Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

Did God speak to the former US President G. W. Bush? Some reflections

August 8, 2015

Nasir Khan, August 8, 2015

“God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.”
— George W. Bush, quoted in Lancaster New Era, July 16, 2004

Such was the claim of the former US President. He said this after the US armed forces had invaded and occupied two large countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. At that time, he was the most powerful leader of the mighty militarist superpower as well as a ‘divinely’ elevated person because God communicated with him. To my knowledge, in modern history we do not find another instance when a mortal man and the immortal God joined forces for U.S. to unleash two destructive wars! However, the implications of his pronouncements had a direct bearing on his political stature and his policies. Even though, he made his policies and issued his executive orders with the help of his close neoconservative advisers and secretaries but in doing so he was doing God’s work. God was speaking through him; therefore, God mandated whatever he did. God had chosen the right man to do His work!

If we accept the claims of divine guidance, for the sake of argument, that he, in fact, made on many times, then we can point to the results he achieved by his genocidal wars. Under his leadership, the US armed forces invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq in the most brutal way. They killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghans who had no quarrel with the people of the United States or posed any threat to the global U.S. hegemony and power. The destruction of Iraq was systematic. The Bush administration undertook the destruction of Iraqi state and its infrastructure as a necessary step to imposing the imperial diktat in the Middle East. It uprooted the social and administrative structure of Iraq and replaced it with sectarian puppet regimes that followed the orders of Washington and the Pentagon.

To make the imperial take-over easy and to neutralise any resistance to the new geopolitical order in this vast and oil-rich country, imperial masters used sectarian discord of the population as a convenient tool. How did it matter to Bush if Sunni and Shia turned against each other and started terrorist violence against their own people – the people of Iraq? Religious fanatics and miscreants were free to weaken Iraq while the occupiers could have an easy task to control the country and its resources. Thus, the US occupation could continue with greater ease while the country was drenched in bloodshed and mayhem that is still going on.

Through his destructive policies in the occupied Iraq, the Bush administration destabilised the whole region and played with the lives of millions of Iraqis by reducing them to destitution, poverty, homelessness and helplessness. The rampant killings in Iraq have claimed the lives of uncountable victims. In the first 7 years of US occupation, about 1.3 million Iraqi died. The main source of this incredible catastrophe that engulfed Iraq in 2003 was the US invasion. The ultimate responsibility of the present cycle of violence and bloodshed remains with Mr Bush.

Mr Bush’s military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan resulted in large-scale deaths of Afghans. The brutal treatment of the prisoners of war and the innocent victims in the process of occupying Afghanistan is a dark chapter in the history of twenty-first century. The occupying power violated the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, international humanitarian conventions and all norms of international law. All this happened because God said to Bush to do so! In fact, this is a preposterous assertion that even Al Capone would not have resorted to! Let us take a common sense view of his claim and its consequences. What that means is that the former president is not responsible for the wars and war crimes but someone else is! In legal terms, he is implying that God is vicariously responsible for his wars and war crimes. In this way, he absolves himself of any responsibility for his actions and his policies as the head of US Government! A very convenient but cheap method to deceive the world, no doubt!

There is no need for us to enter into any lengthy theological discourse on God and his attributes. It is common knowledge that most believers see God as a kind, merciful and loving power. For having such attributes, believers hold Him in high respect and praise Him. It is hard to think that the Heavenly Father, as Christians call God, could have asked or encouraged Mr Bush to start major wars of aggression and commit the most heinous crimes against other weaker nations in this century. In brief, to impute such designs to God or because of fulfilling a mission from God is a reprehensible act on the part of Mr Bush. In the eyes of any sincere believers, he is maligning God in a vicious way if he believes in Him as he seemingly professes to do.

Alternatively, what if he really believed in what he asserted about God? That is something, which we can look at cursorily from a legal point of view. In criminal law, the actions of the alleged offenders are primarily judged for the mens rea – that is, their state of mind and intentions when they committed some indictable offence. In some cases, they are entitled to the defence of diminished responsibility or diminished capacity if their mental condition was impaired in such a way that they did not fully understand what they did. If such a defence is successful, the accused are given mitigated sentences or sent for medical treatment, depending on the gravity of offences involved. In an old case of acute insanity, one person beheaded a sleeping man just to see what he would do when woke up in the morning but didn’t find his head!

