Monday, January 14, 2008

US Floods Middle East with Weapons; Undermines Possibility of Peace in the Region

Live by the gun, die by the gun. These seem to be the words the Bush administration continues to live by as today they prepare to announce the proposed sale of $20 Billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia. This deal is being seen as a way for the Bush administration to convince Saudi leadership to support further sanctions on Iran. The sale will also amplify the United State’s threat to Iran, which essentially at this point seems to be, “We’ve got you surrounded, please step away from the oil.”

This announcement does not guarantee that the sale will go through; Congress still has the opportunity to block the sale in the next thirty days, and questions about the proposal are being raised by both Republicans and Democrats.

However, what is fascinating about the questions being raised by Congress is that generally the concerns are regarding the possiblity that the weapons being sold to an Arab country could possibly pose a danger to Israel. The concerns had very little to do with the fact that the Bush Administration is willing to sell $20 billion in weapons to a non-democratic absolute monarcy, whose horrific human rights record in the previous year alone includes the beheading of 134 individuals and the lashing of a rape victim.

But true to the Middle East axiom, your enemy’s enemy is your friend; the Bush administration gives the Saudi government piles upon piles of precision guided missiles.

And in response to the concern raised by members of Congress, of the potential threat to Israel, the administration decided to simply balance it out and sell Israel $30 billion in weapons.

The press in the United States generally fails to acknowledge that by continuing to support Israel militarily the Bush Administration undermines any attempts at brokering peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which by deduction reveals the true agenda (gathering support for further sanctions on Iran) of this current tour of the Middle East. The 30 Billion in military aid represents a substantial 25% increase in planned US aid to Israel in the next 10 years.

It seems the military industrial complex has grown to the point where it is able to have the President of the United States go door to door in the Middle East selling weapons.

Despite the large sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United States has no illusions that Saudi Arabia will again allow the United States as a launching pad for an attack on Iran.
According to a newspaper that speaks the mind of Saudi leaders, “We refuse to be used to launch wars or tensions with Iran.” They go on to say, “This issue can be solved through diplomatic means and through dialogue.”

We can only hope all of these weapons flooding the Middle East, provided by US corporations, do not come back to harm us in the near future.

As Long as US Troops Are Not Dying Is America ‘OK’ with The Occupation of Iraq?

The Pentagon is asking for $3.5 billion (in the fiscal year 2009) in order to move forward with its Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. The program is being promoted as a way to make soldiers safer and smarter on the battlefield but does little to address civilian casualties.

This $3.5 billion is important in the eyes of Army Chief of Staff General George Casey who is calling for earlier than scheduled testing of key technology in the FCS program. The two key devices being tested are the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), which is an unmanned surveillance device, as well as the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle(SUGV). If testing goes as planned the devices could be ready for combat five years prior to their originally scheduled 2015 arrival.

I firmly believe that any American soldier’s life that could be saved by this technology should be saved by this technology. I want to be very clear that I have nothing against protecting American lives. It is important however to view the arrival of this technology in the context of the discussion we are having in this country about whether or not to remove American troops from the Middle East.

John McCain, when asked a week ago during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire how long the troops would be in the Middle East region, he stated, “make it 100…as long as Americans are not being wounded or killed…it would be fine with me, I hope it would be fine with you…”

The way the discussion about the War in Iraq has been framed in the MSM in this election year is either you are for the continuation of the war or you are against it, and generally the only reason you can be against the Iraqi War is because American soldiers are dying.

The severe price that Iraqi civilians pay is often ignored; very rarely does the MSM cite the fact that innocent Iraqi civilians are dying every day in the crossfire of this conflict.

The most often quoted statistic of the war is the American soldier’s death toll, which as of today is 3921.

The most recent guess at the Iraqi death toll released today by the World Health Organization is between 104,000 and 223,000. So while the American troop death toll has every dead US soldier accounted for, as they should be. The civilian death toll has a range of 119,000 human lives. And this estimate by the World Health Organization is conservative when compared to Johns Hopkins University study which estimated the Iraqi civilian death toll at 600,000 in mid-2006.

Many civilians died in the initial bombing by coalition forces back in 2003, but a substantial number of civilians continue to die by the hand of American soldiers. According to, in a five month span 600 Iraqi civilians were killed by US forces, with 15 women and children being killed in a single air raid in October of last year. Most often US forces do not intentionally kill civilians but it inevitably happens when a military force occupies urban terrain where civilians are residing. Read this government document of a fisherman’s death for a perfect example of how easily life is taken in this environment:

Even rarer than the mention of the Iraqi civilian death toll is the mention of the Iraqi civilian refugee population which has now reached an estimated 2,000,000 in Syria and 800,000 in Jordan.

And then the Pentagon and Administration still have the nerve to quote the reason for the reduction of violence being the US troop surge. Even a casual observer when shown these numbers would conclude that the reduction of violence is directly linked to the reduction of 3,000,000 people in the region.

