The present-day U.S. military qualifies by any measure as highly professional, much more so than its Cold War predecessor. Yet the purpose of today’s professionals is not to preserve peace but to fight unending wars in distant places. Intoxicated by a post-Cold War belief in its own omnipotence, the United States allowed itself to be drawn into a long series of armed conflicts, almost all of them yielding unintended consequences and imposing greater than anticipated costs. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces have destroyed many targets and killed many people. Only rarely, however, have they succeeded in accomplishing their assigned political purposes. . . . [F]rom our present vantage point, it becomes apparent that the “Revolution of ‘89” did not initiate a new era of history. At most, the events of that year fostered various unhelpful illusions that impeded our capacity to recognize and respond to the forces of change that actually matter.

Andrew Bacevich

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

News & Views 09/11/07

Photo: Source is BBC News


Under siege: what the surge really means in Baghdad

A city divided by high concrete walls, barbed wire and checkpoints; armoured columns moving through deserted evening streets lit by the glow of searchlights and emptied by official curfew and fear. This is Baghdad, seven months into the surge, and George Bush's last throw of the dice in Iraq. On the surface, the Iraqi capital is less overtly violent than it used to be. The number of car bombings have fallen to "only" 23 a month from 42 in the same period last year, there are fewer sounds of explosions and gunfire than in the past, and there is, generally, less tension. And some of that must be due to the presence of more troops. But for many Iraqis, the Americans have turned their land into a prison. The barriers, which have turned Baghdad into a series of ghettos, are meant to keep the bombers out, but they also keep residents penned in. People may feel safer inside their neighbourhoods, but are more wary of venturing outside them. A short journey across the city can take hours with roads blocked off and numerous checkpoints, discouraging people from visiting relations and friends and reinforcing the sense of isolation.

US surge has failed - Iraqi poll

About 70% of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated in the area covered by the US military "surge" of the past six months, an opinion poll suggests. The survey by the BBC, ABC News and NHK of more than 2,000 people across Iraq also suggests that nearly 60% see attacks on US-led forces as justified. This rises to 93% among Sunni Muslims compared to 50% for Shia.

….It is the fourth such poll in which BBC News has been involved, with previous ones conducted in February 2004, November 2005 and February 2007. It was commissioned with the specific purpose of assessing the effects of the surge as well as tracking longer term trends in Iraq. Between 67% and 70% of the Iraqis polled believe the surge has hampered conditions for political dialogue, reconstruction and economic development, according to the August 2007 findings.

The erasing of Iraq

As the day of the invasion of Iraq drew closer, US news media outlets were conscripted by the Pentagon to "fear up" Iraq. "They're calling it 'A-Day'," began a report on CBS News that aired two months before the war began. "A as in airstrikes so devastating they would leave Saddam's soldiers unable or unwilling to fight." Viewers were introduced to Harlan Ullman, an author of the Shock and Awe doctrine, who explained that "you have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but in minutes". The anchor, Dan Rather, ended the telecast with a disclaimer: "We assure you this report contains no information that the Defense Department thinks could help the Iraqi military." He could have gone further: the report, like so many others in this period, was an integral part of the Department of Defense's strategy - fear up. Iraqis, who picked up the terrifying reports on contraband satellites or in phone calls from relatives abroad, spent months imagining the horrors of Shock and Awe. The phrase itself became a potent psychological weapon. Would it be worse than 1991? If the Americans really thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, would they launch a nuclear attack?

One answer was provided a week before the invasion. The Pentagon invited Washington's military press corps on a special field trip to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to witness the testing of the Moab, which officially stands for Massive Ordnance Air Blast, but which everyone in the military calls the "Mother of All Bombs". At 21,000lb, it is the largest non-nuclear explosive ever built, able to create, in the words of CNN's Jamie McIntyre, "a 10,000ft-high mushroom-like cloud that looks and feels like a nuclear weapon".

A wrong ID, a wrong turn can mean death

At a checkpoint leading on to the airport highway in west Baghdad yesterday, a policeman blocked the traffic. Dressed in a blue checked-uniform, Kevlar helmet, a Kalashnikov slung on his shoulder and a whistle in his hand, the last button of his uniform was missing, exposing a hairy stomach that hung over his military belt. The sun was setting quickly and the policeman shouted, blew his whistle and pointed his gun at a queue of impatient drivers ordering them to stay in line. Something was happening but none of the drivers of the dozens of cars waiting in the early evening heat knew what it was. About 30 gunmen milled around the checkpoint. Two young men in Iraqi army uniforms sat on the front of an armoured personnel carrier. Three men, wearing blue shirts and dark blue trousers stood next to a green SUV. A further dozen gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms, red berets and carrying the insignia on their shoulders of the Ministry of Interior commandos stood in the shade of concrete blast walls that make the checkpoints.

