Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

Changes

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iraq_shoe_statue

Friday was a peculiar day, I had to run out the door first thing in the morning to take a client’s cat to an emergency veterinary appointment. Thus, no blog Friday morning. I run out the door, and the last thing I do is check on my cats to make sure they are safely locked inside. My calico girl, asleep on her bed, check. My big old fluffy guy, asleep on his beam in the skylight, check. My orange stripy guy, pissing on the bathmat, check.  Sigh. That’s his way of telling me that the litter box needs cleaning. For an animal with a brain the size of a walnut, they can sure express themselves eloquently.

I was in both Home Depot and my local hardware store later on Friday. It was creepy as hell. They were deserted, just empty aisles with smiling helpful clerks. This can’t be good. I have never see the local hardware store empty before, and I’ve been shopping there for decades. I think the second wave of the Great Depression II (or whatever we’re calling it) is about to roll over us, a lot of these places are going to be letting people go or closing real soon. Getting fired really tends to put a damper on people’s spending. For a variety of reasons some of the economics pundits I follow claim the solid human waste matter is going to intercept the rotating turbine blades this spring, from what I see I can’t but agree. There was only so long an economy based on consumerism and constant growth could last.

On the plus side it appears that the Obama administration is winding down use of the “war on terror” catchphrase. I can’t argue with that, it’s always struck me as almost sophomoric propaganda. It’s grammatically meaningless, how does one have a war on a word? Worse, it’s limited our options and dumbed down public dialogue to a good guy vs bad guy debate. Few things are black and white, foreign policy one of the least among them.  Let’s hope Obama is working toward realpolitik, and actually ending the war on terror. In some ways I think Hitler’s most enduring legacy is that he enabled “just war” propaganda to this day. If it wasn’t for World War Two idea that war is pointless and bad would be far more prevalent in the west. Hm, and now, as I type, the calico is barfing all over my boots.

Moving right along, in Iraq an orphanage built and displayed a fibreglass and copper monument to Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi shoe thrower who tossed his shoes at President Bush.  Two days later it was torn down. He’s actually considered a hero by many people. He was exercising freedom of expression, so I can’t fault him. And, um, it’s not to hard to imagine why many people in the Arab world and Iraq in particular might be contemptuous of Bush. I’m a little unclear on why Zaidi is in jail, I think it’s 100% clear he was expressing contempt, not trying to hurt Bush. Granted I haven’t followed the case all that closely, I spend enough time reading on line as it is. And as is often the case with foreign affairs, I am astounded by  Americans that don’t understand that many people do not hold us in high esteem. They think the Iraqis should be grateful to Americans, and don’t see how paternalistic and condescending that is. No matter what your motives, beating people up is going to engender hard feelings. Most people would have little trouble seeing that in terms of interpersonal relations, but seem to be blind to it a  collective sense.

There is lots else  going on in the world. In a slightly related vein North Korea is engaging in all sorts of sabre rattling with South Korea. What is usually not mentioned is that South Korea recently began taking a much harder stance against the North. More proof that confrontation generally makes things worse, not better. Hopefully this won’t get any worse, as governments go, North Korea is very isolated and paranoid. A cold war fossil, like Cuba, but without the charm and good weather.

Friday ended well for me I suppose, the cat I rushed to the vet was OK, I’m still here to pen these words. Sadly though, when I got home there was a notice that the old fellow who lived below me had died. I’d known him well nigh twenty years, so he leaves a hole. Plus he was a fellow who never left the first Great Depression, he never spent a dime he didn’t have to. He would have been handy to have around, but maybe it’s merciful that he was spared going through it again.

God rest your soul George. I hope everyone else is having a great weekend.

(The above image of the Iraqi monument to the shoe thrower is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is arguably an historically important image. Credit: Some unknown Iraqi news agency as far as I can tell. Yes, a statue of a shoe thrown at Bush. Is this the legacy thing Bush was talking about?)

Written by unitedcats

January 31, 2009 at 4:56 pm

“Another victory like this, and we’re done for.”

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OK, presidential candidate Barrack Obama is taking a whirlwind tour of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Europe. Accompanied by a world class entourage of reporters, creating a world wide media frenzy, and no doubt creating an unprecedented security headache for the Secret Service and the US military. I don’t recall a candidate who created such a populist frenzy since Carter, and frankly it’s kind of weird. I mean, Obama does have a silver tongue, but he’s not JFK reborn. Ostensibly his travels are part of a congressional fact finding mission, but it seems like a thinly disguised election junket to many people. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s certainly different. Reports that the president of Iraq used the trip as an opportunity to endorse Obama’s withdrawal plan from his country appear to be exaggerated.

