I'm not normally a political person but decided I needed to voice my opinion. I could not get through on the White House comment line(1-202-456-1111) so I sent a brief email telling them that I do not want war with Iraq and risking our American military personnel being killed and that George Bush will not get my vote when he runs for re-election if we have this confrontation and it results in loss of American life.
This is the email for the President: email@example.com
You will receive an automated response.
If you oppose this "war", please contact the White House.
Jan 13th, 2003, 07:34 PM
Happy Imbeciles At War Massive U.S. military buildup, billions of dollars, a useless enemy, and no one seems to know why
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist Friday, January 10, 2003
This is not a war. Iraq will not be a war. Do we understand this? We do not seem to understand this. This is heavily corporatized power brokers killing each other for oil and capital. Oh yes it is.
Let's be perfectly clear. You cannot have a war when the so-called enemy has done nothing to provoke you and is absolutely no threat to your national safety and has no significant military force and has negligible chance of even setting off a firecracker near your own overwhelming death machines, and whose only weapons of minimal destruction are the rusty short-range warheads and biochemical agents we sold him 20 years ago, and kept selling to him, even after we knew he was gassing his own people.
You cannot have a war when there is nothing to fight against, when it's essentially going to be a huge U.S. military stomping/bombing exercise, when, just like Afghanistan, we stand to suffer zero U.S. casualties (except for those we seem to kill ourselves), and we just bomb and bomb and kill and kill and shrug.
Let us look closer: The U.S. buildup for war with Iraq is the biggest in decades. The Iraq operation, in the words of Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, will be "the most massive precision air campaign in history," because, well, because we can. Because we want to annihilate everything as fast and ruthlessly as possible, simply because the longer such an operation takes and the more expensive and obviously pointless it becomes, the more everyday citizens snap out of it and begin to say, wait, why are we doing this again?
Saddam's meager military, let us be reminded, is a tiny quivering fraction of what it was 10 years ago during Desert Storm, and even then it took U.S. forces less than four days to almost completely annihilate it.
Now it's even weaker, due to ongoing sanctions and U.N. oversight and a decade of continuous U.S.-led bombing raids on Iraqi targets you never read about. Hell, this time we should have those thousands of pesky Iraqi soldiers and innocent civilians dead and slaughtered in a weekend.
This is a Mack truck versus a Pinto. This is an F-16 versus a paper airplane, a Tomahawk missile versus a spit wad. There is no contest. "War" is exactly the wrong term. The U.S. attack on Iraq will be, of course, a massacre. Go team.
Now let's say you sense this all to be true. Let's say you have a queasy feeling deep in your gut as you realize no one is talking about exactly why we need to launch a second simultaneous war to go along with the unwinnable assault we're still running in Afghanistan.
Remember Afghanistan? Yes, we're still there, warring away. Bombing and attacking and killing. Haven't caught a single al Qaeda leader of note yet. That looks bad for Dubya. Killed a few thousand civilians though. Shrug.
So, let's boil it down: Why go to war with Iraq? Can't find Osama, is one reason. That looks bad. Really, really want to steal all that delicious oil for ShrubCo, is another. Saddam is clearly a very bad guy who kills his own people and snickers in America's general direction, is a third. But then again, so are at least a half-dozen other vile tyrants of the world. Volatile, nuke-ready North Korea? Let's open some talks. Feeble, oil-ready Iraq? Let's massacre. Hmm.
Perhaps you wonder why no one is asking any of these questions, making similar points.
Perhaps you wonder just where in the hell is the spineless major media in all this, as they watch the chicken-hawk Shrubster himself, between golf swings, announce how tens of thousands of American troops are being sent to the Gulf alongside an enormous billion-dollar military buildup and imminent gobs of heaping death raining down upon a paltry oppressed nation and coming up next on CNN, we interview that dumb guy from "Joe Millionaire." Perfect.
Perhaps you wonder where is the national TV coverage of all those huge anti-war protests, hundreds of thousands of people, all over the world, from Spain to Berlin to New York to San Francisco.
Perhaps you wonder where are all the "serious" journalists, the risk-taking news agencies pointing up the absurdity of it all, the imminent horror, the outrage. Could it be these news agencies are owned by major conservative corporations? Could it be they're all terrified of losing ratings, of saying something unpopular, of invoking Cheney's wrath, of losing advertiser dollars and that ever-precious, ever-dwindling dumbed-down audience? One guess.
And besides, who needs a reason for a massacre anymore? This is the age of the preemptive-strike, screw-you Bush regime. Who needs, for example, the Monroe Doctrine, that crusty old rag stating how America will go to war only as a last resort, as a defensive measure, and won't become embroiled in unwinnable foreign wars that are none of our business?
