Left In Lowell

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October 3, 2007

Primer on Iraq

by at 1:30 pm.

A must-read by dKos’s Meteor Blades on why Iraq has never been, and is not now, free.

September 11, 2007

Pentagon Disagrees With Petraeus

by at 4:58 pm.

This is huge. As John says, someone leaked this preliminary preview of this internal Pentagon report very deliberately. Newsweek says:

NEWSWEEK has learned that a separate internal report being prepared by a Pentagon working group will “differ substantially” from Petraeus’s recommendations, according to an official who is privy to the ongoing discussions but would speak about them only on condition of anonymity. An early version of the report, which is currently being drafted and is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year, will “recommend a very rapid reduction in American forces: as much as two-thirds of the existing force very quickly, while keeping the remainder there.” The strategy will involve unwinding the still large U.S. presence in big forward operation bases and putting smaller teams in outposts. “There is interest at senior levels [of the Pentagon] in getting alternative views” to Petraeus, the official said. Among others, Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon is known to want to draw down faster than Petraeus.

It looks like there’s a quiet, legitimate mutiny of policy in the Pentagon regarding the surge and Iraq. This, more than anything else, could signal the end of Bush’s war.

Couple that with this little tidbit - Petraeus can’t seem to bring himself to honestly answer the question, “does the surge strategy make America safer?” Hopefully Patraeus’ testimony unravels quickly. By lying to us for the sake of Bush’s propaganda scheme, he’s hurting America.

Petraeus’ Latest Dog-and-Pony Show

by at 11:15 am.

The latest and greatest snow job by the Bush administration (haven’t we heard this all before?) gets some push back. Here’s some of it:

Anbar is a fluke - it was going to happen (at least on some level) with or without the surge. The Sunni leaders were tired of Al Quada in Iraq, and sure, it helped having more US troops there to help clear them out, but Anbar is not necessarily repeatable everywhere. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to help give moderates a space to breath and get the extremists out, but it’s certainly no result of the surge. What’s more, yesterday, Petraeus mislead Congress about it.

Violence against US troops went down (a bit). But against Iraqi civilians and Iraqi security, it’s not changing so much.

Iraqis themselves don’t think the surge is doing all that much for them. Given the chart linked above, it’s no wonder why.

Petraeus claims that due to progress (if it continues) he can withdraw the surge troops by next summer. No mention that we have no choice but to withdraw the troops, due to the fact the armed forces have been broken by this war of choice.

The progress is bullshit anyway.

Senator Harry Reid has some facts of his own released on his site. Some highlights:

General Petraeus Claimed the Pentagon’s Methodology for Tracking Sectarian Killings Was Reviewed By Two US Intelligence Agencies, But Did Not Name Them. […]

However, U.S. Intelligence Officials Questioned Pentagon’s Methods of Tracking Violence in Iraq. “The intelligence community has its own problems with military calculations. Intelligence analysts computing aggregate levels of violence against civilians for the NIE puzzled over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal, according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. ‘If a bullet went through the back of the head, it’s sectarian,’ the official said. ‘If it went through the front, it’s criminal.’” [Washington Post, 9/6/07]

A Military Spokesman Admitted It Did Not Track Shiite-on-Shiite or Sunni-on-Sunni Violence. “According to a spokesman for the Baghdad headquarters of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), those attacks are not included in the military’s statistics. ‘Given a lack of capability to accurately track Shiite-on-Shiite and Sunni-on-Sunni violence, except in certain instances,’ the spokesman said, ‘we do not track this data to any significant degree.’” [Washington Post, 9/6/07]

And, the GAO Found Claims of Decreased Sectarian Violence Could Not Be Verified. “On trends in sectarian violence, we could not determine if sectarian violence had declined since the start of the Baghdad Security Plan. The administration’s July 2007 report stated that MNF-I trend data demonstrated a decrease in sectarian violence since the start of the Baghdad Security Plan in mid-February 2007. The report acknowledged that precise measurements vary, and that it was too early to determine if the decrease would be sustainable.” [GAO Report: Securing, Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq, September 2007]

General Petraeus Claimed the Number of Car Bombings Has Come Down. […]

However, The Military Does Not Include Car Bombings in Sectarian Violence Statistics. “According to U.S. military figures, an average of 1,000 Iraqis have died each month since March in sectarian violence. That compares with about 1,200 a month at the start of the security plan, the military said in an e-mailed response to queries. This does not include deaths from car bombings, which the military said have numbered more than 2,600 this year.” [LA Times, 9/4/07 ]

And, The Number of Car Bombings In Iraq Was Five Percent Higher in July 2007 than in December 2006. The number of car bombings in July actually was 5 percent higher than the number recorded last December, according to statistics given to the McClatchy news organization, and the number of civilians killed in explosions is about the same. [McClatchy Newspapers, 8/15/07]

Reid also notes that the goalposts (yet again) have moved for the length of deployment.

