Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Hate The War

Let's start where with today's snapshot:

Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) hat tips Juan and Leila -- Thomas, you're usually so much smarter. From his blog post:

Salon just carried an insightful
review of my book that triggered a mudslide of nasty letters from the magazine's readers.
"If you enjoyed 'Fiasco,' thrilled to have your prejudices about the clueless Bush administration confirmed, it's your responsibility to read 'The Gamble' to have some prejudices challenged," wrote the reviewer, Joan Walsh, Salon's editor-in-chief. I think she really captured the ambivalence at the heart of the book, the sense that staying in Iraq is far from appealing, but may be the least worst choice available. Her review concludes that, "I still want troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. But reading this well-reported book may have changed even my notion of what that means."

The book is The Gamble and it seems to be a sore spot for many. A similar thing happened comment wise when the Washington Post ran an excerpt on Sunday.

The book is not pro-war. The book is not anti-war. I wish it were the latter. But it is what it is, to steal from Kat. And it's the story of the recent years in Iraq.

Will you love everything in the book? If you're part of the (tiny) peace movement, I don't see how you would. There's dying, there's abuses, you name it.

But it is a wonderful book, filled with many telling details.

What seems to be throwing people is that the author concludes the US must remain in Iraq. First off, the US isn't leaving. I'll assume the ones leaving nasty comments about Thomas E. Ricks are the same ones who believe that Barack is ending the illegal war when he's doing no such thing. But the book is not pro-war. The book is telling what has happened and it is offering Ricks' opinions. You can disagree with him. It's not going to be the end of the world for him or you if you disagree

But what I'm not understanding is why his opinions are troubling some. I think Thomas E. Ricks is a highly intelligent person. That doesn't mean I can't disagree with him. [I noted two disagreements when Rebecca held her Iraq roundtable last Friday -- "Roundtable on Iraq," "IRAQ ROUNDTABLE," "Roundtable on Iraq," "roundtable on iraq," "Iraq Roundtable," "Iraq roundtable in the Kitchen," "Iraq roundtable," "Iraq roundtable" and "Iraq roundtable."] It's not going to be the end of the world for me and it's certainly not going to be the end of the world for him.

My guess is that part of the reaction to the book is staged. (We saw a great deal of that from the Cult.) Another part is genuine. And they're thinking this is a propaganda book. They haven't read it (reading their comments you can tell they either didn't read it or have comprehension issues). They're thinking, "This is propaganda. This is another attempt by Big Media to sell us on Iraq. That is natural fear and a non-surprising one. Big Media sold the illegal war.

But this book isn't about selling the illegal war. And he could have just written it with no opinions expressed clearly. He could have shaded the book to make the argument that the US needs to remain in Iraq and done it in such a way that he could play the "I was just reporting, it's not my opinion, I have no opinions, I am totally unbiased on this issue." Instead, he chose to be upfront and anyone reading the book knows what his opinions are and why he holds them.

That doesn't mean he's right, it doesn't mean he's wrong (yes, my opinion is that he's wrong about the illegal war needing to continue). It means he hasn't hidden anything from the reader and people can make their own judgments.

Michael Gordon? I'd be very wary of any book he put out right now on Iraq. We have good reason to doubt Gordo. And he, of course, loves to claim he's not offering any opinions, he's just telling it like it is. Gordo struggles with the truth.

The peace movement has been led by a lot of fakes and frauds. And that was fine if they were going to a damn thing. But they're not. It's obvious that these 'leaders' are not going to do a damn thing.

So some people -- who don't remember Vietnam or didn't study it after the fact -- may be shocked by where we're headed: When the US pulls out of Iraq (and that day will come), there will most likely be some violence. People will die.

Pulling out of Vietnam meant the same thing. Those who wanted that illegal war to end and were realistic knew what could happen. The thing that had to be weighed is how is there more violence? Is there more violence if the US stays or is there more violence if the US leaves?

The same point applies now to Iraq. And every year that the US stays, it makes an exit most likely mean more violence. Joe Biden pointed it out, the US installed Nouri and the US armed one side in a civil war. When the US leaves, Nouri (if he's still the puppet then) may or may be able to hang on. He may end up with his head on a pike.

But there most likely will be violence when the US leaves. Will the violence be more or less than if the US stays?

