Monday, June 19, 2006

This War

Man does this war wear on me. I know that war is ugly and violent, but this war, not only was it unnecessary and based on lies, but it has devolved into the kind of mess that we normally stay out of and yet, we are the spark that caused it and the oxygen that keeps the flames growing ever larger. Despite the non-existent reporting outside the heavily fortified Green Zone and the marginal reporting from within, we still know certain things. We know that the Iraqis have had their country destroyed and are living with a few short hours of electricity a day. We know that their communities have been decimated by sectarian violence that has erupted all across their country. We know that our soldiers are dying and being wounded in an occupation that was ill advised and a peacekeeping mission that becomes more and more dire everyday.

This war is not a war anymore. Once Saddam Hussein fell, it became exactly what this administration said it wanted no part in, a nation building exercise. And like most things this President doesn’t have any interest in, like governing effectively, his lack of interest leaves death and destruction in its wake. Iraq is the manifestation of Bush’s lack of intellectual curiosity and inability to engage in diplomacy abroad, and Hurricane Katrina is the manifestation of Bush’s lack of interest in effective government here at home. He is a failure of monumental proportions and we will be paying for his incompetence for generations to come.

I watched “Baghdad ER” on HBO the other night. It shouldn’t have been shocking to see the results of the violence in Iraq, but because there is virtually no coverage on our nightly news, somehow it was. The physical wounds are gory, but it’s the emotional wounds that are so heartbreaking to watch. These are such young boys fighting over there, and their limited life experience shows on their faces. They don’t seem to know where to put these extreme experiences or how to cope with the emotional toll of watching their friends die, let alone fearing for their own lives in a situation they see no end to. And the older soldiers, the doctors that are treating these men, the angst of knowing what this lack of a clear objective costs in human life, is painfully apparent on their faces as well. It may not be the place of a soldier to question the mission, but I can’t imagine that they don’t, maybe not while they’re awake and doing their job, but when they lay down at night in the limited peace that they likely find in Iraq these days.

Greg Mitchell, over at Editor & Publisher, wrote an article about a memo that was obtained by The Washington Post, a memo from the US Embassy in Iraq written days before Bush took his secret jaunt over to Iraq in an attempt to put a happy face on the occupation. Things are not getting better over in Iraq. Just because this administration says that they are "making significant progress in Iraq" and the media continue to toe the line, doesn’t make it so. Here are a few of the “highlights” from the memo (from E&P):

--"Personal safety depends on good relations with the 'neighborhood' governments, who barricade streets and ward off outsiders. The central government, our staff says, is not relevant; even local mukhtars have been displaced or coopted by militias. People no longer trust most neighbors."

-- One embassy employee had a brother-in-law kidnapped. Another received a death threat, and then fled the country with her family.

-- Iraqi staff at the embassy, beginning in March and picking up in May, report "pervasive" harassment from Islamist and/or militia groups. Cuts in power and rising fuel prices "have diminished the quality of life." Conditions vary but even upscale neighborhoods "have visibly deteriorated" and one of them is now described as a "ghost town."

-- Two of the three female Iraqis in the public affairs office reported stepped-up harassment since mid-May...."some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative." One of the women is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats.

-- It has also become "dangerous" for men to wear shorts in public and "they no longer allow their children to play outside in shorts." People who wear jeans in public have also come under attack.

-- Embassy employees are held in such low esteem their work must remain a secret and they live with constant fear that their cover will be blown. Of nine staffers, only four have told their families where they work. They all plan for their possible abductions. No one takes home their cell phones as this gives them away. One employee said criticism of the U.S. had grown so severe that most of her family believes the U.S. "is punishing populations as Saddam did."

-- Since April, the "demeanor" of guards in the Green Zone has changed, becoming more "militia-like," and some are now "taunting" embassy personnel or holding up their credentials and saying loudly that they work in the embassy: "Such information is a death sentence if overheard by the wrong people." For this reason, some have asked for press instead of embassy credentials.

