2/28/09 Ukiah, Northern California
From Jim Houle
The New York Times suggests that Obama has made a statesmanlike compromise between his campaign pledge to “get out of Iraq in 16 months” and the Pentagon Brass pushing for 23 months: he split the difference at 19 months (September 2010). Most Americans had thought on Election Day that this meant all troops would leave Iraq but we have been disabused of this naïve notion. America will continue to have “a residual force” stationed at the four large desert bases (often referred to as crusader castles) for an undefined number of years.
This “continuing presence” after August 2010 has been called Advisory Training Brigades. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell conceded on Feb. 24th that some would continue to “conduct combat operations,” and Iraq would still be considered a war zone. The rest would be what he described as “enablers.” The issue is why will we need them there? We can only conclude that Obama has not let go of what had been the over-riding justification for the invasion of Iraq back in 2003: to dominate the region militarily. The objective was then and continues to be: to control Iraq’s oil resources, to assure the continued security of the corrupt medieval monarchies in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and to utilize the Persian Gulf as our private lake. The four crusader fortifications we have built with their huge airfields and weapons stockpiles can serve as a launching pad for any bombing raids found necessary in future years to keep in line those ‘Seven Stans” of Central Asia: Kazakh, Uzbek, Tajik, Turkomen, Kirghiz, Afghani and Pakistani along with those unreliable Persians and any Palestinians that might acquire a modern weapon. It’s all part of the unworkable and unaffordable program called “full spectrum global dominance” back at the Pentagon and that has already run us near to full spectrum bankruptcy. The administration intends to call those remaining troops a “transition force” – apparently to guard us as we move to a Pax-Obama future. None of the Iraqi political parties support any continued US presence after the year 2011, as had been agreed during the Bush administration.
Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a bit confused: “I don’t know what the justification is for 50,000,” she said on MSNBC February 25th. “I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000.” As of February 26th, Obama’s people are putting the size of the residual force at 35 to 50,000. Obama just budgeted $130 billion to fund the wars costs for Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year starting June 2009. Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell has now further parsed his words: “while Iraq would remains a war zone, most of these remaining forces would not do anything that resembles fighting. But just because these troops would carry a sidearm, as all U.S. troops do in theater, that should not be confused with them having a combat mission”. What is this? Will two mile long runways be defended by residual forces with sidearms?
We need to go back to the Middle Ages to find a historic parallel. After the long series of Crusades initiated by various Popes and Kings of Europe between 1095 and 1270 AD, the bloody venture was finally abandoned after Saladin had recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders and a large number of Christian knights were left out in desert fortresses or on the island of Rhodes. The crusades had been self financing from the loot stolen and sent back to the royal counting houses. But when the revenue flow stopped, the Kings and the Pope turned away and the remaining knights were forced to support themselves through piracy, pillage, and attacks upon desert caravans. They were known as the Knights Templar or the Knights of Saint John. Will we repeat this history? Washington still seems to think that access to Iraqi oil contracts will pay our way just as the pillage of rich caravans had kept the struggling crusaders fed. Does anyone really expect the Iraqis will go along with this?
WILL OBAMA RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT? Contributed by former Congressman Dan Hamburg and Lewis Seiler.
While most of us have had our attention fixed on the economic firestorm engulfing the planet, President Obama is failing to meet his only sworn responsibility as our chief executive: to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Americans understand that George W. Bush defiled the Constitution through the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions, torture, rendition and warrant-less wiretapping. Now, less than a month into the Obama era, we are seeing that little has changed in terms of extra-constitutional prosecution of the so-called War on Terror. So far, he has signed an order banning “harsh interrogation techniques” but may be keeping other reprehensible policies in place, and perhaps adding a few of his own.
Ironically, it was the liberal bastion Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco before whom Obama attorney Douglas N. Letter argued that extraordinary rendition and torture shall remain unpunished under the watch of Barack Obama. The case (Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.) involved five “detainees” who have filed suit against a subsidiary of Boeing for flying them to CIA “black sites” where they were brutally tortured. Attorney Letter startled the judges by invoking the same “state-secrets” argument employed by Bush. He maintained that the “no change” position he advocated had been “thoroughly vetted with appropriate officials within the new administration.” Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union said: “This is not change, this is definitely just more of the same.”
Meanwhile back in Washington, plans for detention at home are being expanded under Democratic Party leadership. On January 22, H.R. 645 – the National Emergency Centers Establishment Act was introduced calling for establishment of six “centers” to be constructed on military installations across the US. These new FEMA centers are “to provide temporary housing, medical and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster.”
Why” asks Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) “are these centers being constructed on military bases if they’re not for the purpose of rounding up and detaining large groups of people?” “They use the ever popular excuse that the facilities are for the purposes of a national emergency” but Ron Paul is highly suspicious of their real motives.
Last fall, the Third Infantry Division’s 1st Combat Team, trained in Iraq, was deployed within US borders to “help with civil unrest and crowd control.” (Have you heard of any civil unrest recently?) ”According to Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of the US Northern Command, at least two more brigades will be deployed by 2010, contrary to the doctrine of posse comitatus, which prohibits US troops being used against US citizens. Obama needs to explain both the new FEMA camps and this deployment of combat troops on home turf. Excerpted from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle 2/20/09. Lewis Seiler is president of Voice of the Environment. Dan Hamburg, a former member of Congress representing District #1 in Northern California, is executive director.
THE OBAMA BUDGET and the GREAT GAME
Much is coming forth late this week in this impressive budget document that had not been clear during the new White House staff’s earlier weavings and shifting. We will delve into it in the Eleventh Edition (out in early March).