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Hearts and minds, baby. March 13, 2006

Posted by ultor in GWOT, politics.

Are we winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis? Are we even winning the hearts and minds of our allies?

Here is a quote from a British security contractor in Iraq about his American counterparts: “I hate those bastards more than the scumbag insurgents.” A British colonel recently returned from a tour in the country said that, in our next war, he would sooner fight alongside the Russians than the US.

This is another quote from a British security contractor: “The American way is not my way. I don’t mind a scrap but I draw the line at mooning the enemy and inviting him to shoot at my backside, and that’s virtually what the Yanks are doing. I’m also convinced that many Americans hate the Iraqis, not just the insurgents but all Iraqis… What a mess.”

Those last lines are taken from a rather good new book about the experience of Iraq today, Highway To Hell, written by an ex-SAS man who signs himself John Geddes. My point in all the above, is to show that Ben Griffin, the former SAS soldier who vents his dismay about what is happening to Iraq in today’s Sunday Telegraph, is not a lone voice.

There is a widespread belief in both British special forces and line regiments that American tactics are heavy-handed and counter-productive; that firepower continues to be used as a substitute for a “hearts and minds” policy; that local people will never be persuaded to support Coalition forces unless Americans, in uniform and out, treat ordinary Iraqis vastly better than they do today.

And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. — Friedrich Nietzsche

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? –Mark 8:36 (KJV)


A few bucks here and there? March 13, 2006

Posted by ultor in economics, GWOT.

On September 10, 2001, the national debt was $5,773,172,068,291.89.
On March 12, 2006 (today), it’s $8,270,889,116,189.68.
That’s 1,644 days. The national debt has gone up by $1,519,292,608.21 per day since the attacks.

For what?

How many ways can you say… March 12, 2006

Posted by ultor in GWOT, politics.
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The old story is that Eskimos had a hundred words for “snow”. Not true. But the current bunch of Republicans seem to have at least that many words for “lie”. Remember Gen. Pace’s statement that Abu Ghraib would be closed in the next few months? “Premature”. Also “inaccurate”.

When the anti-choice choose…. March 12, 2006

Posted by ultor in politics.
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Stories from abortion providers about pro-life people who suddenly, well, aren’t so pro-life when it comes to themselves.

What a difference 5 years makes… March 11, 2006

Posted by ultor in GWOT, politics.
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Here’s a quiz: some of these quotes are from the US State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices in Iraq in 2000. Some are from the same report in 2005. Which is which?

  1. During the year there were a number of deaths either at police hands or at the hands of militia members and criminals wearing police uniforms.
  2. On May 15, eyewitnesses said armed men in police uniforms took Sunni Council of Scholars (Ulema) member Sheikh Hassan al-Naimi from his Baghdad home. Several days later his body was found with a gunshot wound to the head and signs of torture with an electric drill.
  3. The Government restricts severely freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement.
  4. Criminal and politically motivated disappearances and kidnappings…remained a severe problem.
  5. The U.N. Special Rapporteur, the
    international media, and other groups all have reported a heightened number of summary executions in Iraq….
  6. On three occasions in January and February, prison officials reportedly executed 91 prisoners at Abu Ghurayb….
  7. Many persons who were displaced forcibly still live in tent camps under harsh conditions, which also results in many deaths….
  8. According to a January Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, police torture and ill treatment of detainees was commonplace. In interviews with 90 prisoners, 72 asserted that they had been tortured or mistreated. The reported abuses included beatings with cables and hosepipes, electric shocks to earlobes and genitals, food and water deprivation, and overcrowding in standing-room-only cells.
  9. …abuses included threats, intimidation, beatings, and suspension by the arms or legs, as well as the reported use of electric drills and cords, and the application of electric shocks. Reportedly, police threatened or, in fact, sexually abused detainees.
  10. Corruption was widely perceived to be a severe problem within the police. There were many allegations of police abuse involving unlawful arrests, beatings, and theft from the homes of detainees.
  11. According to former prisoners, torture techniques included branding, electric shocks administered to the genitals and other areas, beating, pulling out of fingernails, burning with hot irons and blowtorches, suspension from rotating ceiling fans, dripping acid on the skin, rape, breaking of limbs, denial of food and water, extended solitary confinement in dark and extremely small compartments, and threats to rape or otherwise harm family members and relatives.

Why can’t our media do this? March 11, 2006

Posted by ultor in GWOT, politics.
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The Guardian is reporting

The government last night admitted for the first time that aircraft suspected of being used by the CIA to transport detainees to secret interrogation centres had landed at British military airfields.

After months of refusing to answer questions from MPs or the media, it disclosed that two aircraft known to have been chartered by the CIA landed 14 times at RAF Northholt, west London, and RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire between October 2003 and May 2004.

Why doesn’t our media actually do reporting like this any more?

You know, he’s really not a conservative. March 9, 2006

Posted by ultor in politics.
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Bush, that is. Not by any definition that is at all meaningful. And people are starting to realize it. This is a nice piece by Dana Milbank about Bruce Bartlett and Andrew Sullivan appearing at a Cato Institute panel discussion.

Author of the new book “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,” Bartlett called the administration “unconscionable,” “irresponsible,” “vindictive” and “inept.”

Nor was moderator Boaz a voice of moderation. He blamed Bush for “a 48 percent increase in spending in just six years,” a “federalization of public schools” and “the biggest entitlement since LBJ.”

Bartlett certainly thought so. He began by predicting a big tax increase “to finance the inevitable growth of government that is in the pipeline that President Bush is largely responsible for.” He also said many fellow conservatives don’t know about the “quite dreadful” traits of the administration, such as the absence of “anybody who does any serious analysis” on policy issues.

“If Bush were running today against Bill Clinton, I’d vote for Clinton,” Bartlett served.

Bartlett argued that Richard Nixon “is the model for everything Bush is doing.”

It’s true. The emperor is buck naked.

Friends, the brain cell trend out there is *not* encouraging. March 9, 2006

Posted by ultor in Popular Culture.
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Gallup poll. How many Americans say “God created man exactly how Bible describes it?” 53%

Stupid Americans

Fifty-freaking-three percent. Just incredible. What’s more amazing, 1 in 4 people with graduate degrees agree. I didn’t think Oral Roberts, Liberty, and Bob Jones U were giving out that many degrees. I suppose I can take some (very) small consolation that only 44% of Democrats agree.

How can a country this stupid be the world’s leading superpower?