IRAQ: Food rationing system failing as Ramadan approaches

The monthly food rationing system on which millions of Iraqis depend is not working properly, according to officials. They warn that delays in food deliveries will have a serious impact on those fasting during the upcoming holy Islamic month of Ramadan (beginning around 13 September), when Muslims go without food and drink from dawn to sunset. “There are many reasons why the monthly food ration system is not working very well,” Muhammad Ala’a Jabber, director of the west Baghdad office for delivering food rations, said. “There is a shortage of food products, the available products are of bad quality and sometimes are expired and there is a delay in delivery to the distribution offices.” According to Jabber, Iraq’s food rationing system has continued to worsen since an escalation of sectarian violence began in February 2006. But in the past four months, he said, the problem has reached critical levels. “It is rare to find items such as baby formula among rationed food. This never happened under Saddam Hussein’s regime when it was common to see an abundance of baby formula,” Jabber said.

IRAQ: Jawad Ridwan, Iraq, “We have lost everything…”

On 17 November my wife was found raped, handcuffed and murdered near Dora District, a suburb of Baghdad. She was working as a housekeeper for two families and after she left work in the outskirts of Dora, someone took her and ended her life. “On 13 May I left my children with my sister-in-law and, as she was taking them to buy some chocolate near her house in Alawi District, insurgents opened fire on a passing US convoy. She was killed, together with my two sons, in the crossfire, and one of my daughters was injured.
“I don’t like to remember how much my six-year old daughter, Rana, suffered. Sometimes when I’m asleep, I can hear her in the hospital screaming with pain. “The bad health service and the long hours of waiting, led to her losing her leg… I contemplated suicide but God protected me from that because Rana needs me now more than anyone. “Jobless, I rely on a local non-governmental organisation for food and clothes. I have moved house more than three times since my wife died because Rana needs to be near a hospital as she sometimes gets infections where she was amputated. “I don’t know how long I can stand this life. My two daughters don’t attend school and they don’t eat well. I hope I can get a job because with money, maybe, I can travel abroad and take them away from this violence.”

Tour of Baghdad Shows Progress Uneven

"I am eager to hear what Crocker and Petraeus have to say," said Ihsan Mohammed, a 48-year-old retired teacher from the eastern Baghdad Shaab district. "Most Iraqis are despairing and we are like a drowning man who wants to hold on to anything to survive," he said before the two officials spoke to Congress. But Mustapha Abdul-Razak, a former officer in the Saddam Hussein-era army and a Sunni, said the testimony amounted to nothing more than "empty talk." "It will not change anything," he said. "The Americans are experimenting with our lives." On the day Petraeus and Crocker gave their testimony, a tour of Baghdad revealed mosaic-like conditions, with some neighborhoods appearing to tenuously cling to normalcy, while others showed the scars of conflict. "Things have undoubtedly improved," said Umm Mustapha, a 45-year-old mother of five from western Baghdad. "You can see it on people's faces. We are going out more. We feel safer." In the mainly Shiite districts of Karradah and Jadriyah, the sprinklers came on shortly after 8 a.m. to water the grass on street medians. Elsewhere in the city, workers unloaded tons of soil to fill newly constructed traffic islands. Bands of young street sweepers in bright yellow shirts toiled on the dusty streets. "Your city can be more beautiful. It's time for cleaning and beautifying," said the message on a giant billboard. "Let peace prevail," said another one.

Students headed to Baghdad University's main campus in Jadriyah lined up outside the gate to have security guards search them. Groups of workers clamored around food stands, eating a breakfast of falafel or kebabs. Others sat on sidewalks waiting for a day's work, and a wage. Hawkers, taking advantage of the city's chronic traffic congestion, sold motorists cold sodas, paper tissues, plastic flowers and, curiously, Halloween masks. The atmosphere changed dramatically across the river in the west bank known as Karkh, a mainly Sunni Arab area hard hit by the sectarian violence sweeping the city since a major Shiite shrine was bombed in February 2006. The attack is blamed on Sunni militants. On the Jadriyah bridge, two U.S. Bradley fighting vehicles dashed against incoming traffic, forcing motorists to swerve to the right to get out of harm's way. On the highway heading south, the mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhood of Sadiyah bore the scars of the sectarian violence. Street after street looked deserted, their entrances blocked by mounds of dirt or concrete barriers. One street visible from the highway was blocked by a heap of trash. Two mosques that residents say belonged to the Sunnis flew Shiite banners.

