After almost 6 1/2 years, and 4,327 American dead and 31,483 wounded, with a war spiraling downward in Afghanistan, it would be indefensible for the U.S. military — overextended and in need of materiel repair and mental recuperation — to loiter in Iraq to improve the instincts of corrupt elites. If there is a worse use of the U.S. military than “nation-building,” it is adult supervision and behavior modification of other peoples’ politicians.
More than 725 Iraqis have been killed by terrorism since the June 30 pullback of U.S. forces from the cities. All U.S. combat units are to be withdrawn from the country within a year. Up to 50,000 can remain as “advisers” to an Iraqi government that is ostentatious about its belief that the presence of U.S. forces is superfluous and obnoxious.
The advisers are to leave by the end of 2011, by which time the final two years of the U.S. military presence will have achieved … what? Already that presence is irrelevant to the rising chaos, which the Iraqi government can neither contain nor refrain from participating in: Security forces seem to have been involved in the recent robbery of a state-run bank in central Baghdad.
I write this on May 24, the eve of Memorial Day, the day set aside to commemorate Americans who have died while in military service. This day was originally created (the first commemoration was May 30, 1868) to honor Union soldiers of the War Between the States, and was later expanded after World War I to include all those who have died in military service. Typically, commemorations can be expected to include much in the way of what is considered “patriotic” music (more accurately described as nationalistic), along with tributes themed along the lines of thanking those “who fight for our freedoms.” This spills over into Sunday services of many churches around the nation, when the emphasis temporarily focuses away from the praise of God and the proclamation of the Gospel, towards one of military service and national greatness.
It takes a cartoon version of Joe Biden to say what we all know to be true: when Bush said it, people rolled their eyes, but when Obama says it, they faint, chant and scream.
Dennis Kucinich talks on Iraq, and Duncan Hunter, Jr. regurgitates six year old talking points.
A great documentary on the fiscal irresponsibility of the United States government.
The journalist who threw a shoe at President Bush is being charged:
He was held Monday in Iraqi custody for investigation and could face charges of insulting a foreign leader and the Iraqi prime minister, who was standing next to Bush.
Conviction carries a sentence of up to two years in prison or a small fine — although it’s unlikely he would face the maximum penalty given his newfound cult status in the Arab world.
Assaulting a foreign leader I can understand being a crime, but “insulting a foreign leader?” That doesn’t sound like something people get charged with in court in a free society.
According to Troy Patterson over at Slate, the Saddam Hussein portrayed in HBO’s series House of Saddam resembles more a crime lord than a genocidal dictator. It’s quite a relief to read that HBO went that route, as Hussein’s career resembles more that of a gangster than an ideologue.
The wars the United States has been engaged in since 2001 have had with them a strong flirtation with darkness. It seems that strong repercussions are brewing for a few of those engaging in darkness:
WASHINGTON - Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards have been indicted and a sixth was negotiating a plea with prosecutors for a 2007 shooting that left 17 Iraqis dead and became an anti-American rallying cry for insurgents, people close to the case said Friday.
Many of us are watching with great interest to see how things are shaping up with likely appointments for the new Obama Administration. Given all the talk about “change” in this election, one would hope that the appointments would indicate some definite moves away from the status quo. Obviously the President’s powers to change much of anything are quite limited by the Constitution (not that this has mattered so much to recent Presidents), with foreign policy being the area of greatest potential for change. An initial look at Obama’s likely appointments in matters of foreign affairs and national security leads this writer to question just how much change, if any, will occur in the conduct of foreign affairs.