Saturday, December 02, 2006

American Support For The Iraq War And What It Really Means

Some people, like the President and his supporters like to fabricate theories as to why the majority of Americans no longer support the war in Iraq.

One theory the President and his henchmen tried to use was that Americans who did not support the war were unpatriotic (and a non Judaeo-Christian terrorist).

Another theory offered that Americans no longer supported the war because Americans were "appeasing terrorist" and yet another theory claimed that Americans were "weak in their resolve" to fight terrorist. When they got real desperate they began to claim that these Americans actually wanted the enemy to win.

All the above theories are absolutely ludicrous and can only be made by individuals who are personally, politically and sometimes financially motivated to do so, or are unhealthily blind to circumstance and reality.

Support for the war in Iraq ... How do I put this?

Personally I began to falter in my footsteps when it turned out Iraq did not have the Weapons of Mass Destruction since they had been destroyed by the first President George Bush during the first Iraq War.

The chest thumping patriotic drum beat slowed down a bit for me when documents and memos seemed to reveal this misdirection was purposeful not accidental and made by the people who hold the highest offices in the country.

When these leaders then started accusing me and other Americans of being unpatriotic and of terrorist appeasement for so much as questioning the war, that just turned me further away from their agenda and their vague and open ended mission.

The leaders who were insulting not only my intelligence and my morality but my patriotism no longer deserved my open ended support by that time as far as I was concerned.

When the Abu Ghraib story broke, this did little to lift my spirits about the direction of the war or the type of people who were leading my country. It began to demoralize me, and I believe it demoralized other Americans as well.

Suddenly it didn't really feel like we were liberating anyone anymore and it was all just a sham. Whatever it was it sure didn't seem like we were coming off as "good guys" to our allies either.

The more time progressed the more apparent it became that the President was full of hot air. He made mistakes, refused to own up to them, every time he opened his mouth it was just to put his foot in it.

Then came Haditha and Hamdania incidents and the rape, murder and burning of little Abeer Qassim Hamza. Around this point I started to say this war is absolutely insane.

All that was just on the war front. Domestically the ruler ship was just as insulting to our own Democracy.

What President Bush and his lackeys do not realize it is these actions that have demoralized us and caused us to lose our resolve, not some hooded man on a cheap recording making vague threats.

This administration's habitual prevaricating, inability to solve problems and total disregard for advice has done just as much to damage American resolve as the terrorist have.

So whenever the war comes under criticism and I hear a member of the Bush Administration or their supporters come out to chant their familiar mantra : "unpatriotic, terrorist appeaser, no resolve, wants the enemy to win" I am never surprised.

It is a perpetual state of denial on their behalf. It is much easier for these people to convince themselves of things that are not true, rather than face the reality that it was ones own actions and words that have led to the lack of support in Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bigotry In America? You Bet.

There are milestones in our great Democracy. To name a few would be to name the freeing of the slaves, allowing woman to vote and allowing minorities to hold political office.

Multiculturalism and religious equality are qualities embedded in the Constitution and the documents that America is founded on. For instance, in Article. VI. it is written

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

The First Amendment to the Constitution also reads

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

To reach further back one can site The Declaration Of Independence, which in it's opening lines states

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights"

Note that it is written "endowed by their creator" not endowed by my creator or your creator or the creator, but the creator of the individual. It is written to protect the religions and beliefs of all Americans, not just some.

So what really shocks me, in the year 2006 is when people who think they are true Americans exhibit and display some very truly unAmerican traits, such as racism and/or religious intolerance.

These people often claim that if America allows religious harmony and equality that it will "undermines American civilization".

This idea is laughable because multiculturalism and religious tolerance does not undermine American civilization, it builds American civilization and it advances American civilization and it serves as a role model to the world.

But there are many intolerant bigots still living amongst us. Like I wrote, they claim to know what "American values" are and talk about the "voice of the American people" a lot and they say they want to "protect" American culture all while they try to tear it apart, but mostly it is just intolerance and xenophobia.

In the 2006 elections America saw it's first Muslim Congressman elected in the entire history of the country, this is another milestone in our Democracy, specifically because our Constitution reflects that people of all religions are allowed to serve in political office and that "no religious test" shall be required. It is one quality in which our Constitution is more advanced than others.

I did not expect, but I should have figured that some people in this country would be tremendously opposed to Ellison taking his Oath on a Koran or even the fact that he was Muslim.

