Archive for the ‘Iraq War’ Category

George Orwell’s advice that writers “kill their darlings” to keep their writing fresh and honest applies doubly to advertising copywriters. This week, the US Senate, which will do just about anything to avoid dealing with serious matters at hand, like say, education, healthcare, or, I dunno, that Iraq thingy, was given nearly an entire day of free-for-all fun with MoveOn.org’s ad in the New York Times “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?, which in the end resulted in a non-binding resolution, introduced by class clown John Cornyn, condemning the ad. Good job, guys. Still, the real bad guy here was the copywriter. In his brief for the ad, he was undoubtedly told to keep hitting the “betrayal of trust” meme. Not surprisingly, two or three neuron bursts later, the headline had written itself. Brilliant! At that point, experience should have told the copywriter it was time to push “delete” and kill that darling. It wasn’t even a cheap pun; that would have simply read “General Betray-Us?” Instead, it was a labored pun.

No mo’ Shillin’ fo’ da Koalishun of da Willin’

Like Gen. William C. Westmoreland , who debased himself to prop up Nixon’s policy 40 years earlier, Petraeus is smart military confused as to where his loyalties belong. He understands he’s being sacrificed on the pyre of political expediency by his masters. Perhaps that is why he was honest enough to admit his masters expect to continue the occupation for at least another decade. (Although, I kid you not, there is a strand of conspiracy talk at the moment that Petraeus is being groomed for a 2012 White House run and this has his handlers are royally pissed he’s catching image flack so early on in the product roll-out. There is also the challenge to political copywriters of finding something that rhymes with “ass-kissing chickenshit”).

A Permanent State of War? Now there’s a headline that resurrects the ghost of Trotsky’s permanent revolution.

Besides, the headline could have been treated differently, say, in the form of a question to the General. If we need to spin the win, is it worth it? Or, what is it that 71% of Americans is not getting about this war?  

Or simply use an Army recruiting slogan. “It’s Army Strong, not Army Wrong.”  or “Army Strong … but not for long. Gen. Petraeus please don’t break our Army.”

Or some Dylan, “Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”
On the other hand, Americans love the infantile. Perhaps the next MoveOn.org ad will read: “Hey Cornyn, bite me!”


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Perhaps the most remarkable candidness in the US Senate’s all-night Iraq Debate came from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, who examined the idea that has long burned in the hearts of those who engineered the Iraq occupation — the privatization of 70% of Iraq’s oil resources. The crafters of this plan have spent over a decade coming up with reasons to justify this, even though oil production in most countries is done under the auspices of the state or quasi-statal entities. If Americans are really concerned about ending civil strife in Iraq and giving all its citizens a stake in the success of that country, perhaps it is time to abandon pressuring for a Hydrocarbon Law and the application of production-sharing agreements, or PSAs, and try a different approach. (BTW, if you are convinced PSAs are the way to go, it might be worthwhile to review the recent Russian experience of British Petroleum.)

 Current estimates of Iraq’s oil reserves are all over the map, ranging from 112Gbbl to 400Gbbl on the high end. Nevertheless, the big oil companies seem comfortable with figures north of 300 billion barrels. At an oil price of $50 a barrel that’s a treasure of $15 trillion. $30 trillion at $100 a barrel, or roughly a cool $1 million for every Iraqi citizen. Given the value of the assets at stake, it is also clear why Mr. Bush and co-president Cheney scarcely bat an eye at the mention that official Pentagon spending on the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan now exceed $12 billion a month. That’s chump change.

While the conditions in Iraq are quite different than in Norway, there is obviously an alternative path for Iraq that so far has not received much public discussion, i.e. creation of a national stabilization fund to invest and protect national oil revenues managed with sufficiently little corruption so that covenants with Iraq’s future generations are kept. The added benefit is that, like in Norway, the money can be directed toward diversification of the economy and job creation.

The Senate’s Great Iraq Debate was a flop, but Cantwell may have inadvertantly started a discussion that will help both the people of Iraq and the US in the long term.

Update: C-Span  has the clip up now.

