John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Iraq: A Soldier's Peace

Sgt Marshall Thompson just spent the last year in Iraq as a reporter for the Army Public Affairs Office at Camp Anaconda, the largest base over there.  Now, he's spending the next month going on a 500-mile long walk across Utah to raise some awareness for peace.

As a military journalist, he obviously couldn't get much past the official censors for the newspaper, but he did talk to thousands of soldiers in his time in Iraq.  He says they aren't stupid -- they know what is going on -- even if no one is officially admitting it.

Thompson's campaign to walk across Utah is drawing some local news attention.  He was also featured last week on Democracy Now! where I heard about his efforts.  I hope you can take a minute to check out his DN! interview with Amy Goodman and check out his website, "A Soldier's Peace."  You can follow his daily route and even donate some support.

Get the word out. This guy's story should be on CNN, instead of the Mcpropaganda mind-numbing stuff they normally broadcast.  Call your local news.  Ask them why they haven't talked about it.  Go on.  Dial the number.  You can do it.


Monday, October 02, 2006
Iran: Rush to the Next War


The neocon war machine is rushing to war with Iran.  Reasonable and rational people think war with Iran is strategically stupid on every level.  There is just one hitch.  It's now quite apparent that the United States is not being led by reasonable or rational people.

The same and usual suspects in the Bush Administration are again cherry picking intelligence, inflating or distorting it, and making their case to strike Iran.  The neocon reasoning used to illegally invade Iraq is again being used concerning Iran -- weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorists.

The secret cabal of neocons that ran the Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the Pentagon to sell the war in Iraq to the Congress, the media, and the American people are running the same game concerning Iran right now.

Politics and Pressure

There are three powerful groups that support the Bush administration and would happily cheerlead the insanity of going to war with Iran.  The first is the obvious political power that the Israeli lobbyists have on our politicians and the so-called "Israel-firsters" embedded inside our departments of State and Defense that enable this neocon agenda.

The second group is the Saudi lobby.  On a theological basis, fundamentalist Wahabbi Sunni Muslims don't care very much for their fundamentalist Shi'ite Muslim cousins across the Persian Gulf.  On a strategic and economic basis, the Saudis would benefit hugely from the resulting chaos in the oil market.

The third group that would cheerlead more war is the fundamentalist evangelical Christian lobby here in the United States.  It's clear from the messages coming from many of these organizations that they believe in a clash of civilizations in the broader Middle East is not only desired, but mandated by Biblical prophecy.

Christians United For Israel

It is nearly impossible to even discuss the access and influence that Israel has on the United States government.  When professors Mearsheimer and Walt simply asked the obvious question in their recent essay, "The Israel Lobby," they were smeared and called anti-Semetic.

Mearsheimer and Walt include Evangelical Christians in their framing of what constitutes the Israel lobby, but I have chosen to identify them as a seperate influence in my own analysis.  It's not that I disagree with the professors for their inclusion -- groups like CUFI are militant and frankly, dangerous -- but I seperate them because as a group, Christians are not all irrational end-timers and are generally more concerned with domestic social policy, rather than U.S. foreign policy.  The militant support for Israel are shades of gray that vary from church to church even among the fundamentalist Christian adherents.

Americans should be made aware of the power and influence all of these groups wield, though.  While the Saudis influence the Bush administration primarily through energy sector lobbys, Israel lobbies through defense contractors and religious groups.  They all operate much like huge corporate and defense lobbyist organizations with retired government and military personnel on their boards.  They have nearly unlimited money for media campaigns and political donations for their candidates.  This keeps the American public's perceptions about the Middle East in a well-maintained media bubble.

We Don't Speak To Evil

The history of diplomacy between the United States and Iran has been non-existent during the lives of many young Americans and certainly spanning the careers of many people within the U.S. government for about the last 30 years.  Despite this, many Americans would be very surprised to know that Iran supported the United States after the terrorist attacks of September 11th.  You have to step outside the U.S. media bubble to hear this, though.  Free your mind, Neo.

