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Censorship and tyranny in ‘liberated’ Iraq

13 Aug

I can remember hearing fluffy fairy tales of exporting democracy and liberty to Iraq when the war drums started beating seven years ago. We would be greeted with flowers, as liberators, and as overthrowers of the evil Saddam regime; it would be a “cakewalk.” Saddam’s tyranny may be gone, but six years later, it is simply being replaced under Iraq’s new “free” government:

Moves by Iraq’s government to control the flow of information both in print and online have raised fears of a crackdown on free speech reminiscent of the regime of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein.

A decision to screen imported books and plans for Internet filters are being seen by intellectuals as a sign that the years of freer expression ushered in by the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam could be coming to an end.

Not content with just condoning the stifling of free speech and good, old fashioned book burning, the Iraqi government has also banned smoking:

So once parliament reconvenes next month and approves the law, Iraqis could encounter a sight familiar in New York, London, Hong Kong and every other city where smoking is restricted — smokers huddled outside their office buildings and puffing away. That would have been risky when bombings, drive-by shootings and kidnappings were commonplace.

These trends actually make sense. The US imposes draconian restrictions on free speech and vices here at home, so why not export it half a world away?

The war planners in the White House, Congress, the media, and the Pentagon may cheer on the expansion of our empire, but the 5,000 dead US soldiers (and counting) and thousands more (and counting) crippled and maimed in Iraq may disagree.

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US selling arms to both sides of Somali conflict

12 Aug

Despite the fact that a huge majority of Americans oppose the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, these wars continue to rage on under our new emperor’s watch. It is imperative that these adventures in imperial ignorance and arrogance end immediately, but it’s the US Empire’s smaller and less visible war-making that also needs to be exposed and opposed.

The US is pretty busy in the poverty stricken African continent. Since January, Congolese militias have been receiving US guns and money as they raze and rape their way across the country. Now the State Department is informing us that it has provided hearly 40 tons of arms to the Somali government to combat the al-Shabaab insurgency, and Hillary Clinton is promising 80 tons more.

What exactly is being accomplished by this massive transfer of arms? Well, Somali forces bring these guns to market, sell them to traders, who then sell them right to the insurgency at a nice little profit. With all these middle-man markups, it might just be cheaper to sell them directly to the insurgency.

Somalia is a country torn apart by civil war, and was further destabilized by the US-supported Ethiopian invasion in 2006. Poor, hungry, and desperate, Somalis have continuously turned to piracy to feed their families and avoid the constant threat of rivaling militias.

The US response to this increase in piracy has been numbingly typical: threats, threats, and more threats. Talks of imposing sanctions has significant popularity in the Pentagon, and even discussions of a possible invasion of tiny nearby Eritrea, who the US accuses of supplying the insurgents with weapons. Eritrea denies this claim, exposing the Pentagon’s mindset that military intervention in other countries is solely the job of the good and noble US government.

The US war planners refuse to see any possible repercussions in their short-sighted attempts to police and run the world. The US has a terrible habit of funding both sides of ethnic and religious conflicts, and blowback from these interventions aimed at our shores is not a matter of if, but when.

Majority of American oppose empire?

8 Aug

Finally, Americans are getting restless. According to a recent poll, an increasingly large majority of Americans oppose both the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The costs of spreading democracy at gunpoint are starting to be felt by the American public, who are getting fed up with our empire draining the treasury, increasing inflation, sons, husbands, and fathers returning in body bags, and the desperate attempts by the establishment press to find any justification for continuing the desert killing fields.

As the head of DC’s Imperial Regime, Obama must be worried too. The god-king’s poll numbers are dropping, and his embarrassing gaffe over the “Stupid Cop” incident is hurting him more and more everyday. Opposition to his healthcare rationing snake oil pitch is also losing popularity even among his own party in Congress, and is even drawing threats from brave state leaders to nullify the program if it passes.