Thomas E. Ricks says that the US needs to stay for humanitarian reasons. This isn't an argument he's made all along. Some have. Some argued for the illegal war on that ridiculous premise. He didn't argue for it or against it.

But being in Iraq and seeing things on the ground, he is now arguing for humanitarian reasons. I don't doubt his sincerity. I don't doubt that he is very fearful of what happens to various groups when the US leaves.

But I do believe he's wrong.

And here's why.

It takes one attack on US forces where their corpses are displayed (by the attackers) to inflame tensions on the US military side. If that happens, the natural human response is outrage and the military is made up of trained men and women but they are human. Meaning? One bad attack and watch everything go to hell as vengeance becomes the code word.

The US military's presence has fueled the resistance. The lie that the US will leave -- it's not leaving anytime soon -- has allowed some in the resistance to believe they can back off and prepare for other things, focus on other things.

The US military is not leaving. General Ray Odierno, top commander in Iraq, tells Ricks that he would like/could see 35,000 troops in Iraq as late as 2015. (That section of the book is quoted in the Feb. 12th snapshot.) The treaty masquerading as the Status Of Forces Agreement is a one-year agreement with two options for renewal. It has many escape clauses and too many reporters wrongly reported it as meaning the Iraq War ends in 2012. That's not what it means, that's not what it says. If that's what it meant, would Odierno be confused? Would he really be saying, "35,000 in 2015" if the treaty meant all US forces out of Iraq?

The illegal war is not ending anytime soon. Sadly.

But 'leaders' in the 'anti-war' movement are tired and they love Barack -- they love him more than they love the innocent civilians killed in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan -- so they're ready to move on, to They're liars, they're cheap liars.

Instead of screaming and hissing at Thomas E. Ricks who has been aboveboard, you might want to consider going after the frauds who swore they'd hold Barack's feet to the fire, who swore that the 2006 elections meant the end of the illegal war. Who pimp the same lies over and over every election cycle to try to control you. And to get themselves some nice little perks. Maybe they'll get jobs in the administration, maybe they'll sell their bad books and movies about Barack, maybe George Soros will put him on the blood roll he made off the misfortunes of others?

I'm so sick of them. I'm getting tired of Raed as well. He says one thing to Congress and another a few days after the Parliament passes the treaty. He's saying crap to a Lyndon LaRouche alumni writing for The Nation. I'm not interested in all the garbage. I think it's past time that Global Exchange, for example, put online a record of where their money comes from. I think if people followed the money, they'd be far less confused as to how every Panhandle Media outlet -- whether The Nation, The Progressive, Mother Jones, KPFA, WBAI, go down the list, lefties who can't agree on whether or not the sunset was a nice one, suddenly all agreed on who to vote for. They did in the Democratic Party primary and they did in the general election. And supposedly, they're not Democratic outlets. Supposedly, they're independent outlets. Supposedly they try to serve the left and that includes the Green Party. But somehow they weren't interested in that. Somehow they didn't care about Cynthia McKinney -- though they will when it's time to fundraise -- and they didn't care about Ralph Nader (the independent candidate). If people followed the money this idea that everyone just happened to get on board with War Hawk Barack would be revealed for the lie it is.

You had people who would not even advocate for John Kerry in 2004 -- when Kerry was running against George W. Bush. They wouldn't advocate for him. And even those who did refused to pull punches. But 2008 rolls around (it actually began in 2007) and suddenly everyone's hyping Barack. It didn't just happen. They lied. They're liars. I have no respect for those liars. I have no respect for FAIR which calls itself a media watchdog and which issued no action alert against the sexism aimed at Hillary in the primaries. Which only noted it once in a single sentence on CounterSpin. FAIR can't call out sexism? No, FAIR didn't want to. They didn't give a damn about being fair.

Those are the people to be mad at, the ones who betrayed every lecture they've ever given their audiences. The ones who didn't fall off their high horses, they jumped off 'em.

Why don't you take your anger out at those LIARS who played you for a fool? Those same liars who don't give a damn about Iraq. Caring translates as coverage. If you don't cover it, don't pretend you give a damn. And, no, Amy Goodman, hyping 2002 coverage in a pledge drive this year does not count as covering it. Self-stroking to beg for more money does not count as coverage. The Iraq War reaches the six-year mark next month. Every day for nearly six years, the illegal war has dragged on. Where's the coverage?