Not only did the Iranian people support the U.S. after 9/11, holding mass candle-lit vigils and moments of sympathetic silence for the victims, the Iranian government even materially supported our military efforts in Afghanistan.  If you wish to understand the recent history of US-Iran relationships and interactions, listen to this BBC radio 4 presentation with Gordon Corera, "Mixed Messages."  Spend a half-hour to understand what is happening in the U.S. now, fomented by hardcore neocons in the Bush administration.  It's clear that all the talking points by neocons now were created by the actions of those same warmongers over the last five years.

Connect The Dots

A number of seemingly unconnected data sets seems to point to an imminent war with Iran.  While I feel like Mel Gibson's character in the "Conspiracy Theory" movie pointing out these things, I urge you to check the very public events that are happening now.  It's not some secret.  It's happening in front of your face, even if your local TV news or favorite McCableNews channel is not reporting on it.

  Larry Wilkerson describes in the BBC 4 radio interview that Douglas Feith had plans for invasion of Iran and Syria, back in 2002, when he was briefed on the invasion of Iraq.  In 2005, Wilkerson also crossed the Bush administration's barrier of secrecy and acknowledged the Iraq war hoax.

Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers VietNam-era infamy, pleads publicly to career military and government personnel to leak information how the Bush administration is selling the next war.

US Navy personnel and warships have received orders to train and now deploy to the Persian Gulf.

The Bush administration, on its own, has made public statements for regime change in Iran since the infamous "Axis of Evil" declaration, and most recently to the world leaders in the speech given to the United Nations by George Bush.

The Congress has been generating reports to justify an attack on Iran. WMD and Terrorist Support. Although reports are authored by neocons, ex-staffer of John Bolton, they influence Congress.  Even if the IAEA disputes the findings of the neocons Congressional work, the reponse is to then dismiss the U.N. and its agencies.  Democrats will not stop a war with Iran.

Bush is selling the War on Terror to our domestic military organizations. View WH video of his 09/29 address to the Retired Officers Association gathering.

Bush has met with the leaders of Iran's neighbors to get their support this past week -- Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Turkey.

Let's not forget the last minute rush by Congress to get the 500-billion dollar defense appropriations bill and the Military Commissions Act to the president to sign.  In a rush to rubber-stamp the Bush administration's idea of kidnapping, torture and indefinite detention for their so-called War on Terror, the Congress missed the fact that the executive branch can now also label any U.S. citizen, not just the scary bearded terrorist, as an "unlawful enemy combatant" and disappear them.

The president sells the happiness of the recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq on the radio.  Listen to the propaganda here.  Go on listen.  Bush's neocon logic is Benny Hill funny, if he wasn't drinking his own kool-aid.

The Blurring

I call this section The Blurring because the Bush administration has repeatedly blurred any discussion of specifics, like how to solve specific problems in Afghanistan or Iraq with their multi-trillion dollar agenda on the so-called broader Middle East and their War on Terror.  It should come as no shock to anyone when Bush refers to the death and destruction in Iraq by saying, "I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma ..."

The troubling history of politically driven and Rovian foreign policies have one common denominator.  Some events are orchestrated to keep and maintain political power in the U.S, not to react to any reality of threat to National Security.

Karl Rove promised his GOP supporters an October Surprise for election victory. Was he teasing his loyal Republicon serfs with some new war with Iran?  There does seem to be a disconnected callousness with these meglomaniacs that points toward a plan that Americans will stop complaining about Iraq, if we are engaged in a larger war, the next war, with Iran.

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.


Sunday, October 01, 2006
World Can't Wait Rallies

Video about "World Can't Wait" National Walkout

On Thursday, October 5th, people all over the United States, in big cities and small towns, are staging a mass protest against the Bush administration.  It's likely there is already some chapter near you with which you can join up.  Find a local chapter near you, or simply start your own.

  • Call your friends and neighbors.  Meet up somewhere publicly.
  • Call your fellow classmates.  Skip school for peace.
  • Call your friends from church.  Pray publicly for peace.
  • Talk to your co-workers.  Take a sick day off work.