However, Obama’s plan to set a timetable and withdraw from Iraq did generate some interesting comments from the esteemed Senator Lieberman. The good Senator has claimed that Obama is choosing to lose the war in Iraq, and instead “was prepared to accept retreat and defeat.” OK. Apparently Senator Lieberman believes we are winning the war in Iraq. I’ve heard this line recently from a number of quarters, in fact I’ve heard people say that we have in fact won the war in Iraq. Yes indeed, the surge worked, the Iraqi government has stepped up to the plate, the only thing left is to see who should get the credit for this victory, Bush or McCain.

Yay, can I get my “Victory in Iraq Day” T-shirt now? Let’s examine this “victory.” It’s cost about a trillion dollars, with at least another two trillion to go. That’s $3000 for every man, woman, and child in the country, with another $6000 to go. That’s about $8000-$24,000 per household. Tens of thousands of Americans are dead or maimed. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will suffer permanent mental and physical harm from their service in Iraq. From a life of nightmares to a living nightmare. Everything this money could have done, everything those American dead could have accomplished in their lives…is gone forever.

And what about Iraq, the country who we liberated for their own good? About one in twenty Iraqi’s are dead, one in six has been displaced, and God knows how many have been maimed, wounded, or will suffer permanent psychological and physical harm. In comparative terms, that would be fifteen million dead Americans and fifty million Americans as refugees. Kinda puts hurricane Katrina is perspective, eh? And to add insult to injury, the government we have installed in Iraq has allied itself with Iran and asked us to leave.

This is a victory? The famous Greek General Pyyrhus once won a battle where he lost half his army in the process. Upon being congratulated for his victory, he said something to the effect of “Another victory like this, and we’re done for.” In other words, the costs we have already incurred through the invasion of Iraq are so high that it is ludicrous to speak of victory. And I didn’t even mention some of the other costs of this victory. The myth of American military invincibility has been shattered. Our army is fatigued and worn out, much of their equipment is worn out, neither has a cheap easy fix. There was no Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq before we invaded, Iraq is now one of their major recruitment centers. In fact insurgents trained and experienced in Iraq are now traveling to other countries and inspiring people to take up arms against the USA. And Iran is more powerful and influential than ever in the region.

It’s just tiresome how this has become so like Vietnam. Whenever there was a lull in the violence or some new offensive was launched, the administration and its supporters would fall all over themselves announcing imminent victory. Heck, in one case Johnson even announced that the war was won and American troops would be coming home soon. What they failed to understand then, and they fail to understand now, is that the USA has very little influence on what is happening in Iraq as we did in Vietnam. Our enemies are calling the shots, not us. Not to mention the absurdity of people who claim credit for everything good that happens in a war, and deny responsibility for everything that goes wrong. Hell, by that standard people could claim that Hitler won World War Two.

To repeat myself yet again, a government that requires foreign troops to stay in power is not a legitimate government. The only victory left open to us in Iraq is to get our troops out of harm’s way and stop pouring ever more money into the Iraq rat hole. When every American is safely home from Iraq, that will be a success. The only question is will we do in on our terms, or wait until we have no choice but to leave.

Oh well, tomorrow a nice story about puppies on Mars or something. Have a great week everyone.

(The above image of a statue of General Pyrrhus is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being use for profit and is central to illustrating the post. In some ways the situation in Iraq is even worse than Pyrrhus’ victory, at least in his case a Roman army was destroyed and the Roman’s knew they had lost the battle. Our enemies in Iraq are laying low or being paid not to attack us, they have not been defeated. And when the battle was over Pyrrus’ army wasn’t still under daily attack, in Iraq attacks on American forces are down, they have by no means stopped.)

Written by unitedcats

July 21, 2008 at 10:31 am

Posted in Iraq, Politics, War

Would You Agree to This?

with 7 comments

Imagine this: A powerful foreign nation has presented your government with a treaty to be signed. They propose a long term alliance with your nation. Among its many provisions, the treaty includes the following:

  1. The foreign power would get a dozen or more permanent military bases in your country.
  2. Their troops and contractors would enjoy complete immunity from your local laws.
  3. They would be able to attack other nations from their bases in your land without your government’s approval or even prior knowledge.
  4. They would have complete control of your nation’s airspace.
  5. They would not be required to defend your nation from foreign attack.

Some alliance. How many people would want their government to agree to this treaty? Is there anyone who would think this is a good idea? This doesn’t sound like an alliance, this sounds like agreeing to be an occupied country at best. Though even that is not accurate, because by international law occupiers are supposed to respect local law and defend the territories they are occupying. This is basically agreeing to be a colony.

Yes, this is the agreement the Bush administration wants the “sovereign” government of Iraq to sign. As I have said before, Bush wants Iraq to be our bitch. I am curious how the people who still claim we are in Iraq to help the Iraqi people would justify this agreement, because this is the USA helping itself to whatever it wants, not helping Iraq. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but this treaty is not going over well in Iraq or Washington.

