Saturday, July 26, 2008

The U.S. War Machine Leaves an Ugly Slick of Oil & Blood

An odd coincidence: Pick any oil-rich spot on the globe, and you will find the U.S. engaged in the war on terror.





In this vein, why has there been such a preponderance of al Qaeda terrorists (or, rather, a preponderance of **propaganda about **al Qaeda) surrounding the oil fields of the world over the past 7 years? The current war in Iraq is not the first U.S. war for oil. Nor is it the first war for oil, which claimed massive civilian casualties, which were then concealed by the U.S. media. This is the first war for oil, however, fought on the grounds that a foreign country posed a direct threat to the U.S. -- false grounds -- which our government intentionally deceived us into believing. This is also the first war for oil fought under the mantle of spreading freedom and democracy, even as the U.S. government funds and arms both sides in a civil war: Shiites against Sunnis and Sunnis against Shiites -- who then terrorize, torture, slaughter and commit ethnic cleansing of the very Iraqi populations we're supposedly fighting to "save" from the evil terrorists. There's a term for the type of warfare being waged by the U.S. in Iraq. It's called war crimes.

** (This PBS documentary can be seen in entirety at these links: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10)



That the American people have not demanded accountability from Congress, and have largely remained silent about the atrocities of this war -- whether through complacent ignorance or sheer disbelief that our government could actually commit such atrocities -- has only served to condone this war and the policies of this administration. Our collective silence has, in effect, given Bush-Cheney carte blanche to wage other wars on terrorism - wars now being fought in countires throughout the world, with scarcely a mention in the U.S. media.
Unknown to most Americans is that dozens of countries throughout the world have now been accused of harboring al Qaeda terrorists. Unknown to most Americans is that the Bush-Cheney Administraion is and has been waging clandestine wars in these countries, under the banner of "fighting terrorism," sometimes called "peacekeeping missions" and "nation-building." Unknown to most Americans is that we are currently spending millions of dollars in each of these countries, to fight mere handsful of alleged al Qaeda terrorists, whose existence -- in many instances -- is based on "intelligence" as leaky as the intelligence that sent us to war in Iraq. The potential and the reality (as seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan) is that these wars result in "chasing needles by burning haystacks," as entire populations of innocent civilians are brutalized by the Bush-Cheney war machine , as it pursues small handsful of terrorists, who may or may not even exist.

In Iraq, alone, the Bush-Cheney war machine left in its wake over 4 million "displaced" Iraqi citizens -- driven from their homes through violence and ethnic cleansing. From this point forward, if there were any questions left regarding the true intention of the U.S. forces, one need look no further than the billions of U.S. dollars spent building the enormous network of permanent U.S. bases over the past 7 years. These mega-bases were built with every U.S. lifestyle amenity imaginable -- from Baskin Robbins to Burger King, from miniature golf to swimming pools, from Hertz Rent-a-Car to department stores, and from football stadiums to movie theatres -- not to mention air-conditioning, satellite internet access, cable television and international phone service. The average Iraqi citizen has not enjoyed some of these amenities -- such as electricity, food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care -- since the days of Saddam Hussein. Ironically, construction on the permanent U.S. bases in Iraq proceeded swiftly toward completion, while U.S. work on to restore the most rudimentary of services for Iraqis -- such as water purification, food, health care and electricity -- fell
to the wayside.

A Crude Awakening
Despite what we, in America, hear on the evening news, the words 'victory' and 'success' do not belong in the same sentence with the word 'Iraq." The situation in Iraq is one of humanitarian crisis. Five years into the U.S. invasion of their country, Iraq is now deemed, the worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East since 1948. Human rights and relief agencies throughout the world (International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Oxfam) have described the situation as "disasterous," as a "dire humanitarian crisis," calling Iraq, "one of the most dangerous countries in the world.... a place of carnage and despair." Our vice-president, Dick Cheney, recently described Iraq as a "successful endeavor," a sentiment we hear echoed daily from our mainstream U.S. media.















