Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Democratic Alternative in 2007?

The situation in Iraq today is “desperate but not terminal.”

The president’s plan to “surge” U.S. ground units in Iraq is “a fool’s errand.”

This was the tone of testimony by three of four retired generals when they testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 18. Nonetheless, in his State of the Union Speech five days later, President Bush announced that 21,500 more U.S. troops would be in Iraq in late April or May. Most of the increase, already underway, will be generated by units being held past their original date to rotate out or by units whose in-country date has been moved forward

The operational objective of the surge is a re-invigorated “clear, hold, build” approach. The main difference from past, similar efforts, according to military briefers, is that this time government troops will project not just a sense of but an actual, physically permanent central government presence in Baghdad’s neighborhoods. What residents should experience, the White House hopes, is dramatically improved physical security, more Iraqi police and army units in the neighborhood 24 hours a day every day, with U.S. back-up, particularly in the “clear” phase when the war planners expect more resistance than in the past.

There is much that administration spokespeople do not want to discuss about their “new strategy” (or is it simply their latest adjustment?). One challenge in this scheme is to ensure even-handed treatment and resolution of disputes by security personnel of one ethnic or sectarian identity working in a neighborhood containing residents of other ethnicities and creeds. The fact that every day men dressed in police and military uniforms driving official-looking SUVs kill and kidnap scores of Iraqis simply on the basis that the victims are “not like us.”

This past Monday, February 5, the White House sent its Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Request to Congress. Within the Defense Budget, the Pentagon requested $1.1 billion for what it terms “critical military construction projects in direct support of deployed troops” – with the vast majority going to bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two U.S. occupied Iraqi airbases – Al Assad in western Anbar province and Balad north of Baghdad will get $318 million under the Bush request while another $650 million is to go to Bagram air base in Afghanistan. This base is the hub of U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

Now in a federal budget of $2.9 trillion and a Defense budget of $623 billion, $1.1 billion is miniscule – virtually invisible. But what’s important at this point is not so much the dollars but whether the budget accords with statements made to Congress by administration officials. In this regard, last month Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the House Armed Services Committee that there had not been any change to the Pentagon’s opposition to retaining permanent bases in Iraq. Even then, Gates apparently was unconvincing as Representative Barbara Lee reintroduced legislation barring the Pentagon from acquiring permanent bases in Iraq. With the budget out, and an apparent direct contradiction between Gates’ statement and the budget, Democrats and fiscal hawks of both parties ought to require an explanation. I’m sure there is one; it might even be a good one.

The last election in part was a demand by the public for government to be accountable. As the majority in both Houses of Congress, it is up to the Democrats to answer the public’s demand. One is. Representative Henry Waxman is holding hearings in an effort to find out how the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad managed to lose track of almost $12 billion dollars in cash.

As a final note, should the Democrats fail to respond to the demand for accountable government, there is always Sam Waterson’s on-line “Virtual Party” for 2008.


Blogger Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

A Book Recommendation "Journey Toward Justice" This is the Companion book to The Innocent Man, Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz changed my mind about the Death Penalty. True Crime, Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. Journey Toward Justice is a testimony to the Triumph of the human Spirit and is a Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. Dennis Fritz was the other Innocent man mentioned in John Grisham's Book. which mainly is about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz's co-defendant. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison. The real killer was one of the Prosecution's Key Witness. Read about why he went on a special diet of his while in prison, amazing and shocking. Dennis Fritz's Story of unwarranted prosecution and wrongful conviction needs to be heard. Look for his book in book stores or at , Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz, Publisher Seven Locks Press 2006. .
Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975 by a deranged 17 year old neighbor. On May 8th 1987, Five years after Debbie Sue Carter's rape and murder he was home with his young daughter and put under arrest, handcuffed and on his way to jail on charges of rape and murder. After 10 years in prison he discovered The Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization. With the aid of Barry Scheck and DNA evidence Dennis Fritz was exonerated on April 15,1999 Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with twist and turns and now on his Journey Toward Justice. He never blamed the Lord and solely relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God's time and never gave up.

10:02 AM  

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