If you give a damn, you're covering it.

Now The Nation pulled out their Lyndon LaRouche alumni to gas bag over the elections and, no surprise, they're telling readers things are fine and the war is over. Things are not fine, the illegal war is not over, over 140,000 US service members remain stationed in Iraq. But The Nation's purpose is to pimp for Barack. So they lie to you. Now in 2012, they may get a little mean and nasty but they'll spend the next 3 years excusing him. Should he be rel-elected, they'll get nasty with him in 2014.

Thomas E. Ricks is not pulling any punches, he is not trying to trick anyone. He's very clear that he has serious humanitarian concerns regarding when the US pulls out of Iraq. He's sincere in those concerns.

Read the book and you'll see why. Read the book and maybe we can grow up as a nation and all agree that violence will be highly likely when the US withdraws, whenever that is. Then we can debate whether the violence will be greater if the US stays longer or not? I believe it will be greater. I also believe calling Iraq a 'democracy' -- even a fledgling one -- while it's occupied is nonsense. Iraq has the right, as all nation-states do, to self-determination. They could become a democracy when the US leaves. If that's what they want, they could. But that decision is up to them.

There are things we can do that might or might not make a withdrawal easier for Iraqis (and for US service members). (Might or might not because there are no guarantees. Planning takes place in a hypothetical world, not the real one.) And we can have that discussion as well.

But to get to the adult discussions, we'll have to be realistic. There's not a great deal of realism out there. There's a lot of spin. There's a lot of people trying to beg a buck (beg, not make).

Every few months of this illegal war, we got another wave of Operation Happy Talk. It told us that a corner had been turned and those of us on the left knew better. Suddenly because the Christ-child is in the White House, everything got better in Iraq. Wow. Sworn in on January 21st and he was able to beam lightness and goodness to Iraq.

Thomas E. Ricks' genuine concern isn't the problem with the illegal war. The problem is people who refuse to face reality, the problem is a peace movement that got co-opted by the Democratic Party. Remember how that wasn't ever going to happen again. Remember high horse riding Naomi Klein telling us all that it should never happen again? She said that in January 2005. We must never allow that to happen again.

Then Canadian-American Naomi takes her ass on a softcover book tour where she repeatedly advocates voting for Barack -- most notoriously in Chicago.

Excuse the hell out of me? Who America votes for is this dual citizen's business because? She's promoting voting for what reason? Because her father fled the country to avoid serving in Vietnam? Nothing wrong with that (in my opinion) but how about you get honest about it and how about you write about it and how about you a damn thing publicly to help the men and women in the same situation today that your father was then? That requires more than offering a link to a petition at your website -- especially when you FAIL to inform visitors to your website that you yourself are the child of a war resister.

So after lecturing everyone in 2005 about the need for there to be a wall between the peace movement and the Democratic Party and how the peace movement never again needs to become a cheerleader for an election, you go on to do just that? You go on to pimp an election with those bad, bad jokes. People didn't laugh. They didn't realize they were 'jokes' until you laughed at them. It was very embarrassing. And most Americans, they didn't grasp that you're a dual citizen. In Chicago, for example, there was a great deal of hostility expressed over the fact that a Canadian was coming to America and telling Americans how to vote in a US election.

Thomas E. Ricks has not embarrassed himself, he hasn't sold his soul. He can hold his head high. He's written a wonderful book. It's not a cut and paste nor is it a clip job of other people's work. You can disagree with his opinions and I disagree with many. That doesn't change the fact that it's a great book. That doesn't change the value of the book.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4243. Tonight? 4245. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,311,696 as the number. The number they finally moved up to two weeks ago. Possibly, despite claims to the otherwise, it's a monthly counter? People want to be outraged with Thomas E. Ricks' over his opinion but Just Foreign Policy promised a counter with daily updates and then blew off updates after Barack won the election? And no one wants to call them out?

Quickly. A few members e-mailed to note that NOW had multiple links. Had they done something amazing? No. I was adding links to the permalinks on the left. A friend explained to me that a mutual friend was linking to TCI and wanted to know why I wasn't linking back? I had no idea. So I added that. And another one for the same reason. I also added one that no one has noticed. This was at lunch today. I added it while on one phone with Isaiah. Mike interviews Isaiah tonight. About? About The World Today Just Nuts -- Isaiah's archive website.

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas e. ricks