However I was actually shocked and somewhat dismayed when right wing pundit Dennis Prager attacked newly elected Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Ellison is a Muslim man, fairly elected and has asked that he could be sworn in on the Koran, rather than the Bible.

Again, Article. VI of The United States Constitution states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Again, the first Amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Dennis Prager claimed in a recent column that letting Ellison take his oath on the Koran rather than the typical Bible "undermines American civilization" and made insinuations that Ellison was making a statement such as "my culture trumps America's culture" by wanting to use a Koran rather than a Bible.

Prager produced some of the most crackpot theories and accusation in his recent column in which he claims "America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."

WOW, that's pretty.. what do you call it... bigoted? Narrow minded? He doesn't even realize that when he is spouting off about "American values" that he is contradicting the guidelines set forth in the Constitution, all while claiming to be a patriot!

In the inflammatory column Prager goes on to write "In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath."

Prager even compares letting Ellison take his oath with the Koran to letting someone take their oath with Hitler's "Mein Kampf".

First, Mein Kampf is not a Holy Book, and Second it is highly unlikely Nazi will ever be sworn into any office in America and Third most neo Nazi's embrace Christian ideals anyway.

Is this guy Prager even serious or is he too busy making a mockery of himself? He's practically frothing at the mouth, insinuating that Ellison or his supporters would mock the Bible. Not only that Prager is claiming that America is vehemently opposed to this heinous act of exercising ones Constitutional rights.

Allowing Ellison to take his oath on the Koran will not disrupt the fabric of American society, and it does not show disrespect for American society.

Our Constitution was set up in such a way to allow room for and protect religious minorities in public life and in office. Allowing one to practice their own religion does not surrender one to confirming the legitimacy of another person's religion but does confirm an equal and civil society.

By the way, Prager, beg you please, do some research before even writing about this subject again or maybe even read up on that whole Constitution thing.

Personal Note : Sometimes people who claim to want to protect American civilization actually inherently try to destroy it. Their ideals of American civilization are much different from the one outlined in the Constitution of the United States which serve to protect minorities and religions.

As written above, I believe it is another milestone in our great Democracy to see a Muslim elected to Congress. There was a time when people like Dennis Prager railed against letting Catholics, African Americans and woman run for office.

Last, I look forward to hearing the right wing conspiracy theories that will inevitably hatch around that Muslim Congressman and his "leftist supporters" and I am sure if Prager does not start the conspiracy theory about the "Leftist and Muslim Agenda To Overthrow American Values With Homosexuals And Flag Burners" then I am sure Rush Limbaugh or Pat Robertson will pick up on it soon enough.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Your doing a heck of a job Maliki"

It seems like every time President Bush tells someone they are doing a good job they are out of a job within a week or so.

It started with Michael Brown, who was doing a "heck of a job" with the bungling of the FEMA reaction to hurricane Katrine. Brownie was gone in days.

Then it was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whom Bush had said was doing an excellent job. Bush also said that Rumsfeld was not going anywhere. Then, Rumsfeld resigned the day after the elections.

So when President Bush said that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki was the "right man for the job", I thought, nice to know you Maliki.

Whenever President Bush compliments you on the job that your doing it usually means your about to lose that job.

"Your doing a good job" is actually code for "pack up your desk" in Bushanese.

It is hard to discern wether Maliki really wants to do the right thing for his country but is thwarted by sectarian rifts and violence, or if Maliki is not committed to the job but committed to sectarian militias.

So days ago I had written about the alliances between members of the Iraqi government and sectarian militias and how I believed they prevented a peaceful objective from being achieved in Iraq.

As if to prove my point members of the Iraqi government loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr walked out of parliament and the Cabinet on Wednesday in protest to Maliki's planned meeting with President Bush, today the boycott continues and the bloc claims that they are about to form an alliance with Iraq's Sunni's and Christians that has been under works for several months already.

Saleh al-Mutlag a Sunni politician and critic of Maliki said that the alliance would not include the Mehdi Army, a militia loyal to al-Sadr, but that the alliance could be achieve peacefully because al-Sadr himself is "not negative" about the idea (yet). He says the alliance would be composed of Clerics, Kurds, Turkmens, and Yazidis and nonsectarian.

All these indicators may possibly be pointing in the direction of the ousting of Maliki. Whether it's a good thing or not, hey, it's hard to tell these days what makes things better and what makes things worse.

