Tag Archives: Iraq War

Stop Calling the Iraq War a ‘Mistake’ | Dennis J. Kucinich

As Iraq descends into chaos again, more than a decade after “Mission Accomplished,” media commentators and politicians have mostly agreed upon calling the war a “mistake.” But the “mistake” rhetoric is the language of denial, not contrition: it minimizes the Iraq War‘s disastrous consequences, removes blame, and deprives Americans of any chance to learn from our generation’s foreign policy disaster. The Iraq War was not a “mistake” — it resulted from calculated deception. The painful, unvarnished fact is that we were lied to. Now is the time to have the willingness to say that.

In fact, the truth about Iraq was widely available, but it was ignored. There were no WMD. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. The war wasn’t about liberating the Iraqi people. I said this in Congress in 2002. Millions of people who marched in America in protest of the war knew the truth, but were maligned by members of both parties for opposing the president in a time of war — and even leveled with the spurious charge of “not supporting the troops.”

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I’ve written and spoken widely about this topic, so today I offer two ways we can begin to address our role:

1) President Obama must tell us the truth about Iraq and the false scenario that caused us to go to war.

When Obama took office in 2008, he announced that his administration would not investigate or prosecute the architects of the Iraq War. Essentially, he suspended public debate about the war. That may have felt good in the short term for those who wanted to move on, but when you’re talking about a war initiated through lies, bygones can’t be bygones.

The unwillingness to confront the truth about the Iraq War has induced a form of amnesia which is hazardous to our nation’s health. Willful forgetting doesn’t heal, it opens the door to more lying. As today’s debate ensues about new potential military “solutions” to stem violence in Iraq, let’s remember how and why we intervened in Iraq in 2003.

2) Journalists and media commentators should stop giving inordinate air and print time to people who were either utterly wrong in their support of the war or willful in their calculations to make war.

By and large, our Fourth Estate accepted uncritically the imperative for war described by top administration officials and congressional leaders. The media fanned the flames of war by not giving adequate coverage to the arguments against military intervention.

President Obama didn’t start the Iraq War, but he has the opportunity now to tell the truth. That we were wrong to go in. That the cause of war was unjust. That more problems were created by military intervention than solved. That the present violence and chaos in Iraq derives from the decision which took America to war in 2003. More than a decade later, it should not take courage to point out the Iraq war was based on lies.

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How US Policy Enabled the Rise of Al Qaeda 2.0 and the Collapse of Iraq

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Policy decisions and politically driven censorship of the American national security establishment have helped strengthen Al Qaeda‘s successor and hastened the collapse of the nation of Iraq.

The current administration and the President represented Operation Iraqi Freedom as the “wrong war,” as opposed to the “good war” that was Afghanistan. The Vice President even called the end of our involvement in Iraq one of the great achievements of Obama’s tenure.

With the jihadi group ISIS now in control of parts of the country that together equal the size of Syria, taking over former US bases, and moving toward the capital of Baghdad, the “achievement” has vanished.

The chaos and murder unleashed in the last few days are beyond the comprehension of the majority of Americans who have never served or lived in a war zone. According to the vicar of Baghdad Andrew White, Iraq is now witnessing mass violence and atrocities worse than anything seen since the invasion in 2003.

Almost 4,500 American servicemen and women died in OIF, and the US taxpayers have spent $20 billion to equip and train the Iraqi security forces. So how did we arrive at this apocalyptic horror?

The fact is that ISIS – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (or the Levant) – has grown in strength and ferocity in the last three years to a point that it now is more powerful and capable than the original Al Qaeda whence it came. It has become Al Qaeda 2.0. ISIS’s growth is in part a result of conscious actions and policy decisions taken by the current US administration.

