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Member since: 2002
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Dec. 31: The United States military has withdrawn from Iraq under the terms of the SOFA...

"SOFA" is the Status of Forces Agreement reached between the Bush regime and the Maliki government in 2007.

SOFA specified a schedule of drawdowns and eventual withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by December 31, 2011. The schedule has now been kept, notwithstanding the continued presence of thousands of mercenaries contracted by the Pentagon and of a US embassy housing 6,000 employees in a complex larger than the Vatican.

While the Obama administration has followed the SOFA as agreed by Bush and Maliki, it first attempted to renegotiate or circumvent the SOFA so as to allow US troops to stay in Iraq past the December 31 deadline. This failed, however, because while amenable to such an extension, the Iraqi government found it could not, given the present political climate in Iraq, feasibly enact an immunity for US troops against future charges by Iraqi authorities.

Iraqis' popular rejection of extending the US occupation of Iraq in turn was influenced by the Wikileaks release of US war logs. These confirmed at least 15,000 more deaths in hostilities than had been counted until then in such sources as the Iraq Body Count, and also documented cases in which US troops had massacred Iraqi civilians. Thus Private Bradley Manning, if the allegations against him are true, goes down as one of the true heroes of the war, as the leaks of the war logs helped block US plans to extend the occupation.

The Obama administration has no business taking credit for "ending the war," as it has only enacted the withdrawal that the Bush regime negotiated. However, the US corporate media and both Democrats and Republicans (each for their own twisted reasons) prefer to pretend that this myth is true.

Above all, however, the Obama administration has failed in the essential mission of restoring the rule of law and constitutional democracy, having made no move whatsoever toward bringing the perpetrators of the US war of aggression and war crimes against Iraq to justice. The primary perpetrators such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, Wolfowitz, Tenet and Rice need fear no indictments as they enjoy their freedom and personal prosperity and plot their comebacks. It should dismay us all that Obama's speech on the occasion of the withdrawal underlined his administration's willed failure by applying heroic labels to atrocities such as the December 2004 leveling of Fallujah ordered by Bush.


Correct. The United States has withdrawn from Iraq under the terms of the SOFA...

the Status of Forces Agreement reached between the Bush regime and the Maliki government in 2007, which specified the schedule of drawdowns and eventual withdrawal of troops exactly as they were executed. The Obama administration followed the SOFA as agreed by Bush, with the only difference being in the attempt to renegotiate or circumvent the SOFA so as to allow US troops to stay longer than the terms of SOFA allowed. This failed after the Iraqi government found it could not in the present political climate feasibly enact an extension of immunity for US troops against charges by Iraqi authorities. The popular rejection of extending the US occupation in turn was influenced by the Wikileaks release of US war logs confirming at least 15,000 more deaths in hostilities than had been counted until then in such sources as the Iraq Body Count, and also documenting cases in which US troops massacred Iraqi civilians.

Thus the Obama administration has no business taking credit for enacting the withdrawal that the Bush regime had negotiated, although this false view is one that both Democrats and Republicans, each for their own twisted reasons, prefer to pretend is true. Furthermore, the Obama administration failed in the essential mission of restoring the rule of law or making even one move toward bringing the perpetrators of the US war of aggression and war crimes against Iraq to justice. Obama's speech on the occasion of the withdrawal emphasized this willed failure by praising atrocities such as the December 2004 leveling of Fallujah under Bush.

Who has suggested that Manning is being prosecuted under international law? The point rather is...

that the criminals he helped to expose are not being prosecuted under international or any other law, although they should and must be before the US government is ever again to claim legitimacy or the status of a civilized nation.

Elements of the United States government planned and committed a war of aggression on several nations, but the case of Iraq is clear-cut and especially monstrous. A plan was devised over years, a pretext was invented, a campaign of lies was waged against the American people, and an aggression was launched on a nation that posed no threat to them. Hundreds of thousands are dead as a direct consequence or predictable result, millions are maimed, traumatized and displaced, the wealth and well-being of a people is shattered, an ecology has been poisoned.

