Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Lie we don't believe any more

The Clarion has heard from many continued supporters of the invasion of Iraq.

"It didn't matter that Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction."

"It didn't matter that Iraq didn't have ballistic missiles with the range to reach North America."

"It didn't matter that (this time) Iraq had not attacked any of its sovereign neighbors."

"It didn't matter that the United Nations didn't support the invasion."

"It didn't matter than many of America's allies from the first Gulf War, didn't support the invasion."

"It didn't matter that Iraq was in no way connected with the attacks of September 11, 2001."

"It didn't matter that Iraq was not allied with Al-Qeda."

"It didn't matter Iraq was not harboring any Al-Qeda operatives."

Why didn't it matter? What is the rationale? (ex post facto, of course.)

"Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator. The man was unfairly imprisoning, torturing, mass murdering his own people. Such evil had to go. It was America's duty and right, alone, if necessary."

Where are these supporters of the Iraq invasion today? Why are they not clamoring for an American invasion of Zimbabwe? Robert Mugabe is an evil dictator. He is imprisoning, toruring and mass murdering his own people in an effort to maintain his personal power. His exploitation of the country has been without limits, almost without parallel, this side of Kim Jong-il.

Where is the outrage? Where is hue and cry for the imminent invasion of Zimbabwe on behalf of its suffering people? Does the color of the skin of most of Zimbabwe's citizens somehow make them less valuable to America? Is it their country's lack of fossil fuels? Pre-Mugabe, Zimbabwe was once the "Breadbasket of Africa."

Why is it less valued?

King George?

Viceroy Cheney?

Senator Lieberman?

Senator McCain?

Senator Obama? (Who opposing the Iraq invasion, from the beginning, has an opportunity to weigh in differently...)

The Clarion's view, on both Iraq and Zimbabwe, war is admission of failure. Victory is peace.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oil Drilling

Our friends Duck & Cover are all over it again...

The Clarion was disappointed to read about a flip-flop on offshore drilling from a Democrat we respect, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia. Webb, a former Marine, and Secretary of the Navy, is being touted as a possible Obama running mate. But when we looked into it further, we found that Webb had not reversed course on offshore oil drilling. He had, rather, advocated drilling for natural gas be allowed 50 miles offshore. Natural gas is a better option than oil for a panoply of reasons.

Read Duck and Cover
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bulletin: Pakistan

Map close up here.

Not content with having strengthened the hand of the hardest of the hardliners in Iran, the Bush administration is intent on turning the only nuclear armed, Muslim majority county, Pakistan, into a virulent enemy of the United States.

To the crusaders and born-agains in the Bush administration this conflict is viewed as part of an inevitable continuum of struggle. Good vs. Evil is the code. They aren’t worried about being left behind, in their apocalyptic world view, nuclear conflagration will only wipe out sinners, Jews and other apostates. Thus, when an Israeli cabinet minister says an attack on Iran is inevitable, the Bush team is silent. When Obama says he might speak directly to the government of Iran, he is an appeaser (of Evil.)

Unfortunately, for those who don't support that view, the United States military has been active in Pakistan, and on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Much like Iraq, the Bush administration is attempting to win hearts and minds with bombs. Also much like Iraq, this conflict is embedded in nation vs. nation battles for control of borders delineated by Western mapmakers and the accompanying state coffers.

This week saw eleven Pakistani soldiers, ostensibly American allies, killed by United States bombing. The Bush team has gone with its standard response, deny, deny, deny. It wasn’t our fault. They fired first. They were working with insurgents in the area. Unfortunately, American credibility in the region is abysmal. So even when American military commanders and institutions are telling the truth, they are not believed. This is not in the least because the faux-supporters of democracy in the Bush regime, have actually supported and continue to support the rule of Pakistan dictator Perez Musharraf to the tune of billions of American taxpayer dollars against the will of the Pakistani people. Sadly, a leader who initially offered hope, Afghanistan’s Hamed Karzai is being stained with same taint of American stooge-dom, co-option and corruption.

