The world can certainly do better than this. Here's why.

Monday, May 12


Got this email forwarded to me from Mel. It screams the need to be undone. Most of the stats that I provide are available on Wikipedia. I only used articles with source documents that verify the information. The email comments are marked (>) and are rendered in this colour.

In short, this is one of those things that gets tossed around the internet and is never really questioned properly. Lots of people will read it, it's been around since 2004, but not many will question it thoroughly.

I did because I've been meaning to look into American interventionism for the past two years and haven't had someone or something annoy me enough to actually do all the work. Now, I've got this.

To summarize: the thrust is that Bush the Second is doing a great job. Iraq is a better place, America is historically justified in invading/occupying Iraq, military morale is high, everything is moving along efficiently and its all very good for America. Further, national hero John Glenn gives implicit support for the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq because, well... just because.

I looked into the claims that the email puts forward.

> For those of us who spent time in the military or believe in our military, and support the men and women of our military, read on............

Well that's a pretty broad appeal. It also implies, falsely, that if you don't read on, or if you disagree with the statements made here, you must NOT:

a. have spent time in the military,
b. believe in the military,
c. support the men and women of the military

Sound familiar? This kind of false logic permeates advertising, political campaigns, and propaganda everywhere.

> There were 39 combat related killings in Iraq in January. In the fair city of Detroit there were 35 murders in the month of January. That's just one American city, about as deadly as the entire war-torn country of Iraq

Off the top, do you really want Detroit -- or any American city -- to be more violent than Iraq? Further, if this is the case, what kind of ideal is America exporting abroad?

Check your stats, kids. There may have been 39 "combat-related" killings, but this omits all of the killings that went unreported because they weren't

a. reported or
b. "combat-related."

Counting violent deaths that are the result of exchanges between "insurgents," "militiamen," or "resistance-fighters" and private security contractors -- which, I might add, outnumber American troops in Iraq -- or between the Iraqi militias, sectarian violence, and civilians -- all a product of horrible conditions caused by the American-led Occupation of Iraq -- will boost this number to 544 (January 2008). This is in Iraq, a nation of about 30 million. Detroit has 4.5 million people. That works out to 25 times as many violent deaths in Iraq, making Iraq MUCH more deadly.

I'd also like to point out that Iraq has seen a massive increase in its death rate since the invasion of US forces since 2003. Not all of this is the result of "combat-related" fatalities. Most of it is the result of a humanitarian crisis that has seen no relief since the 2003 invasion and occupation. Estimates place the death toll, directly associable to the invasion and not necessarily the product of "combat-related" deaths, as high as 655 000 up to June of 2006.

> When some claim that President Bush shouldn't have started this war, state the following:

> FDR (DEMOCRAT) led us into World War II.

> Germany never attacked us ; Japan did.
> From 1941-1945, 450,000 lives were lost ..
> an average of 112,500 per year.

"Germany never attacked us", as in "the US" that matters, right?

And, by the by, World War II started on 1 September 1939, not 7 December 1941. Remember that. America entered the war at Pearl Harbor, but that was more than two years after much of the rest of the world confronted Hitler.

Germany attacked most of Eastern Europe. Germany had blitzed Britain (y'know, our buddies in Iraq, Britain) before the US decided to stop selling them computers from IBM or Fanta Orange from the Coca-Cola Company. The military dead -- 416 800, 0.3% of population -- is only a blip when compared to the 10.7 million killed in the former Soviet Union, the 3.8 million Chinese, or even the 3 million Poles (16.1% of population). We won't even discuss the civilian dead of Japan or Germany (1.6 million and 580 000, respectively), as they just don't count. "Some [people's lives] are more equal than others" (Orwell, Animal Farm).

Bottom line, World War II killed 72 million people. People. The world never wanted another war after the First World War. The Iraq Invasion, now a longer American military engagement than WWII and localized within a single country, has killed between 100 000 and 1 million Iraqis. Civilians aren't counted because, as long as Iraq is under Occupation and not conforming to America's standard, Iraq is an "enemy" state. Iraqi civilians are potential "enemies."

> Truman (DEMOCRAT) finished that war and started one in Korea

Truman didn't end WWII.

Europe fought Hitler until the costly error of attacking Stalin's Russia bled Germany dry and until; with American assistance and a concerted French resistance movement [nowadays they'd be called Terrorists or Insurgents or "la Qaeda en France" depending on where your loyalties lie], the Allies exploited tactical mistakes and D-day was a military success (see the first scene of Saving Private Ryan). Truman had been in office for a little less than a month when the Nazis surrendered, and only for 18 days before Hitler committed suicide.

As for ending the war with Japan...

Dropping the nuclear bomb was, by the standards of Nuremberg trials, a plain and simple war crime. Truman pushed the button. The war was just about over and Japan had been firebombed to ashes. Their supplies were wearing thin and they were surrounded by newly "freed" colonial conquests in Korea and China. Japan was a field test for the ultimate equalizer. The "Little Boy" bomb directly killed 100 000 civilians. The "Fat Man" detonation over Nagasaki killed 70 000 more civilians. Another 140 000 have died in the days, months, and years to follow from radiation poisoning, cancer, leukaemia, burns, grief, and so on. The living envied the dead in those days.

Truman didn't start the Korean war. The Postdam conference, the end of Japanese colonialism, and the fledgling Cold War did.