The planners and perpetrators are known. The government and its agencies have committed a long series of foreign aggressions in recent decades. In the words of Martin Luther King, it still represents "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." Covert aggressions have been among the most frequent and significant of its crimes; the State Department has been a tool and cover for these crimes, as well as more of a pedestrian water-carrier for private corporate interests regardless of the interests of the people (as the cables have usefully documented).

Under the doctrines of international law introduced and propagated by the Allied victors of World War II, (in an effort that the US spearheaded) soldiers and civil servants have a duty to resist the machinery of aggression. In the aftermath of military aggression and genocide by states that conferred on themselves the mantle of legalism, the Nuremberg doctrines defined a category of crime so obvious to any natural human being and so heinous by nature that it cannot be protected by devices of written law; such a regime can arrange the law to render its murders are legal, but that does not make it so. All regime members and servants have a duty to resist such crimes, and cannot use the following of orders as their excuse for committing them.

Assuming the allegations against him are true, Manning followed his duty to this higher law, which again, I must emphasize: is based in doctrine devised by the United States. He had no duty to follow the legalistic channels you mention (IGs and whistleblower "protections," that is a laugh) by which such crimes are usually not revealed, but rather covered up and minimized. The murders he witnessed on the Apache helicopter video had already been covered up for years.

As long as the regime criminals, whose crime reached genocidal proportions, remain unpunished, this government has no claim to legitimacy in the area of "national security" and the idea is absurd that Manning is being prosecuted for revealing truth (under whatever torturedly precised rendering of laws protecting precious and usually overclassified memos) while the planners and mass murderers are free and prosper and to a large extent still in power. He is defamed and called a traitor while everyone from the architects of war crimes to the animals who massacred civilians and their rescuers from aerial fortresses in a country they had invaded as aggressors go untouched. It's some kind of bitter joke.

The cult of secrecy, the idea that several million people have "clearance" to know the practical aspects of what a supposedly democratic government does, but the citizen in whose name this government commits its crimes have no right to know how their taxes are spent, is essential to enabling crimes and protecting the criminals.

Manning's prosecution is rendered all the more absurd by the self-evident period of torture practiced on him for most of the 18 months of his detention, most of that time without charges. The treatment and harsh further punishments planned against Manning (ridiculously disproportionate) are meant as a frightful example to all others who would follow their consciences.

There's a rotation that also includes Jane Hamsher, anyone who publishes on Counterpunch...

even though it's one of the most heterogenous mags on the Web, Ralph Nader, of course, and occasionally Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky. OWS comes in for some of it, though it's mostly left alone since it's too obviously the only reason that the current US political discourse isn't dominated by Republican themes.

Also, anyone who doesn't want to hang Ron Paul, or who has the temerity to notice that as bad as he is, he's the only candidate who has taken principled stands against perpetual war for empire and the insane drug war. Because, you know, that makes the current middle-management PR officer pretending to be el supremo in Washington look bad for waging both of these forms of war.

They're all among the over-honest leftist or otherwise non-conformist beasts who must be ritually exorcised (and then brought back for more metaphorical burning at the stake) for still noticing all the same things that still suck about this country, have always sucked, but aren't supposed to suck because a (D) is now president and he's totally doing every single good thing that it's possible to do and keeping his powder dry for surprising us with other goodies and war is peace, etc.

Also, they have to be blamed in advance so that when the usual right-wing lurch by the Democrats possibly causes losses for them, since it tends to make them look indistinguishable from Republicans, it will all be the fault of the leftists and non-conformists. Like, remember when Nader committed massive election fraud in Florida, suppressed the recount, and made the Supreme Court pick the president, thus committing a coup d'etat and ending any pretense to constitutional rule in the US? That was all his fault.


PS - Anyway, what is being silenced by the daily exorcism campaigns is not these writers, but the ability to have normal discussion and debate about anything these people write on DU without it turning into a name-calling festival of bullying.

Outrageously false dichotomy. NAFTA, for example, screwed both sides of the border.

It's a general race to the bottom. Low Mexican factory wages force down US wages in the same sector, at the same time cheap US subsidized corn ruins more Mexican farmers and sends them to the cities seeking work in manufacturing, further pressuring Mexican wages. The biggest wave of Mexican immigration to the US in history started right after NAFTA, thanks to the disaster it caused in Mexico. Don't believe the lies about Third World interests, their interests are also against unlimited uncontrolled capital flows.

