An argument over a memorial in Shelby Township, Mich., underscores the torn feelings over Bush's Iraq adventure. Last October, a roadside bomb exploded and took the life of U.S. Army Pfc. Mark Barbret of Shelby. A veterans' group wanted Barbret's name inscribed on a new monument to honor those who died in the Global War on Terrorism, noting his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Angie Barbret, the 21-year-old soldier's mother, told the Detroit News that she only wants her son's memory honored, but said, "I know this: Mark didn't go to Iraq to free Iraqis, he went because his country called him to war."
Peace activists joined in the debate, arguing that tying Iraq to terrorism is dishonest.
Kim Bergier from the Cranbrook Peace Foundation said, "I don't think the war in Iraq should be called the war on terrorism. Saddam Hussein did not have any part to play in causing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."
Frank O'Donnell from Peace Action Michigan lashed out at the Bushevik "bumper sticker phrases." Noting the bloody obvious, he said, "I have no problem calling it what it is -- a war. There was an invasion. There are bombs. There are soldiers. That's a war."
It tells us much about the times we are living in when such a debate even occurs. The town board, after much discussion, finally agreed to honor Pfc. Barbret under the new veterans' memorial category named simply Iraq. They left plenty of room for more names.
Bush's war -- and his refusal to recognize its failure -- is pure fanaticism. His obsession with loyalty is hardly a virtue. It's really a malignant reflection of his own unmerited self-assurance and refusal to see realities that challenge his visceral mentality. The case of baseball star Rafael Palmeiro's steroid use and Bush's unequivocal defense of him is telling.
Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, told Knight Ridder newspapers, "It seems that President Bush is falling into the Nixon trap -- his administration can do no wrong. His allies and people who support him can do no wrong. Palmeiro is above suspicion, Rove is not to be questioned, John Bolton is a stand-up guy."
The above is from Bill Gallagher's "Bush Vacations While Soldiers Die" (Niagara Falls Reporter). It's Thursday, we're doing the Indy Media roundups. Dana e-mailed asking that we note "that guy at that paper. I haven't seen anything from him here in a long time." Dana, I hope you meant Bill Gallagher. If not, e-mail again and we'll try to figure it out together. (When I read Dana's e-mail, I immediately thought of Bill Gallagher.)
Cedric e-mails to note Michael de Yoanna's "No time for deserter's wife" (Colorado Springs Indy):
The U.S. Attorney's Office has dropped the case against Amy Bartell, a Christian pacifist charged by Fort Carson military police with enticing and harboring her husband, an Army soldier who refused to deploy to Iraq.
"We've formally declined to pursue prosecution," says Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for Colorado's acting U.S. attorney, William Leone.
Bartell's troubles began shortly after she and her husband, Spc. Dale Bartell, became Mennonites last fall. The church is categorically opposed to war, and as early as January, Dale Bartell began asking his superiors at Fort Carson about leaving the Army as a conscientious objector.
Gore Vidal Is God e-mails to note Elle's "Anti-Recruitment Group Voices Opposition in Lakewood" (Cleveland IMC):
On Saturday, August 6th a local Anti-Recruitment group demonstrated in front of the Lakewood Military Recruitment Station located on Detroit Avenue. Beginning at 2:00pm more than 40 folks were in attendance. Cleveland Food Not Bombs served ice cream cones to passers-by and those attending the protest. A large banner, many sign holders, drums and other musical instruments brought attention to the action. A few blocks down, the Lakewood Arts Festival was crowded on this Saturday afternoon, and brought many community residents past the recruitment center. There seemed to be alot of support, both from those walking and drivers honking as they passed. During the rally individuals spoke out against military recruitment and read from the "Things You Should Know Before Joining The Military" card being handed out.
Stan e-mails to note John Hepler's "Iraqi War Policy Underscores the Failure of Republican Leadership" (Tennessee Independent Media Center):
The Bush Administration is now planning to "draw down" or bring back some of our soldiers from Iraq by mid 2006.Is this "cut and run" or setting a timetable for withdrawal? [Of course not!] There are good reasons for this strategy.
First, all polls show that most Americans want us out of Iraq. Second, mid 2006 is a critical time in the US election process and this will help Republican candidates. Third, many analysts and growing numbers of generals are telling our Leaders that this war cannot be won. Most Iraqis will be glad to see the US military leave Iraq. Most of them have lost parents, children, relatives, "collateral damage", in this war. Most of them blame the US for the bloody chaos that dominates their country now.
When the US military is gone from Iraq, the main reason for local Iraqi resistance will be gone. This removes the pot of honey, the great attractant for Osama bin Laden and foreign jihadists. Civil war is already happening to some extent. Absence of US troops will simplify this situation; and the 80% Shi'a and Kurd population who want peace will quickly sort out the small percentage of Sunnis who still want to fight.
There is one enormous problem with the US withdrawal: it will not happen all at once. As our troops leave, several thousand at a time, there will still be US soldiers left, a target for the jihadists and Iraqi resistance. As they see victory approachig, the power of this resistance will grow and violence will tend to increase.
