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The Iraqi Disaster and US Responsibility


Eleven years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, who will return the half a million lives lost, directly or indirectly, from this war? Who will give back the billions of wasted dollars?

The Iraqi Disaster and US Responsibility
Los Tiempos, Bolivia
By Raúl Peñaranda
Translated By Courtney Cadenhead
3 July 2014
Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was ordered in 2003, under the government of George Bush, with the pretext that Saddam Hussein, its then president-dictator, had weapons of mass destruction under his control. Whether he had them or not was unclear, as all the world — except the U.S. government — knew.


The real reasons for the invasion, confirmed almost immediately afterward, were to get rid of an inconvenient Arabic leader at the head of an oil country, as Hussein was, and to control a part of those million-dollar resources.

First, the United States utilized air raids to destroy highways, schools, refineries, bridges and factories; then, with the resources that came from Iraqi oil, the U.S. hired North American companies with ties to their military complex in order to … rebuild those highways, schools, refineries, bridges and factories — all under allegations of price inflation. And inefficiency. Many works remain half-done despite the fact that they have been in progress for years.

A little more than a decade after the U.S. invasion, Iraq is in danger of having its unified state dissolved. The Kurds, savagely hounded by Saddam, seek their independence — something they in fact already have to a high degree. The Kurds control Kirkuk in the north of the country, along with its enormous oil reserves.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Jul 11, 2014, 07:37 AM (0 replies)

The Most Expensive Warplane in American History Is Too Dangerous to Fly and Just Caught Fire (Again)


The Most Expensive Warplane in American History Is Too Dangerous to Fly and Just Caught Fire (Again) But They Plan to Spend $1 Trillion On It Anyway
by Abby Zimet
07.10.14 - 3:10 PM

Last week, just days before its long-planned, much-hyped international debut at a U.K. airshow, the entire fleet of the endless boondoggle known as the F-35 II Lightning, or Joint Strike Fighter, has been grounded after one caught fire on a runway, the latest in a years-long series of disasters almost every time it's tried to leave the ground. The plane's current pricetag of $398.6 billion equals a cost of about $49 billion a year since work began in 2006 on a project now seven years behind schedule and estimated to cost over $1 trillion when done. No doubt entirely coincidentally and in no way connected to the fact that the project is still alive, its maker Lockheed has spread its jobs, suppliers and contractors across almost every state, thus ensuring broad support in a Congress whose members want to keep their jobs. If that doesn't make you angry enough, here are a lot of cool things we could have done - provide every homeless person with a $600,000 home, feed every hungry child, fund every current humanitarian crisis - with the money.

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Jul 11, 2014, 06:38 AM (4 replies)

Blackwater: Contract Hit


Contract Hit
Junge Welt, Germany
By Rainer Rupp
Translated By Ron Argentati
1 July 2014
Edited by Gillian Palmer

According to an article published in The New York Times last Sunday, a senior employee of the infamous private mercenary company Blackwater — since rechristened with the posh-sounding name “Academi” — threatened a U.S. government official with murder unless he stopped investigating the company. The Blackwater official's threat was even supported by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, which in turn forced the inspector to terminate his investigations in Iraq. Official government documents that have become public in the murder trial of four Blackwater mercenaries support this charge. The trial, which began June 11 in U.S. district court in Washington, D.C., rekindles memories of U.S. actions in Iraq, which were characterized by extreme and inhuman brutality against the civilian population.

It has been nearly seven years since the four mercenaries — along with several other “companions” now standing trial for the Sept. 16, 2007 act in Baghdad's Nisur Square —began firing wildly, an action that resulted in the deaths of 14 civilians (men, women and children) and the serious wounding of another 18 people. Several investigations took place at the time — one by the Iraqi government and others done by The New York Times and Washington Post — revealed that there was no provocation to justify the shooting of unarmed civilians by Blackwater mercenaries and that at no time were they ever under threat. Under public pressure, the George W. Bush administration dispatched a team of investigators to Iraq under the direction of Jean C. Richter, a special agent in charge of providing security for U.S. diplomats, to look into the charges made against Blackwater.

