Saturday, January 15, 2005

Political Bickering over the Iraq War

I recently received an email forward that I considered to be very heavily slanted with right wing opinions that I did not agree with, so I decided to write a response. I am realizing that I have developed a Kerry-esque long-windedness that I need to work on. Perhaps I should give myself a three-minute time limit to write my responses, as it sure helped Kerry to be more concise in the debates.

The original email was entitled "Things that make you think a little........" Below you will find the original email in italics, along with my responses to each segment:

There were 39 combat related killings in Iraq during January.....In the fair city of Detroit there were 35 murders in the month of January. That's just one American City, about as deadly as the entire war torn country of Iraq.

I have heard several statements like this one over the past year, and I cannot understand the frame of mind required to make such a preposterous statement. This statement does little other than to belittle the efforts of the American troops, downplaying the risk and heroic undertaking required by those in service. This pattern of this type of comparison began with the following statement from Fox News Anchorman Brit Hume:

Two hundred seventy-seven U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq, which means that statistically speaking U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying from all causes in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California, which is roughly the same geographical size. The most recent statistics indicate California has more than 2300 homicides each year, which means about 6.6 murders each day. Meanwhile, U.S. troops have been in Iraq for 160 days, which means they are incurring about 1.7 deaths, including illness and accidents each day.

To help you understand what an inane statement this is, consider the fact that there are 34 million people living in California, while there were 130,000 US troops in Iraq at the time. In actuality, US Soldiers were 66 times more likely to die than Californians were to be murdered.

Getting back to your original statement, the comparison with the city of Detroit looks a little less appropriate when you use up-to-date and accurate statistics. There have been 1356 US combat fatalities, including over 200 in the past 2 months. In addition, there have been 9844 US troops wounded. (Source: In addition, although difficult to find accurate figures, estimates have put the human cost of Iraqi civilians in the war from a low of 15,000 - 17,000, to as high as 100,000 Iraqi civilians, as a direct result of the war, either through the breakdown of law and order, or inadequate health care and sanitation, which are requirements of the Geneva Convention on the part of an Occupying Force.

My point is not to state how badly the war effort is going -- It is simply to spotlight the fact that statements that directly diminish the fact that US soldiers are putting their lives on the line merely to make a political point are infantile and ill-advised.

Overall, there has been a concerted effort to disconnect the US population from the effects and reality of the War Effort on the part of the Bush Administration and the Right Wing Media. Generally, in times of War, the citizens of the country are asked to join in the sacrifice. Never before in the history of civilization has their been a tax cut during a time of war. In four years under the Bush Administration, we have gone from the first budget surplus in thirty years, to record budget deficits. Bush has attempted to remain popular with the American public by making future generations pay for the price of the Iraqi Conflict, while allowing US citizens to relax in the comfort of their own homes.

In the past, the popularity of Wars has been tested by what is known as the Dover Test. The Dover Test goes something like this: Is the American public prepared for the sight of our most precious resource coming home in flag-draped caskets into Dover Air Force Base in Delaware? We may never know the answer to that question, as the Bush Administration has decided to ban the use of these types of images in media coverage, since it is distasteful.

When Nightline with Ted Koppel decided to air a special listing the names of more then 500 U.S. Soldiers who were killed in the Iraq War, Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest television conglomerate in the nation, ordered their affiliates not to air the program. This decision was blasted by Senator John McCain.

The final third of the move Fahrenheit 9/11 is a very stirring segment on how the all-voluntary army recruiting effort unfairly targets minorities and poor families. In a related segment, Moore interviews several congressman on the street, asking if they would volunteer to sign up their children to fight in the Iraqi War. Of course they won't. This is a big problem. This is the reason that Nixon abolished the draft - to depoliticize the population. Do you think this war would have ever got off the ground if the congressman, senators, and general population felt that they would have to make a real sacrifice.

