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War in Afghanistan - Page 3

post #101 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Rain Dog View Post
This current quagmire/nightmare-like outcome should not be a surprise for any sentient, thinking, barely educated human. What's the saying about continually approaching the same situation but expecting a different outcome?
Insanity.

I don't like to posts in these kind of threads because of my position. I've been there three times for various amounts of times since this started. All I can say is that it is indeed frustrating.
post #102 of 212
What's kind of sad is that the Afghan war shows us that Obama is nowhere near as smart as he--or the acolytes of his personality cult/OFA staff--seems to think. From the beginning, he has called Iraq a "dumb war" and Afghanistan a "smart war." You know what Osama Bin Laden and Bush had in common? They saw Iraq as part of the global struggle.

If it wasn't for the whole "dead or alive" thing, I think Osama would see Bush as his BFF. Osama Bin Laden's entire scheme is to do what he did to the USSR to us, i.e. get us to bankrupt ourselves by locking conventional forces and the treasure that supports them into non-conventional conflicts. All he has to do is spend a few thousand dollars to get some asshole with a homemade bomb to blow something up under the banner of Al Qaeda and the US will respond by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to kill the guy. He sees Iraq and Afghanistan as equal parts of that strategy, Bush just played straight into that hand because it played well with the bloodthirsty rednecks who just want to kill brown people now.

Obama is continuing to play into it, he's just not going hog wild playing into it the way Bush did. It's not the difference between a checker player and a chess player. It's the difference between a kid wearing a styrofoam helmet who eats the checker pieces and an actual checkers player. The only problem is we're dealing with an actual chess player in Bin Laden.
post #103 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shan View Post
I seem to have a memory at the time that the government of Afghanistan at the time of the World Trade Center Attack (ie the Taliban) offered (or at least said they'd consider) to hand over the accused perpetrators (Al Qaeda) in their country if they were actually showed some evidence first. Which I don't think was forthcoming at the time and followed by the allied invasion instead.

Can anyone confirm or debunk this?
Prior to 9/11 the Taliban's relationship with Bin Laden and his cadre of Wahhabi extremists was shaky to say the least. For a start they are, ideologically speaking, miles apart.

The Taliban are/were a local movement with limited knowledge of the outside world, Islamic or otherwise, and profoundly parochial ambitions. They certainly had no interest in joining Bin Laden's global jihad. Why should they? It's like someone from Hungary hopping over to the US during the War of Independence and asking George Washington to fight in Africa.

From the beginning they were highly suspicious of Bin Laden. Indeed, had he not fought with distinction (in addition to organising, fund-raising etc.) against the Soviets they would have rid themselves of him very quickly.

Contrary to the Bush Doctrine on the Axis of Evil - Bin Laden and Mullah Omar were never in league with each other. Bin Laden and his followers were granted safe haven within a manageable (for the Taliban) region. He was certainly not free to do as he pleased.

Very soon after the Taliban became extremely uneasy. They felt that his activities were attracting just a bit too much heat from the international community. Despite their parochialist outlook the Taliban were looking to gain international legitimacy and recognition as the lawful government of Afghanistan. Given their costly and bloody struggle against Soviet oppression they felt that they had earned such.

As a sweetener Mullah Omar decreed a halt to opium production. Subsequently, the supply of opium dropped to a record low and prices shot through the roof. Given the plague of misery afforded by heroin addiction he genuinely believed the West (the US) would look favourably upon the Taliban.

Unfortunately, Clinton had other ideas. The unprecedented opium ban was deemed "a gimmick" and Omar was given short shrift (this can't have been because of the Taliban's strict Sharia doctrine, or human rights record as the US deals with similar or worse dictatorships daily).

The situation, however, was still retrievable. Following further terrorist acts linked to Bin Laden the Taliban decided that he had outstayed his welcome. Because of Bin Laden's popularity among radical Islamist groups around the world Omar could not hand him over to the US without losing face. He therefore brokered a deal with the Saudi intelligence agencies to hand him over (which is effectively handing him over to the US in all but name).

Things were going swimmingly until Clinton got caught with his dick hanging out and in a pathetic attempt to divert the media away from him he launched a few dozen cruise missiles into Afghanistan (some of which landed in Pakistan) which destroyed a few boulders and a couple of goats.

After this all bets were off. The Taliban withdrew its offer and the rest is history*.

As for the current war. It doesn't take a genius to understand what is going on.

By maintaining a strong military presence in Afghanistan the US - a) applies pressure to Iran (as well as those irritating countries attempting to do oil and other business with it i.e. China, Russia, India etc.), b) commands land considered essential if the proposed second oil pipeline through the region is built and c) holds a valid pretext for enormous military spending (which, under Obama, greatly exceeds the figures achieved during the Cold War at its peak!)

From my perspective the media has mostly chosen to frame the debate so that any assertion toward calling an end to the campaign is either completely ignored or laughed off as lunacy.

The parallels with the Vietnam war are eerie. It's a common misconception that for much of that debacle there was a popular anti-war lobby. This was certainly the case toward the end of the campaign. However, for much of it the question wasn't whether the US should be in Vietnam but rather couldn't the war be fought better.

Directing public opinion onto comparatively trivial matters (which general? which battle plan? how many troops? etc. - not to mention aiding to engender our endless obsession with hollow celebrity) thus neatly sidestepping the big questions (why the fuck are we in this mess and how do we get out of it quickly?) is nothing new. Nations have been doing such since Machiavelli - and before. But I think we may well be living in the era when base duplicity has reached the zenith of efficiency.

It's a bleak state of affairs to be sure.

* If you are interested, the best book you can buy on Al-Qaeda is Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam by the Observer's Jason Burke. The best book on the mess that is the Middle East is The Great War For Civilization by Robert Fisk (it might be worth buying direct from Amazon UK as Fisk's blunt truths tend sometimes to be airbrushed out US versions for political reasons. For years the US government and Fisk "disagreed" on the definition of genocide. I'll leave you to decide who holds the stronger argument.
post #104 of 212
What are you babbling about? Al Qaeda are Mooslins. The Taliban are Mooslins. Therefore they are working together to bring down the free people of the West. Just like Hamas and Al Fatah. Just like Shia, Sunni and Ismaeli Islam. Just like the Baathists and those in favor of a new Caliphate. If you're a Mooslin you're by default part of an amorphous blob of freedom hate, regardless of political affiliation, nationality or societal standing.

The West's stubborn insistence to ever apply nuance and rational thought to the Middle East problem is completely infuriating.
post #105 of 212
Let's remember they're all brown people too!
post #106 of 212
Geoff, your posts are always invaluable. You should write more often, and if not here, then on your own blog.
post #107 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post


By maintaining a strong military presence in Afghanistan the US - a) applies pressure to Iran (as well as those irritating countries attempting to do oil and other business with it i.e. China, Russia, India etc.), b) commands land considered essential if the proposed second oil pipeline through the region is built and c) holds a valid pretext for enormous military spending (which, under Obama, greatly exceeds the figures achieved during the Cold War at its peak!)


.
But all those counties are watching the US pour money, men and resources into this region with nothing to show for it. And that has been the case for close to 10 years. Anyone making a rational calculation, or just watching the major media in the West, will have figured out that the US is way over extended, and indeed could not fight any major new conflicts, and maybe not even any small ones. So that argument does not hold.

Which is not to deny US Policy makers might actually believe otherwise, or might think they've fooled the rest of the world.
post #108 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelios View Post
What are you babbling about? Al Qaeda are Mooslins. The Taliban are Mooslins. Therefore they are working together to bring down the free people of the West. Just like Hamas and Al Fatah. Just like Shia, Sunni and Ismaeli Islam. Just like the Baathists and those in favor of a new Caliphate. If you're a Mooslin you're by default part of an amorphous blob of freedom hate, regardless of political affiliation, nationality or societal standing.

The West's stubborn insistence to ever apply nuance and rational thought to the Middle East problem is completely infuriating.
You are seriously a dipshit.
post #109 of 212
I don't think my post means what you think it means.
post #110 of 212
In all my years on the Internet, I have never seen such obvious sarcasm so beautifully, completely missed. Kudos, Nabster. You should win some manner of prize.

And Geoff - a) hello and how the hell are you, and b) just a brilliant, informative post. Thanks.
post #111 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nabster View Post
You are seriously a dipshit.
You're not the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you?
post #112 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
But all those counties are watching the US pour money, men and resources into this region with nothing to show for it. And that has been the case for close to 10 years. Anyone making a rational calculation, or just watching the major media in the West, will have figured out that the US is way over extended, and indeed could not fight any major new conflicts, and maybe not even any small ones. So that argument does not hold.
I'm not sure what your point is. When you say the US has "nothing to show for it" - who are you talking about? The US government? The US people? US corporations? The latter are definitely making money.