The people of Iraq object for all the obvious reasons. And in fact this is leading to calls for the USA to leave Iraq and destroying what support there was for a US presence in the country. Japan and Germany didn’t have to agree to anything even remotely as humiliating as this treaty, pretty much putting the lie to the Bush administration’s constant comparisons to the USA’s post World War Two relations with those countries.

And in the USA a lot of legislators are concerned about the Bush administration’s claim that this agreement with Iraq isn’t a treaty and thus doesn’t require the approval of the senate. Yes, that’s right, the Bush administration is claiming that they can sign this long term agreement with a foreign power…but without the approval of the Senate. Let’s review the US Constitution:

“[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;…”

—United States Constitution Article II, Section 2, paragraph 2

Seems pretty clear to me, but it’s also been clear for the past eight years that the Bush administration does what it wants and then finds legal justification for its actions no matter how tortured. In fact I suspect the Bush administration’s lawyers were formerly ENRON accountants. When Bush’s lawyers are asked for a legal opinion, they give the legal opinion their bosses want. So much for the rule of law.

This whole situation is frankly absurd and almost surreal to me. The media is as usual pretty much ignoring this proposed treaty, as they pretty much ignore anything about Iraq these days. There should be a national debate on our future relations with Iraq, instead all we are doing is griping about the price of gas and conducting an election that is increasingly a dog and pony show. Bush is trying to get this agreement signed before he leaves office, in fact before 31 July they claim. Then he will have his “legacy” so to speak. It will all be worthwhile if we get Iraq as a permanent USA toehold in the Middle East. Not that he has any regrets in any event.

Personally I suspect this agreement (if signed) will have the staying power and significance of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. That was the treaty in early 1918 where Russia surrendered to Germany and the Ottoman Empire, ignominiously surrendering and ceding them vast territories. Less than a year later Germany surrendered to the Allies and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk went into the dustbin of history. If the Iraqi government is forced into signing this treaty with Bush, it will almost certainly end what little legitimacy they have with the people of Iraq, and very likely drive segments of Iraqi society into open revolt again.

And of course this treaty is most definitely making every other despotic country on the planet review their options and how they can avoid being “liberated” by the USA. So with any luck Bush scores a trifecta with this one. He shreds the US Constitution, destabilizes Iraq, and inspires Iran to develop nukes. Bush’s talent for making a bad situation worse never ceases to amaze me.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I don’t know who to attribute it to, if anyone does please let me know. I had connection problems today so this post may be a bit rough around the edges.)

Written by unitedcats

June 11, 2008 at 8:38 am

Posted in Iraq, Politics

Was Iraq Invaded for its Oil?

with 3 comments

The left confidently states that Iraq was invaded for its oil, implicit in the argument that this is a bad thing. The right usually insists that invading and occupying Iraq was nothing of the kind, it was about removing a despot who was also a threat to the United States. I see a lot of people debating this issue on line, such debate consisting of pretty much what I just said…”It was about oil!” “No, it wasn’t!” Add name calling and irrelevant tangents as appropriate. I find this fascinating from several perspectives, the primary one being that this reduces the decisions behind the war and occupation to such a simplistic equation that it’s laughable. Or less diplomatically, anyone who maintains that either position is a valid argument is full of it.

I suppose some day I’ll try to write about the tendency of both sides of an issue to get caught up in overly simplified arguments, for today though the topic is oil. The relationship between oil and industrialized countries is very simple. Oil is their lifeblood. If an industrialized nation loses its access to oil, economic disaster follows, or at the very least fabulous expense if alternatives are available. Germany fought World War Two essentially using synthetic fuel made from coal, but it was very expensive and even then aviation fuel couldn’t be produced this way. At least not in the quantities required. In the waning years of the war the German military was crippled by lack of access to fuel, they would have been able to fight much longer and more effectively had there been oil in Germany.

Or for a more direct example of the link between oil and foreign policy, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was about oil. American textbooks neglect to mention that the USA embargoed Japan’s oil, which at that time came from southern California, and refused to even negotiate about it. Instead they sent the Japanese an ultimatum that was tantamount to Japan giving up its overseas empire before the USA would even discuss the issue. (Giving nations ultimatums they can’t reasonably be expected to capitulate to is America’s stock-in-trade for starting wars while pretending to be a peaceful democracy, again, another post someday.) The Japanese were in a pickle, the world was at war and there was no other source of oil on the world market. They had a choice between watching their economy collapse and their military become impotent for lack of oil, or go to war to seize the Dutch oil fields in Indonesia. They chose the later, as most governments including the USA’s would do.