In this connection, attention began focusing on repeated meetings between U.S. inspector Richter and his assistant with Iraq's Blackwater boss, Carroll, who was concerned about his billions of dollars in contracts to protect U.S. diplomats. According to Richter, Carroll threatened he could “shoot him here and now”* with no one ever questioning it because, as he said, they were in Iraq. Richter took Carroll's threats seriously, according to memorandums written, and informed the State Department of the threats. Richter felt that in a war zone anything could happen, especially wherever there might be a possibility of interfering with lucrative contracts.

What is noteworthy in this story is the fact that despite this disturbing incident the U.S. State Department did not react and continues to award contracts to Blackwater and its successor up to the present day. This is an indication that corruption and moral decadence had long since permeated even the upper levels of supposedly sacrosanct American diplomacy. And it's typical that the Nisur Square killers are on trial today not because of the efforts of the U.S. government, but due to the efforts of Iraqi survivors of the massacre and their relatives, who are supported by U.S. human rights activists.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Jul 10, 2014, 08:10 AM (6 replies)

Is Japan's peace constitution dead?


Is Japan's peace constitution dead?
By John Feffer
Jul 10, '14

WASHINGTON - Japan has functioned under its "peace constitution" for nearly 70 years. The distinctive Article 9, which prevents the country from conducting war as a means of resolving international conflict, is showing its age. Over the last several decades, after repeated "reinterpretations, the peace constitution has become increasingly enfeebled. With its latest decision, the government of Shinzo Abe has quite nearly euthanized the document.

The Abe government recently announced a Cabinet decision that commits Japan to the principle of collective self-defense. Tokyo, in other words, can use force not only in self-defense but also to help an ally in peril, even if Japan itself is not under attack.

Prime Minister Abe has stressed that this reform reduces the risk of Japan being involved in war. He has also emphasized that this is not a major change in how Japan handles its foreign and military policy - and thereby does not violate the peace constitution. But the changes will in fact have significant implications.

The United States, which has long prodded Japan to shoulder more security responsibilities, immediately praised Abe's bold move. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called it "an important step for Japan as it seeks to make a greater contribution to regional and global peace and security".
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Jul 10, 2014, 07:57 AM (0 replies)

Not Serious re: Terrorism: GOP House Cut out funding for al-Qaeda, Iraq Records & Research


Not Serious re: Terrorism: GOP House Cut out funding for al-Qaeda, Iraq Records & Research
By Juan Cole | Jul. 8, 2014

Representatives on the Hill talk a good game about going back into Iraq or pursuing a global war on terror, but they aren’t actually very interested in all that. Exhibit A: they’ve applied the same austerity to the Conflict Records Research Center as they did to the working poor and Veterans on food stamps.


“CRRC CRRC@ndu.edu
date: Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 4:22 PM
subject: CRRC Status Update July 2014

CONFLICT RECORDS RESEARCH CENTER Institute for National Strategic Studies National Defense University Fort Lesley J. McNair Washington, D.C. 20319

We are writing to provide you with a brief update on the status of the Conflict Records Research Center (CRRC). The CRRC, which has previously received generous funding from the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy (OSD(P)), has no funding beyond the end of the current fiscal year. Unless something changes immediately, the center will close its doors sometime prior to September 30, 2014. Throughout the remainder of the fiscal year, CRRC personnel shortages will severely and adversely affect the center’s ability to host researchers, respond to e-mails, update the center’s website, or conduct other CRRC operations.

The CRRC, which focuses on al-Qaeda affiliated terrorism and Iraq, is on the verge of closing its doors just as battlefield victories by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), fighting alongside former elements of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime, remind observers of the continuing need for precisely the sort of research that the CRRC enables and provides. The CRRC has been honored to support innovative research and scholarship on these and other important topics since 2010.

