Jun. 5th, 2008 10:58 pm

"A crime against peace, in international law, refers to "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing" "

US military law:

"498. Crimes Under International Law Any person, whether a member of the armed forces or a civilian, who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment. Such offenses in connection with war comprise:

a. Crimes against peace.

b. Crimes against humanity.

c. War crimes."
Has Science Found a Way to End All Wars? an article from Discover a few months back. The ingredients people figure will end war are... well, pretty much what you'd expect. Food, dignity, land, etc... Take away the most common reasons people fight, and guess what, most people won't. And if most people aren't fighting, then you don't have war, you have crime. At worst.

And y'know, even if providing for everyone doesn't end war completely, it'd have plenty of other benefits, so why not try it?
Seriously, he's not even bothering to pretend he wasn't lying any more. Here, about how he kept insisting that everything was fine in Iraq while violence spiraled out of control:
"BUSH: Well, yes. I think we — and I wanted — that's as much trying to bolster the spirits of the people in the field as well as — look, you can't have the commander in chief say to a bunch of kids who are sacrificing either, "It's not worth it," or, "You're losing." I mean, what does that do for morale?"

via Kevin Drum.

Man, darn that liberal media, constantly attacking George W. Bush, Our Heroic Leader!

Oh, wait, what's that? Nobody mentioned the fact that the President was bullshitting us all along? Nevermind.
Do you want to know why we're mired in a civil war we helped unleash in Iraq?

It's because the people who started the war know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the Middle East.

First, Republican presidential candidate John McCain has repeatedly claimed Iran is training Al Queda. Which is false. Iran hates Al Queda, Al Queda hates Iran. And, he conflates Al Queda, the terrorist network headed by Osama Bin Laden, with Al Queda in Iraq, a group formed in Iraq to fight the US occupation, which just took the Al Queda brand name. But that's standard issue stuff for Bush, Cheney, McCain, and the rest of the war crowd. But Al Queda in Iraq is a Sunni group, and Iran is mostly Shi'a, and the civil war in Iraq has largely been Sunnis killing Shi'a, and vice versa.

John McCain is running on his reputation as a war hero and tough guy, who'll be "strong" on Iraq and terrorism and whatever, but he doesn't have the slightest idea what he's talking about. Exactly like the current resident of the White House.

For instance, here's Matthew Yglesias on a quote from George W. Bush. And here's the quote:

Out of such chaos in Iraq, the terrorist movement could emerge emboldened -- with new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to dominate the region and harm America. An emboldened al Qaeda with access to Iraq's oil resources could pursue its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack America and other free nations

The truly stupid parts are twofold: First, the idea that Al Queda in Iraq could somehow take over the entire country, including the oil fields. A loose geurilla terrorist network can't take and hold territory. Plus the oil is in the Shi'a south, and Kurdish north, and Al Queda in Iraq is a Sunni group. This is truly stupid thinking.

And secondly, the claim that Al Queda in Iraq, or the original Al Queda, would get a recruiting boon from us leaving Iraq? The US military itself has profiled the average Al Queda in Iraq soldier as being there BECAUSE we've invaded and occupied Iraq. Here's a quote.

"Mr. AQI is a man in his early-to-mid 20s. Chances are he came to Iraq from either north Africa or Saudi Arabia. He's single. He's lower-middle class and has some high school experience, but probably not a diploma. To earn his wages he worked in construction or maybe drove a taxi. Mr. AQI probably didn't have any significant military experience prior to joining AQI. His relationship with his dad isn't so great. And while he's been religious for as long as he can remember, he wasn't, you know, a nut about it.

So what brought Mr. AQI to Iraq? At the mosque, he met a man who could tell Mr. AQI just wanted to belong to something. That man told Mr. AQI he had something Mr. AQI needed to see. Very often, according to Colonel Bacon, it was an image from Abu Ghraib. Or it was a spliced-together propaganda film of Americans killing or abusing Iraqis. The narrative that weighed heavily on Mr. AQI, Colonel Bacon said, was that it was his "religious duty go to Iraq," where he would serve as "an avenger of abused Iraqs."

