Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Vote "no" on Condaleeza; Pull out of Iraq in 6 months

Here's a post of mine from the Washington Monthly website, discussing Condaleeza Rice and pulling out of Iraq

Why does it have to be all or nothing- either the U.S. stays forever or pulls out tomorrow? Why not set a departure date- six months is enough time to train Iraqi forces who want to fight for freedom and recruit peacekeepers from the U.N. or neighboring Arab countries with Muslim soldiers?

If the peace in Iraq must be kept- but the American presence there destabilizes the country and unites the opposition- then what possible benefit accrues to the U.S. by having our soldiers over there getting blown up? Did anyone have the sense to ask Condi these questions? Kind of the basic issue, isn't it?

Posted by: James Finkelstein on January 19, 2005 at 12:58 AM |

James: The short answer is that if we set a departure date, that's going to be what the insurgents hang on to wait for. We bailed on the Iraqis once, and they haven't forgotten this.
Posted by: tbrosz on January 19, 2005 at 1:07 AM |

Yeah but... we had exactly the same issue in Vietnam in 1968, and ultimately when we left in 1973-1975, the result was the same except a few thousand more Americans and many thousands more Vietnamese were dead.

The real issue for the U.S. and Iraq is whether there is anything related to our security that is worth any American dying for. My answer is "no" and that hasn't changed since this bogus war was first hyped up as a mid-term election ploy in 2002.

Before 2002, an American invasion of Iraq was nothing more than a neocon wet-dream promoted by the Project for a New American Century, which thought a permanent U.S. military base in Iraq was a wonderful thing. Then those nut jobs- including Cheney, Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, et al., got put into power. George W. couldn't have found Iraq on a map in 1997, when PNAC was formed, or in 2000, when they outlined their desire for a new American Empire. By 2002, with Enron and Worldcom collapsing, the economy in a tailspin and the dotcom balloon burst, a California energy crisis manufactured by the same people who were part of Dick Cheney's secret committee, Karl Rove dusted off a foreign war as a wonderful diversion from domestic screw-ups. And it worked- they not only kept the House, they got back the Senate. And they ran on one issue- fear.

So, regardless of how Iraqis now feel about being betrayed again- and I felt in 1991 we should have at least made the southern marshes off limits for the Republican Guard and their gunships the way we did for Kurdish areas in the north- at this juncture, if they want to be free, we should give them a window of 6 months to recruit outside peacekeepers from Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan, and train every Iraqi who wants to fight for his country.

And just knowing that America is pulling out will do wonders for Iraqi morale and put the kibosh on recruiting efforts for insurgents and suicide bombers. Suicide bombers thrive in an environment of hopelessness (as in Palestinian "refugee" camps in existence for 56 years). Let's take away that motivation and let them focus on what their country will be like after we pull out. We can't give them or anybody else freedom. We can depose or kill the tyrants who ruled them. But as Moses figured out 3200 plus years ago, you can't turn slaves into free people overnight. You can only plant the seeds for the next generation.

But no matter what else we do, let's keep the southern and northern oil fields out of the new government's hands and internationalize them. The worst thing we could do would be to give a brand new country which may become a theocracy or a dictatorship the means (money) to buy fancy new weapons. The money from oil should go to non-governmental organizations (like the Red Cross, Ox-Fam, Doctors without Borders) to distribute inside Iraq once it is stable. And if it isn't stable- then giving them access to billions of dollars in oil revenues wouldn't be the smartest thing to do.

That's my two cents (more like three bucks), anyway.

Posted by: James Finkelstein on January 19, 2005 at 1:24 AM

Saturday, January 15, 2005


We now have the "revelation" that no, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So the U.S. is officially abandoning the search for WMD's in Iraq because our military invasion and occupation has so destablized the country and created so much anarchy and chaos that, simply put, it's now unsafe for weapons inspectors to continue the search.

Meanwhile, the national media and right wing pundits have had so much fun with CBS and Dan Rather this week on "Memogate" (and since when is it a "gate" when a news organization accurately reports that the President of the United States got preferential treatment to get into the Texas Air National Guard, then later skipped a physical and mandatory drug test, was decertified from flying, missed all of his drills for a solid year, never reported to his assigned transfer unit in Alabama, and effectively was AWOL from the National Guard- but one of the supporting documents turns out to have been a fake?) The blogosphere has correctly noted that CBS is being held to a far higher standard than is the President and other public officials, and has reminded those paying attention by compiling and reproducing many of the Bush Administration's Iraq WMD lies and gross distortions. Here are some links plus my own modest contribution from a year ago.