  • First, since very early on in his presidential campaign and then after becoming the Commander-in-Chief, it became obvious that the President had little interest in international affairs and national security. In fact, in his first speech to graduating West Point cadets in 2009, he was unequivocal. It was time to “end the war in Iraq” because “we must rebuild our strength here at home.” The White House agenda since 2008 has primarily been driven by domestic projects aimed at expanding the state such as Obamacare. That is why none of the National Security Advisers appointed by the White House since General Jim Jones was ignominiously replaced in 2010 have been recognized names in the world of national security. The issue just does not interest the incumbent, and therefore there was no need for a Kissinger- or Brzezinski-caliber replacement.
  • As attested to by a remarkably in-depth 2011 article in The New Yorker, the administration sees all crises as unique and unrelated to one another. So great is this belief that America does not need a strategy to deal with the world and inform our national actions in a consistent fashion that the President, when interviewed on national television, actually stated that having “blanket policies” can get you “into trouble.” As a result, the idea that the chaos in Syria, where ISIS built its forces, was connected to the future stability of Iraq did not occur to the administration until Mosul, Fallujah, and Tikrit had fallen to fighters trained and hardened in the war against Assad just next door. Our government cannot connect the dots if the Commander-in-Chief openly believes that doing so is a bad idea.
  • This lack of any strategic approach to the global threat of jihadi groups is compounded by politically-driven censorship of the national security and defense establishment. As documented elsewhere, in 2011 putative “representatives” of the Muslim communities in the US demanded that the White House review and censor all counterterrorism training materials and trainers used by the Defense Department and Department of Justice, their claim being that existing materials and trainers were un-Islamic or “Islamaphobic.” This event that has come to be known as “the purge” – see this documentary for the full story – and led to the forced removal of any mention of Islam or jihad from all governmental training materials used by our armed forces or the FBI. As a result, as a government, we have blinded ourselves to such an extent that it has become practically impossible for a national security professional to understand what is going on in the Middle East and what drives groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda without getting into trouble for being politically incorrect.Of course, trying to understand the decapitation of enemy forces or the tactic of suicide attacks without referring to, or being allowed to refer to, jihad is analogous to our trying to understand the Third Reich in 1944 while banning our soldiers and intelligence professionals from talking about and analyzing Nazism.
  • Lastly, the fact that Senator Obama built a campaign narrative on the foundation that Afghanistan is the “good war” and Iraq was the “bad war” locked his administration onto a politically defined track that short-changed America’s national security interests. Once in office, commitment to this narrative – that was deemed to have helped him win office – meant that the Iraqi campaign had to end at all costs. So great was the pressure that the administration was prepared to pull all US forces out in 2011 without securing the standard Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Baghdad that would have allowed us to leave enough forces in country to suppress and deter violence against the Maliki regime and keep the country functioning after more than 4,000 Americans had died to free it from Saddam Hussein.

You don’t have to be a dastardly neoconservative to understand that the events occurring now in Iraq – and Syria, and Libya, and even Egypt – have direct implications for the security of America. We know that Westerners, including Americans, are going to the Middle East to fight the jihad. If they win, or simply survive to come back home, they will present a clear threat to any political system such as ours that is not sharia-compliant or theocratic.

But there is a bigger danger.

Al Qaeda was formed out of an organization not dissimilar to ISIS. In the 1980s a Palestinian-Jordanian called Abdullah Azzam created the Services Bureau (MAK) to fight the Soviet military units in Afghanistan just as ISIS is fighting the military units in Iraq that they consider to be kufr (unbelievers) because they are Shia and not Sunni. Azzam’s deputy was a Saudi named Osama bin Laden who inherited the MAK when Azzam was assassinated. Bin Laden then turned the MAK into Al Qaeda, the same Al Qaeda that killed almost 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001.

According to the official investigation, the 9/11 attacks cost Al Qaeda $500,000. On its murderous rampage to Baghdad, ISIS has captured $430,000,000 from Iraqi government coffers. Should these jihadists, who are now stronger than the original Al Qaeda they grew out of, capture all of Iraq, or Iraq and Syria, they will likely turn their sights on the “Far Enemy” as the MAK/Al Qaeda turned against us when the Soviets were defeated.

