Recently in Iraq Category
WASHINGTON — The steadily rising cost of the Iraq war will reach about $8.4 billion a month this year, Pentagon spokesmen said Thursday, as the price of replacing lost, destroyed and aging equipment mounts. The Pentagon has been estimating last year's costs for the increasingly unpopular war at about $8 billion a month. It rose from a monthly "burn rate" of about $4.4 billion during the first year of fighting in fiscal 2003.
Here's my calculation of how $8.4 billion breaks down:
Besides the horror as to what this money is being spent on, remember that much of this money is going into the national debt, to be paid for somewhere down the line … certainly long after Bush and his crew are gone.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Army said Friday it would apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.
The letters were sent a few days after Christmas to more than 5,100 Army officers who had recently left the service. Included were letters to about 75 officers killed in action and about 200 wounded in action.
"Army personnel officials are contacting those officers' families now to personally apologize for erroneously sending the letters," the Army said in a brief news release issued Friday night.
The Army did not say how or when the mistake was discovered. It said the database normally used for such correspondence with former officers had been "thoroughly reviewed" to remove the names of wounded or dead soldiers.
"But an earlier list was used inadvertently for the December mailings," the Army statement said, adding that the Army is apologizing to those officers and families affected and "regrets any confusion."
From The Washington Post's U.S. Not Winning War in Iraq, Bush Says for 1st Time:
President Bush acknowledged for the first time yesterday that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq and said he plans to expand the overall size of the "stressed" U.S. armed forces to meet the challenges of a long-term global struggle against terrorists.
As he searches for a new strategy for Iraq, Bush has now adopted the formula advanced by his top military adviser to describe the situation. "We're not winning, we're not losing," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. The assessment was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections, declared, "Absolutely, we're winning."
Asked yesterday about his "absolutely, we're winning" comment at an Oct. 25 news conference, the president recast it as a prediction rather than an assessment. "Yes, that was an indication of my belief we're going to win," he said.
So … before the election "Absolutely, we're winning".
Now : "We're not winning, we're not losing".
Tomorrow … perhaps … "I am not a crook." ?
One can hope …
Today On American Public Media's radio show Weekend America, I heard a segment about how opinions are expressed and suppressed in Twentynine Palms, CA, home of the country's largest Marine base, and not incidentally the town nearest to the home, where as often as possible I live, and where my heart resides.
If you listen to the segment you will hear how even though one of the many reasons put forward for the war is to bring freedom to the people of Iraq, in 29 it is not easy to make one’s views, if they are contrary to the war, known.
At the end of the piece newly elected mayor, Kevin Cole, says "you have a right to say what you want to say; that's what America's about ... That doesn't necessarily mean we want to hear what you have to say".
Staying in Iraq not an option. Many Americans who were among the most eager to invade Iraq now urge that we find a way out. These Americans include not only civilian "strategists'' and other "hawks'' but also senior military commanders and, perhaps most fervently, combat soldiers. Even some of those Iraqis regarded by our senior officials as the most pro-American are determined now to see American military personnel leave their country. Polls show that as few as 2 percent of Iraqis consider Americans to be liberators. This is the reality of the situation in Iraq. We must acknowledge the Iraqis' right to ask us to leave, and we should set a firm date by which to do so.
We suggest that phased withdrawal should begin on or before December 31, 2006, with the promise to make every effort to complete it by June 30, 2007. Withdrawal is not only a political imperative but a strategic requirement. As many retired American military officers now admit, Iraq has become, since the invasion, the primary recruiting and training ground for terrorists. The longer American troops remain in Iraq, the more recruits will flood the ranks of those who oppose America not only in Iraq but elsewhere.
Withdrawal will not be without financial costs, which are unavoidable and will have to be paid sooner or later. But the decision to withdraw at least does not call for additional expenditures. On the contrary, it will effect massive savings. Current U.S. expenditures run at approximately $246 million each day, or more than $10 million an hour, with costs rising steadily each year. Although its figures do not include all
expenditures, the Congressional Research Service listed direct costs at $77.3 billion in 2004, $87.3 billion in 2005, and $100.4 billion in fiscal year 2006. Even if troop withdrawals begin this year, total costs (including those in Afghanistan) are thought likely to rise by $371 billion during the withdrawal period. Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, a former assistant secretary of commerce, have estimated that staying in Iraq another four years will cost us at least $1 trillion.
