Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ted Koppel explains they died for oil (and natural gas)

Christopher Caskey (Auburn Citizen) reports on a send-off ceremony in Auburn (upstate New York) yesterday for 15 members of the Auburn National Guard Armory who are part of 115 soldiers with the 105th Military Police Company of the New York Army National Guard deploying to Iraq. Before deploying to Iraq, the soldiers will receive additional training at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. The Iraq War hasn't ended. And, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, on Tuesday's Talk of the Nation (NPR), Ted Koppel explained why the Iraq War continues (and continues and continues and . . .):

Ted Koppel: We're there because of U.S. interests, and those U.S. interests can be summarized quite simply in one or two words: oil and natural gas. The stability of the Persian Gulf is of enormous national interest to the United State. No politician wants to send young men and women to die for oil. But the fact of the matter is that it is one of the politically most - no pun intended - inflammable issues. When the price of gasoline goes up, as it is going up right now, to $4 a gallon, if we were to leave before there is genuine stability in Iraq, if that area no longer had the oversight of American military, I think you could very easily see the price of oil go up to seven, eight, nine dollars a gallon. And the fact of the matter is then you would have all kinds of political yelling and screaming on Capitol Hill, all kinds of pressure being raised by the American public, which would not want to see that happen to its economy.

Throughout the segment, Koppel advocated for the US to stay in Iraq -- although his advocacy was never pointed out, let alone called out. Neal Conan being Neal Conan, he didn't feel the need for a balanced discussion. So you got an NPR correspondent who sounded sleepy (and made repeated factual mistakes) and you got Koppel representing the wishes of the administration. This is what happens when the peace movement is whored out to the Democratic Party and 'leaders' like Leslie Cagan and Tom Hayden and Naomi Klein send everyone home with a 'nothing to see here,' War Hawks don't give up. They continue to pressure. And that's why the Iraq War continues and it's why the work's going on now to extend it past 2011. But where are those brave 'leaders.' Remember Leslie Cagan's dippy note at JPFJ in November 2008, right after the election? And remember Leslie needed a 'rest'?

Gee, Les, other people would like a rest too. Me? I'd love to be done with this website. I'd love not to wake up in the morning, my morning run on the phone speaking to friends about what's going on in Iraq, hop out of the shower, boot up the laptop, flip through papers, flip through websites, all the while (including right now) on the phone asking friends what they're hearing out of Iraq today. I'd love to be off the road. Here's the thing though, Les, as irritating and time consuming this can be, I'm damn well aware this doesn't qualify as "a sacrifice." I'm damn well aware that when I do step away, I'll be stepping away. Iraqis won't have that option. US service members won't have that option -- whether they have visible wounds or invisible ones. Those who've lost loved ones won't have that option. All of those people have sacrificed. All I've done is devoted some time to the topic. It's not "a sacrifice" and I won't climb on the cross the way Leslie Cagan did in the Politico article not all that long ago.

It's really funny, isn't it? Leslie doing an interview with Politico to explain she had to step away to get her life back. Most of the time when you're trying to get your life back, you're not asking your publicist to schedule interviews for you. If you want to step away, you step away.

But these people, these faux leaders who saw the Iraq War as a way to put a knife into Republican candidates' run for public office. That's all the 'leaders' wanted, isn't it? That's why, in 2006, after the Democrats were given control of both houses of Congress in the historic upset that was the mid-term elections, they quickly not only dropped impeachment (impeachment for the illegal war, that's what all of John Conyers' statements and hearings before the mid-terms were about) but also dropped the promise to end the Iraq War. Give them one house, we were told, and they'd have the power to investigate and use it to end the Iraq War. The country gave them both houses.

They did nothing.

In 2007, the Iraq War didn't end. In 2008, the Iraq War didn't end. The 2008 elections gave the Democrats the White House as well as both houses of Congress. The Iraq War didn't end in 2009. It didn't end in 2010. You really think it's ending in 2011?

At some point, the Leslie Cagans and Tom Haydens and Naomi Kleins who pedaled their Huffy bikes through the town square, enriching their pockets and names off the Iraq War, are going to need to be held accountable the same way the War Criminals who started and who continue the Iraq War need to be held accountable.