This is a fairly unpopular war. Even given the fact that the general public was not asked to sacrifice in the war effort, that there was no Dover test, that there is no risk of personal sacrifice due to the abolishment of the draft, new polls indicate that 70% of the population thinks that the gains in the Iraqi War effort have come at an unacceptable cost, and 56% think that the war was not worth it.

FDR...led us into World War II. Germany never attacked us: Japan did. From 1941-1945, 450,000 lives were lost, an average of 112,500 per year.

This statement is just ridiculous. You cannot even begin to compare World War II to the current Gulf War with any degree of credibility. The US involvement in World War II is one of the great military successes in this nation's history. It is true that the cost of involvement in this war was immense, but nobody questions whether the United States should have entered combat.

This is in stark contrast to the current invasion of Iraq. Let's start with a breif review of what has transpired. Before the invasion began, we witnessed unprecedented worldwide protests, with estimates of up to 10,000,000 protesters demonstrating worldwide, in response to the Bush administration's planned invasion of Iraq. Bush had the audacity to refer to the opinions of ten million worldwide protesters as nothing more than the opinion of a focus group.

I was, myself, apprehensively in support of the war, in light of the seemingly overwhelming evidence of weapons of mass destruction presented by Bush, Cheney, and Powell. Over time, we have learned that the Bush Administration deliberately manipulated and massaged the intelligence used to gather support for the Iraq War, conveniently leaving out any facts that may have diminished the argument for the war. There was an unheard of level of groupthink in this administration, with deliberate efforts made to quelch any dissident voices within the administration. All major arguments used in the leadup to the war have been completely and thoroughly debunked. Why we have not begun impeachment hearings over this massive failure of accountability is dumbfounding. The myth of a liberal media, which would have pounded the administration over this issue, is completely laughable.

In speeches pleading the case for the war, Colin Powell and George W. Bush both stated that Iraq had requested anodized aliminum tubes that could only be used for centrifuging and enriching uranium. This was presented as conclusive proof of an Iraqi WMD program, as anodized tubes could only be used for the purpose of uranium enrichment. Within weeks, this statement was completely debunked as IAEA scientists stated that the tubes were of the complete wrong size, and that the first thing they would need to do was to mill of the anodized coating if they intended to use the tubes for uranium enrichment. It would have been nice if they had contacted specialists on this matter beforehand, but the Bush administration had to make the case for war as quickly as they could, because they knew that they knew that they would only be able to build the case for an Iraq war if they proceeded quickly, on the heals of the momentum of success in the Afghanistan effort.

Another claim of the Bush Administration was that Iraq had sought to purchase significant quantities of uranium yellowcake in Niger. This claim was refuted by Ambassador Joseph Wilson in an New York Times Op/Ed piece entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa". So, how did the Bush Administration reward Wilson for presenting a dissenting opinion. By publicly revealing the identity of Wilson's wife, CIA undercover operative Valerie Plume, ruining her career as a spy, and potentially putting the lives of many other CIA undercover operatives in danger.

Even after they had decided to invade Iraq, the Bush administration continued to ignore dissenting opinions. General Eric Shinseki warned the administration that a large number of troops would be required to maintain peace and order in the region once the Saddam regime was toppled. Shinseki stated that they would need around 300,000 troops. Wolfowitz balked at the statement, and went ahead with Rumsfeld's plan of a lean-and-mean military force. The administration repaid Shinseki for his dissenting opinion by announcing his early retirement and publicly humiliating him. We are no paying the price for this gross incompetence on the part of the administration.

There was simply no evidence of any link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and there was no substantial evidence supporting the Bush administration's claim of Weapons of Mass Destruction. When Bush was re-elected, many high ranking CIA officials resigned out of protest and disgust over the lack of respect and open-mindedness present in the Bush Administration.

Over time, the arguments stated by the Bush Administration as the chief motivations became weaker and more transparent. Eventually, we heard Bush start stating Iraq as having demonstrated "Weapons of Mass Destruction Program-Related Activities". This is a safe statement to make, because it means absolutely nothing, so it is completely impossible to disprove.