Let us be clear: there will be some damage. This is inevitable no matter what we do. At the end of every insurgency we have studied, there was a certain amount of chaos as the participants sought to establish a new civic order. This predictable turmoil has given rise to the argument, still being put forward by die-hard hawks, that Americans must, in President Bush's phrase, "stay the course.'' The argument is false. When a driver is on the wrong road and headed for an abyss, it is a bad idea to "stay the course.'' A nation afflicted with a failing and costly policy is not well served by those calling for more of the same, and it is a poor idea to think that we can accomplish in the future what we are failing to accomplish in the present. We are as powerless to prevent the turmoil that will ensue when we withdraw as we have been to stop the insurgency. But we will have removed a major cause of the insurgency once we have withdrawn. Moreover, there are ways in which we can be helpful to the Iraqis--and protect our own interests--by ameliorating the underlying conditions and smoothing the edges of conflict. The first of these would be a "bridging'' effort between the occupation and complete independence.
This article is the most substantiative and honest assessment that I have read as to how we can extricate ourselves from the catastrophe that Bush an all the others who are responsible for this tragedy have trapped us in. It goes on to propose concrete and practical steps that would change our course and attempt to correct the damage that we have done, in ways that would ultimately cost less than that estimated $1 trillion that "staying the course" would cost.
On this Election Day, one wonders: where are the politicians who should be standing up and advocating such an honest and practical plan?
(Click on the picture for a larger version)
I guess the military would know ...
From the NYT’s Military Charts Movement of Conflict in Iraq Toward Chaos
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 - A classified briefing prepared two weeks ago by the United States Central Command portrays Iraq as edging toward chaos, in a chart that the military is using as a barometer of civil conflict.
A one-page slide shown at the Oct. 18 briefing provides a rare glimpse into how the military command that oversees the war is trying to track its trajectory, particularly in terms of sectarian fighting. The slide includes a color-coded bar chart that is used to illustrate an “Index of Civil Conflict.“� It shows a sharp escalation in sectarian violence since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February, and tracks a further worsening this month despite a concerted American push to tamp down the violence in Baghdad.
In fashioning the index, the military is weighing factors like the ineffectual Iraqi police and the dwindling influence of moderate religious and political figures, rather than more traditional military measures such as the enemy’s fighting strength and the control of territory.
Of course Dick Cheney said on October 17th:
If you look at the general overall situation, they’re doing remarkably well.
Who you gonna believe ? The facts or your lying eyes?
And on the third anniversary of the invasion, the NY Times reports:
As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein's former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government's torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.
In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball. Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.
The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.
Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.
No rules but our own.
And today in the Washington Post, Donald Rumsfeld writes:
Though there are those who will never be convinced that the cause in Iraq is worth the costs, anyone looking realistically at the world today -- at the terrorist threat we face -- can come to only one conclusion: Now is the time for resolve, not retreat.
What we need to understand is that the vast majority of the Iraqi people want the coalition to succeed. They want better futures for themselves and their families. They do not want the extremists to win. And they are risking their lives every day to secure their country.
That is well worth remembering on this anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He should be ashamed.
BAGHDAD - The top U.S. envoy to Iraq said Monday that the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime had opened a "Pandora's box" of volatile ethnic and sectarian tensions ...
And we can see this coming from a mile away ...
... that could engulf the region in all-out war if America pulled out of the country too soon.
Because they exaggerate the scale of the conflict, and because they use it cynically, Bush and Cheney have grossly mismanaged the struggle against al-Qaeda and Muslim radicalism after September 11.
From Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog here are the Top Ten Mistakes of the Bush Administration in Reacting to Al-Qaeda.
From the New York Times:
A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.
