Saturday, October 15, 2011

The economy and Iraq

This week, US House Rep Dennis Kucinich declared:

To my brothers and sisters with Occupy Wall Street and around the nation who are fighting for economic justice, let's not forget the wars. Nine years ago, the House of Representatives authorized the war on Iraq based on lies. Those who would rewrite history today would have us believe that we were fooled into thinking that Saddam Hussein was a threat and had something to do with 9-11. That's not true. We were not fooled. We were lied to. Lied to by those who wanted the war for their own personal financial gains. Nine years ago, I analyzed the authorization for military force in Iraq and it was obvious based on information freely available that it was based on lies. I'll put a link to that analysis below. We were not fooled. We were lied to. It's now obvious to even the most fervent war profiteer that the war in Iraq was a mistake. Iraq was not pursuing Weapons of Mass Destruction, had nothing to do with 9-11, was not a threat to the United States, so why have we stayed in Iraq so long when we know it's a lie? Why did we see an estimated a million Iraqi civilians die? We know war profits have soared. Wall Street favorites like Haliburton, KBR, Bechtel, DynCorp, Northrup Grumman, General Electric and General Dynamics do very well when we spend money on war. Halliburton's stock price rose 600% between October 7, 2002 and June 30, 2008, the end of the quarter before the financial crisis. The war in Iraq may end up costing as much as $5 trillion dollars, and we have sacrificed the lives of 4,473 brave Americans and tens of thousands of our troops have been injured. The money spent for war could have spent on education, creating green jobs and rebuilding our infrastructure. It's time to end these wars. It's time we got some of our money back. We should implement an excise tax on the profiteers who have gained so much from a war based on lies. Keep Occupying Wall Street and I will keep occupying Congress.

At least one group shared that sentiment.

1 occupy portland

Tim Gordon (KGW) reports Organize Portland's march today saw as many as 4,000 people marching against the wars and quotes participant David Lifton stating, "Certainly I've been opposed to the Iraq war since the get go as a stupid start to a war about weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist and connections to terrorists that weren't there." More information on the Oregon protest can be found at Occupy Portland.

And while so many Americans remain jobless, over 25 million Americans, Peter Van Buren (Huffington Post) notes that jobs are being created by Barack:

The U.S. is prepared to spend up to five billion dollars to create more jobs for police officers, paying $100-$150k a year. The Government can't find enough people to take the jobs, and is looking for recruits, no experience necessary, all training provided, right in your hometown.
One catch: the jobs are for Iraqis, in Iraq. No Americans need apply.
The secret mantra of the Iraq war has always been "training," specifically the always-just-out-of-reach goal of training the Iraq security forces to take over from the U.S. The cry has been heard for years: George W. Bush even made "we'll stand down as they stand up" a campaign slogan in 2008.
Now, as the war in Iraq proceeds through its eighth year, the State Department was on Capitol Hill October 12 in front of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations begging a skeptical Congress for more money. "Training" is again being cited as the cure-all for America's apparently insatiable desire to throw money away in Mesopotamia. The latest tranche of taxpayer cash is for one billion dollars a year, every year for five years, to pay police instructors and cop salaries in Iraq.

$5 billion for training in Iraq. And yet it requires begging, protesting and massive lobbying on the behalf of citizens in America just to get benefits for the jobless extended. Peter Van Buren is a State Dept employee who spent 2009 in Iraq and he is the author of the new book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. The hearing he's noting was covered here in Wednesday's snapshot and Thursday's snapshot and elsewhere in the community by Wally with "US House Rep Jason Chaffetz (Wally)" (at Rebecca's site), Kat with "House Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations" and Ava, at Trina's site, with "DoD says it can't talk about Iraq in an open session." Also connecting the financial issues with the war is Cindy Sheehan who has posted her speech at Occupy Sacremento:

This movement should not allow itself to be co-opted by partisan political hackery. If Obama or Democrats were the answer, then, guess what? We wouldn’t be here today. The wars would be over; the 99% would have single-payer health care, housing, education, a sustainable energy policy, and meaningful jobs with a livable wage as RIGHTS not PRIVILEGES for the 1%. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Republicans in power either—I want US in power. Just like we are today, but I want we the people calling the shots in a meaningful way that changes corrupt and harmful policies, and that will take not only going out of the parks and into the streets like we are today, but staying there and taking breaks to strategize about the society we want to build: One where the resources of our country are used to guarantee basic human rights to EVERYONE, not just the one-percenters.
Speaking of the wars, the Obama (president to the one-percent) regime has continued the Bush crime cabals' wars and has added at least five more military miss-excursions on top of those: in Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and now Uganda—make no mistake about it, the US is waging World War Three in its global war OF terror around the world and the economic and social justice we seek cannot be achieved without complete and unconditional peace.
Just here in our state of California, our “wonderful” Democrat Governor, Jerry Brown, has forced cuts in essential services and exorbitant and unfair increases to university fees, while California has sent 148 billion dollars to the US government for its war OF terror—that’s almost 15 billion a year for the past insane 10 years.

And lastly, The NewsHour (PBS) examined Christianity in the Middle East and we'll note the section on Iraq:

How did the Christians benefit from Saddam Hussein?
"There was a kind of a social contract in Iraq," between minorities and Hussein, says Adeed Dawisha, a professor at the University of Miami in Ohio. "Under Saddam, it was understood that if you don't interfere in politics, then you are provided with a good life."

"If the Christians supported Saddam, not because they loved what he was doing, it was the fear of the alternative," Dawisha says. As a result of turning their focus elsewhere, Christians prospered economically. They were businessmen, doctors, lawyers, and engineers. A select few were part of the political elite, like Tariq Aziz who served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Hussein.

According to Katulis, that created a "network of protection that existed through some of the leaders [in] Saddam's inner circle ... trickled on down through community."

What did Hussein get out of it?
Hussein, by being intolerant of all sectarian violence, ensured that his minority-rule regime was safe from uprisings. The regime was equally intolerant of any sectarian-led violence, says Dawisha.

However, Christans were not a "favored community" under Hussein's rule, Dawisha explains, "they were simply left alone." As a result, these minorities did not rebel against him.

What happened after Hussein left?
Nothing good.

Once the regime fell, animosity between all religious communities exploded. The smallest minorities suffered the most. Before 2003, there were about 800,000 Christians in Iraq. Currently, Dawisha says, there is less than half that number.

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