We also heard that the War was an effort to liberate the Iraqi people, who had lived under the oppression of a brutal Saddam regime. Of course, this is at least partially true, but it does ring rather hollow, given the Bush Administration's lack of concern over what is happening in other parts of the world. In Sudan, the people are under a massively repressive regime, facing genocide, but you don't see the US rushing to offer the services of 150,000 US soldiers to liberate the country. We are witnessing one of the world's greatest national disasters with the Tsunami, with over 150,000 casualties. The United State's initial foreign aid offering? A paltry 15 Million dollars. The offering has been raised to 350 million, When you consider the fact that we are nearing an expense of over $200 Billion on the Iraq War, you should realize that the Bush Administration's priorities are somewhat questionable, given that they are spending almost 600 times as much in the liberation of one country than they are on one of the world's greatest natural disasters in history.

The bottom line is this ... The American people, and the men and women in service in the Iraqi War were tricked into starting war in Iraq by a deceptive and manipulative administration. As John Kerry stated, war should only be used as a last resort. The Bush Administration made the decision to put the American men and women in service into harms way over questionable motives and on faulty intelligence. They may have honestly believed that they had strong evidence to indicate the existence of WMDs, but I somewhat doubt that fact. The Bush Administration believed in the necessity of War in Iraq, and felt it necessary to quickly push through the invasion effort while the momentum gained by security fears and concerns over 9/11 were still fresh on the minds of every American citizen.

Truman...finished that war and started one in Korea, North Korea never attacked us. From 1950-1953, 55,000 lives were lost, an average of 18,334 per year. John F. Kennedy. ..started the Vietnam conflict in 1962. Vietnam never attacked us. Johnson...turned Vietnam into a quagmire. From 1965-1975, 58,000 lives were lost, an average of 5,800 per year.

The Vietnam War was a travesty. In addition the 58,000 American Lives lost, the Vietnamese suffered the loss of over 1 million soldier's lives, and the lives of over 4 million civilians, not to mention the millions of American soldiers and Vietnamese suffering from the long-term effects of agent orange, along with other injuries and illnesses.

To that, I will respond with a quote from George Santayana: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

In addition, I will quote former President George H.W. Bush on why we didn't remove Saddam during the first Gulf War, which is a lesson that his son could have learned:

"Trying to eliminate Saddam .. would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible ... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq ...there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

Still convinced that the Iraq War was a good idea?

Clinton...went to war in Bosnia without UN or French consent, Bosnia never attacked us. Clinton was offered Osama bin Laden's head on a platter three times by Sudan and did nothing. Osama has attacked us on multiple occasions.

Give me a break. There is no way you can blame the failings of the Bush Administration on the Clinton Administration. At the time, Sudan was, and still is, a nation-terror state, under the control of the Bashir Regime. The Bashir Regime was responsible for the slaughter of over 2 million Christians, and publicly supports the Hezbollah, Hammas, and Al Qaeda. It is true that Mansoor Ijaz met with Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, to discuss the release of Osama Bin Laden to the United States, in 1996. Clinton refused the offer for two reasons: First off, in 1996, Bin Laden had not committed any crimes for which the United States could legally hold him responsible, as Clinton stated in the Newsmax interview that the right wing media so happily likes to point to in their attempt to blame 9/11 on the Clinton Administration. Secondly, the primary reason that the offer was brought to the table was that Ijaz seeked to have the United States lift sanctions off of Sudan. It has been the United States policy all along not to negotiate with terrorists or terrorist states. If you read the 9/11 Commision Report, you can learn a great deal about Osama Bin Laden's history, along with the role that Sudan played in the emergence of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Leaders in Sudan initially offered to help Bin Laden move his worldwide operations into Sudan to aid in the ongoing war against Christian Seperatists in Southern Sudan. As of today, Sudan continues to operate under the Bashir regime, responsible for stated-sponsored slavery and mass genocide, responsible for the deaths of over 5 million civilians. As I said earlier, if the United States was really interested in fighting to spread freedom throughout the world, they would start in Sudan. Unfortunately, Sudan is an impoverished country with relatively few natural resources, so it is unlikely that we will this country spend a similar amount of money and military effort liberating Sudan. This is hardly a situation in which it is appropriate to state that "Bin Laden was offered to Clinton on a Silver Platter". Think twice before you blindly repeat statements propagated by a man as frequently dishonest as Sean Hannity, as initially stated in his 2002 Book, Let Freedom Ring. By the way, the man initially responsible for the attempt to negotiate with the Sudan terrorist-state, Mansoor Ijaz, is now a Fox News correspondent.