There are many cases when people hear sounds or messages from some unknown sources exhorting them to do something that may amount to a criminal offence. A hallucination is a perception that is not based on objective reality. It is very much a subjective condition of mind and in this condition, people may see or visualise things that having nothing to do with reality. In this age, we come across cases when some people say they have heard God or God has given them some message. If Mr Bush is sincere in his claims about God speaking to him, then that is something for which only the professional psychologists can offer their expert views.

In case  a judicial miracle (which I don’t see taking place!) takes place and the world sees the former US president, G.W. Bush, being prosecuted for his wars and the alleged war crimes in a court of law then the question of hallucinations would certainly be an issue in any legal process. However, facts point to a different direction: That he acted with deliberation and premeditation in pursuing his policies and his destructive wars.

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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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Blair Reveals Cheney’s War Agenda

September 7, 2010

by Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com,  September 8, 2010

Ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s new memoir offers the expected rationalizations for his joining in an illegal, aggressive war against Iraq, even to the point of quibbling about the death toll. But Blair does reveal how much more war was favored by Vice President Dick Cheney and the neocons.

In A Journey: My Political Life, Blair depicts Cheney as believing the United States was at war not only with Islamic terrorists but with “rogue states that supported them” and that “the only way of defeating [this threat] was head-on, with maximum American strength.”

Cheney wanted forcible “regime change” in all Middle Eastern countries that he considered hostile to U.S. interests, according to Blair.

“He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it – Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.,” Blair wrote. “In other words, he [Cheney] thought the world had to be made anew, and that after 11 September, it had to be done by force and with urgency. So he was for hard, hard power. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

Over the years, there have been indications of this larger neoconservative strategy to attack America’s – and Israel’s – “enemies” starting with Iraq and then moving on to Syria and Iran, but rarely has this more expansive plan for regional war been shared explicitly with the American public.

Usually, the scheme could be found only in obscure neocon policy papers or as part of Washington scuttlebutt. After the Iraq invasion, a favorite neocon joke was whether to next head west toward Damascus or east to Tehran with the punch line, “real men go to Tehran.”

Under this neocon plan, once “regime change” was achieved in Syria and Iran, then Israel’s front-line adversaries, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories, would be left impoverished and isolated. Israel could dictate settlement terms to the Palestinians and incorporate the Jewish settlements on prime West Bank land into a Greater Israel.

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Two Wars Don’t Make a Right

September 1, 2010

By Robert Scheer, truthdig.com, Sept 1, 2010

AP Photo/Karim Kadim
An Iraqi man and his wife watch U.S. President Barack Obama’s televised speech in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday.

The carnage is not yet complete, and President Barack Obama’s attempt to put the best face on the ignominious U.S. occupation of Iraq will not hide what he and the rest of the world well know. The lies that empowered George W. Bush to invade Iraq represent an enduring stain on the reputation of American democracy. Our much-vaunted system of checks and balances failed to temper the mendacity of the president who acted like a king and got away with it.

It is utter nonsense for Obama, who in the past has made clear his belief that the Bush administration’s case for this war was a tissue of lies, to now state: “The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people.” We paid a huge price simply to assuage the arrogance of a president that was unfettered by the restraints of common sense expected in a functioning democracy. Particularly shameful was the betrayal by the Congress and the mass media of the obligations to challenge a president who exploited post-9/11 fears to go to war with a nation that had nothing whatsoever to do with that attack.

With hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Americans dead and maimed and at a cost of $3 trillion to American taxpayers, the U.S. imperial adventure in Iraq has left that country in a horrible mess, controlled by a corrupt and deeply divided elite that shows no serious inclination to effectively govern. Nor can there be a claim of enhanced U.S. security when the real victors are the ayatollahs of Iran, whose influence in once bitterly hostile Iraq is now immense. The price in shattered lives and dollars will continue, as Iraq remains haunted by ethnic and religious conflict that we did so much to provoke.