But Iraq wasn't what he thought it would be. Mr. AQI wasn't an infantryman, where he'd bravely stand and fight Americans, he was pressured into being a suicide bomber. Nor were his targets the Americans he wanted to hit -- they were the Iraqis he came to avenge. According to Colonel Bacon, in some cases, Mr. AQI was happy to be in American custody, where he would no longer cause Iraq any more pain."

These are the yahoos we let lead us to war. They don't have the slightest idea what they're talking about, it's all just posing as "tough". This is why we're in the middle of a disaster, and it's why none of them are suited to be President. And why Bush should be impeached.


Mar. 12th, 2008 03:28 pm
Admiral Fallon Resigns

Admiral James Fallon was the commander of CENTCOM, the central US military command. His resignation comes in large part because of an article in Esquire. From the NY Times piece: "Officials said the last straw, however, came in an article in Esquire magazine by Thomas P.M. Barnett, a respected military analyst, that profiled Admiral Fallon under the headline, “The Man Between War and Peace.” The article highlighted comments Admiral Fallon made to the Arab television station Al Jazeera last fall, in which he said that a “constant drumbeat of conflict” from Washington that was directed at Iran and Iraq was “not helpful and not useful. I expect that there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to try to do our utmost to create different conditions.” (...)"

George W. Bush wants to start a war with Iran. Even though we have no army to invade with, and no plan, and the complete fucking stupidity of starting yet another war, in an already unstable Middle East, while we're already occupying a hostile country next door.

John McCain is all for bombing and or invading Iran too. That's one of the biggest reasons he's not fit to serve as President of the United States.


Mar. 1st, 2008 12:17 pm
The media loves John McCain. He's the "Maverick" riding the "Straight Talk Express" to the Republican nomination. He's the rebel Republican who's stood up to the White House on tax cuts, global warming, and torture.

Hogwash. McCain has given up all of his "maverick" integrity over the last few years. He was one of the least bad of the Republican candidates, but look at his competition! He would make a very bad president. Probably not as bad as the criminals in charge now, but in no way a good president.

Why? Well, I'll start by looking at three of the issues that I'm most concerned about. There's plenty more, so this may turn into a semi-ongoing series of posts.

First though, I'll get the cheapest shot out of the way. Here's how distant McCain is from Bush, even after Bush and Karl Rove attacked his adopted daughter by claiming she was the child of an affair.

Can you hear the romantic music?

Okay, now on to the issues. First, let's start with the invasion and occupation of Iraq. McCain's never been anything but a cheerleader for the war. He supported it when it started, even while we were being lied to about Saddam. He supported every step of the way, every disaster and fiasco. Never voted to force Bush to have any accountability. Pushed for the "surge" and kept hailing its success, even when it wasn't. Never pushed for any new plan, or a defined strategy, nothing.

And from his campaigning, his plan for the future is pretty much "More of the same, but harder!" Even though the same hasn't worked at all and got us into this mess and is making us lose Afghanistan, where we had the best chance.

Oh, and his policy for dealing with Iran? "Bomb bomb bomb Iran. He's later claimed it was a joke, but if it was, it was a really bad one.

So given that he's one of the people who helped get us into this mess, and helped drive us further into this disaster, why on Earth should we trust him to be competent to get us out of it, and make things any better?

Answer: We shouldn't.

Okay, second issue. Torture. The Bush administration has been holding people without charges, "disappearing" "suspected terrorists", and torturing people. Routinely. In violation of US law and the Geneva Conventions, as well as in violation of decency, morals, and our reputation around the world. It's not just terrorists, since we haven't bothered with little things like trial or evidence to see if the people we've caught are actual terrorists or know anything useful. (Not that torture is good at getting useful information. If you hurt somebody enough, they'll tell you whatever they think you want to hear that will make you stop. That's why dictators use it for forced confessions.) McCain's gotten a lot of credit in the press for opposing Bush on it.