Some are suggesting that this alliance Saleh al-Mutlag is speaking of with cooperation from al-Sadr may just be the key to securing the situation in Iraq, others say it's a recipe ripe for disaster.

At any rate, "Your doing a heck of a job," Maliki, at not being able to form alliances within your own country. "Your doing a heck of a job" at not preventing violence too.
Bush Not Seeking "Graceful Exit" From Iraq

At the hastily arranged and rearranged summit in Amman, Jordan President Bush "reassured" Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that Washington D.C. did not seek a "graceful exit" from Iraq but would like to speed up the turnover of security to the Iraqi's.

The meeting comes shortly after the "civil war" debate has reignited and amid a leaked memo which expresses the lack of faith in Maliki's abilities to handle situation. It's like the puppet master scolding the marionette.

Meanwhile, The Iraq Study Group, the 10-member, bipartisan panel tasked with studying the United States policy in Iraq will release its recommendations on Dec. 6.

Reuters is reporting that The Iraq Study group "has decided to recommend that the U.S. military transition from a combat role to a support role in Iraq." While The New York Times is reporting that "15 Brigades Would Gradually Stand Down Under Plan"

While the idea of a bipartisan The Iraq Study Group seems pleasant in theory the truth in the matter is that no member of the panel has any experience or expertise in middle eastern affairs.

Each member of the panel has experience in their own respective fields, unfortunately none of those respective fields directly relates to knowledge of warfare in the middle east or culture in the middle east.

It is unlikely the panels suggestions will in any way alter the decisions the President makes so I am not even going to allow myself to get excited at any kind of prospect of change because I simply do not see it happening any time soon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

U.S. Soldiers YouTube Videos To Be Investigated By Pentagon

The video below is one of the videos to be investigated by the Pentagon.
The video shows at least two U.S. soldiers taunting Iraqi children with bottled water.

Recently U.S. soldiers who thought they were pranksters posted videos of them taunting Iraqi children on YouTube.Com and now the joke is on them, the Pentagon is investigating their conduct.

The video above depicts at least two U.S. soldiers laughing and taunting Iraqi children with bottled water, the other video reportedly shows a soldier complaining that deadly force cannot be used against children who throw rocks.

The soldiers conduct, while not illegal was most definitely immoral and seemingly oblivious to the reality that these children actually live in.

It also yet another severe contradiction to our so called image as "liberators" of the middle east.

The mainstream media has yet to pick up on the story though the Pentagon is investigating the videos and the evidence is in the videos the soldiers posted themselves online that anyone can see, for the time being.

Not only did the soldiers involved behave in an unacceptable manner they thought their conduct was so acceptable and so humorous that they posted it online for the entire world to see.

I wanted to congratulate the bloggers for bringing so much attention to the video.

But who I should really be thanking is the soldiers decided to record their bullying of school age children for their own amusement, for if they had not recorded their "prank" no one would have known about it.

These soldiers, like the soldiers at Abu Ghraib recorded their deeds for people to see, thus proving they were proud of them.

I cannot express enough the importance of conduct of war, or just plain conduct of being a human being in a position of authority.

War is bad, I understand. War is ugly, I know. But what about all that propaganda about how we are going to "liberate" the people in Iraq? How does this kind of conduct contribute to that mission?

Talk about "winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people"...

That is what starts to sound like the joke, tell that to the pranksters.

Related : Report: Pentagon investigates YouTube video of U.S. troops
Related : Liberating Factor Or Aggravating Factor
Related : Iraqi Kid Runs For Water

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wars And Rumors Of Civil Wars

With the numerous slain bodies found in the streets of Baghdad, the explosives that detonate daily, the death squads who operate freely and the sectarian strife that is gripping the capital one has to wonder if this is only a war between Iraq and the United States or if it has become a battle between Iraq and itself.

CNN correspondent Michael Ware, who is on the ground in Baghdad illustrates rather well in the video below that this indeed appears to be a Civil War.

Ware cites that "The debate about whether this is civil war is fueled either by the luxury of distance" or "is fueled by the spin of those with a political agenda to deny its existence."

Ware later states "We now have institutionalized death squads in police uniforms.

You're having Sunni patients pulled out of Shia-controlled hospitals.

You have neighborhoods with fighting positions.

You have districts engaged in mortar wars -- one neighborhood lobbing bombs on another neighborhood and then retaliating.