-- "For at least six months, we have not been able to use any local staff members for translation at on-camera press events....We cannot call employees in on weekends or holidays without blowing their 'cover.'"

-- "More recently, we have begun shredding documents printed out that show local staff surnames. In March, a few staff members approached us to ask what provisions would we make for them if we evacuate."

-- The overall environment is one of "frayed social networks," with frequent actual or perceived insults. None of this is helped by lack of electricity. "One colleague told us he feels 'defeated' by circumstances, citing his example of being unable to help his two-year-old son who has asthma and cannot sleep in stifling heat," which is now reaching 115 degrees.

-- "Another employee tell us that life outside the Green Zone has become 'emotionally draining.' He lives in a mostly Shiite area and claims to attend a funeral 'every evening.'"

-- Fuel lines have grown so long that one staffer spent 12 hours in line on his day off. "Employees all confirm that by the last week of May, they were getting one hour of power for every six hours without. ... One staff member reported that a friend lives in a building that houses a new minister; within 24 hours of his appointment, her building had city power 24 hours a day."

-- The cable concludes that employees' "personal fears are reinforcing divisive sectarian or ethnic channels, despite talk of reconciliation by officials."


We know what the GOP plan is for Iraq, stick by the side of the President and stay the course. The course we are on will only lead to further deterioration of the situation in Iraq and of our standing in the world. The American people either understand this or, at the very least, are on their way to grasping it. The Democrats better figure out pretty damn quick that they must take a stand on the war, they can’t continue to ignore the issue and hope it simply goes away.

The occupation and peacekeeping mission in Iraq is on everyone’s mind. Some because they don’t believe in war, some because this particular mission was a strategic blunder of epic proportions, some because of the devastation we’ve caused, some because of the cost in American lives and US dollars, and some for of all of the above. The Republicans aren’t going to address these concerns, they have proven that over and over again, most recently with their sham debate on the war in Congress. The Democrats are not giving the American people an alternative to “stay the course” and as long as that’s true, they really only have a slim chance of making any gains in the midterms this November.

We cannot stay the course, the voters need another option and as long as the Democrats refuse to offer one, too many voters will stay with the devil they know, cross their fingers and hope for the best. The Democrats are right about one thing, we do deserve better, but saying it and stepping up to provide it are two different things. The sooner they are made to realize that, the better off we'll all be.

21 Comments:

Anonymous lester said...

zogby poll noted that 72% of the military thought we should leave by the end of this year. virtually all, like 90 % of Iraqis want a timetable for withdrawl as do the majority of Americans. the government, with a few execptions, the mainstream media and the NEW media are totally out of touch.

2:07 PM  
Blogger amphimacer said...

It's TOE the line! As in people queuing up in an orderly fashion behind a line, behaving in a manner that doesn't upset or cause a fuss. Why would they TOW it? Indeed, where would they tow it? And while we're on the subject, for anyone who's reading this, horses CHAMP at the bit, they don't chomp on it. That would be even more painful than just having the bit in their mouths. And you can either pass muster or cut the mustard, not a combination of the two. I must be lapsing into a comma.

6:01 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Lester--Yes, those numbers are certainly not in line with what we hear from most of our politicians.

Amphimacer--Geez, I do appreciate it when people point out typos and mistakes in grammar, there is a right and a wrong answer after all, but do ya gotta be so snotty about it (and yes, I know that "do ya gotta be" is not proper English)?

I often type my posts as if I'm speaking, a process that does tend to produce quite a few errors. It sounds right in my head, but it's not right when spelled out (and to make matters worse, I'm bad at proofreading my own writing and I talk really fast). I apologize to those of you for whom grammatical errors are a pet peeve. My husband suffers from intolerance when it comes to grammatical errors as well. It makes him a perfect proofreader, but he's been too busy lately to help me out, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to suffer through until he's able to resume his grammar police duties.

7:01 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Oh, and I did correct the mistake so don't bother looking for it.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous supportourtroops said...