To blame 9/11 on the Clinton administration is entirely irresponsible. The Clinton Administration spent more time and energy combating terrorism than any other administration before or since. Former Reagan Counterterrorism official Robert Oakley, "Overall, I give them very high marks. The only major criticism I have is the obsession with Osama, which made him stronger." Paul Bremer, former Civilian Administrator in Iraq said that he believed that the Clinton Administration had "Correctly focused on Bin Laden". Unlike Bush, when the World Trade Center was attacked, the Clinton Administration responded by quickly apprehending and arresting those responsible for the attack, Ramzi Yousef, Adbul Hakim Murad, and Wali Khan Amin Shah. The Clinton Administration also thwarted several terrorist attacks, including plots to kill the pope, blow up 12 U.S. Jetliners simultaneously, along with planned attacks on the U.N. headquarters, the FBI Building, The Israeli Embassy in Washington, the LA and Boston Airport, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge.

The Clinton administration tripled the counterterrorism budget, and created the top-level national security post, Anti-terrorism czar. "By any measure available, Clinton left office having given greater priority to terrorism than any other president before him", reported Barton Gellman in the Washington Post.

Recognizing the threat posed by Al Qaeda, Clinton issued a presidential directive to assassinate Osama Bin Laden. Clinton appointed Richard Clarke to produce a comprehensive plan to take out Al Qaeda. On December 20th, 2000, Clarke presented this plan, with a comprehensive plan of attack, which included taking out Al Qaeda cells, systematically attacking financial support for terrorist activities, freezing assets, and scaling up covert action in Afghanistan.

When the Clinton administration turned the keys over to the Bush Administration, Sandy Berger provided Condoleezza Rice with a list of the nation's top national security priorities. At the top of the list was counter-terrorism. A few months later, a similar list was produced by the Rice. Counter-terrorism was nowhere to be found. Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, told Dr. Rice, I believe that the Bush administration will spend more time on terrorism in general, and on al Qaeda specifically, than any other subject. The Bush Administration completely failed to address the plan produced by Richard Clarke. On February 15, 2001, the Hart-Rudman report warned that "mass-casualty terrorism directed against the U.S. homeland was of serious and growing concern'' and said that America was woefully unprepared for a "catastrophic'' domestic terrorist attack and urged the creation of a National Homeland Security Agency.

On August 6th, Condoleezza Rice held in her hands a Presidential Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US". Portions of this document have been declassified, and can be found here. In this briefing, you will find mentions of the fact that Al Qaeda had been conducting surveillance of buildings in New York City, and also that they had been conducting activities consistent with the preparations for the highjacking of Airplanes. Rice failed to act on this memo. Later, when asked about the memo, Rice stated that the memo was "primarily a historical document", and that "the memo contained no recommended actions".

If Rice had performed her job, put two and two together (Remember, the Clinton Administration informed her that Al Qaeda should be her primary concern), a disaster may have been averted. Additionally, if the Bush Administration had acted on Remember, that 9/11 occurred during the Bush Administration's reign, and to attempt to shift the blame on the Clinton Administration because of the dubious claims of one man attempting to negotiate with a terror state in 1996 is ludicrous. The Bush administration failed to act on these recommendations because they are completely closed to any outside recommendations. It is primarily because of the hubris of the Bush administration that the government did not act quickly on these warnings the Bush Administration did receive.

