Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In spite of all the costs, no progress, just political stagnation

WTVB reports on a new report from Brown University on the financial costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and the drone war in Pakistan which finds that $2.3 trillion dollars have already been spent in the last ten years on these wars. Reuters adds that the three wars have resulted in "between 224,475 and 257,655 deaths."

With those kind of numbers, you might think people would be wisely pulling up and pulling out of these costly and deadly wars; however, Xinhua (link has text and audio) reports 55 soldiers from Fiji are being deployed to Iraq, increasing their total number in Iraq to 278. The Fiji Times cites a statement from the Ministry of Information stating that the deployment was made at the request of the United Nations.

Eight years after the start of the illegal war and the installation of exiles into a puppet government in occupied Iraq, there's little that can pass for 'progress' and "political stagnation" has become the watchword. Will US troops remain in Iraq? The issue, Al Mada reports, is little more than a "political pressure card" within Iraq used by various blocs in various ways. A political scientist at Baghdad University tells Al Mada that he fears that politicians are not factoring in what's best for Iraq but how to posture on the issue. Aswat al-Iraq adds that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met and Talabani's office issued a statement which includes: "The bilateral relations between the Republic of Iraq and the United States were discussed in the meeting, and necessity for their expansion and development, especially the bilateral future cooperation, within the Strategic Agreement, concluded between the two friendly countries."

Meanwhile Iraq has a Kurdish region, some want it to now have a Sunni region. And, no, we're not talking about US Vice President Joe Biden. (Biden favored a federation system for Iraq made up of a Shi'ite region, a Sunni region and a Kurdish region.) Al Mada reports that while Osama al-Nujaifi (Speaker of Parliament) has long supported (that's their call, I have no idea whether he's long supporter it or not) a centralized Iraq, he's now begun talking about a Sunni region. The Secretary-General of the Justice and Reform Movement, Abdul Hamidi al-Yawar, finds the idea distressing and claims it will add to the tensions. Aswat al-Iraq quotes Hussein al-Muayad stating, "The Iraqi people, with all their fraternal components, strongly reject any step to ignore the national principles, mainly the unity of Iraq. Sunnis in Iraq understand well that their real and active existence can't be achieved through projects of secession and division, but through cohesion towards Iraq's unity." Alsumaria TV carries the response from Iraqiya:

"Al Iraqiya stands firmly against any attempt to strip down Iraq through despicable sectarian motives", Iraqiya official spokeswoman Maysoun Al Damlouji said in a statement which Alsumarianews obtained a copy of.
"Marginalizing citizens is not restricted to a specified province. Bad services, unemployment and poverty affect all people while the only beneficiaries of Iraq's wealth are a group that does not represent a sect or a rite", she said.

And we'll close with this from James Bovard's "Faith Based Killings: Idolizing Absolute Power: The Pro-Assassination Crowd" (Information Clearing House):

The Christian Science Monitor published a piece I wrote last month in opposition to allowing the U.S. government to kill Americans without a warrant, trial, or any judicial niceties. The article, “Assassination Nation: Are There Any Limits on President Obama's License to Kill?,” spurred a torrent of feedback on that vividly illustrates how some Americans now view absolute power.
Some folks believed that opposing “extrajudicial killings” should be a capital offense. My article mentioned an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit pressuring the Obama administration “to disclose the legal standard it uses to place U.S. citizens on government kill lists.” “Will R.” was indignant: “We need to send Bovard and the ACLU to Iran. You shoot traders and the ACLU are a bunch of traders.” (I’m not aware that the ACLU is engaged in either interstate or international commerce.) “Jeff” took the high ground: "Hopefully there will soon be enough to add James Bovard to the [targeted killing] list." Another commenter — self-labeled as “Idiot Savant” — saw a grand opportunity: "Now if we can only convince [Obama] to use this [assassination] authority on the media, who have done more harm than any single terror target could ever dream of...."
Many folks feared that any restrictions on U.S. government killing could be fatal. As “Rogmac” groused: “You guys who are against killing these guys are going to be the death of all of us.” Other commentators started from the self-evident truth that, as “Bert” declared, “In the best interest of the United Sates and it's citizen's, someone has to be the judge, jury and executioner.” This theory of government differs significantly from that proffered in the Federalist Papers. “Rich” was sure everything had been done properly: “The warrants have already been signed, the execution orders have all been approved now we just need to find them and eradicate them.” Having a president approve his own execution orders is more efficient than the procedures used by the U.S. government in earlier times. “Coder Cable” joined the pro-power parade: “In a time of war, the military (ie: President) is allowed to execute anyone for the crime of treason, assuming there is strong evidence to backup the claim.”
This was practically the only pro-assassination comment that referred to a standard of evidence. The question of whether government officials can be trusted to arbitrarily label Americans as enemies did not arise. Instead, most commentators favored “faith-based killings,” blindly accepting the assertions of any political appointee as the ultimate evidence. “Dark Ruby Moon” wrote: “I won't loose a minutes sleep over these people being eliminated.... One of the reasons presidential elections are so important is we are picking someone who must make such difficult decisions and who is in the end accountable for those decisions.” Perhaps future presidential races will feature campaign promises such as “Vote for Smith — he won’t have you killed unless all his top advisers agree you deserve to die.”
Commenter “FU” played the race card: “James bovard, I don't think the killing started with Obama but I wonder if you would write the same article if the cowboy from Texas was pulling the trigger? Or is it that you are angry because the existence of plantations run with blacks are done in this country and Obama managed to become president? We would all be better off if bigots like you stopped writing crap.” Bigotry is the only reason to oppose permitting a black president to kill Americans of all races and ethnicities.

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