(In this incident the facts and circumstances are unclear.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nukes over America Fall out

In a what we hope is the final follow up to a story the Clarion originally reported last summer, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has asked Air Force Chief of Staff Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne to resign by the end of the day. The story which Fox News broke a few hours ago cited numerous issues and concerns SecDef Gates had with the Air Force leadership. The biggest individual incident was the accidental flight of live nuclear weapons over the continental United States last August. The Clarion was outraged at the time and is happy to see senior leadership's heads roll. Mosley had also been implicated in shady dealing surrounding Air Force contracts.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Coaltion of the willing loses another member

In a less than widely noticed move, Australia formally ended its combat operations in Iraq Sunday. It lowered the Australian flag from its position over Camp Terendak in the southern Iraqi city of Talil. Australia, long a stalwart United States ally, only had 550 combat troops stationed in Iraq. But the symbolism is another humiliating kick in the crotch for the Bush administration's all to aptly named, coalition of the willing. The Australians, long members of the Commonwealth, are considered an integral part of the English speaking alliance, to American eyes, perhaps below only England and Canada. Australia troops were among those of only five countries that fought alongside America during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Australian troops have fought alongside American troops for more than 60 years on three continents. The Australians continue to maintain 1,000 troops as part of the NATO mission to Afghanistan.

The coalition of the willing to provide combat troops in Iraq has dwindled to the United States, Great Britain and in a funky geopolitical hedge, the Republic of Georgia.

Compare this list of coalition members released by the Bush II administration in 2003, with the list compiled by Reuters in April 2008.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

On the wrong side again

This week saw the United States of America once again end up on the wrong side of an important weapons systems restrictions treaty. In 1997, it was the Convention to Ban the Use of Land Mines that the United States failed to sign on to. This week it was the Convention on Cluster Munitions more commonly known as cluster bombs.

Like land mines, cluster bombs are an abhorrent device, they are canisters packed with small bombs, called bomblets that spread over a large area when a canister is dropped from a plane or fired from the ground. While this sounds bad enough in and of itself, the real kicker is that like land mines, cluster bombs frequently kill civilians and other innocent bystanders to conflict. Cluster bombs are designed to explode on impact, but frequently do not. The unexploded munitions have killed and maimed thousands in much the same manner that the widely scattered land mines of the past several decades killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of non-combatants.

How on Earth can the United States oppose a treaty to ban the use of these weapons?

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Stephen D. Mull, "We decided not to go to Oslo, because we don't want to give weight to a process that we think is ultimately flawed, because we don't think that any international effort is going to succeed unless you get the major producers and the users of these weapons at the table."

Among the countries that lined up with the United States in refusing to sign on to the convention, the totalitarian People's Republic of China, Pakistan, otherwise known as, the military dictatorship that gave North Korea the Bomb, Vladimir Putin's Russia, along with the Israelis and the Indians. Quite a group of luminaries that America sided with. It is worth noting that the most recent documented use of cluster bombs was during Israel's 2006 conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. America has not, as yet, used cluster bombs in Iraq.

The Washington Post quoted Navy Commander, Bob Mehal, a Pentagon spokesman, "...cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility, and their elimination from U.S. stockpiles would put the lives of our soldiers and those of our coalition partners at risk."

Sweet. The logic underlying this premise would allow the use of any effective weapons systems; napalm, fire bombing, flamethrowers, land mines, even nuclear weapons. The argument being, if it has demonstrated military utility, there is nothing the United States of America rules out. Awful. Much like the Bush II doctrine of preemptive war, this logic is untenable in the long haul. It begets a kill or be killed mentality that has been implicit in humanity's worst moments.

Twenty some odd years ago Sting thought we humans had cottoned on to it when he wrote the lyrics,

"There's no such thing as a winnable war. It's a lie that we don't believe anymore"

Two years earlier, Matthew Broderick and a computer had discovered in Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes screenplay for the Cold War set, War Games,

"The only way to win the game (global thermal nuclear war,) is not to play."

What happened?

This week the United States undermined the principle behind those two quotes, moving closer to, rather than further from, global annihilation. It was a step in the wrong direction.

It is worth noting that while the United States rejected the Convention on Cluster Munitions under George Bush the II, it refused to sign the Convention to Ban the Use of Land Mines under Clinton I. This is especially important to recognize when Hillary Clinton is now excoriating Barack Obama for his military and foreign policy naivete. What Obama really proposes is change, a move away from group think, a willingness to work outside the confines of the military industrial complex's box.

A final point, a nuanced one at that, the Clarion mentioned earlier that the United States had not yet used cluster bombs in Iraq. NATO's European states have insured, as a matter of policy, NATO troops, including the United States's personnel, do not use cluster bombs in Afghanistan. In fact, the United States has barred the foreign sale of cluster bombs that do not have a 99% detonation rate on impact. A small step to be sure, but a step. Unfortunately, absent a unilateral ban, which the Convention on Cluster Munitions calls on signatories to impose with eight years, and the Clarion strongly supports, America will have to count on Pentagon auditors to insure only "good" cluster bombs are being sold. It will have to count on its military commanders to insure that no cluster bombs are being used.

Some solace.

Obama's speech on race in America