Friday, December 29, 2006

Joe Lieberman Calls for More Troops; Saddam To Be Hanged Tonight

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I don't think there is any politician in the country I have less respect for than Joe Lieberman. He is so dishonest, such a hypocrite, such a craven opportunist. Here he is in today's Washington Post, calling for more troops to help Iraq's "moderate political forces":

The most pressing problem we face in Iraq is not an absence of Iraqi political will or American diplomatic initiative, both of which are increasing and improving; it is a lack of basic security. As long as insurgents and death squads terrorize Baghdad, Iraq's nascent democratic institutions cannot be expected to function, much less win the trust of the people. The fear created by gang murders and mass abductions ensures that power will continue to flow to the very thugs and extremists who have the least interest in peace and reconciliation.

This bloodshed, moreover, is not the inevitable product of ancient hatreds. It is the predictable consequence of a failure to ensure basic security and, equally important, of a conscious strategy by al-Qaeda and Iran, which have systematically aimed to undermine Iraq's fragile political center. By ruthlessly attacking the Shiites in particular over the past three years, al-Qaeda has sought to provoke precisely the dynamic of reciprocal violence that threatens to consume the country.

On this point, let there be no doubt: If Iraq descends into full-scale civil war, it will be a tremendous battlefield victory for al-Qaeda and Iran. Iraq is the central front in the global and regional war against Islamic extremism.

To turn around the crisis we need to send more American troops while we also train more Iraqi troops and strengthen the moderate political forces in the national government. After speaking with our military commanders and soldiers there, I strongly believe that additional U.S. troops must be deployed to Baghdad and Anbar province -- an increase that will at last allow us to establish security throughout the Iraqi capital, hold critical central neighborhoods in the city, clamp down on the insurgency and defeat al-Qaeda in that province.

Steve Clemons tells Lieberman, "Mr. Lieberman, this is your war, too" -- meaning that Lieberman needs to take responsibility for the fact that he supported the invasion and voted for the war, and refused to listen to the many knowledgeable people who predicted exactly the consequences that Lieberman now uses as a reason to send more troops.

Senator Lieberman just spent 10 days in the Middle East and still does not get it. He's penned an op-ed calling for more deployed American troops in Iraq.

It's a remarkable essay for just how anti-empirical it is and how he can so easily waft platitudes about America's engagement in the region after actually seeing the miserable results of more than three and half years of military occupation of Iraq by us.

In the very first paragraph, Lieberman writes:

While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States.

Many critics of this war -- including this blogger -- always worried that our engagement would trigger a regional conflagration and that removing Iran's "balancer" would have huge effects throughout the Middle East and fuel Iran's pretensions as a hegemonic force. Where is Lieberman's confession that he and others were warned of this and didn't see it coming?

BooMan gives several examples of these pre-invasion warnings, in a superb point-by-point rebuttal of Lieberman's statements.

Larisa Alexandrovna, who is managing editor at Raw Story and also has her own blog, At Largely, has a guest post up at Informed Comment, in which she gives her thoughts on why the Bush administration is fomenting all this talk now about a troop surge and speeding up Saddam Hussein's execution:

Sometime this morning, all the various and truly bizarre events the Bush administration has been engaged in recently with regard to troop levels and surges suddenly crystallized for me, as though I were sitting at a chess board and seeing the entire strategy unfold before my eyes.

This is of course my opinion and I may very well be wrong. In fact, I hope I am wrong. But the news that Saddam Hussein would be executed soon, and then the news that it would be in the next 48 hours, boggled my mind. Why on earth would anyone want to set off an ideological bomb during an already chaotic situation? I do not defend Saddam Hussein, not by any measure. But when Iraq is falling into total chaos and civil war, and as American troops continue to die, why would anyone want to add fuel to that fire, enough fuel to destroy what is left?

Suspend your emotions and think strategically. Now look at the question again and in context.

The administration is stalling as it supposedly weighs its Iraq options, when in fact they have already made their decision. How do I know they have made their decision? One need only look at the slow leaks coming out, not the least of which was Joe Lieberman’s op-ed in the Washington Post, to understand that we are going to be sending more troops to Iraq. So why does the administration wait to tell us this?

In the meantime, naval carriers are deployed to send Iran "a warning," as though the threats thus far and the passing of sanctions are not warning enough. Add to that the detainment of Iranian diplomats invited to Iraq by the Iraqi leadership. Why is the US arresting diplomats invited to a country that the US claims is a sovereign nation governing itself?

And what about those sanctions, which ultimately mean nothing and sadly mean everything? The sanctions are so watered down as to have no real effect on the Iranian population or economy. Why even bother passing them?

Why censor Dr. Leverett's opinion piece on Iran when the CIA already cleared it?

