Posts Tagged ‘iraq war’

Some Perspective

Posted: 13 March 2008 in Uncategorized
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Lest we forget [source].

Deaths in the middle east caused by American-led wars

There is a fine line between conspiracy theory and reasonable deduction. Most would agree it is insane to believe that a group of elite men have existed since before the founding of the United States with the purpose of ruling the world from secret. Most would agree that it is insane to believe that 9/11 was staged by people in the US government. But there are all these little coincidences out there that hint at something deeper going on. When we place them all side by side it seems almost reasonable to believe in the conspiracy theory, but the problem is that we have access to a limited set of the data. If we sampled from the distribution of coincidences again, we might come to a completely different conclusion. This is part of the difference between believing in a conspiracy theory and coming to a reasonable conclusion from the facts.

So consider these “coincidences” [source]:

  • The owner of MSNBC and NBC is General Electric, who also owns Raytheon
  • Raytheon is a defense contractor
  • General Electric has a vested stake in Yucca Mountain
  • GE and its affiliates have contributed to the main democratic contenders (Clinton, Obama, Edwards)
  • GE and its affiliate employees have individually contributed nearly $70,000 to those candidates
  • NBC has consistently excluded Kucinich from presidential debates
  • Kucinich opposes the War in Iraq and opening Yucca Mountain

In the latest presidential debate, NBC stated its criteria for selecting candidates was being ranked in the top four. Since Bill Richardson exited the race, much to my pleasure, Kucinich was now in the top four. NBC extended him an invitation only to rescind it two days later. Kucinich sued on violation of contract and won. NBC appealed and Kucinich lost. NBC claimed their first amendment rights were infringed by being forced to include Kucinich. Corporations have first amendment rights?

So is it right to conclude from these series of “coincidences” that NBC and its corporate masters have conspired to affect the election by removing from consideration candidates who would not be financially beneficial to them? Or is it a reasonable deduction to conclude from the facts that GE has a vested interest in making sure candidates who will support their goals are given media attention, which translates directly into votes? If you will not agree with that, then surely you must agree that by excluding Kucinich, they materially affect the distribution of votes in the election.

Dennis Kucinich is not afraid to say the thing many people are wondering. Is Bush freakin nuts? Does he really think World War III is going to break out if Iran gains the knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons? Who are the sides? The middle east versus the rest of the world? Oh and North Korea. Plus a couple countries in Africa so embroiled in their own civil wars, they’d be lucky to send 100 men to fight off this giant.

CNN’s political ticker has this:

“I’ve told people that, if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” Bush said at a news conference earlier this month.

The Democratic presidential candidate later said he does not consider questioning the Bush’s mental health inappropriate, according [to] the Inquirer’s Web site. [emphasis mine]

I’m about 99.9999% sure that any nuclear weapon Iran acquired would be used for one purpose and one purpose only: deterrence. What Bush is actually saying here is “if you’re interested in avoiding a US invasion of your country, it seems like you ought to be interested in getting a nuclear weapon.” He really can’t see the connection between posturing to overthrow a government and that government’s desire to acquire a nuke to prevent that? This version of diplomacy is like the battered wife who kills her husband in order to escape. Only this husband thinks the wife is going to get a gun and is trying to kill her first.

As usual, Kucinich is the only one brave enough to speak out against this looming evil. The rest are off scrambling around in the dirt for the pennies tossed at them by the corporate patrons. Pelosi can barely look up long enough from the feast of pork-in-a-barrel to notice.

On a side note, I like the CNN editor’s rendering of the bolded sentence above. That’s a direct quote as of 10:00am Eastern time.

Iraq Casualties

Posted: 16 October 2007 in Uncategorized
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When I hear a number like 3828, it doesn’t sound all that high.  I mean, that’s a fraction of the number of people who died in Vietnam (about 60k, including missing), which was a small fraction of the number who died in World War II (14+ million).  And those are just the American and allied military casualties.  The numbers for the opponents and civilian casualties dwarf those.  But 3828 is a big number.  Each one a person with a family, many with children, most of them with living mothers who will mourn them.  Each one had a life at home, dreams.

Obleek.com has a very nice flash animation that helps bring this home by animating the coalition deaths as they occurred by day from the start of the Iraq War until 13 February 2007.  Data used to create the animation was taken from icasualties.org.  Worth a look and a thought, perhaps.

