The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Reality Check in Iraq and the Upcoming Election Watch

OK, so, we’ve now been fighting the Iraq war for over three and a half years. And it’s been three years, five and a half months since Bush victoriously landed on the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and delivered a stirring speech, declaring an “end to major combat,” with a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner hanging over his shoulder. So, heading into the mid-term elections, it seems fitting to see how we’re doing and how this administration and this Republican-led congress are doing...

At the time Bush declared an end to major combat, only 137 US military members had been killed. Today, we’ve lost a total of 2757 soldiers, and 20,895 soldiers have been wounded.

Even before the war, Rumsfeld announced that the war “could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” Cheney echoed this daft assessment, saying, “I think it will go relatively quickly… weeks rather than months.” We’re now almost three and a half YEARS into this war, and the US Army just announced that it is planning to keep the existing level of troops in Iraq until 2010. Of course, the Army claims that they can scale down the level of troops at any time… But just when exactly do they think that the violence and civil war are going to end?

On March 16, 2003, Cheney went a step further in a Press the Meat interview; Cheney was asked “If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?” Cheney’s response: “Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.”

Liberators, eh? In a recent poll, over two thirds of Iraqis indicated their desire to see our American troops dead. They don’t want us to liberate them anymore; they don’t want us to leave; they want us dead. Iraqis who blow up our soldiers are heroes to the Iraqis, not terrorists. Anyone think that Abu Ghraib and Bush's policies advocating torture (among many other things we have done or not done) might have contributed to this?

On December 30, 2002, Budget Director Daniels predicted that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion. Counting next year’s budget, we’ve now committed very close to half a trillion dollars to this war. Let’s see what half a trillion dollars looks like, written out: $500,000,000,000,000. That seems like a lot.

Remember the “Coalition of the Willing”? We were told that 49 countries were willing to help out in the war. “You forgot Poland!” wailed Bush during a debate with John Kerry. Poland has now reduced its forces to 900 and has committed to keeping them there, possibly until 2007 (only a few months away). Thanks, Poland! Even the Brits -- who really empowered Bush’s megalomaniacal push towards war -- are wavering; Britain’s top military commander announced today that the Brits’ presence was exacerbating the situation in Iraq and aggravating the security situation around the world. I predict that soon after Blair quits, the Brits will be going home…

Remember the claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction that started off this entire thing??? None were found, and as it turns out, Iraq had abandoned its attempts to building biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons long before the war.

Remember the claims that Iraq was harboring Al Quaida? That was also not true, since Saddam Hussein hated and feared Al Quaida.

Remember the claim that as the Iraqis stand up, our forces will stand down? Our troop levels are essentially unchanged. And the Iraqis lose 25 police officers a day. So the Iraqi security forces are not standing up; they’re dying.

Well, okay, we might have messed up a little, but at least we got Saddam Hussein, right? Hussein is alleged to have caused the deaths of 100,000 to 200,000 Iraqis in a period of approximately 20 years. Not exactly a great guy – in fact, clearly an evil guy.

However, as it turns out, we beat him hands down. A study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and funded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that as of June, 2006, an estimated 655,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the war – that’s about 2.5% of the total population in Iraq. Over 600,000 of those deaths were violent in nature; and an estimated 30% or so were caused directly by Coalition forces. And that’s just in three and a half years.

Now up until this paper was published today, the most authoritative count of civilian casualties was thought to be from the Iraq Body Count, which estimates that there have been between 44,000 and 49,000 reported civilians killed – based on news reports, not interviewing actual civilians. I note that the IBC has correctly and ethically declined to comment on the Johns Hopkins study until they have studied it.

Bush however, was willing to state that he was sure that the study was flawed, even before the study was published and even before he or anyone on his staff had read the report. Bush did not indicate any specific complaints or criticism regarding the methods used – he just declared that it was wrong. Note that General Tommy Franks of the US Central Command has declared that “We don’t do body counts,” so if the military is not counting, it’s not clear on what authority Bush was relying when he denied the possibility that our actions and inactions had killed well over half a million Iraqis. Most of the time, US and British officials decline to say how many Iraqis we have killed; now, however, they all seem quite happy to name 50,000 as a rough number. Even if it’s only 50,000 – which I doubt – how is this a success??? This is in three and a half years. Even assuming that the number of Iraqi deaths is somehow only magically 50,000, we will likely surpass Saddam Hussein’s achievement within a few years, since the violence is continuing to increase, not decrease. After seeing the carnage on television day after day and reading about how we killed X number of insurgents here and Y number of insurgents there, and Z number of tortured bodies were found across Bagdad, and M number of car bombs went off, killing N number of passersby – all in one day – I have to believe that the number of Iraqi casualties is far closer to the 655,000 estimate than the 50,000 estimate.

In the meantime, Bush is running around the country, campaigning for whatever Republican that is willing to be seen in public with him, and repeatedly claiming that the Democrats have become the party of “Cut and Run”. Even some Republicans are now demanding a change in strategery for Iraq. When asked if he can think of any mistakes he’s made since he became President, Bush seems unable to think of any significant missteps. Yet he proclaims anyone who disagrees with him as weak on defense, and implies that they are traitors. Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and Ronald Dumsfeld and all the Republican strategists echo the same stupid mantras. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. If you don’t support the President, you are a traitor. If you don’t believe that we should stay the course, you want to “cut and run”.

I don’t know if any of the Republicans are watching the same war that I am watching, but I no longer think we are losing this war; I think we have lost. I think every single thing about this war has been a colossal fuck up (excuse the profanity). I don’t have any great answers to the problems in Iraq. I know that no matter what we do, civil war is a foregone conclusion, since it is happening right now. The best we could do if Bush and the Republicans were not in charge would be to withdraw from view (similar to John Murtha’s plan) and see if we can get the UN or Arab nations to help stop the insanity that we created. That’s the best I can offer. In the meantime, it seems that we have managed to lose Afghanistan as well… But that’s a separate topic.

Given that all the polls show that the Republicans have lost the edge for every single major issue, including “morality” and “security”, I fully expect Bush to announce a major “shift” in policy, or to try to scare Americans by tweaking the Terror Color Code, or to whip up a foiled terror attack, or some other such nonsense right before the election. And all I can say is, in the upcoming elections, please, please, please vote against any and all Republicans. I don’t care who they are; I don’t care whether they are running for national, state, or local offices. Vote against them, because we really need a system of checks and balances in our government, and you can’t have that when one political party controls all three branches of government. The Republicans got us here, and now it’s time for them to go.

Long Live the Republic

-John Locke

PS. Dear NSA, CIA, FBI, KGB, and Bush: I am not a terrorist. I love the US. Please don't spy on me.

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