Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The future discussions of Iraq in the US

The editorial board of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal weighs in today on the Iraq War arguing that why the war started is not a concern, the concern is how the US left Iraq and that is what history and the world will judge. From the editorial:

Did we leave Iraq better than we found it?
That remains to be seen. There's no question Iraqis are better off sans Saddam, as are Libyans in the absence of Moammar Gadhafi, but the determination of whether they remain better off lies with how they wield their vote and to what degree they respect the freedom they've been offered.
In our export of democracy, we have too often failed to the attach perhaps the most important component of a freedom-based society -- the guarantee of individual rights that cannot be taken away, even by majority vote.

Do I agree with the editorial? No, I don't. As someone opposed to the illegal war before it began, I don't. I also don't believe that you can separate effect from cause and that if you undertake an illegal activity, at its roots it will always be illegal.

Why are we highlighting the editorial? We highlight a number of things, it doesn't necessarily mean agreement (consider that a rehearsal for a topic that may come up in the snapshot today -- I've not endorsed anyone for president, nor will I, I didn't in 2008 -- I'll address the visitors and their whines that I've endorsed ____ or ____).

We're highlighting the editorial because it's important.

I'm against the Iraq War and have been all along. My opinion will most likely never change on that. And there are supporters of the war from the beginning whose opinion will most likely never change.

We may make up 30% of the US adult population (we may be higher, we may be smaller, I'm creating that number to illustrate something) and there's a portion (maybe equal) that will never care one way or another. There's the middle which often bounces back and forth between the two based both on what makes the discourse and on popular opinion (or perceived popular opinion).

While I disagree with the editorial, I believe the editorial board is just the first one to say what they've said this month (and since the 'end' of the war) and this captures the way many Americans will attempt to determine the Iraq War's merits.

So let's say January ends with Nouri al-Maliki caught with a 12-year-old male hooker and he has to step down as prime minister. He is replaced and by Moqtada al-Sadr (or someone else, it doesn't matter for this example who). Moqtada, having seen how Nouri's actions risked tearing Iraq apart, decided to be a unity figure and bring all Iraqis together and manages to pull off that feat. Suddenly, Iraqi budgets begin covering public services (and not just salaries and pensions for favored individuals). Iraq is rebuilt and, after two terms as prime minister, Moqtada takes a victory lap while wishing the new contenders for the role the best. The next prime minister, a woman named Farrah Sabeen al-Hammoudi, builds on Moqtada's efforts and Iraqi is a thriving and vibrant democracy.

If that happens, the Iraq War supporters are joined by a number of people in proclaiming that the Iraq War was 'just' and the 'right thing' to do. It could even be the majority opinion.

In which case, forget about any lessons learned from the illegal war. Forget about a foundation of objection when another illegal war comes. (Although War Whores like Amy Goodman made it rather clear with the Libyan War that they weren't opposed to illegal wars per se, just illegal wars started by Republicans.)

Debra Sweet is very intelligent and very dedicated and the only one I probably won't trash for making the ridiculous claim that whatever 'end' has come in Iraq is the result of the peace movement. Some members of the peace movement enlisted in the Cult of St. Barack in 2008, some were never about peace, some were just anti-Bush, some were just Democratic operatives (MoveOn) using the war as a recruitment tool to round up votes for Democrats. But whatever took place last month (I don't see the occupation ending -- not with 17,000 US employees remaining, among other things), it wasn't due to the peace movement which had packed up four years prior. (Debra didn't pack up. A number of others didn't pack up. We didn't pack up.) And I don't believe that's honesty -- claiming that the peace movement accomplished whatever took place last month.

I think we need to work really hard at looking at Iraq honestly or those of us who were against the war are going to find that we may have had over 70% of Americans against the war at the end of 2011 but that number falls to 31% or lower in six years.

And that's probably going to be what the future holds because the anti-war voices are much smaller now than they were when Bush occupied the White House and when some individuals bother to weigh in, they discredit everyone.

