Tag: Iraq

Why do we honor 6,440 U.S. soldiers who died in Afghanistan and Iraq?

May 28, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More

Memorial Day Question: Why do we need to honor 6,440 U.S. soldiers who died in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Answer: Because they were asked to go there.

To put this day into perspective, I’ve re-published this image by “ARG” at Pixwit (with permission of the artist):

Additional note from the artist:

Chicken Heart Winner (Five-deferment Dick)
November 17, 2005: As Vice President Dick Cheney attacks the Democrats for questioning the honesty of the president’s warmaking, Congressman John Murtha, himself a decorated Korean War and Vietnam War combat veteran and a staunch warhawk, announces it’s time to bring the troops home. Concerning Mr. Cheney’s ranting, Murtha resorted to uncharacteristic sarcasm: “I like guys who got five deferments and have never been there and send people to war and then don’t like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.” Concerning Cheney’s lack of military service, he’s on record: “I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.”

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Unaccountable billions

October 26, 2011 | By | Reply More
Unaccountable billions

What kind of idea is this: Let’s send $40 billion in paper cash to Iraq on military airplanes and then quickly lose track of how it is being used.

What do you think of this idea? Here’s the beginning of this surreal story, as reported by Common Dreams.

“Wait, one person?” Shays asked. “One person received $40 billion?”

Asked what he thinks about that, Shays said, “It just blows you away.”

The enormous undertaking of moving the billions began in the heavily guarded Federal Reserve compound on 100 Orchard Street in East Rutherford, NJ. There, carefully screened employees loaded pallets of cash into tractor-trailers for their journey down I-95 toward Washington, DC. The money came from an account held at the New York Fed called the “Development Fund for Iraq” which was made up of billions of dollars in Saddam Hussein’s financial assets that had been frozen under various US and global sanctions regimes. They weren’t taxpayer dollars, but the US government was responsible for making sure they got where they were going.

A typical pallet held 640 bundles, which the handlers called “bricks,” with a thousand bills in each bundle. Each pallet weighed 1,500 pounds, and they were separated by color. Gold seals were used for $100 bills, brown seals held $50 bills, purple seals $20, and so on.

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The cost of America’s warmongering

June 29, 2011 | By | 10 Replies More
The cost of America’s warmongering

President Barack Obama recently suggested that America’s wars had cost $1 trillion. Reuters suggested that Obama is not being forthright:

Staggering as it is, that figure grossly underestimates the total cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the U.S. Treasury and ignores more imposing costs yet to come, according to a study released on Wednesday. The final bill will run at least $3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion

The study referred to is this one, by Costs of War.  Unlike your local newspaper or your local TV news, this is website that pulls no punches. Here are some of the findings:

  • While we know how many US soldiers have died in the wars (just over 6000), what is startling is what we don’t know about the levels of injury and illness in those who have returned from the wars. New disability claims continue to pour into the VA, with 550,000 just through last fall. Many deaths and injuries among US contractors have not been identified.
  • At least 137,000 civilians have died and more will die in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan as a result of the fighting at the hands of all parties to the conflict.
  • The armed conflict in Pakistan, which the U.S. helps the Pakistani military fight by funding, equipping and training them, has taken as many lives as the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan.
  • Putting together the conservative numbers of war dead, in uniform and out, brings the total to 225,000.
  • Millions of people have been displaced indefinitely and are living in grossly inadequate conditions. The current number of war refugees and displaced persons — 7,800,000 — is equivalent to all of the people of Connecticut and Kentucky fleeing their homes.

    How disproportionate has been America’s response to the 9/11 attacks?  Reuters offers this:

    What followed were three wars in which $50 billion amounts to a rounding error. For every person killed on September 11, another 73 have been killed since.

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    Priorities

    September 26, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
    Priorities

    I spotted this quote by Tom Friedman on Daily Dish:

    China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience…; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry… Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

    The story doesn’t end with this helpful and insightful quote. Perhaps, the above quote is an attempt by Friedman to attempt to redeem himself for his pro-war rhetoric from prior years. He has himself to thank for the fact that the U.S. warmongering mentality has caused us to fall so far behind China.

    And we continue to fall behind China because we can’t wake up from our nightmare in which relatively few people armed with unsophisticated weapons such as box-cutters are deemed more dangerous than the Soviet Union at its height, armed with thousands of nuclear warheads. Thus, we will continue to spend more than half of our federal tax revenue on military pursuits.

    Our exuberant and delusional warmongering is killing our economy and our future.

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    The real cost of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    September 5, 2010 | By | 5 Replies More
    The real cost of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    What is the cost of the U.S. invasion of Iraq? The cost, which will continue to mount for decades, is staggering, even insane. It wasn’t $50 B, as W stated; it’s already in the trillions. Here are the numbers from the Washington Post. The reason for the U.S. invasion and occupation? Unknown. The deleterious effect on the soldiers, their families and the U.S. economy? Long term and devastating. For the hawks, it was fun going in with all those fancy weapons blazing, but they are not offering any ideas as far as cleaning up this catastrophic mess. And those hawks have absolutely nothing to offer to the massive number of Iraqi refugees, who have spilled all over the Middle East, placing an enormous burden on Syria and Jordan.

    And combat is not “over,” per the recent lies of the Obama Administration. And the corrupt corporate media is, for the most part, not calling out the Obama Administration for this recent fabrication any more than they confronted the U.S. for the fictitious “reasons” for invading in the first place. The media excels at serving as official stenographer for U.S. politicians whenever the topic is war (and see this piece on a documentary by Phil Donahue, and this article regarding Amy Goodman’s views about the additional failures of the media). The corporate media bears thus much of the blame for the bleak economic future of the U.S.

