Saturday, September 08, 2007

House Rep Talks of House Strategy to End War

I asked Gen. Petraeus in Iraq whether he had made plans for withdrawal, and he said “No! There are no contingency plans for withdrawal.” He said: “I don’t know how to do it. It takes six months just to close down one military base, and you can’t do many simultaneously.” You can check on how many military bases we have all over Iraq. So basically they’re created a situation that they think precludes any ability to withdraw from that country in any reasonable period of time. I hope that we are going to recommend that the money that the President is requesting for Iraq be used solely for withdrawing our troops, weapons, and facilities.

U.S. House Representative Jim Moran on Congressional strategy for U.S. House progressives in anticipation of the Petraeus report:

I just returned from Iraq on Monday (Aug.27), and I thought I might describe some of the impressions that I got and what I might expect will happen in the Congress in September.

I’m a member of the Defense Appropriations Committee, and it was in that capacity that we talked with General Petraeus, Oderno, and the rest of them, as well as senior Iraqi leaders. We have weaponized that entire country. There are more jersey barriers than blades of grass, and more weapons than there are people. The military is performing well, and that’s what Petraeus is going to say. The result of the military success is going to be wholly inconsistent with our values, and certainly unworthy of the sacrifice of our military families. You could have the greatest car ever manufactured and drive it at the right speed, but if you don’t have the right map, you’re never going to get to your destination, and that’s the situation we have with the military. I personally think we put too much money into the military, but any way you put it, the end result is going to be Shiite theocracy that is suppressive of woman’s rights, human rights, and is closely aligned with Iran, with the most conservative elements of the Iranian government.

The Iraqi police have coordinated with the Shia militia, and they’ve cleansed most of Baghdad of Sunnis. The last time I was there, Baghdad was about 50 percent Shia, 50 percent Sunni. Now it is more than 75 percent Shia. There have been 4 million people from the Sunni middle class forced out of their homes, 2 million out of the country. There are 20,000 people who have been imprisoned—85 percent of them are Sunni. This is in country when only 20 percent of the population are Sunni. Only 10 percent of them have actually been charged with any crime. The police under the Ministry of Interior are corrupt: They are stealing weapons and money, and it is an embarrassment that we are supporting and empowering them. The Malaki government is not something we should be supporting. They are part of the Dawa Party, a semi-terrorist Islamic secret society, and the most moderate is the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), with very close ties to Iran. So I won’t go into that any more, but I’m just saying that the end result, even if we are successful, is not anything we could ever be proud of.

We know now that the President is going to recommend an additional 50 billion dollars on top of the 145 billion that he’s already said he’d going to request as supplemental. In the House, we’ve already passed 560 billion for the regular bill, and passed another 130 billion dollar supplemental earlier this year. If you add all that up, it comes to almost 800 billion dollars that we have made available for war making in this country. That’s more money than we’ve ever devoted to any other initiative; it’s more money than we would need to make this a better country and a better world.

One of the most striking juxtapositions is New Orleans. With the 450 million dollars we are spending everyday now in Iraq, we could transform New Orleans, and rescue it and make it a city we could be proud of. Instead we’re rebuilding Baghdad, and Mosul, and Tikrit and I call tell you that the Iraqi people are not appreciative. The Government is. The Government is because they’re using us and getting wealthy on our money. The people are oppressed and never see their government, and blame us for the conditions that we have imposed on them

Now, to talk about strategy: I’m going to recommend that Mr. Murtha reject the 50 billion entirely, take the 14 billion, and use it solely for withdrawal purposes. I asked Gen. Petraeus in Iraq whether he had made plans for withdrawal, and he said “No! There are no contingency plans for withdrawal.” He said: “I don’t know how to do it. It takes six months just to close down one military base, and you can’t do many simultaneously.” You can check on how many military bases we have all over Iraq. So basically they’re created a situation that they think precludes any ability to withdraw from that country in any reasonable period of time. I hope that we are going to recommend that the money that the President is requesting for Iraq be used solely for withdrawing our troops, weapons, and facilities.

And I think it is important for us to withdraw our weapons, because if we don’t take all that sophisticated, lethal weaponry out of that country they’re going to use it to kill each other eventually.

Now, one thing about Al Qaeda, since the President continues to mention Al Qaeda—there are only about 100 Al Qaeda in all of Baghdad, and only 1000 in the entire country. Now granted, they will pay people to do their dirty work, but there are very few Al Qaeda, it is hardly a war, and a policing action and [not?] and occupation, if anything. They are not going to be a sustained force in Iraq. Just to give you one example: Al Qaeda is saying that it’s a sin to smoke. They’re cutting of the fingers of smokers. Everybody in Iraq smokes cigarettes. It hasn’t been discussed, but it’s a principal the Sunni sheiks have turned against Al Qaeda in Anbar province. We’re taking credit for it, which is fine, but a lot of it is a reflection that this is a secular society, and all least the Sunni wont tolerate the Talibanization of their villages.