Take the re-construction of Iraq for instance. There are a lot of parallels here between it and Europe post WWII. At the end of the war there was still a ton of money swilling around Europe which could have been used for reconstruction. Instead, US banks lobbied the president to have it deposited in various New York institutions (under the Marshall Plan) and let the burden of putting Europe back together fall on US taxpayers. So the bankers won the wealth of Croesus whilst the US people won a millstone around their necks. In Iraq the US army (at taxpayer expense) won the oil (which was handed off to US-based or US-friendly oil companies free of investment) and, surprise surprise, the cost of re-building Iraq was saddled onto the US taxpayer (who divvied up their wealth to companies like Haliburton whose executives have all made a fortune as profits have nearly doubled since 2000).

It's a depressing cycle in which the US people seem destined to give up their hard-earned wealth to various corporate interests (depending on the President) who control and subvert the democratic process to suit their aims.

Returning to my point, if you don't choose FOX News and the major US stations as well as the New York Times (which Robert Fisk's calls "American Officials Say..." as your source of information I think the aims are pretty much self-evident.

Certainly people in the Middle East know what is going on. Iraqis have lived through this kind of occupation before. Whilst they are thankful for being relieved of Saddam Hussein they are under no illusions about what the US is doing in Iraq. So do the Iranians.

All this is nothing new. In effect the US is still following the Truman Doctrine. But instead of the spectre of Russian bogeymen attempting to secure Middle Eastern riches we are in an ideological war against Arab self-determinism. Of course, we can't say we are trying to smash the very word we hold sacrosanct (Freedom) because that would make us the bad guys. So we cook up something suitably vague which can be applied to anything we choose - "Terror" .

One of the great assets of the American system is the Freedom of Information Act (a freedom which was hard fought for - by the people - and, discretely, is being eroded by successive administrations - but this is another debate).

The core Middle Eastern doctrine, which (apart from odd deviations by Carter and, ironically, Bush I!) the US has followed for years can be found without much effort.

Consider:

Quote:
The Memorandum identifying Arab nationalism as "inimical to Western interests" is N.S.C. [National Security Council Memorandum] 5801/1, "Statement By The National Security Council Of Long-Range U.S. Policy Toward The Near East," January 24, 1958, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Vol. XII ("Near East Region; Iraq; Iran; Arabian Peninsula"), Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993, pp. 17-32. An excerpt (pp. 18, 20-22, 31):

The Near East is of great strategic, political, and economic importance to the Free World. The area contains the greatest petroleum resources in the world and essential facilities for the transit of military forces and Free World commerce. . . . The strategic resources are of such importance to the Free World, particularly Western Europe, that it is in the security interest of the United States to make every effort to insure that these resources will be available and will be used for strengthening the Free World. . . .

Current conditions of and political trends in the Near East are inimical to Western interests. In the eyes of the majority of Arabs the United States appears to be opposed to the realization of the goals of Arab nationalism. They believe that the United States is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political or economic progress. . . .

[T]he mystique of Arab unity has become a basic element of Arab political thought. Our economic and cultural interests in the area have led not unnaturally to close U.S. relations with elements in the Arab world whose primary interest lies in the maintenance of relations with the West and the status quo in their countries. . . . These relations have contributed to a widespread belief in the area that the United States desires to keep the Arab world disunited and is committed to work with "reactionary" elements to that end. The U.S.S.R., on the other hand, is not inhibited in proclaiming all-out support for Arab unity and for the most extreme Arab nationalist aspirations, because it has no stake in the economic or political status quo in the area. . . .
The area's indigenous institutions and religions lack vigor (partly as a result of the impact of nearly 200 years of Western culture), and native resistance to Communism per se has, therefore, been disappointing. Furthermore, Communist police-state methods seem no worse than similar methods employed by Near East regimes, including some of those supported by the United States. . . .

Where the United States and its friends seek a level of stability in the area to permit peaceful economic and social progress, nationalist Arabs and the Soviets need continuing chaos in order to pursue their separate aims. Many Arabs remain unconvinced of their stake in the future of the Free World. They believe that our concern over Near East petroleum as essential to the Western alliance, our desires to create indigenous strength to resist Communist subversion or domination, our efforts to maintain existing military transit and base rights and deny them to the U.S.S.R., are a mere cover for a desire to divide and dominate the area. . . . Of the countries covered by this paper . . . [o]nly Israel would be capable of effective delaying action against a military power. . . .

[The United States should] be prepared, when required, to come forward, as was done in Iran [i.e. in a C.I.A. coup in 1953], with formulas designed to reconcile vital Free World interests in the area's petroleum resources with the rising tide of nationalism in the area.
As I said, strip out the USSR and it's a straight fight against self-determinism for the greatest prize of natural resources the world has ever seen. Which essentially means a strong US presence (or the presence of US proxies) in the region stretching from Israel to Afghanistan until oil (and gas) no longer become profitable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Connors
And Geoff - a) hello and how the hell are you, and b) just a brilliant, informative post. Thanks.
I'm fine Phil. Thanks for asking. Been very busy so whilst I lurk often I post little. Besides, there's often not much to say as others do so far more eloquently than I could ever hope to. Hope you are ok. Drop me a PM some time and we can chat.

P.S. Thanks for the compliment Highway. I used to blog but it kind of became a headless monster so I quit.
post #113 of 212
Geoff your two recent posts in this thread were very interesting, I will definitely seek out the book The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East!
post #114 of 212
Not to overwhelm the echo chamber of praise, but I appreciate those posts as well. As you said, most of the information is readily available, but your presentation is admirably clean. I know there are those that would find fault with even the basic facts, but even that kind of dialogue would be so much more helpful than the present demagoguery.

And I've never read that Fisk book, despite following him online fairly regularly. Bought.

Quote:
Thing is, I know it's all passe and everything these days to open a fucking history book but it's not like Afghanistan isn't just about the most famously difficult country in the world to successfully occupy.
I'll one up you on passe-ness and repeat the almost constant Vietnam parallels. The quagmire talk is obvious, and the political situation is drastically different, but the incessant focus on which number of troops is the correct number is just the bastard offspring of Lyndon Johnson's id and ego. I know it's cynical, but I often wonder if the only people who learned anything from that time period held/hold jobs in military PR.
post #115 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Vivisector View Post
Did you see the cover of Time a week or two ago?

http://www.time.com/time/world/artic...007238,00.html

The people who did this are the ones we're fighting. When we pull out, atrocities like this will sweep the pungent little country.

Anyone got a solution that doesn't abandon girls like this to certain horror? Or are we good with that?
The Taliban might say something along the lines of glass houses and stones.

If you follow Bush's and now Obama's credo of fighting terror then, surely, you don't have a problem with Cuba sending a fleet of attack helicopters into Florida and obliterating apartment blocks in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach & Miami where Orlando Bosch and his cadre of terrorist throat-slitters are living in luxury (at US taxpayer expense)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Rain Dog
Thing is, I know it's all passe and everything these days to open a fucking history book but it's not like Afghanistan isn't just about the most famously difficult country in the world to successfully occupy.
Just to pick up on the word “occupy”. The immediate connotation is one of US forces spreading themselves throughout the country (kind of like what the Romans did in the early days of the Empire) fighting “Terror” and winning heart and minds. This couldn’t be further from the goals of Obama’s strategists. The US doesn’t want to occupy Afghanistan. It wants to control it. There’s a difference (you may have meant precisely this. If so I apologise).

I often hear people saying things like the US invaded Iraq for oil. This isn’t strictly true as the US could have secured all the oil it needed on the open market without having to move so much as a jeep. The US invaded Iraq in order to control oil. Which means deciding which corporations it passes these huge reserves over to and which miss out (the kind of wealth even King Solomon couldn't dream of).

The US has no intention of putting troops into areas of Afghanistan which have little to no strategic importance (the areas that, arguably, need the most outside assistance and investment). The intention is to assert overwhelming influence in those regions which military planners deem key to controlling the country.

Right now all the talk is about Kandahar (the 2nd largest city in Afghanistan). US and other forces are really tooling up for some hardcore action there. The US Army recently polled the inhabitants of Kandahar and they came out 95% opposed to foreign incursion (tribal elders voted 19-1 against). Of course, none of this is of any importance and the inhabitants of Kandahar know that any attempt at opposition will be ruthlessly smashed. I’m pretty concerned about what will happen there as the build-up of heavy weaponry and troops suggests some kind of Fallujah-type extermination.

