Tag Archives: Iraq war

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.


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.

U.S. soldier kills five other soldiers in Baghdad

27 Jun

Last Monday, Sergeant John M. Russell shot five of his fellow U.S. soldiers at Camp Liberty in Baghdad. This is the worst case of soldier-on-soldier violence in the six-year history of the Iraq War. Sgt. Russell had been ordered to undergo counseling for stress and battle related causes:

“Sergeant Russell, 44, of the 54th Engineering Battalion, based in Bamberg, Germany, has been charged with five counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in the shooting, said Maj. Gen. David Perkins, a spokesman for the military in Iraq.

The dead included an Army officer and a Navy officer on the clinic staff, and three enlisted soldiers who were at the clinic.”

This incident is terribly tragic, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and the shooters’.

One of the worst things about this terrible incident is watching the “talking heads” on CNN and FOX News struggle with how this could have possibly happened, even with the Army’s “stress clinics” constantly monitoring him. Doesn’t the U.S. Army take care of its proud soldiers?

Sgt. Russell’s incident reveals a great truth about war, and also about the empire we insist on maintaining: our soldiers are nothing more than pawns to be shuffled around, and when incidents like these occur, the news and the military are quick to dismiss these incidents by “troubled” and “stressed” soldiers as totally “isolated.”

Except they aren’t isolated. Though barely discussed, remember when a U.S. soldier tossed a hand grenade into his fellow soldiers’ tent, killing a number of them, near the beginning of the Iraq War? Or when several U.S. soldiers tortured, beat, and humiliated innocent Iraqis at Abu Ghraib? Or when numerous veterans come home and beat their spouses, rob stores, are in crippling pain, and can’t sleep from unimaginable nightmares and terrible memories?

This is not an attack on our soldiers, who fight bravely and honorably with the incredibly difficult tasks they are given. It’s an attack on the inherent messiness and cruelty of war and the chickenhawks who send them to fight and die.

War is the most unpredictable, evil, cruel, messy, bloody, dehumanizing and scarring thing that governments engage in, and we wonder why soldiers break under this stress. Our soldiers are asked to kick in doors with God knows what behind them, drive vehicles under the constant threat of IEDs, bomb villages indiscriminately from 20,000 feet in the air, shoot people on command, and must do this with bravery, courage, and honor. Soldiers are raised by their parents to be good citizens; to not steal, kill, and to love their neighbor. Yet when we put them in a uniform, they are ordered to go against these basic, decent instincts.

What are we doing to our soldiers? We are numbing them to the murder of human life and punishing them if they protest. Actually, it’s not WE who do it; it is our giant and reckless government that asks them to slaughter, pillage, and torture, and if they’re lucky they get a pretty, shiny medal; if they’re not so lucky, they come home limbless, shell-shocked, or in body bags.

Our soldiers’ lives and minds are the consequences of our global empire, an empire that touches every corner of the globe (and is now continuing to grow with Obama pulling the war levers). Cowardly criminal chickenhawks like Obama, Cheney, and Bush (and the “men” who cheered these wars on) send younger, better men into their imperial adventures, and wrap themselves in the flag (and the classic: “support the troops”) when their war games are criticized.

I support the troops, which is why I want them home as soon as possible. This war is unnecessary; you soldiers never are.