_______________________
Would the American public be silent, if they knew that we are at war in dozens of countries? Not likely so. But when is a war, a war? Is it a war, if it's called a 'low-intensity conflict'? Is it a war, if only a small number of U.S. military troops are sent in? And is it a war, if the soldiers are from private mercenary armies hired through U.S. corporations? And is it a war, if our military funds, trains and arms rogue armies to fight these wars? Is it a war if the military's stated purpose is 'peacekeeping' or to lend humanitarian aid? And what if it's a little of each? Is it a war? The answers lie in the oil fields: If U.S. military engagement and/or aid results in the U.S. gaining control of a country's oil/mineral profits -- at the expense of the native populations, who suffer impoverishment, torture, ethnic cleansing and/or genocide as a result of our actions -- then that military engagement is, indeed, a war. It is a war for oil.

The question bears repeating: Would the American public be silent if they knew that the U.S. is currently at war in dozens of countries? More importantly, would these same Americans hold or break their silence, if they knew these wars were being fought for oil? We'd like to know the answer, so we decided to take a literal count of each and every country where the U.S. is fighting the war on terror. Our bet is that each and every one is also, ultimately, a war for oil. Whether the resulting silence from this truth is deafening, or not, is anyone's guess.

Say, Africa. Although Africa is but one stop on Dick Cheney's proposed world tour for oil, it's a good place to start, since the entire continent stands to be devoured, beginning with its name. Renamed in February 2007 (for military purposes only, mind you) Africa is now called the U.S. African Command (USAFRICOM or AFRICOM). As shown on this map, USAFRICOM was created from the existing United States European Command (USEUCOM), United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) and United States Pacific Command (USPACOM). Whatever that means. It is with some haste, then, that we inventory the African countries involved in Bush-Cheney's global war on terror.

Lost in all the flurry of Bush's February 2007 announcement of the surge in Iraq was his concurrent announcement of another surge -- this one on the continent of Africa. Having neatly accomplished 'Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems' in their war for oil distribution in Iraq, Bush-Cheney -- poised, now, to undertake another empire -- easily won congressional approval for "African solutions to African problems." aka, U.S.AFRICOM: the U.S. African Command and its military arm ACOTA. A Department of Defense military operation, AFRICOM was created by Bush-Cheney to enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa. Started in October 2007, and set to be fully operational by September 30, 2008, AFRICOM is installing military commands in a total of 53 African countries -- that's all of Africa, except Egypt.


In an August 2007 congressional briefing, State and Defense Department officials emphasized to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that AFRICOM's aim is to boost cooperation on anti-terrorism and peacekeeping activities, and programs that promote regional stability. In this same briefing, Theresa Whelan, Deputy Assistant for African affairs, echoed this sentiment -- assuring Congress that AFRICOM is focused on security, not combat. On the heels of this assurance, however, she nonetheless cautioned: " I would anticipate that there would be an increase in the amount of exercises we conduct and other military-to-military cooperation activity."

Many in Africa are understandably suspicious. Believing, perhaps, that past is prologue -- the majority of countries are protesting the presence of AFRICOM, as are many individuals around the world, including some high-profile activists, such as Danny Glover , who consider the ongoing U.S.-British militarization of Africa to be little more than a strategy toward gaining control of Africa's natural resources, most notably its oil. As one critic noted: “Peace operations” and “nation building” are what the military and the mercenaries call their activities. But just like Bush’s “healthy forests” and “clear skies” initiatives, the names mean the opposite of what they do.



The Oil Fields of Africa: Black Gold, Texas Tea


The conundrum the Bush-Cheney Administration faces in Africa is the same all the world over: how to pry the mineral rights from the rightful owners -- the African people, in this case -- while convincing Congress and the American public that our presence is purely benevolent? The events of September 11th provided an easily path: wage war on terror. This path is all the easier in Africa, where so many countries are already under the control of corrupt, suppressive dictators, whose loyalties are easily purchased.

The tactics used by Bush-Cheney are generally the same, however, no matter what the county. First, they make a case for terrorism in the country - preferably al Qaeda. Then, and not necessarily in this order, they (1) provide U.S. military assistance to fight terrorism, (2) accuse any one who disagrees with the U.S. military presence of being a terrorist insurgent, (3) incite existing cultural tensions toward divisiveness or civil war, (4) fund and arm the "goods guys" and/or the "bad guys" (aka terrorists) to physically remove -- through either ethnic cleansing and sometimes genocide -- the native populations living on the lands around the oil fields and pipelines, (5) if these populations protest, label them as terrorist insurgents.

