Tag Archives: Anti-War

A Bush Administration Legacy

If you’re like me you’ll remember all the many hundreds if not thousands of times someone in the waning days of the failed Bush Administration told us “history will prove Bush was right” or, “history will remember Bush well.”

We heard this a lot from Republicans who couldn’t bear the idea of anything else. Remember: conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed! And, barring that, we just need a 50-year perspective!

Well, four years isn’t a lot of history but we’re already seeing a bit of the Bush legacy: a near-allergic reaction to war. I mean, who would ever have predicted that the real Bush legacy was to forge an alliance among the liberal doves, the Libertarian isolationists, and the rank-and-file Obama-hating Republicans? That leaves Senators Cranky “Bomb-Bomb-Iran” McCrankypants and Lindsay Graham off in the weeds by themselves trying to get their former hawks interested in a little war action in Syria.

I know we on the internet love to become instant experts on everything, and I’m sorry but I just haven’t had a chance to do that in regards to Syria. I’ve heard some claims that this chemical weapons attack is based on bogus intelligence, and I’m waiting for the UN inspectors’ report later this week. I don’t know shit about Syria or the civil war there, who’s allied with whom, etc. etc. Sounds like both sides are equally bad, and there are no good guys. But what do I know — nothing. I’m hearing a lot of chatter and I’m not educated enough about this to separate the wheat from the chaff here, so I’ve largely shut up about it.

I do think America needs to stop bombing Middle Eastern countries, especially unilateral actions. I don’t want to hear about another American military action in this part of the world, I just don’t.

What I do find a little interesting is all of the chortling about President Obama “dithering,” as if bombing Syria would have been okay a year ago but now, fuhgeddaboutit! Snooze you lose, no launch codes for you!

You know, Republicans always spoke of the Iraq War as a moral, justified action. Saddam Hussein was a horrible dictator and tyrant who “gassed his own people,” he’d do it again, heck, he’ll do it to us! That was the argument, yes?

So, okay, apparently Assad ain’t exactly humanitarian of the year either, he “gassed his own people” on August 21. So now it’s three weeks later and there’s dithering going on? How many months did it take the Bush Administration to get their authorization? Maybe I’m missing something here. Anyway, I’m glad we have a president who isn’t such a trigger-happy cowboy his first knee-jerk reaction to every incident is to launch missiles. I like having a president who wants to check the intel and the facts on the ground first. I think the rest of the country is, too. That’s why there’s so little support for U.S. military action in Syria.

Also, I’m surprised to hear Republicans say Obama should have just launched a Tomahawk missile or two into Syria the way he did with Libya. Wasn’t that an international action, though? And didn’t Republicans use this attack as justification to draft articles of impeachment? Yes, they did. So, get y’all’s stories straight, here, folks. You don’t have any more credibility on the war talk than anyone else.

Anyway, if Assad did use chemical weapons on a civilian population, and if we are looking at a human rights atrocity, I think it’s really sad that the world doesn’t seem inclined to do anything at all. There are always options other than war. [UPDATE: Here’s a good one. Fingers crossed.]

That’s a pretty sad state of affairs. And I have to wonder if that isn’t yet another Bush legacy: that the world is so soured on war that they’ll just stand by and let someone attack civilians.

From my observers’ perspective, I see President Obama making a moral case to the world to do something about a human rights violation. Folks may want to mock him and his Nobel Peace Prize but I do see a consistency here. And I have to wonder if, when it comes to legacies, Obama won’t fare better than his predecessor. Trying and failing to act against genocide is a lot better than launching a protracted invasion and occupation of a country for completely bogus reasons.

3 Comments

Filed under Bush Administration, peace

The News Is Different When You’re On Vacation

DSCN4621

Somewhere not too far from where the above photo was taken there is an organic olive oil farm for sale. Cheap, too, as these things go — under $1 million. In my dreams I win the lottery and say goodbye to Nashville and start my organic olive oil operation, all sustainable, off-grid, and solar-powered.

I know a lot of you will see this picture and think, “Ick. Too scorched.” This is the landscape I grew up with, though, and to me it’s the prettiest place on earth. And if the nation is going to get embroiled in another military adventure in the Middle East, what better place to hole up than an organic, sustainable, off-grid, solar-powered olive oil ranch? Y’all come. Harvest is in November. Democommie, you can even bring Buddy.