If the CRRC does not receive funding immediately and hire personnel prior to September 30, it will shut down and the National Archives (NARA) will take ownership of all existing CRRC records. As explained below, the records will not be available to researchers for a considerable number of years. In addition, current CRRC holdings, which constitute less than one percent of the records that the center has been working to make available, will be frozen in time. No new records will be added.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Jul 10, 2014, 06:31 AM (0 replies)

Bush Trifecta lands on Obama: Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan Imploding


Bush Trifecta lands on Obama: Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan Imploding
By Juan Cole | Jul. 9, 2014

President Barack Obama of Hawaii had fondly dreamed of bidding turbulent and unrewarding West Asia farewell and turning the attentions of American diplomacy to East and South East Asia. From his point of view, the Bush administration had unwisely entangled the US too deeply in the Middle East, where no good deed goes unpunished. He had opposed the Iraq War, and thought the latter diverted attention from Afghanistan and the hunt for Bin Laden. He was willing to do a bit of Israel-Palestine diplomacy but not to really put his presidential prestige on the line the way Jimmy Carter had. And after all, Carter got almost no credit for averting decades more of Israel-Egypt wars.



In January 2006, the Palestine Authority held elections in Gaza and the West Bank for the first time since 1996, when President Mahmoud Abbas had been elected along with a parliament dominated by the Palestine Liberation Organization. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not want Hamas (the Movement for Change) to be allowed to run, since the far-right Muslim fundamentalist organization had never accepted the Oslo Peace Process. Although back in the 1980s the Israelis had backed Hamas against its secular, nationalist rival, the PLO, by 2006 the two had fallen out.



In Afghanistan, the Bush administration should have used the Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban and then just left. Anand Gopal has argued convincingly that US troops left in Afghanistan got drawn into tribal feuds and destabilized the south and east of the country, whereas in the north, NATO forces that were less kinetic managed to keep calm. Bush’d decision to leave tens of thousands of US soldiers in Pushtun areas, engaging in the same sort of search and destroy tactics as had turned the South Vietnamese against the US military in the late 1960s, led to a neo-Taliban resurgence.



Having illegally invaded and occupied Iraq, the Bush administration originally wanted phony ‘caucus-based’ elections in Iraq, wherein hand-picked elite Iraqis would elect corrupt financier and inveterate prevaricator Ahmad Chalabi as prime minister. Some say Chalabi was a double agent, working for Iran. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the spiritual head of Iraq’s majority Shiite population, over-ruled Bush and insisted on one-person one vote parliamentary elections. Being the majority, the Shiites won in January 2005, but not just any Shiites. It was the pro-Iran fundamentalist Shiites that Bush inadvertently brought to power. Ooops. They went on deeply to alienate the formerly dominant Sunni minority, leading to the present Sunni rebellion in northern and western Iraq, in alliance with an al-Qaeda offshoot None of this would be happening if Bush hadn’t invaded on false pretenses.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Jul 9, 2014, 08:23 AM (0 replies)

"It’s too modern to fail"


Senate shrugs off F-35 grounding

By Martin Matishak - 07/08/14 01:37 PM EDT

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee are brushing off the latest setback to the $400 billion and counting F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which resulted in the grounding of the military’s jet of the future.

“I just want to keep it going,” said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the panel. “It’s too modern to fail. If we’re going to maintain superiority over other countries, we have to have that, we can’t do without it.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) argued the engine fire that led to the grounding is a bump in the road.

“When you develop a new system like this you’re going to have hiccups,” he said.



F-35’s air show debut in jeopardy
By Martin Matishak - 07/08/14 06:00 AM EDT

The Pentagon’s costly fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters is grounded, just a week before the military’s jet of the future was to have its coming-out party at two air shows in Great Britain.

The latest problem for the $400 billion program, which is already seven years behind schedule, came after an engine on one of the F-35s caught fire during a June 23 takeoff from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The fire led the Pentagon to ground the entire fleet, and officials on Monday said it’s uncertain whether the jets will be cleared for takeoff by next week.

A decision on whether to allow the planes to fly will be made in the “next several days,” according to Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren, based on the aircraft’s “safety and airworthiness.”


The thread title is from Douchebag Inhofe.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Jul 9, 2014, 07:45 AM (2 replies)

Millions of Soldiers and Veterans in Trouble


Despite the July 4 tributes, millions of US soldiers and veterans are in serious trouble.