Just a quick point about Karzai who was mentioned earlier. I’m certainly no fan of the guy but it is worth remembering that the major US news agencies (print and television) only began to turn seriously against him when he had the impertinence to demand that the US cease bombing Afghan civilians. That kind of talk can really do your career an injury.
post #116 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
Just to pick up on the word “occupy”. The immediate connotation is one of US forces spreading themselves throughout the country (kind of like what the Romans did in the early days of the Empire) fighting “Terror” and winning heart and minds. This couldn’t be further from the goals of Obama’s strategists. The US doesn’t want to occupy Afghanistan. It wants to control it. There’s a difference (you may have meant precisely this. If so I apologise).
No no Geoff thats a completely fair point, in reality, that's exactly what I meant so you're right I was getting my terminology confused. Realistically, that's exactly what the US does when it invades a foreign country in this modern era, it certainly isn't 'occupation' in the traditional sense by any means.
post #117 of 212
I guess there are no 'good guys' in this fight. How about we let the billion or so Muslims on the planet raise a hue and cry about this and take up arms against the Taliban, or even express that what's going on in Afganistan is unacceptable by any measure of human decency?
post #118 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Vivisector View Post
I guess there are no 'good guys' in this fight. How about we let the billion or so Muslims on the planet raise a hue and cry about this and take up arms against the Taliban, or even express that what's going on in Afganistan is unacceptable by any measure of human decency?
The international community, including the various Muslim communities (Sunni, Shia, Ismaili etc.), has been putting pressure on the Taliban ever since they assumed power. Unlike the US, Britain etc., who have simply sought to atomise Afghanistan, trample democracy, open torture facilities, brutalise the community and incarcerate thousands in dead zones likes Bagram, the rest of the world has done its talking through the tried and tested framework of the UN. In other words - legally.

The Taliban's activities are a function of their dire circumstances. Repeatedly smash the infrastructure of any nation and it won't take long before the ugliness appears. There's a saying (perhaps by Malthus or Napoleon) that society is only three square meals away from anarchy. In Afghanistan it's a long time since anyone saw three square meals.

As for what's "unacceptable" by measures of human decency:

The callous, systematic and morally bankrupt destruction of Afghanistan (one of the oldest and most culturally rich civilizations in the world).
post #119 of 212
As Geoff would say, it's all about control...

US bases flag long Afghan stay

Quote:
THREE air base expansions in southern and northern Afghanistan worth $US100 million ($A112 million) prove the Pentagon plans to continue building multimillion-dollar facilities to support increased military operations in that country well into the future.

Despite growing public unhappiness with the Afghan war - and US President Barack Obama's pledge that he will begin withdrawing troops in July 2011 - many of the installations being built in Afghanistan have extended time horizons. None of the three air base projects is expected to be completed until later next year and they are all intended for use by US forces, rather than their Afghan counterparts.

Overall, requests for $US1.3 billion in additional 2011 funds for multi-year construction of military facilities in Afghanistan are pending before Congress. The House of Representatives has approved the money, as has the Senate Appropriations Committee. The full Senate has yet to vote on the measure.

In addition, the US has allocated $US5.3 billion to construct facilities for the Afghan army and the national police, with most of the ''enduring facilities … scheduled for construction over the next three to four years'', according to the Pentagon.

For example, a $US30 million contract was recently awarded to build a regional military training centre in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, according to Colonel Mike Wehr, engineer director of the combined NATO training mission.

That facility, too, will not be completed until late 2011.
post #120 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
I'm not sure what your point is. When you say the US has "nothing to show for it" - who are you talking about? The US government? The US people? US corporations? The latter are definitely making money.

Take the re-construction of Iraq for instance. There are a lot of parallels here between it and Europe post WWII. At the end of the war there was still a ton of money swilling around Europe which could have been used for reconstruction. Instead, US banks lobbied the president to have it deposited in various New York institutions (under the Marshall Plan) and let the burden of putting Europe back together fall on US taxpayers. So the bankers won the wealth of Croesus whilst the US people won a millstone around their necks. In Iraq the US army (at taxpayer expense) won the oil (which was handed off to US-based or US-friendly oil companies free of investment) and, surprise surprise, the cost of re-building Iraq was saddled onto the US taxpayer (who divvied up their wealth to companies like Haliburton whose executives have all made a fortune as profits have nearly doubled since 2000).

It's a depressing cycle in which the US people seem destined to give up their hard-earned wealth to various corporate interests (depending on the President) who control and subvert the democratic process to suit their aims.

Returning to my point, if you don't choose FOX News and the major US stations as well as the New York Times (which Robert Fisk's calls "American Officials Say..." as your source of information I think the aims are pretty much self-evident.

Certainly people in the Middle East know what is going on. Iraqis have lived through this kind of occupation before. Whilst they are thankful for being relieved of Saddam Hussein they are under no illusions about what the US is doing in Iraq. So do the Iranians.

All this is nothing new. In effect the US is still following the Truman Doctrine. But instead of the spectre of Russian bogeymen attempting to secure Middle Eastern riches we are in an ideological war against Arab self-determinism. Of course, we can't say we are trying to smash the very word we hold sacrosanct (Freedom) because that would make us the bad guys. So we cook up something suitably vague which can be applied to anything we choose - "Terror" .

One of the great assets of the American system is the Freedom of Information Act (a freedom which was hard fought for - by the people - and, discretely, is being eroded by successive administrations - but this is another debate).

The core Middle Eastern doctrine, which (apart from odd deviations by Carter and, ironically, Bush I!) the US has followed for years can be found without much effort.

Consider:



As I said, strip out the USSR and it's a straight fight against self-determinism for the greatest prize of natural resources the world has ever seen. Which essentially means a strong US presence (or the presence of US proxies) in the region stretching from Israel to Afghanistan until oil (and gas) no longer become profitable.



I'm fine Phil. Thanks for asking. Been very busy so whilst I lurk often I post little. Besides, there's often not much to say as others do so far more eloquently than I could ever hope to. Hope you are ok. Drop me a PM some time and we can chat.

P.S. Thanks for the compliment Highway. I used to blog but it kind of became a headless monster so I quit.

Geoff my post was specifically about Afghanistan (in response to your post on same) and whether the US Government and Military establishment are benefiting from the war.

My problem with your line of argument is that I don't see the US Military rolling in dough....in fact overall defense spending is being decreased (witness the recent axing of the "newest bestest fighter). Where is the quid pro quo?

And the Pentagon is very aware that having troops "occupy" both Afghanistan and Iraq makes said troops unavailable for any other events that come up.

Suicides are way up in the US Forces. The US Public is moving to a clear majority who want us out of both countries. And US politicians are feeling the heat.

Now to your point, I'm well aware that private contractors are still making bank in Iraq and (I'm sure) Afghanistan. But I'd question how much power they have to control policy on this scale.

No. I'm afraid the truth is, the prior Administration fell victim to a siege mentality and neo-com philosophy (and maybe add some good old desire for revenge by George W) and now Obama is stuck in two quagmires. He's doing his best to get out of Iraq, but is doubling down on the second.

Have you read Assassins' Gate by George Packer? It does a great job of analyzing the ideological underpinnings of the Neo-Com movement and the Iraq war.
post #121 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
Suicides are way up in the US Forces.
So are divorces. Separation of this type and length of time are hard on military families, and individuals.
post #122 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
Geoff my post was specifically about Afghanistan (in response to your post on same) and whether the US Government and Military establishment are benefiting from the war.

My problem with your line of argument is that I don't see the US Military rolling in dough....in fact overall defense spending is being decreased (witness the recent axing of the "newest bestest fighter). Where is the quid pro quo?
I'm not sure I understand you entirely. There is no facility for the US government and/or the military to profit out of war. That's not how things work. IIRC, Paul Wolfowitz tried to use Iraqi oil revenues seized during and after the invasion to part fund the restoration of Baghdad. But this plan became untenable when it was discovered that Saddam had rendered many of the major Iraqi oil fields inoperable and diverted the bulk of liquidity to his personal fortune (deposited overseas).

Once the Iraqi oil fields were secured they were handed over to various oil corporations and it is they who will reap the reward. Contracts for the restoration of Iraq were drawn up soon after the invasion. The financial burden falls squarely on the shoulders of US taxpayers who will give up their hard-earned cash to corporations such as Haliburton, one of whose major shareholders is none other than - Dick Cheney. You see how this swindle works?

The US military's budget is big enough as things stand not to need any further revenue streams. As I stated earlier, under Obama it receives more money in relative terms than it did during the Cold War (sheer lunacy!). Given that the current US debt is $13,367,319,071,505.18 and rising ($43,261.70 per person), of which half can be attributed to military spending, I'm not surprised cuts are being made. And not before time!

