Wednesday, April 25, 2007

War politics

Tom Hayden has been paying close attention to the politics of the Iraq War and his observations are always worth seeing. His latest that I've seen is Anti-War Dynamic Accelerating, Bush Power Dropping Huffington Post 04/24/07. He writes:

The implosion of the White House Iraq policy is unfolding on three tracks: on the ground in Iraq, in the clash between Democrats and Republicans over withdrawal, and in the widening scandals weakening the presidency itself.
He lays out the basic choices for the Democrats this year well on the war funding:

House and Senate progressives will continue pushing for a timeline to end funding by next year. Assuming a Bush veto of the present legislation, the Democrats will keep forcing vulnerable Republicans to vote over and over for the war. The current majority may compromise by deleting the withdrawal deadlines in exchange for "enforceable benchmarks", to the dismay of most in the anti-war movement.
And his comment on the relationship of the Cheney-Bush scandals to their Iraq War policy is sensible:

This may be the endgame of the war, the Watergate Moment for the Bush administration. Since the Democrats prevailed in the November 2006 election, one scandal after another has cascaded over the walls of the White House. Today it is the fabrication over the death of Pat Tillman by "friendly fire." The targets have included John Bolton, Alberto Gonzales, Scooter Libby, the Veterans Administration, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. The comparison to Watergate is this: while the Congress began formulating exit plans as early as 1969, they gained critical momentum when joined to the Watergate hearings of 1973. Nixon simply became too weak at home to fight back over Vietnam and Cambodia.
Hayden ends with what's kind of a throwaway line, but it's a catchy phrase. He refers to the political weakening of the Cheney-Bush team and suggests, "Call it an indirect impeachment." That's a good concept. I'm hoping for the real thing for both of them. But "indirect impeachment" may actually be a good way to conceive of the currently more likely alternative.

Ithink there a typo when he writes that insurgents "blew up the parliament" in Iraq; it was a bomb in the parliament's cafeteria, it didn't destroy the whole building.

See also
To Stop the Dirty War by Tom Hayden Huffington Post 04/02/07.

For reporting on the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman hearings, see:

House Investigates Army's Handling of Tillman, Lynch Incidents PBS Newshour 04/24/07

Tillman's family tells of military's deceit by Frank Davies MediaNews/San Jose Mercury News 04/25/2007 (The Mercury News is the Tillman family's hometown newspaper.)

Lie on Tillman battle reveals war on the truth by Scott Herhold San Jose Mercury News 04/25/2007

Lawmakers see cover-up, vow to probe Tillman death by Zachary Coile and Robert Collier San Francisco Chronicle 04/25/07

White House says Bush didn't know Tillman killed by friendly fire by Zachary Coile San Francisco Chronicle 04/25/07

Lawmakers see cover-up, vow to probe Tillman death by Zachary Coile and Robert Collier San Francisco Chronicle 04/25/07

Oversight Committee Holds Hearing on Tillman, Lynch Incidents House Oversight and Government Reform Committee 04/24/07

The Testimony of Jessica Lynch was particularly moving. She looked great on the brief TV clips. But an article in the 04/25/07 San Francisco Chronicle print edition that doesn't appear to be available online opened by describing her as "Limping slowly to the witness table", which doesn't surprise me. She really sustained some severe injuries. In fact, she described them in her prepared testimony:

Following the ambush, my injuries were extensive. When I awoke in the Iraqi hospital, I was not able to move or feel anything below my waist. I suffered a six inch gash in my head. My fourth and fifth lumbars were overlapping causing pressure on my spine. My right humerus bone was broken. My right foot was crushed. My left femur was shattered. The Iraqis in the hospital tried to help me by removing the bone and replacing it with a metal rod. The rod they used was a model from the 1940s for a man and was too long. Following my rescue, the doctors in Landstuhl, Germany found in a physical exam that I had been sexually assaulted. Today, I continue to deal with bladder, bowel and kidney problems as a result of my injuries. My left leg still has no feeling from the knee down and I am required to wear a brace so that I can stand and walk.
Which makes me think, what kind of freak rapes an unconscious woman with a bleeding head and her legs and feet smashed?

I haven't heard anyone comment on it, but she obviously made a decision to disclose the fact she had been sexually abused, something she didn't have to do and presumably no one on the committee would have asked her about that.

Her comments on the phony tale the Pentagon PR hacks made up about her are memorable:

When I remember those difficult days, I remember the fear. I remember the strength. I remember the hand of a fellow American soldier reassuring me that I was ok now.

At the same time, tales of great heroism were being told. My parent’s home in Wirt County was under siege of the media all repeating the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills who went down fighting.

It was not true.

I have repeatedly said, when asked, that if the stories about me helped inspire our troops and rally a nation, then perhaps there was some good. However, I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary. People like Lori Piestewa and First Sergeant Dowdy who picked up fellow soldiers in harms way. Or people like Patrick Miller and Sergeant Donald Walters who actually fought until
the very end.

The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals for heroes and they don’t need to be told elaborate tales.

My hero is my brother Greg who continues to serve this country today. My hero is my friend Lori who died in Iraq but set an example for a generation of Hopi and Native American women and little girls everywhere about the important contributions just one soldier can make in the fight for freedom. My hero is every American who says, my country needs me and answers the call to fight.

I had the good fortune and opportunity to come home and I told the truth. Many other soldiers, like Pat Tillman, do not have the opportunity.

The truth of war is not always easy to hear but it always more heroic than the hype.
But the Republican war fans definitely do not want to hear the truth. Hype is all they care about at this point.

Obviously, the Republicans in Congress would have been glad never to investigate these shameful fake stories and coverups about Lynch and Tillman. But, regardless of your position on the Iraq or Afghanistan Wars, how can anyone thing this kind of conduct on the Pentagon's part is right? This is one of many reasons that mindless idolization of the military, whether in the form of The Troops or any other way, is such a damaging thing. Undoubtedly part of why the people who did this thought they could get away with it was that they were thinking they were immune from criticism or accountability for it. Disgusting.

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