So as the technology coming out of the Pentagon improves and begins to save more and more US soldier’s lives let us not forget the full scope of the tragedy of warfare and military occupation when discussing decisions to be made in regards to American foreign policy.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Plans To Bomb Iran Move Forward

Yesterday President Bush arrived in Jerusalem where he was to be briefed on a range of military options that could be used in striking Iran. These briefings come less than two months after President Bush’s own intelligence network informed him that Iran terminated their nuclear program in 2003.

This is the Bush Doctrine in all of its horrific glory. The NIE complied by his own intelligence organizations did not come up with the correct answer, so he has decided to get a second opinion. He conveniently asked Israel for that second opinion, knowing full well that they are eager to bomb Iran. I wonder if he will take the time today to ask anyone in Palestine their thoughts on the matter, I’m guessing no.

On top of the hubris of even publicly holding this meeting in Israel under the guise of Israeli/Palestinian peace talks (an issue Bush has chosen to ignore for seven years now, not only allowing the occupation of the West Bank but also funding it), President Bush decided to comment on the incident that took place yesterday in the Strait of Hormuz.

Bush said the incident was "a very dangerous gesture" on the part of Iran. He continued by adding,

"We have made it very clear, and they know our position, and that is: There will be serious consequences if they attack our ships, pure and simple."

It is important to remember that he is quick to use this rhetoric although it is still unclear whether or not the speed boats did belong to or represent the Iran Revolutionary Guard (the US offered up one boat’s display of an Iranian flag as proof). Also,the threat of an attack that was heard on the US aircraft carrier has not been confirmed to have come from the speed boats let alone the Iran Revolutionary Guard.

No person involved is surprised that Bush would use this rhetoric without any solid evidence, in the light of him using the now infamous World War 3 language when it is now believed that he had full knowledge of the NIE that would be released weeks later.

The reality is that the Bush administration wants to bomb Iran. They do not have the support or political capital they need in this country to do so. So they are going to have Israel do the bombing for them.

That is if we don’t soon see a Gulf of Tonkin incident soon in the Strait of Hormuz, or even on the Iran/Iraq border.

Once a single bomb is dropped in Iran, all bets are off. Iran’s reaction to an Israeli/US bombing of a target within their borders is unpredictable at best. At the very least our military would see a drastic increase in violence in the streets of Iraq. At worst we could see retaliation on our own soil here in the United States.

Another question that comes to mind is once the bombs are dropped and the war widens in the Middle East, how does the US military recruit the troops to fight this war?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid!

As I was watching the coverage of the New Hampshire Presidential primaries tonight it was as if the commentators forgot to place their commentary in the realm of reality that is our present day America and decided instead to speak in the grand language of recording history. One commentator who will go unnamed was quick to point out that Obama and his wife invoked past scenes of the Kennedy years. Another pundit looked extremely pleased with himself as he compared the Clinton victory to the famous “Dewey beats Truman” headlines. These experts, simply put, are out of touch with what is going on in this country. They were attempting to give tonight’s results the importance of a significant event in this country’s narrative, when in fact this primary will most likely be forgotten in less than a month.

With the general election still over 10 months away, Clinton should do herself a favor and ring up an old friend of the family, whose famous words have never rung more true,

“It’s the economy, stupid.”

As this presidential race develops, as hard as the frontrunners might try to avoid addressing the facts, there is no denying that the economy is going to become the overwhelmingly central issue this election year.

Cue Stage Left: Ron Paul.

Merrill Lynch, one of the United States largest financial institutions, today released a report, not to say a recession is probable, or even to say a recession is imminent, but rather to say that a recession for the United States of America’s economy is HERE. In the report they cited the recent unemployment rate hitting 5% to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Another key indicator that the recession is underway is that today AT&T’s stock took its biggest hit in five years. This is after AT&T cited that they have experienced the signs of softness in the home phone and Internet business. In layman’s terms: People are so broke they can’t even pay their phone and Internet bills.

Right now the recession is climbing quickly up through the ‘voiceless rungs of the lower middle class’ but those people will be given a voice in the year to come and expect them to speak loudly when it comes time to elect this country’s next President.

While Clinton is quick to talk about the unemployment rate or record oil prices, she isn’t willing to address the fact that the United States dollar is in a free fall. No candidate is willing to address the plunging dollar except for Ron Paul.

So bottom-line, Ron Paul has no reason to worry about the future of his campaign, even though his numbers tonight were weak, because when the impact of recession reaches the masses, the public will begin to demand answers and they will not find them in Obama’s message of hope, or in Hillarycare, or in the McCain’s hundred year war or quite surprisingly even in Romney’s Olympic experience. They will find their answers in a sensible sound currency and the sensible foreign policy stance of Ron Paul. It’s really that simple, just like Carville said:

“It’s the economy stupid!”