[NOTE: this essay was originally published 2/13/04 in the Albany (Georgia) Journal. It's also been online at ANYONEELSE.ORG for about 10 months at:
for some recent links with comprehensive lists of WMD misleading quotes, go to THIS MODERN WORLD at (January 15, 2005 post)
DAILY KOS at (January 12, 2005 post) and
BILLMON (Lunaville) at: (undated]


(note to stalwart Republicans: to paraphrase Jack Nicholson's character in "A Few Good Men", if you can't handle the truth, don't read this column.)


"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." George W. Bush.


”He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.”
Secretary of State Colin Powell during a visit to Cairo, Egypt, February 24, 2001

"The sanctions, as they are called, have succeeded over the last 10 years.... The Iraqi regime militarily remains fairly weak. ... It has been contained."
Colin Powell testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, May 15, 2001

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
Vice President Dick Cheney Speech to VFW National Convention, August 26, 2002

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."
President George W. Bush Speech to UN General Assembly, September 12, 2002

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, September 19, 2002

"The Iraqi regime ... possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons." --
George W. Bush on the campaign trail, Oct. 7, 2002.

"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his ‘nuclear mujahideen' -- his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past."--
George W. Bush, campaigning for Republicans in Congress, Oct. 7, 2002

"We know for a fact there are weapons there." --
George W. Bush's Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, White House, Jan. 9, 2003

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of Sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent." --
George W. Bush, Jan. 28, 2003

"My second purpose today is to provide you with additional information, to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iraq's involvement in terrorism..."
"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more." --
Colin Powell, Speech to United Nations Security Council, Feb. 5, 2003

"This is about imminent threat."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan, February 10, 2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." --
George W. Bush, White House televised speech to America, March 17, 2003, two days before America launches missile attack on Baghdad and Gulf War II commences.

"Absolutely." Answer to question whether Iraq was an "imminent threat,"
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, May 7, 2003

"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."
Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Vanity Fair interview, May 28, 2003

"It was a surprise to me then — it remains a surprise to me now — that we have not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal sites. Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there."
Lt. Gen. James Conway, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Press Interview, May 30, 2003

"What was it? One hundred tons, 500 tons or zero tons? Was it so many liters of anthrax, 10 times that amount or nothing?"
Secretary of State Colin Powell, TBLISI, Georgia,, January 24, 2004

"I don't think they existed..."
David Kay, leader of the U.S. hunt for weapons of mass destruction, who resigned on January 23, 2004

If Rush Limbaugh or his ilk argue that it makes no difference that we found no WMD's, and that the war was worth it because we freed the people of Iraq, then ask them one question: which is worse: that the highest officials in this country deliberately lied to us and took us to war, or that they are so incompetent that they mistakenly took us to war on the erroneous premise that Iraq posed a grave, imminent, military threat to America?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Sept. 17 (2001) — President Bush Monday repeated his vow to track down Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in last week's terror attacks:

"I want justice," Bush said. "And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'"

ABC News 9/17/01

... Bush downplayed concern on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, saying the accused terrorist mastermind is on the run and "I truly am not that concerned about him."

CNN 3/14/02


When the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001, among the thousands killed was the one man who may have known more about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda than any other person in America: John O'Neill.

... O'Neill's increasing frustration with Washington's lax attitude toward the threat posed by bin Laden, including the possibility that Al Qaeda sleeper cells were already operating within the United States. What John O'Neill was trying to do was get a momentum going in the FBI to look seriously for those cells, Clarke says. It was not one of the priorities in most FBI field offices. By the summer of 2001, O'Neill had been so marginalized by FBI officials that key clues of the looming Sept. 11 plot apparently were never passed on to him

from PBS Frontline Story 10/3/02


The confidential President's Daily Brief (PDB) for August 6, 2001 contained a two-page section entitled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US," and refers to possible hijacking attempts by Osama bin Laden disciples and the existence of about 70 FBI investigations into alleged al-Qaeda cells operating within the United States. The August 6 PDB, an excerpt from which you'll find below, was presented to Bush while he vacationed at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. The digest is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency, an official from which briefs the president on the report's contents.


The Project for the New American Century, or PNAC, is a Washington-based think tank created in 1997.

