Thursday, October 27, 2005

2,000 Too Many

I would feel bad, with me being the peace loving person I am, if I allowed this horrific milestone to pass without some form of comment on the blog. As I am sure most of you know it has been announced that the 2,000th American soldier has been killed in Iraq after 31 months of fighting. To mark this occasion there were thousands of candlelight vigils across the country to mourn the fallen soldiers.

My question to everyone is how many dead soldiers is it going to take before we finally decide that the insurgency and violence in Iraq will never end while there are still U.S. troops occupying the country?

I am well aware of the Bush administration’s argument that we must “stay the course”, but for how long? If I were driving to Madison, for say some Halloween festivities this weekend, how long would I stay on I-94 heading towards Fargo before I finally admitted that I made a mistake in going this way and turned around? This is basically what the Bush administration is asking us to accept with their “stay the course” policy. A majority of the country, 53% according to the most recent poll, think that going into Iraq was a mistake so when will the administration and our government finally admit this mistake and takes steps to fix it as best they can.

From my point of view I see no significant progress in Iraq. I realize that there have been recent elections in Iraq and I love voting as much as the next person, but if given the choice of voting or being able to walk the streets without fear of being blown up or shot, I would take the latter. And there will never be significant progress in Iraq until occupation forces are pulled out. There are a number of options to reach the goal of getting out of Iraq; two worth looking at are those of Bryan Lentz and retired Lt. Gen. William Odom.

Luckily for us Sen. John Kerry has finally come out and stated that we need to start withdrawing troops from Iraq. Thank you Sen. Kerry for doing this a year too late, maybe if he had stated this during the campaign last year we could have actually had a real debate about what to do about Iraq instead of having to choose between Bush’s policy of “stay the course” and Kerry’s policy of “stay the course with a few minor changes”.

I am just so sick and disgusted with all the bloodshed, death and destruction in Iraq that something has to be done. We have spent the past 31 months staying the course and not a whole lot of anything has been accomplished (except of course the unveiling of the beautiful “Mission Accomplished” banner). We need to make drastic changes now in regards to our policy towards Iraq, otherwise the next 2,000 deaths may happen a lot sooner then anyone thinks.


Der Staubsauger said...

Hey, I hate to be the guy with the Vietnam analogy, but historically speaking these unwinable and domestically unpopular occupation-level troop commitments to highly unstable parts of the world typically take more than a decade to burn themselves out. So for all those wondering what exactly "stay the course" actually means, it means wait for a new administration to "fail" by ending the pointless stalemate-cum-slaughter of the people unfortunate enough to have served our country in its as-it-turns-out-not-so-pressing "time of need."

Anonymous said...

cum-slaughter? give me about five minutes and a picture of Anna Nicole's forehead.

PiedPiper said...

I'm not sure if anyone was watching CNN tonight between like 8:30 and 8:50, but there was a MoveOn ad that had a picture of a pine coffin in the desert with the simple statement "2000 US soldiers have now died in Iraq." The image aired for at least 15-20 minutes. No sound, no movement. You can see the ad at, which is only 15-30 seconds long.

-=Topper=- said...

Just have to say that I agree with anti-everything here.

I have done the math a while back that the media is just now eluding to. And that is we lose two soldiers a day.

Any calendar calculator will show you that. Just take the day of invasion, elepsed days and the number of dead.

The Pioneer of Pulp Fiction Paper ran a story on the front page ( rare for them ) of the number dead, local view, Minnesota and Wisconsin. That was last saturday, that number was 1993. What point they make with "They are mostly white, under thirty and falling at a rate of two a day" is anybody's guess.

Oh who am I kidding, it is the target market they are reaching with that. Why? That too is anybody's guess. Maybe a recruitment drive? I am cynical.

Other news. Miers withdraws, and they pull the bunker buster bomb off the 2006 budget.

Such caving, maybe if we tell them now to go away they may just do it.

-=topper=- aka Dave from Kowalski's

Mandingo said...

Topper, what's your story anyways?

Aljavar said...

In light of the facts (which you'll unfortunately have to dig to find) you discover the means for the original actions which bring us to the current situation. Most Americans have not seen the above information and are still unaware of the original context of the war and the events that led up to it. With the above facts in focus, the deaths aren't the shame that many try to portray them as and the administration and all of congress don't seem as idiotic as some try to portray them as.

2000 lives lost is a HUGE sacrifice, let me not belittle the facts. But let's not bury our heads in the mentality of emotionally exploiting the issue for political gain. Be responsible about the reality of it. still wants you to believe the above supplied facts (in the link) don't exist and that the President went to war for personal, financial, or simply moronic reasons. That's not true, and it's not healthy for the country.

Let's discuss if war is a means to peace. Let's argue over the use of force to quell the rise of violent dictators with harmful intentions. Let's not close our eyes and our minds to the reality of our situation and use emotion to dictate our reaction.

BTW. Two years from a brutal dictator to free elections. Everyone said it was impossible, especially in such a short time. It's in the history books today.

Do yourself a favor, as an educated voter, and read the entire article.

PiedPiper said...

Wow. Thanks for the education, Aljavar. You've completely opened my eyes.