In this case, however, they will have enough money for at least 800 9/11-scale attacks.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka has been appointed the Major General Horner Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University and is the National Security Affairs editor of Breitbart.com.

Opinion : Bush’s toxic legacy in Iraq

George W. Bush

George W. Bush

(CNN) — ISIS, the brutal insurgent/terrorist group formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq, has seized much of western and northern Iraq and even threatens towns not far from Baghdad.

From where did ISIS spring? One of George W. Bush’s most toxic legacies is the introduction of al Qaeda into Iraq, which is the ISIS mother ship.

If this wasn’t so tragic it would be supremely ironic, because before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, top Bush officials were insisting that there was an al Qaeda-Iraq axis of evil. Their claims that Saddam Hussein’s men were training members of al Qaeda how to make weapons of mass destruction seemed to be one of the most compelling rationales for the impending war.

After the fall of Hussein’s regime, no documents were unearthed in Iraq proving the Hussein-al Qaeda axis despite the fact that, like other totalitarian regimes, Hussein’s government kept massive and meticulous records.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency had by 2006 translated 34 million pages of documents from Hussein’s Iraq and found there was nothing to substantiate a “partnership” between Hussein and al Qaeda.

Two years later the Pentagon’s own internal think tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses, concluded after examining 600,000 Hussein-era documents and several thousand hours of his regime’s audio- and videotapes that there was no “smoking gun (i.e. direct connection between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda.)”

How should the U.S. intervene in Iraq?

Is the U.S. Embassy safe in Iraq?

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The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded in 2008, as every other investigation had before, that there was no “cooperative relationship” between Hussein and al Qaeda. The committee also found that “most of the contacts cited between Iraq and al Qaeda before the war by the intelligence community and policy makers have been determined not to have occurred.”

Instead of interrupting a budding relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda, the Iraq War precipitated the arrival of al Qaeda into Iraq. Although the Bush administration tended to gloss over the fact, al Qaeda only formally established itself in Iraq a year and a half after the U.S. invasion.

On October 17, 2004, its brutal leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi issued an online statement pledging allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Zarqawi’s pledge was fulsome: “By God, O sheikh of the Mujahideen, if you bid us plunge into the ocean, we would follow you. If you ordered it so, we would obey.”

Zarqawi’s special demonic genius was to launch Iraq down the road to civil war. In early 2004, the U.S. military intercepted a letter from Zarqawi to bin Laden in which he proposed provoking a civil war between Sunnis and Shia.

Zarqawi’s strategy was to hit the Shia so they would in turn strike the Sunnis, so precipitating a vicious circle of violence in which al Qaeda would be cast as the protector of the Sunnis against the wrath of the Shia. It was a strategy that worked all too well, provoking first sectarian conflict in Iraq and later civil war.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI, regularly attacked Shia religious processions, shrines and clerics. The tipping point in the slide toward full-blown civil war was al Qaeda’s February 2006 attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra, which is arguably the most important Shia shrine in the world.

Three years into the Iraq War, AQI seemed all but unstoppable. A classified Marine intelligence assessment dated August 17, 2006, found that AQI had become the de facto government of the western Iraqi province of Anbar, which is strategically important because it borders Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia and makes up about a third of the landmass of Iraq.

In addition, AQI controlled a good chunk of the exurban belts around Baghdad, the “Triangle of Death” to the south of the capital and many of the towns north of it, up the Tigris River to the Syrian border.

Thus AQI controlled territory larger than New England and maintained an iron grip on much of the Sunni population.

In other words, the Bush administration had presided over the rise of precisely what it had said was one of the key goals of the Iraq War to destroy: a safe haven for al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world.

By 2007, al Qaeda’s untrammeled violence and imposition of Taliban ideology on the Sunni population provoked a countrywide Sunni backlash against AQI that took the form of Sunni “Awakening” militias. Many of those militias were put on Uncle Sam’s payroll in a program known as the “Sons of Iraq”.