Call your boss on Thursday morning:

Hello, Frank?

Yeah.  What's up, Joe?

I can't come into work today.  I'm really sick.

Really?  What's wrong?

I'm sick of the Bush administration starting new wars before they finish the last one.

Oh. Yeah.  I hope you feel better soon.

Me, too.  See you on Friday.


Saturday, September 30, 2006
Iraq: For Sale

In some of my previous blog entries about Iraq, you may have heard me complain about a number of things.  After spending some time researching things, I'll post those entries with links to Congressional reports, or interview transcripts, or links to audio, and video, and other websites saying the same thing.  I do that because I want to cite some reference for my outrage.  I don't want people thinking that I'm just making this stuff up.

I've come to realize that many people don't have the same passion about our society, politics, or goverment institutions.  It's hardwork trying to understand and find clues to why the world is all fucked up.  It's likely most people simply don't have the time to read anything, either.  I try to stay focussed and on topic.  I'm getting better at writing shorter sentences, too.

About a week ago, I spent several hours trying to understand the testimony of Stuart Bowen, the Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) at some Congressional hearing.  I pawed through hundreds of pages of related PDFs trying to understand the data.  To add insult to injury, one of his PDF reports had all the fucking spreadsheet pages sidewise -- reading that for an hour gave me headache and a sore neck.

My specific research on that day was to try to figure out why Iraq was a total clusterfuck.  Now, after watching the testimony of  retired U.S. Marine Colonel Hammes, an expert on counter-insurgency, I have a better idea of how and why things went wrong in Iraq.  That's a first step to moving forward.

The basic concept that the Bush administration outlined in their "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" isn't really flawed.  The problem is that theyre not doing it, or doing it half-assed, or they may have waited too long and now the problem is 100x worse to solve.  "Clear-Hold-Build" is a decent strategy for counter-insurgency.

 I urge everyone to read the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq report.  It's only 38 pages.  It has a pretty red-white-and-blue title page.  It's more than 500 pages shorter than the 9/11 Commission report.  We all want victory in Iraq.  We all support the troops and want to bring them home.

There are several things that the current administration has done in the past and is still doing that actually makes them defeat their own plan.  The "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" report was developed by the National Security Council and published November 30th, 2005.

Hello?!  Why didn't we have this fucking plan implemented from the get-go?  It's not like the PNAC neocons hadn't been drooling over the broader Middle East since Reagan was in office.  It's not like the Bush/Cheney administraton didn't discuss the Iraq invasion during the first week they were in office, in January of 2001.

Not only that, but try to go to White House web site and conveniently find this report now.  The fact that is was only an after-thought to invading Iraq, and the fact that it hasn't even been a year and you have to search the White House website for this report now, and the fact that the White House message has switched from Victory in Iraq back to War on Terror for the upcoming elections, speaks far louder than any Lincoln Group or Karl Rove propaganda.

Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld also come from the far-right wing ideology that government should be privatized.  Not a small goverment, abolish the DEA,  Libertarian model -- a fat cat, big government, corrupt corporate model.  Even hardcore Libertarians believe that government, not corporations, should provide for the national defense.

The video clip above is a 5-6 minute interview between MSNBC's Keith Obermann and documentary film director Robert Greenwald.  His film, "Iraq For Sale" seems to detail an extraordinary basic problem with operations in Iraq.  By the way, when I was researching defense contract spreadsheets from SIGIR, I was struck by the corruption, but I was just amazed at the volume of contracts.  I think it was about 8500 seperate contracts.

Check out their videos page and new clips on the Iraq For Sale movie blog.

We know that the current fearmongering campaign is political.  This election season spurred on the immigration idiocy and more 9/11 speeches.  I'm surprised the terror alert level hasn't yet been raised, but then we still have a month to go ...

If you wish to explore the political cronyism of BushWorld in Iraq angle -- or "Good Job, Brownie" -- which is only one-step seperated from the corporate ties, then get a copy of Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran's new book, "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone"

If you want to get a feel for the book, Rajiv was just interviewed on Democracy Now!