IRAQ: Fighting Amongst Shias Adds to Violence

Clashes between the Mehdi Army militia of Shia anti-occupation cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Badr Organisation militia of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) erupted over recent days in the holy city of Kerbala, 100 km southwest of Baghdad. Kerbala, with a population of about half a million, is a holy city, particularly for the Shias, as it is home to the tomb of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The shrine of Imam Hussein is a place of pilgrimage for many Shia Muslims. The recent clashes between the two powerful militias, which left at least 52 people dead and over 200 wounded during the pilgrimage, and led to curfew over the entire city, mark intensifying fighting throughout southern Iraq. This was the first time that a major pilgrimage has been stopped in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims had gathered in the city to mark the birth anniversary of the 12th and last Shia imam.

"Even Saddam did not stop our pilgrimage, but look at those who say they are our protectors, killing us in cold blood," Kathum Hussein, whose wife was killed when Iraqi police opened fire, told IPS in Baghdad. "The guards who get their huge salaries to protect us just started shooting as if we were insects, not human beings." As the fighting spread to Baghdad and other cities around southern Iraq, National Security Advisor Muaffaq al-Rubaii told reporters, "It is the Saddamists and the foreign fighters who did it, yet it is true that the security forces were not well organised." Many Iraqis are outraged at the government's inability to contain the crisis. They also say the government is making misleading statements.

Clerics Begin to Take Over

Religious clerics are beginning to play an increasingly powerful role in Iraq. Many Iraqis now fear that they are endangering human rights and religious freedom in the once largely secular country. Clerics began to play a major role since the U.S.-led occupation began in April 2003. Despite the promises of U.S. President George W. Bush to turn Iraq into a secular and free country, clerics have become the real leaders, and are beginning to control most political matters. "It is the Iraqis' misfortune that the international coalition has brought clerics to power," Dr. Shakir Hamdan, an expert on Islamic issues told IPS in Baghdad. "They will only lead the country into sectarian wars and take the whole country into the dark ages where one man rules and freedom is lost." Hamdam cited a recent meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the powerful Shia Grand Ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, where matters of state were discussed. "One can clearly see that already the powerful influence of clerics is apparent," Hamdan said. "The parliament and government cannot take any step without first consulting the clerics."

Iraq was largely secular under the rule of Saddam Hussein, given Saddam's fear that religious movements and their leaders may undermine his power. The invasion and occupation destroyed the Iraqi state and its institutions, leaving a power vacuum which was filled by religious leaders who offered basic services the state could no longer provide. "Our country has turned from a secular into a purely religious country," Munthir Sulayman, social reform activist in Baghdad told IPS. "We were dreaming of a huge development in social affairs to become more modern and free, where individuals can play their natural role in developing the country through participation in politics, economy and all aspects of life. What has happened is the opposite, and the country has become completely under control of clerics."

Iraq to Privatize Electricity

Two of Iraq's many needs right now are more electricity and more investment. A law being drafted could satisfy both, paving the way for foreign and domestic private companies to build power plants, a step toward fully privatizing the electricity sector. "It should be short coming," a senior U.S. official working in Baghdad on Iraq's electricity sector told United Press International on condition of anonymity on the sidelines of an Iraq energy conference. A top legal adviser is working on it with the Electricity Ministry, the source said, adding it "could be" before Parliament before the year's end. Others UPI spoke to refused to go on the record but confirmed the law was being worked on in a parliamentary committee as well, with the help of another U.S. official in Baghdad. "Yes, we have plans for privatization," Iraq Electricity Minister Karim Waheed Hasan told UPI. "We have two projects which should be under execution very soon. We are planning to announce many stations, many power plants." Earlier this year Iraq's Parliament approved an oil refinery investment law that gave special terms to the private sector to build refineries. Iraqis suffer from a fuel crisis largely associated with a lack of refining capacity. …The electricity law hasn't been made public, and details are unclear. Hasan said he hopes two power plants will be completed by next year and "in the future, yes," the entire sector will be privatized.