The combination of the Sunni militias’ on-the-ground intelligence about their onetime AQI allies and American firepower proved devastating to al Qaeda’s Iraqi franchise. And so, between 2006 and 2008, AQI shrank from an insurgent organization that controlled territory larger than the size of New England to a rump terrorist group.

But AQI did not disappear. It simply bided its time. The Syrian civil war provided a staging point over the past three years for its resurrection and transformation into the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” or ISIS. And now ISIS has marched back into western and northern Iraq. Only this time there is no U.S. military to stop it.

via Opinion: Bush’s toxic legacy in Iraq – CNN.com.

Condoleezza Rice Withdraws From Rutgers University Commencement Address

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the 2014 Masters golf tournament.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not give the commencement speech at Rutgers University amid backlash from staff and students.

Rice, who is now a political science professor at Stanford, said that she ultimately decided to decline Rutgers’ invitation as she did not want to smother the spirit of the day.

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

Students and faculty had protested Rice’s commencement address, accusing her of being a fervent proponent of the Iraq War while working with President Bush.

“Some students and faculty at New Jersey’s flagship university had protested, staging sit-ins and saying Rice bore some responsibility for the Iraq War as a member of the Bush administration,” the Associated Press reported.

Rutgers’ administrators repeatedly refused to heed to the student protests. A day before Rice announced her withdrawal, the university announced that they would not revoke their invitation.

After Rice cancelled, Rutgers President Robert Barchi urged her to reconsider, saying, “[We] stand fully behind the invitation.”

He acknowledged, however, that the commencement should focus on the happiness of the students.

“Now is the time to focus on our commencement, a day to celebrate the accomplishments and promising futures of our graduates,” Barchi said.

Although Rice won’t attend, she refused to take the protestors’ criticism sitting down, saying, “I defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas.”

Rutgers is now looking for a new speaker for the May 18th ceremony.

Rice missed out on a serious pay day, having been offered $35,000 by Rutgers to make the commencement address.

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Fort Hood shooter was on anti-depression medication

 Fort Hood Shooter Ivan Lopez's Chilling Facebook Post: 'The Devil Will Take Me...Green Light And Finger Ready'


Fort Hood Shooter Ivan Lopez’s Chilling Facebook Post: ‘The Devil Will Take Me…Green Light And Finger Ready’

The Iraq War veteran who opened fire at Fort Hood on Wednesday, killing three people and injuring 16, was being treated for mental health issues and being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, the Associated Press reports.

Identified as Spc. Ivan Lopez by Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, Ft. Hood‘s commanding general, the Army veteran reportedly walked into one of the area buildings with a .45 semi-automatic handgun and started shooting. He kept firing even as he used a vehicle to make his way to another building, where the gunfire continued.

When military police confronted him, Lopez put his hands into the air before pulling out his gun from his jacket and shooting himself in the head.

According to the AP, an investigation into the gunman’s mental health background was initiated immediately after the violence ended. Part of the probe will also focus on the possibility that a fight or argument triggered the shooting.

“We have to find all those witnesses, the witnesses to every one of those shootings, and find out what his actions were, and what was said to the victims,” a federal law enforcement official said to the AP on condition of anonymity.

In a press conference Wednesday evening, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley confirmed that the shooter was being treated for numerous health issues after being transferred to Fort Hood in February. Lopez was also being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder in connection to his four months spent in Iraq in 2011, though he had yet to be officially diagnosed.

There was strong evidence that the shooter had a medical history that indicated an unstable psychological condition, said Milley. There was a “strong possibility” that a verbal altercation with another soldier had preceded the shootings, he added, although there was no indication specific people had been targeted in the shooting. Lopez had been prescribed anti-depressants and the sleep aid medication Ambien.

“Obviously, we are digging deep into his background,” Milley said to ABC News. “He was undergoing behavioral health, psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues. … He was not diagnosed, as of today, with PTSD, he was undergoing a diagnosis process to determine if he had PTSD. That is a lengthy process.”