To go back to the supplemental: I hope we will only use the supplemental for the purposes of withdrawal. If we are successful, and I don’t know if we will be, but I know this is what Jack Murtha wants to accomplish, and if we can get it through the whole appropriations committee, and the House leadership stands firm, I think we might be able to get 220 votes in the House. That looks to be about what we can get in that situation, assuming we get two or three Republicans. The Senate is much more difficult, I don’t think we can get sixty votes in the Senate. As you know, we need more than a majority to kill a filibuster, and I don’t think even Senator Warner would support language that would do that. But if we could get sixty votes in the Senate, the President would veto it, and we can’t override a veto. It’s inconceivable that we could. So this war is going to continue until we have a national referendum, and that’s going to occur in November of 2008, when we elect a President who is absolutely committed to ending this misguided military mission that will make future generations of Americans ashamed what this generation of Americans allowed to happen.

"We do believe that this war is not going to end in September, and that there will be a need for ongoing anti-war manifestations after that. [..] The goal here is to, to the degree that it’s possible, tap into what we call the 70 percent (whatever the actual numbers are), the vast majority of the people of the country that oppose the war—maybe for a lot of different reason—who have not spoken out, not taken any action, not found a way to be visible in their opposition."
Leslie Cagan of UFPJ (United for Peace and Justice)

Related story: LINK

Click HERE to read the transcript of the discussion between some of the most interesting thinkers in the anti-Iraq-war movement. You'll get a good sense of where their thinking is at.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Edwards' New Strategy Against Terrorism

"We've got to throw away the failed George Bush policies of the past, and move in a bold new direction..."

"Some politicians, like Rudolph Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain have responded to the shortcomings and backfires of the Administration's approach by essentially doubling-down. They have closed their eyes to the facts and asked us to accept, on faith, more of the Bush approach. Some running for the Democratic nomination have even argued that the Bush-Cheney approach has made us safer. It has not."

- John Edwards today at Pace University

The following are highlight from a speech given by presidential candidate John Edwards at Pace University in New York City (of which blogger Matthew Yglesias called "brilliant"):

...instead of leading a truly visionary campaign against global terrorism, our president led America down a garden path.

...President Bush, like the Republicans following him today and even some Democrats, was stuck in the past, and he still is.

...George Bush literally gave us his father's war—but without his father's allies or his father's sense of decency.

...Tragically for America and the world, George Bush's "war on terror" approach walked directly into the trap the terrorists set for us. Islamic extremists wanted to frame the conflict with the U.S. as a war of civilizations, and the Bush Administration, stuck in a Cold War mentality, happily complied.

...We need a counterterrorism policy that will actually counter terrorism.

...George Bush has used 20th century tools to attack 21st century problems. The Bush approach has failed not only because of the shameless political manipulations and reckless decisions of the president and his aides. It has failed because the president is using an antiquated set of weapons against a modern target, and he's misfiring.

...As president, I will launch a comprehensive new counterterrorism policy that will be defined by two principles—strength and cooperation.

...The centerpiece of this policy will be a new multilateral organization called the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization (CITO).

...Organizations are only as strong as the people who help make them run, and so we must also improve the quality of our human intelligence—agents better able to understand local culture and make local connections in countries with active terrorist cells. As president, I will lead efforts to improve human intelligence through 1,000 new annual scholarships to improve language skills for students who pursue careers in intelligence and diplomacy.

...Diplomacy is key to progress against nuclear weapons.

...As president, I will create a Global Nuclear Compact to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would support peaceful nuclear programs, improve security for existing stocks of nuclear materials, and ensure more frequent verification that materials are not being diverted and facilities are not being misused. And I will lead an international effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

...We must encourage American Muslim participation in public life. I will put new resources toward engaging American Muslims, empowering local mosques to counter extremist ideas, and working hand-in-hand with Muslim communities to identify and isolate threats.

...we must achieve energy independence. If we reduce our reliance on oil from instable parts of the world, Middle Eastern regimes will finally diversify their economies and modernize their societies.

...we also should have a broader, deeper goal—to prevent terrorism from taking root in the first place.

...[If] they see us as the light, the country they want to be like, the country that's creating hope and opportunity, it will pull them to us like a magnet. We have to be that light again. We need to do everything we can to prevent this generation of potential friends from becoming a generation of enemies.

... during my first year in office, I will establish a "Marshall Corps," patterned after the military reserves, that will include at least 10,000 civilian experts. Its members will be deployed abroad to serve on reconstruction, stabilization, and humanitarian missions.


...George Bush's failed management of the war in Iraq has made the problem of terrorism worse. The war provided Al Qaeda with a powerful tool for recruiting terrorists. It gave them a battlefield for training. It gave them an attractive target, in American troops. And it diverted the resources of the U.S. military, weakening our force structure in the process. Even though the presence of U.S. troops has served as an attractive target for terrorists, our eventual withdrawal will not remove the threat. As president, I will redeploy troops into Quick Reaction Forces outside of Iraq, to perform targeted missions against Al Qaeda cells and to prevent a genocide or regional spillover of a civil war.