"Our preliminary research suggests that as many as 42 percent of the Marine casualties who died from isolated torso injuries could have been prevented with improved protection in the areas surrounding the plated areas of the vest," the study concludes. An additional 23 percent might have been saved with side plates that extend below the arms, while 15 percent more could have benefited from shoulder plates, the report says.
Putting aside the fact that they shouldn't have been there in the first place, according to the unfortunately valuable Iraq Coalition Casualties site, as of january 6, 2006, 2193 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq. With adequate body armor, how many of them might still be alive?
In a related story today from Reuters:
Paul Bremer, who led the U.S. civilian occupation authority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, has admitted the United States did not anticipate the insurgency in the country, NBC Television said on Friday.
From today's NYT:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 - The commander of American-run prisons in Iraq says the military will not turn over any detainees or detention centers to Iraqi jailers until American officials are satisfied that the Iraqis are meeting United States standards for the care and custody of detainees.
In today's interview with Brian Williams of NBC, Bush demonstrates his fine grasp of reality and straight talking to the American people ... NOT!
Williams: A lot of people have seen in this series of speeches you're giving on Iraq, a movement in your position. They call it an acknowledgement that perhaps the mission has not gone as it was originally planned — three points: That the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators, that General Shinsecki, when he said this would take hundreds of thousands of troops in his farewell speech, might have been right. And third, that it wasn't a self-sustaining war in terms of the oil revenue. Do you concede those three points might not have gone as planned?
President Bush: Review them with me again.
Williams: Number one — that we'd be welcomed as liberators?
President Bush: I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome. There were some in society, rejectionists and the Saddamists and the terrorists that have moved in to stir them up that said, "We're going to prevent a democracy from emerging." But I think a lot of people are glad, I know a lot of people are glad we're there. And they're glad we're helping them train their troops so they can take the fight.
"I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome". What a piece of work.
I've been speechless for a long time but I may as well cut my tongue out, as from Daily Kos, Our Leader keeps peddling the same old crap:
President George W. Bush sought on Saturday to dispel concerns about the readiness of U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces, declaring himself "encouraged" even though his top generals say the number of battalions that can fight insurgents without help has dropped.
"I'm encouraged by the increasing size and capability of the Iraqi security forces. Today they have more than 100 battalions operating throughout the country, and our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are serving with increasing effectiveness," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
One of the few measures the Pentagon has offered the public to judge the capabilities of Iraqi security forces has been the number of battalions that can go into combat with insurgents without the help of the U.S. military.
During congressional testimony on Thursday, Gen. George Casey, top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Gen. John Abizaid, top U.S. commander in the Middle East, said the number of such battalions had dropped since July to one from three, out of the roughly 100 Iraqi battalions.
It has recently come to light that there is a website where "US troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan are invited to display graphic battlefield photos apparently taken with their personal digital cameras ... (in exchange for) unlimited (free) access to the site's pornography."
I came across the Nation article on nonwthatsfuckedup.com, which meant I had to take a good, hard look at the psychopathic side of the American spirit, and consider its implications not just for the war on terrorism and the occupation of Iraq, but its role in the emergence of an authentically fascist movement in American politics, one which feeds on violence and the glorification of violence, and which has found an audience not just in the U.S. military (where I think -- or at least hope -- it's still a relatively small fringe) but in the culture as a whole.
As a nation, we may be so desensitized to violence, and so inured to mechanized carnage on a grand scale, that we're psychologically capable of tolerating genocidal warfare against any one who can successfully be labeled as a "terrorist." Or at least, a sizable enough fraction of the America public may be willing to tolerate it, or applaud it, to make the costs politically bearable.
I don't know this for a fact, but after a stroll through nowthatsfuckedup.com, or reading the genocidal lunacy routinely on display at Little Green Footballs or freerepublic.com - or your average redneck watering hole for that matter -- I'm not willing to rule it out.
Billmon has frequently posted with humor, wit and passion about the growing strains of fascism evident in our country and the post I refer to here is an excellent example.
If you're suggesting, how would we feel about an Iranian-type government with a few clerics running everything in the country, the answer is: That isn't going to happen.
Donald Rumsfield Interview with Associated Press April 24, 2003