Remember when most of the once respected mass media, and not just the obvious lunatics on cable, bought the Bush propaganda that democracy in Iraq, a harbinger of a new Middle East, was just around the corner? They based that absurd expectation on the fact that an Iraqi ayatollah disciple of the ones ruining Iran could order millions of his followers to hold up purple fingers. What a joke we have made of the ideal of representative democracy when Iraq is operating under an incomprehensible constitution, which our proconsul ordered, and is still without a functioning government six months after an election that our media once again dutifully celebrated.

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Blum: USrael and Iran

August 5, 2010

William Blum, Foreign Policy Journal, August 5, 2010

If and when the United States and Israel bomb Iran (marking the sixth country so blessed by Barack Obama) and this sad old world has a new daily horror show to look at on their TV sets, and we then discover that Iran was not actually building nuclear weapons after all, the American mainstream media and the benighted American mind will ask: “Why didn’t they tell us that? Did they want us to bomb them?”

The same questions were asked about Iraq following the discovery that Saddam Hussein didn’t in fact have any weapons of mass destruction. However, in actuality, before the US invasion Iraqi officials had stated clearly on repeated occasions that they had no such weapons. I’m reminded of this by the recent news report about Hans Blix, former chief United Nations weapons inspector, who led a doomed hunt for WMD in Iraq. Last week he told the British inquiry into the March 2003 invasion that those who were “100 percent certain there were weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq turned out to have “less than zero percent knowledge” of where the purported hidden caches might be. He testified that he had warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a February 2003 meeting — as well as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in separate talks — that Hussein might have no weapons of mass destruction.[1]

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It’s Obama’s Empire Now

July 16, 2010

Karzai and Obama
White House / Pete Souza
President Barack Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai meet in an arrival ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on March 28.

By Stanley Kutler, truthdig.com, July 13, 2010

The American Empire is alive and well—and as expansive as ever. We have established more than 700 military bases across the world, largely encircling the peripheries of Russia and China, which are now central to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The Cold War in the aftermath of World War II drove the expansion as we searched for security—and markets, to be sure.

Perhaps we now are the largest imperial power the world ever has known. Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan trivializes the once-massive naval and air facility at Cam Ranh Bay during the Vietnam War, and we have developed “permanent” mega-bases in Iraq. We engage in denial, and euphemisms abound. Stumping for the colonial takeover of the Philippines in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt, so fashionable today, insisted that “there is not an imperialist in the country. … Expansion? Yes. … Expansion has been the law of our national growth.” Chalmers Johnson reminds us of Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s liberal “idealist imperialism,” which would make the world safe for democracy. (See Johnson’s “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic” and other works.) Deceit comes from the top.

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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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Erasing Iraq. The Human Costs of Carnage

May 26, 2010

By Ludwig Watzal,  MWC News, Thursday, 27 May 2010

Erasing Iraq

Nobody seems to talk anymore about the human sufferings and the costs of the US-led invasion of Iraq. Under President Barack Obama the US is still unwilling to end the illegal occupation of this country and take the partners of the “coaltion of the willing” and live the country. All the talk about a prospective “withdrawal” from Iraq seems mere rhetoric.

Large military facilities are popping up like mushrooms all over the place, and in Baghdad they are building an embassy of the size of Vatican City. Modern history tells us that when the US takes over a country it will stay until it is thrown out like was the case in Vietnam or Iran. The long-term prospects of remaining an occupier in Iraq or Afghanistan are rather dim, taking the history of resistance against foreign occupation in both countries into account.

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‘Obliterating’ Iraq’s Christians

May 17, 2010

The Washington Post, May 14, 2010

By Nina Shea, director, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom

What is most startling about the report of the heartless double bus bombings on May 2 that targeted and injured 80 Christian students traveling to northern Iraq’s Mosul University was that the young Christians there attend university at all. Since the U.S. invasion, Iraq’s Christians have been mostly driven out of the country by violence directed against them for their religion. Their communities are shattered. That these young people continued to dream of preparing themselves to serve their country signals that community’s deep commitment to Iraq and a modicum of hope they still harbor for its future.

