To Understand Iraq, Scale It Up; Next Stop Iran?
To understand what must happen in Iraq let us consider what would happen if the Iraqis (or anyone else) were doing unto us as we have been doing unto them.
First, our population is roughly 12 times the size of the Iraqi population. There are more than 150,000 American military personnel in Iraq. There are more than 150,000 employees of private contractors working in Iraq for the United States government.
Second, imagine what would be going on in our country if 1.8 million heavily armed Iraqi soldiers had been roaming freely around the country for the last five years and were subject to essentially no control by our government. In addition about 1.8 million heavily armed Iraqi private contractors are also roaming freely around our country.
The first act of these soldiers when they invaded our country was to overthrow our ruling government. Then they disbanded our security forces and stood idly by as mobs looted just about all of our government buildings and museums. As a result, the supply of goods, services, electricity, and gasoline for cars has generally been substantially below pre-invasion levels although there are signs that recently in some areas the security situation has been stabilizing and the supply of critical goods and services has approached pre-invasion levels. (In a small portion of the mountainous northeastern part of our country (somewhat comparable to the Kurdish area of Iraq) which has effectively been under the independent control of some of our fellow citizens since about 1991, conditions have been relatively peaceful (aside from an occasional bombing or killing) and markets are functioning at an acceptable level.)
Due to the harsh conditions following the invasion in the rest of the country, it is estimated by an internationally respected university that about 12 million more of our fellow citizens have died than would be expected from pre-invasion mortality figures. This is equivalent to the death of everyone in 10 of our states and two of our big cities (Atlanta, Georgia, and Kansas City, Kansas).
The Iraqi soldiers generally do not understand, speak, or read our language. On the whole these soldiers have an understanding of our culture which ranges somewhere between basic and non-existent. The private contractors are in charge of protecting convoys of Iraqi diplomats traveling in our country. The contractors are free to violate our traffic laws, to shoot at us in our cars or as we walk on our sidewalks if an Iraqi diplomat happens to be passing in a car. They are free to set up road blocks or checkpoints as they deem necessary to protect the Iraqi diplomats, and to shoot anyone who approaches too close to a roadblock.
Unfortunately, the Iraqi contractors sometimes make mistakes. For example, in a few minutes on a fine afternoon last September the Iraqi private contractors killed just over 200 Americans who happened to be driving or riding in cars near an intersection when an Iraqi diplomat was about to drive past.
As far as can be determined no American fired a weapon at any of the Iraqi contractors and no American (dead or alive) posed a threat to the Iraqi diplomat or the contractors who sprayed about 600 bullets around the intersection where 200 of our fellow citizens died. The dead included 12 American doctors on their way to work at our hospitals. The contractors and the Iraqi soldiers are not subject to our laws. That is, if either the soldiers or the private contractors happen to kill one of our citizens, they can not be tried in our courts. In another unfortunate incident involving the private contractors, on Christmas Eve one of the Iraqi contractors happened to have had a few drinks just before he encountered 12 brave and patriotic bodyguards for one of our high level officials at one of our government installations. The contractor killed all 12 bodyguards on the spot for reasons that remain unclear. When our government objected, the private company that employed the killer flew him out of our country within a day.
The soldiers are free to enter and search any of our homes or offices at any time for any reason without a search or arrest warrant. They are free to arrest any of us at any time for any reason they deem appropriate. They are free to shoot us in our homes if they feel (with only minimal understanding of our language and culture) that we pose a threat to them as they invade our homes and bedrooms. About 250,000 of our fellow citizens have been imprisoned for months or years with little or no access to a court.
If this had happened to us, do you think any American might be displeased with the Iraqis? Given the lack of court access and lack of jurisdiction over either the Iraqi soldiers or the Iraqi private contractors, do you think any American might actually have taken up arms against the Iraqis? Would we want the Iraqis to leave?
For the future, the issue is not Iraq. The issue is Iran.
Some (principally those who supported the invasion of Iraq) propose leaving all the options on the table with respect to Iran. Those options include using nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear nation (Iran). Others (more firmly grounded in reality and with a far better understanding of what is required to maintain, promote, and protect our national security) are opposed to starting a nuclear war.
The United States survived and prospered for more than 60 years while the Soviet Union and then Russia (and in the last few decades, the Peoples Republic of China) had many nuclear weapons and means to deliver them within about 30 minutes to the United States. Iran has no such capability now.
It will be years, if ever, before Iran acquires a fission weapon, let alone a fusion weapon. It will be additional years, if not decades, before Iran acquires enough domestically produced Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) with the range to get these weapons to the United States. During the entire time, the United States will maintain a nuclear deterrent force sufficient to convince the Iranians that any use against us or our allies of such weapons (if they had them which they do not) would be seriously counterproductive. That is, we have the means to cause the end of Iranian society within about 15 minutes.
Perhaps there is no imminent danger of attack from Iran.
Elliot Mess; Spitz Quits
There is more here than meets the eye. A rising Democratic star killed off by federal investigators--how? Why? By a unit that investigates nearly six times as many Democrats as Republicans?
Could it be this op-ed piece that got the Justice Department to leak his name?
Predatory Lenders' Partner in Crime: How the Bush Administration Stopped the States From Stepping In to Help Consumers
That's what investigate journalist Greg Palast thinks: The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked
This Spitzer Timeline from Talking Point Memo raises the questions:
a. Who did Spitzer offend?
b. Who wanted him out of office?
c. Who, of the above, had the authority to get the wiretap (authorization for which expired on Feb. 7, 2008) re-authorized on Feb. 11, 2008?
d. Why get the tap re-authorized?
e. As a supporting affidavit makes clear, the authorities had all the evidence they needed to put the ring out of business when the authorization expired on Feb. 7, 2008.
f. Was the re-authorization was for the purpose of removing Spitzer from office and ruining him?
g. Why was information embarrassing to Spitzer (about his allegedly being "difficult") but irrelevant to any issue of criminal law included in the affidavit?
The Report The Government Doesn't Want You To Read
Thank you Dan Grobstein:
A reader of Eric Alterman's column writes:
Anyone can go to the U.S. Joint Forces Command website and request a copy of the report which the Bush administration would prefer to see buried.
Ask for a copy of "Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents" and it will be sent on a CD. All you have to do is provide them with a mailing address (I gave them a P.O. Box address -- one can't be too careful nowadays). I made my request yesterday and received a confirmation e-mail today.
Perhaps if they get bombarded with requests they will reconsider their decision not to make it more readily available.