Quote:
Now to your point, I'm well aware that private contractors are still making bank in Iraq and (I'm sure) Afghanistan. But I'd question how much power they have to control policy on this scale.
I'm not sure what more evidence you need. Do you believe that the US handed over the Iraqi oil fields - investment free - and multi-billion dollar contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq to various corporate concerns (all of which have ties to the Bush administration) out of the goodness of its heart?

The US has a lengthy history of corporate interference and influence at the highest level. Indeed, it wasn't all that long ago when the ENTIRE foreign policy department was on the payroll of the Rockerfeller Corporation. I mean, that's a total subversion of all democratic principles.

Quote:
No. I'm afraid the truth is, the prior Administration fell victim to a siege mentality and neo-com philosophy (and maybe add some good old desire for revenge by George W) and now Obama is stuck in two quagmires. He's doing his best to get out of Iraq, but is doubling down on the second.
Again, I'm not sure I understand you. The Neo-CON philosophy - preached by the ilk of William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz & Daniel Pearle (not Donald Rumsfeld, who is more of a traditional conservative) - first came to prominence under Ronald Reagan (in Afghanistan), was ostracised under Bush I, and resurfaced with Bush II. It's ancestry can be traced back to the political scientist Leo Strauss, who believed in the need to recreate the myth of America as a unique nation whose destiny was to battle against evil. The United States would not only, according to Strauss, be able to bring good to the world, but would be able to overcome the fundamental weaknesses of American society, a society that has been suffering, almost rotting, in his language, from relativism, liberalism, lack of self-confidence and lack of belief in itself. Kristol's father, Irving, studied under Strauss. Wolfowitz and many of his cohorts are - somewhat ironically - former socialists who became disenfranchised with the Left (a bit like Christopher Hitchens).

The Neo-Cons wielded enormous power under Bush (and Reagan). But only as facilitators to corporate interest. How could they ever exert authority beyond such aims? If their man doesn't get elected they are out of power. And they can be hired and fired at the drop of a hat. The first Bush hated the sight of them. And GWB pretty much ousted them in his second term.

The real power - the ONLY power - is Corporate Power. Where would Obama be without corporate power? Nowhere. Obama was elected because the corporations liked him more than McCain. Consider the massive injection of corporate finances to Obama's coffers in the last few weeks of his campaign.

Consider the scandalous January Supreme Court ruling which "strikes at the heart of democracy" and has effectively "paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding" (NY Times).

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Have you read Assassins' Gate by George Packer? It does a great job of analyzing the ideological underpinnings of the Neo-Com movement and the Iraq war.
I've read Assassins' Gate. I agree with parts of it, but Packer misrepresents the anti-war movement entirely.
post #123 of 212
Geoff thanks for the thoughtful reply.

I think fundamentally we disagree on how powerful Corporate interests really are. You seem to feel they are unstoppable and always get their way.

I've worked in Corporate America enough to be highly suspicious of such a belief.

And I believe that Politics, Ideology and Religion are all much more powerful influences in geopolitics.


You see Corporations taking advantage of specific situations like the Iraq war and conclude that those Corporations must therefore have started that war. I see opportunists who latch onto a situation created by very different entities.

Sure the Neo-Cons were dependent on the President. But George W listened to them, brought them into his Administration, gave them power (which was withdrawn in term 2 as you point out). But they provided an important rationale for the war. And on the very very slim probability that we'd actually pulled out of Iraq quickly, leaving a puppet government in place, don't you think they'd have more credibility, and the US would be in some other country (most likely Iran)? That is an example of a specifically Ideological, and political form of power, vs. raw self interest by a Corporation.

And the Big Oil Corporations don't have every thing their own way. The Iraqi government is proving to be pretty shrewd in their dealings with the oil companies: Please see these two BusinessWeek articles: ONE and TWO
post #124 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
Geoff thanks for the thoughtful reply.

I think fundamentally we disagree on how powerful Corporate interests really are. You seem to feel they are unstoppable and always get their way.

I've worked in Corporate America enough to be highly suspicious of such a belief.

And I believe that Politics, Ideology and Religion are all much more powerful influences in geopolitics.
I didn't say that corporations have all their way all of the time. But they are, by a considerable margin, the driving force in American politics (and increasingly so in others). I don't expect you to take my word for it - not least because there is an overwhelming amount of research compiled on the influence of corporations over American politics (by renowned experts such as Thomas Ferguson of the University of Massachusetts) which does away with the last vestiges of doubt.

Global corporations subvert state democracy on a daily basis. The Federal government is a bigger challenge. It does have - limited - facilities to curtail the power of corporations. Which is why they spend nearly a third of all income on propaganda - some of which is carefully designed to instil dissatisfaction within the electorate. Republican or Democrat - it matters little. The aim is to weaken government, thus making it an easier target for corporations to undermine.

They call this the "mood of anti-politics" and there are innumerable ways of achieving such. So, not too long ago, Newt Gingrich was pushing to maintain the national deficit providing (of course) that government subsidies were pouring into his interests (big defence contractors). The same Gingrich who is "a steadfast supporter of free market principles".

Elections have become little more than moments in time when groups of investors (traditional, hi-tech, banking, legal, defence etc.) coalesce to exercise control over the state. Which is why 90% of presidential victors outspent their rival.

Obama is the perfect example. Prior to 2006 he was operating pretty much in the periphery of politics. Not unknown, but certainly not high-profile. Then, in 2007, his campaign finances experience an enormous spike. Suddenly he's running just about dead level with Hilary Clinton. This is astonishing given that Clinton had moved in high political circles for the best part of a decade. Even more interesting were Obama's benefactors - the big financial institutions. The very same financial institutions that were bailed out in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage debacle, whose executives all received record bonus payments in 2009 (despite the fact that they were responsible for the mess!). And the huge movement of corporate capital to Obama's campaign fund a fortnight before the election? You don't need a dose of cynicism to realise that it was linked to Obama's gutting of the derivatives bill. And you'd be a fool and/or a Communist to argue that Obama's near total unwillingness to enforce any semblance of banking regulation following sub-prime is a direct result of his close ties to the banking sector.

And it's not just Obama. Consider some of the people around him like Ron Emmanuel (Chief of Staff) - strong supporter of de-regulated hedge funds. Former investment banker. Robert Rubin & Larry Summers - Clinton's treasury secretaries who initially laid down the legislation that sub-prime took advantage of. Dean Baker (one of the very few economists who saw sub-prime coming) said that "selecting them was like selecting Osama Bin Laden to lead the War on Terror".

The bailout itself was a total subversion of democracy. There were no alternative approaches thought of or discussed in Congress - apart from the one proposed by Goldman Sachs - who a) caused the crisis and b) spent part of the remedy on record bonuses for staff!

Ideology - that word has lost much of its meaning and weight today. We are all meant to pursue the Capitalist-Free Market dream. But don't expect trans-nationals to follow suit because they are only interested in Corporate Socialism through price-fixing, state-subsidies, public bailouts and various other protectionist measures. It's the same story with the notion that the Capitalist ideology creates an "every man for himself" society. But this is only the case for you and me. Corporations are forever affirming Adam Smith's theory that when two businesses are seen together the customer can expect to be swindled.

Communism is almost dead. Billions of dollars of propaganda have rendered "Socialism" (along with "Union") a dirty word. It used to be that a Republican advocated small government, but GWB presided over a Leviathan state. The meaning of "Liberal" changes daily. When I say to friends that Nixon was the last Liberal president they look at me like I'm crazy. In Britain - under Blair - the traditionally socialist Labour party became "New Labour" a.k.a. Conservative. Perhaps we should pin the blame on post-modernism, or straight out Machiavellianism - whatever the case - the lines of Ideology have become hopelessly blurred.

Religion is certainly a powerful influence (especially in the East), but the power of the Christian lobby is dwarfed by that of business. Although it is interesting to note that recently in the US we have witnessed a kind of unholy union of the worst aspects of business (corruption, anti-competitive practices etc.) with the worst attributes of the church (Pat Robertson, Falwell etc.)

Just a quick (but important) point. When I talk of malign corporate power and influence I don't mean the kind of conspiracy theorist, Illuminatiesque stuff - with secret societies, cat-stroking villains, hotlines to the White House etc. that some people portray. Corporations do occasionally behave in abominable ways that wouldn't seem out of place in an Alien movie, X-Files episode or Bond flick.