I call bullshit. He hasn't done a damn thing to stop Bush from authorizing torture. Every time a bill's come up in Congress, he's voted against it. Here's some more He hasn't lead any bold investigations into the criminal underbelly of the Bush administration. He has, once again, enabled Bush and his cronies every step of the way. Even though he should know all this, from being held captive by the Viet Cong. He's just spoken up enough to get credit from credulous media, not actually DONE anything to really oppose the Bush administration or reign in torture.

And third, the environment. Environmental issues are going to be having a lot more impact over the next many years, between peak oil, climate chaos, plastic islands, and all of the rest. Especially with places like China and India industrializing rapidly. McCain has a reputation as one of the more environmentally friendly Republicans (low as that bar is). So how'd he do last year? Well... according to the League of Conservation Voters, McCain missed every important environmental vote last year. Every one.

Here's his issues page. It doesn't say a thing, it's just a bunch of vague platitudes. Also, look at this. McCain was asked at one of the debates if he favors mandatory carbon caps. He says no, his plan is cap-and-trade. Um. Senator McCain. You see that part in your plan, where it says "CAP-and-trade"? The entire way a cap and trade program works is it sets mandatory limits on how much CO2 can be produced, and then sells or gives away credits for that much pollution. Either McCain doesn't have the slightest idea what he's talking about, or he's flat out lying. In either case, that's hardly a "Straight Talk Express".

There's plenty more too, including his self-professed lack of knowledge of anything to do with economics, his about face to the fantasy that cutting taxes increases revenue, his embrace of scary hatemongers, and many others. Which I may or may not get into.

The saddest part is, even with all this, he's one of the better candidates the Republicans ran this year. I just hope the media gets over their love affair with him and their "Maverick straight-talker" storyline and actually tells people some of this.
One of the posters over at Obsidian Wings, Andrew Olmsted, died in Iraq.

I only ever knew him from his postings there and his own blog, and mostly through arguing with him occasionally. But he was an honest and decent man, and most of what he wrote is of the same caliber as his own obituary there. His last entry in his other blog, over at the Rocky Mountain News is about helping Iraqis bring gifts to Iraqi kids in a refugee camp. The world's a little bit worse off without him. Him and the many other soldiers and civilians who died in this, and every other war.

UPDATE: Hilzoy found the AP article probably about Andrew here. It doesn't really say very much. But each and every article like that isn't just about numbers, they're about people.
The media the past couple days was filled with headlines touting President Bush's proclaimed "drawdown" in Iraq.

The troops he's declared he's bringing home? They're the "surge", which were planned to come home in Spring of 2008 ANYWAY.

Nothing has changed. The troops are being withdrawn because a) that was the plan all along, and b) To keep them there much longer would mean the army would break. 15 month tours of duty, multiple times, with "stop-loss" keeping people from quitting the army, all of that has gone into keeping troops in Iraq. Some time in 2009 (safely after Bush is out of office, of course) we'll HAVE to start bringing soldiers home.

This whole thing has been an elaborate kabuki theater, designed to stall for time and pretend our troops are doing any good over there. All so we wouldn't leave on Bush's watch, and so that way the withdrawal and any results of it can be blamed on the next president (almost certain to be a Democrat, considering the Republican field is batshit insane). Except for any good results, or even neutral results, which will be credited to our far-sighted decider for invading Iraq in the first place.

It's all smoke and mirrors.  And our lazy corporate media keeps falling for it. Bush isn't changing anything based on success, the troops are staying until next year, because that's how long the generals said they could keep it without totally shattering the army. And so that's how it was planned.  Nothing has changed.

hilzoy, of course, says it better.
Hilzoy covers most of it here, but here's a quick rundown.

There are a lot of people in Iraq who tried to help out the US and actually believed the lines we gave about freedom and democracy. Or at least figured they could help make things less bad. Those people's lives are in danger because the Bush Administration has failed at every turn and let Iraq spiral in to chaos. They're seen as collaborators, and are being killed now, and will likely be slaughtered when we leave. And we will leave, if for no other reason than to keep from completely breaking the army.

