Tuesday, December 16, 2003

December 16, 2003
I’m really fascinated to see the Times this morning and an article by Jodi Wilgoren and Randal Archibold that asserts Howard Dean has somehow tainted his foreign policy credentials by uttering the word, “…the capture of Sadaam Hussein has not made America safer.” In the context of the speech, which I just read off the internet, that line doesn’t jump out (it’s a connecting sentence in the middle of a larger thought) the way it does at the top of a graph in the Grey Lady of American journalism. Here’s an excerpt including that line from the speech:

“First I want to say a few words about events over the weekend. The capture of Saddam Hussein is good news for the Iraqi people and the world. Saddam was a brutal dictator who should be brought swiftly to justice for his crimes. His capture is a testament to the skill and courage of U.S. forces and intelligence personnel. They have risked their lives. Some of their comrades have given their lives.

All Americans should be grateful. I thank these outstanding men and women for their service and sacrifice.

I want to talk about Iraq in the context of all our security challenges ahead. Saddam's capture offers the Iraqi people, the United States, and the international community an opportunity to move ahead. But it is only an opportunity, not a guarantee.

Let me be clear: My position on the war has not changed.

The difficulties and tragedies we have faced in Iraq show that the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at unbelievable cost. An administration prepared to work with others in true partnership might have been able, if it found no alternative to Saddam's ouster, to then rebuild Iraq with far less cost and risk.

As our military commanders said, and the President acknowledged yesterday, the capture of Saddam does not end the difficulties from the aftermath of the administration's war to oust him. There is the continuing challenge of securing Iraq, protecting the safety of our personnel, and helping that country get on the path to stability. There is the need to repair our alliances and regain global support for American goals.

Nor, as the president also seemed to acknowledge yesterday, does Saddam's capture move us toward defeating enemies who pose an even greater danger: al Qaeda and its terrorist allies. And, nor, it seems, does Saturday's capture address the urgent need to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction and the risk that terrorists will acquire them.

The capture of Saddam is a good thing, which I hope very much will help keep our soldiers safer. But the capture of Saddam has not made America safer.

Addressing these critical and interlocking threats- terrorism and weapons of mass destruction -- will be America's highest priority in my administration.”
-Howard Dean, December 14, 2003

Having just watched a preview copy of a new documentary, Howard Zinn: You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train, I’m struck by just how quickly I have a glaring example in the mainstream media of the phenomenon he describes over and over—that there is practically no coverage, or often only incredibly slanted coverage of progressive speech and action in American life. Howard Dean is hardly a new left figure. He’s a pro-gun control, budget-balancing mainstream New Democrat in many ways. But let him step outside the lines on Iraq in the wake of the hype surrounding Sadaam’s capture and he’s made an object lesson. This is done not by the right wing (although I’m sure they can’t wait), but by journalists looking for some ripple of “news” to report in the lock step reactions of the Democratic candidates to this weekend’s big news. It makes you glad we still have the internet to get quickly to original sources.

Dec 15, 2003
So Sadaam has been caught. I suppose that now we are all to fall into line and be excited about his imprisonment. A guy who is so marginalized he hides out in a hole in the ground is the great enemy we have finally overcome.

Doesn’t this picture make you wonder just how imminent his threat must have been? I mean, here we are, dedicating hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars (and God knows how many lives) to fight a virulent strain of terror that threatens our way of life and the guy is found hiding out in a hole in the ground? I gotta think long and hard about this.

Don’t think that anyone could believe Sadaam was a harmless fool. He was a brutal authoritarian ruler of a country across the globe from us. He ruled a country that was so poor and crippled by sanctions imposed on it because of his foolhardy expansionism that he couldn’t effectively prevent the international community from containing him and his weapons programs. He had only his psychotic, overblown pride and hubris to ward off the worldwide pressure to allow unlimited inspections.

But is this kind of pathetic dictator really the legitimate object of a practically unprecedented bombing campaign against a country’s infrastructure, army, people and an occupation that ultimately uncovers no seriously threatening weapons? If Iraq has weapons that imminently threaten the United States, why weren’t they used against our soldiers when we invaded? Were they being hidden away for a later, more serious national crisis that Iraq might face after it had been taken over by a foreign power? This is too crazy to buy.

So too bad for Sadaam. I won’t waste my pity on him. But let’s pray that the international community will be allowed to succeed this American adventurism in Iraq before it comes back to bite us on the backside. Let Iraq rebuild without being colonized. Let’s declare victory and invite in the world before it’s too late. Goodbye Sadaam and goodbye Bush.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

I’m strongly recommending this other blog to anyone who would like to get a glimpse into the reality of the situation in Iraq. It’s called “Where is Raed” and it is written by a resident of Baghdad. Below is a representative entry. Check it out for yourself. This guy has no fundamentalist or Baathist axe to grind, he’s just trying to live through all the crap going on in his country. Check out entries from before, during, and after the “hot” war to today…


Tuesday, November 25, 2003 ::
grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr .. I am angry now .. I AM angry .. and "THEY" come and ask you "why don't you like us?" ... I will tell you why .. >>>> I was just stopped by an American check point .. they let me stand under the rain .. in the mud .. for more than 15 minutes .. a soldier pushed me in a very strong way that I nearly fell down, and the other was investigating me: Why do you have a camera in your car? haaa? !!!!!! What the hell !!! I mean !! duh ?? I have a camera? why not? then came the other americano with a smile asking me: do you film porn? !!! I heard that but I asked him: what sir? and he replied: PORN pee ooo are enn ,, ha ha ha .. (is that funny?) .. Soldiers stopping people in the EID (these are the Muslims' festival days) asking them whether they film porn and pushing them in mud .. I DON'T LIKE "THEM" .. Soldiers are not the best representatives of any culture .. Grrrh ///////////// (new paragraph) SALAAAAM?! where the peep are you? I'll change the title to WHERE IS SALAM.. call me for god's sake .. stronso
:: raed 6:59 PM [+] ::

Listening to the BBC, I get a disturbingly different view of life in Iraq today than the headlines of the New York Times have described over the last few months. A reporter accompanying acquaintances into the Shiia ruled regions of the country filed a dispatch that implies that the rising religious leaders in much of the country may not be much more open or democratic than Sadaam was.

I have to wonder what the likelihood is that anything lastingly good will come of this war. Will the Ayatollahs of Shiia Iraq be less authoritarian than the rapacious Baath Party that preceded it? Or will they be quite like the hard-line Ayatollahs of Iran, who still suppress democracy there?

Even if this doesn’t come to pass, how will the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiia people of the new and “free” Iraq manage to hold together a nation in which they share few shreds of common identity. Will this be possible without an authoritarian state?

Isn’t the only sane approach to postwar Iraq to ask, no beg the international community to help manage, finance, and support the rebuilding of this country? Don’t we need all the help we can get there?

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