Throughout each step of the process, U.S. oil interests are expanded and secured -- under the guise of "economic development" for the host country. When all is said and done, however, it is the U.S. who owns the controlling interests in their oil fields. Of course, by the time AFRICOM was created, Bush-Cheney had already done the legwork, having identified terrorist influences in most of the oil-rich African countries set to receive AFRICOM's military commands. And in a few countries -- such as Somalia and Sudan -- they'd already accomplished steps 1 through 5.

_____________________________


After the end of the Cold War, U.S. policy toward Africa was driven by President George H. W. Bush’s vision of a “New World Order.” .... President Bush announced in his 2006 State of the Union Address his intention to “to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025,” .... analysts estimate that Africa may supply as much as 25% of all U.S. oil imports by 2015. -- from the Report for Congress, "Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa," March 10, 2008.


video

A NEW WORLD ORDER vs. THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE
From President George H.W. Bush's speech, "Toward a New World Order," delivered before the nation and a joint session of Congress, September 11, 1990


Along with Latin America, West Africa is expected to be one of the fastest growing sources of oil and gas for the American market. African oil tends to be of high quality and low in sulfur, making it suitable for stringent refined product requirements, and giving it a growing market share for the refining Centers on the East Coast of the U.S.
-- Dick Cheney, May 16, 2001

In the aftermath in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, it is increasingly clear that the United States ignores Africa at its peril....The continent’s failed states and huge swaths of ungoverned territory offer sanctuary to terrorist groups.
-- American Enterprise Institute May 2004 conference bulletin: Leave No Continent Behind: U.S. National Security Interests in Africa

Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works. --Armed Forces Journal, June 2006. "Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look," by Ralph Peters

_____________________________

It is easy to understand, then, the fears of African citizens, who feel helpless to the incoming U.S. military presence in their countries. Some in America know this same helpnessess, as we've seen war protesters branded as terrorist sympathizers or "homegrown terrorists" in recent years. The difference between Americans and Africans is that we do not have a history (up to this point, anyway) of being forced from our homes by the U.S. military, or of witnessing the mass slaughtering of our families, neighbors, communities, of whole towns of people, who protested the policies of the U.S. government. The fear of these African countries is understandable, then, as America's war on terror turns its calculating eye toward the oil fields of Africa.

U.S. Oil & Mineral Claims vs. Terrorist Claims in Africa:
An Alphabetical Compendium of Coincidences

**Benin (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
**Burkina Faso (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
**Cape Verde (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
Guinea-Bissau
**Lesotho
Liberia
**Madagascar
**Malawi
**Mali
**Mozambique
**Namibia
Niger
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Swaziland
**Tanzania
Togo
Zambia
Zimbabwe

** these countries receive aid through compacts with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government corporation, created by Bush in 2002, to "undercut terrorism by attacking poverty overseas." While most of these countries lack significant oil reserves, their geographical & political relationships with oil-rich countries lends a strategic importance to U.S. interests in Africa.
to be continued....

EDITOR'S NOTE: This post is part of an ongoing effort to document the total countries in which the U.S. is waging wars on terror. Totals will be updated (completed?) during the 3rd week of August as we complete our research. (We have been delayed by the most recent U.S. war-by-proxy for oil, being staged in South Ossetia with U.S.-Georgia forces).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Surge in Iraq: Ethnic Cleansing, with Perks

To hear the mainstream media, the most pressing issue in Iraq right now is the surge. Not U.S. war crimes in Iraq; not ethnic cleansing; not torture; not the U.S. no-bid contracts for Iraqi oil. Just the surge: Did it work? Did it reduce U.S. deaths? Was it a success? Did it help? Did it curb violence? Did it improve security in Iraq? There are as many ways of asking the question as there are ways of answering it, and the sheer volume of questions exaggerates the urgency of the topic, much like the flag-pin flak that dominated headlines for several months this spring. This would be good news -- the media's current obsession with the surge -- were it seeking to correct history, or even to correctly record history. Instead, the media seems to be working in concert with the Bush Administration to re-write history. To the extent this revised history is now being used to *again* question Barack Obama's patriotism, it's all gravy to the Bush-Cheney-McCain agenda of staying the course in Iraq. As is the case with most aspects of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, it will likely be 30 years or more before the history books catch up with the truth. For now, the best the truthsayers can hope for is that, against formidable odds, the issues of true urgency in Iraq and the rest of the world will sooner be given the attention -- and ultimately the justice -- that they deserve.