Therefore, since we fucked up their country and lives, and can't fix it, we should offer them asylum, here. Because otherwise, they're going to be killed.

But since 2003, the US has let in less than 800 Iraqi refugees. There's a lot more than that. We need to have been letting them in years ago, but that failing, we should be bringing them here, now.

There are two bills, one in the Senate, and one in the House. I'll quote Hilzoy's piece for the descriptions.
"Senator Kennedy has introduced a bill, S.1651, that would provide up to 5,000 visas a year for Iraqis who have worked for the US Government for at least a year, and for their families. It would also designate as "Priority 2 refugees of special humanitarian concern under the refugee resettlement priority system" Iraqis who have worked for US media organizations, NGOs, or agencies that the US has contracted with or given grants to. Earl Blumenauer has introduced legislation (HR 2265) in the House that's similar, except that it provides special visas not just for Iraqis who have worked for the US government for a year, but for those who have worked for American media organizations, NGOs, etc., and it provides 15,000 a year, not 5,000."

Write your Senators and Congresspeople. Or to the policy head of immigration at DHS. His address is here, and behind the cut is my letter I wrote to him.
Carlos E. Iturregui
Chief, Office of Policy and Strategy
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Rest of the letter below )
As a last-ditch effort, President Bush is expected to announce this week the dispatch of thousands of additional troops to Iraq as a stopgap measure, an order that Pentagon officials say would strain the Army and Marine Corps as they struggle to man both wars.

Okay, so. We're supposed to take 20,000 troops from Afghanistan, where we're still fighting the people who actually sheltered Al-Queda, and throw them into Iraq without any plan, other than to let Bush try and stave off admitting that he and his totally fucked up Iraq from day one? In their quest to pretend they're not actually losing Iraq, they're going to lose Afghanistan. Where we actually had a chance to carry out all the stuff about rebuilding a country, creating a beacon of peace and democracy, really WERE greeted as liberators, etc. And so now that's slipping away and the Taliban are regrouping, and Iraq is almost complete chaos, so let's throw thousands of soldiers into Iraq with no plan for what they'd actually do, just to avoid facing reality and prop up their fantasies with more dead soldiers.

Fuck. He really is the Worst. President. Ever.
It's an idea that's been growing for a while, but I think one of the first and biggest mistakes we made in the "war on terror" was to call it "the war on terror". And by us, I mean the Bush administration. See, the thing about war is, you can't have a war unless there's two sides of at least relatively similar strength. Which is clearly not the case here. But by making it the "war on terror", it a) conflated a bunch of terrorist groups into some kind of monolithic enemy "the terrorists" that doesn't actually exist, and b) it made "The terrorists" something the world's mightiest superpower considered close enough to its own strength to declare war on. Instead of treating these guys as a bunch of scumbags who blow up innocent people to try and bully their way around. And since there's not any kind of unified group of terrorists, no SPECTRE or anything, it's a war we can't "win" or show major victories in, which means that we set the metaphors up to favor "the terrorists".

We're fighting the ideas part of things on ground that sucks for us, and the Bush Administration CHOSE that ground. One more little incompetency from them.


Nov. 2nd, 2006 01:03 pm
When did Orson Scott Card get completely detached from reality? Now he's defending the war in Iraq as the "best run war in history" and it looks like he's arguing for airstrikes on Iran.

And the sad part is, this is a large portion of what passes for "serious" national security policy. Absolutely stupid ideas that won't work, but sound tough because we'll get to blow stuff up.
Us Adopts Tough New Space Policy

"The US has adopted a tough new policy aimed at protecting its interests in space and denying "adversaries" access there for hostile purposes.

The document - signed by President Bush - also says "freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power".

The document rejects any proposals to ban space weapons.

But the White House has said the policy does not call for the development or deployment of weapons in space."
Lie by Lie, Mother Jones's timeline of the buildup to the war in Iraq. Tagged, cross-referenced, with links to original sources.

