Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Idiocy in Iraq

Ever since I began publishing this blog more than two years ago, I have bitterly criticized the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq and the dreadful consequences of the occupation. I feel no satisfaction that my warnings have been vindicated.

My frustration and anger at the death and maiming of so many young Americans, and the waste of billions of dollars that could have been spent for far more vital purposes--think Katrina--knows no bounds.

The President continues to make his idiotic argument that we must remain in Iraq until "victory is achieved." He has yet to define what "victory" would mean there. How can anyone offer a definition when examining the varied forces involved in what is essentially a civil war?

Sunnis are fighting Shiites, some Sunni factions are fighting other Sunni factions, some Shiite factions are fighting other Shiite factions, and insurgents of all stripes are battling the U.S. And so the widespread violence and insecurity that cripples Iraq.

The President has the audacity to still charge that Al-Qaeda is "the main enemy" in Iraq. U.S. military and intelligence officials, however, say that the organization known as Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia constitutes only a small part of the threat to U.S. troops. Its members are essentially free-lance local jihadis and foreign Islamic terrorists eager to kill Americans. They are inspired, but not necessarily directed, by the original Osama bin-Laden-led organization based in Afghanistan and the ungovernable tribal region in northwestern Pakistan.

"The only way [the Bush Administration] thinks they can rally people is by blaming Al-Qaeda," Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, has charged. He is one of the growing number of high-level U.S. military and intelligence officials who, after resigning or retiring from government service, have criticized the Iraq invasion and the subsequent occupation. Their opinions were evidently ignored while they were still on the Federal payroll.

To support his claim that, despite the continuing violence, Iraq will become a stable democratic state, Bush makes the absurd claim that, after all, Israel is a "functioning democracy" that has not been destroyed by terrorism. The analogy underscores Bush's ignorance of Middle East history.

The silly season continues to thrive as Bush Administration supporters still complain that the news coverage of Iraq is distorted by the emphasis on violence and the disregard of "good news." Fox Cable Network's star pundit, Bill O'Reilly (ruler of the "no spin zone"), for example, seems to think that it's more important to report about the likes of Anne Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton than about bombings in Tikrit.

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Blogger joared said...

The "silly season" has encompassed entirely too many seasons for my taste. Distorted news in this administration's estimation is any sort of realistic coverage that fails to agree with their fantasy views. They see only what they want to see.

Then I am reminded at Ronni Bennett's "Time Goes By" to re-read our Declaration of Independence and why we sought our freedom in the first place. I wonder if members of our current administration have ever read that document, much less considered actions they've taken in light of those words. Probably not.

Thursday, July 05, 2007 1:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Hartmut Kaiser said...

Throughout most of the Vietnam War, the U.S. dollar was fixed to the value of gold under the Bretton Woods Agreement (one ounce of gold for $35). But by 1971, as the costs of the Vietnam War skyrocketed and the U.S. financed the war by debt and an increase in the money supply (dollars), the administration under President Richard Nixon had to give up the money-for-gold guarantee. In the wake of the Vietnam War, the 1970s brought a slide in the dollar's value, not only against gold but also against the French franc and the deutsche mark, among other currencies. In 1981, one ounce of gold cost more than $800.

Today, history repeats itself: the Cost of War Web site shows that the war in Iraq has so far cost the U.S. $422 billion -- and the cost of the U.S.'s increased military budget is not completely included in that number. The Federal Reserve System under Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke responded to this with a dramatic increase in the money supply, which led to so-called asset price inflation: most foreign currencies, not only the euro, but also the British pound, the Indian rupee and many others, rose against the dollar. So did the value of gold, which, in terms of dollars, has almost tripled since the beginning of the war on terror.

Germans have their own, profound memories of inflations triggered by wars: The great inflation in Germany in 1923 was caused by the World War I and made possible the rise of the Nazis. World War II brought inflation and rendered the deutschemark worthless until the currency reform of 1948.

What does a crumbling U.S. dollar mean for the U.S. and the rest of the world?

First, inside the U.S., the poor become poorer and the rich become richer, since the rich can hedge their fortunes against a falling dollar. The U.S. will more and more resemble countries like Brazil and many of those in Africa where a tiny, filthy rich elite runs the country and gets all the important jobs in government and industry. An impoverished majority will be kept in ignorance and without access to healthcare and education. Falling voter turnout will render the U.S. a democracy in name only.

Second, the power of the U.S. as a center of world capitalism is weakened as gains of wealth outside the U.S. shift the gravity centers of the world economy.

The countries that benefit from a weak dollar are those that have their own strong currencies like the euro and those who have commodities like oil. Thus, Russia, Iran and Venezuela -- all foes of the U.S. -- will gain in strength and influence.

It is true that the U.S. has one asset that is stronger than all its competitors: the military. Yet the use of the United States Army in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia combined with the arrogance of the Bush administration and its disrespect for human rights, as Guantanamo shows, leads to hate, anger, resentment and widespread anti-Americanism everywhere outside the U.S. This may affect American trade and business.

As history shows us, empires not only rise but also fall. Following the long decline of the Roman Empire, the Arabs ruled from A.D. 500 until 1500 from Spain to India, and Malta to Tanzania. From 1500 on, Portugal and Spain commanded huge empires. Later, the Dutch and the British ruled over the majority of mankind.

The end of the British Empire coincided with the rise of the U.S. as a superpower. Now, the United States' superpower status is fading away, as the war in Iraq war marks the end of an era.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 3:26:00 PM  

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