In the two years since terrorists attacked us President Bush has ....Liberated two countries, crushed the Taliban, crippled al-Qaida, put nuclear inspectors in Libya, Iran and North Korea without firing a shot, and captured a terrorist who slaughtered 300,000 of his own people.

The Democrats are complaining about how long the war is taking, but...It took less time to take Iraq than it took Janet Reno to take the Branch Davidian compound. That was a 51-day operation. We've been looking for evidence of chemical weapons in Iraq for less time than it took Hillary Clinton to find the Rose Law Firm billing records. It took less time for the 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines to destroy the Medina Republican Guard than it took Ted Kennedy to call the police after his Oldsmobile sank at Chapaquiddick. It took less time to take Iraq than it took to count the votes in Florida!!!!

I can't believe you are even attempting to bring up the dubious moment on May 1st, 2003, where Bush stood atop the USS Lincoln and claimed, "Major Combat Operations in Iraq have ended", under the banner "Mission Accomplished", and to claim that this moment equated to the taking of Iraq. This has to be one of the most embarrassing moments of President Bush's career.

By the way, the US has officially given up the search for WMDs in Iraq, conveniently just a month removed from the elections. Just like the fact that Iraq has not been taken, the votes in Florida during the 2000 election where never completely counted. They claimed that Bush won by 537 votes, but the fact remains that almost 500,000 votes in Florida remained uncounted, due to the decision of a partisan supreme court.

Our Commander-In-Chief is doing a GREAT JOB! The Military morale is high! The biased media hopes we are too ignorant to realize the facts.

Do not continue to attempt to continue to perpetuate the myth of a "liberal media bias". This is the biggest joke I have ever heard. The media spent year after year rehashing the Monica Lewinsky affair. The media was responsible for the character assassination of Al Gore in 2000, where Bush won the election because the media painted Gore, an honest man, as a compulsive liar. The media was responsible for the character assassination of John Kerry, failing to refute the attacks of the nefarious Swift Boat Veterans for Truth 527 organization, and failing to address the constant attacks of "Flip-Flops", and just 'Telling the people what they want to hear". The media was responsible for the public humiliation of Dan Rather over one mistake of a distinguished 22-year career as a journalist. Just the other day, it was revealed that the Bush Administration was engaged in outright state-sponsored propaganda, paying right wing pundit, Armstrong Williams, over $240,000 of tax payer money to promote the cause of No Child Left Behind. Meanwhile, right wing pundits, such as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh, engage in intellectual dishonesty and outright lies day after day. Do you here the media calling for the resignation of these so-called journalists for the lies and misinformation they represent day after day.

I recommend that you take a look at for a few days, and possibly subscribe to their mailing list. You should also take a look at the Right Wing Noise Machine by David Brock. Maybe then you won't be so likely to continue to attempt to spread the false claim of a liberal media bias.

Wait, there's more....................... JOHN GLENN ON THE SENATE FLOOR Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 11:13 I'll tell you, Howard Metzenbaum; you should be on your knees every day of your life thanking God that there were some men - SOME MEN - who held REAL jobs. And they required a dedication to a purpose - and a love of country and a dedication to duty - that was more important than life itself. And their self-sacrifice is what made this country possible.

John Glenn is a good man, who served honorably in the nation's service, unlike Wolfowitz, Bush, and Cheney, the men responsible for putting our men and women into combat. You will be happy to know that John Glenn spent the last few months of the year campaigning heavily for the election of John Kerry, whom Glenn is a strong supporter of, especially in the critical swing state of Ohio. You should hear the things that Glenn has to say about our current president, George W. Bush. In fact, you may want to take a listen to this interview that Glenn recently had on the Al Franken Show: Al Franken Show, October 7th 2004.

So, to summarize my position on the war: We were falsely led into the war by a dishonest administration. Now that we are in combat, I want nothing more than for everything to go as smoothly as possible. I fully support our troops, which is more than I can say for this administration. I am very disappointed with the incompetence of this administration, which has put our men and women in harms way, while disregarding pre-war planning which could have helped avoid many of the problems we are now facing in Iraq.