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Die-hard Republicans think Bush's war policy wrong
(Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 2006 - DATELINE: OCEANSIDE, CA)
Dennis Dalbey, armed with scissors, an electric hair clipper and a steady hand, has given dozens of Camp Pendleton's young Marines the regulation haircut before they head to combat in Iraq. . . . These days, Dalbey, a Republican and a self-described conservative who voted for President Bush, is not nearly as supportive of the commander in chief. . . . "Enough is enough," he said of the war. If they haven't got this thing settled by year's end, it's time to bring the boys home." . . . Dalbey's deeply felt pessimism echoes through a region that remains California's most loyal Republican stronghold. The feelings, from California voters who have backed Bush, underscore the depth of political troubles for the president and his party in a year of midterm congressional elections. . . . With the war still raging, and the public growing increasingly sour over the outlook, Bush's approval ratings have plummeted. The once-positive images of the president and his party, which controls both houses of Congress, have been shredded in the wake of controversies ranging from the Dubai port deal to the response to Hurricane Katrina to lobbying scandals. . . . While many conservative voters who spoke with The Chronicle remain supportive of America's military men and women, an increasing number are disillusioned with the nation's leader. And from the VFW halls to the local cafes, an increasing number in the region are expressing a profound concern about the human and financial costs of the continued Iraq conflict. . . . Oceanside's homes and businesses support the 60,000 military personnel and civilians who work at Camp Pendleton, home to the I Marine Expeditionary Force and the 1st Marine Division. At GI Joe's Military Surplus, just up the street from Dalbey's barbershop, owner Robert Anderson shares the pessimistic sentiments about the war. Another self-described conservative Republican who voted for Bush twice . . . "We've done what we needed to do," he said. "We could spend 10 years there and get the same thing. ... It doesn't matter, it won't change. These guys have been fighting each other for generations, and they're going to hate us no matter what." . . . In nearby San Marcos, Herb Ranquist, 77, a retired Navy veteran perched on a stool in the local VFW hall, is equally perturbed, saying, "If we're going to war, we ought to do it right. If we let the generals and admirals do the job, we'd do OK. . . . "I voted for him two times, and I wish I hadn't," Ranquist said of the president. "It was probably one of the worst mistakes I ever made." . . . The Iraq war "did not protect us after 9/11. (Bush) was supposed to get bin Laden," said Marilyn Joy Shephard, 62, of Escondido, who has been a registered Republican since the Reagan era. . . . "But he wanted to go into Iraq, and I don't know why," she said. "I absolutely don't feel safer." Jerry Gould, 65, a retired pharmacist and a 40-year registered Republican also attending the party, was angered with Cunningham, his party and his president's performance on the war. . . . "I'm incredibly unhappy with the poor planning, and the thousands of people who've gotten killed," Gould said. "(Bush) had no idea of an exit strategy. They're dealing with a culture they don't understand ... and I have a sick feeling that 20 years from now, another Saddam (Hussein) will be in power. The guy with the biggest gun will prevail."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:12 PM

