Sunday, March 22, 2009

Iraq War Lessons: People Don't Appreciate Being Invaded & Being Treated As Subhuman & War Is A Profitable Enterprise

UPDATE: 11:57 AM March 22, 2009- Stephen Harper Loves George Bush and Hates George Galloway (MP, UK )

Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper is not allowing British MP George Galloway to enter Canada. Galloway is considered persona Non Grata because he organized and led an aid convoy to help out the people of Gaza. Since when is it a crime for citizens to deliver humanitarian aid to people in need.

Meanwhile Stephen Harper allowed the War Criminal and torturer former President George W. Bush into Canada to give a speech in Calgary on March 17.

So its OK to torture and to invade and occupy a sovereign country ( Iraq) but it is downright subversive to give humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.


Iraq War
The Propagandists who sold the war :Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld , Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice, Wolfowitz etc.
Demonizing and dehumanizing Iraqis
Abuse and torture of innocent people
jailing over a hundred thousand Iraqis
Bush Regime and their supporters treated soldiers as mere cannon fodder ( which is typical of those in the process of building and maintaining an Empire ie The Romans. The Ottomans, The British , The Spanish, the Portuguese, The Germans etc.)

Anyway here's more bits and pieces related to the Sixth Anniversary of the War in Iraq- that is the unnecessary Invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation

Iraq war veterans accuse US military of coverups - 16 Mar 08

and was the war about Democracy and Freedom and WMDs or was it about Oil

Iraq signs multi-billion dollar deal with Shell - 23 Sep 08

in this clip below even Reuters is caught painting a rosy and distorted view of the Iraq War. The war has cost over 800 Billion dollars and 4,300 American lives but also some one million Iraqi have died due to the war. There has been a displacement of some 3 to 4 million Iraqis who have left the country. And two weeks ago violence broke out killing hundreds of Iraqis. The infrastructure in Iraq is still in ruins. Billions have been squandered by various war profiteers such as Cheney and Halliburton / KBR and massive amounts were paid out Mercenaries such as Blackwater. Abu Ghriab and other cases of detainee abuse and torture and the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Iraq was also not mentioned in the Reuters piece . Reuters also deliberately misleads the viewer in its reference to Al Qaeda. This group in Iraq callde itself Al Qaeda in Iraq and had little to do with Bin Laden's Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda in Iraq was not formed until a year or more after the US invasion of Iraq.

Reuters push propaganda concerning Iraq-March 21, 2009
From The Newz05

and on War Profiteering - one wonders how many members of the US Senate and Congress made a killing in Iraq - Money that is :

How Bush and Cheney turned War into a profit maker
So they had no incentive to end the war before making as much money as they and their friends were able to
Iraq for Sale Banned Excerpts- May 9, 2007 On May 10th, 2007, this video was banned in Congress

Robert Greenwald, the director of IRAQ FOR SALE, was invited to testify before Congress by Rep. Jim Moran. He prepared four minutes from the documentary to show.

Republicans insisted this not be shown.

Six Years After the Invasion of Iraq, War Resisters Are Taking Their Fight Across the Globe By Maya Schenwar, March 19, 2009.

On Saturday, March 14, a third Winter Soldier conference unfolded -- this time, overseas. In the leadup to NATO's 60th summit next month in Strasbourg, France, Winter Soldier Europe took place in Freiburg, Germany. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from Germany, the UK and the U.S. testified, revealing the impact of the occupations on civilians and service members alike. The event was organized by the nonprofit Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), in an effort to amplify the voices of soldiers -- voices that are often drowned out by military leadership and political commentators, according to Zack Baddorf, one of Winter Soldier Europe's organizers.

"We've all heard American generals on TV," Baddorf told Truthout. "We've all heard the talking heads. We've all heard the politicians. But by hearing voices of troops who were on the ground, who experienced the reality of combat, the event hopefully inspired resistance and true change. We've served our country by joining the military; now, we're serving our nation by opposing this war."

...American veteran Andre Shepherd, who worked as an Apache helicopter airframe mechanic near Tikrit, spoke of his agonizing deployment to Iraq, followed by a decision to go AWOL.

"It is no secret that the Apache is a devastating weapon," Shepherd testified. "When I looked at the videos of suspected insurgents being shredded by machine guns or blown to bits by the missiles, I [saw] the results of my handiwork. After combining that with the damage to the infrastructure, widespread poverty and disease, accidental deaths and millions of refugees, I thought to myself, 'What have we done?' I do not believe that there is a worse feeling in the world than to believe what you were doing was the right thing, only to find out that you contributed to the spread of misery and destruction."

