Every once in a while, the NY Times publishes an editorial that makes a sensible point. And you end up wondering whether they are doing as much good as harm.
Yesterday’s editorial, for example, welcomed
the House of Representatives’ long-overdue attempt to shake some sense into Mr. Bush with a resolution opposing his decision to send another 20,000 combat troops to fight this disastrous war without any plan to end it.
As if the non binding resolution was going to ‘shake some sense into Mr Bush’! I think he’s too far gone for that at this stage. But in any case, check out what the House debated day and night for a week.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring) that —
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on Jan. 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional
‘Disapproves’! That’d give any lame duck president the willies!
Anyway, the Times editorial immediately goes on,
The next necessary steps will require harder thinking and harder choices. Congress needs to do what Mr. Bush is refusing to do: link further financing for the war to the performance of
It’s all very well for the Times to demand harder thinking from Congress, but in my view, they could make a more convincing case for this if they exercised their own cognitive capacity at least to the extent of observing the situation in
Congress needs to impose clear benchmarks and rigorous timetables, insisting that the Iraqi government stop equivocating and start disarming sectarian militias, adopt a formula to share oil revenues equitably and end employment discrimination against Sunni Arabs. Congress must be prepared to cut off financing if the Iraqis refuse.
Instead, it would attribute blame where it lies, with the invasion and occupation itself. Instead of the smoke and mirrors of their puerile and transparent calls to threaten the
Congress’s overriding goal must be to find the most responsible way to extricate American troops from what is becoming an increasingly unwinnable war, while trying to contain the suffering and minimizing the damage to American interests in the region.
The war was never winnable because it started off on bogus grounds. A
Which reminds me, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in an actual blog post, although I’ve put it in a comment or two. The Johns Hopkins survey report in October that estimated the number of excess deaths in
Deploying a slightly suspect methodology, I have averaged the estimate, along with the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval that the Lancet paper reported, to arrive at new estimates. On this basis, the probable number of excess Iraqi deaths as of this month stands at 769,583. Projecting from the July figures, we would be 95% certain that the true number lies in the range between 461,750 and 1,107,597. And counting. Since the numbers dying is on the increase, this is almost certainly an underestimation and the probability that at least 450,000 have died is therefore very high. Clearly there’s no point in even asking why these numbers don’t see the light of day in the mainstream press – only American deaths count.
So, of the estimated pre invasion population of 27 million, the occupation troops have already killed at least 450,000, and perhaps as many as 1.1 million – that would be over 4% of the population, and counting. Another 2 million have been driven into exile, with 2000 more leaving daily.
But surely that can’t be what they mean by ‘contain the suffering’? These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. For every estimated death, there are quite literally uncounted injured people, most of whom don’t have access to the treatment and medication, even the pain relief, that might ameliorate their personal suffering. Nobody knows how many have received injuries that will make them miserable for the rest of their lives. And for every injured person, there must be at least one family member suffering alongside them, perhaps devoting themselves to the care of the wounded.
Obviously the bottom line is, as always, ‘American interests in the region’. It goes without saying that America has interests in the Persian Gulf region just as it goes without saying that Iraq has no interests in, say, the Caribbean. In a shameless replay of the tradition of US ‘left’ criticism of the Vietnam adventure, it’s not that there was anything wrong with invading Iraq on bogus pretexts, turning the place into a shambles, deliberately setting ethnic and religious groups at each others’ throats… It was an honest ‘mistake’. ‘We’ meant well. After all, ‘we’, in the words of Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, who makes Thomas L Friedman look like a rational human being, conducted ‘a war that toppled a monstrous dictatorship, opened the door to decent Arab governance, and has become the central front in the struggle against radical Islam’. And due to Bush’s bungling, and not any ulterior motives or greed or anything like that, now ‘our’ precious ‘interests’ are in peril and we need to minimise damage to them.
The LA Times in a slightly less cynical vein, thought
But what the members said was less important than what they did, which was to give vent to the American people's impatience with a war that has cost more than 3,000 American lives and will soon begin its fifth year.
Giving vent to impatience is at least as good as actually ending the carnage, obviously, and the carnage that counts is the 3000 US troops recorded as killed in the invasion and occupation so far, not counting mercenaries and the like.
The LA Times also reports
But Rep. Elton Gallegly (
I don’t suppose there’s anything particularly unusual about electing representatives whose memories don’t extend back four years when ‘the job that we sent them there to do to start with’ was to disarm Saddam Hussein’s regime of the WMDs that could reach
A non binding resolution has rarely resolved anything. But that vote, and another expected today in the Senate, are the beginnings of a serious effort on Capitol Hill that could -- and, it is to be hoped, will -- force a change in the administration's calamitous war policy.
They note further
There is an irony here that may transcend the
And they quote, seemingly with approval,
Representative Henry Waxman of
Since then, of course, the Senate failed by four votes to decide to consider the resolution from the House of Representatives. A shame, really, when according to the Globe
Senator Joseph Biden of
But the Senate will have to consider the funding bill and from what I read there is very little cause for optimism. Even though the Democrats acknowledge that they gained control of the House on the strength of the perception that they would get out of
What I want to see from the Democratic Congress is starts out by refusing to fund the occupation for another minute. Biden’s recission resolution sounds like a good idea. Everyone who voted for that should be deeply ashamed and frankly, I’m surprised they are even prepared to appear in public, much less run for public office. Not that I believe for an instant that Obama would have hesitated to authorise Bush to do his worst, but at least he wasn’t there at the time. Senator Clinton, for one, however, is not in the least embarrassed.
“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience in Dover, N.H.
There are indeed others to choose from, though I couldn’t say whether any of them would be an improvement. Still, if she can’t admit a mistake, ‘the Free World’ will be better off without such a leader. Sure, it’s about time the
Everybody in the peace movement knew the Office of Special Plans ‘intelligence’ was a crock, but why should a Senator with access to information resources we can’t even dream of be embarrassed to have swallowed that neocon crap hook, line, and sinker?
Beyond that, none of this weaselly talk of ‘withdrawal’, ‘over the horizon’, ‘bases’, and whatnot. Get the troops onto all those ships lurking in the Gulf menacing
Then we can start talking about reparations.