 
Murtha's Thoughts about Bush's War on Iraq
(Congressman John Murtha, September 18, 2006)
MR. RUSSERT: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in today's Washington Post has written an article, "What We've Gained in Three Years in Iraq." What do you, John Murtha, believe we have gained after three years in Iraq?] . . . Well, let me say first, Tim, this is President Bush's war. When he went into the war, he, he went against the advice of his father and the whole administration. He went against the advice of many of his military commanders. He went in without-with inadequate force for the transition to peace and then he had no exit strategy, so it's their war. And what, what they're trying to do is paint it as if there's progress in order to be able to get out. What I see is not enough electricity, only 10 hours a day. I see not enough water, only 30 percent of the people have clean water. I, I see inadequate oil production. All those things were supposed to be part of, of getting this war under control. They have mishandled it, mischaracterized it. . . . Let me, let me tell you how they mischaracterize these kinds of things. For instance, we're caught in a civil war. What, however you want to look at it, first of all, they said there was no insurgency. Then they said it’s not a civil war. It is a civil war. Twenty-five thousand insurgents are fighting with each other inside the country for supremacy. That's the definition of a civil war. There's less than a thousand al-Qaida. And when he says turning it over to al-Qaida—and that's what he means, he, he's inferring it'll be turned over to al-Qaida—I don't believe that for a minute. The Iraqis will get rid of al-Qaida the minute that we get out of there. And 60 percent of the people in Iraq belive the sooner we get out, the more stable Iraq will be, and that's what all of us want. . . . [MR. RUSSERT: So your vote for the war was a mistake?] . . . It was a mistake. It was a bad mistake. . . . I'm disappointed the way this war has been run, I, I—the biggest thing is the rhetoric. They keep saying we're going, we're going to have victory, we're going to stay for the end. It's, it's open-ended. They can't be open-ended. We have to give the Iraqis the incentive. . . . Well, certainly the vice president has been the primary force in running, running this war, and many of the mischaracterizations have come about. You and I talked before the show about some of the things he said on your show, right before the war started. None of them turned out to be true. This is why the American public is so upset. . . . OK, I say fire some people, that's the first thing. . . . [MR. RUSSERT: Does the Pentagon support what you're saying?] . . . Well, the Pentagon doesn't support it publicly, obviously, because of what happened to General Shinseki. . . . [MR. RUSSERT: Have they told you privately?] . . . Oh, absolutely. I mean, so many of them have said, "Keep saying the truth, keep telling the truth." All kinds of military commanders have said that to—they know. They don’t even have to tell me. . . . Look, what, what happens if we stay there? Let, let me tell you, a year from now, just like I said when I got-when I came back from Vietnam. A month later—now imagine this—a month later they have an election and, and we lose 38,000 people seven years later. I mean, the six-year interim, interim period between 1967 and 1972 we lose 38,000 people. So a year from now, you can be sit—you've heard what they've said, over and over again, how well it's going. Incidents have increased, unemployment is 60 percent, oil production—all the things that I measure. When they say on, on the television or send us a letter telling us how well things are going, I said to the staff, go look at the economics statistics, tell me what the unemployment level, tell me the water production, tell me the oil production, tell me the electricity production, tell me the unemployment figures, and then we'll know whether we're making progress. Tell me the incidents. . . . Tim, I haven't been wrong yet. I, I put—take that back, when I voted for this war I was wrong. After that, I recognized I had to make a change in direction. I had, I had to make some, some strategic and tactical decisions which were entirely contrary to the way I normally operate. Normally, behind the scenes, you can get these kind of things straightened out. But when you have an, an administration that's so isolated, insulated from the public, insulated from reality—this is not a rhetorical war, you have to make progress, and none of the things that I measure are progress. So our troops are caught in a civil war. Forty-two percent of them don’t even know what their mission is, and 70 percent want out of there. . . . Now, is it going to be a civil war? It’s already a civil war. Twenty-five thousand Iraqis are fighting with each other inside the country, the best estimates I see, less than 1,000 al-Qaida. The minute it's over, they'll, they'll fight with each other, somebody will win, just like we did in our civil war, and they'll lose a lot less people than we did in our civil war, and they'll settle it themselves. [MR. RUSSERT: Some in the administration say the media is distorting the good news that’s coming out of Iraq.] . . . Well, they said the same thing about Vietnam. They said the same thing over and over and over about Vietnam. They said, "We're winning the war in Vietnam." That—you could go back and get quotes from Vietnam, and you’d see the same kind of, of, of reports, "The media's the one that's distorting; everything's going fine in Vietnam." Well, everything's not going fine in Iraq. They have to realize that. When the whole world is against you, when our, our international reputation has been diminished so substantially, when all the countries in the, in the region say, "We'd be better off without us being in Iraq," when the people themselves in Iraq say it, and American people say it, I mean who is right? . . . [MR. RUSSERT: Do you expect an October surprise from the administration dealing with the war?] . . . I'll tell you what they're going to try to do. They're trying to do this right now. They're trying to blame the military, they're trying, they're trying to put the whole onus on the military for what happened in Iraq, and then they’re going to say, "Well, we're, we're going to have a plan for withdrawal." You heard it already, you’ve heard them say, "OK, here's the goal for withdrawal." A benchmark, they call it. Just like they called the insurgency "dead end kids," then they call it sectarian violence—it's a civil war. . . . I expect them to announce significant withdrawals. And I think—I, I say there'll be withdrawals. But there'll be—for instance, you'll see in the spring they'll start to announce withdrawal and you will see what they call benchmarks, what everybody else calls a timetable. But I tell you, we have to convince the Iraqis—we have to say to the Iraqis, "This is your war, this is no longer our war. This—you've got an elected government, this is up to you now to settle this thing." And then we've got to say, say to them, "You start to work this out yourself. We're going to, we're going to redeploy our troops as quickly as possible."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:55 AM