As I said, we’ve heard it all before - and this time is no different. This post has not even gone into the total, utter lack of progress on the political side of things, which has been a disaster.

ThinkProgress has a quote from CBS’s Bob Schieffer:

CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer said this morning that one of the lessons we learned from Vietnam “is that we were asking the wrong question” to our generals. “When we have to ask, are we winning? we’re probably losing. Victory is always obvious,” he said.

Let me preempt that question to General Petraeus. We haven’t lost this war, but we’re not winning it. We’re hanging on. Victory would be obvious. Iraqi families would be strolling the streets of Baghdad, and Osama bin Laden would be walking out of a cave somewhere with his hands up.

Instead of that question, let’s hope the general will be asked what we so often forgot during Vietnam: Is this worth the cost in lives and money?

August 30, 2007

Pentagon Gives Up?

by at 9:27 am.

Interesting interpretation of the recent Pentagon announcements. Are they handing the war to Dubya and stating, subtly, “you fix this”?

As reported by Nancy Youssef this evening for McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — In a sign that top commanders are divided over what course to pursue in Iraq, the Pentagon said Wednesday that it won’t make a single, unified recommendation to President Bush during next month’s strategy assessment, but instead will allow top commanders to make individual presentations.

“Consensus is not the goal of the process,” Geoff Morrell, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. “If there are differences, the president will hear them.”

Military analysts called the move unusual for an institution that ordinarily does not air its differences in public, especially while its troops are deployed in combat.

By the way, McClatchy are the guys who bought the Knight Ridder media group. You know, the ones who got most things right on Iraq from the start.

That, on top of this news, and this previous news. So maybe instead of “the surge is working!” the narrative should be that our troops are doing the best they can in the surge, but it’ll never be enough…and their Commanders know it, even if their Commander-in-Chief does not.

Thanks to George Bush, we’ve broken our Armed Forces, and ruined two countries! What will he do for us next? Oh wait…he’s thinking of going after Iran.

July 18, 2007

UpperDown Vote

by at 12:02 pm.

Susan H has some great videos of the Dems and their call to action to pressure the lackluster Republicans on the Iraq bill with a timetable for withdrawal, those who, as some put it, make speeches at home about changing the course and standing up to Bush, but go to Washington and filibuster such real change.

Does anyone else recall the shrill, nay, war-cry passion of the Republicans whenever there was a controversial vote up in the Senate under their majority, and the Dems made any noise at all about possibly thinking about filibustering? Ohhhh…that’s when they screamed about the morality of allowing an upperdown vote…terrible to be an obstructionist…it’s wrong not to vote…in fact, we’ll pull the nuclear option if you do, and kill the filibuster once and for all…

Does the cognitive dissonance on the floor of the Senate ever threaten to bring the building down around their ears? My. God.

July 17, 2007

Finally.

by at 9:18 pm.

The Democrats are doing what I’ve been hoping for - if the Republicans want to filibuster a sane change of course in Iraq (as opposed to a few cowardly “moderate” Republican proposals to send an unbinding gentle nudge to President Religious Megalomaniac to maybe sort of think about changing course you know if he thinks it’s swell), they better be prepared to stop the Senate and goddamned filibuster the thing.

Go tell Kerry and Kennedy that we got their back. If you are in another state and have a spineless Republican backpeddler as your Senator, say, like Sen. Snow, or something, go tell them not to vote to continue the filibuster already. Hey, they’re already likely to lose their seats anyway, they might as well for once become a moral politician who finally made the right choice for our troops before the door hit them on the ass on the way out - bringing our kids the hell home.

And yeah, hell yeah, I’m using some harsh language. It’s our very democracy at stake with these Republicans - they want to knuckle under and do whatever King Bush and Chancellor Cheney want them to do. We want a sound and more perfect union? We need to fight. These’s fightin’ words.

You got two days to watch the spineless “Iraq-moderate” Republicans attempt to explain their cowardly support of their Overlord…oh, and of Bush, too.

June 19, 2007

Endgame

by at 11:45 pm.

I just watched most of Frontline’s recent episode, Endgame. It’s an examination of the more recent history of the Iraq war. Specifically, it examines the runup and then committment to the so-called “surge” (as one of the experts on the program said, 20,000 isn’t a surge, it’s a dribble).

I especially appreciate the reality-based, unbiased and hard look at the new policy (”clear/hold/build”), the reasons surrounding the policy, who in the Bush admin backed it, who didn’t, and why the sudden move towards the saner, but probably far-too-little-too-late engagement in Iraq. I came away from the program understanding far more than I had before. Just as sad about the impossible situation our soldiers are in, but more informed.