Milley also confirmed that he was being treated with anti-depressant medication, though it is unclear if that was responsible for any violent or suicidal thoughts. As RT noted on Wednesday, there were reports of the man complaining about a traumatic brain injury that occurred while he was in Iraq. According to a recent tweet by the AP, however, the Army secretary said the shooter “saw no combat in Iraq, was not wounded.”

The Washington Post reported that the gunman was married and living in the Fort Hood area before the shooting spree occurred, but neighbors said the family did not interact with many people.

“He was the kind of person that even if you tried to talk to him wouldn’t open up,” neighbor Jessie Brown said to the newspaper.

Family members were not aware that Lopez was receiving treatment for mental issues according to their spokesman, Glidden Lopez Torres.

“He was a very laid-back person. I would even say a bit shy,” Torres said. “That’s why we are so surprised.”

This was the second shooting at Fort Hood since 2009, when an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people and injured 32 others. He was convicted and sentenced to death in August 2013.

Speaking shortly after the most recent violent outbreak, President Obama made the connection to the previous incident.

“We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make,” he said, according to ABC. “Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure the community of Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with a tough situation, but also any potential aftermath.”

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Full video of 9/11 attack captured from space to be shown for first time

A man walks through the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial across from New York‘s Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in Liberty State Park (Reuters / Gary Hershorn)

A British news channel is preparing to broadcast video footage of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks captured from outer space for the first time in the coming weeks.

Channel 4, a public service television station based in the United Kingdom, has announced that it will show footage from that Tuesday morning captured from the International Space Station by Frank Culbertson, the only American on board the ISS. When Culbertson was notified that something had occurred in New York, he realized they would be passing over the city soon.

“I zipped around the station until I found a window that would give me a view of New York City and grabbed the nearest camera,” he told Space.com last year. “The smoke seemed to have an odd bloom to it at the base of the column that was streaming south of the city. After reading one of the news articles we just received, I believe we were looking at New York around the time of, or shortly after, the collapse of the second tower.”

“I didn’t know exactly what was happening, but I knew it was really bad because there was a big cloud of debris covering Manhattan,” he went on. “That’s when it really became painful because it was like seeing a wound in the side of your country, your family, your friends.”

Culbertson learned hours after the attack that his friend, Chic Burlingame, was one of the pilots who died in the attack. Burlingame was steering American Airlines Flight 77, the aircraft that was eventually flown into the Pentagon in Washington DC.

Despite sitting more than 200 miles above the scene, Culbertson captured the images that have been replicated thousands of times across the media. The footage, which has never been broadcast to the public, will be aired on March 16 as part of a documentary series focusing on the lives of astronauts.

“Not every frame has been seen before, so every frame that was shot on that day is in the show,” Tom Brisley, the creative director of the Channel 4 project, told the Guardian.

At one point, Culbertson plays the Taps trumpet call as a tribute to the day’s events. He will also be interviewed throughout the film to explain what it was like to have such a unique view.

Culbertson wrote a letter on September 12, reflecting on the events that took place the previous day.

“I couldn’t even imagine the particulars, even before the news of further destruction began coming in,” he wrote. “Other than the emotional impact of our country being attacked and thousands of our citizens and maybe some friends being killed, the most overwhelming feeling being where I am is one of isolation.”

But as the September 11 attacks turned into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a number of researchers at universities across the US have warned that media consumers who repeatedly expose themselves to such gruesome images could be putting themselves at risk of psychological damage.

Roxanne Cohen Silver, a professor of psychology and social behavior at UC Irvine, said that people who spent four hours or more soaking up 9/11 or Iraq War coverage were more likely to experience acute stress.

“The results suggest that exposure to graphic media images may be an important mechanism through which the impact of collective trauma is dispersed widely,” Silver said, as quoted by the university’s website. “Our findings are both relevant and timely as vivid images reach larger audiences than ever before through YouTube, social media and smartphones.”

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