 
SAS soldier quits Army in disgust at 'illegal' American tactics in Iraq
(Sean Rayment, Telegraph, March 12, 2006)
An SAS soldier has refused to fight in Iraq and has left the Army over the "illegal" tactics of United States troops and the policies of coalition forces. . . . After three months in Baghdad, Ben Griffin told his commander that he was no longer prepared to fight alongside American forces. . . . He said he had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops, claiming they viewed all Iraqis as "untermenschen" - the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human. . . . It immediately brought to an end Mr Griffin's exemplary, eight-year career in which he also served with the Parachute Regiment, taking part in operations in Northern Ireland, Macedonia and Afghanistan. . . . But it will also embarrass the Government and have a potentially profound impact on cases of other soldiers who have refused to fight. . . . Foreign Office minister Kim Howells, visiting Basra yesterday, admitted that Iraq was now "a mess". . . . Mr Griffin, 28, who spent two years with the SAS, said the American military's "gung-ho and trigger happy mentality" and tactics had completely undermined any chance of winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi population. He added that many innocent civilians were arrested in night-time raids and interrogated by American soldiers, imprisoned in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, or handed over to the Iraqi authorities and "most probably" tortured. . . . He added that he now believed that the Prime Minister and the Government had repeatedly "lied" over the war's conduct. . . . "I did not join the British Army to conduct American foreign policy," he said. He expected to be labelled a coward and to face a court martial and imprisonment after making what "the most difficult decision of my life" last March. . . . Last night Patrick Mercer, the shadow minister for homeland security, said: "Trooper Griffin is a highly experienced soldier. This makes his decision particularly disturbing and his views and opinions must be listened to by the Government."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:27 PM

 
Over 8,000 U.S. troops desert during Iraq war
(Bill Nichols, USA TODAY, 3-7-06)
At least 8,000 members of the all-volunteer U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began, Pentagon records show . . . Since fall 2003, 4,387 Army soldiers, 3,454 Navy sailors and 82 Air Force personnel have deserted. The Marine Corps does not track the number of desertions each year but listed 1,455 Marines in desertion status last September, the end of fiscal 2005 . . . Some lawyers who represent deserters say the war in Iraq is driving more soldiers to question their service and that the Pentagon is cracking down on deserters. . . . "The last thing they want is for people to think ... that this is like Vietnam," says Tod Ensign, head of Citizen Soldier, an anti-war group that offers legal aid to deserters. . . . The desertion rate was much higher during the Vietnam era. The Army saw a high of 33,094 deserters in 1971 — 3.4% of the Army force. But there was a draft and the active-duty force was 2.7 million. . . . Desertions in 2005 represent 0.24% of the 1.4 million U.S. forces. . . . Opposition to the war prompts a small fraction of desertions, says Army spokeswoman Maj. Elizabeth Robbins. "People always desert, and most do it because they don't adapt well to the military," she says. The vast majority of desertions happen inside the USA, Robbins says. There is only one known case of desertion in Iraq. . . . Most deserters return within months, without coercion. Commander Randy Lescault, spokesman for the Naval Personnel Command, says that between 2001 and 2005, 58% of Navy deserters walked back in. Of the rest, the most are apprehended during traffic stops. Penalties range from other-than-honorable discharges to death for desertion during wartime. Few are court-martialed.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:24 PM