The point here is that access to oil is a major consideration for industrialized countries at all times, especially ones that are maintaining any sort of military machine. It has been this way since the 1920s and will continue this way into the next few decades at least. The USA and its oil companies moved into the Middle East during the forties when it became clear that Saudi Arabia was the site of a vast sea of easily tapped oil. As one American official said in 1944, “The oil in this region is the greatest single prize in all history.” The USA spent the next few decades ensuring diplomatically and economically that American oil companies and pro-American governments remained in control of the region’s oil, even going so far as to overthrow the democratic government of Iran in 1953 when they attempted to nationalize their oil.

After the oil embargoes of the 1970s and lines at gas stations, the USA upped the ante and began to actually station military forces in the region, including task forces in the Persian Gulf and the building of a secret air base in Saudi Arabia. The USA armed Saddam and encouraged him to invade Iran and seize disputed oil fields after the Iranian revolution of 1979 and supported him through a near decade long war that took the lives of a million people or more. And when Saddam was goaded into invading Kuwait in 1990, the USA military presence in the region reached new heights. All of it very much publicly justified by various USA administrations in large measure by the need to protect the world’s access to oil in the Persian Gulf.

So we have an American foreign policy in the region designed since at least the mid 1940s to ensure American oil companies had access to the Middle East’s oil…but a trillion plus dollar invasion and occupation of the nation with the world’s fourth largest oil reserve has nothing to do with oil? The suggestion is basically ridiculous, especially considering how tight the current administration is with oil companies that are eager to get access to Iraq’s oil. Was oil the only reason for invading Iraq? Of course not, the Bush administration’s concern with a democratic stable Middle East, protecting Israel, and eliminating a perceived threat to America were part of the equation in some measure.

Is it arguable that the Bush administration truly did not consider oil in its decision making process regarding the invasion and occupation of Iraq? Dear God I hope not, because if the Bush Administration is that much out of touch with reality, we’re all in le doo doo deep.

(The above image of a destroyed Iraqi tank with Kuwait’s burning oil fields in the background is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is a grey scale low resolution copy of the original, and it is central to illustrating the post. Credit: AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS. Almost everything most Americans think they know about Gulf War One is wrong. And yes, while American foreign policy in the Middle East is largely about securing the USA’s access to oil…there are better ways of going about this than air strikes, coups, and invasions.)

Written by unitedcats

June 9, 2008 at 7:28 am

Posted in Business, History, Iraq, War

We Could Have Won Vietnam

with 53 comments

Pursuing a line of thought inspired by yesterday’s post, I think I finally understand what people mean when they say the USA could have won the Vietnam War if we hadn’t fought with our hands behind our backs. That’s the beauty of age and wisdom, if one thinks about other people’s viewpoints long enough and studies the background and history long enough, one can eventually get an inkling of why people think the way they do. People usually have some reason for thinking something, and if one tries to understand another’s point of view, often common ground can be reached. Or at least a better understanding of how the world got to be so messed up

So anywise, I concur. The USA no doubt could have won the Vietnam War in a conventional sense if we had chosen to do so. We could have invaded North Vietnam, captured Hanoi and Haiphong, thus ending the North as a nation state and military power, and pretty much ending its ability to send aid and comfort to the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. Some thousands of Americans would have died, but it would have been worth the price as a democratic government would have been installed in North Vietnam as well as South Vietnam. If we had just had the national willpower to carry this out, the Vietnam war would have a legacy of pride instead of a legacy of defeat. Instead, we let defeatism and protesters sway us from our course.

Seems simple enough, why can’t the liberals understand this? Well, they can. There are however a few problems with this rosy scenario. The first being that it assumes China wouldn’t intervene when we escalated the conflict. This is a pretty big assumption. They sent hundreds of thousands of troops to fight us when we invaded North Korea, and there is no reason to believe they would have done otherwise had we invaded North Vietnam. Could we have defeated China in a war? Maybe, but at what cost? By any sober analysis, a war with China was a risky proposition. China had nuclear weapons and millions of troops, winning Vietnam at the cost of a war with China was not a trade to make lightly. Solving one problem by creating a potentially much bigger problem should give anyone pause, it certainly gave Nixon and Johnson pause.

Another rather unpleasant aspect of this is that North Vietnam was not World War Two Japan or Germany, they would not have unconditionally surrendered and prostrated themselves before us. Ho Chi Minh would have just retreated into the hills and continued the fight, and many if not the majority of Vietnamese would have continued to support him. China and Russia would have continued to provide the Vietnamese insurgents with all the weapons and supplies they needed. Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh fought France and Japan for more than a decade, they would not have hesitated to fight the USA for the same.