In short, the removal of US troops is the solution, but the process of getting them gone is a knotty situation.
Could diplomacy help this withdrawal? Yes, but the longer it is put off, the weaker becomes the position of the Bushists. The Iraqi resistance now knows the US military is leaving; they know they will win, its just a question of when.
??? e-mails to note Chris Lehmann's "Funk-Ridden D.C. Is as Stripped, Aird As Crawford, Tex." (New York Observer):
According to Mr. [Larry C.] Johnson, who works with the D.C.-based consultants' group BERG Associates, these conditions make little impression on the dominant mindset of policymakers in the Bush White House, which he describes as "religious." Raising points of dissent, or suggesting that invasion and occupation may be something less than the quickest path to democratic self-rule in the region, "is like arguing the Virgin Birth. This is something these people believe in their soul of souls," Mr. Johnson said.
From the early days of the Bush administration, Mr. Johnson recalled, "you had this war with the intelligence community. The neocons insist that the intelligence community missed all these things, be it 9/11 or nuclear-weapons capabilities, that it was a simple matter of Bush and his advisors coming on board and fighting the good fight. When you run across this mindset, it’s frightening how bizarre it is."
As a more practical matter, Mr. Johnson said, the ideological fervor of the administration's senior neocons has placed the country "in a Catch-22: As long as we're in Iraq, the occupation will continue to serve as a draw and incentive for foreign jihadists to go to Iraq to fight the infidel. We're going to be feeding recruits to the jihadi movement, just like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the early 80’s did. We are equipping the next generation of jihadi."
This is less a matter of tragedy, intelligence experts say, than irony--an outcome of the occupation's blind drive to westernize the Iraqi government in far-from-propitious conditions. "The Bush administration is trying to build a new state in Iraq," said Colonel Lang. "And its structure is entirely Western."
In promoting a one-person, one-vote political structure, U.S. policymakers are "bringing into being a Shia-dominated, religiously oriented government that will enshrine its values in its constitution. I certainly support that we should not want to see that happen. And that’s why you had the [U.S.] ambassador, [Zalmay] Khalilzad, telling the Iraqis, 'No, you will not do that.' I think that guy's got the hardest job on Earth."
Doyle e-mails to note Matt Taibbi's "Congress On Juice" (New York Press):
But as ridiculous as [Rafael] Palmeiro's performance before Congress was, it paled in comparison to Bush's. There are about a half-dozen separate incidents involving Bush and Congress that a truly awake and self-interested legislature would look back on now and conclude, as this Congress did with Palmeiro, that its honor had been violated, warranting swift punishment.
--At a congressional leadership meeting on October 3, 2002, Bush made representations about Hussein's nuclear capabilities that not only turned out not to have been true, but appear to have been based upon doctored or manipulated intelligence.
--In the State of the Union address a few months later, Bush made his famous "sixteen little words" gaffe about uranium from Africa--another bald misrepresentation.
--At another congressional leadership meeting in 2002, Bush made representations about Saddam Hussein's ability to attack the U.S. using unmanned drones that turned out to be the bullshit they seemed even at the time.
--According to Senator Bob Graham, Bush consciously permitted bad intelligence to be passed to Congress throughout 2002; Graham considered this an act of lying to congress serious enough to warrant impeachment.
--The resolution Bush sought from Congress authorizing the attack of Iraq was based upon the idea that a regime of inspections would be given a chance to work. We all know the inspections were a sham--and if we could prove they were a sham, the resolution itself would be an act of lying to Congress.
But forgetting all of those specific instances, the entire case for the war was a farce, more ridiculous on its face by a factor of 10 than Brady Anderson's 50-homer season. As has been noted often in this column space, the whole charade leading up to the war--the phony inspections regime, the fake drama in which congressional approval was "sought," the utterly idiotic "evidence" of the imminent Iraqi threat offered on the floor of the House in the State of the Union address--all of this was a childish ruse, obvious to the dullest observer. And the thrust of all of it was that the U.S. Congress was used like a piece of meat, humped like a blow-up doll, crudely manipulated to give the Iraqi action the appearance of democratic legality.
Worse still, Congress let it happen. It abandoned all pretence of collegial, bureaucratic self-defense. This has become a habit with our legislature, which lately seems to view its own oversight responsibilities not as a precious reservoir of political power, but as a terrible burden to be shed at the earliest opportunity. Our Congress long ago gave away its constitutional power to declare or withhold military action; lately, in matters like the Dick Cheney Energy Task Force fiasco, it has rolled over repeatedly whenever the executive branch has refused subpoenas or spat in the face of Congress's investigatory rights.
And unlike the case of Watergate, when congress united in bipartisan fashion to oppose a president who flouted congressional authority, this particular congress seems to love being pushed around by the executive branch.
And after what happened in the fall of 2002 and the winter of 2003, seeing Congress rise to protect its honor from the likes of Rafael Palmeiro is side-splittingly hilarious comedy. It's like hearing a toothless, 55-year-old Bushwick Ave. whore complain--10,000 blowjobs later--that her date didn't bring her flowers. And they want baseball to apologize?
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