The fundamental essence of PNAC's ideology can be found in a White Paper produced in September of 2000 entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century." In it, PNAC outlines what is required of America to create the global empire they envision. According to PNAC, America must:

* Reposition permanently based forces to Southern Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East;

Vice President Dick Cheney is a founding member of PNAC, along with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is the ideological father of the group. Bruce Jackson, a PNAC director, served as a Pentagon official for Ronald Reagan before leaving government service to take a leading position with the weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

PNAC has recently given birth to a new group, The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which met with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in order to formulate a plan to "educate" the American populace about the need for war in Iraq.

The PNAC plan calls for the US to take control of the Gulf region with overwhelming and deadly military force. "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification," the PNAC document explains, "the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." In other words, Saddam is little more than an excuse for "maintaining global US pre-eminence... and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests." After the PNAC document was leaked to the Sunday Herald, Tam Dalyell, the British Labor MP, hit the nail right on the head when he declared, "This is garbage from right-wing think-tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks -- men who have never seen the horror of war but are in love with the idea of war. Men like Cheney, who were draft-dodgers in the Vietnam war."



As a military intelligence officer in the 1980s, [Bruce Pitcairn] Jackson was assigned to the Pentagon in the Reagan and Bush Senior administrations, where he worked under Perle and two other leading hawks, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney. In the late 1990s, while working for Lockheed Martin, Jackson avidly promoted the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe. Last fall the administration called on Jackson to set up the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. "People in the White House said, 'We need you to do for Iraq what you did for NATO,'" Jackson said in a phone interview.

This year Jackson was able to parlay his NATO connections into support for the administration's war plans for Iraq. As the Bush administration was desperately searching for allies, Jackson helped draw up a declaration from the foreign ministers of the "Vilnius Ten," the 10 Eastern European countries that are up for NATO membership. "The newest members of the European community agree that we must confront the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and that the United Nations must now act," the foreign ministers declared on the same day that Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations. The declaration provided ammunition for the administration, but it also created a furor in Western Europe and even in some of the Vilnius Ten countries, where the public, and even the governments, did not want to be identified as part of what one Slovenian writer termed the "war coalition."

... the Vilnius Ten declaration, which was the product of a dinner Jackson attended in late January at the Slovak embassy in Washington with representatives of those nations. In a letter from the committee accompanying the text, Scheunemann boasted that it showed "Europe is united by a commitment to end Saddam's bloody regime."

Jackson's particular contribution was to tell the Vilnius Ten foreign ministers that signing the declaration would help win U.S. approval of their membership in NATO. "They clearly wanted to do stuff to impress upon the U.S. Senate the freedom-fighting credentials of these new democracies," he told the International Herald Tribune. According to a United Press International report, "Albania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Macedonia received private and public assurances that their NATO applications now stand a better chance.

5/1/03 article in New American Prospect

A 1997 article in The New York Times described Jackson’s activities in a similar light: “At night, Bruce L. Jackson is president of the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, giving intimate dinners for Senators and foreign officials. By day, he is director of strategic planning for Lockheed Martin Corporation, the world’s biggest weapons maker.”

Defense Daily 04-21-2003
DSCA Signs $3.5 Billion F-16 Sale, $3.8 Billion Financing Agreements With Poland

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) last week signed agreements with Poland's Ministry of National Defense for the $3.5 billion sale of Lockheed Martin (LMT) F-16C/D Block 52 fighters and a related $3.8 billion foreign military financing (FMF) package.

Poland decided in December to buy 48 F-16s over rival bids for the JAS-39 Gripen from Sweden's Saab and BAE SYSTEMS and the Mirage 2000- 5 Mk II by France's Dassault Aviation.


19 soldiers from the 343rd Quartermaster Company failed to report for a planned fuel convoy from Tallil Air Base across central Iraq to Taji, a base north of Baghdad, the Army said in a statement issued in Iraq. The unit is headquartered in Rock Hill, S.C., but is currently based in Tallil.

"The unit felt that the vehicles they were required to drive weren't safe, both mechanically and in lacking armor to protect the personnel inside," he said. In addition, he said, the troops had expected to be protected by attack helicopters, but then were told that the aviation escort was unavailable.

CNN 10/21/04


A lawyer defending Specialist Charles Graner, who is accused of being a ringleader in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, argued that piling naked prisoners in pyramids was a valid form of prisoner control.

"Don’t cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" said Guy Womack, Sergeant Graner’s lawyer, in opening arguments to the ten-member military jury at the reservist’s court martial.

NY Times 1/10/05


WOUNDED: 9,844


This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were.

Once that is understood, other mysteries solve themselves. For example, why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled?

from Jay Bookman’s September 29, 2002 column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution titled:
The president's real goal in Iraq