You defeatists would have advocated giving up after we lost the Philippines in WWII. Liberals are America's fifth column. You are trying to destroy the morale of our troops with your defeatist talk. You are a bunch of Quislings.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

supportourtroups:

readsomefreakinhistory!

That Dem 'traitor to his class' FDR not only saved democratic capitalism from collapse during the Great Depression, he led us to victory in WWII.

His Dem successor dropped the A-bomb and later defended and preserved the existence of S. Korea.

JFK, along with LBJ, asked us to "pay any price, bear any burden" and led us into the jungles of Indochina, regrettably.

When Clinton was keeping Saddam in his box with periodic bombings, and especially when he chased the Serbs out of Kosovo with zero American casualties, he was sniped at by your oh so patriotic Repug wingnut/quislings all the way.

You wingnutistanians are incompetent tin soldiers who send too few troops with too little support, bill them for meals when they're wounded and try to ram through cuts in VA spending.

If that's 'support' I'd hate to see what betrayal and treason look like.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous supportourtroops said...

I said "you defeatists" not FDR. Pay attention. FDR was patriotic, you defeatists are no FDR's. You want to cut and run when the going gets tough. FDR would have kept fighting until victory, and would have thrown defeatists like you in jail. If you knew anything about history you would know that already.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

Hey chickenhawk, you young enough to put up or shut up?
Google up 'chickenhawks' and see how many of your kind turn out to be Republicans.

Notable exception Sen Chuck Hegel is a defeatist under your fascistic definition.

You bleat on about defeatism and you turn a blind eye to the provable assertions I made about how the Repugs sold out our troops with their half assed planning and execution of Iraq, while taking their eye off the Afghan ball.

You mistake dissent for defeatism, which is ironic
considering dissent is a right many better men and women than you have fought and died for.

Our Constitution prevents wingnuts like you from jailing those who disagree with you, and simultaneously allows you to walk about in complete freedom despite being hampered with a room temperature IQ and a Classic Comic Book understanding of History.

Remarkable document, truly remarkable.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

You should read The Freedom by Cristian Parenti. You, won't feel any better about the war after reading The Freedom, but I felt better on personal level knowing that there was at least one person not lieing to me about what's going on in Iraq.

10:36 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Michael--Thank you, I'll take your advice and pick it up, I need something to take on vacation with me anyway. Not sure it's the best choice, but since I'll be trying to stay away from the news, it might be a good compromise (with myself and my family). I can at least read it on the beach as opposed to reading news and blogs on my laptop, they should be happy with that.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous WenG said...

This war "Wears on you?" How exactly? You've been deployed?

Seriously, I realize you don't have to BE there to feel the wrongness of what BushCo has done, but how exactly is it wearing on you? Has your kid been killed? Have you been censored yet? Maria still not returning your phone calls?

This was never an action designed to keep the U.S. safe, and it hasn't morphed into anything approaching nation building. It's called a shake down. This is what happens to CIA toadies who start skimming, or in Saddam's case, decide to ditch the almighty dollar.

If you're still trying to goad the Dems into getting it up for another campaign, I'll have to give you credit for being an optimist, or merely comforted by the echo of your own outrage.

The outcome has already been decided. We as Americans are like dinner in a python's belly.

1:48 AM  
Blogger Godlessfriend said...

Weng,

I can tell you have no Irish blood. Those are the words of a pure defeatist. Better take cover 'fore that supportourtroops fellow discovers you...i heard tale he was lookin' for your kind.

2:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can appreciate weng's post - the thought that as individuals we have any influence is just plain wrong. Power is deciding, and allowing you the illusion that you get voice. wake up...pitting the only two parties you can choose against each other is exactly what the power wants. There is no real choice. The real tragedy is the average american (as in most) are too stupid or narrow to see the real picture.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous WenG said...

Godless:

No, a realist. I used to be for gun control. Not anymore.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous WenG said...

