Posts Tagged ‘Iraq war’

One November’s Dead: The American War Dead Disappear into the Darkness

December 8, 2010

by Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, Dec 7, 2010

America’s heroes?  Not so much.  Not anymore.  Not when they’re dead, anyway.

Remember as the invasion of Iraq was about to begin, when the Bush administration decided to seriously enforce a Pentagon ban, in existence since the first Gulf War, on media coverage and images of the American dead arriving home at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware?  In fact, the Bush-era ban did more than that.  As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote then, it “ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.”

For those whose lives were formed in the crucible of the Vietnam years, including the civilian and military leadership of the Bush era, the dead, whether ours or the enemy’s, were seen as a potential minefield when it came to antiwar opposition or simply the loss of public support in the opinion polls.  Admittedly, many of the so-called lessons of the Vietnam War were often based on half-truths or pure mythology, but they were no less powerful or influential for that.

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Death of Dr David Kelly: The damning new evidence that points to a cover-up by Tony Blair’s government

June 29, 2010

By Miles Goslett and Stephen Frost, Daily Mail/UK, June 26, 2010

The official story of Dr David Kelly is that he took his own life in an Oxfordshire wood by overdosing on painkillers and cutting his left wrist with a pruning knife.

He was said to be devastated after being unmasked as the source of the BBC’s claim that the Government had ‘sexed up’ the case for war in Iraq.

A subsequent official inquiry led by Lord Hutton into the circumstances leading to the death came to the unequivocal conclusion that Kelly committed suicide.

Yet suspicions of foul play still hang heavy over the death of the weapons expert whose body was found seven years ago next month in one of the most notorious episodes of Tony Blair’s premiership.

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The Coming Iran War

May 30, 2010

MJ Rosenberg, The Huffington Post, May 28, 2010


It’s happening again.

The same forces — with a few new additions and minus a few smart defectors — who pushed the United States into a needless and deadly war with Iraq are now organizing for the next war.

This time the target is Iran, which, just like Iraq, is said to be on the verge of creating weapons of mass destruction.

Also, just like Iraq, its president is a supposed madman determined to destroy Israel.

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Terrorism — Cause and Effect

May 29, 2010

Jack A. Smith, Antiwar.com, May 29, 2010

“Terrorists” and “terrorism” have become Washington’s monomania since 9/11, guiding the foreign/military policies of the American superstate and holding its population in thrall.

“The single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short-term, medium-term and long-term,” President Barack Obama said April 11, is the possibility that terrorists might obtain a nuclear weapon. The second biggest threat to world history’s mightiest military state, it goes without saying, are terrorists without nuclear weapons but armed with box-cutters, rifles or homemade explosives.

It’s “terrorism” 24/7 in the United States — the product of a conscious effort by the Bush Administration to keep the American people in the constant clutches of existential fear, in large part to justify launching endless aggressive wars. Anything goes if the target is said to be “terrorism,” as long as the Pentagon’s violence takes place in smaller, weaker countries usually populated by non-Europeans.

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Elections Don’t Justify Iraq War

March 18, 2010

By Amitabh Pal, The Progressive,  March 11, 2010

Years after the debate was seemingly settled on the folly of the Iraq War, some in the media are using the recent Iraqi parliamentary elections to excuse the invasion.

The Newsweek cover on the voting crows “Victory at Last.” Ex-Wall Street Journal alum (and, I’m embarrassed to admit, a fellow schoolmate of mine) Tunku Varadarajan asserts at the Daily Beast, “What Iraq has achieved in five years is a political wonder, and those who would deny that are being very, very dishonest.”

And the New York Times resident Middle East expert becomes all gooey on seeing a picture of an Iraqi mother having her son put her vote in the ballot box. “Former President George W. Bush’s gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right,” gushes Thomas Friedman. “Democracy was never going to have a virgin birth in a place like Iraq, which has never known any such thing.”

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Official Dogma: Iraq War a Success

March 11, 2010

American Elites Abandon Their Faux Regret Over Iraq

by Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, March 10, 2010

The New York Times‘ Tom Friedman, who did as much as any single individual to persuade large numbers of Democrats and “moderates” to support the invasion of Iraq, today writes:

Former President George W. Bush’s gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right. It should have and could have been pursued with much better planning and execution. This war has been extraordinarily painful and costly.  But democracy was never going to have a virgin birth in a place like Iraq, which has never known any such thing.

Some argue that nothing that happens in Iraq will ever justify the costs. Historians will sort that out. Personally, at this stage, I only care about one thing:  that the outcome in Iraq be positive enough and forward-looking enough that those who have actually paid the price — in lost loved ones or injured bodies, in broken homes or broken lives, be they Iraqis or Americans or Brits — see Iraq evolve into something that will enable them to say that whatever the cost, it has given freedom and decent government to people who had none.