Who needs every precedent ever set by international law? Who needs the U.N. Charter? Who needs confused congressional approval? Who needs ethical integrity?
Screw it all, says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his black eyes gleaming like the devil's own golf balls. Let us become an ever-more-hated rogue nation, attack whomever we want, whenever we want, with no international support and much international disgust. Let us squander, childishly, within months, the generous and compassionate goodwill afforded our country by our international allies in the wake of 9/11.
Let us wantonly kill innocent civilians and children and thousands of Iraqi soldiers who, let us repeat, did nothing to provoke us. Shall we? Yes let's. Why? Shhh.
Let us be clear. Saddam is not a threat to the U.S., and never has been. He is merely yet another cowardly and murderous thug, much like the countless other despots and autocrats, from Marcos to King Fahd to Ariel Sharon, the U.S. has added to its payroll when it served our needs, and whom we then backhand when we need economic stimulus, or when the president needs a boost to his approval ratings, or when the corporate pals of the Bush WASP mafia need more billion-dollar petrochemical and defense contracts. Aha. Perhaps this is why.
We are, in short, going to attack and massacre Iraq for the oil reserves, to protect America's corporate interests, to feed the gaping maw of the military-industrial complex. Same as it ever was.
But let us be perfectly clear: We are most definitely not cranking up the appalling war machine for your sake, or for the country's protection, or for our commendable standing among our humanitarian allies.
We are not doing it to defeat terrorism (it will have the exact opposite effect), or to make the streets safer for our children, or because they've found big scary WMDs (they haven't -- not a one) -- or even for Iraq's own good. And to believe we are is, quite simply, to be wholly misinformed and openly, flagrantly, deliberately deceived.
Do we understand this? We must, we absolutely must, try and understand this.
Jan 13th, 2003, 07:38 PM
A New Generation's Vietnam
By David Hilfiker, Pacific News Service January 2, 2003
I have just returned home from a three-week trip to Iraq organized by the peace group Voices in the Wilderness. I toured the country's cities, suburbs and rural areas, meeting everyone from housewives to teachers to government officials. I feel now as I felt a generation ago during the Vietnam War: We are destroying an innocent people in the name of geopolitical "realities" that, ultimately, make no sense.
President Bush says that the danger to the United States of "weapons of mass destruction" justifies the devastation caused by a 12-year American-led campaign of bombing and sanctions. The idea would be laughable if it were not taken so seriously by so many in America. Iraq was a third-rate military power before the first Gulf War and the sanctions. The former U.S. Marine heading the previous U.N. inspection teams says 90 to 95 percent of Saddam Hussein's remaining weapons of mass destruction were found and destroyed. Almost no one thinks Iraq possesses nuclear weapons or the capability to get a missile anywhere near the United States. Aside from Great Britain and Israel, virtually no other country perceives Iraq to be a danger worth the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
I spoke to one woman who lost her daughter three years ago in what the Pentagon called "a mistake." She lives in a suburb of Basra in the south in the so-called "no-fly" zone, a band of Iraqi airspace forbidden to Iraqi military flights and patrolled by U.S. and British warplanes. The stated purpose of the U.N.-instituted zone was to protect potentially disloyal tribes from Iraqi government attack. But 12 years later, American and British planes continue to bomb the area regularly in response to anti-aircraft fire from Iraqi guns.
The guns fire because Iraq doesn't recognize the zone and perceives the planes as intruding into their air space. It's a purely symbolic gesture, out of pride I suppose, since the planes fly too high to be reached by the antiquated guns. Iraq hasn't downed a single manned plane in 12 years. But the United States bombs in response anyway, and civilians are killed with some regularity.
This woman's young son, who was with her when we talked, lost half of his left hand in one such attack. He has some 30 pieces of shrapnel in his back. Voices in the Wilderness is trying to get him to the United States for restorative surgery. I'll be bringing back X-rays and some records for doctors back home.
I've visited pediatric cancer wards in both Basra and in the northern city of Mosul where the incidence of certain cancers (especially leukemia) is three to four times higher than before the Gulf War. The exact cause of the rise has not been scientifically determined, in part because baseline demographic statistics no longer exist in Iraq, and also because no one has done the sophisticated studies. One likely cause is the radioactive depleted uranium dust from American munitions used during the Gulf War. Increased pollution (due in part to the sanction-induced lack of scrubbing equipment in oil refineries and cars), poor nutrition, waterborne contaminants and general ill health surely play a role.