Iraqi in Iraq

Sitting to a dinner of kabab, hot khubz (Iraqi flat bread) and other niceties, the conversation was flowing. Our rotating reporter, Chris (a very nice chap of only 23) was showing us the lovely old Iraqi silver pendent and bracelet he had bought his mum from a shop in the al-Rasheed Hotel, which is inside the green zone. We congratulated him on his excellent taste. He had bought other things as well. A lovely painting of a local scene, some coins and notes used during Saddam's era, some Iraqi medals and an Iraqi flag. We were commending him on his good sense of value too - I was afraid that it would be a rip-off, but happily it wasn't. My son is a coin collector and was quite impressed and said out loud, "Mum , let's go down to the al-Rasheed tomorrow (my day off) and look up this place, the items are good and the prices are right. Let's Mum!" "I'm sorry baby, we can't. I will take you to another shop near al-Mutanebbi, you might find similar things." "Why, Mum? Why can't I go to this shop?" "Because it's in the green zone baby, and you're Iraqi."

Cholera afflicts 7,000 in Iraq, water tested - WHO

Nearly 7,000 people in northern Iraq have been afflicted with cholera in past weeks, and 10 have died from the diarrhoeal disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday. Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the United Nations agency, said the precise source of the outbreak spanning three governorates -- Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk and Erbil -- was not yet clear, though polluted water was thought to be the cause. All public water systems in the affected areas have been chlorinated, and samples are being regularly collected and tested to ensure potable water standards are met, she said. "In controlling the spread of cholera WHO does not recommend any special restrictions to travel or trade to or from affected areas," the Geneva-based agency said in a statement. According to WHO figures, more than 3,000 people in Sulaimaniya fell ill with acute water diarrhoea linked to cholera between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6. Nine people there died. Kirkuk had more than 3,700 cases of acute diarrhoeal disease, and one related death. between July 29 and Sept. 2. Kirkuk has its first case of cholera confirmed on Aug. 14, and six laboratory-confirmed cases of cholera have been recently been reported in Erbil, the WHO said in a statement.


US plans military base near Iran

The Pentagon plans to build a military base near the Iran-Iraq border, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper quoted a senior US army commander as saying that the base will be used to try and prevent the flow of weapons by Shia fighters into Iraq. Major-General Rick Lynch, the commander of the US army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said that the Pentagon also plans to build checkpoints on major highways leading from the Iranian border to Baghdad.

What Crocker and Petraeus didn't say

A chart displayed by Army Gen. David Petraeus that purported to show the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad between December and August made no effort to show that the ethnic character of many of the neighborhoods had changed in that same period from majority Sunni Muslim or mixed to majority Shiite Muslim. Neither Petraeus nor U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker talked about the fact that since the troop surge began the pace by which Iraqis were abandoning their homes in search of safety had increased. They didn't mention that 86 percent of Iraqis who've fled their homes said they'd been targeted because of their sect, according to the International Organization for Migration. While Petraeus stressed that civilian casualties were down over the last five weeks, he drew no connection between that statement and a chart he displayed that showed that the number of attacks rose during at least one of those weeks. Petraeus also didn't highlight the fact that his charts showed that "ethno-sectarian" deaths in August, down from July, were still higher than in June, and he didn't explain why the greatest drop in such deaths, which peaked in December, occurred between January and February, before the surge began.


The Forgotten

At least 50,000 Iraqis (some estimates are double that number) have been employed by either the U.S. government or private American organizations, meaning that at least 250,000 family members (again, it could be double that number) have a connection with U.S. institutions, whether governmental, military, private, or NGO. Muhammed, like many other Iraqis who had these jobs, became a long distance commuter, visiting his family every two months at most, then returning to Baghdad after a brief stay. This brought more problems: I feel just like divorced man when he goes to see his children trying to do anything to make them happy and respond to all their requests because I'm staying with them just for ten days and that certainly will spoil them because now they are just like getting one side upbringing by the mother only.

Adding to the pressure, prices in Damascus have soared since the influx of Iraqis. Syria's deputy foreign minister says prices for food and basic goods have increased by 30% and rents by 150%. The government has restricted access to free health care. Because Iraqi refugees are not permitted to work in Syria, a key question becomes more oppressive by the day: what to do when the money runs out. For families like Muhammad's, the cost of living has temporarily replaced the fear of death as the central concern of daily life. Mohammed himself, however, was burdened with both concerns, since he continued to commute between Baghdad and Damascus. Then things changed again.