Could the USA have defeated a determined insurgency that France and Japan couldn’t defeat? France in fact suffered one of the great disasters of the 20th century at Dien Bien Phu, where 12,000 French troops were killed or captured by Ho Chi Minh. The USA had far more firepower than France at its disposal, but firepower doesn’t defeat insurgencies. Hell, the USA dumped more bomb tonnage in the Vietnam War than was dropped by all of the participants in all of World War Two, if dropping enough bombs guaranteed victory, winning Vietnam should have been a snap. So basically by choosing to win the Vietnam war in a conventional sense, we would have traded fighting an insurgency in South Vietnam for fighting an insurgency in all of Vietnam. With the significant risk of a war with China (or even World War Three) tossed into the pot as well.

Even if someone makes tries to make the case after hearing these objections that “we should have just persevered,” they are still basically advocating expanding a problem in the short run in order to eventually fix the problem. And logically, this sort of thinking isn’t really logical because this argument could be used to justify any course of action. IE escalation is always an option, but it’s not necessarily a solution. And when the answer to any potential problem is “more escalation,” well, where does it end? Even a cursory examination of history shows that it often ends very badly indeed.

So yes, the USA could have “taken off the gloves” and won the Vietnam War. And while political considerations no doubt did play a role in what Nixon and Johnson chose to do and not do in Vietnam, the idea that the USA could have achieved a military victory if only we had fought with fewer restrictions…is based on some very questionable assumptions and ignores considerable real world risks. Only if one is wearing blinkers would an expanded US war in Vietnam have guaranteed eventual victory, and it’s these risks and considerations that primarily guided Nixon and Johnson.

Does the same apply to Iraq? Here also we are fighting a foreign supported (allegedly) insurgency and trying to install a democratic government? Could we just blast our way to victory in Iraq if we chose to do so? Let’s examine this. Bush has shown he doesn’t give a hoot about popular and world opinion, he’s shown little restraint when it comes to military adventures, and Congress has given him everything he wants. So if victory in war was simply a matter of unleashing the dogs of war, why didn’t he simply issue the orders as soon as he was re-elected? He’s afraid of Code Pink? I rest my case.

(The above image of an abandoned M-41 tank in Vietnam is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, is a low resolution reproduction, and is central to illustrating the post. The use of the image here in no way detracts from the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image, arguably the opposite. Credit: Odyssey Tourism and Trading. The M-41 was a fifties era US tank that was supplied to the government of South Vietnam. This one remains in use as a tourist attraction. My American tax dollars at work.)

Written by unitedcats

May 28, 2008 at 11:20 am

Posted in History, Iraq, War

A Navy Seal Writes…

with 3 comments

I decided to delete this post. I don’t think the author was a Navy Seal, and whether or not he was…the post relected on the Navy Seals in a poor light which was not my intent. The original comment (edited for profanity) has been restored to its original location here.

Written by unitedcats

May 13, 2008 at 7:05 am

Posted in Iraq, War

Iraqis throw flowers as triumphant Iranian President Ahmadinejad does victory dance in Baghdad’s streets

with 5 comments

iran_iraq.jpg

Well, it wasn’t quite that bad, but close. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, the man most Americans have been taught is the next Hitler, just visited Baghdad for two days. He was warmly greeted by Iraq’s Shia government. Iraq’s Shias have long term relationships with Iran going back decades, but this was the first time an Iranian leader had visited Iraq. Ahmadinejad made no bones about what he thought of the US forces in Iraq: “No one likes them, we believe that the forces which crossed oceans and thousands of kilometres to come to this region, should leave this region and hand over the affairs to the people’s and government of this region.”

Bush and company must have been seething, they’ve spent trillions of dollars and thousands of lives installing the Maliki government in Iraq, and here’s Maliki buddying up with our number one designated enemy-du-jour. I’m pretty sure “Iraq aligns itself with Ian” isn’t on the list of benchmarks showing how much progress the USA has made in the surge. You just can’t buy puppet governments like you used too, what is this world coming to?

Granted the US doesn’t have a good track record with the leaders it has installed in Iraq, Chalabi, out first installed leader…turned out to be an Iranian double agent. In fact it seems pretty clear now that he was in the employ of Iran long before we overthrew Saddam…and that Iranian counter-intelligence may very well have fed the USA much of the information that led to our going to war with Saddam in the first place. This actually was reported in the mainstream press, but most Americans simply refuse that their government could have been so badly fooled that the information simply isn’t processed. The Iranians tricked us into destroying their worst enemy in Iraq and installing a pro-Iranian government in its place? Well, believe it.

This whole mess once again illustrates one of the many reasons why I argued that the invasion of Iraq was a terrible idea. If it didn’t go spectacularly well, it would leave us in a position where we would be paralysed and our enemies had any number of ways to take advantage of the situation. And Iran becoming more influential in Iraq than the USA is definitely taking advantage of the situation. This will make it harder to demonize and isolate Iran, make attacking Iran even more problematic, and just in general is so much pie thrown in our collective faces.