Enter Democracy, American Style

On July 14th, the New York Times published Obama's forward-looking op-ed, titled, My Plan for Iraq, which focused on ending the war in Iraq. The next day, Obama purged his website of criticism toward the surge. This was likely in response to the growing media circus over Obama's criticism of the surge, as the media doggedly ignores the dull nuances of actually ending the war in Iraq, in favor of muckraking new controversy over last year's news. To this end, the media has been barraging both candidates with the same bald-faced question: Was the surge a success?

Here again, we're seeing the fruit of the U.S. media, which operates under a perverse field-of-dreamsesque tactic to the delivering the news: if you can't build a media circus with substance or facts, just start throwing shit -- elephants, tent posts, camel dung, flag pins, rumors, rotton apples, innuendo and lies -- and keep pitching it. The viewers will throng to see your discordant pile of bullshit and will be every bit as outraged as you want them to be.

Just yesterday, CBS aired a Katie Couric interview with Obama, in which Couric (who could have asked the likely next-president anything under the sun) instead pitched him a rotten apple: Was the surge a success? Did the surge -- the addition of 30,000 additional troops -- help the situation in Iraq? To this, Obama offered a detailed answer, with many nuances, which included his perspective that the surge in Iraq has spent resources that could have been spent in Afghanistan, where bin Laden is supposedly located. Couric -- apparently not satisfied with the lack of fodder in Obama's answer -- re-phrased her question: Do you think the level of security in Iraq would exist today without the surge? (Read that: Are you patriotic? Do you love America as much as John McCain?)

Instantaneously, on the heels of this interview, the network broadcast Couric's interview with John McCain -- not to get his perspective on the surge, but to get his perspective on Obama's perspective of the surge. To this end -- while McCain's name was utterly absent in Couric's interview with Obama -- 100% of the questions she posed to McCain were specifically about Obama -- including her one comment in the interview, when she observed, "You sound very frustrated with Senator Obama's perspective."

If the grin on McCain's face was any indication, he was more than happy to partake in Katie's interview style. He began by parading his latest talking point: Obama would "rather lose the war than lose the campaign." From here, he found a dozen different ways to chide Obama's naivetee and to accuse him of denying "the sacrifice of brave young Americans." At the end of the interview, Katie asked McCain about Barack Obama's assertion that the war on terror is centered in Afghanistan, where 9-11 was planned. McCain argued that Iraq is the center in the war on terror. And to back this up, he recited a quote, which he attibuted to bin Laden: Go to the country of the two rivers.

If those words sound like lofty, Big Chief-to-Kimosabe dialogue, straight out of a B-grade western, you'll have to consider their true source: a convoluted trail of sources, actually, that winds through Washington, intersecting with a cowboy from Crawford, Texas and another from Wyoming, before resuming its torturous route through the Middle East, into Iraq, then back again.


The Land of the Two Rivers.


Even tho it's faster to just say Iraq, there are some people -- and McCain's apparently one of them -- who find it faster to say the land of the two rivers. This is because the phrase has become code, in military circles, an efficient form of verbal shorthand for drawing a political-geographical-historical connection between Al Qaeda terrorists, Iraq, September 11th and Osama bin Laden.

For the uninitiated, 'the land of the two rivers' refers not to Iraq, per se, but to al Qaeda in Iraq, which goes by the name, Tandhim Qa'idat Al-Jihad fi bilad Al-Rafidain, which translates roughly to The Al Qeada Jihad Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers. This was the official name assigned to Al Qaeda in Iraq when it formed in 2004. Since then, this phrase has been oft repeated in the many purported Al Qaeda missives and messages purportedly sent by Osama bin Laden and Al-Zarqawi, and purportedly posted on various jihadist websites. The 'two rivers' phrase has also become a staple item on some U.S. websites -- from McCain's campaign website, to the White House website, to various right-wing havens. While I've yet to discover any of the purported jihadist websites, nor even the names of these purported jihadist websites that purportedly, originally posted these purported terrorist messages, I'm sure they must exist, because the White House tells us so.