 
Bush may be history, but sadly his work will outlast him
(Iain Macwhirter, Sunday Herald, March 4, 2006)
People here are, as they say, "pissed", grumpy, confused, argumentative, ill at ease with themselves. They can't quite remember how they got into this bloody conflict in this intractable and inscrutable Middle East country. But they now just wish it would go away – with its obscene car bombs, religious fanaticism and incomprehensible politics. But there is no way this is going to end in glory. . . . Most Americans think the war was a mistake and want their boys back before any more of them get killed or lose limbs or minds. Injured soldiers, many of whom have suffered severe brain damage, are a regular feature in the US press. But Americans have been through this movie before – in the 1960s – and they don’t want a repeat of Vietnam. Unfortunately, no-one seems to have any sensible ideas for getting the hell out of Iraq. . . . The notion that America is in there to create a democratic society is regarded as a sick joke. Liberals blame US neo-imperialism; conservatives increasingly regard it as confirmation that people in the Middle East are incapable of democratic politics. But neither side seems particularly keen on attacking the other over it. . . . Most now seem to be agreed that it was a dumb war – conceived in ignorance, prosecuted in deceit, and now a monument to American military hubris. . . . No-one had a good word to say about Bush. Americans are still in denial about the true cost of the war. In some ways, ridiculing Bush has become a factor in that denial. Rubbishing the President is easier than facing up to the grim reality of mass bereavement. But in the not too distant future – perhaps when the number of casualties in Iraq equals that of 9/11 – then there is going to be some kind of moral reckoning. Careful management by the military has kept the coffins off the TV screens, but it can only be a matter of time before the media starts to ask why all these young Americans had to die. . . . Bush has never been regarded as the sharpest tool in the box, but it was always assumed that the folksy President had surrounded himself with capable advisers. In many areas he had. But as the Katrina tapes showed last week, good advice is pretty useless if the recipient is incapable of understanding it or responding appropriately. . . . The tapes, released last week by the Associated Press, reveal that Bush was warned that the Katrina hurricane was likely to be "the big one". But he politely dismissed the warnings, content that his hotline to the Almighty would provide more compelling guidance. . . . Bush has also failed to respond to the widespread warnings that his visit to India, to seal a deal over the sale of civil nuclear technology, would be regarded as Christian hypocrisy. How can Bush deny Iran the right to develop a civil nuclear programme, when he is actively helping India acquire it? Muslim leaders are bound to regard this as another case of American hostility to Islam. . . . But what about the nature of the political system that brought about this quasi-imperial misadventure? America doesn't do colonialism. So, how did it end up occupying an ungovernable Muslim country, with inadequate forces and little political support? . . . Well, a number of US commentators have been reminding their readers of the thoughts of the former Republican president, Dwight D Eisenhower, who warned in 1961 of the growing power of the “military-industrial complex” (MIC). Eisenhower – a true war leader who had led American forces to victory in the second world war – knew the military and feared that the immense power and wealth of the arms manufacturers could overwhelm US democracy and pose a threat to the stability of the world. . . . 9/11 provided the justification for rebuilding the US military. But because Bin Laden's irregulars did not constitute a proper army, the masters of war began to look for more identifiable enemies – and alighted on Saddam Hussein. . . . The rest, as they say, is history. And so, they all say, is George W Bush. But the unfortunate reality for the rest of the world is that the President’s work is likely to out last him. Like the hole in the ground in Manhattan, there is a big hole in the new world order where the Middle East should be. And no-one has any idea yet what is going to fill it.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:06 PM

 
NSA Spied on U.N. Diplomats in Push for Invasion of Iraq
Despite all the news accounts and punditry since the New York Times published its Dec. 16 bombshell about the National Security Agency’s domestic spying, the media coverage has made virtually no mention of the fact that the Bush administration used the NSA to spy on U.N. diplomats in New York before the invasion of Iraq.

That spying had nothing to do with protecting the United States from a terrorist attack. The entire purpose of the NSA surveillance was to help the White House gain leverage, by whatever means possible, for a resolution in the U.N. Security Council to green light an invasion.

A rare exception was a paragraph in a Dec. 20 piece by Patrick Radden Keefe in the online magazine Slate -- which pointedly noted that "the eavesdropping took place in Manhattan and violated the General Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, the Headquarters Agreement for the United Nations, and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, all of which the United States has signed."
. . . Read more!

posted by Hal 10:08 AM


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