Shepherd described his change of heart, and of consciousness, his realization that he could no longer continue to go about his "handiwork." Now, he speaks out against the war and has made his choice to leave the military a public example of the deserter's cause.

"We set down our stakes, and proceeded to run the country like it was a colonial property even to this very day," Shepherd told Truthout. "We have killed, tortured and bombed the civilians into submission, so much so that many people have fled their homes. I made up my mind to never again support the evil mechanisms of our foolish leaders there, and in April 2007 I made good on that promise."

...The testimony of former Guantanamo Bay prison guard Chris Arendt, an American, touched on a similar theme of underinformation. Arendt testified that he and his fellow guards -- mostly young, low-ranking officers, who'd received very little training -- operated on the principle of dehumanizing the "enemy" as much as possible. He described the process used to "extract" prisoners from their cells for interrogations.

"First they're going to get sprayed with … an oil-based irritant, like Mace, but military grade," Arendt testified. "Then five men in riot gear storm into the cell, and are free to beat this detainee for however long they want to, however they please. This happens multiple times daily, this is something the soldiers in Guantanamo Bay oftentimes take pride [in]. This is something we mark on our helmets. This is something we talk about when we get home. This is something people look forward to -- it's a sport; it's a score; it's a number; it's something that you've chalked up while you're down there. We didn't ever think that these people were human beings. We were told that Muslims wiped their asses with their left hands, so we shouldn't touch their left hands, and that was our cultural training for dealing with detainees."

...American Eddie Falcon, who served in the air force in Iraq and Afghanistan, described the dehumanization process further in his testimony, noting that diminishing Iraqis' and Afghans' humanity not only makes individual acts of violence more palatable; it also makes the war as a whole easier for soldiers -- and the public -- to digest.

"If you don't identify with your enemy as a human, it makes it easier to kill them; it makes it easier to torture them; it makes it easier to raid their houses, to blow up their communities," Falcon testified. "People would be saying things like, 'These people are crazy around here; they're Muslims; they don't even have Jesus, you know.' They'd be saying, 'We should just blow the whole fucking place up.'"

One of the odd things about the military is the under-reporting of certain types of injuries such as brain trauma . Is this a result of ignorance on the part of those medical personnel who examined these soldiers ? Is it just a matter of politics and perception because it increases the numbers of seriously wounded and this may not go down well with the American people or the politicians.

Will Obama insist that medical personnel do a better job of diagnosing and reporting the severity of such injuries. Will the Obama administration insist that soldiers coming home who are injured in such a way get the proper treatment and medical benefits they deserve or is this just too costly for the American people to agree with. It appears again and again that for all the hoopla about supporting the troops this never seems to translate into helping injured veterans whether the injury is a loss of a limb or head trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In the same way that Bush , Cheney and Rumsfeld insisted on cutting corners to the US troops into Iraq as quickly as possible from not providing soldiers with the proper body armor to giving them Humvees which were not upgraded for a military mission .

Meanwhile Bush and the Gang and their supporters were not interested in spending the money needed to look after Iraq and Afghan US vets who were in need of long term care or to extend further help where needed to their families . A large percentage of these suffering Vets may not be ready to enter the workforce any time soon due to head trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Severe Pschological and neurological problems should be treated as seriously as a visible physical wound. Instead the Republicans and their right wing radio talk show hosts and Fox News will more often than not call such soldiers fakers or not real soldiers and not real men or women who just never had what it takes to be a good soldier. The attitude of these ultra-Patriots is that a soldier is not supposed to complain about his treatment by the military no matter how unfair that treatment is.

(And going back to the first Gulf War only now is the truth coming out about injuries caused to military personnel:)

...The Truth Is Beginning to Come Out

The OIM remarks and recommendations on injuries in the current wars appeared in "Gulf War and Health: Long-term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury," the seventh of a series of OIM reports on the health outcomes of the 1991 war. Eighteen years after Desert Storm, the truth about the devastating illness that followed a third of our troops home, is only now emerging. In November, the Research Advisory Committee, a congressionally-mandated committee of high-level scientists, reported that Gulf War illness was "without a doubt" "caused" by neurotoxins the government had exposed troops to, including experimental anti-nerve gas pretreatment pills, insecticides and insect repellants, and sarin pluming from munitions facilities the U.S. had bombed. The committee criticized the "skewed" and "unscientific" research directed by VA and other bureaucracies, which suppressed evidence of the chemical causes and organic nature of Gulf War illness, in favor of bogus claims that wartime stress had caused an essentially psychological ailment. The report lamented that after 18 years there is still no treatment for the more than 200,000 troops suffering from Gulf War illness, a disease caused by profound neurological damage.