And speaking of attacking Iran, there are reports that a number of senior US military men will resign if an attack on Iran is ordered. This can’t be good no matter how true it is. I suppose some might make the claim that this was somehow engineered to encourage the Iranians to let their guard down, but that’s reaching. I mean, hurt moral and public support for the war just on the of chance it will throw an enemy off guard? Pretty risky strategy at best, and I’m pretty sure the civilian leadership surrounding Bush still has such enormous confidence in the infallible power of the US military that it wouldn’t even occur to them to do anything to get Iran’s guard down.

Now in all fairness, many people in Iraq, especially the Sunnis, aren’t nearly as thrilled with Iran as the Shia. Again though, this is not good for the USA, because getting the Sunnis on board with the Iraqi government was one of the few things that was “working” with the surge. Of course paying and arming the people we were fighting so they would stop fighting us was grasping at straws to begin with, if we have to pay people to be our friends, we really don’t have any friends. And now Iraq’s Sunnis see their government buddying up to the country that waged war on Iraq for years, a country that has no use for Sunnis. Yeah, this is going to help their attitude.

Lots of other stuff going on in the world this week as well. Horrible violence in Gaza. Bush is making new friends in Africa. And the US economy and dollar continue its slide into what we are not yet allowed to call a depression…even though it sure is depressing. Plus the Democrats are in the final stages of the bizarre Hillary vs Barrack death match, I don’t even know what to make of that. Call me a cynic, but the elections remind me more and more of pro-wrestling all the time. No one really takes this farce seriously, do they?

(The above image of Ahmadinejad and Maliki is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit: AP Photo. Interesting times, nu?)

 

 

Written by unitedcats

March 3, 2008 at 9:20 am

Posted in Iran, Iraq, War, World

My Cats are Plotting Against Me

with 3 comments

dodson_cat.jpg

OK, so I let my cats out a few hours before dawn. Awhile later I hear the sound of fighting cats in the yard. I figure it’s the stripy orange guy, he fears nothing and will fight any cat on the planet. While I am getting dressed I can hear the fight is getting closer…moments later a cat flees into the apartment. Who got thrashed? The stripy orange guy! WTF? While I am contemplating this peculiar development…my fluffy black cat, the most non-violent cat on the planet, Gandhi’s cat reincarnated…runs out the door and proceeds to beat the crap out of the intruding cat! I’m like: Oh My God. Did aliens sneak in during the night and swap my cat’s brains? Are they trying to drive me insane?

Makes me think, I can’t even figure out two animals with brains the size of walnuts, and I’m going to make meaningful observations on a world of six billion people? To add insult to injury, I was wondering the other day why I always felt like an idiot around this tenant at a client’s house. So out of curiosity I googled her name. Well, turns out I feel like an idiot around her because compared to her I’m a chimp. Sigh. She won a Nobel Prize at seventeen or some such, yeesh. Sometimes I envy people of average intelligence, most of them seem blissfully unaware that there are people much smarter than them. I on the other hand am just smart enough to know how limited I am compared to people who are really smart.

Oh well. Could be worse. I could be on the Berkeley city council. Yes, some of them are backpedaling over their hasty decision to subsidize Code Pink in their efforts to get a Marine Corps Recruiting Center kicked out of Berkeley. Not surprising, I mean, some of them must have at least some interest in running the city…and having millions of dollars in federal funding cut off because of their using city resources to help a protest group is going to hurt. Anyone heard that Code Pink is offering to pay two million dollars for the parking space the city gave them? I didn’t think so.

In any event I walk by there every day and usually there is nothing going on. I’ve pretty much calmed down about the issue, it mostly makes me mad cause it’s all so dumb and counterproductive and divisive. I understand the protester’s point of view, but their message would play a lot better in Peoria if they chained themselves to a gas station. And the city simply shouldn’t be giving city resources to select protest groups, did they think through the consequences of that at all? In any event, the story once again made CNN, great. There will be a huge protest and counter protest on the 12th, I’ll be there and report all about it. And no, I don’t plan on attacking any protesters, but anything is possible when mobs form.

I have been updating my Countdown to War with Iran page as new ideas and information crop up. I’m still very worried that Bush will indeed attack Iran before he leaves office. From any reasonable standpoint it’s a pretty crazy idea and far riskier than our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, but unfortunately to a large extent decisions in the Bush administration are made by a committee of powerful advisers. And it’s not widely known, but groups will take riskier decisions than individuals will. Basically with a group people know on some level that they can avoid taking personal responsibility if things go bad, a strong central leader can’t make that rationalization as easily. And of course in the Bush administration it appears that no one ever takes responsibility for any failure whatsoever…so an attack on Iran is a definite possibility until Bush is out of office.

