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Sunday, May 27, 2007

We Need a Bigger Bird

The Iraq War, already on course to becoming the single biggest moral and strategic mistake in America's two hundred thirty one year history, essentially began with a poorly worded, ill-considered Congressional resolution officially granting saber rattling privileges to President George Bush. Joint Resolution 114 was passed on October 11, 2002 with 77-23 and 296-133 margins in the Senate and House.

That's an overall Congressional vote of 373 in favor, 156 opposed.

Remember that figure.

The core of the resolution amounted to the following:

(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

In plain English, the resolution granted the President authority to (1) use military force to "defend" the United States against the previously implied threat posed by the previously claimed weapons of mass destruction possessed by the government of Iraq and (2) enforce all applicable United Nations resolutions governing the security zones established over Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War.


It is now four years and 7 months past that vote and

* our military has been at war for over four years
* 3454 uniformed American military troops have been killed (#2)
* 24,314 uniformed American military troops have been wounded (#2)
* over 403 non-military contractors and support personnel have been killed (#2)
* $429.4 billion has been spent directly or indirectly on the war (#3)
* no actual nuclear or biological weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq
* no means of manufacturing nuclear or biological weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq
* Iraq has no military force capable of violating the post-Gulf War UN resolutions

No weapons of mass destruction, no means to manufacture weapons of mass destruction, no situation left in which the original UN sanctions apply because the government to which they were targeted has been toppled and the government that replaced it has no military capability to violate those resolutions. In short, none of the conditions of the original authorization of force apply for the continued use of force.

That's where we are at, so where are we headed?

Past really is prologue with this Administration. If ignorance and denial led to this war, ignorance and denial will continue to worsen its already disastrous consequences for America.

Bush's famous "gut", the same one that looked into the soul of Russian President Vladmir Putin, is telling him to continue betting on current Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the rest of his government. The whereabouts of the key Iraqi leaders speaks volumes about the viability of Iraqi society and its government:

* Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the leading Shi'ite party that controls most of Baghdad, left the country to seek cancer treatment in Iran (#5) - so much for a functioning middle class within Iraq to provide basic medical care
* Jalal Talabini, one of the leading Kurdish leaders, has left to seek weight-related medical treatment in the United States (#5) - hmmm, civil war or weight problem, a really tough decision about priorities
* al-Maliki attempted on May 25, 2007 to replace cabinet positions vacated by allies of Muqtada al-Sadr but didn't have a quorum and was put off until at least May 28 (#6) -- critical government positions in a civil-war torn country can't be filled after a month because people can't be bothered to show up to approve nominations?
* Muqtada al-Sadr recently returned from four months in hiding (#7) -- he seems to be the only Iraqi leader heading towards the center of action, but unfortunately, he's one of the many bad guys

The wars in Iraq (America versus whoever we think we're fighting and the sectarian civil war) aren't going any better.

* The Marines confirmed only 10 percent of their urgent supply requests are filled (#8)
* April and May 2007 have been the two deadliest back-to-back months of the entire war (#2)
* over 50,000 Iraqis are losing their homes monthly and becoming refugees (#9)
* over 3.7 million Iraqis have been displaced since the beginning of the war (#9)
* while US troops freed 42 Iraqis held captive by Al Qaeda on May 27, 2007 (#10), troops are finding dozens / hundreds of murdered Iraqi civilians every day (#11)
* total Al Queda / insurgent deaths in Iraq are estimated at 9,805 for the war (#12)

In short, America has suffered 3,454 deaths and 24,314 life-altering casualties to kill 9,805 enemy combatants who destroyed every mechanism of civilian government, created 3.7 million refugees who will undoubtedly produce new unrest in their reluctant host countries and another generation of resentment towards those that created their situation. At the same time, despite spending over $429 billion dollars, our troops cannot get the equipment they need when they need it, despite a war that's lasted over four years.

So faced with this situation, what does the United States Congress do?

It approves another $100 billion -- that's twenty three percent of the funds already spent over four years -- for the next five months of wartime operations. It approves another $100 billion with no change in strategy, no change in procurement practices that leave troops scavenging to raise money for their own body armor prior to deployment, no recognition of the absence of any of the factors originally cited as justification for force and absolutely no accounting of a President whose motivations and claims for using that force were proven ONE HUNDRED PERCENT false.

How bitterly ironic that the United States Congress chose to approve this funding before sneaking out of town for Memorial Day weekend. On a weekend set aside to reflect upon the sacrifices others have made for our freedoms, Congress helps ensure more Americans will lose their lives in an effort doing NOTHING to protect our freedoms.

How appalling that the latest funding measure was approved by 280-142 and 80-14 margins in the House and Senate. That's a 360-156 margin. The original resolution was approved with a 373-156 margin. At a time when over 75% of Americans believe the war is going badly and control of both the House and Senate changed hands due to dissatisfaction over the war,

* three MORE Senators approved more money for a directionless war
* THIRTEEN House members apparently had something better to do than vote on the measure
* SIX Senators apparently had something better to do than vote on the measure (yes, I realize one is still incapacitated…)
* not a single net increase in votes against the worst war ever conceived, planned or executed by this country

How perfectly apropos that as George Bush conducted a rare press conference to attempt an explanation for more of the same, his outdoor appearance was greeted with a special gift from a passing bird.

After watching the events of this week and the eerie re-enactment of the colossal political policy failure of 2002 that allowed a war to be started on the say-so of the worst President this country has ever had, and watching the President explain the continuation of this failure unabated only to get dumped on by a passing bird, one can only come to one conclusion.

We need a bigger bird.

One big enough to dump on 80 Senators and 280 Representatives -- 360 corrupt, immoral cowards who cannot tell the American people the truth, even on a weekend dedicated to those they so piously claim to honor.


#1) http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/bliraqreshouse.htm

#2) http://icasualties.org/oif/Civ.aspx

#3) http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182

#4) http://riga.usembassy.gov/EN/site/topstory/bush20070525

#5) http://www.juancole.com/2007/05/incredible-vanishing-iraqi-political.html

#6) http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/05/26/news/nation/13_02_405_25_07.txt

#7) http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,275374,00.html

#8) http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007May24/0,4670,MarinesCriticalGear,00.html

#9) http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/01/08/iraq.refugees/index.html

#10) http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070527/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

#11) http://www.iraqbodycount.org/editorial/weekiniraq/

#12) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Insurgents_killed_in_Iraq