New Syrian visa requirement halts most Iraqi arrivals

UN refugee agency staff visiting the Syrian-Iraq border have found the crossing point virtually empty following the introduction of new visa restrictions that the Syrian government is imposing on almost all Iraqis wishing to enter Syria. The visit to the border on Monday was the first time in months, if not years, that UNHCR staff have found almost no one waiting. Iraqis, with the exception of certain professional categories, are now required to apply for a visa at the Syrian Embassy in Baghdad. "The regulations effectively mean there is no longer a safe place outside for Iraqis fleeing persecution and violence. An estimated 2,000 Iraqis flee their homes daily inside the country, so we are increasingly concerned about their fate as their options for safety are reduced," said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond.

Huge increase in number of Iraqi children in Syrian schools

Tens of thousands of Iraqi children who have been forced to flee their own country started classes in Syria this week as the Syrian Ministry of Education began a new school year in which it plans to raise the number of Iraqi students to 100,000. The Syrian Ministry of Education reported a huge increase in the number of Iraqi children who have registered. When classes resumed on Sunday and Monday, a survey of 32 schools showed a significant rise, with one school's Iraqi enrolment increasing from five students last year to over 100 this year. A full count will be available in October. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Ministry of Education have been preparing since the beginning of 2007 to increase the number of Iraqi children in Syrian public schools to 100,000 during the 2007-2008 school year. Syrian schools, which have accepted children from neighboring Arab countries for decades, last year enrolled over 33,000 Iraqi children. UNHCR estimates that at least 1.4 million Iraqis are currently living in Syria, some 250,000 of school age.

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

ANOTHER Way to help: The Collateral Repair Project


On Iraq, What's More Disgusting: Being Lied To, Or Hearing the Truth?

If you read the news very carefully, you can see exactly what is going on inside the Washington debate over the Iraq War. One party is lying, and one party is telling the truth - but which ones are doing what may surprise you (or, perhaps, not). First, the lie, otherwise known as the Innocent Bystander Fable. In a story headlined "Democrats Retreat on War End," The Politico notes that congressional Democrats are - once again - moving towards endorsing a legislative effort to cut the most unpopular president in contemporary American history a blank check to continue the most unpopular war in contemporary American history. Within this story, comes the lie to justify it all: "The strategic shift is certain to anger some war critics, but it reflects the reality that Democrats lack the votes to force President Bush's hand. 'We are trying to manage expectations that we can't end the war today or next week or next month,' said one Democrat involved in the discussions. 'We have to make sure everyone understands that.'" (emphasis added) How about the honesty? That comes from the Republicans. Here's what a top Senate GOP leadership aide told Roll Call about the Iraq War: "Our strategy in Iraq, in the short term, causes a lot of pain, but in the long term, prevents a lot of problems for the party." (emphasis added) Wow. I The Republican Party is now on record admitting that even though the war is "caus[ing] a lot of pain" (ie. American casualties, Iraqi casualties will refuse to support ending, weakened American national security, etc.), it will nonetheless stonewall efforts to end the war specifically because continuing the war indefinitely "prevents a lot of problems for the party." GOP operatives may try to spin their way out of that one post facto - but no amount of spin can change such a crystal clear direct quote like that.

Ending the War in 2009

The truth being denied is that we have funded, equipped, and trained a Frankenstein monster, and now multiple frankensteins, and they are indeed standing up. In any other conflict, the Iraqi regime and security forces would be called a police state. Yet we remain in denial because the truth would undermine the war's very rationale.. Even today, a prestigious military commission headed by General Jones reports that the Iraqi police force is hopelessly sectarian and should be scrapped. The media denial is evident in the coverage: the ninth paragraph on page 8 of the New York Times, the 25th paragraph on page 8 of the LA Times.

This is not new news. The Baker-Hamilton report last year said that the Iraqi police "routinely engage in sectarian violence, including the unnecessary detention, torture and targeted execution of Sunni Arab civilians." The illusion is that the sectarian militias are outside the Iraqi state and must be reined in, when the reality is that the biggest militias are inside the interior ministry, inside the army, police and secret prisons, particularly the Badr Brigade which belongs to SCIRI, the dominant party in the ruling coalition we put in power. Nineteen billion of our tax dollars have been spent on building the Iraqi security system. It gets worse. As encouraged by Gen. Petraeus a few years ago, at least 190,000 American-made AK-47s and 370,000 small arms sent Iraq are unaccounted for, most of them without serial numbers. This mass distribution of weapons was deliberate, not accidental, according to the GAO and Special Inspector General.