Casualties in Iraq

Blackwater USA Update

Posted: 2 October 2007 in Uncategorized
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Last week I commented on the piece in the NY Times about Blackwater USA being disproportionately involved in confrontations in Iraq.  A followup piece today indicates that they have been involved in 168 shootings in Iraq since 2005, and in “a vast majority of cases firing their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded.”  The report was issued by the Democratic majority staff of a House committee and criticizes the State Department, as well, for helping cover up and gloss over several incidents.

This seems to confirm the suspicion that Blackwater USA has a culture of shoot-first-ask-questions-later.  And as I said before, the strain is just too much for people to handle.  Families in Iraq are torn apart when innocent people are killed and these security guys doing the shooting will be suffering the consequences for the rest of their lives as well.

Vote Kucinich.

This appears to be the policy of Blackwater USA, a security contracting firm providing services in Iraq to the State Department. The New York Times reported yesterday that the firm is under investigation in both Iraq and in Washington for a shooting on September 16th in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. State department officials report that the incidence of violence by Blackwater personnel was at least double the rate of the other two security firms. The State department did go on to say that of the 1800+ missions that Blackwater personnel have been on, a very small percentage resulted in violence. While not quoting numbers, the department rep said there “dozens” of incidences. DynCorp, another security firm, reported 32 cases out of 3200 convoy missions, a rate of 1%. Blackwater’s rate is at least double that, so there were a minimum of 36 episodes.

So looking at the real numbers, you might think: “big deal.” The problem is that this could be representative of a culture at Blackwater that encourages a shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality. Now, I am actually sympathetic of these guys. I can’t imagine the incredible stress you must be under as a security professional in Iraq. Every corner, every roadside bump, every window could be hiding the bomb or person that kills you. If I were there, I probably would have shot someone by accident a hundred times just from stress. Hell, when I play multiplayer war games I’m constantly shooting my teammates when they run around a corner or jump up in front of me. The situation has to be insane.

The reason I’m even talking about this is that I think this is a good example for what war does to people. The Blackwater people may be like me and get jumpy and shoot first rather than restraining themselves and waiting for cooler heads to prevail. Or they could be giving in to the power that a nearly lawless warzone enables. In either case, not only are more people dying, but these security personnel are suffering emotional damage. Losing your humanity to bloodlust or becoming more and more neurotic due to constant fear — either way it’s a losing prospect for these people. Also, if they are killing twice as many people and there is no significant increase in the danger factor for their missions, they could very well be killing innocent people. The regulation of contractors is attracting attention from the top brass, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is sending a team to Iraq to discuss the situation with General Petraeus. (It just struck me what an imperial-sounding name that is.)

So, bring these guys home and the soldiers who are suffering just as much or more. Vote for Dennis Kucinich.

Well, I didn’t get a chance to listen to Edwards last night on MSNBC, since I apparently can’t work a TV anymore. I thought I was watching MSNBC, it was actually NBC and then after Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island made the Democratic response and there was no John Edwards, I realized my mistake. Thanks to the wonders of the giant tubes that make up the interwebs, I was able to watch his speech:

I was pretty happy about the speech, though it came off as disappointingly weak at the end. He made a convincing, fairly non-aggressive case against prolonging the war, arguing from simple practicality. It seems this approach could possibly be better at persuading conservatives and fence-sitters than saying that Bush and the military are terrorists (ala Rosie O’Donnell). And yes I know she didn’t actually say that. What was weak in Edwards’ speech was the whole “timeline” business. It annoys me whenever I hear it. It’s so open-ended. If by timeline, he means in three weeks, then I can live with that.

Another problem here is that while Edwards has come out on the side of peace, he still voted for the war: a serious failure in judgment. And I don’t even listen to Obama (aka Obomba) when he chastises other candidates for voting for the war. Based on his long history of voting to prolong W’s endless war, I have little doubt that Obama would have been right there with his “aye” raised high when called upon to vote to overthrow a sovereign nation whose leadership we installed.

It returns to the fact that there is only one choice: Dennis Kucinich. Electability is a term invented by the corporate-sponsored media. Real electability is what happens when you actually go out and vote with your mind and heart instead of voting because of what some plastic face on a TV screen tells you to do. Dennis Kucinich is the only one who has opposed this war at every turn, the only one who has a real plan to bring our troops home. Edwards was right when he said the only way to force a political solution between Shiites and Sunnis is for us to get out of there. Kucinich has been saying that all along. We should hold all of these democrats accountable and vote for the only one with the clarity of mind and morals to do what was right from the very beginning and elect Kucinich.