There are some who believe that most, if not all, of these terrorist messages are counterfeit -- sourced out of thin air, or from "intelligence" gathered from torture sessions, then manufactured and released by the propaganda machines of our own government and AIPAC . Regardless, this has nothing and everything to do with Barack Obama.


The Circus Comes to Town

As Obama and his predecessor John Kerry well know -- when it comes to matters of flag, country and war -- it takes only the slightest perversion of the facts to twist public perception. And the Republicans are masters of the smear, which is why McCain repeatedly seeds the media with statements such as, "Obama was wrong about the surge and refuses to acknowledge that fact." McCain's hope, here, is that one of these seeds will take root and grow into a full-fledged smear: Obama is a terrorist appeaser; he's weak on war; he's unpatriotic; he's unAmerican. And the U.S. media scans every inflection of every word -- ever-ready to pitch the next circus.

Fact is, Obama was right: the surge was wrong. Fact is, McCain was also right: the surge was a success. But not for the reasons you've heard. The surge was a success because, in 2007, we began paying our enemy to stop killing us. The surge was a success because we hired and armed tens of thousands of these enemies -- Sunni insurgents -- to work side-by-side with U.S. soldiers, despite that only weeks earlier, these same Sunnis had been ambushing and killing Americans. The surge was a success because, at the moment we began paying and arming these Sunnis, we officially began funding and arming both sides in the civil war. The surge was a success because the 30,000+ U.S. troops sent to Iraq provided the necessary manpower to implement the concurrent surge of 90,000 Sunni insurgent troops we were hiring. The surge is working because these 90,000 Sunnis -- along with the 450,000 Shiites security forces already in the U.S. employ -- are doing just as the U.S. directs: carrying out the ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing -- Sunnis against Shiites, and Shiites against Sunnis -- called "the worst human displacement in Iraq’s modern history" . By intensifying the divisions (and, in some cases, creating division where none existed before) the U.S. undermines the goal of reconciliation and compromise between Shiites and Sunnis .

The media, working under the auspices of our government, reports this dynamic as a "refusal" of the Iraqi government to take control. This myth (which seems to suggest that Iraqis are too lazy or corrupt to take control of their own country) will continue to be reported and will continue to be swallowed by the American public, so long as the U.S. can fuel rage between the Sunnis and Shiites. But only so long as the U.S. keeps funding this civil war -- paying Sunnis to brutalize Shiites, and paying Shiites to brutalize Sunnis.

Lest we forget, this is a war for oil. A unified Iraq serves no good purpose in this war. The surge is working because the U.S. has made great strides in dividing Iraq into a more conquerable state.

If this sounds foreign to you, it's not because I'm a raving conspiracy theorist, but because most of what we've been told about the surge is a lie. Fact is, however, most Americans -- whether by naivetee or choice -- prefer to believe the propaganda, to the extent that, when they do hear a morsel of truth, they turn away in disbelief, either because it is too horrible to contemplate, or because it seems too incredible to be true. Our administration and our media have conditioned us to do this -- to relegate all anti-Bush news into the realm of the tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists. And this would be just fine with me, if not for the fact that these disbelieving Americans, who enjoy such a complacent ignorance of the facts, are the same Americans who will be electing our next president, not to mention our representatives on Capitol Hill.

The fact is, were the voting American public more informed about the facts, our politicians wouldn't be compelled to campaign from both sides of the fence: addressing the real truth, while also pandering to the Bush Administration's version of the truth, as perpetuated by the media and swallowed -- hook, line and sinker -- by the American public. If Americans were truly paying attention -- which would require considering the validity of uncomfortable and often outrageous truths -- our elected officials could not *get away* with doing this, with capitulating on their party's policies -- based not on facts, but on the public's perception of the facts, as woven by a propaganda-driven media that is bereft of the facts. This is part and parcel of how we got into this war in the first place.