You can watch it online or catch it in a rerun on channels 2, 11, or WGHB World if you have it. It’s a must-see, so do not miss it.

Edit: I especially want you, Jay, to watch it, and tell me what you think, because this has been my argument about the state of the Iraq war. We have already lost, to the point where we either find/draft 500K+ soldiers because we’re at or before square one, or we have to get out. The majority of the experts on Frontline agree with me. Since Bush is in charge, and a draft is not going to happen, I say we get out.

June 12, 2007

Metrowest Community Forum on Iraq with Sen. John Kerry

by at 5:14 pm.

I got this from the Natick Democratic Town Committee…looks like a very interesting event with Senator John Kerry:

SENATOR JOHN KERRY TO HOLD METROWEST COMMUNITY FORUM ON IRAQ

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Keiter Performing Arts Center
Walnut Hill School
12 Highland St., Natick

DOORS OPEN AT 3:30 p.m.
Program starts promptly at 4:00 p.m.

FREE and open to the public.

Senator Kerry will talk about the war and our future in Iraq and take questions from the audience on Saturday, June 16, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Walnut Hill School in Natick. The event, hosted by the Natick Democratic Town Committee, is free and open to the public.

Please RSVP at www.natickdems.org/rsvp or contact Karen at 508-650-4215.

For directions to Walnut Hill, please visit www.walnuthillarts.org.

Please join us at out next public events:

  • Annual BBQ, Monday, July 30, featuring Metrowest and statewide legislators
  • Community Forum on transportation with Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, Wednesday, September 19

Please visit www.natickdems.org for more information and join our mailing list to receive advance notice of these and other events.

MA-05 - View Entire Iraq Candidate Forum Online!

by at 4:18 pm.

I promised to put this up online, and I finally have it done. Sorry for the delay, but I’m not a video person…I did, however, succeed in chopping up the clips myself once I got someone else to translate the full video into the format necessary - which is a big, big step for me! (Thanks to Jason at LTC who was very helpful.)

This whole page on my blog has the clips, in chronological order, and edited down to just show the question and then the answers, as well as a clip of the opening and closing statements. This debate took place in Chelmsford on May 23, Massachusetts, sponsored by The Citizens for Civic Courage. All candidates running at the time were invited. This video was shot by Chelmsford Telemedia, and I want to thank them both for taping the event, and for giving me permission to get it online.

I’ll continue to work on getting the others online, though it probably won’t be by my hands. And yeah, this has been what I’ve been doing with my spare blogging time, instead of writing…but hopefully things’ll go back to normal now. :)

June 7, 2007

I Just Love Being Called a Coward

by at 12:50 am.

Republican challenger Jim Ogonowski in the MA-05 race appears to be taking the same tactics as his Bungler-in-Chief and his ‘08 presidential candidates in demonizing anti-war challengers instead of coming up with rational arguments to bolster his views (maybe, because rational arguments don’t exist?):

Ogonowski criticized the President’s choice to invade Iraq. “Although I think it was wrong to invade Iraq, it does not change my determination to win the war in Iraq,” Ogonowski said. “‘Immediate withdrawal’ makes for a good sound bite, but it is cowardly and short-sighted. Those that propose it have no real plan for America’s security and have underestimated the American people’s desire for real solutions. I will never waiver in keeping America safe and strong.”

Yeah, I’m pissy. I’m sorry, I was wondering where it says in the blogger’s handbook that I’m supposed to lay down and take this kind of malarkey from someone who’s a member of a party which is probably spying on me or someone I know, who endorses torture and the violation of treaties that we’ve signed, and whose Congressional membership let it all happen on their watch with a never-you-mind.

Ogonowski has no real plan, and he resorts to calling Democrats cowards. And he dares post this at a liberal blog. Well, at least he’s got big brass ones.

America’s security does not depend on staying and policing the civil war raging in Iraq, not as much as our security depends on getting the hell out and restoring our credibility in the world. And for the record, reality-based people know that the “American people’s desire” is to withdraw from our completely botched military adventure in Iraq. Oh, and by the by, so do the troops. And the Iraqis? You know.

But the good news is, it looks like Ogonowski already lost this race before he’s really entered it. I look forward to having our stance on the war pitted against his if he wins his primary. It’s like being handed a gold dinner on a silver platter with diamonds on the side.

Update: Can I just add, I’m seriously disappointed in Ogonowski. I was hoping for a real - nay, reality-based - discussion on Iraq. The whole post, which was pointed out in BMG comments to appear to be posted by someone else - presumably a campaign staffer - which refers to Ogonowski in the third person. I think he needs to study the phenomenon of the blogosphere a little more before posting again. It’s called a dialog - it requires that you actually come back and face the music on the stances you took.

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