So, I don’t confess to be any genius about Syria, or what Russia and China have to do with it, or any of the larger issues involved. I don’t have a private Joint Chiefs to advise me. I am reflexively anti-war, but I trust President Obama in a way that I didn’t trust President Bush, in part because of the massive Neocon-War-Machine-Halliburton-Blackwater-Big Oil rip-off behind the Bush-Cheney-Rummy cabal. That said, I remain reflexively anti-war, always.

As I sip my chardonnay from a vacation la-la land, I have to say: watching the war dialogue this time — a tad more than 10 years after the Iraq invasion — is an amazing thing to see. Remember when the media lost its collective mind? Remember when we were told, ad nauseum, that Saddam Hussein “gassed his own people”, and so an invasion was justified? Remember when not supporting/trusting the president’s war judgement was tantamount to treason? My, what some distance from 9/11 brings.

I heard today that Britain’s Parliament has voted against military involvement in Syria. Are we going to dump English breakfast tea in the gutters? Will English muffins be renamed “Freedom Muffins” in the Congressional cafeteria? No? Why not?

Just curious: is this reticence to rush to war because we’ve learned some lessons after the Iraq debacle? Or is this just more reflexive If-Obama-Wants-It-We’re-Against-It stuff from the GOP?

These are interesting times, indeed. The United States is now a major oil producer, for the first time in decades. It’s safe to say, oil embargoes are not the threat they once were. Surely that plays into the mix, yes?

I am reflexively anti-war, always. I’m also on vacation and haven’t been watching the news 24/7 as I usually do. From the snippets I’ve received, I’m not hearing “let’s invade/occupy” from the President. I’m hearing, “let’s take action.” I’d like to know more what that means.

I’m also hearing more questioning than I heard in the run-up to Iraq. I’m seeing a news media behave a tad more responsibly. I observe these things and am glad that we’re not so gung-ho for war, but really questioning the motives behind all of it.

I probably shouldn’t look these gift horses in the mouth. I probably should retire to my olive ranch and just breathe deep and go about my business.

11 Comments

Filed under peace, travel, war economy, War On Terror

Feeling Safer Yet?

God I’m so glad we’re still taking our shoes off at the airport and having our e-mails read by the NSA:

The hammering on the wall of America’s premier storage vault for nuclear-weapons grade uranium in pitch-darkness six weeks ago was loud enough to be heard by security guards. But they assumed incorrectly that workmen were making an after-hours repair, and blithely ignored it.

Minutes earlier, a perimeter camera had caught an image of intruders — not workmen — breaching an eight-foot high security fence around the sensitive facility outside Knoxville, Tenn. But the guard operating the camera had missed it. A different camera stationed over another fence — also breached by the intruders — was out of service, a defect the protective force had ignored for 6 months.

In theory, the pounding might have been the work of a squad of terrorists preparing to plant a powerful explosive in the wall of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF), a half-billion dollar vault that stores the makings of more than 10,000 nuclear bombs. Instead, it was a group of three peace activists, including an 82-year old nun, armed only with flashlights, binoculars, bolt cutters, bread, flowers, a Bible, and several hammers.

Are you kidding me? The story goes on to report that the activists “waited 15 minutes or so for the Mayberry-style guards to make an appearance.”

Here’s the worst part: we’ve outsourced security and operations at this facility to two private contractors, WSI-Oak Ridge and Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services. So y’all can just stop throwing up your hands and saying the government can’t do anything right because this is yet another epic private contractor fail. Babcock & Wilcox has pocketed more than $5 billion to operate this facility in East Tennessee over the past 10 years.

This part really got me:

[…] Inside the HEUMF, which the activists were able to deface, and pit with hammers — but not breach — the harvested material is stored in thousands of barrels and small casks placed on racks, in the open, according to an NNSA video tour of the inside.

Given the obvious risks, the HEUMF’s designers initially envisioned it buried underneath a large earth berm, a relatively cheap approach to nuclear security that has been zealously embraced by the nuclear mandarins in Tehran. But at the last moment before construction started, the NNSA reversed course and opted instead to build its aboveground “prison,” based on advice that doing so would be quicker and cheaper to build and easier to defend.

That advice came from Babcock & Wilcox, which had already secured the guard force contract, according to a 2004 DOE report. The cost savings claim was discredited at the time by security experts from Sandia National Laboratories and by Friedman’s Inspector General office; he concluded that constructing the aboveground version would cost an extra $25 million, and staffing it with a guardforce four times larger would cost taxpayers an extra $177 million over its lifespan. It would also need extra cooling.