To see how incredibly gangsta we've become, read this:

http://www.firedoglake.com/2006/06/20/requiem/

U.S. troops were tortured. We torture them. They torture us. It's what we do now. And the Dems can't seem to call Torture Boy on his lies. If you stand up and tell the Dems to do the right things, you're laughed at. Really. I was laughed at when I called Cantwell's office!

We can talk all day, we can debate the attractiveness of the various candidates. We can discuss the timeline, the benchmarks, the draw downs. But it's all pointless because the United States is a criminal enterprise.

The fact that we have little or not opposition coming from our "friends" in Congress tells you they're either drinking from the same well, or they're too afraid of reprisal to do their jobs. So they dither.

Calling our administration the Bush Crime family isn't just for foamers anymore. It's the truth. And giving to moveon.org or protesting in front of a court house isn't going to stop the game.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous WenG said...

Here's the full link:

http://www.firedoglake.com/2006/06/20/requiem/

10:00 AM  
Anonymous WenG said...

..../requiem/

(sorry for the extra post)

10:02 AM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Weng--While it’s true that I am not serving in the military, nor are my children old enough to do so and I have had only one friend deployed to Iraq, I’m not sure how that makes me ineligible to feel something about it. I’m not allowed to feel empathy for mother’s who are losing their children to this war? I’m not allowed to be angry at what is being done in my name? When I see the bloody and torn apart bodies of Iraqi children, I’m not allowed to be affected by that? I can’t be angry that this war is making the world a more dangerous place, a world my children must grow up in? I can’t be heartbroken for the soldiers that are fighting this war and what this experience is doing to them unless they are my blood? Because I’m not in danger of losing a loved one in combat, I must not spend hours each day thinking about what this war is costing individuals, our country and the world, right?

The American people have been allowed to disengage from this war, no flag draped coffins on television nightly, no dead children or screaming mothers, no honest portrayal of the devastation over there. I have forced myself to engage and see and learn as much as I can about what the situation in Iraq is really like, I’m sorry if my emotional fatigue at doing so is offensive to you. I guess I should slap a yellow ribbon on my car and be done with it, eh?

I don’t disagree with you about the fix being in and that Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin designed for nothing more than political theater selling the illusion of choice. They’re all feeding from the same corporate troughs, I understand that, but until the revolution starts, I’m holding out hope that there are enough of us out here that can make enough noise and maybe, just maybe, change the situation within the framework we’ve been given. Naïve, maybe, but what other options are there?

11:43 AM  
Blogger Godlessfriend said...

All(defeatists included),

You can elect not to participate in this democracy...it's your right.

The reason we study history is to understand our mistakes and accomplishments so that the former may be deminished and the latter repeated. The reason we can study history is because somebody was on the sidelines taking notes. I do hope you write clearly.

4:25 PM  
Blogger jae said...

"at least one person not lieing to me about what's going on in Iraq."

There is another truth teller here:

http://www.dahrjamailiraq.com/

And recently, I have found some stories about some of the good things that happen in Iraq:

http://michaelyon-online.com/flf/list.php?id=1

The stories at the Michael Yon site are written by service members....some stationed in Iraq.

And....supportourtroops.....
I am assuming that you write to the deployed regularly....? It would be a shame if you only spent your time writing to 'defeatists'....

9:06 PM  
Anonymous everyman said...

I don't know how to express this well: You and what you believe are so important that entire armies of propagandists are employed to shape your opinion. Millions of dollars are spent, prison time is risked, and careers are put on the line just to influence you and your neighbors. That means you have the power.
The government of the United States is afraid of you. So afraid of you they will break the law, tap your phones, develop dossiers on what you buy and where you go and who your friends are.
You have the power and they know it.
Do not shrink from your responsibilities.
Voice the truth, stand your ground, and let the government know what you think about everything they do.

What do they fear from you? Class warfare; regional rather than national attention; and taking away the power of the federal government and giving it back to the States.
Take a stand. Speak your mind.
Take back America everyday.

7:10 PM  

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