In a Basra pediatric hospital, I talked to a very poor, uneducated woman in her mid-30s from a remote village. Dressed in a black abeya that covered everything but her face and hands, this woman sat cross-legged on her 6-year-old daughter's bed, watching her child die of leukemia. The pediatrician explained to me that of five chemo-therapeutic agents for treating cancer – all of which have a finite shelf life and must be used simultaneously for proper effect – only three will likely get through. The other two will be delayed until the others have expired.
We visited a number of water treatment plants. Some were damaged in direct bombing attacks during the Gulf War. Many others, however, are just falling apart with age because sanctions deny the requisite spare parts or the manufacture of new ones. Without purified drinking water, the mortality rate of children under five years of age is now two and a half times higher than before the war. Thirteen percent of Iraqi children now die before age 5, usually due to contaminated water.
In 1996 the Oil for Food Program (OFFP) was initiated, which allowed Iraq to sell a certain amount of its oil. About a quarter of the earnings go to pay reparations to Kuwait, and another percentage pays U.N. monitoring expenses. The rest is to be used to import food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. Washington claims that if Baghdad used the funds properly, the humanitarian crisis would be alleviated. But many U.N. studies have shown that Iraq uses most of the funds appropriately. The Iraqi food distribution program, for instance, is considered the best the United Nations has monitored.
The problem is that most of the goods that can be imported under the OFFP have to go through a U.N. Security Council committee, which deliberates in secret and where the United States (along with the other permanent members of the Security Council) has a veto. A November 2002 Harper's Magazine investigation by Joy Gordon reported that the United States routinely blocks or puts on hold billions of dollars of goods on the basis that they could be used for military purposes (dual-use).
Children's vaccinations, for example, were initially blocked on grounds that they might be used to develop biological weapons. European biological weapons experts flatly deny this is possible, and the decision was immediately reversed once the Washington Post reported it. Gordon writes that even water tankers are blocked because they might be used to carry chemical weapons. Truck tires, milk-producing equipment, you name it – all have been blocked or put on hold because of the possibility of dual use.
It all sounds too petty to be true, yet the stories are consistent with U.N. documentation and reports in the foreign press.
Another problem is that although the OFFP allows Iraq to exchange oil for food, medicine and equipment, it doesn't allow Iraq to receive cash from the sales, so there is no money to pay people to transport goods, install and maintain equipment or even train operators. Since Iraq can't sell oil for cash, it also has no source of foreign currency, which has destablized the economy. Before the Gulf War, the Iraqi dinar was worth three dollars; the rate is now 2,000 dinar to the dollar.
The net effect of the first Gulf War and the ongoing sanctions – a devastated economy, contaminated water, malnutrition and cancer deaths – is well over 1 million deaths in 12 years, many times more than the deaths caused by the U.S. atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Unlike Vietnam a generation ago, we don't see the news clips of children dying, or the haunting image a young, naked girl fleeing a napalm-bombed village. But Iraq is still this generation's Vietnam: a senseless slaughter justified by irrational rationales.
I had a private conversation with a retired Iraqi surgeon in Baghdad, doctor to doctor. Growing up, he attended American schools in Baghdad. He furthered his education at American University in Beirut, and spent three years of surgical residency training in the United States. An intelligent, politically sophisticated man, he was gracious but direct. "The United States has always been a beacon. Your democracy is a model for us and the rest of the world. But your actions here are turning the whole world against you. You have destroyed our economy and robbed our children of hope. There can be no justification for this. You must tell Americans that we are human beings, too."
Jan 13th, 2003, 07:42 PM
Thank you so very much for the post and info. :) I just sent an email off to them.
Also, there will be a HUGE anti-war protest here in D.C. this Saturday.
Car Key Boi
Jan 13th, 2003, 08:30 PM
i think now is a good time for the Car Key Boi to scraaaaatch (meaning to bump) his Daily Reminder thread about how everyone here, including Lynn, is responsible for the war in Iraq that is going to happen probably mid Feb :)
Jan 13th, 2003, 09:35 PM
Happy Imbeciles At War Massive U.S. military buildup, billions of dollars, a useless enemy, and no one seems to know why
Why? It is easy.. Saddam's threat? No. Oil? Not really.. Then what? Geopolitics and security.
Now for the first time since the Soviet Union stopped to be a geopolitical threat ( which is dated approximately back to 1989 ), USA and western style of life was really challenged. The challenge is very serious and the threat is obvious. The challenger is the loose conglomerate of Islamic fundamentalist organisations that we call Al Qaeda. I do not think that it is limited to those cells that
are cooperating with Al Qaeda leadership, but rather all extremist Islamic groups altogether. If we don't destroy this enemy, this enemy will ultimately destroy us and our way of life in every possible sense, primarily by terrorist means.