People carry dual identity cards -- one Sunni, one Shia. Children dare not go to school for fear of crossing ethnic lines. Wolf, if this is not a civil war, then I don't want to see one when it comes. "

Transcript of the above video can be found at CNN.Com.

Civil War Or Sectarian Strife? Is There A Difference?

There has been a persistent argument as of late, and that argument is whether or not Iraq is really in a civil war or not.

Microsoft Encarta defines Civil War as "war within country: a war between opposing groups within a country"

Answers.Com identifies Civil War as "A war between factions or regions of the same country"

Some modern scholars have stated that the definition of Civil War is more than one group or faction within a country competing for political power in a conflict in which over 1,000 people have died.

Dictionaries would produce similar results, so why is there so much argument as to what the Iraq War has now become?

In part I blame doublespeak which has caused us to become confused and unsure of the situation.

After all it wasn't "prisoners of war" we have captured during the war, they are "enemy combatants".

It wasn't "domestic surveillance" when it was spying on tens of millions of ordinary Americans, it is "terrorist surveillance".

At last, most importantly, it wasn't a "civil war" when Shia and Sunni factions were killing each other, it is "sectarian violence". The truth got buried in the manipulative vocabulary.

The only significant difference I can identify that makes Iraq different than other civil wars is that the situation in Iraq was triggered, though not directly caused, by external forces.

In the case of Iraq it seems the actions of invading the country based on the misleading Weapons of Mass Destruction theory, toppling Saddam Hussein and the previous fueds between the factions were conditions ripe for Civil War.

Iraq also had the forceful "help" of "al Qaeda in Iraq" and others to help push it into it's beginning stages of a Civil War with the bombings of the holy shrines and mosques and massacring of civilians.

However, for now we cannot keep arguing over the definition of what a Civil War is or not. We have to address the problem as it is, in all honesty and admit that most likely we are in the beginning of a bloody Civil War in Iraq.

How we handle the conditions on the ground and our effectiveness in assessing and reacting to the situation will ensure our defeat and the collapse of Iraq or our victory and the rebuilding of Iraq.

But the longer we wallow over definitions of words instead of just understanding the plain obvious the harder it is going to be to avert an all out crisis, and by crisis I mean this could easily get worse.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Jordan's King Abdullah Says Region Is Facing Three Civil Wars

King Abdullah's comments come shortly after a tentative cease fire has been agreed upon between Israel and Palestine after nearly five months of bitter fighting in Gaza, the assassination of Pierre Gemeyal in Lebanon and a particularly bloody month in Iraq.

King Abdullah of Jordan's comments were that "We could possibly imagine going into 2007 and having three civil wars on our hands,'' said Abdullah on the ABC program "This Week'', he continued "It is time that we really take a strong step forward as part of the international community and make sure we avert the Middle East from a tremendous crisis.''

The Middle East already seems to be in the birth pangs of a tremendous crisis, and averting it seems like something akin to changing the weather.

It's become an open secret, parts of the Middle East are collapsing before our very own eyes and each day the problem becomes just a little worse, the solution becomes even more elusive.

But we go on another day, thinking that somehow something will change without direct intervention and discussions.

The problem with the current leadership in the United States is their inability or refusal to engage in the diplomatic discourse that is in dire need if we are to avert crisis.

We also don't have real any allies in the Middle East besides a tentative relationship with Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

We do little to change this fact, in fact we seem to only encourage hatred, bigotry and outrage with ourselves. There has to be another way to do this.

Our leaders keep reminding us of the importance of the time we live in, but I think it is they who forget the true importance of this time and their role in diffusing the crisis.

So will anyone at least consider the words of Abdullah? I think anyone who is paying attention by now realizes that Iraq is in a civil war and the quicker we acknowledge and accept this fact the quicker we can access the problem. The longer we ignore it the deeper we sink into the quicksand.

This is what Civil War looks like in Iraq. This is what 60 years of poor foreign policy in the Middle East looks like. You have let the genie out of the bottle, no pun intended, and good luck putting the genie back inside.

But Abdullah touches base on something integral and sensitive when addressing Middle Eastern issues and that is the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The ongoing conflict there is another road block that needs to be directly dealt with in an equal, fair and honest fashion rather than bias and discriminatory tactics we witness in order to promote the idea of peace in the Middle East.

President Bush cannot continue to escape away to countries that have little to do with the conflicts and talk to people who cannot help solve the problems if he is serious about anything other than leaving the Middle East in worse shape than when he found it.