And speaking of taking responsibility, I’ve decided that Bush’s “surge” in Iraq has nothing to do with Iraq, it’s actually a trap for Bush’s domestic political opponents. First of all there really is no surge, adding a few extra tens of thousands of men for awhile is just a drop in the bucket. The reality is that Sadr’s Mahdi Army, the largest insurgent group in Iraq, declared a cease fire last August, so Bush knew the violence would be dropping some. So the Bush administration quickly invented the “surge” to take credit for it.

The beauty part was no matter what happened, they were golden. The violence dropped of course, though not nearly so much as is commonly portrayed. And now that the compliant media has bought into it and many Americans believe “the surge is working,” no matter what happens the war proponents make out like bandits. IE if violence stays at the merely horrible levels they are at now, they can claim the surge is working as the election approaches. And if violence flairs up again, as it might very well do, why…it’s the liberals fault for not supporting the surge! So, sadly, I suspect that the only result of the surge will be to propel another militarist, likely McCain, into the White House this fall. And frankly, I have a sneaking suspicion that’s all the surge was ever intended for in the first place.

Have a great weekend everyone.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is only a portion of the original image, low resolution, and converted to grey scale. Its use here does not interfere with the copyright holder’s use of the original image, arguably the opposite. Credit: Copyright © 1995 Art Shaman. The full size colour version of the above image can be viewed here: Digital Artwork Gallery Four. Cats, sigh.)

Written by unitedcats

February 8, 2008 at 11:35 am

Posted in Berkeley, Cats, Elections, Iraq, Peace

Doug’s Darkworld…in print! Plus Dick Cheney’s office is burning, Whales on UFOs, and other random nonsense.

with 2 comments

 

goodbyeawalt.jpg

Yes, someone has asked permission to print one of my blog posts in their august publication! Can fame and riches be far behind? Yes, far far far behind. The publication in question is a technical high school in the Philippines, so I’m a long ways from being mentioned on Oprah. Still, it’s a start, and I’m thrilled that my words will see actual print instead of just existing as magnetic charges inside a computer. Though not from this blog, I’ve also had an article printed in a Danish cat magazine and an upstate New York humane society newspaper. Four more to go, and I’ll have had trivial articles published in minor publications on all seven continents. Yes, it’s a modest goal as these things go, but at least I have little competition.

The article in question was my Ten Global Calamities post. I guess it will stimulate discussion or such among high school students. I’m not exactly clear on what a technical high school is, Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry which basically dooms me to ignorance, but I’m assuming it’s a good thing. I went to a white suburban high school at the height of liberalism in America. There was an open campus and one could take classes on such things as existential literature and the history of basket weaving. We even got a school grant for our wargames club and built a sand table and bought a bunch of games. It was a lot of fun, but no one really learnt much. Which probably explains Carter, Reagan, and all that followed. So I guess it’s true, liberals really are the source of all our troubles. Who knew?

Moving right along, I see that the USA gave Turkey permission to bomb Iraq, even going so far as to provide intelligence. (Though The Turks seem to have jumped the gun.) The “sovereign” government of Iraq had no say in the matter, once again showing that this is an occupation, not a liberation. The Turks were bombing the Kurds, fighting with Kurdish separatists in Turkey has claimed some thirty thousand lives the past decade, and oddly enough most Turks regard the Kurdish attacks as terrorism and the PPK (the group Turkey attacked) as terrorists. And by the usual American standards they are, but since the Kurdish section of Iraq is by far the only “success” in that miserable situation, we are loathe to do so. The US is basically allied with both sides in the Turkey/Kurdish problem, yeah, that makes sense.

The result of this is that the USA is becoming more reviled in Turkey, Iraq, and among the Kurds. The USA used to have a foreign policy, nowadays all of our foreign policy revolves around desperately patching up the problems caused by Bush’s failure to understand that he wasn’t superman and that the world is a big complicated place where meddling is as likely to cause harm as good. Speaking of which, even as the violence drops in Iraq, it’s going up in Afghanistan. Whack-a-Mole anyone?

In other news, Dick Cheney’s Washington office appears to be on fire. No doubt a document burning session gone awry, I’m sure he has piles of them that need to be dealt with before he moves out in a year, there will likely be many more fires like this in Washington as the Bush administration prepares to vacate. And God only knows who they will vacate the office to, I’ve never seen such a muddy presidential campaign in my life. Last time I checked Gary Coleman was leading in the polls, but these things change overnight.

