Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.
Senator Barack Obama is a man to be admired, respected and liked. He is more than worthy of consideration for the Democratic Nomination in 2008 and if we were advising Senator Obama, and his equally impressive wife Michelle, our advice would be to run, and run now. A Vice Presidency certainly looks attractive on one’s resume, and a national campaign brings valuable experience.
Senator Obama is admired and he is loved. Look at the recent favorability polls and there he is, the Number One Democrat in America. But why? Why is a junior Senator, nationally a virtual unknown just two years ago, now at the top of the national favorability ratings? Is it because of his new book? His great 2004 Convention Speech? His appearance on Oprah? All of these, of course, but in fairness, does Barack Obama truly deserve to be the Democratic leader with the highest national favorability in a recent poll? Hardly.
With complete respect to Senator Obama, where are the long-time Democratic leaders who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country? Where are the other possible Presidential contenders? What about Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry? Where are Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid? Are they not leaders that deserve at the very least to have decent favorability ratings?
Why is Barack Obama “favorable” and not any of the better-known Democratic leaders? And why – of all people is Rudy Guiliani at the top of the list as the Number One leader in our country? The answer is simple, and dramatic.
President Bush has dismissed new statistics showing that more than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion and the continuing insurgency. But the U.S. military’s own estimates suggest that the casualty rate for Iraqis is five times what it was at the beginning of 2004.
And many scientists — including four experts who anonymously peer-reviewed an article for the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet — insist that the 654,000 figure, a measurement of what demographers call “excess mortality,” is derived by a scientifically valid methodology from a statistically valid sample.
6. If you are not Muslim, don’t speak Arabic well, haven’t read the basic texts of Islam or participated in services, haven’t been to Iraq, and/or believed – for whatever reason – prior to the invasion that it was a smart, or at least reasonable, idea to invade Iraq – that is, if you can’t answer “yes” to a decent number of my first five questions – then why should I bother to take seriously anything you might think to say?
Asked if a civil war was developing there, Burns said, “It’s always been a civil war,” adding that it’s just a matter of extent. He said the current U.S. leaders there–military and diplomatic–were doing there best but sectarian differences would “probably” doom the enterprise.
Burns said that he and others underestimated this problem, feeling for a long time that toppling Saddam Hussein would almost inevitably lead to something much better.
I was talking to a believer last week, who said to understand our invasion of Iraq you need to look at a Risk game board. Iraq is “the key to the Middle East” and pins Iran between itself and Afghanistan. So you have Iran surrounded, and bases in the middle of the region. Etc.
I want to make a comment on the “UAE port deal” controversy. We invaded Iraq based on less evidence of al Queda and other terrorist ties than there is of UAE ties. Yet, the Bush crowd insists that we have nothing to worry about from handing control of our ports over to the UAE.
Let me make this clear: I am NOT saying that UAE is a terrorist state, or even a terrorist-supporting state, I am pointing out the fear-mongering nonsense that Bush and the right spew for the lying, fear-mongering manipulative propaganda nonsense it is. The Bush crowd has spent four years whipping Americans into a state of absolute fear and paranoia over anything to do with Islam, Arabs, etc. Now they reap what they have sown.
According to the Bush/right-wing narrative, the invasion of Iraq was justified because Iraqi “had ties” to al Queda hijackers many years before 9/11. For example,
President Bush yesterday defended his assertions that there was a relationship between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda, putting him at odds with this week’s finding of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission.
“The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda,” Bush said after a Cabinet meeting. As evidence, he cited Iraqi intelligence officers’ meeting with bin Laden in Sudan. “There’s numerous contacts between the two,” Bush said.
President George W. Bush calls the nation behind the port-security controversy a trusted ally, but the Sept. 11 commission offers another take – saying the CIA believed top United Arab Emirates officials had cozy relations with Osama bin Laden before 9/11.
The United States even believed it had a lead on bin Laden two years before the attacks but passed up on an air strike to kill him.
The reason: fears of taking out UAE princes or other senior officials believed to be hosting bin Laden at a remote hunting camp in Afghanistan, the commission’s report said.
