Friday, April 11, 2008

About Iraq

About Iraq

By Jerome Grossman

• The puppet regime in Iraq wants U.S. troops to stay to protect it from the insurgents and other dissatisfied groups, to supply money, and to act as a cover for "the most corrupt government in the Middle East.”

• The Sunni Awakening Councils in Anbar Province are heavily subsidized by U.S. dollars supplied by the U.S. military. We pay 90,000 Sunnis $30 a month and supply them with weapons, a subsidy far higher than the average wage in Iraq.

• The U.S. invasion was in violation of international law and the United Nations Charter, hence in violation of U.S. law.

• Al Qaeda in Iraq is only a small fraction of the insurgency, between 1000 to 2000 fighters. It is fueled in large part by nationalist and anti-foreigner sentiment.

• The so-called bloodbath after U.S. withdrawal is questionable and is being used as an excuse by the Iraqi puppets and the U.S. hard-liners for an extended occupation.

• The U.S. residual force to protect infrastructure, to train Iraqis and to fight insurgents is a continuation of the occupation by another name and must be repudiated.

• The U.S. must not maintain any military bases in Iraq.

• U.S. withdrawal must not depend on the situation in Iraq and the region because there will always be a reason to stay.

• There is no way to prevent Iranian influence on the Iraqi Shiite government. From an imperial standpoint, this is the greatest U.S. mistake. During the Saddam Hussein Sunni regime, Iran’s Shiite government gave sanctuary to Iraq’s religious and civil Shiite leaders. When President Ahmadinejard of Iran visited Baghdad recently, he was greeted by Iraqi officials with kisses, embraces, music and flowers.

• The U.S. should try to make a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan whom we subsidized after the Soviets left. Let us try to avoid the failed experiences of USSR and UK in Afghanistan.

• Some smart policemen have suggested treating terrorism as a criminal conspiracy rather than a military attack, more effective and less expensive in lives and money. Regimes across the globe will be overthrown. We must not react automatically in defense of the status quo.

• The financial costs of the Iraq war are staggering. That has special relevance now given the recession, the banking crisis, the aging U.S. infrastructure, the health-care crisis, etc. The Iraqi government has billions of surplus funds due to the high price of oil. They should be paying for U.S. forces in Iraq. Instead, the U.S. continues to finance the Iraqi government with outright grants rather than loans to be repaid.

• For diplomatic credibility, for decent respect for popular opinion at home and abroad, for avoidance of a boycott of American products abroad, it is crucial that the U.S. places a total ban on torture, live up to the Geneva Conventions, eliminate the rendition program, and eliminate the secret prisons and the assassination program.

• There are in Iraq about as many U.S. sponsored contractors as there are U.S. troops. Many are armed and trigger-happy, not really accountable to the U.S. and Iraqi governments. They should be withdrawn with U.S. troops. The jobs should go to Iraqis, now suffering from high unemployment, even if they are less efficient, in the interest of social stability by reducing unemployment.

• The Iraqi Congress voted by a large margin for U.S. military withdrawal. Yet, a Status of Forces Agreement has been negotiated between Iraq and the U.S. delineating rights and procedures for American military. This agreement was passed by the Iraqi Congress but was never submitted to the U.S. Congress for approval, a violation of the U.S. Constitution and an indication of a long U.S. occupation.

Monday, April 7, 2008

John McCain, War Hero

John McCain, War Hero
By Jerome Grossman

Up to this point in the race for president of the United States, the uncrowned but virtually certain nominee of the Republican Party, Senator John McCain, is doing remarkably well in the public opinion polls. McCain is holding his own against both Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. According to all the polls, if the election were held today, he would have an even chance of victory.

This is surprising because of the political difficulties of the Republican Party; short of money, besieged by factional quarrels, a support base with less than customary enthusiasm, an unpopular president presiding over an economy in recession and two unresolved wars.

Yet, McCain is competitive in spite of these overwhelming negatives. One explanation offered is his life history, especially his military service in the Vietnam War. As squadron leader in combat flying, he was shot down, gravely wounded, captured by the enemy, held prisoner for five years, and tortured by his Vietnamese captors. Obama and Clinton have no military experience.

Could this heroic experience be the basis for his political popularity? The American voters have often rewarded their military heroes with the presidency, among them George Washington, Andrew Jackson, William Harrison, Ulysses Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and George H. W. Bush (the father).

However, in the last four elections, authentic war heroes were defeated by rivals who not only did not serve but appeared to have made special efforts not to serve. In 1992, war hero George H. W. Bush (the father) lost to Bill Clinton. In 1996 war hero Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton. In 2000, war hero Al Gore lost to George W. Bush (the son). In 2004, war hero John Kerry lost to George W. Bush. It is difficult to explain the political rejection of these war heroes, while most Americans intensely “support the troops,” wherever they are, whatever they do.

On Election Day, 2008, the United States will be engaged in at least two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time it will have the largest military budget in the history of the world plus 737 military bases in 130 countries on every continent. McCain is gung-ho for the two wars and very supportive of the military program. Will the election of war hero John McCain be regarded as another ratification of US military policy by the American public, a policy which includes the entire planet as its sphere of influence and operation? Will President McCain rely on his military experience and U.S. military dominance to solve the inevitable problems posed by American hegemony?


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