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    “Spin” defined

    August 2, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
    “Spin” defined

    World English Dictionary defines “spin” thusly:

    13.informal to present news or information in a way that creates a favourable impression

    President Obama is kind enough to provide us with an example:

    President Obama on Monday announced plans to withdraw combat forces in Iraq, providing assurances that an Aug. 31 deadline will be met as the U.S. moves toward a supporting role in the still-fractured and dangerous nation.

    U.S. forces in Iraq will number 50,000 by the end of the month — a reduction of 94,000 troops since he took office 18 months ago, the president said in remarks to the Disabled American Veterans. The remaining troops will form a transitional force until a final withdrawal from the country is completed by the end of 2011, he said.

    … “Make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing — from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats.”

    Only in the world of “spin” (or Orwell) would 50,000 troops be considered a “civilian effort led by our diplomats”.

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    The war is making us poor Act

    May 21, 2010 | By | 4 Replies More
    The war is making us poor Act

    I’m delighted to share the letter that Representative Alan Grayson just sent to me. The basic idea is that the obsession of U.S. politicians to fight needless wars is making us poor as a nation (in addition to the immorality of what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan).

    After reviewing the letter, I went to Grayson’s website dedicated to cutting the military budget, I became about the 11,000th person to sign his petition, and I’m reprinting Grayson’s letter (below). Finally, we see someone who can speak about the military budget with some sanity. I agree with Alan Grayson that we need to stop our absolutely senseless “wars” and, instead, use our money here at home to stabilize our country’s noticeable downward economic and social slide. Before you read Grayson’s letter, please review (and choke on) two posts about the U.S. military budget numbers here and here.

    Dear Erich,

    Next week, there is going to be a “debate” in Congress on yet another war funding bill. The bill is supposed to pass without debate, so no one will notice.

    What George Orwell wrote about in “1984” has come true. What Eisenhower warned us about concerning the “military-industrial complex” has come true. War is a permanent feature of our societal landscape, so much so that no one notices it anymore.

    But we’re going to change this. Today, we’re introducing a bill called ‘The War Is Making You Poor Act’. The purpose of this bill is to connect the dots, and to show people in a real and concrete way the cost of these endless wars. We’re working to get co-sponsors in Congress, but, we need citizen co-sponsors as well. Become a citizen cosponsor today at TheWarIsMakingYouPoor.com. Act Now.

    Next year’s budget allocates $159,000,000,000 to perpetuate the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s enough money to eliminate federal income taxes for the first $35,000 of every American’s income. Beyond that, leaves over $15 billion to cut the deficit.

    And that’s what this bill does. It eliminates separate funding for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and eliminates federal income taxes for everyone’s first $35,000 of income ($70,000 for couples). Plus it pays down the national debt. Does that sound good to you? Then please sign our petition in support of this bill, and help us build a movement to end our permanent state of war.

    The costs of the war have been rendered invisible. There’s no draft. Instead, we take the most vulnerable elements of our population, and give them a choice between unemployment and missile fodder. Government deficits conceal the need to pay in cash for the war.

    We put the cost of both guns and butter on our Chinese credit card. In fact, we don’t even put these wars on budget; they are still passed using ’emergency supplemental’. A nine-year ’emergency’.

    Let’s show Congress the cost of these wars is too much for us. Tell Congress that you like ‘The War Is Making You Poor Act’. No, tell Congress you love it. All we are saying is “give peace a chance.” We will end these wars.

    Together.

    Courage,

    Alan Grayson

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    Where are the photos of good things supposedly happening in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    May 6, 2010 | By | 6 Replies More
    Where are the photos of good things supposedly happening in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    I’ve totally run out of patience. I need to see photos of all the good things happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there aren’t any. Why aren’t we seeing lots and lots of photos documenting all the supposedly good things the United States is supposedly doing in these countries with its bloated military-industrial complex?

    We spend a billion dollars every three days on these two “wars.” We’ve already spent a trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, much of this money unaccounted for. http://www.costofwar.com/ For Iraq alone, we will have spent at least $6,500 per U.S. citizen before we are done with it all (if that ever happens).

    Hey, somebody, please show us lots and lots of photos proving that a billion dollars of new things are happening every three days in Iraq and Afghanistan. Show us one trillion dollars of progress over the past 10 years. Certainly the public could be shown photos of stabilized neighborhoods, sprouting businesses, and kids learning in quality schools, if these things were happening. I challenge any of you to scour the current editions of your favorite news sites to find photographs or videos that would give you any optimism that the U.S. will ever leave either of these countries. Just find any photo of anything happening in either war zone over the past week. You won’t find it in American mainstream news sites. And no, this story that Afghanistan has a total of one rock band isn’t good news. You probably won’t even find any current news that any war is going on at all.

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    Seventh anniversary of the Iraq invasion

    March 20, 2010 | By | Reply More
    Seventh anniversary of the Iraq invasion

    Truthout has published a recap of what the invasion of Iraq has brought to the United States:

    We are still shocked. We were never awed. We have not adjusted. The senseless waste of our blood and treasure, our honor and our reputation continue. Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom – the latter unleashed seven years ago today – have morphed into a single Operation Enduring Occupation, set to bankrupt this country financially as well as morally, to destroy our own security as it has that of the over 31 million people who populate Iraq and 32 million people of Afghanistan. . . . Of course, the loss of our troops (over 4,200 dead and 30,000 wounded) and treasure (three trillion dollars according to economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz), the perversion of our language, the mangling of our laws, the broken bodies and tortured brains of our veterans really bear no comparison with the suffering we have inflicted on the citizens of Iraq.

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