Millions of Soldiers and Veterans in Trouble
by Bill Quigley
Published on Monday, July 7, 2014 by Common Dreams

Twenty two veterans kill themselves every day according to the Veterans Administration. A study by the Los Angeles Times found veterans are more than twice as likely as other civilians to commit suicide. Suicides among full-time soldiers, especially among male soldiers, are also well above the national civilian rate. USA Today reported a suicide rate of 19.9 per 100,000 for civilian men compared to rates of 31.8 per 100,000 for male soldiers and 34.2 per 100,000 for men in the National Guard.

Over 57,000 veterans are homeless on any given night according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


More than 1.4 million veterans are living below the poverty line according to US Senate report, and another 1.4 million are just above the line. Of veterans between the ages of 18 and 34, 12.5 percent are living in poverty.


Between 2000 and 2011 nearly one million vets were diagnosed with at least one psychological disorder and almost half had multiple disorders, according to a 2014 report of the Institute for Medicine. In another report, the Institute says an estimated 8 percent of current and former service members deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq have a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis. Other congressional reports indicate national numbers of vets using mental health to be well over a million. The VA spends over $3 billion a year on PTSD treatment annually but collect little information about the effectiveness or whether treatments are successful.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jul 8, 2014, 07:24 AM (0 replies)

SPIEGEL Interview with Hillary Clinton: 'Surveillance on Merkel's Phone Was Absolutely Wrong'


In an interview, Hillary Clinton discusses the growing gap between the rich and poor that threatens democracy, Americans' discontent with politics, her regrets over NSA spying on Chancellor Merkel's mobile phone and her potential presidential candidacy.

SPIEGEL Interview with Hillary Clinton: 'Surveillance on Merkel's Phone Was Absolutely Wrong'
Interview Conducted By Marc Hujer and Holger Stark
July 08, 2014 – 11:34 AM


SPIEGEL: American society is polarized as never before. The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote a bestseller "Capital in the Twenty First Century" which is making a lot of noise right now. Have you had the chance to read it?

Clinton: I haven't read it yet. I've read very long essays about it and know what his principal point is. I think he makes a very strong case that we have unbalanced our economy too much towards favoring capital and away from labor. And I agree with his principal concern, which is that we have devalued labor. He talks about Europe, but it is the same thing in the United States.

SPIEGEL: Piketty argues that the growing gap between the rich and the poor is threatening democracy.

Clinton: I do agree with that. We've had this huge experiment known as America that was a diversity of populations, and we have held it together because we had a democracy that slowly over time included everybody. Even during the Great Depression people in the streets believed that they could make it and they would be better off. Now the relative wealth is much higher, but the disparity makes people believe that they're stuck. They no longer believe that things are going to get any better, no matter how hard they work. People have lost trust in each other and the political system and I think that's very threatening to democracy.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jul 8, 2014, 06:36 AM (0 replies)

WORDS OF WAR Peace of mind


WORDS OF WAR Peace of mind
By Corinne Reilly
The Virginian-Pilot
© July 6, 2014

Ron Capps is clearing his throat at the front of a classroom in Williamsburg. It's a Saturday morning.

He begins with questions: Who are you? Why are you here?

A National Guardsman says he drove all the way from Charlottesville because it turns out writing is harder than it looks. The veteran next to him says his thoughts have been especially scattered lately, and maybe it will help to see them on paper. A woman who deployed twice to Iraq explains that this was her therapist's idea.

After he lectures on narrative structure, theme, characters and endings, Capps, who grew up in Virginia Beach, tells his own story: There was Kosovo and Rwanda. Then Afghanistan and Iraq. Then Darfur. It was there, eight years ago, sitting alone in a pickup in the desert, that he nearly shot himself in the head. He'd made the decision. The pistol was in his hand. And then his wife happened to call and interrupt. He was sent back to the United States, where conventional treatment and alcohol weren't enough.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jul 7, 2014, 09:12 AM (0 replies)
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