" The Most Pervasive Combat Injury Among U.S. Soldiers is Invisible -- and the Pentagon Has Tried to Keep it That Way " By Nora Eisenberg, AlterNet. Posted March 17, 2009.

The DoD finally admits that 360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan vets may have suffered serious brain injuries they previously dismissed as mild concussions.

In a news conference on March 4th, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton estimated that as many as 360,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may have suffered service-related brain injuries. Until now the Pentagon estimated that some 10,000 veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq war had suffered brain traumas.

It's about time they got it right. Almost a year ago, in April 2008, an independent report by the RAND Corporation estimated that some 320,000 troops -- 20 percent of the deployed troops -- had suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI). Included in the RAND figure were blast-induced neurotraumas (BINT) from new weaponry like improvised explosive devices, during which the head remains closed and, more often than not, the victim remains conscious. These closed-brain blast injuries are the most common injury -- brain or otherwise -- of the current wars, but until now, for the DoD, they didn't count.

..."Just a Concussion"

Admitting to the incidence of the injury is a start, but the DoD has yet to admit its potential gravity. The DoD did not count closed-head blast injuries because they deemed them mild traumatic brain injuries, commonly referred to as concussions. In December 2008, another independent report, prepared for the VA by the Institute of Medicine, warned that the blast-induced neurotrauma might be something distinctive and far more serious than the mild TBI or concussions associated with closed-head injury. According to George R. Rutherford, of the Department of Epidimiology and Biostatistics at UC Medical School, San Francisco, the chair of the OIM committee that wrote the report, these blast-induced neurotraumas, seem unlike injuries we've seen before: "We're all worried that the blast neurotrauma hasn't really made it into the human literature."

In this next article Paul Rieckhoff argues that the way the Veterans Affairs Dept. receives funding should be changed so that the VA knows it will have the resources in the future to do its job rather than the VA each year going to Washington each year with cap in hand begging for funding.

"Six Years Later: Is Washington finally listening?" by Paul Rieckhoff at Huffington Post March 20, 2009

...With the end of stop-loss, we've finally begun to address some of the burdens bad policy puts on our military families. But as the war enters its seventh year, there's still a ton left to do. As we draw down our forces in Iraq, we must also prepare for the surge of veterans returning home. And there's one simple fix that Congress and the President need to agree on this year: advance funding for the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Advance funding sounds wonky, but it's actually a simple, common sense solution. Right now, the Department of Veterans Affairs runs over 150 hospitals and thousands of clinics nationwide, caring for almost 6 million veterans a year. But if you asked the VA Secretary how much money he'll have to run that whole operation in October, he couldn't tell you. Why? Because the government funding mechanism is broken. Every year, veterans groups like ours have to go to Congress and fight for funding. And when we finally get it, it's usually late. In nineteen of the past twenty-two years, Congress has passed the VA budget late. Think about that. America has been late in paying its wounded for their care for almost two decades. That record is a national embarrassment.

As a result of this broken system, the VA doesn't know how much money it will have three months from now. It is consistently forced to compromise and ration care for veterans. Hospitals and clinics can't hire critical staffing and address equipment needs. The Secretary can't hire thousands of needed psychologists and counselors. Those old VA buildings can't get repaired. Work can't get done all over the country. And veterans are left waiting.

You couldn't operate your household this way. The second largest department in the Federal Government can't either. Advanced funding--funding the VA a year in advance--is the solution.