The only honest answer Ms. Nuland could have given...

would have been, "I can't say as I do not have the clearance to know whether a US government program of assassination by inducing cancer exists. If I did have the clearance to know, I still would not be allowed to disclose it. If such a program did exist, it would not formally reside in the State Department."

In fact, "I don't know and if I did I couldn't tell you" should cover at least half the questions advanced to her and most other PR personnel of opaque organizations, like the agencies of the USG. They should wear a button that says that, would save a lot of time.

Dictionary definitions of occupy

The word's usages have been occupying my thoughts.

Question. If I "burn" a DVD, am I being disrespectful to victims of fire?

Oh, enough of my dry humor, here's a dictionary entry for "occupy" and notice especially the two variants of Number 3, because they cover both sides of this "debate."

occupy |ˈäkyəˌpī|
verb ( -pies, -pied) [ trans. ]

1 reside or have one's place of business in (a building) : the apartment she occupies in Manhattan.
• fill or take up (a space or time) : two long windows occupied almost the whole wall.
• be situated in or at (a place or position in a system or hierarchy) : on the corporate ladder, they occupy the lowest rungs.
• hold (a position or job).

2 (often be occupied with/in) fill or preoccupy (the mind or thoughts) : her mind was occupied with alarming questions.
• keep (someone) busy and active : Sarah occupied herself taking the coffee cups over to the sink | [as adj. ] ( occupied) tasks that kept her occupied for the remainder of the afternoon.

3 take control of (a place, esp. a country) by military conquest or settlement : Syria was occupied by France under a League of Nations mandate.
• enter, take control of, and stay in (a building) illegally and often forcibly, esp. as a form of protest : the workers occupied the factory.

occupier |-ˌpīər| noun
ORIGIN Middle English : formed irregularly from Old French occuper, from Latin occupare ‘seize.’ A now obsolete vulgar sense [have sexual relations with] seems to have led to the general avoidance of the word in the 17th and most of the 18th cent.

Now imagine what a draw it would have had as "Decolonize Wall Street."

With almost everyone saying: Huh?

Every house has occupants. The verb occupy has no necessary association with the meaning of a military occupation, any more than right-handed must mean right-wing. As a generic verb, its connotative baggage is actually miniminal compared to "decolonize," which carries a boatload of implications. I'm occupying my chair as I write. It need mean no more than that.

The name of the Occupy movement is one of the biggest reasons for its power to date. In combination with "Wall Street" it clearly specifies the action (round the clock protest) and the target (the financial tyranny). For a chance at a different world, you must first stop the criminal business as usual. It's hard to imagine three more evocative or effective words in the political context of 2011-2012, and the proof has been in the results.

Occupy is a verb, an imperative, an exhortation to do exactly what is said: Go there and stay there, because petition-protest-lobby-write a letter to Congress-whine on the Internet-give money to a machine candidate... isn't working for the 99 percent. The criminals responsible for the greatest fraud of all time are still running free and everyone else is suffering from their continued crime as they are further rewarded. So go to where their companies do business and stay there, until there are millions of you, to stop it.

The real United States loses every conflict it engages in.

Halliburton and Blackwater and the neocons and the oil companies probably enjoyed Iraq, but the people of this country lost that war by having been involved in it at all.

The price they paid is not as great as that imposed on the people of Iraq, of whom hundreds of thousands died and millions were wounded, displaced, impoverished and poisoned, in our name. But even beyond the moral atrocity of having been involved in crimes against humanity, assuredly the American people won nothing by this war of aggression. They lost a few thousand lives and trillions of dollars in wealth, so that the worst among them could profit.

The United States government shouldn't be starting any conflicts, that is the point. The US military should have the function of defending the United States, for which it needs a budget of about 10 percent of the current amount (at most, unless you think Mexico and Canada pose a threat.) Another 10 percent could be legitimately devoted to emergency response in real disasters.

The rest is imperialism, and it creates the very enemies that we are then told pose the threat against which we go to war.
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