Later update: Suddenly it’s become okay to use the O-word right on the senate floor. Larry Craig did it, too.

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Joe Wilson (on George Bush’s quid pro quo commuting of Scooter Libby’s 30-month sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice):


This stinks to high heaven.


So here’s the song by Loudon Wainwright III:

 You’ve got to love the crossed-arm body language of the German crowd. BTW: The translation for the Finnish word for skunk (haijunäättä) is something like smelly raccoon. The comment about politicians is prescient.

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Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former security adviser to Jimmy Carter, gives a report card to George W Bush, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. In an interesting article in The New York Review of Books, Jonhathan Freedland writes a review about three books written about the Bush administration. One of these is by Brzezinski, Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower.

The conservative Democrat and cold war hawk, gives Bush Sr. a B, while Clinton gets a C. Bush Jr. gets slammed with an F.

Quoting Brzezinski, the article in The New York Review of Books gives a very critical picture of the Bush administration:

It is hard to exaggerate the Bush administration’s fundamental miscalculations on Iraq… Small wonder that after nearly four years of warfare, Iraq has been a disaster, costing thousands of lives, requiring the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars, stretching our forces and reserve system to the breaking point, and becoming a magnet for terrorists and hostility towards the Untied States throughout the Muslim world.

He continues:

Because of Bush’s self-righteously unilateral conduct of US foreign policy after 9/11, the evocative symbol of America in the eyes of much of the world ceased to be the Statue of Liberty and instead became the Guantánamo prison camp.

It’s pretty evident that the Bush administration has fallen into a trap that has meant the demise of some autocratic regimes. Whenever the leader of such a government believes that he’s on a crusade to save the country or world from some murky enemy like terrorists, that’s the first sign that the government is in self-destruct mode. Wars that such despots declare turn into obsessions that blind them into believing they are indestructible.

It’s unfortunate that countries like Germany with Adolf Hitler and the former Soviet Union with Joseph Stalin had their tragic rendezvous with autocracy. The US is now suffering from the same problem under Bush, even if the president hasn’t been able to destroy all of the US’ democratic institutions.

There’s still hope to salvage US but the main priority must be to get Bush out of the White House.

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Asian nation to do more to defeat a global terrorist threat. One of the most remarkable statements he made at the annual Shangri-la conference on international security in Singapore was that enough isn’t being done to address the causes of terrorism. Gates couldn’t say whether the cause of terrorism was despotism or poverty. “The danger [of terrorism] remains very great,” he said.

If we take a closer look at Gates’ arguments, we’ll find some of the roots of terrorism. One of them is using such a term to picture the enemy. Governments that call their enemies terrorists do so because it gives them immense power and flexibility to undermine civil rights.

In the face of many other suggestions I could make to “nip terrorism in the bud,” undoubtedly the most effective one is doing away with George W. Bush’s administration. That administration is so inept in its “war on terror” that it’s the US that looks more like the “terrorist” than the “terrorists” themselves.

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With the world in dire need of a tourniquet to halt the hemorrhaging caused by George W. Bush’s so-called “war on terror” and our insatiable greed that is bringing climate change on us hard and fast, one question we can ask is what can be done?

To simplify things, the world could be seen like the ten players (the G8 + 2) on a basketball court with two referees (the US/Nato and China/Russia) and onlookers (the world).

Certainly the refs can make as many bad calls as they wish. They have the power to do so. However, as they make poor calls the players and the crowd start to get rowdier. In the end the refs lose control of the game and all hell breaks loose.

This is exactly what is happening in the Middle East thanks to Iraq and Israel’s untenable policy in the region.

Might isn’t right. It isn’t a sustainable foreign policy.

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If you have 14 minutes and like to hear Lawrence Ferlinghetti (voice of the Minister, he must be in his late 80s) check this out.

War Prayer

Small budget, good result.

It was like this when
we waltz into this place
a couple of Papish cats
is doing an Aztec two-step
And I says
Dad let’s cut
but then this dame
comes up behind me see
and says
You and me could really exist
Wow I says
Only the next day
she has bad teeth
and really hates

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