" Iraq: On the Right Track, Six Years Later " by Brandon Friedman at Huffington Post , March 20, 2009

I spent nearly one year fighting the war in Iraq, and I've spent most of the last five years fighting to end it. And finally, this year, for the first time I feel like we've made progress. And when I say that, it's not simply because President Obama has decided that we'll be out in 16 months. Honestly, I feel more vindicated by his decision this week to engage an "enemy" of the United States--Iran--through diplomacy--and not with missiles, bombs, and an invading Army. That, I think, is the real victory of the last six years. Because it ensures that the United States is now back on the right path of not starting wars unless they're absolutely necessary and we've exhausted every other option first. It means that we're far less likely to ever make the same mistake again.

and Iraq War Veteran John Soltz believes that after eight disastrous years of the Iraq War President Obama is responding to the situation in a more thoughtful manner while addressing the needs of American soldiers fighting in Iraq and those vets who are returning from the battlefield :

" Another Year In Iraq: Looking Back and Ahead " by John Soltz at Huffington Post , March 19, 2009

I was in Iraq at the start of the occupation, back in May, 2003. Back then, I along with a whole lot of other guys knew that things wouldn't be as easy as the Bush administration made them out to be. After all, that's what politicians do -- paint a rosy projection. Yet, I don't think any of us felt that the situation would be so badly bungled, with tangential effects that ripped through the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs. Back then, I would have also said you were insane if you told me that we'd still be there in 2009.

That we still are, and that we were so ill-prepared for that back home, speaks volumes about the previous administration.

We went into Iraq with not enough forces, and a shortage of quality protection and equipment. That led not just to thousands of Americans killed, but many, many more coming home with injuries that most Americans never even heard of or considered, like Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). The lack of planning, or clear exit strategy, resulted in policies like Stop Loss, which kept troops on active duty involuntarily. In many cases, you came home for a very short period and turned back around to go to the war zone. Sometimes for a fourth of fifth time. Those extended and multiple deployments played a role in the thousands coming home with PTSD, and those who sent the Army suicide rate to a new record.

All these troops flooding home, and becoming veterans with complex medical and mental injuries overwhelmed the VA, which had not been prepped for the influx, leading then-Secretary Nicholson to admit to Congress that his department was underfunded by billions, and that he needed emergency funds. To this day, veterans still struggle to get care. That lack of care not only has left many veterans struggling with painful physical injuries, but also many who could not cope with the mental toll. Far too many veterans who need PTSD counseling are instead diagnosed with "adjustment disorder," which absolves the VA from treating or providing disability benefits. Homeless veterans, drug and alcohol addicted vets, crumbling marriages, and more has been the result.

So why do I look ahead with some optimism? Because we finally have a president who gets it.

President Obama's administration has increased the veterans budget by $25 billion over five years, and by $1.2 billion more than even recommended by the Independent Budget (the VA budget suggested by the nation's veterans organizations). His VA is announcing construction of new veterans hospitals and medical centers, providing more convenient and better care to veterans around the country. For all the brouhaha this past week over a proposal on VA health care which actually was never proposed by the administration, this administration already is one of the most pro-veteran ones we've ever had.

and from Iraq War veteran John Bruhns we get his thoughts on how the American people and politicians were deceived into believing erroneously that this war was necessary but he also criticizes those Neocon " Chicken Hawks " who were so Gung-ho to go to war and yet knew nothing about war .

"Iraq: Six Long Years Of Deception " by John Bruhns at Huffington Post March 19, 2009

Many Americans still don't understand the ramifications of the Iraqi occupation. Reason being is that the sacrifice was/is very much unshared. This war has generated great support from people who could serve but don't. So many young able-bodied American males have lobbied for a continuation of the Iraq conflict yet never had the guts to go anywhere near it. On many occasions they've called veterans who have served in Iraq "traitors" for conveying their disillusionment with the war to the public. These cowardly imbeciles view their activity as a substitute for military service. What a crock. My crowd calls them chicken hawks, but that's an understatement. They're one of the worst elements of society. There is nothing American or patriotic about advocating for others to die for your cause while you stay home. They're true followers of Bush and Cheney's foot steps. They can't fade away into obscurity quick enough for me.

The war has caused much bloodshed for the Iraqi people. How many Americans care about that? Not too many. We can't envision a foreign army invading this country and changing our way of life at gunpoint. If the tables were turned we would be out in the streets demonstrating our right to bear arms -- kicking ass and taking names. Would that make us terrorists? Hell no! So why is it shocking that Iraqis have violently resisted our occupation of their country? The human psychology behind this should not be difficult to understand. The fact of the matter is we don't want to accept the reality of the situation.

Imagine if the Russians or the Chinese invaded Iraq and seized control of the oil fields. We would have been singing a totally different song all of these years. We would call it aggression and communism. So what affords us the right to do it?

also see:

Top 5 Reasons Why We Should Not Ignore Iraq by Hanna Ingber Win at Huffington Post , March 19, 2009

and so it goes,

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