The top-heavy, bureaucratic structure of the US Empire is slowly starting to unravel. US interventionist governance, which demands that we give up our liberties and our property to run the world and our lives as they see fit, will eventually join the ash heap of history like its twin sister, the Soviet Empire.

In the 1920s, the great H.L. Mencken predicted that the American system wouldn’t last 100 more years. Bloated and centralized empires always fall, he warned, and the US is no exception.

Good riddance.

Out of Iraq? Don’t bet on it

5 Jul

June 30th was a day for Iraqis to celebrate, as U.S. troops finally withdrew from their major cities. After more than six years of foreign soldiers kicking in doors, paying off murderers, and soaking villages with white phosphorous, the Iraqis finally gained control of their land (and their problems).

This is part of Obama’s new “grand strategy” to “pull out” from Iraq by December 31, 2011, and until then U.S. forces will remain as night watchmen and have permission to enter cities only when the Iraqi government asks them to. U.S. puppet Prime Minister Malaki is hailing this as a “victory” for the Iraqi people, though there are still going to be 130,000 troops waiting for his call to crush anyone him and his Army can’t handle on their own.

This partial pull-out is nothing more than a metaphorical passing of the emperor-torch to Malaki, who now has the “sole” authority to request American troops. Obama’s new “grand strategy” (the perfect name for a plan coming from the Egomaniac-in-Chief) in Iraq is a way of making it seem like U.S. troops are being taken out of harm’s way so that he can justify keeping them there as long as possible.

The point of the invasion of Iraq was never to declare “victory” and go home. Empires don’t go home, and the U.S. invaded Iraq to continue its expansion of bases and Vatican-size embassies, expand its hegemonic influence in the region, and take out one of Israel’s biggest threats. Sen. George Casey, who used to be in charge of all forces in Iraq, has suggested U.S. forces will have to stay in the region for at least ten years. Well, ten more years isn’t really that long of a time compared to the sixty-four years (and counting) that the U.S. has occupied Germany and South Korea.

Iraq truly is a mess, which is why U.S. troops aren’t going to be knocking on their parents’ or wives’ doors anytime soon. Iraq is an artificial country with at least three different major ethnic tribes competing for power. The only way Iraq can heal these divisions and remain unified is if an ugly civil war occurs, and the winning faction holds the fractured country together by force, i.e. Saddam. Ivan Eland highlights some of the reasons why Iraq is broken beyond repair: a corrupt Parliament, hatred of U.S. forces, poor to no training of the Iraqi Army, factionalism, suicide bomb after suicide bomb, and basic sanitary services are still a rarity.

The U.S. military, overstretched and broke, was given the impossible job of  fixing these problems, some of them centuries old, and now will be waiting to sidelines if (when) they are needed for support. When will the American Empire learn that the world’s problems are too complex and too numerous to be fixed by our “surges” or our massive indiscriminate bombings?

Obama, like any good emperor, is convinced that the mess in the Middle East that he inherited can only be solved by overwhelming and crushing force (on a side note, the Air Force bombed a funeral the other day. We won’t even let them bury their dead before we create new graves to fill). This is why he is also sending thousands of more young Marines to Afghanistan and ordering soulless drones to fire missiles at anything and everything in Pakistan. The option of withdrawing and dealing openly and diplomatically with Iraq and her neighbors never seems to cross the mind of the U.S. war machine and the empty-suited emperors in the White House.

The U.S. is occupying over 120 countries with over 800 bases around the world, and Iraq is just another colony in our empire of bases, and we’re not leaving anytime soon.

U.S. planned to provoke Iraq invasion, new memo says

27 Jun

Yesterday, The Guardian uncovered a confidential memo that recorded a meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair almost two months before the invasion of Iraq. The Baghdad Bomber Brothers discussed how Iraq could be provoked into firing the first shot:

Bush told Blair the US had drawn up a provocative plan ‘to fly U2 reconnaissance aircraft painted in UN colors over Iraq with fighter cover.’ Bush said that if Saddam fired at the planes this would put the Iraqi leader in breach of UN resolutions.