The illusion is that we are preventing a sectarian civil war when the reality is that, in the best British tradition, we have been fomenting and feeding a civil war which will fragment, subdivide and eliminate the basis of Arab nationalism in Iraq. The intellectual proponent of this division is Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, an on-the-ground adviser to Gen. Petraeus. Biddle writes that the US should support both sides in the civil war. We should arm the Sunnis to gain leverage against the very Shi'a we put in power, and we should increase the Shi'a ability to create mass violence as an incentive for the Sunnis to compromise on their demand to end the occupation. This was written in Foreign Affairs magazine in 2006. The much-touted Petreaus plan to further divide Iraq by helping Sunnis fight other Sunnis in Anbar and Diyala provinces is little more than Kit Carson's plan to arm the Ute mercenaries against the Navajo over a century ago. I make the comparison because the Sunni fighters on the US payroll are even called the "Kit Carson Scouts."

All this is against current law, the Leahy Amendment of 1997 which expressly forbids US military assistance to governments or security forces that are known to be human rights violators. Why is this provision being ignored? Is it like the claim that violence is going down in parts of Baghdad, because there are fewer people for the death squads to kill. Will a day come when there will be no more human rights violations because there will be no more Iraqis with human rights to violate? Fortunately, a few members of Congress - Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey - and one liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress, want to stop our taxes going for torture. Their HR 3134, just introduced, would require the end of all funding of the Iraqi army and police forces unless expressly approved by a vote of Congress. We need the media and groups like the clergy and the ACLU to pay attention to this developing issue. Americans may be uneasy about immediately cutting off funding for American troops in the field, but would be opposed to taxes going for secret torture chambers and ethnic cleansing.

…..We should call for a shift from warmaking to peacemaking through a diplomatic offensive, declaring a firm intention to withdraw all American troops and bases on a one-year timetable, which would create an immediate incentive for engagement on the part of Iran, Syria, the Arab League, the Europeans, Russians and Chinese, the UN. No one has an interest in joining the US in the occupation; everyone has a interest in minimizing a power vacuum as we leave. The issues to be resolved will be humanitarian assistance to 3-4 million refugees, economic reconstruction, and protection of all Iraqis from unrestrained vendettas. America should offer to assist by appointing a peace envoy and offering billions in reconstruction. The horrific damage cannot be undone but can be contained and mitigated.


The Petraeus Report

Members of Code Pink and Iraq Veterans Against the War, who had infiltrated the hearing room, were serially arrested when they took their turns shouting things like “How long will you listen to these people?” and “Liar!” from the back of the room. God bless ‘em. Rove and Rumsfeld are alive and well and re-embodied in a more media-friendly guise… the articulate, level-voiced General who, though he only went to combat when Bush invaded Iraq, has more fruit salad on his chest than any veteran of three previous wars.

….No Rovian-Rumsfeldian tableau is complete without its diabolus ex machinaIran naturally. Petraeus invoked Iran early and often, beginning with the now widely accepted and completely unsupported claim that Iran is supplying weapons to Iraqi “insurgents.” This is one that provoked the arrest of a Code Pinker in the back benches, when she shouted “That’s a lie!” She was right, of course. This phony claim, originated out of the Public Affairs offices of the Pentagon, has nonetheless become an article of faith with the “journalists” of the American fourth estate. The most enjoyable and potentially redemptive aspect of the whole dog-and-pony show were the handful of Congress members who — under pressure from war-weary constituents and the polls showing rock-bottom approval ratings for the newly-empowered Democrats — lit into Petraeus with a vigor seldom seen in the hallowed halls of hearingdom. [But will it ever amount to anything? – dancewater]

…..What we saw yesterday, aside from the Petraeus-Crocker Show, in the loss of good manners by a few Democrats, was a display of the latent power of a wakeful people. The Code Pinkers and Iraq Veterans Against the War represent a minority in American politics right now, just as anti-slavery advocates once were. But let there be no confusion; this minority — which numbers now in the millions — has the power to put its principles into action in an instrumental way: by threatening the fortunes of one of the ruling class parties in the United States on the issue of a criminal imperial war.

Misbehavior works. Delegitimate. Disobey. Disrupt.

Iraq Moratorium Day – September 21 and every third Friday thereafter ~ "I hereby make a commitment that on Friday, September 21, 2007, and the third Friday of every subsequent month I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the War in Iraq."

Quote of the day: In a way, Iraq is a manifestation of all that ails America today. A complete breakdown of fundamental societal checks and balances brought on by greed and hubris. From General Petraeus who will give it, to the mindless corporate-owned minions who populate much of Congress who will receive it, to the entertainment-as-news media which will report on it, and to the American people who will consume it with no foundation upon which to evaluate it, the "Petraeus Report" will have little relevance to what is really going on in Iraq. ~ Scott Ritter