NNSA allowed Babcock & Wilcox “to continue redesigning the facility even when initial attempts to reduce the cost and improve the security of the facility failed,” Friedman complained. Michael C. Kane, then an NNSA executive and now a top Energy Department official, told him in a letter, however, that NNSA and its local site managers were convinced an aboveground “Defense-in-Depth security design” was the best course.

Nobody could have anticipated that the for-profit entity which got the operations contract would build a facility that cost more to operate! I’m so shocked!

/sarcasm

I really don’t want to hear how much shinier/sparklier/cheaper/better private contractors are. I also don’t want to hear about the budget deficit from phony fiscal hawks who are pocketing tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from these private companies. And finally, I don’t feel good knowing that our nuclear weapons programs are being handled by private, for-profit corporations. This is atrocious. If I were King I’d make this shit illegal.

But hey, war and nuclear weapons are just another “job creating enterprise,” right? That swords into plowshares stuff is so hippie-dippie! There’s money to be made, y’all! Come on!

Here’s the icing on the cake:

Over the years, NNSA has steadily said less and less to Babcock & Wilcox about how to do its work. It eliminated its regional office in 2002 and turned oversight over to an office located on-site. The philosophy it has adopted recently — with the strong support of lawmakers on Capitol Hill — is called the Contractor Assurance System. It essentially means that the government cannot tell the company how to operate or guard the site; it can only hold the company responsible when it fails to accomplish its mission.

I’m not holding my breath on that “holding the company responsible” stuff. The staff on site has been “reassigned or retired” and that should be sufficient, right? Your tax dollars at work!

By the way, the peace activists who revealed this dangerous security failure are facing felony charges.

4 Comments

Filed under defense, national security, privatization, Tennessee

Let’s Not And Say We Did

Sen. Lindsay Graham unwittingly makes the anti-war crowd’s point:

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., translated Cheney’s argument that defense spending is “not a spigot you can turn on and turn off, that you need to keep money flowing in a predictable way so you can plan for the next war.

Ah, yes! We must “plan for the next war”! This is what we call the Permanent War Economy. Because if we didn’t “plan for the next war,” then what? What other options might be at our disposal the next time some uneducated people from a rudimentary Third World country terrorize the nation armed only with boxcutters? Amazing to think of the possibilities.

Indeed, this was the entire point of Rachel Maddow’s excellent book, Drift. If we’re constantly planning for the next war then war becomes inevitable. This was not what the founders of our nation intended — far from it.

In Drift, Maddow writes of Thomas Jefferson’s opposition to standing armies thusly:

“Were armies to be raised whenever a speck of war is visible in our horizon,” he warned Congress in his sixth annual presidential message, “we never should have been without them. Our resources would have been exhausted on dangers which never happened, instead of being reserved for what is really to take place.”

Of course, America’s history is not one of being on a permanent war footing, as Maddow notes. Far from it. We didn’t plan for World War II — World War I was supposed to be “the war to end all wars,” remember? Consumers sacrificed, industries were nationalized, men signed up for the armed services, Rosie The Riveter went to the factory, Mom canned produce from the victory garden, families bought war bonds, and Hollywood went to work churning out the propaganda. In less than four years it was all over. Amazing, isn’t it? Our soldiers returned victorious and we rewarded them with an incredibly generous thank-you: the GI Bill offered low-interest mortgages, business loans, tuition and living expenses for those wishing to go to college or vocational school, unemployment compensation, and more.

Fast forward to 2008, and we have Republicans like Sen. John McCain and Pres. George W. Bush opposing a new GI Bill for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans because it “will hurt the military’s efforts to retain its troops.”

Yes of course. Because you don’t stand down in the Permanent War Economy. Wars never end. Occupations never end. We must feed the beast. We must give people an incentive to sign up for military service, and removing other viable options for employment and opportunity are a great way to go about that. In the Permanent War Economy, we must keep “planning for the next war.” The cycle never ends.

Or does it? Alternately, we can take Graham and Cheney at their word and realize what they’re really saying: war is a choice. We really don’t need to “plan for the next war.” Our military is already 10 bazillion times bigger than that of every other nation on earth combined. Can’t we just say we’re done and call it a day?

Instead of planning for the next war, why don’t we:

• Plan to be global leaders in alternative energy via that “Apollo project for green energy” we’re always hearing about;

• Plan to feed and educate every one of our citizens;

• Plan to cure cancer, which as we all know isn’t just one disease but thousands of diseases;

• Plan to create a network of bullet trains around the nation so you can go from, say, Los Angeles to Las Vegas or San Francisco in an hour and a half;

• Bring high-speed internet to every rural community in the country;

• Cut the population of stray dogs and cats in this country by 75%;

• Jet packs. Dammit, shouldn’t we have our jet packs by now?