The president expressed hopes that an Iraqi defector would be ‘brought out’ to give a public presentation on Saddam’s WMD or that someone might assassinate the Iraqi leader. However, Bush confirmed even without a second resolution, the US was prepared for military action. The memo said Blair told Bush he was ‘solidly with the president.’

The five-page document, written by Blair’s foreign policy adviser, Sir David Manning, and copied to Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff, the chief of the defense staff, Admiral Lord Boyce, and the UK’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, outlines how Bush told Blair he had decided on a start date for the war.

This is more proof of the deliberate attempt by the U.S. to instigate a war on Iraq, a war that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more, drained our Treasury, took out Iran’s worst enemy, and has killed over 5,000 U.S. soldiers (and counting).

This is nothing new, however. The U.S. has had a history of provoking other countries into firing the first shot, from the U.S.S. Maine to the Gulf of Tonkin. This same process is continuing in Iran under Obama’s watchful eye, ensuring another mountain of skulls.

This memo ironically surfaces at the same time that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is rejecting a call for an investigation into the beginnings of the Iraq War from his House of Commons opposition (which is pretty much the whole House of Commons).

Can we finally try the Bush gang for war crimes? Seeing Bush hang from the gallows might not make our widowed wives and limbless veterans lose any less sleep, but it might make future Presidents weary of another imperial adventure.

Cheney admits that there was no 9/11, Iraqi link

27 Jun

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s been in the news a lot lately, from his defense of the Bush Administration’s torture policy to his recent voice of approval for same-sex marriage. This Politico story today again has him playing center stage, admitting there was no evidence of a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq:

‘On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that,’ Cheney said during an interview Monday night with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.

It gets better.

The former vice president explained away the early uncertainty of the connection by insisting that intelligence gathering is “more an art form than a science,” pointing to several examples of past CIA failures.

I seem to remember Cheney’s scathing attack against the 9/11 Commission when it suggested that there was no shred of evidence connecting Saddam and 9/11.

Of course there was no evidence; Osama Bin Laden hated Saddam about as much as Saddam loved Joseph Stalin. Attempting to cover up this lie, Cheney ordered that detainees be tortured so that they would somehow produce proof of a link. Since Cheney was willing to manufacture information to sell the invasion, it begs the question on why some detainees were waterboarded hundreds of times in just days.

So why did we invade Iraq again? Oil? Well, not really. Nearly three million barrels of it a day is fed to the hummers and jets that are still patrolling the streets and skies of Iraqi cities, and have been for over six years now (oil for war, if you will). We are building an embassy in Baghdad bigger than the Vatican and staying for at least ten more years if Obama’s top generals get their way. The war was simply a good old-fashioned military occupation; empire for empire’s sake.

Which is why I was happy as anybody to see the Rethugicans get embarrassed in the last election. Unfortunately, we elected Obama and the Democrats, who claimed to be against the war, but are now finalizing a new $96.7 billion war funding bill.

You don’t hear too much about Iraq anymore since Obama get elected, and the news that the 5,000th U.S. soldier just died in Mesopotamia was met with a collective media shrug. 5,000 dead American soldiers may not seem that many compared to other wars, but in the first ten years of Vietnam, there were a little over 6,000 American deaths. More than 50,000 deaths later, we smartly pulled out, and the South fell. The civil wars and genocide that occurred as a result of the U.S. invasion and massive bombings of Southeast Asia faded, and now we trade extensively with Vietnam. Exiting Vietnam was better for all parties, and despite the supposed learned “lessons” from Vietnam, the exact same mistakes are being made.

The invasion of Iraq was based on an admitted lie, and its being continued and expanded by the Democrats on an admitted lie. Come to think of it, Afghanistan and Pakistan had nothing to do with 9/11 either, yet Obama is ordering that both of these countries be pummeled with even more U.S. air strikes anyway.

Not one, not two, but three possible Vietnams? As the body counts and the war funding rises, the chances grow with every passing day.