...We can neglect the crisis in Afghanistan no longer. The Taliban is re-taking territory in southern Afghanistan and kidnapping foreigners. As president, I will work with the other members of NATO to ensure that our forces and rules of engagement are robust enough to defeat the Taliban and protect the democratic government in Afghanistan. As part of this effort, I will commit additional American Special Forces to root out and shut down Taliban cells.


In Pakistan, the recent National Intelligence Estimate found that Al Qaeda has established a safe haven in the northwest tribal areas. We have given the Musharraf government billions of dollars of aid in the last several years, yet they have done far too little to get control over these areas. As president, I will condition future American aid on progress by Pakistan, including strengthening the reach of police forces and working more effectively with tribal leaders and their members to ensure their acceptance of the government. But I want to be clear about one thing: if we have actionable intelligence about imminent terrorist activity and the Pakistan government refuses to act, we will.


...Saudi Arabia is a country we have given too much in return for too little. We must require the Saudis to do more to stop the flow of terrorists to Iraq. As president, I will condition future arms packages on Saudi Arabia's actions against terrorists.

Krugman To Dems: Make Up Your Minds!

Paul Krugman breaks down the Iraq War issue regarding General Petraeus and the White House-written report he'll soon deliver:

Mr. Krugman is making these points:

No independent assessment has concluded that violence in Iraq is down.

General Petraeus has a history of making wildly overoptimistic assessments of progress in Iraq that happen to be convenient for his political masters.

Any plan that depends on the White House recognizing reality is an idle fantasy.

The lesson of the past six years is that Republicans will accuse Democrats of being unpatriotic no matter what the Democrats do.

The public hates this war and wants to see it ended. Voters are exasperated with the Democrats, not because they think Congressional leaders are too liberal, but because they don’t see Congress doing anything to stop the war.

..and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq are pressing selected leaders in a new ad campaign:

Monday, September 03, 2007

Gold Star Mom Angry Over Freedom's Watch Ad

The Gold Star mother of Travis Youngblood is angry that his memory has been used by certain prominent Republicans in the ad I've posted above in order to perpetuate the Iraq war.

I am Travis Youngblood's mother, and I was not contacted in any way shape or form regarding this video. So don't think that just because his widow decides to use his image that it has been endorsed by his entire family. I would never in a million years have consented to this.


The fact that this video was even made, says a lot about the organization behind it. That they would use a grieving widow to further their political agenda is propaganda of the worst kind. There is nothing further to be gained by keeping our troops in Iraq. They should be withdrawn as quickly as possible. I would not want any more mothers, widows, fathers, brothers, sisters to experience the pains that we have been through.This is the way I see it. This is the bottom line for me.


Whenever I talked to Travis on the phone, or received an email from him, he always said, don't watch CNN. They don't tell you the truth. I refuse to dismiss the good things our troops have done in Iraq. And to say they haven't is a lie. But the time has come for them to come home. It is not defeat. It is just the simple fact that there is nothing more they can do.


Thank you JMlawyer. At least there is at least one person here who can look beyond there own agenda and see the man featured here. Travis was a loving father, husband, friend, son, and was awaiting the birth of his daughter when he was taken from us. Laura has been through a lot, and her love for Travis is all consuming. I respect her right to free speech, and I respect our servicemen and women. Travis keeps good company in Arlington. But let no more die in this godforsaken place. Please.

(See Debbi4873's comments under the video ad on YouTube.)
Pretty powerful words.

Travis' mother has her own tribute video up at YouTube for her Travis.

Note: I've saved these comments (print screen) in case they mysteriously disappear.

Russian Minister Warns U.S. About Kosovo Red Lines

The most serious problem facing the international community in Europe today is the final status of Kosovo. As things stand, Serbia will neither accept Kosovo’s eventual independence nor its partition. The European Union is hesitant and divided with regards to Kosovo independence. Russia is not expected to recognize Kosovo’s independence unless Serbia does first, and that is a most unlikely prospect.

Kosovo-Albanian leaders have said they would declare independence even without U.N. agreement after Dec. 10, 2007 and seek recognition from the United States and European Union. [source: Reuters]

See former Commander of KFOR Gen. Klaus Reinhardt's statement about the international situation.

Calling Kosovo a 'red line that must not be crossed', Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has made it pretty clear that his nation will not cooperate with the U.S. on Kosovo independence.Lavrov also made overtures toward a new closeness to the West.

In my opinion, if Russia is truly interested in closer ties with the West, they could start showing they mean it by stopping the practice of spying on and killing off their own nation's investigative journalists. If fewer of their women were beaten and raped, it would also be a good start.