A Link

Aug. 7th, 2006 11:50 am
Sorting Out Life as Muslims and Marines

I don't really have anything to say about this. I just thought it was worth reading.
Today we're going to discuss opportunity costs. That's the cost of something that comes from the other things you could be doing with that money/time/resources.

For an example, let's say you're a rich and powerful country. Then you decide to incompetently invade a small country in Asia. The opportunity costs of this adventure are all the other things you could have done with five years, trillions of dollars, international influence, three Army divisions, thousands of cruise missiles, a carrier task force, millions of rounds of ammunition, and a hundred thousand dead civilians Iraqui citizens. Oh, and the moral high ground.

Any questions?
I just found a link to Baghdad Girl, a blog from a girl who used to live in Iraq until a couple days ago. The vast majority of it is just cute pictures of kittens. It's really pretty weird, seeing daily pictures of kittens on a pink background with posts about how dangerous and shitty life in Baghdad has been. I'm... not sure what I think of this.
I finally saw Howl's Moving Castle the other night, and... honestly, I wasn't that impressed. It probably didn't help that I had read the book already, but my friends who were watching it with me hadn't read the book, and they weren't that impressed either.

It started out pretty good, then it went off into this war tangent, and then melodramatic love, and at one point there was time travel, I think, and it was just weird. Not really the cool kind of weird, either. And there were gratuitous airships. I'm an airship junkie, and these were cool, but I'm not quite sure why there were funky fish-like airships flying around bombing the crap out of everything. Well, I know WHY, but I'm not sure why the plot needed it. The war was mentioned VERY briefly with a "A neighboring nation's prince is missing and blames us! They're going to go to war!" line in a background conversation you could easily miss. It wasn't really necessary, and wasn't in the book, which was a lot more of a fairytale and character development thing.

I've come to suspect a lot of anime is about World War II, even when it's not. I think that's part of why Steamboy and Howl's Moving Castle both went into the "lots of people die, but not everyone, and not the main characters, hurrah!" style of happy ending. World War II in Japan was a lot different than WWII in the US. They're the only country that ever got nuked in war. (As opposed to all the ones nuked for testing) They lost, completely, and had their empire, their army, and a lot of other things taken away. And they were the aggressors, forced to admit their wrong. That's a lot different than the American experience. And makes a good reason for valuing narratives of survival amidst destruction, and that sort of thing. But even so, it's not always necessary, and can hurt the narrative. Like here. Or maybe that's just my American cultural bias talking. But I enjoyed all of Miyazaki's other movies I've seen. Well, I had to wonder "WHY do they always blow up the awesome source of ancient knowledge?" in one, but that's a failing in lots of fantasy.

Japan hasn't been involved in a war since. In the US, the defining wars are WWII, and Vietnam.
Sy Hersh in the New Yorker:

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was "absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb" if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do," and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy."

Some operations, apparently aimed in part at intimidating Iran, are already under way. American Naval tactical aircraft, operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea, have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions—rapid ascending maneuvers known as "over the shoulder" bombing—since last summer, the former official said, within range of Iranian coastal radars.

Wait, hang on, did that say what I think it said?

One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites.


The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. "Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap," the former senior intelligence official said. " 'Decisive' is the key word of the Air Force’s planning. It’s a tough decision. But we made it in Japan."

He went on, "Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don’t have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out"—remove the nuclear option—"they’re shouted down."



I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY hope Sy Hersh is wrong. Because seriously, WHAT THE FUCK? These people want to NUKE IRAN? Are they REALLY that mad? Possibly. Do they have ANY idea what that would cause? Probably not. Do they really think if we NUKED the fucking country, that the citizens would rise up and overthrow their government, instead of, oh, I don't know, retaliating against the people that NUKED them? Have they learned nothing from Iraq? Probably not.

I can think of no better way to radicalize the entire middle east and destroy our standing with the entire world than by using NUKES on another country. And probably bring about something pretty darn close to the end of the world.

Sweet monkeys. Nuke Iran. Our leaders have gone stark raving mad.

But I never figured the United States of America would be torturing prisoners in the 21st century, either.



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