Sure, the war that I helped sell and cheered on led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings (at least), the long-term displacement of millions more, and the complete destruction of another country that had done nothing to us.  But I’m not interested in clouding my mind with any of that.  I don’t care about that.  That can be talked about once I’m dead.  After all, as the great humanitarian Joseph Stalin taught us, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and as the great scholar and torturer Condoleezza Rice explained, we should just gently shut our eyes and think about the massive slaughter and destruction we caused in that country as mere “birth pangs” on the road to something beautiful.

Back in 2003, I said – with bloodthirsty sadism rabidly drooling from my mouth — that the real purpose of the war, what made it the Right Thing to do, was that we needed to make large numbers of Muslims “suck. on. this” in order to show them we mean business, and we randomly picked Iraq because . . . . we could.  But now — to justify the enormous amounts of blood I helped spill and the incalculable amounts of human suffering I helped spawn — I’m going to pretend that I was motivated by a magnanimous, noble desire to Spread Freedom.

It was only a matter of time before American elites abandoned their faux regret over Iraq.  For tribalists and nationalists, America can err in its execution but never in its motives.  There’s no question — as this glorifying, propagandistic Newsweek cover story reflects — that it’s now official dogma that this was the right thing to do, or at least that we produced something great and wonderful for that country, as was our intent all along (leaving aside the what is actually happening in Iraq).  It’s nothing short of nauseating to watch those responsible glorify what they did without weighing — or, in Friedman’s case, affirmatively dismissing as irrelevant — the extreme amounts of death and suffering that they caused, all based on false pretenses.  But this is why Tom Friedman is the favorite propagandist of “Washington insiders”– because he feeds them the justifications they need to feel good about themselves.  Forget all those innocent dead people and destruction you caused; it all worked out in the end.

UPDATE:  Several people argue in Comments that this effort to portray the invasion of Iraq as a good thing is motivated not only by a desire for self-cleansing on the part of those responsible, but also to enable future, similar wars to take place.  I don’t know whether that’s the motive, but it’s definitely the effect.  That the invasion of Iraq has been so widely perceived as a horrific debacle had the effect of minimizing the likelihood of future invasions.  Having it now depicted as something that worked out and produced Great Results necessarily makes it easier to justify future wars in that region.  After all, if attacking and invading Muslim countries we don’t like in order to change their government is the good and right thing to do, shouldn’t we keep doing it?

UPDATE II:  Freedom is on the March:  we shouldn’t burden our minds worrying about this, though; just do what Tom Friedman does and leave it to the historians while patting ourselves on the back.

© 2010 Salon.com

Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book “How Would a Patriot Act?,” a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, “A Tragic Legacy“, examines the Bush legacy.

Exit Strategies for Afghanistan and Iraq

March 10, 2010

By Tom Hayden, ZNet, March 10, 2010

Source: The Nation

Tom Hayden’s ZSpace Page

It’s been a long winter for the peace movement. Waiting for Obama has proved fruitless. The Great Recession has strengthened Wall Street and diverted attention from the wars. The debate over healthcare still won’t go away and has demoralized progressive advocates. Given a chance to exit from Afghanistan when the Karzai election proved to be stolen, President Obama escalated anyway, but also promised to “begin” exiting almost before an opposition could mobilize at home.

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Rethinking the peace movement

February 17, 2010

By Rosemarie Jackowski
Online Journal Contributing Writer


Online Journal
, Feb 17, 2010, 00:30
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March 20 is a day of historical importance. On March 20, 2003, there were worldwide protests against US military aggression. Millions of activists around the world participated. Some of the protests were inspired by US plans for “Shock and Awe.” “Shock and Awe” was promised by the US government to be one of the most destructive military campaigns in history. In addition, the US was at the same time threatening the use of nuclear weapons.

Historical perspective is needed. It has to be remembered that the US had been bombing Iraq since 1991. The bombing was a prelude to 9/11.

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The Goal of Modern Propaganda: Mythocracy

February 15, 2010

By Cindy Sheehan, Information Clearing House, Feb 15, 2010

“The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief.” Jacques Ellul

On Super Bowl Sunday, the reason that I wrote my new book: Myth America: 20 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution, literally hit home.

Since it was the Holy Day of Obligation for our national religion of Football, I headed for my health club because I have always been a heretic. I arrived there a little before kick off, so the club was still occupied, but after kick-off it was deserted.

After my water workout and swim in the pool that I had all to myself, I headed to the hot tub which was occupied by another spa patron—an older gentleman named Bill whom seems to come to the club just to sit in the hot tub and chat. I get the feeling he is very lonely, and this following exchange may be why:

Bill: I think what you do disgraces your son, his memory and what he died for.

Cindy: Oh really? Since he was killed in an illegal and immoral war, I think this nation disgraced him.

Bill: But they attacked us on 9-11.
Cindy: Who attacked us on 9-11?

Bill: Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

Cindy: Are you serious? If you believe the official story, 16 Saudi Arabians attacked us.

Bill: But Saddam killed his own people.

Cindy: We have killed over one million of Saddam’s “own people,” (at this point Cindy does “air quotes?).

Bill: But we didn’t mean to.