Pleasant Truths vs. Dry Statistics

When was the last time the evening news mentioned the 100,000 Iraqis who have been killed during this war? Or ethnic cleansing? Or the millions of Iraqis violently displaced from their homes? When you hear on the evening news that the surge is a success, you can believe it, so long as you understand, "For whom?"

The death toll of 4000, reached by American soldiers over a period of 5 years has been reached more than 25 times by Iraqi citizens. During the first 7 months of the surge, alone (February-August 2007), a total of 4000 Iraqi men, women and children were killed every 7 weeks. Using the most conservative of estimates, a total of 17,117 Iraqi men, women and children were killed during the first 7 months of the surge. That's an average of 81 people killed each day. That's 2445 people killed each month -- more deaths, even, than before the surge, when the average daily death was a staggering 79 per day. In May 2007, alone, the Iraqi death toll was only 20 fewer people than were killed on September 11th on U.S. soil.

Before your eyes completely glaze over from math fatigue, consider this: The monthly death toll was instantly cut in half after August 2007. And the trend continued, so that -- to date -- Iraqi deaths averaged 36 per day, instead of 81.

What happened? What happened during August 2007 to cause such a sudden, dramatic decline in Iraqi deaths?

Bush-Cheney-Petraeus would like us to believe it was the success of the surge -- despite that the level of violence only grew during the first 7 months of the surge. A more logical explanation would be the ceasefire declared in August 2007 by one of our 'enemies -- Maqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Shiite Mahdi Army, who opposes the U.S. occupation as strongly as he opposed the Saddam Hussein regime. Many of the Mahdi Army leaders are, in fact, former political prisoners who suffered torture under Saddam Hussein. Maqtada al-Sadr's unilateral ceasefire in August 2007 was said to be in response -- not to the surge -- but in effort to weaken the rogue elements that had infiltrated his army and committed violence in their name, which ran contrary to their cause. Whatever the reasons for the ceasefire, it instantly cut the Iraqi death toll in half. Just like that.

Well, sort of....

There's the Surge, and then there's the Surge

When Bush announced the surge in his January 2007 address to Americans, most of us heard the part about sending 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. What we missed was the *other* surge he annonced: "We will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance," In plainspeak, Bush was announcing the addition of 90,000 Sunni insurgents to the U.S. military, being armed and paid -- on the U.S. taxpayers' dime -- to work as security forces. Bush failed to mention, however, that our new "Iraqi forces" were actually Saddam Hussein's former henchmen, who had been working side-by-side with al Qaeda for the previous several years -- ambushing and killing American soldiers.

On the heels of Bush's speech, it became necessary to re-define the enemy, to un-demonize the Sunni insurgents: No longer were Sunnis the enemy; only 'extremist' Sunnis were enemies. This was necessary, if for no other reason than to gain Congressional approval for the $150 million budget (received) to hire, train, arm and sometimes bribe these Sunni insurgents. And, because this plan looked as bad on the surface as it truly was, military commanders in charge of recruiting these Sunni security forces were officially, for the record, ordered to "not deal with those who have American blood on their hands." As if this blood could literally be seen on their hands, or as if the "bad" insurgents would have, tattooed on their foreheads, "I killed Americans."

Equally important to un-demonizing our Sunni enemies, was the need to un-demonize our own history with these Sunnis, so that the U.S. military could make the transition from hunting down, torturing and executing Sunnis, to hiring them to work side-by-side with our own military. This strategy must surely have seemed odd to those 450,000 Shiites -- still in the employ of the U.S. military -- who had spent the past several years torturing and killing innocent Sunni citizens and insurgents alike, while displacing them from their homes in a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Yes, the U.S. strategy of hiring Sunnis to work with our security forces must have seemed awfully odd to the thousands of Shiites in U.S. employ, working with the U.S.-backed Badr Brigade (not to be confused with the Sadr Army) in Iraqi interior ministry, who'd spent the past 3 years working in the infamous U.S.-backed Wolf Brigade Death Squads**, terrorizing, torturing and ultimately executing Sunnis -- many of whom were forced to make public confessions before being executed, with their confessions broadcast on the show titled, "Terrorism in the Grip of Justice," aired six nights per week during the spring of 2005 on the U.S.-funded Al-Iraqiya television network.