Those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head. I just think there’s a bunch of better stuff we could be planning for besides the next war.

10 Comments

Filed under defense, peace, Pentagon, war economy

Occupy Nashville Confronts Rumsfeld At Fundraiser

I don’t think Donald Rumsfeld will be too eager to visit Nashville any time soon, after some Occupy Nashville protesters gained access to a private Heritage Foundation fundraiser here last night and hurled charges of “torturer” and “war criminal” at him.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Security had to escort four Occupy Nashville protesters out of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s fundraiser at the Downtown Hilton on Thursday night.

The four protesters were given tickets and snuck into the $125 per plate fundraiser.

Video sent to us by an attendee, Gretch Steubbel, showed Rumsfeld speaking. Moments after he got on stage, a woman stood up and called him a war criminal. In the photos, she was escorted out of the ballroom at the downtown Hilton.

Three other people from Occupy Nashville got up to speak. After they were kicked out, they uploaded a video to YouTube.

“When I came our time, I got up, I pointed at him, and I said ‘Donald Rumsfeld, you are a war criminal, and you lied to the world’,” the woman said.

They were given tickets to the event by a Vietnam War veteran, which is just so telling. Does the Heritage Foundation assume all veterans support the war machine? Who knows. Video here:

Back in September I saw some amazing video of Dick Cheney’s “welcome” in Vancouver, B.C. Washington and the elites need to remember, we haven’t forgotten the utter lack of accountability over the Iraq War, too. While the conversation has turned to economic inequality and wage stagnation and the need for the wealthy 1% to pay their fair share, we’re still waiting for some accountability on this disaster, too. And this is something that lands squarely in the Democrats’ lap, because when they took power in 2006, they did absolutely nothing in this regard.

A lot of people raked in tons of money off the blood and torture that is our Iraq military misadventure. That just turns my stomach. Hey, Heritage Foundation: if this is the “heritage” you’re so proud of — war profiteering, torture, lies and fearmongering that forced the nation into a needless war so ExxonMobil can grab Iraq’s oil — then I have nothing but contempt for you.

We’re still pissed. I’m still pissed. We want some accountability. Not just on the financial meltdown, but on the Bush Administration’s biggest mistake. How come no one is in jail? How come Rumsfeld and Cheney can walk around raking in money off of book deals and make speeches at conservative fundraisers, as if they didn’t have blood on their hands?

Nothing illustrates the power of the plutcorats more than this.

[UPDATE]:

The comments on the video’s YouTube page are a window into the dark soul of the Freeperati. Some examples:

Too bad security didn’t shoot them in the head.
jasonc32amg 38 minutes ago

Can’t imagine why anyone would call conservatives violent! And here’s this one:

Well, here’s a list of their top supporters. Yep, I’d say communists and socialists.

Communist Party USA
The American Nazi Party
Revolutionary Communist Party
Black Panthers
Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan
CAIR
qpwillie 35 minutes ago 2

Hmmm, wanna provide any evidence of that, Sherlock? I guess the answer is no, since there was no link to accompany these allegations. Of course, the Occupy movement is a diverse, unorganized, non-authoritarian, grassroots movement. Unlike the Tea Party, which wouldn’t exist without money from various foundations associated with Koch Industries, and constant promotion from Fox News, Occupy represents a diverse set of interests coalesced around the main idea that the majority will no longer be ignored by those who hold all of the power and influence in our country (and in our world). And speaking of the Tea Party, whatever happened to them? Hmm.

Here’s my favorite:

You guys seem a bit extreme. Rumsfeld a War Criminal?

Really? Do you remember 9/11?

How about 3K of our own people that died that day? & thousands more that were injured/currently w/ serious health problems.

Maybe you folks would get alittle more accomplished & people would take you seriously, if you didn’t act like little immature kids outside of a HOTEL chanting like a crazy cult–you realize this was late for some people? My family HAD TO listen to your crazy ass mob chants from outside.

utoobonutoob 1 hour ago

Poor, poor baby. Amazing to me that there are still people out there who believe Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11. Must be a Fox News watcher. As they say, the more you watch, the less you know.

22 Comments

Filed under Donald Rumsfeld, Iraq War, Nashville protest