Ok, that was sarcastic.

I was not condoning MoveOn's beliefs in the war. I think they're just as reactionary as the right's insistence that this war was really about freeing the Iraqi people.

The original purpose and context of the war? Well, as I recall, it was sold to all of us for more than a year not as an attempt to spread democracy - although that notion came to a head on the eve of the war - but rather because Iraq had WMD (remember those?) that severely and imminently threatened our national security. Remember the nukes that were supposed to be flying over our heads? All those chemical weapons that were supposed to rain down like a plague in Egypt? Didn't happen. Didn't exist. There were supposed to be actually weapons programs, not intelligence allegations about yellowcake sales. I'm no nuclear physicist, but I whether or not the yellowcake allegations were true, I think it takes more than its mere existence in a country in order to make a nuclear weapon.

My problem with the war is that we went to war on a mistake (or a blatant falsehood, which, because our system is currently run by members of the same party and their cronies, cannot and will not be investigated), not that the war has become a mistake.

Is MoveOn guilty of emotional exploitation? I think you can make a compelling argument for that case. Is George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, George Tenet, Colin Powell, et al, guilty of selling a sham that has, so far, costed 2,000+ American lives (not to mention left almost 20,000 wounded, many with lost limbs), and by most estimates 100,000+ Iraqi lives?

You tell me: What's worse? Exploiting emotions to make Americans aware of the fact that more than 2,000 of their soldiers have died? Or, exploiting emotions of fear, nationalism, and patriotism to sell a war based on (mostly) false pretenses, and not holding yourself accountable for that fact?

PiedPiper said...

...and that doesn't even contemplate the negligent and incompetence of the commission of the war since "Mission Accomplished." I am the rare liberal who does not advocate for the removal of troops from Iraq at this point, because we're the only thing keeping a small semblance of security. I've been against the war since the beginning, but once we went to war, and now that we are occupying Iraq, we have a duty - not to the US soldiers fighting and dying there, but to the Iraqi people - to leave them with peace, security and certainly better off than they were under Hussein's regime.

Aljavar seems to want us to believe that Iraqis have gone from dictatorship to the utopia of "free" elections. But, really, what sort of government can we expect to develop in Iraq? I argue that they'll get a theocracy masked in limited democracy (a la Iran) at best and a power vacuum with its accompanying anarchy (a la Somalia) at worst.

Bush would have us believe that the car bombs, suicide bombs, IEDs, and mini-massacres occurring on a daily basis are merely the speed bumps in flowering of democracy. Come on...

The bottom line is that we went to war because of a phantom threat to our security and then bungled the nation-building (which Bush said he would never do) so badly that we've been left where we are. We've never had enough troops to actually do the job Bush told us we'd do and we still don't have enough troops. The problem now, however, is that its politically untenable (not to mention logistically impossible considering the fact that our military is stretched so thin) to expect to do Iraq right.

Why some conservatives still stand behind Bush on Iraq, and are so blind to the missteps, mistakes, and misleadings that have been spewed to the US public along the way, is absolutely beyond me.

And that, Aljavar, is an education.

archduke f. f. said...

Pieper, you make some salient points, but I'm going to have to throw a flag for sensationalism. Iraq Body Count states that the top level at this moment is 30098. That is still the combined population of the three most North-western counties in Minnesota, Marshall, Kittson and Roseau. The 100,000 number was taken by doing "random" sampling that asked people if they knew someone who had been killed since the war, which means they got a lot of double counting, etc. Also, they picked "clusters" and some of those clusters were located in places like Basra and Fallujah, where there was a lot of bloodshed. They extrapolated the data from that, ended up with the huge, round 100,000 number.

I think you're also oversimplifying one thing, however. The whole issue with the yellowcake. I read the article and it said that Bush didn't lie (or even tell a deliberate falsehood) about Niger uranium, but that the intelligence was wrong anyway. It was credible when Bush said it, but it was wrong in the end. Here's where my call of oversimplification comes in: you glossed over weapons programs which Saddam did have. He was even reprimanded for them and ordered to destroy their products by the UN inspectors. The UN inspectors, though I know a lot of people don't respect them, were looking for that sort of thing and they actually called Saddam on it when they found that he had missles which had too long a range. The longest-range? A little bit further than the 90 miles allowed by the UN resolution. So, even if Saddam had acquired all the capabilities for building a nuclear warhead, he did not have the rocketry necessary to send it our way. The distance between Boston, MA (the closest place I could find) and Samarrah, Iraq is 5752 miles. With all the inspectors there, it would have been nearly impossible for Saddam to have warheads that could be fired towards the US.

Aljavar said...

In response to PiedPiper-

Sorry you took it personally. I was posting some info. I don't think that deserved such a flippant response.

We went to war to prevent nukes from being in a crazy person's hands, secondarily, that freed his people. Knowing what we know now in hindsight, there haven't been nukes or WMDs, so we can all agree that the reason we went there fell apart. Does that mean that at the time we went we were going for false reasons. Well, in hindsight, yes.

