Congress and the "War"

The “Reconstruction”

I think it’s great that the reconstruction funding in Iraq is being scrutinized by the new Democratic majority. Claims of graft, fraud, and waste were not so long ago ridiculed as anti-war propaganda by a Republican-led blocking of any debate on the subject. Now it turns out that everyone from Iraqi military to contractors to American government officials to high-ranking US military officers has been pulling a fast one.

What’s funny about all this is that even right-wing observers are now seeing this scrutiny as needed and deserved. How quickly things change with oversight!

Having been to Iraq I am familiar with the Global War on Terror funds, which flow like a river to whoever needs it. The accountability program is pretty much a farce that stops people with any sense of ethics but is easily worked around by profiteers. I can’t even fathom the corruption that has taken place among Iraqi contractors and US govt. contractors who had virtually no oversight by government employees, whose employment numbers have remained fixed, according to reports.

The Iranian “Threat”

Military and civilian intelligence say Iran is not a threat. But they say stupid things like “Iran won’t have its nuclear weapons ready for another few years,” as though that’s supposed to mean that they don’t have them NOW so we should wait to attack them THEN. This implies intent which is just what the neocons want. Vanity Fair just published a great article about how the White House is preparing for a possible Iran strike.

Now, personally I don’t think a military confrontation with Iran is going to happen. But some of the independent reporting lately has made me less sure.

It sounds as though intelligence agencies don’t support any action. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that Iran is not in the cards. Interestingly he also said debate about Iraq doesn’t hurt democracy which is a rare thing to hear these days.

I don’t think Iran is that bad. Yes they are mainly Shi’ite but they are also Persian and that complicates things. I think they are working to deal with the mess in Iraq and are trying to make sure their interests are secure with regards to Lebanon. The Sunni countries and organizations (Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, the Palestine, Syria) have their own interests as well. The only one whose overt interests are to kill Americans is Al-Qaeda and currently they’re enjoying more progress in a neglected eastern Afghanistan/western Pakistan. And oh by the way we’re villifying Pakistan and Afghani tribes for pursuing their own interests first also.

I think there’s a big reporting and intelligence gap with regards to how Iranian people feel about all of this. Supposedly there is a lot of dissent for Ahmadi-nejad’s dangerous stance even if they approve of anti-western sentiment and being a nuclear power. The clerics supposedly square off against him also. So who knows? It seems like his administration mirrors the neocons’.

The Vanity Fair article suggests, despite all of this uncertainty, that the White House (and its supporters like the AEI) is chomping at the bit. Sounds familiar. And worrisome.

I am about to become part of the IRR, or Inactive Ready Reserve, for the remaining 3 years of my service. Will I be called back for this?

Debating Iraq

Anything less from the Democrats than total immediate withdrawal is just cowardice. “Phased withdrawals”, “timetables”, whatever, it doesn’t mean anything to me. If the military is told to re-deploy, it will set its own timetables for how that will work, not some bonehead congressman. Some crazy Republican pundits are attacking the Dems for not pushing immediate withdrawal because at least that would show some spine. Sadly they’re right.

On the other hand, the fucking Republicans are still living in their own surreal world. I am not sure why Hagel, a Republican who supposedly wanted to stop the surge, voted to block debate on Iraq.

And when I read the open source news every day, I keep reading public letters from US Representatives with shit like this in them:

The “fork in the road” before us is basically a point of decisionmaking. And it’s not an easy one: Disengage and cut our losses, but risk greatly empowering Iran and weakening our own future national security; or continue to strive to build an emerging, moderate Arab nation in the Middle East, while containing Iran and the radical Islamic terrorists it supports.

The first is the faster and easier of the two choices. And while politically popular today to some, it may not be wiser than the road which holds higher hopes for a tomorrow of peace and stability in the Middle East and will go farther in protecting our own national security here at home. Sometimes the faster path is not the better path for long-term national and international security at home or abroad.

Okay, I’m not sure what this means but it contains that blustery style that Republican congressmen love to write in. It’s all about metaphors and sports analogies and things that have no relevance. There’s no mention of concrete examples or actual policy when they speak. This is a key sign that they have no clue what they’re talking about — they have no familiarity with the region.

Feingold

I guess I haven’t been paying attention but Senator Russ Feingold seems like an interesting guy. His wikipedia page seems almost as though its been compromised and written up by one of his supporters without any criticisms attached. But his stances don’t seem to waffle, particularly on the war or gay marriage. Supposedly he was the only one to vote against the PATRIOT Act also.

Is he not as golden as the page suggests?

Watada

Ehren Watada is going to jail. The judge won’t let him argue that the “war” is illegal (I guess technically it isn’t — he should have meant “immoral” if he didn’t say that already). A bunch of windbags are calling him a traitor. Obviously the military is not going to be very sympathetic. People I’ve heard here talking about him do not like him. Of course it’s mostly reactionary and based on little knowledge of the incident.

While I agree that a soldier cannot choose his wars, I don’t dispute that Watada would gladly fight in Afghanistan — I know I certainly would since that’s why I enlisted to begin with (to shoot terrorists in the face). I know that I gave Bush the benefit of the doubt when we first went into Iraq and I still wouldn’t be averse to going to Iraq (at least, in the unit I’m with, since we do constructive things unlike 90% of everyone else over there). I disagree strongly with the “war” in Iraq but would still go, mainly because I want to help out my fellow soldiers no matter where they are and because I enjoy soldiering.

I respect Watada from what I know about him — at least he seems to be an officer with strong principles and initiative to improve, which is not as common as you’d hope. He will get trashed because he supposedly, as a junior lieutenant who is way younger than me and who did the ROTC program (meaning a lightweight college kid officer usually), stands to undermine the entire officer corps somehow, by refusing to deploy to Iraq.

This, of course, is a damnable offense while the same outrage is not given to officers who are given bronze stars just for sitting at a desk in Iraq, colonels who fire upon friendlies even though they had VS-17 friendly panels displayed, generals who, unaware, get away with neglecting rogue Abu Ghraib torturers, and majors and colonels involved in embezzlement and money laundering in Iraq.

The difference being that one person refuses to commit an action (that pussy/coward/fag!), while the others were at least moving forward with something, scamming the system, taking advantage of rank.

Those with principles and values scare people a lot more than those without.