Cindy: (deep sigh), So what team are you rooting for this afternoon?

At which point, Bill scrambled out of the hot tub and headed for the showers.

My “friend” Bill has been thoroughly propagandized from the right—there was no use sitting in the hot tub with the jets blasting and trying to reason with a man who thinks that over one million people can be killed “accidentally.”

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Clare Short: Tony Blair lied and misled parliament in build-up to Iraq war

February 2, 2010
• Blair ‘lied’ over war preparations
• Attorney general ‘misled’ government
• Brown ‘marginalised and unhappy’
Clare Short at the Iraq war inquiry – as it happened
James Sturcke,The Guardian/UK, Feb 2, 2010,
Clare Short arriving to give evidence at the Iraq Inquiry

Clare Short arriving to give evidence at the Iraq inquiry. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Clare Short, the former international development secretary, today accused Tony Blair of lying to her and misleading parliament in the build-up to the Iraq invasion.

Short, giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the war, also said that the 2003 conflict had put the world in greater danger of international terrorism.

Declassified letters between Short and Blair released today show she believed that invading Iraq without a second UN resolution would be illegal and there was a significant risk of a humanitarian catastrophe.

She told the inquiry that she had a conversation with Blair in 2002. He told her that he was not planning for war against Iraq and that the evidence has since revealed that he was not telling the truth at that point, she said.

She also said she was “stunned” when she read the 337-word legal advice on the war written by the then-attorney general Lord Goldsmith during a cabinet meeting on 17 March 2003, three days before the war began. She was forbidden by Blair from discussing it during the meeting.

“I said, ‘That is extraordinary.’ I was jeered at to be quiet. If the prime minister says be quiet there is only so much you can do.

“I think for the attorney general to come and say there’s unequivocal legal authority to go to war was misleading.”

Short, who was applauded by some audience members in public seats at the end of her evidence, said the ministerial code was broken as cabinet colleagues were not aware of Goldsmith’s modifications to his legal advice over the previous weeks. The inquiry has already heard how Goldsmith changed his mind over the need for a second resolution after visiting the US the month before the war.

Short said cabinet colleagues were unaware of the legal advice given by the most senior Foreign Office lawyers, Sir Michael Wood and Elizabeth Wilmshurst, which called for a second UN resolution.

“The ministerial code said legal advice should be circulated and it wasn’t. We only had the answer to the parliamentary question [Goldsmith’s short ruling]. There was a lot of misleading of parliament too by the prime minister of the day.

“The ministerial code is unsafe because it is enforced by the prime minister and if he’s in on the tricks then that’s it. When I found out what went into it I think we were misled.”

She added that she had “various cups of coffee” with Gordon Brown, at that time the chancellor, who “was very unhappy and marginalised [in the run up to war]”.

He was disillusioned about a number of issues, not specifically Iraq, and felt Blair was “obsessed with his legacy”.

Later, Short added that after the war “Gordon was back in with Tony and not having cups of coffee with me any more”.

Asked about the cabinet meetings in the run-up to the war, Short told the inquiry that the cabinet did not operate in the manner it was required to constitutionally.

“It was not a decision-making body. I don’t think there was ever a substantive discussion about anything in cabinet. If you ever raised an issue with Tony Blair he would cut it off. He did that in July 2002 when I said I wanted to talk about Iraq. He said he did not want it leaking into the press.”

Short described cabinet meetings as “little chats” rather than decision-making opportunities.

“There was never a meeting … that said: ‘What is the problem? What are we trying to achieve? What are our options?'”

The declassified documents showed that Short believed the situation in Iraq to be “fragile” before hostilities began.

In one, written on 14 February 2003, she wrote: “Any disruption could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. With some more time, sensible measures can be taken to reduce these risks and improve people’s prospect of stability after the conflict.”

Short told the panel that both the British and US armies failed to honour their Geneva convention responsibilities to keep order, describing the situation in the post-invasion aftermath as “mad”, with food for refugees only being ordered at the last minute.

Short said Blair persuaded her against resigning on the same day as Cook by assuring her that the UN would have the lead role in reconstructing Iraq and that George Bush would support the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Asked why she didn’t resign earlier, she said: “If I knew then what I know now, I would have.” As for the pronouncements that the French would not back a second resolution, it was one of the “big deceits” of the British, Short said.

The French president, Jacques Chirac, could have supported military action but not while UN weapons inspectors wanted more time and it should have been given.

“There was no emergency. No one had attacked anyone. There wasn’t any new WMD. We could have taken the time and got it right. The forces weren’t ready to go in. They have said that themselves.”

Short ended her evidence by calling for a serious debate about the “special relationship” with the US, calling the current one “poodle-like”.

Short stood down from the cabinet on 12 May 2003, nearly eight weeks after the invasion.

Letter from Clare Short to Tony Blair on humanitarian planning and the role of the UN, 14 February 2003 (pdf).

Letter from Short to Blair on the UN and US roles in post-conflict Iraq, 5 March 2003 (pdf).


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