The real point of my post was to get people to read the article posted, and you still should. If you had you would realize that the U.S. government was not the only government that thought Saddam was trying to aquire nuclear materials. British Intelligence verified the findings (and they have one of the highest rated intelligence agencies in the world, higher than even the U.S.) and no one, not a single source at the time, could show anything but Saddam intending, and making steps towards, purchasing nuclear materials. So, we went to war thinking that Saddam with nukes = bad news for the world. Sound logic. We didn't find WMDs and the story about Niger didn't hold as much water as before, but we had to go to war knowing what we knew at the time.

Here's a June 2003 news article about the fact that Saddam actually had other nuclear materials, besided the new material he was supposedly trying to aquire:

Knowing that, we did end up going to the reason originally intended, just in a different situation than we originally planned.

BTW. The "Mission Accomplished" b.s. started with morons like John Stewart lying about the event and using it to throw tomatoes at the President. Here's some more info:

It was the Navy's idea, to support the troops on the boat at the end of their deployment. To administration brought it for the ship at their request. The President made mentioned more than once in his address on the ship that we were at the beginning of a new and long, hard road within Iraq. He never said the war was "over". Let's not continue lying about the same things over and over because you disagree politically Here's an actual quote (I prefer it to conjecture):

"We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. And then we will leave — and we will leave behind a free Iraq.".

In response to Archduke-
The reason for war, from what I've gathered, wasn't just the constant games of cat and mouse Saddam played with the U.S. throughout the 90's, or the slightly longer range missles, but the threat of nuclear power. Nukes are a bigger issue than any one segment of the world. We couldn't afford to let him break the rules on the nuke issue. Warheads hitting the U.S. is a stretch with current technology, agreed, but Saddam having nukes opened up his power to threaten, bully, and control the rest of the world. Giving him the chance to hold the entire Middle East hostage with a nuke is a U.S. issue. Should we be the World Police (America... f*ck yeah!)? that's the real discussion. And a good one.

Sorry for the long post.

PiedPiper said...

Archduke - Thanks for the correction on the the number of Iraqi dead. At the same time, my point remains solid despite the numbers. (30,000 is nothing to shake a stick at.) Also, you say that I oversimplify, but then you prove my point for me. I said that missteps, mistakes, and misleadings were made, not that Bush lied (which is, indeed, an oversimplification). The yellowcake was a mistake, and one that people ought to have been held accountable for. Instead, George Tenet received a medal of freedom. Also, whether the yellowcake existed or not, it is not a sole pretense for war, as evidenced in your Samarrah to Boston scenario.

Aljavar - I didn't take it personally, but rather felt that you were misrepresenting my earlier comment and trying to lump me with MoveOn, from which I consider myself distinct.

And you're right; hindsight is 20/20. However, there were plenty of knowledgeable sources - most notably Scott Ritter, one of the American UN weapons inspector (google him) - who tried to make it clear that the American public was being mislead as to the seriousness of the threat. The intelligence was never a "slam-dunk case" before the war, and that fact was proven afterwards.

I take umbrage with your statement, however, that the "Mission Accomplished" bs was started with the likes of Jon Stewart. It was the declaration of the "end of major combat operations," was it not? And that wasn't true. We conducted major combat operations (ie Falluja) afterward, and are still conducting combat operations presently. All in all, I view that event as the beginning of the real conflict in Iraq. And that conflict, through the mistakes, missteps, and misleadings of the administration, among other international entities, continues without end in sight.

Also, while we can go round and round about yellowcake and "Mission Accomplished" and everything else, deep down, all of that is ancient history at this point. One central issue, as you point out, is whether the US should be the "world police," and you appear to be arguing that it should be, from what I can glean out of your comments about Iraq (please, correct me if I'm wrong). The other central, and, to me, more pressing issue, is how do we extract our men and women in arms from its occupational role, and how do we enable Iraq to establish its self-determination while preventing it from descending into violence and anarchy and fundamentalism.

Personally, I favor a set of measurable goals throughout all areas of society and in all regions, and providing those measurable goals (and the progress being made on them) to the American and Iraqi public. Once these goals reach defined levels of progress, troop draw down can commence. We are, quite honestly, not providing the level of security necessary to carry out such goals, nor are we offering the sort of transparency that allows truthful disclosure of progress. Yeah, I think there is progress being made in Iraq. But nowhere near the level of progress necessary to extract our presence in a reasonably timely fashion.

As a sidenote, I find it amazing and terrifying that this conflict still divides people like Aljavar and myself so distinctly, yet similarly. Ultimately, we are both arguing the same things; Iraq ought to have self-determination and, hopefully, a prosperous, democratic future. We seem to differ, though, in our thoughts on how we got to where we are now two and a half years after the war officially began, and where we go from here. I really have no thoughts on why this is, but find it very interesting.

Aljavar said...

I'm with you no that last part Pied. Not just John Stewart (just picked his name out of many in the entertainment/media business). I would rather someone else (someones else) police the evils of the world, but who? The U.N. had their fingers in their asses on this last one, the corruption is only now coming into the public's light, and so forth. Give it a blog and let's run with it...

Aljavar said...

"I'm with you ON that last part" was how that last comment was supposed to be typed. Soryy.