Should I do more movie reviews? I just rented The Simpsons Movie and the Bourne Ultimatum. They were both extremely violent. Posts are coming up on the legacy of colonialism, the world’s oldest photographed human being, overpopulation, ten American myths, and some stunning new archaeological discoveries. Plus stuff just keeps on happening on Mars, the rovers discovered a MacDonald’s wrapper and scientists are divided on whether or not that indicates life could exist there. It gets weirder, reports are in the news this morning claiming that the Japanese government is confirming the existence of UFOs. I guess they needed something big to divert world attention away from their plans to eat many of the last remaining whales? OK, I’ll definitely blog on that tomorrow.

(The above image of the end of Awalt High School, my alma mater, is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Yadda yadda yadda. Credit and image origin here. Chester F Awalt High School didn’t disappear, they just changed its name to Mountain View High School. Still, sad, goodbye old friend.)

Written by unitedcats

December 19, 2007 at 9:28 am

Posted in Iraq, World

Defending America? Halliburton, Bush and the Jamie Leigh Jones gang rape

with 7 comments

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I have tried to back-off on my vitriol for the Bush administration, in order to avoid offending my mainstream conservative friends and readers. There is a time when a story comes along that is so shocking and powerful that it simply cannot be ignored, and more on point, I cannot ignore my reaction to it. This is the time. I am of course talking about the Jamie Leigh Jones gang rape case.

Not familiar with it? ABC news just broke the story. To wit, a 22 year old Texas woman claims she was gang raped by Halliburton employees in Iraq, and that Halliburton and the US government have conspired to cover the story up. She was drugged, assaulted, and raped by fellow employees. Then she was kept prisoner in a storage container for a day, threatened with loss of her current and future jobs if she went to the authorities. She escaped when a sympathetic guard let her use his cell phone. She called her dad in Texas, he called his Congressman. Some Federal employees came and got her, Army doctors determined she had been raped…the evidence was turned over to Halliburton. No one has been arrested in this case, no federal agency is investigating it. The evidence is “missing.”

Ok then. This was two years ago and nothing has been done since. The story broke because the victim victim has brought civil suit against Halliburton, since she appeared to have no other recourse. Legal experts say that basically Halliburton employees pretty much have blanket legal immunity for what they do in Iraq, so that the government’s hands are tied.

These are the basic facts in evidence at this point. Please understand my reaction is based on the idea that these basic facts are true as presented. My reaction is as follows: (Children, leave the room now.) What the FUCK??!! First off, I’m not even understanding the basics of this story. When federal employees found an American woman being held prisoner by American personnel, and army doctors determined she had indeed been raped, why wasn’t a squad of soldiers sent to the Halliburton facility to arrest the suspects and send them in irons back to the USA for trial?

This is beyond shocking. The president has spent seven years claiming he is the man when it comes to protecting Americans, but when his own employees gang rape an American citizen, he does nothing? Even worse, he has spent seven years and asking for and receiving extraordinary powers to protect America. He claims he can detain anyone on the planet as an “enemy combatant,” but he can’t arrest Americans who gang raped an American citizen? Bush sent these people to Iraq, they are contractees of the Federal government which makes them his employees. And as the commander-in-chief, he is responsible for what they do. You know, the old “The buck stops here” thing.

I hardly even know what to say. That the mainstream media is largely ignoring this story tells volumes itself. I don’t see how anyone can defend Bush or his administration after this. Anyone who henceforth tries to tell me that Bush is about protecting America is going to get a piece of my mind. Bush needs to act now on this one and make sure these men get arrested and tried, and that anyone involved in covering this up gets arrested and tried. I’m quite sure his creative legal advisers can come up with legal justification for this. If they can justify torture and detaining Americans for years without trial on the slimmest accusations, they can damn well justify arresting American citizens and trying them for raping another American citizen.

In the past I’ve tried to respect Bush the man even while I disagreed vehemently with his policies. If he fails to see that justice is done in this case I will lose what shred of respect I have left for the man…and anyone that would defend him. If this is what the Bush administration is about…doing nothing when Americans gang rape an American, any claims people may make about Bush and company being Godly or on the moral high ground are just a steaming pile of cow manure. I might also add it’s time for Americans who have sanctimoniously complained about how women are treated in the Muslim world…to take a long hard luck at our own country and the way it is run, nu?

Anyone who thinks there is an excuse for the Bush administration’s actions (or lack thereof) in this case…is at best denying justice to the victim of a terrible crime. God will not be fooled by legal shenanigans, weasel words, or spin. It’s time for Bush and his remaining supporters to step up to the plate and act on the principles they claim to stand for.

But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.

But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:

For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

Deuteronomy 22:25-27 (King James Bible)

(The above image of Jamie Leigh Jones is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and it is central to illustrating the post. Credit: ABC News. How would you feel if she was your sister or daughter? And it’s not hopeless, I notice the Drudge Report is covering this story as well.)

Written by unitedcats

December 11, 2007 at 10:36 am

Posted in Bush, Crime, Iraq