Sunday, September 16, 2007

Responding to The Heretic: Clarifying my earlier points

Before reading this, read the response to my last post by following this link.

Yes, Saddam had chemical weapons, and yes we gave them to him to fight our arch enemy at the time, Iran. However Americans where decieved when they were asked to "imagine" a "mushroom cloud over an American city", to quote our very own President. Everyone knew that Saddam had chemical weapons. Almost no one would have denied that, even the French.

What everyone was at odds with was our President's assertion that Saddam had the capability to create nuclear weapons, that Saddam had even purchased yellowcake Uranium from Africa, and that he was planning to attack the west with his weapons. This was the primary rhetoric leading up to the invasion, and it turned out to be a farce.

I believe the rhetoric regarding Saddam and his ties with terrorism, was that he was "harboring" terrorists, which wasn't true outside of his own government's activities. Al Qaeda has only taken hold in Iraq since the invasion, and many of the insurgents, who were from Saddam's army, are using weapons we disregarded in our WMD search. The real WMD's in this war have become the convential weapons we left unguarded because our invasion force was insufficient in size to properly secure them and because their limited numbers were searching for Saddam's "nuclear" weapons.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Greenspan Says: Iraq War Really About Oil

In his soon-to-be published memoir, Alan Greenspan, head of the Federal Reserve for 18 years, has made a truly 'startling' claim: "the Iraq war is largely about oil." In an article that I just read on , it goes on to say the following:

"Britain and America have always insisted the war had nothing to do with oil. Bush said the aim was to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and end Saddam’s support for terrorism."

I've said this before and I'll say it again; it is more or less a fact that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Nada, zip, zero.

While vaguely true, Saddam's support for terrorism didn't extend far beyond what he was commanding his government to do. To the contrary, Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum. The terrorists we are fighting now have only moved into Iraq since the war started.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Withdrawing from Iraq: Part V

As I've started typing this less than 15 minutes after President Bush finished his speech on Iraq, I can't ignore that and assure you that I will address that following the 'long anticipated' conclusion of this series. : )

19. 'The United States should not object to the Iraqi government voiding oil-related contracts... so that they may be renegotiated or thrown open to fair bidding.' As it stands right now, Iraqi oil has been sold to America for a discounted price that many in Iraq believe to be unfair. These discounted costs have been estimated to have cost the Iraqi economy nearly $200 billion in revenues. Being that many, not just in Iraq but around the world believe that the U.S. invaded Iraq for it's cheap oil, whether it's true or not, this is a critical step. Because most of the costs would be shouldered by the oil industry, there is no appreciable cost to American government.

20. 'The United States should encourage... various U.N. agencies - including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, The World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization- as well as nongovernmental organizations to help reconstitute the Iraqi public health system...' by rebuilding clinics and hospitals. While the United States has already attempted this, results have not been promising. One such incident is a $200 million contract to rebuild 142 clinics. While all the money was used, only 20 clinics were built. It is estimated that based on Iraq's population size, '800 health centers, 150 rural hospitals, and 22 main hospitals' would be required to reestablish the Iraqi health system's infrastructure. It is estimated this would cost $220 million, less than one day of the occupation.

It is critical that the doctors who have fled since the start of the war return in order for the health system to function properly. It can be assumed that they will return when the insurgency has dissolved, but this can't be guaranteed. Young replacements for these professionals must be trained. While the United States is not obligated to shoulder these costs, it would be beneficial to Iraq, America, and the world in the long run. The costs for this program would decrease over time, $500 million for the first, $400 million for the second, $300 million for the third, $200 million for the fourth, and $100 million for the final year. The total cost to repair Iraq's health system is estimated to cost $1.7 billion, roughly 8 days of the occupation.

21. The final step in America's withdrawal from Iraq are formal condolences 'for the large number of Iraqis killed, incapacitated, incarcerated, and/or tortured.' This may be the hardest action for most Americans, but if we are the civilized society we claim to be, it would only be in good taste and if for nothing else our benefit to apologize.

As I have even suggested in previous blogs, apologizing not just to Iraq, but the world for what we have done is crucial. If apologizing means we need to all stand on the street corner, hold hands and sing "Kum-baya", then we need to do it. It's the right thing to do.

When all is said and done, the total cost for the withdrawal outlined in this series would be $7.75 billion, with $5.5 billion in aspects that can't be accounted for at this time. That's a total of roughly $13.25 billion. If one assumes that these measures save America two years of occupation, that's at least $350 billion saved, quite possibly even $400-$500 billion.

President Bush's Prime Time Address

Withdrawing is the most logical solution. President Bush tonight initiated the motions of starting a withdrawal of troops from a surge he ordered last year. When that withdrawal is over, there will still be more troops in Iraq than from when the surge started. He spoke of progress, but our men and women will still be in Iraq, long after his presidency is over as he even admitted tonight.

The President has a decision to make, he is the Decider after all. If he goes out of office with the war still going on, he will likely go down in history as one of the worst presidents in history, the Iraq war casting a shadow over his presidency. It is unlikely he will receive the treatment Harry Truman has gained in recent decades, Truman being the last president to have approval ratings that approached those of Dubya's.

However if he chooses to withdraw, in a responsible and intelligent manner as I have tried to outline here, I'd be willing to set aside my anger and frustration with his presidency, as would many other Americans, and he might leave on a high note. Critics of my own blog have suggested that it is a foolish idea to withdraw; I would (obviously) disagree. The war we are in has destabilized the region and threatens to start a larger war the longer we stay. Ultimately, only the Iraqi's can bring stability to their country, and we can focus on our unresolved task in the Middle East: capturing Osama Bin Laden.

George McGovern, William R. Polk (2006) Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Osama Bin Laden and 9/11

As I'm taking a bit of a break from my "Withdrawing from Iraq" series, I wanted to address a pressing issue that has become inflamed over the past couple of days since OBL's new video hit the net. I took the time to read the transcript of his message before the video even came online, and found something intriguing, not about the message per se, but about how I was interpreting it. I by no means support Bin Laden or Al Qaeda, and to the contrary, I despise him. However, having a more or less thorough knowledge of the histories and backgrounds of both Bin Laden and W. Bush, I've almost always found it easier to understand (in perspective) what Bin Laden's saying rather than what Bush is saying, and I have to put up with his gibberish day in and day out. I think it says something about the articulating powers of our foes over our own leaders.


As I'm sure everyone is well aware, this Tuesday will mark the 6th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Perhaps in stating the obvious, it's a day that all of us remember vividly; one of those rare experiences that is commonly shared by everyone. One of the "positive" outcomes of that tragic day, was that for a week or so afterwards, we as Americans united in a way that was unprecedented in modern times. Stories abound of strangers helping one another, tolerance took hold, and for the first time ever, murders didn't lead newscasts, nor were they even discussed. It was almost as if the filth and sin that normally clogs society had disappeared. Slowly, however, it crept back into day to day life and has returned in full force. I'm not saying this as a Christian, or as an overly tolerant hippy-liberal, I'm saying this as an American.

Why can't we all just get along, like we did after 9/11?