Which is it going to be, George? Do “ties to terrorists” mean we invade, or don’t they matter? Or, maybe that wasn’t it at all — maybe there were other reasons we invaded Iraq — reasons that you haven’t shared with us? Was “ties to terrorism” just a cover-story? Your reasoning sure doesn’t mean much when you want to do a business deal with UAE.
Think of some idiot (Bush) setting off a bomb outside a building full of people, the bomb damages the building but not quite bad enough that it collapses, and then you have to stand there holding up a wall. If you let go the wall collapses, kills all the people in the building, and kills you. But while you are standing there the people are fighting instead of doing what they need to do to shore up the building themselves. You’re getting tired of standing there holding up the wall. But, like I said, if you let go the building collapses on the people and kills you, too. THAT is what Bush has brought us.
Nobody knows why we are in Iraq. Or, putting it a different way, everybody knows — a different reason. Every smallest demographic was fed a reason they might buy into. Recent MyDD polling shows what I mean:
Now Bush is telling us that Iran is a threat. (That’s Iran with an ‘n’, not Iraq with a ‘q’.)
Iran may well be a threat. This may well be a serious crisis. But we have a problem: a President with no credibility. Mid-2003 I wrote,
Saying there was an imminent threat from Iraq when, at the very least, the intelligence did not support such a claim, opens the public up to doubt the next time a President needs to protect us from an ACTUAL threat. …. He has broken the bond of trust between the public and the Office of the President on the most critical issue, and politicized the process, and this has placed us all in danger should there be an ACTUAL threat to our nation and our lives in the future.
And here we are – maybe. A man who defends starting a needless war by saying it was an honest mistake is now telling us that Iran is a threat, and this time it’s for real. Naturally, the reaction of many in the world is that Bush saying Iran is a threat makes it more likely that not that Iran is not a threat. There is a way for Bush to convince the world that there really is a terrible threat from Iran and that we must deal with it.
Feingold has argued that this kind of clarity, combined with an effective reconstruction effort and constructive assistance to the political process, could help the U.S. to:
• Undermine the recruiting efforts and the unity of insurgents;
• Encourage Iraqi ownership of the transition process and bolster the legitimacy of the Iraqi authorities;
• Reassure the American people that our Iraq policy is not directionless; and
• Most importantly, create space for a broader discussion of our real national security priorities.
I have a question for those who advocate that we “just leave” Iraq: We wrongly invaded, destroyed their infrastructure and killing hundreds of thousands. Do we pay reparations? Do we pay to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq? Do we pay death benefits to the families? What TERMS do we offer to end the war? (If you think that wars just end when one side decides to “just leave” I suggest opening a history book.)
Do we prosecute the people who started the war? What do we do if Iran and their Taliban-like government ends up in control of the region?
I think it is urgent that the US not have invaded Iraq. We should do absolutely everything we can to prevent the United States from having invaded Iraq. But since the U.S. already did I think that the people who engineered that invasion should be brought before the World Court and hung for the crime of committing aggressive war. Just as after WWII the world needs to SEE that this is what happens to people who start wars. And I think the entire “conservative movement” machine with its corrupt DeLay/Norquist/Reed/Abramoff lobbying/funding should be dismantled and prosecuted and imprisoned. I think democracy demands this.
That said, what do we do now? Iraq is really a no-win situation, for millions and millions of people. So looking at what should be done about Iraq I think we need to undertand that the reality is that none of us have any say over what will happen. And another reality to consider: Bush is getting ready to cut and run and retreat because The Party sees a late-2006 “War is Over” announcement as a way to keep power.
Again — anything you or I say should happen is not relevant to what will happen. It is simply blowing hot air into the wind and nothing more.
By the end, the Republicans were denying that the resolution had anything to do with Murtha. Before they were labelling it the “Murtha Amendment.”
The naked attack on dissent, this New McCarthyism, has been thoroughly discredited.
In short, the Republicans went after the wrong Marine.
Every Democract voted the same way. Things are changing.