Like David Shorr and his nonsense. You can't be dishonest about the Iraq War and expect to be seen as an honest broker. Once you pretend not to grasp that the White House's announcement in October 2011 that negotiations broke off over immunity to the departure of (most) American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 is what some Republican critics are calling a "hasty" departure, then no one needs to listen to you or is going to. You will have a tiny, tiny circle that will bother to take you seriously and that group's nothing but a bunch of liars anyway.

It does no good to shortcut the truth. It discredits you. You'll fool a few people but if you lie about Iraq -- not if you're wrong, not if you're mistaken, if you lie -- then no one has time to waste on you anymore.

Vietnam was a disaster on every level and the memory of it did help fuel some of the protests against the impending Iraq War. But I don't think the Iraq War has been properly called out, properly explained, properly addressed on a large enough level for it to have the impact that Vietnam did on an anti-war movement. I could be wrong, and I often am -- and would really love to be on this. But I'm seeing more opportunities for citizens to express themselves -- via the internet, social networking, etc. -- today than what we had after Vietnam and yet I'm seeing largely indifference.

And an increase in hostility towards antiwar. In part because Barack's doing how many wars now? And in part because Democratic operatives are furious with Ron Paul's popularity so they write crap about how, 'I think the last eight years saw too much attention given to anti-war activities and we should have been focused . . .' On what? On whether or not your lazy ass got an iPod? On your economic situation?

You're typing. You're online. Presumably, you're not starving. How dare you take that attitude when your government bombed and killed Iraqis?

Just Monday Al Mada carried a story on all the birth defects in Falluja -- ongoing births, this isn't a thing of the past and won't be for decades -- as a result of the US using depleted uranium and white phosophorus in their second assault on Falluja (November 2004).

The people who say that there was too much of a focus on anti-war activities on the left are people who are just sick of Ron Paul, envious of his popularity. They didn't express those thoughts and feelings when they were lying in 2008 and pretending Barack Obama was a Dove.

And certainly, if there was a real movement in place or a real lesson of Iraq in the minds of most Americans, Barack wouldn't have been able to launch the illegal war against Libya. That broke every law. It was worse in terms of illegality than the Iraq War. But the anti-war types during the Bush administration looked the other way.

And you can see the lack of caring in the lack of media attention as well as in some media attention. In some media attention?

A friend's ticked off that I didn't highlight a radio program.. I listened. As I said on the phone last night, "You should be glad I'm not ripping it apart." In the first ten minutes, I counted 14 factual errors -- including that Iraq held parliamentary elections in 2009 (2009 was provincial elections, 2010 was parliamentary elections), that Saleh al-Mutlaq ticked Nouri off with a speech he gave (it was an interview he gave to CNN), etc. -- and that's not worth highlighting.

One or two, sure. But I highlight something here with that many errors, e-mails will be asking why? And will be right to ask why.

This wasn't a case of Iraq made the news cycle so they drifted over to it for that reason. The host planned to discuss Iraq, the guest was booked to discuss Iraq. And neither of them knew what the hell they were talking about.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's editorial is likely the future indicator. People would be smart to pay attention to it but most people who should be paying attention are instead focused on things like 'winning' one for Barack.

The following community sites -- plus McClatchy -- updated last night and this morning:

And these sites updated but Blogger/Blogspot's not reading their latest posts:

At World Can't Wait, Andy Worthington notes:

Today, prisoners at Guantánamo will embark on a peaceful protest, involving sit-ins and hunger strikes, to protest about their continued detention, and the continued existence of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, three years after President Obama came to office promising to close it within a year, and to show their appreciation of the protests being mounted on their behalf by US citizens, who are gathering in Washington D.C. on Wednesday to stage a rally and march to urge the President to fulfill his broken promise.

Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at the City University of New York, and one of the attorneys for Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, said that his client, who is held in isolation in Camp 5, told him on his last visit that the prisoners would embark on a peaceful protest and hunger strike for three days, from Jan. 10 to 12, to protest about the President’s failure to close Guantánamo as promised.

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