No, the threat posed by corporations isn't primarily in the misdeeds of its employees, executives etc. The threat is an emergent function of the corporate ideology. The legal framework of a corporation compels executives to think only of profit. The chairman who chooses to forgo profit for reasons that don't amount to similar or greater profit can be ousted and/or arrested. Couple this with the outrageous decision by US lawmakers to grant corporations the same rights as human beings (based on the dubious philosophies of Kant and Hegel) and you have devised a psychopathic machine with an insatiable appetite for money that views human beings only as a resource to be exploited - regardless of the consequences.

And given the psychopathic nature of this machine it should could as no surprise that it begets psychopathic people and methods.

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Sure the Neo-Cons were dependent on the President. But George W listened to them, brought them into his Administration, gave them power (which was withdrawn in term 2 as you point out). But they provided an important rationale for the war. And on the very very slim probability that we'd actually pulled out of Iraq quickly, leaving a puppet government in place, don't you think they'd have more credibility, and the US would be in some other country (most likely Iran)? That is an example of a specifically Ideological, and political form of power, vs. raw self interest by a Corporation.
I agree that there were powerful ideological forces at work. But I see them as a means rather than an end. Take oil out of the equation and Iraq would find itself off the foreign policy agenda. Yes, Wolfowitz and company wielded tremendous power, but that power was always subordinate to corporate interests.

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And the Big Oil Corporations don't have every thing their own way. The Iraqi government is proving to be pretty shrewd in their dealings with the oil companies: Please see these two BusinessWeek articles: ONE and TWO
The first link is busted. As for the Iraqi government - the US penned legislature soon after the invasion which gave it the facility to exert control over oil exports. No point spending billions of dollars on invading a country (not to mention the deaths of many American soldiers) if you can't have what you came for I suppose.
post #125 of 212
God I could spend all night answering this..but I'll pick out a few salient points:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
I didn't say that corporations have all their way all of the time. But they are, by a considerable margin, the driving force in American politics (and increasingly so in others). I don't expect you to take my word for it - not least because there is an overwhelming amount of research compiled on the influence of corporations over American politics (by renowned experts such as Thomas Ferguson of the University of Massachusetts) which does away with the last vestiges of doubt.
See you state these things like you received them writ on a stone tablet, but in fact there is a large amount of room for opinion.

Consider this: recorded Human Civilization has existed for 5,000-6,000 years. During that time Human affairs where governed by Religion, Politics and brute military force.

The modern Corporation has existed 400 or so years (if you date from 1602 with the creation of the Dutch East India Company. And I'm being generous here: most of the modern corporations you are on about really came about after the Sherman Act in the 19th century. )

And you are saying that in a few hundred years the Corporations have taken over "almost completely" since you admit they don't always get their way.

The bulk of the 20th century was a struggle between Democratic/Capitalist and Authoritarian states vs. Communist states...Communism being a specifically political (and maybe even religious ) form of Ideology. Hard as it is to remember (even for those of use who grew up in the tail end of the Cold War) it was not a foregone conclusion that Communism would fail, or even that it should fail.

We get so caught up in the controversies of the moment we lose perspective and thing the past is irrelevant. It is not .



Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
Obama is the perfect example. Prior to 2006 he was operating pretty much in the periphery of politics. Not unknown, but certainly not high-profile. Then, in 2007, his campaign finances experience an enormous spike.
That is not true. Obama was grabbing headlines and National attention very early on in his career. When he won the US Senate seat in 2004 it was a big big deal, and he was talked about as a future candidate for President when he delivered the Keynote at the Democratic Convention also in 2004


Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
The bailout itself was a total subversion of democracy. There were no alternative approaches thought of or discussed in Congress - apart from the one proposed by Goldman Sachs - who a) caused the crisis and b) spent part of the remedy on record bonuses for staff!
Actually that decision was quite controversial and many Conservative pundits and Congressmen argued that there should be no bailouts whatsoever (and for the record I agree with that position).

And don't forget that Obama...an elected official...forced the CEO of GM to resign! (and with no law to tell him he could I might add).

I agree with you that Goldman has too much influence in this Administration. I do find it interesting that Obama has no one in his Cabinet or Government with CEO experience at a major Corporation...a fact that many in the press and business world take him to task for. So we're really talking about a subset of one specific type of business...Investment Banking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post


Religion is certainly a powerful influence (especially in the East), but the power of the Christian lobby is dwarfed by that of business. Although it is interesting to note that recently in the US we have witnessed a kind of unholy union of the worst aspects of business (corruption, anti-competitive practices etc.) with the worst attributes of the church (Pat Robertson, Falwell etc.)
Yes the clownish Evangelical Right in the US has done a great job (through their own self promotion as well as via media circus mongering) in presenting themselves as "the American Religion".

But the US has every current religion under the sun being practiced as well as a few throw backs (the odd temple to Astarte ) and newly invented one. The Mormans fielded a Presidential candidate in 2008 (and may even get one nominated in 2012) and are very powerful forces in California and of course Utah.
And the bulk of the World's population is now some form of Islam, and they show every sign of wanting their religious beliefs to inform if not determine the direction their societies take (and no I'm not referring to the extremists who are nutters)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
Just a quick (but important) point. When I talk of malign corporate power and influence I don't mean the kind of conspiracy theorist, Illuminatiesque stuff - with secret societies, cat-stroking villains, hotlines to the White House etc. that some people portray. Corporations do occasionally behave in abominable ways that wouldn't seem out of place in an Alien movie, X-Files episode or Bond flick.
I'm very happy to read that because quite frankly that is the tone I get from your posts


Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
No, the threat posed by corporations isn't primarily in the misdeeds of its employees, executives etc. The threat is an emergent function of the corporate ideology. The legal framework of a corporation compels executives to think only of profit. The chairman who chooses to forgo profit for reasons that don't amount to similar or greater profit can be ousted and/or arrested.
Well on that point I agree but "who watches the watchmen?". Beginning in the mid 1970's there was an important school of thought in Academia that said that in fact a Corporation has one and only one responsibility and that was to maximize shareholder value. Legions of MBAs were inculcated with this, dare I say it? Ideology, and went out into the world and faithfully executed it. And only now is that being questioned....I'll dig up some links and PM you since I think we're getting a bit off topic
post #126 of 212
And just to add to my last point...the struggle now to "Determine history" in regards to the Crash is now between those who believe the Democratic party forced the Banks to issue mortgages in a misguided belief that "home ownership= American Way", thus leading to millions of bad loans made to people who could not pay

Vs.

Those who believe that rapacious corporations bribed Congress and the Bushies to deregulate and allow for Shit loans to be made...thus creating a vast house of cards that came crashing down in 2007-2008.

And Afghanistan: we seem to feel that we must be there for...what? To make sure the Taliban don't come back and take over? To get Osama Bin Laden? To Build a nation? (That last seems to be off the table)

I see a straight out re-run of Vietnam: We leave having made a "peace with honour" only to see the country go to shit after we leave.

Though this horrible disaster in Pakistan really throws a spanner in the work...we could see a really ugly regime take over there, abetted by or even run by Taliban type extremists.
post #127 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
And just to add to my last point...the struggle now to "Determine history" in regards to the Crash is now between those who believe the Democratic party forced the Banks to issue mortgages in a misguided belief that "home ownership= American Way", thus leading to millions of bad loans made to people who could not pay

Vs.

Those who believe that rapacious corporations bribed Congress and the Bushies to deregulate and allow for Shit loans to be made...thus creating a vast house of cards that came crashing down in 2007-2008.
And the likely (and Occam's Razor-friendly) answer is both. The desire by partisans to "blame" the other party for the current predicament is only going to mask the issues.
post #128 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
The bulk of the 20th century was a struggle between Democratic/Capitalist and Authoritarian states vs. Communist states...Communism being a specifically political (and maybe even religious ) form of Ideology. Hard as it is to remember (even for those of use who grew up in the tail end of the Cold War) it was not a foregone conclusion that Communism would fail, or even that it should fail.
“Communism” today is a meaningless term. Following the Bolshevik revolution, Lenin’s ascension to power in Russia and the creation of the Communist Party it was a concrete definition. But there’s a reasonable theory that argues it died soon after Stalin assumed control and instituted a raft of legislative reforms which were incompatible with the initial Communist ideology. Without going too much into specifics Communism under Lenin was considerably influenced by the Marxist theories of Leon Trotsky. Stalin held a personal grudge against Trotsky (mainly because of his charisma and brilliant oratory) and when he gained control of the party he erased his influence, threw him into exile and – later – had him assassinated (a murder of considerable showmanship involving an ice-pick to the head).

Since the death of Lenin “Communism” (as well as “Communist”) has been used – quite mischievously – as a catch-all term with implicit negative connotations for pretty much anything ranging from popular workers’ movements, unionized labour, dissident organisations, co-operatives etc.