Al Qaeda was based on two components . One of them was having at their disposal an uncontrolled territory, used to train militants and that was Afghanistan. Military action in 2001-2002 mostly destroyed that, and even if now they still have some minor camps there, it is no longer that vast infrastructure of terrorist camps that it used to be. So, we can consider that they are no longer capable of training militants in same huge numbers. What they managed to do up to end of 2001 will probably be enough for them to last few more years, before they probably start to experience the shortage of manpower.
The second component of Al Qaeda is money. And Al Qaeda's money is more or less an equivalent of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is our friend, on paper. But in reality, it is probably enemy #1, enemy that we cannot attack right away. Simply because we depend on them in too many ways ( they are leading oil suppliers + they have enough of investments in US economy to provoke it is quick downfall ). That's why while this fact comes to our attention form time to time ( remember that trillion dollar suit against Saudi Royal family from families of 9-11 victims? ), we cannot do anything about it right now. They are the most fundumentalist Islamic country in the world, and they are the foundation of Al Qaeda. What can be done about that? Nothing can be done overnight.. Nothing really. But in long term USA have to do something to weaken Saudi's financial might,their political influence and dominance of Arab world. Saudi Arabia needs to have a rival, that would counterbalance Saudis influence. The rival has to be an Arab country, have oil resources comparable to those of Saudi, be a country with large human resources and industry and, what's most important, it has to be an Islamic country with non-clerical tradition, pretty much like Turkey. The problem is, there is not much choice, Iraq is the only candidate. And it is a perfect candidate. And there is only one obstacle to that - Saddam Hussein. US demonised him so much that now any trusted relationships with him are simply out of question. That idea was not born just now. Remember that famous phrase that American ambassador in Iraq told to Saddam in 1990? About USA not caring about any territorial disputes between Iraq and Kuwait? Saddam at the time was the friend who kept busy the worst enemy ( Iran of Homeini ) for quite long, and US let him understand that they would not mind Iraq getting stronger at some expense of neighbours. But Saddam misinterpreted the message. He made a fatal mistake and decided that he is given a carte blanche. That was not what US meant. Nobody was prepared to anger our oil "friends" that much. Why the problem of Iraq was escalated now, not few years ago when Saddam kicked out inspectors? Because now we need Iraq more than ever, with all that fight against Islamic fundamentalism, we need it badly. And all we have to do is removing Saddam. Any way. War or not, doesn't really matter. As long as Saddam leaves his place for someone we can deal with. But make no mistake. Real target is not Iraq.
That's, of course, my understanding of whole issue.
Jan 13th, 2003, 09:50 PM
if Bush wants this to happen.. it will.
anyone know of any protests in the NYC area?
i will definitely be there if there is one.
Jan 13th, 2003, 11:28 PM
That was a very profound take on the Iraq crisis, ys.
I think the American ambitions are much higher than simply installing someone with a more favorable opinion towards the US in Baghdad. I suspect the likes of Wolfowitz, Perle, and Cheney want to make Iraq the model society of the Arab world - by establishing a federal democracy with strong secular stints, a dynamic economy, progressive social policies, for instance in regards to women. The fundamental idea is to show the religious reactionaries in the region that the usual dismissal of democracy and human rights as a Western invention that will never work in the Arab world is inherently faulty. This, of course, could turn out to be one of the largest social experiments of our time, the outcome of which will have deep-felt effects on every corner of the world.
In that regard, it's somewhat amusing that Bush, who wanted to avoid nation-building at all costs in his election campaign, might turn out to be one of the greatest nation builders of our time. First Afghanistan, then Iraq, and who knows what's next.
The Israel angle is important as well. Saddam is extremely concious about the current conflict and how it is perceived in the Arab world. He knows that he can win plenty of friends in the Arab streets by attacking Israel, either directly or indirectly. He tried that during the first Gulf War, and he is funding terrorism at the moment. An Iraqi attack would spur hefty Israeli response, and much of the area could soon be engulfed in flames. I think the Americans know it's best to get rid of the most erratic leader in the region to avoid such a scenario.
Jan 13th, 2003, 11:39 PM
Just wanted to add a point.
Frankly, I like the idea that the well-functioning democracies of the world take on the corrupt dictatorships. I would certainly like to see this idea expanded. Way beyond Iraq. Let's get them one by one. Let's ask them what their excuse is for holding their own people hostages. And let's do it, while the balance of power is still heavily in favor of the democratic societies.
Nuclear weapons and others WMDs might make it much more difficult to confront such nations in the future. Imagine a crazed Talibanesque country emerging somewhere with massive nuclear capabilities, all lined up to use against the infidels if they dare oppose them.