While they have misled the people, the Brooking Institution has consistently advocated for prolonging the war. Today they offer Michael E. O'Hanlon's latest column on that topic:

All of that said, there are reasons to worry that key actors in Iraq and America will make the problem worse and cement the implementation of the planned American departure when, in fact, there might still be an opportunity to modify it. Mr. Maliki is driven not just by understandable national pride and coalition politics, but a personal tendency toward rash action such as when he began the campaign in Basra in the spring of 2008 with virtually no planning or coordination with American forces, and when he wrongly tried to disqualify some opposition candidates for parliament a year ago. Mr. Obama has handled Iraq well to date, but his strong positions on the war make one worry that he may be too riveted on honoring the letter of his campaign promises of years gone by rather than sizing up the situation based on current circumstances. The U.S. military, with its can-do attitude and its appropriate respect for Iraqi counterparts, may want to believe that the current mission plan will work even when better judgment would lead planners to focus also on what might go wrong.
There are myriad problems still in Iraq, as my colleague Ken Pollack and other scholars have documented in a new Brookings book. They include unresolved constitutional debates about how much power the central government should wield, uncertainty over the future of the "Sons of Iraq" (as well as the so-called "Daughters of Iraq"), most of them Sunni, who did so much to check al Qaeda in 2007 and 2008 but who worry that a Shiite-based government will now find it convenient to forget them, and residual pockets of al Qaeda and insidious influences from Iran and other neighbors.
But the most vivid way to understand the continued desirability of a calming U.S. military presence is to focus on the contested city of Kirkuk and its environs in the north of the country, just below the autonomous region of Kurdistan proper. This is the oil-rich and history-laden city where Kurds, Turkomen and Arabs come into contact - and compete for claims to the land and its resources. According to the Iraqi constitution, written with American help and passed in 2005, there is supposed to be a referendum on Kirkuk's future. In fact, it was supposed to have happened by 2007, but disputes over who should be allowed to vote and what options should be presented to voters have continued to delay the resolution of the matter.

War Hawks never sleep. Even when faux leaders mislead the public, War Hawks continue fluttering their wings for ever more war.

And let me add to the category of those who have sacrificed (repeating, that category does not include me) people like Elaine. Elaine long ago turned her practice over completely to vets, she charges them nothing. She does session after session. And, yes, Elaine is well off (as am I), but that doesn't change the fact that all day, five days a week, she's addressing issues such as PTSD. She never discusses her cases with me (or with anyone) but I have referred a number of veternas I meet on the road in her area to her and one of them e-mailed this weekend to talk about what he and Elaine had dealt with over their eight months of therapy. It took a lot of courage and strength for him to explore all he did. It also takes a lot of strength on the part of Elaine to do this over and over, year after year. When the war finally ends, she and Mike move to Hawaii. And she'll do so knowing she did what she could and then some. Many 'leaders' cannot say the same.

In addition to Elaine and Mike, the following community sites -- plus Jane Fonda,, IVAW -- updated last night and this morning:

And we close with this from David Swanson's "Kindness, Generosity, Bombing Libya" (War Is A Crime):

Wouldn't it be kind and generous of us to send the US or NATO or a UN-approved military into Libya to bloodlessly prevent the vicious slaughter of masses of people by a truly evil lunatic?

Would it?

In a study called "Why Civil Resistance examined major uses of violence and nonviolence against tyrannical governments around the world between 1900 and 2006. They found that violence succeeded 26 percent of the time. I think they were taking a short view, because the Works," Maria Stephan and Erica Chenowethblowback from violence is often delayed. But they found that nonviolence succeeded 53 percent of the time, over twice as often.

They also found that when the regime being challenged uses violence, a nonviolent resistance campaign gains in its likelihood of succeeding, whereas a violent campaign becomes more likely to fail.

Let me repeat that: when someone like Ghadafi uses violence, a violent campaign against him is set back whereas a nonviolent campaign against him would become more likely to prevail, much more likely to prevail on average than a violent campaign.

Nonviolent campaigns are also far more likely to win defections from the state military, and those that do win such defections are extremely likely to succeed -- a fact that gives great significance to Libyan pilots' and soldiers' refusals to obey orders, and to news reports of whole units already defecting.

The idea of using nonviolence is not dreamy speculation. Its record over the past century is one of greater success than violence has achieved. Libya can look to either side, toward Tunisia or toward Egypt, to see nonviolent action's most recent accomplishments.

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