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America’s War Disease

May 8, 2010
Truthdig.com,  May 7, 2010
U.S. soldier in Afghanistan
Flickr / U.S. Army
Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Wire stands atop Ghar Mountain at Kabul Military Training Center in Afghanistan in February 2008.

By Bill Boyarsky

The Afghanistan war, along with Iraq, has become a chronic illness that America has learned to ignore.

News of the sick economy, natural and human-made disasters and momentary sensations like the Tiger Woods sex scandal flashes across cable news screens and the Internet, leaving hardly any space for the war. Financially strapped news organizations employ few of the talented war correspondents who could bring the conflicts to the public’s attention, as an earlier generation of journalists did with Vietnam. At home, the anti-war movement is barely covered. In late March, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq made the top 10 stories on cable, network television or online news, and they finished in seventh place among newspapers.

As a result, peace candidates such as Southern California’s Marcy Winograd find it difficult to break through the news media clutter to reach the public. And the nation is denied a debate on an Afghanistan war that has lasted eight years.

Winograd is a Democratic anti-war insurgent challenging Rep. Jane Harman, who supports President Obama’s war policy and voted for the resolution authorizing the Iraq war. They are competing in a district that has long reflected middle-class views. It reaches from Los Angeles suburbs through beach cities and inland cities. Harman represented the district from 1993 to 1998, when she ran for governor and lost, and was elected to the seat again in 2000. Her personal wealth and campaign contributions make it a tough race for a challenger like Winograd.

Winograd ran against Harman in 2006 and lost by a big margin. She says she lost badly because she entered the race too late. This time, she started early. There’s much that separates them in politics, policies and personality. Most important, if Winograd were to upset Harmon or even come close, it would be a sure sign of Democratic discontent with the president’s stand on Afghanistan.

Winograd told me she would have voted for Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s resolution forcing Obama to withdraw troops within 30 days of passage of the Kucinich measure.

“We should start bringing our troops home and ending the air war,” she said. She added that she would have conditioned her vote on a provision that the nation also “invest resources in … bringing peace and prosperity” to Afghanistan. “We have a commitment to invest in the country and not to simply say we are done, period,” she said.

Harman, chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, voted against the resolution, although she had previously opposed Obama’s decision to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. “Like Mr. Kucinich, I want the United States out of Afghanistan at the earliest reasonable date,” she said during the debate on his resolution. “But accelerating the Obama administration’s carefully calibrated timetable could take grievous risks with our national security.”

The Kucinich resolution provided a rare debate on the war. It was defeated 356 to 65 on March 11, as expected. But, as Julian E. Barnes observed in his story in The Los Angeles Times, “antiwar lawmakers welcomed the debate as a chance to express pent-up frustration with the continued buildup in Afghanistan, and to express their view that the original mission of U.S. forces, defeating Al Qaeda, had been lost.”

We Americans are ready for such a debate. And there is plenty of discontent around the country. A Quinnipiac University poll in April showed only 49 percent of those surveyed approved of Obama’s handling of the war, while 39 percent disapproved. A CNN/Opinion Research survey found that 48 percent favored the war and 49 percent opposed it.

“Our country is deeply polarized,” Winograd said in an interview with the Tehran Times. “I wish our president had immediately used his victory, his political capital, to fight for transformative change, a transition from a permanent war economy to a new green economy,” she told the Iranian newspaper. “In the end, one man can’t make change all by himself; there needs to be a movement on the streets.”

Winograd also disagrees with the administration and the Jewish establishment on Israel. She told the Tehran Times, “I am a non-Zionist Jew who believes in equality and dignity for all in the Middle East. I hope my candidacy and convictions will give courage and strength to others who dare to question.”

In my interview with her, she said, “I’m not a Zionist. I am a realist, though. I support two states, [or] one state, whatever incarnation will put an end to the misery and suffering on both sides.”

We need a public debate on these issues, and Winograd is forcing one, at least in her corner of California. Scattered peace candidates are doing the same in other parts of the country.

Search them out. Give them a hand—or a few dollars. Bug the news media for attention. Guilt-trip the media bosses. Nag the reporters. It has worked for the tea party. Why not try it for a good cause? Otherwise, the United States will continue to be mired in this fruitless war.