So. There ya go. Lots to read. Lots to watch.  Register to Vote. It matters.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Iraq: Truth Slowly Leaks Out

Finding truth in the Bush administration is like stamping your foot on mercury.  It just spreads away into smaller disconnected globs, each just as poisonous to ingest.

However difficult, or even embarassing it may be to connect some of these mercurial dots to get some insight concerning Iraq, it should be one of the most important things Americans should be discussing amongst themselves and ultimately demanding of their representatives in Washington.

Let the debate not be a fool's merry-go-round of Republican versus Democrat, or even Hawk versus Dove.  The United States military is in Iraq, today.  Unless and until the Iraqi leaders tell us to leave, George Bush has already stated, "We'll be in Iraq so long as I'm president."

The short four-minute video above has compiled highlights of the testimony given on Monday by three retired military commanders at the "Oversight Hearing on the Planning and Conduct of the War in Iraq."  I've already initially opined on how important I feel this hearing was and why.  You should read the bios and submitted statements of these experts (1,2,3) to judge their qualifications and sincerity.

You can also view the entire hearing (about 2 hours) thanks to C-Span.  While it is clear that each witness supported the idea of replacing the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and also give excoriating examples for their conclusions, they also lamented on the lack of oversight and action by the current Congress.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

James Madison, Federalist #47, January 30, 1788

Unfortunately, politics does play a major role in moving forward.  The recent declassification of a small portion of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) by the Bush administration only happened because it had already been leaked to the media, primarily because some people were outraged that the Bush administration had been sitting on it for almost six months for political purposes.

The report is an embarassment to White House policy and runs contrary to the Rovian message that Republicans will keep you safe.  I don't know if Democrats will keep you any safer -- if you happen to be a person who has sealed yourself up in your basement with duct-tape and plastic sheeting while memorizing verses of Biblical Revelations by candlelight -- but I do know that the political apathy of your neighbors may allow things in our country to continue in the same irrational fashion.

Congressional oversight concerning Iraq is practically non-existent.  Congress has been using Iraq (and 9/11 frankly) for political purposes, but has failed to look at the situation in Iraq with any honesty.  This "let's not talk about this seriously" attitude has evolved over the last five years because of the obvious scandals of which we're all too familiar and don't need repeating.  Or, maybe they do need repeating.  Afterall, while we argue here in the United States, people in Iraq -- including our military -- only get to bleed.

Even Condi Rice admits mistakes were made.  The President has admitted there was no connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq.  Fine. Whatever. That's like admitting you robbed a bank, after the red dye-pack has exploded in your face and exclamed the obvious, as you crash the get-away car into the police station.

Here's a better question for people to ask.  Why has the Senate Select Commitee on Intelligence chairman, Pat Roberts (R-KS), been dragging his feet and making excuses for years on completing an investigation into the pre-war intelligence on Iraq?  It's been such an under-reported but ridiculous stonewalling that some organizations, like Think Progress, has been able to compile and publish a damn timeline of obsfucation and cover-up.

Hello?  Look, if we can't figure out how we got where we are in Iraq, we can't move forward with any clarity or genuine purpose.

My biggest fear for my country is that the same politcal reasons and neocon exclamations by Bush, and Cheney, and Bolton, and other pundits in the media, and warmongers buried into the government establishment are trying to sell the same story for yet another war, likely with Iran, this election.  Maybe they'll postpone a war with Iran for the 2008 election season.

Either way, we barely know the facts concerning the failures in Afghanistan before we launched off into war with Iraq at the time, so, why should I support a war with Iran before we even have the courage to look in the mirror as a country concerning the failures in Iraq?

Don't comfort yourself in denial of the insane possibility, or of the obvious stupidity of war with Iran.  The people in charge right now have not shown themselves to act rationally in the past, they have conspired and lied the big lies, and there are other players in the global picture that could react and provide the needed or desired impetus for yet another, and possibly more catastrophic war.

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