** (note: if Wolf Brigade link, above, does not work, see the video, below, near the bottom of this webpage, titled "U.S.-Backed Wolf Brigade Death Squads in Iraq").

"To engineer a fragile peace, the U.S. military created and backed dozens of new Sunni militias, which now operate beyond the control of Iraq's central government. "

To make this transition more palatable, our government began calling these former Sunni insurgents, "volunteers." To date, the U.S. military employs approx. 90,000 of these volunteers at the rate of $360 per month, plus weapons and ammunition. The Sunni shieks who oversee these 'volunteers' receive an average of $8000 per month. These salaries are but a tiny fraction of that $150 million total allocation in the 2008 U.S. budget to pay off these Sunni insurgents and their shieks. These soldiers go by various euphemisms, such as Iraqi Security Volunteers, or ISVs; neighborhood watch groups; Concerned Local Citizens; Critical Infrastructure Security; Sahwa; or, most famously, the Sunni Awakening. The U.S. military's use of the term "volunteer" with these soldiers is particularly misleading, as is implies these Sunnis are somehow volunteering their time in the name of Iraqi security. Or, perhaps our government merely views these Sunnis as being like our own military -- serving in a volunteer, rather than a compulsory capacity.

What's Next?

In his prepared testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in April 2008, Nir Rosen commented on the U.S. military's stance in arming both sides in a civil war:

"David Kilcullen, the influential Australian counter insurgency advisor (to Petreaus), defined it as 'balancing competing armed interest groups.' Though supporters of the war touted the surge as a success, they forgot that tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed, the millions displaced, and the thousands of dead and wounded Americans just so that violence could go back to the still horrifying levels of just a couple of years ago."

Recognized at its inception as a tricky ploy (paying off and arming America's enemies to act like America's friends) this strategy at least -- along with Sadr's ceasefire --worked to lower the death toll of both Iraqis and Americans. Hence, the success of the surge. Problem is, while arming both sides in a civil war to work as "security forces," the U.S. has not undermined the supposed goal of forging Iraqi unity, but we have created a deadly house of cards.

As Nir Rosen earlier observed in his March 2008 Rolling Stone article, titled, The Myth of the Surge, "Loyalty that can be purchased is, by its very nature, fickle."

With only the slightest provacation, either side in this civil war -- both now armed to the teeth with U.S. weaponry -- could turn their weapons against U.S. soldiers. It's no wonder, then, that Petraeus has repeatedly urged caution over the current lull in violence, terming it a "fragile and reversible" peace, while simultaneously pushing for a "pause" in any planned troop withdrawals after July 2008.

And it has been accomplished by the U.S. strategy of funding two sides in a civil war and empowering both to kill and displace one another, resulting in what's been called, "the worst human displacement in Iraq’s modern history" . By intensifying the divisions between the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis -- and making impossible any sort of unity in Iraq -- the U.S. can continue to tout the myth of the Iraqi government's "refusal" to take control of their government. That is, so long as we continue to fund their civil war and to back ethnic cleansing -- paying Sunnis to displace Shiites and paying Shiites to displace Sunnis.


In a perfect world, every politician of good conscience would be railing against 7 years of lies, and would be unafraid to stand side-by-side with Wexler, Kucinich, Baldwin, Hinchey , Holtzman & Barr and others who are daring to speak the truth on Capitol Hill. Instead, we live in a world where those rare truthsayers on Capitol Hill -- such as Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney -- are belittled, ridiculed, ignored, painted as nuts, hacks, conspiracy theorists and terrorist appeasers, and ultimately driven out of town on a rail.

For this reason, and this reason alone, I am willing to temporarily suspend my disgust at Obama for deleting his criticism of the surge, not to mention his equally reprehensible backslide on the FISA bill. I do this in the hope that his eye is ultimately on the bigger picture, that he is merely being pragmatic, trying to avoid the sort of dog and pony show that could potentially -- and against all that is sane and rational in this world -- swiftboat his candidacy. My hope is that Obama hasn't truly lost his bearings, but that he indeed *gets it* as I've clearly heard him articulate in many of his speeches and statements. My hope is that he indeed intend to do the right thing by this country and this planet -- not the least of which is to purge from our national dialogue the lies we've been conditioned to believing for the past 7 years.