Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mission Accomplished?

Remember "Mission Accomplished"? That was the day President Bush (the guy who went awol during his ROTC training) staged an elaborate fly-in to a US aircraft carrier and announced the end "of all major combat operations" in Iraq. This was in May 2003. Want to see how peaceful it's been in Baghdad since that day? A member of BlueNovember sent me this link to an interactive BBC site where you can track the horrors visited upon that wretched city since the US invasion and occupation. The violence and mayhem illustrated on this site explain why a majority of Iraqis say that they want US troops out of their country, believe they will be safer and more secure once the Americans leave, and even think that attacks on coalition troops are justified (click here).

Sunday, March 25, 2007


The news about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the desperate Republican efforts to deflect attention from his nefarious doings tells us a lot about how this White House works. As the evidence mounts that Gonzales actively participated in firing U.S. attorneys for nakedly political reasons and then lied about his involvement, President Bush, according to an AP article in Sunday's Times Herald (not available on line), is insisting that the whole affair is nothing but a Democratic, partisan attack; on Saturday, Bush declared, "We need to put partisan politics aside and come together to enact important legislation for the American people."

The idea of a Republican playing the "partisan" card is so laughable it boggles the mind. Nothing in our political history was more partisan and less justified than the Republican assault on President Clinton that culminated in impeachment proceedings. This absurd drama shut down our government for months and made us the joke of the world.

Add to this the list of Gonzales's actual exploits, concisely reviewed in Frank Rich's column (subscription required) in today's New York Times. Gonzales has advocated torture, covered up for Enron, impeded the investigation of who illegally outed CIA agent Valerie Plame, and interfered with various probes into Republican corruption.

When the President says it's all "partisan," you have to wonder what else the spotlight on Gonzales will reveal. Will this affair finally show American voters that this White House is itself brazenly partisan and dedicated to nothing other than maintaining its own power?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Informed Citizens

A comment on the last post (from "Anonymous") cited Informed Comment, where Juan Cole offers daily information on and analysis of what's happening in Iraq and its vicinity. Cole is a professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History at the University of Michigan and an internationally recognized expert on Islamic history, culture, and society. He speaks and reads Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, and thus one of the many virtues of Informed Comment is that Cole is able to tell us what the Arabic, Iranian, and Pakistani Press are writing about the debacle in Iraq.

President Bush and his henchmen like to say that Americans are pessimistic about this war, now entering its fifth year, because they don't know what's really going on in Iraq. This is one instance where I have to admit they are partly right. If you read Cole and other conscientious sources, you'll see that in fact everything in Iraq is much worse than the mainstream media are telling us. American and other western journalists are, for the most part, justifiably nervous about leaving the Green Zone and are unable to learn the on-the-ground realities in Anbar Province, the slums of Baghdad, and other places where insurgent and sectarian violence rages.

One of the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy is that they make an effort to inform themselves about current events. This is especially challenging in the modern United States where so much of the media, particularly radio and TV, is controlled by corporate interests. Fox News, for example, is little more than an outlet for White House propaganda; other media, obsessed with missing white girls and misbehaving celebrities, are little better. But the internet is full of useful information and analysis. It's our duty as citizens to find these sources, read them, and think about them. Informed Comment is a good place to start.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Tragic Anniversary

March 19 is the 4th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war. For a reminder of what this unconstitutional, counter-productive, immoral disaster has cost in the unnecessary and indefensible loss of human life, click here. For the cost in dollars, try here. For a timeline of all the insanity, click here.

This war was conceived in ignorance and deceit. It has alienated our allies, emboldened (to use one of Dick Cheney's favorite words) our enemies, slaughtered at least tens of thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of innocent human beings, wasted our money, and diminished our Constitution. It was begun by men who had never seen combat, whose vision of the world was--and remains--a hallucinatory fantasy. The world is a much more dangerous and unstable place because of it; both Al Qaeda and Iran have been strengthened by this incompetently executed misadventure. We abandoned Afghanistan, where we had some justification for our presence, to a resurgent Taliban and sent our army to Iraq, where, notwithstanding the brutalities of Saddam, the Iraqi people are now measurably more miserable than they were before the US invasion and occupation. America is hated around the world because of the lunatic ineptitude of the neocons who continue to run our government. This war is the worst foreign-policy disaster in American history. We will be living (and dying) with its consequences for decades.