaspie under wraps?

12/25/05 — — It is now more than fifteen years since that fateful meeting on July 25, 1990 between then-US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie and President Saddam Hussein that the Iraqi leader interpreted as a green light from Washington for his invasion of Kuwait eight days later.

The US State Department, which is said to have placed a gag order on Glaspie in August 1990 prohibiting her from talking to the media about what had transpired at that meeting, is apparently still keeping her under wraps despite the fact that she retired from the American Foreign Service in 2002. .

In all the years since her meeting with Saddam Hussein, Glaspie has never spoken about it to the media, never appeared as a guest on a TV talk show, never written an article or a book about her time as the US’s top diplomat in Baghdad. The question is: why? What has she got to hide?

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avatar Danny Morales September 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Good Bye John- Just remember that “the freedom of the press is only for those that happen to own one and the freedom to speak one’s mind is a terrible thing to waste”. At least you live around the corner from me so I’m sure we’ll be talking from time to time. I only hope so….The Great Rat Xodus of the 500 Monkeys-

Danny

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avatar barbara September 3, 2010 at 7:08 am

Wow, just wow! What comments! Don’t even know where to start. I lived in Bahrain for 31/2 years after Gulf l. American companies were doing business with Saddam all during that time. I saw a load of mine sweepers going over there. Yes, to help dispose of the bomblets we had dropped all over the desert. He did not have WMD and the phony defectors who said he was making them were discredited. No one mentioned the secret Dick Cheney energy task force which divided up Iraq in different oil zones long before 9-11 or talk of WMD. BTW, do you suppose if 9-11 had never happened we would have gone to Iraq? The war is not over, it is all Kabuki theater. There are still over 85,000 mercenaries in Iraq and more than that in Afghanistan. They are armed thugs supposedly providing protection for State Dept and other civilians. They guard the Vatican City sized embassy. Funny, I forget when the military became so incompetent that they needed others to protect us. This was always about controlling the natural resources of the region. This was always to keep China from getting to them first. Mushroom clouds, smoking guns, insinuating Saddam promoted or was involved in 9-11, lies, lies, lies, known lies at the time. NOTE: the reopening of the supposed suicide of WMD expert David Kelley, in the UK. Goerge Bush is a common war criminal. Barack Obama has become his accomplice.

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avatar Andy Cohen September 3, 2010 at 9:04 am

At least Obama didn’t fly out to an aircraft carrier, dressed in a pilot’s jumpsuit, and give a big, balleyhooed speech surrounded by service men and women in front of an enormous “Mission Accomplished” sign declaring some sort of “great victory” as if the war was completely over and our folks could come home. Obama’s was a much more reasoned, responsible, measured, and rather somber speech.

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avatar Dave Sparling September 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for the information Barbara, always nice to know someone else out there does not follow the official government book of Fair Tales about the events of the last number of crazy years.

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avatar barbara September 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Just wanted to share this story from AP. Combat operations are not over and not likely to be over as long as there is one American boot on the ground.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/03/ap-memo-iraq-war_n_705446.html

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avatar Goatskull September 6, 2010 at 4:05 am
avatar barbara September 6, 2010 at 7:47 am

Usually we skeptics have to wait longer to be proven right. Obama would have been better off saying nothing. Now he looks even more the fool. For a man supposedly so much smarter than the rest of us mortals, he sure doesn’t have his finger on the pulse of the people or the country. If there is a horrific loss of American life over there, that may be the tipping point that gets people off their collective butts! I’ll lead the way to DC, just follow!

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