Tuesday, April 26, 2011

15,000 US troops to stay in Iraq beyond 2011?

Chen Zhi (Xinhua) notes, "The Iraqi government is preparing to accept the presence of more than 15,000 U.S. servicemen in Iraq to protect the U.S. interests after the deadline of U.S. troops' pullout by the end of 2011, an Iraqi newspaper reported on Tuesday. [. . .] It also said that thousands of employees working for foreign security firms will stay in the country to protect the U.S. embassy staff, American civil contractors, engineers and investors." Is it true? Is it false? Does the US government believe the American people have a right to know when a deal is made? (Answer to the last one: No. Which is why Barack has avoided addressing the topic in public.)

Reuters notes 2 Hawija home bombings (both were police officers' homes) in which 1 man and 1 child were killed an additional four poeple were injured, a Riyadh home bombing ("municipal official") injured two people and, dropping back to last night, 1 official with the Baghdad govenor's office was shot dead in Baghdad. Alsumaria TV notes that the Ministry of Human Rights spokesperson Arkan Kamel declared yesterday, "The Ministry of Human Rights registered 14025 missing people in Iraq because of violence, bombings and military operations during the last 8 years that followed the entry of the US troops to the country since 2003." In other violence, Dar Addustour reports on the ongoing attempts to intimidate the people of Mosul. While the military in many other Arab countries spent the year thus far defedning the people, in Iraq, the military attacks the people. Dar Addustour counts 10 people injured in Mosul yesterday by the Iraqi military. The paper notes that Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi suspended work hours yesterday to protest the military's attack on demonstrators and they quote the governor stating, "We reject the use of the security forces against protestors and demonstrators who have today been demonstrating for 17 days."

The protesters are demonstrating for a better way of life, for the life the war propaganda promised. They want occupying forces out of their country, an end to corruption, detainees who have been lost in the Iraqi 'justice' system released and a government that is responsive and provides jobs and basic services. Omar Abdel-Latif (Al Sabaah) reports that next week Parliament is supposed to explore the issue of tea that is tainted. At least 150 tons of tea has had to be destroyed this month alone due to it being tainted. The paper has also done an unofficial count of the number of beggars in Baghdad and come to the number of 800. One of the editors went undercover as a beggar and learned several things. The standout thing that has nothing to do with poverty -- and maybe should have been the lead -- is that Iraqi security forces are permitting beggars to work near checkpoints which may demonstrate compassion but does not ensure security. Meanwhile Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that Parliament's Finance Committee is reviewing the CPA books in an attempt to figure out where approximately $8 billion disappeared to. And Al Rafyidayn reports that 37 employees of Nouri's Cabinet of falsifying their credentials.

We'll close with this from David Swanson's "A Unified Theory of War and Taxes" (War Is A Crime):

If you hate taxes but dutifully cheer for wars, it's lucky you also oppose school funding sufficient to produce historical literacy. Taxes are a byproduct of wars. Were it not for wars and war propaganda, this country would have never begun paying taxes. If we were to end wars, and only if we were to end wars, we could consider ending taxes too.

But wait! Wasn't the war for independence a war against taxes? Aren't taxes created by weakness, while militarism generates wealth? Isn't it the effeminate socialists and pacifists who oppose wars?

"War and Taxes" is the title of an excellent book by Steven Bank, Kirk Stark, and Joseph Thorndike. These guys are historians of taxes. (How many children aspire to join that profession?) They lay out the history of U.S. taxation, the debates, the votes, the legislation, the compliance and evasion. Here are all the details in clear chronological order. It turns out that "war and taxes" have a lot more in common than "death and taxes." War and taxes are both optional and are joined at the hip. Or, as these authors put it:

"War has been the most important catalyst for long-term, structural change in the nation's fiscal system. Indeed, the history of America's tax system can be written largely as a history of America's wars."

Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist No. 30, as he and his allies argued elsewhere, for the federal power to tax precisely because the federal government might need to fight wars. Between 1789 and 1815, tariffs produced 90 percent of government revenue. But taxes were needed for wars, including wars against protests of the taxes -- such as President Washington's quashing of the Whiskey Rebellion. A property tax was put in place in 1789 in order to build up a Navy (some people in what is now Libya allegedly needed killing for the good of humanity, oddly enough). More taxes were needed in 1798 because of the troublesome French. But taxation really got going with the War of 1812.

Remember, this was to be an easy cakewalk kind of war with Canadians welcoming us as liberators. But mistakes were made, as they say, and the bill grew hefty. Congress passed a tax program in 1812 that included a direct tax on land, and excise taxes on retailers, stills, auction sales, sugar, bank notes, and carriages. And in 1815, our representatives added a new direct tax and restored that controversial whiskey tax as well, plus taxes on all kinds of items, luxurious and otherwise. The idea of an income tax was raised but rejected.

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