I think I can speak for most people in celebrating the end of the despotism, purges etc. of Stalin and his successors. Although the question does become a touch more complicated when you consider some of Stalin’s grass-roots policies on ... say education. If it’s a choice between the corporatized democracy of today and being labelled a member of the bourgeoisie and taking a bullet to the back of the head then there’s no debate. But if you were to ask me to choose between the right to free education and $60,000 worth of debt wrapped around my neck so that I can enrol at university then it’s a different story. I have a friend whose family left the Soviet Union forty years ago and it was intriguing to learn that whilst the overwhelming majority of people they knew hated the tyranny of the state opinion was divided on preference of domestic social policies over those that exist in the West.

As for whether the collapse of Communism was a foregone conclusion – I don’t think anyone with any real knowledge of the Soviet Union doubted its impending demise. Given the proliferation of nukes within NATO it couldn’t hope to launch any kind of imperialistic adventure. Indeed, there is a wealth of research proving that Stalin was quite happy within his own domain. Democracy frightened him and he was worried that expansion into Western Europe (and exposure to Western culture) would sow the seeds of his own destruction.

The CIA and other Western intelligence agencies knew from very early on that the Soviet economic model was rotting from within. Melvin Goodman - the former Head of Office of Soviet Affairs CIA – was interviewed by Adam Curtis a few years ago and he said that for decades he and his predecessors - whilst acknowledging the danger posed by the Soviet nuclear arsenal – were often left exasperated by successive administrations “hyping up” the Soviet menace for political and corporate (defence contractors being awarded multi-billion dollar state-subsidized contracts to build SDI orbital laser platforms which anyone with a basic knowledge of refraction would know could not work) gain. Reagan and the Neo-Cons being the worst of the lot.

Quote:
That is not true. Obama was grabbing headlines and National attention very early on in his career. When he won the US Senate seat in 2004 it was a big big deal, and he was talked about as a future candidate for President when he delivered the Keynote at the Democratic Convention also in 2004
You’re absolutely right. I think the point of contention is my definition of “periphery”.

Quote:
Actually that decision was quite controversial and many Conservative pundits and Congressmen argued that there should be no bailouts whatsoever (and for the record I agree with that position).
I remember the debate well. The bailout was initially knocked back and then pushed through behind closed doors – which is pretty outrageous. It’s interesting to note that a recent study showed that there have been 42 banking crises (major and minor) in the last 37 years and subsequent bailouts have failed to work pretty consistently. The problem now is that the banks now know that they can RELY on these bailouts being pushed through and take risks accordingly. In effect we're talking about a simple re-distribution of wealth with money being siphoned into the pockets of the top 5%.

Rubin and Summers were the architects of legislature which permitted (and continues to permit) people with dubious credit history to walk into a showroom to buy a $40,000 SUV and come out with $20,000 cash in their pockets after signing for a $60,000 loan. Under normal circumstances this would be insane, but the legislation permits the creditor to sell this (toxic) debt off. Who cares if it goes bad because this is an externality and therefore not the creditors problem.

And with millions of these toxic debts swimming around the pool the risk of catastrophic systemic breakdown skyrockets. But systemic risk is an externality – which must be ignored.

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And don't forget that Obama...an elected official...forced the CEO of GM to resign! (and with no law to tell him he could I might add).
Obama attempted to get tough when he started scolding the greedy bankers and even promised some measures to constrain the big financial institutions.

But he soon changed his mind when the New York Times ran a front page article on a massive shift in funding if he persisted with his rhetoric. Within days he informed the business press that bankers are “fine guys”. JP Morgan and Goldman were singled out for emphatic support – “I, like most Americans, don’t begrudge people’s success or wealth [such as massive bonus paid for by taxpayers]”. Phooey!
post #129 of 212
Sorry, I don't have any cute or flippant remarks for this one...

Soldiers 'set out to kill civilians'

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FIVE US soldiers deliberately killed Afghan civilians with grenades before photographing the corpses and keeping body parts as trophies, say Pentagon investigators.

A 25-year-old sergeant, Calvin Gibbs, was the alleged ringleader, reportedly joking about how easy it would be to ''toss a grenade at someone and kill them'', US Army charge sheets have revealed.

The five soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men and forming a ''kill team''. After blowing up and shooting the Afghans, the soldiers allegedly took photos of the bodies before souveniring fingers, leg bones and a skull, later discovered among the soldiers' possessions.

Another seven soldiers face charges of helping to cover up the killings and over the bashing of a soldier who had blown the whistle on the rogue unit by reporting other abuses including the regular smoking of hashish stolen from civilians.

The troops belonged to a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province, where the killings occurred earlier this year.

The brigade, which has had dozens of combat deaths during its deployment, was operating within a Taliban stronghold where US command has been anxious to win the hearts and minds of the locals.

News of the killings emerged in May when the army investigated the bashing of a soldier who had reported the drug use to his superiors.

But the army charge documents released on Wednesday provide more details about the case.

Gibbs had threatened to kill the soldier if he continued with his complaints, further threatening him by showing him fingers cut from an Afghan corpse. The five soldiers have been detained since June at an army facility near Seattle, Washington.

CBS News on Wednesday described those involved in the killings as belonging to ''the platoon from hell'', equating the alleged crimes to the abuses by US troops at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad in 2004 during the occupation of Iraq.

Michael O'Hanlon, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, told the network: ''This is the kind of thing that hurts us enormously. It will have a disproportionate effect, just like Abu Ghraib did. Just like any such incident. Just like the Koran burning would in Florida.''
post #130 of 212
But it's a crackpot redneck preacher and his dopey stunt that's supposed to stir dangerous animosity against our troops?
post #131 of 212
I'm dreading certain..."people" trying to spin this in any positive way whatsoever. I can just hear them now, chastising and calling out the brave soldier who came forward about just what these monsters were doing.
post #132 of 212
I was debating whether to give this its own thread or not, but since it's come about thanks to US supporting the Pakistani military pushing back Taliban insurgents it's pretty much linked to America's longest running war...

'Horrifying' Swat Valley executions worry US

Quote:
AN INTERNET video showing men in Pakistani military uniforms executing six young men in civilian clothes has heightened concerns about unlawful killings by Pakistani soldiers supported by the United States.

The 5½-minute video, which shows the killing of the men - some whom appear to be teenagers, blindfolded, with their hands bound behind their backs - has been condemned as a fake by the Pakistani military.

But US officials, who did not want to be identified, said it appeared to be credible.

After viewing the graphic video on Wednesday, one Obama administration official said: ''There are things you can fake, and things you can't fake. You can't fake this.''

CIA director Leon Panetta, who is in Islamabad on a previously scheduled visit, is expected to raise the subject of the video with the chief of the Pakistani Army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the head of the Pakistani spy agency, General Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

The video, posted on the Facebook page of a group that calls itself the Pashtuns International Association, appears to have been taken in the Swat Valley, where the Pakistani military opened a campaign last year to push back Taliban insurgents. The effort was widely praised by US officials and financed in large part by the United States.

US law requires that financing be cut off for units of foreign militaries that are found to have committed gross violations of human rights.

Never has that law been applied to so strategic a partner as Pakistan, whose military has received more than $US10 billion ($A10.3 billion) in US support since 2001.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley called the images ''horrifying''. He said the US ambassador, Anne Patterson, had raised the issue with the Pakistani government and was awaiting a response.

The spokesman for the Pakistani Army, Major-General Athar Abbas, dismissed the video as part of a propaganda campaign to defame the Pakistani Army.

''No Pakistan Army soldier or officer has been involved in activity of this sort,'' he said.

The video, apparently taken surreptitiously with a mobile phone, shows six young men being lined up near an abandoned building. As the soldiers prepare to shoot, one soldier asks the commander: ''One by one, or together?'' He replies, ''Together''.

A burst of gunfire erupts. The young men crumple to the ground. Some, still alive and wounded, groan. Then a soldier approaches the heap of bodies and fires rounds into each man at short range.

The men doing the shooting appear to be using G-3 rifles, standard issue for the Pakistani Army and rarely used by insurgents, according to several Pakistanis who watched the video.

The soldiers also speak Urdu and use the word ''sahib'' when addressing their commander, a polite form for Mr, which is uncommon among the Taliban.

Pentagon officials, already frustrated at Pakistan's refusal to take on Taliban militants who cross into Afghanistan to fight US forces, fear that raising the question of human rights will sour the relationship.

''What if the Pakistanis walk away - is there any option?'' was a question uppermost at the Pentagon, according to a senior administration official who was involved in the debate.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, raised reports of extra-judicial killings with General Kayani in meetings this year, an official said. ''There is a particular set of incidents that have been investigated with great accuracy, and, we believe, lead to a pattern,'' the official said.