Now given this entire context, ask yourself again why Saddam Hussein is being executed now, during Hajj even? What is the urgency?

Alexandrovna believes it's part of a deliberate plan to trigger an explosion of violence (in response to Hussein's execution), which will serve as the excuse to send more U.S. troops.

What the Bush administration appears to be waiting for, stalling for, while they allegedly mull over the Iraq question, is for the naval carriers and other key assets to fall into position. This will happen in the first week of January. Saddam Hussein is being executed (and I would not be surprised if every major network aired it) to enrage tempers and fuel more violence in Iraq. This violence will justify an immediate need for a troop surge, although I think it will be described as temporary. Remember too that the British press has for the past week done nothing but report that Britain will be attacked by the New Year. Clearly they are preparing themselves for a contingency, and that contingency is the massive violence that will erupt across the Muslim world as they watch (and I really believe it will be televised) Saddam’s hanging just before the New Year.

Why is the rush to execute Saddam Hussein not account for Hajj? Or does it?

The carriers will be in position. I imaging there will be an event of some sort in Iraq, or the violence will spill into friendly (our friends) territory. It will be dramatic, even more so than the immediate violence.

The attacks will be blamed on Iran, with the help of the Saudis and Pakistan. Iran will be blamed for something that happens in Iran. The naval carriers, again, will be in position. The sanctions, as watered down as they are, have given the administration the blank check they needed from the world (and they still have their blank check from Congress) to order aerial strikes. The surge troops will be in position, and I estimate that ground support will begin around late February, early March.

Saddam's execution and the violence will also be a convenient cover while the administration moves pieces into position.

We will find out very soon: AP is reporting that Iraqi officials are saying the execution will be in just a few hours:

An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saddam would be executed before 6 a.m. Saturday, or 10 p.m. Friday EST. Also to be hanged at that time were Saddam's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, the adviser said.

The time was agreed upon during a meeting Friday between U.S. and Iraqi officials, said the adviser, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

"Saddam will be handed over shortly before the execution," the official said. The physical transfer of Saddam from U.S. to Iraqi authorities was believed to be one of the last steps before he was to be hanged. Saddam has been in U.S. custody since he was captured in December 2003.

Al-Nueimi said U.S. authorities were maintaining physical custody of Saddam to prevent him from being humiliated before his execution. He said the Americans also want to prevent the mutilation of his corpse, as has happened to other deposed Iraqi leaders.

"The Americans want him to be hanged respectfully," al-Nueimi said. If Saddam is humiliated publicly or his corpse ill-treated "that could cause an uprising and the Americans would be blamed," he said.

I guess that's called "plausible deniability," although anyone who thinks it's plausible that this will prevent an uprising has more than a few screws loose. I don't think anyone in the Bush administration believes this line of bulls**t anyway. As evidenced (if evidence were needed) by the Pentagon's announcement today that "U.S. fighting forces in Iraq are ready for any escalation of violence there."

The White House just wants to be able to say that they "did all they could" to prevent violence -- not unlike that other bulls**t line about getting assurances that detainees will not be tortured before renditioning them to countries notorious for torture.

It is so infuriating and distressing that this administration thinks it can just play with the lives of millions of Iraqis like this. As Alexandrovna suggests, it's like a game of chess to them.

River over at Baghdad Burning writes about how it feels to live in constant fear of your own death and the death of those you love, and how it's changed her, and everyone she knows:

This last year especially has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost so much. So much. There's no way to describe the loss we've experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 40 corpses are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculous- like whether your name is 'too Sunni' or 'too Shia'. Fear of the larger things- like the Americans in the tank, the police patrolling your area in black bandanas and green banners, and the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.

Again, I can't help but ask myself why this was all done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair? Iran seems to be the only gainer. Their presence in Iraq is so well-established, publicly criticizing a cleric or ayatollah verges on suicide. Has the situation gone so beyond America that it is now irretrievable? Or was this a part of the plan all along? My head aches just posing the questions.

What has me most puzzled right now is: why add fuel to the fire? Sunnis and moderate Shia are being chased out of the larger cities in the south and the capital. Baghdad is being torn apart with Shia leaving Sunni areas and Sunnis leaving Shia areas- some under threat and some in fear of attacks. People are being openly shot at check points or in drive by killings… Many colleges have stopped classes. Thousands of Iraqis no longer send their children to school -- it's just not safe.
Here we come to the end of 2006 and I am sad. Not simply sad for the state of the country, but for the state of our humanity, as Iraqis. We've all lost some of the compassion and civility that I felt made us special four years ago. I take myself as an example. Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights. Never mind they crossed oceans to attack the country, I actually felt for them.

Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn't believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That's the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.

Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so.

Just because Americans die in smaller numbers, it doesn't make them more significant, does it?

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