Pakistan's Human Rights Commission said in June that 282 extra-judicial killings by the army had taken place in the Swat region in the past year.

post #133 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
I agree that there were powerful ideological forces at work. But I see them as a means rather than an end. Take oil out of the equation and Iraq would find itself off the foreign policy agenda. Yes, Wolfowitz and company wielded tremendous power, but that power was always subordinate to corporate interests.

The first link is busted. As for the Iraqi government - the US penned legislature soon after the invasion which gave it the facility to exert control over oil exports. No point spending billions of dollars on invading a country (not to mention the deaths of many American soldiers) if you can't have what you came for I suppose.
The Iraqi government has changed - quite a few times - since the invasion. I seriously doubt they would let the US control the exports of their most vital asset.

In fact, the first US company to win an Iraq oil contract - the first in 35 years - was Exxonmobile in the Nov 2009. Before that it was the French and the Russians. Who held all the contracts. Now it is mostly NON-US companies:

http://www.globalexchange.org/campai...news/6405.html

"BP and CNPC finalized the first new oil contract issued by Baghdad for the largest oil field in the country, the 17 billion barrel Rumaila field.
ExxonMobil, with junior partner Royal Dutch Shell, won a bidding war against Russia's Lukoil and junior partner ConocoPhillips for the 8.7 billion barrel West Qurna Phase 1 project.
Italy's Eni SpA, with California's Occidental Petroleum and the Korea Gas Corp., was awarded Iraq's Zubair oil field with estimated reserves of 4.4 billion barrels.
Japan's Nippon Corp., leading a consortium of Japanese companies including Inpex Corp. and JGC Corp., is at an advanced stage in talks to win the Nassiriyah oil field.
Shell, with partners CNPC and the Turkish Petroleum Corp., is also in discussions for the giant Kirkuk oil field, although negotiations have been delayed until after Iraq's January elections.
"

It's ridiculous that the otherwise intelligent people demonise the US ALL the time.
post #134 of 212
I can't imagine why anyone would think the conquest of Iraq was about anything other than oil, considering the conquering army ignored alleged weapons sites in order to secure the Oil Ministry building, their leader made public statements imploring the indiginous population not to blow up their oil fields, and the conquering nation tried to create laws entitling its corporations and those of its allies to Iraq's oil. The puppet the US wanted to install gave speeches written by the conquering nation's leader's speechwriters, for the sake of pete. These are not subtle clues.

That it didn't happen the way the conquering nation wanted it to happen does not mean the conquering nation didn't want it to happen, it just means they failed.
post #135 of 212
And the conspiracy theories are back. It was not a conquest. That's ridiculous.

Going straight to the Oil ministry certainly didn't look good but it didn't define the entire enterprise. And it was GOOD ADVICE to not blow up the oil fields considering they are basically Iraq's only asset. It was common sense.

Which puppet are you talking about, by the way? There has been more than one election since the war and millions DID vote. It was far from perfect and the government STILL hasn't sorted itself out but the elections did happen.

Look, I agree that they completely failed to plan the aftermath of the Iraq war. And that Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld and the rest were pigheaded, arrogant and only believed what they wanted to believe.

But lets drop the retarded conspiracy theories.
post #136 of 212
Exactly guys. 'Conspiracy theories'. Pfft.

Its not like there was an Energy Task Force started in the second week of the Bush Administration that Dick Cheney was made head of - and its not like almost all the activities of that task force were kept secret to such a degree that even Freedom of Information requests and law suits from both Judicial Watch and Sierra Club for their records were unsuccessful in piercing that veil of secrecy - and it's not like when Judicial Watch was finally able to pierce part of that veil under the FOIA and get access to parts of their records they contained a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects and 'Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.' dated all the way back to March 2001.

No no the invasion was about non existent weapons, or democracy, or freedom, or Islamic terrorism, or something.

Jesus, put the tinfoil hats away guys. Sheesh.
post #137 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluelouboyle View Post
And the conspiracy theories are back. It was not a conquest. That's ridiculous.
Of course it was a conquest. Don't deny it. To deny it is ridiculous.

Going straight to the Oil ministry certainly didn't look good but it didn't define the entire enterprise.[/Quote]

So you can't say why they went directly to the oil ministry whilst ignoring these alleged weapons depots, but you're sure it's not because of oil. You just know it.

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And it was GOOD ADVICE to not blow up the oil fields considering they are basically Iraq's only asset. It was common sense.
Does the US often tell its targets not to blow up any assets the US might want before they invade? Sorry, but using CAPITAL LETTERS does not an argument make.

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Which puppet are you talking about, by the way?
Chalabi, the failure.

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There has been more than one election since the war and millions DID vote. It was far from perfect and the government STILL hasn't sorted itself out but the elections did happen.
Who cares? Does this have something to do with why the US invaded Iraq and tried to install a puppet?

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But lets drop the retarded conspiracy theories.
Retarded? Go fuck yourself. And take your worthless non-argument with you. You haven't persuaded me that taking over the oil ministry building doesn't betray an interest in Iraq's resources, you've just declared it to be so and called me names.
post #138 of 212
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Originally Posted by The Rain Dog View Post
Exactly guys. 'Conspiracy theories'. Pfft.

Its not like there was an Energy Task Force started in the second week of the Bush Administration that Dick Cheney was made head of - and its not like almost all the activities of that task force were kept secret to such a degree that even Freedom of Information requests and law suits from both Judicial Watch and Sierra Club for their records were unsuccessful in piercing that veil of secrecy - and it's not like when Judicial Watch was finally able to pierce part of that veil under the FOIA and get access to parts of their records they contained a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects and 'Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.' dated all the way back to March 2001.

No no the invasion was about non existent weapons, or democracy, or freedom, or Islamic terrorism, or something.

Jesus, put the tinfoil hats away guys. Sheesh.
So are the Iraqi oilfields exclusively managed by the US army or by US companies? No, as I mentioned earlier it's mainly non-US/UK companies. The French are there in droves and they opposed the war.

Saddam wanted to sell the oil to everybody. Including the US. So if the US was only interested in the oil, and not given a shit if they were buying it from a sadistic lunatic then they would have just purchased it.

There may have been "map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals". You don't provide a source but I believe you, but so what? Why is this bad? The whole world runs on oil. Australians drive cars, don't they? How did the food you bought yesterday get to the supermaket?

I'm not saying the US energy needs is irrelevant to the US foreign policy. Of course it is. But there is no evidence to show that the US actually stole Iraqi oil.

Raindog, from all the books (esp Bob Woodwards's books)and newspapers and first hand accounts from a good friend of mine who worked under Condaleeza - who was often critical of the administration - Bush et al were genuinely worried about WMD and Islamic Terrorism. Just try to imagine if 9/11 happened on your watch.

I think the difference is you think Bush / Cheney etc were evil whereas I just think they were incompetent.
post #139 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluelouboyle View Post
And the conspiracy theories are back. It was not a conquest. That's ridiculous.

Going straight to the Oil ministry certainly didn't look good but it didn't define the entire enterprise. And it was GOOD ADVICE to not blow up the oil fields considering they are basically Iraq's only asset. It was common sense.

Which puppet are you talking about, by the way? There has been more than one election since the war and millions DID vote. It was far from perfect and the government STILL hasn't sorted itself out but the elections did happen.

Look, I agree that they completely failed to plan the aftermath of the Iraq war. And that Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld and the rest were pigheaded, arrogant and only believed what they wanted to believe.

But lets drop the retarded conspiracy theories.
... and concentrate on the facts:

Iraq has a constitution. Actually, it has two. One written by Iraqis - which has been quietly forgotten about. The other was written by Paul Bremer prior to the "creation" of the Iraqi Transitional and Interim governments.

There are over a hundred articles written into it but we need concentrate on only a handful.

1.Flat taxation (Executive Order 37). The maximum marginal income tax rate of 15% for corporations and individuals (one of the lowest in the world). There is also a sub-clause which states that corporations involved with re-construction pay ZERO tax.

So, major corporations can enter Iraq, strip it of all its assets and pay a maximum tax of 15%. That alone is fucking outrageous. But not anywhere close to the ilk of Halliburton (one of the most corrupt corporations in the world) paying nothing. I should point out that all this was penned whilst Dick Cheney was technically still on the payroll of Halliburton (part of the deal which led to him standing down included share bonuses to be paid over a three-year period).

Of course, flat taxation is the worst form of tax collection for the poor because it impacts them the most. 15% of $100 is a lot of money to those who have the least whereas 15% of millions (or billions) is nothing more than short-term discomfort.

2.The sale of Iraq’s 200 state-owned companies (including oil) and the laying off of over 500,000 Iraqi civil servants – the entire infrastructure. Which means ALL of the country’s assets are in the hands of foreign (mainly US) trans-nationals whilst only the merest trickle of the profits are returned to the Iraqi economy.

3.The complete transformation of the Iraqi economy into a "free market" capitalist system (Order 39), which it has NEVER been before (not to mention a clear violation of international law), in addition to the creation of an entirely new legal framework (written by a bank that donated $50,000 to George Bush’s campaign)

The world renowned Iraqi textile industry has been completely wiped out by a flood of cheap Chinese imports dumped into the market. American Tyson Chicken Farms did precisely the same thing to the poultry industry. I could list countless others and remember, all this was done MONTHS into the occupation.

4.Total immunity granted to US nationals who commit crimes in Iraq – including soldiers, mercenaries (some of whom have appalling records for violence)

5.Maintaining the law written by SADDAM which prevented not just the right to strike but the right to unionize. Moreover, Iraqis have NO legal right to hold a mass protest in a public area.

6.The creation of an Iraqi “Trade Bank” - headed by none other than JP Morgan Chase (which donated the biggest sum it has ever spent on a presidential candidate to Bush).

7.An unlimited number of banks may purchase up to 50% of ANY Iraqi bank. Which means Iraq's entire banking industry is now controlled by outside agencies. They get to pick who gets loans, over what duration and on what terms - ENORMOUS power.

8.Bremer's little democratic treat - Clause 26 – making it IMPOSSIBLE for the Iraqi government to change, amend or rescind anything contained in this “Constitution” without over 75% of the vote on the Iraqi National Assembly AND unanimity on the three-person Presidential Council.

Sounds harmless enough, until you realise that Iraq is split along sectarian lines making it enormously difficult to arrive at a 60% majority in the National Assembly. But even if they did get the mandate one of the representatives on the Presidential Council MUST be Kurdish. And the Kurds are effectively a US veto.

Some Democracy.
post #140 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluelouboyle View Post
So are the Iraqi oilfields exclusively managed by the US army or by US companies? No, as I mentioned earlier it's mainly non-US/UK companies. The French are there in droves and they opposed the war.
They didn't oppose UN Resolution 1441..

Which was all the US needed to invade (not that Bush was much bothered about the UN anyway).
post #141 of 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluelouboyle View Post
There may have been "map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals". You don't provide a source but I believe you, but so what? Why is this bad? The whole world runs on oil. Australians drive cars, don't they? How did the food you bought yesterday get to the supermaket?
That you can't tell right from wrong doesn't change the fact that evidence concerning the Bush Administration's interest in the lay of the land around Iraq's oil facilities has been presented to you.

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I'm not saying the US energy needs is irrelevant to the US foreign policy. Of course it is. But there is no evidence to show that the US actually stole Iraqi oil.
There is, but you either dismiss it as "retarded" conspiracy theory, or you agree with it and defend it ("so what? Why is this bad?").

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Raindog, from all the books (esp Bob Woodwards's books)and newspapers and first hand accounts from a good friend of mine who worked under Condaleeza - who was often critical of the administration - Bush et al were genuinely worried about WMD and Islamic Terrorism. Just try to imagine if 9/11 happened on your watch.
Next you'll be saying waterboarding isn't really torture because friends of yours on Cheney's staff say so.

Since Iraq wanted nothing to do with your Muslim enemies, holding them up as an excuse to attack Iraq is garbage, just like it was seven years ago. And considering the Bush Administration's reaction to finding out there were no weapons in Iraq (make a funny movie and then pretend the invasion was still justified even though the reasons given for invading in the first place were all false), I'd say the invasion had nothing whatsoever to do with Iraq's military capabilities.
post #142 of 212
Where is the evidence that the US government stole or continues to steal Iraqi oil? Maps of oil fields is not evidence of theft.

Seabass, waterboarding is definitely torture in my books. And evidently counterproductive as well as they often give false information.

I have ZERO friends who were on Cheney's staff. My friend is Coleen Graffy. She's a professor of international law -from Pepperdime - and I've known her for 16 years.

I certainly don't agree with everything she says. She was the person who said Guantánamo suicides were PR moves by Al Queda, which may have some truth to it IF they were actually suicides which is now in doubt:

http://www.globaldashboard.org/2010/...olleen-graffy/

But she is similar to a lot of Bush adminstration officials, well-meaning but more than a little pig-headed and often wrong. But not evil or out to steal Iraq's oil.
post #143 of 212
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Originally Posted by The Rain Dog View Post
Sorry, I don't have any cute or flippant remarks for this one...

Soldiers 'set out to kill civilians'
OMG, I wonder why I didn't see this anywhere on the telly.
post #144 of 212
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Originally Posted by Bluelouboyle View Post
But she is similar to a lot of Bush adminstration officials, well-meaning but more than a little pig-headed and often wrong. But not evil or out to steal Iraq's oil.
Yeah, Cheney et al would totally share their private financial reasons for war with one of Condi's staffers.
post #145 of 212
Cheney et al were already rich before the war. Let me get this straight. Are there still people around who believe Cheney and others pushed for war so hard because Halliburton's stock price would go up?
post #146 of 212
Because the first thing people do when they get rich is to stop caring about making more money.
post #147 of 212
They don't want to be poor but what you're suggesting is a ridiculously complicated, risky way to make money. And not even that certain to be successful. There are easier ways to play the stockmarket.
post #148 of 212
I don't think anyone's claiming that the sole reason for the Iraq war was oil. It's part of a larger collection of unpleasant motives - finishing daddy's/America's business, attacking an easy enemy in the wake of 9/11, keeping the populace onside to cover their asses in the wake of their spectacular failure to give a shit about terrorism pre-WTC. But oil played a sizeable role, and trying to wave it off with a "oh, you wacky conspiracy nuts!" is as chilling to discourse as those who tell people to quit whining about underhanded election tactics because nobody like whiners.
post #149 of 212
If there's a reason the US military ignored weapons depots to secure the oil ministry that doesn't have to do with oil, I'd like to hear it. I'd like to hear why it's ridiculous to regard such as evidence the US wanted Iraq's oil. The same goes for poring over maps of Iraq's oil fields and writing laws on Iraq's behalf securing oilfield rights for oneself. They didn't do it because they wanted to commandeer Iraq's resources, they did it in order to . . . what?
post #150 of 212
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Originally Posted by Bluelouboyle View Post
Where is the evidence that the US government stole or continues to steal Iraqi oil? Maps of oil fields is not evidence of theft.
The US isn't in the oil business. It doesn't want or need oil outside of that which it requires to operate and service state assets (public utilities, hospitals etc.). However, it does want to CONTROL Iraq's oil - like it controls pretty much all Middle Eastern reserves (Saudi Arabia might affect independence, but without US aid it would now be an outright Islamic theocracy). In Iraq Bush wanted the power to say which corporations (mainly US - but also foreign when expedient - which is why, in exchange for agreeing to UN Resolution 1441, the French were granted oil rights) get which oil fields.

That said, it was still theft. Iraqis didn't ASK the US to invade. When Saddam was toppled they weren't ASKED whether it would be ok to take their oil. The only reason they have less than 1% oil investment is because hundreds of thousands of people were prepared to risk being blown to pieces by suicide bombers defying the US and protesting illegally (thank you Paul Bremer) in the streets.

In truth Saddam was just a sideshow. The big fear in the US (and other nations) was the threat of Iraqi nationalism. Iraqis overthrowing Saddam (don't forget that Iran was mobilising guerilla actions against the regime at the time) exerting rights over their own oil and - heaven forbid! - spending the profits on themselves (like Chavez in Venezuela) rather than already fabulously wealthy Western oil execs.

So the US put its foot down and here we are.

Don't forget, all this is nothing new. Part of the reason Bush I stopped short of overthrowing Saddam was this very same fear - Iraqis controlling their own oil. And let's recall what was done to Iran when it had the temerity to nationalise its own oil reserves back in the 50s. One of the most reprehensible acts ever perpetrated in the name of "Freedom".

Let me say that I don't believe that Bush, Cheney or any of the others did this purely to cause injury to Iraqis. Like Nixon, Reagan, Wilson, Kennedy (who is a lot closer to Bush than most think) these guys are pathologically schizophrenic (a)moral relativists who REALLY DO think that what's in the West's interests benefits the world and sometimes "tough" choices need to be made - a bit like when Madeline Albright said the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children was "acceptable" if it brought an end to Saddam (which they didn't).

However, outside the Olympian heights of "Men of Best Quality" I think most people would consider such abominable.
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