> North Korea never attacked us
> From 1950-1953, 55,000 lives were lost.
> an average of 18,334 per year.

This statistic, again, only counts some lives. 58 000 South Korean military, 36 500 American military, and so on... 474 000 casualties are estimated for the Korean War on the "Allied" side, while up to 1.6 million are estimated for the "enemy" side. There is no telling how many civilians died, certainly in the millions.

And, officially, the war is still going.

> John F. Kennedy (DEMOCRAT) started the Vietnam conflict in 1962.
> Vietnam never attacked us.

This is an out and OUT lie. Kennedy did NOT start Vietnam. He inherited the situation from the French at the end of their colonial rule of Indochina (it culminated in the Geneva Conference); Dwight D. Eisenhower, the POTUS before Kennedy; and the belligerence of Ngo Dinh Diem, ruler of South Vietnam. Military engagement started in 1959, while America supplied money, weapons, and training starting in 1950. Further, being entirely ignorant of Vietnamese history, culture, and ideals, America refused to admit that:
a. Diem was bad for Vietnam,
b. Vietnam was not fighting as an element of the Cold War, and
c. Vietnam was fighting a civil war
They were fighting for their right to build a nation they wanted, a choice FREE of any influence.

America did not activate its war machine outright until after Kennedy was assassinated. And, AND, there are indications that Kennedy was assassinated because he opposed the secret State Department and CIA-approved coup that killed Diem just three weeks earlier. He had already "failed," in 1961, to order air-support for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, and had narrowly resolved an embargo of Cuba to end the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. By 1963, American hawks certainly saw him as a military liability.

As an element of the Cold War, Vietnam would have resisted influence from Soviet Russia or China just as zealously as Vietnam fought America. Had America entrusted Vietnam with the future of their own country, perhaps there the conflict in Vietnam would not have stretched for the better part of two decades.

> Johnson (DEMOCRAT) turned Vietnam into a quagmire.
> From 1965-1975, 58,000 lives were lost.
> an average of 5,800 per year.

Quagmire (def.): an awkward, complex, or hazardous situation.

Vietnam, Indo-China, all military interventionism can or does lead to a quagmire. Notably, this particular summary of history does not say that the US LOST Vietnam. But, notably, it still only counts American war dead.

Now, this is the most telling section of this whole "analysis." It leaves out all of the American interventionism including that of Richard Nixon (REPUBLICAN), Jimmy Carter (DEMOCRAT), Ronald Reagan (REPUBLICAN), and George H.W. Bush (REPUBLICAN).

Lyndon Johnson invaded the Dominican Republic in 1965. Already at war in Vietnam, an articulation of the Cold War to American eyes, the left-leaning, constitutionally-electd president of the Dominican Republic raised the specter of "a second Cuba" emerging close to America's borders. As such, after civil unrest erupted in a mad power struggle and succeeding coups, Johnson ordered Marines and the 82nd Airborne Division to "secure" the situation. In 1966, the Dominican Republic "elected" a President openly supported by America. He would be President of that country for 12 years, and then return to the presidency for a further ten years beginning in 1986.

Nixon entered the office of the President with Vietnam in progress. He couldn't finish it either. After Nixon was caught in the Watergate Scandal and relinquished the presidency, Gerald Ford withdrew from Vietnam having no support from Congress to authorize funding. Before he left office, however, Nixon intervened in Chile to depose the democratically-elected and left-leaning Salvador Allende in a CIA-backed, US-approved coup d'etat. Chile fell to the control of General Augusto Pinochet and at least 3 000 people were "disappeared" and political rivals were systematically suppressed.

Carter, a DEMOCRAT, was the first president to intervene in Afghanistan. Being a good Cold Warrior, Carter backed a militia that would fight to the end against the Soviet "menace," the Muhaijadeen. It could not be known in 1980 that the Taliban would be born of this militia. However, America's incapability to relate directly to the concerns of the people being used as proxies is as clear here as it was in Vietnam.

Reagan, a REPUBLICAN, did nothing to stop the flow of money to Afghanistan as is made abundantly clear in the 2007 film, Charlie Wilson's War. That is, until the Russians were forced to withdraw from Afghanistan by the US-backed Muhaijadeen and when the money was needed most for reconstruction and infrastructure and to promote democracy in a "free" country. This is what Charlie Wilson, a Texas DEMOCRAT meant when he said that America "fucked up the endgame." The Muhaijadeen and other factions exploited the power vacuum left by the withdrawal of the Soviets, sparking a Civil War. In this instance, however, the Republicans did not decide to act to support a fledgling nation as, in an election year, the expense may have cost them the White House. The political safe bet worked out and George H.W. Bush, a REPUBLICAN, was elected to office in 1988. Too bad that his willingness to do business with the Taliban resulted in training facilities for al-Qaeda and a heavy-handed, theocratic regime. Also, it is too bad that this business arrangement did not produce an understanding between people that could prevent the development of animosities between nations.

Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries were funded by the CIA under Ronald Reagan using the proceeds of arms sales to Iran in the Iran-Contra Affair, yet another element of the Cold War. This Affair included under- or unreported trafficking of cocaine back to the US. Essential to this trafficking, whether of information or narcotics, was Panamanian CIA- operative-cum-dictator Manuel Noriega. He played both sides against the middle in the face of attempted American hegemony in central America.

Reagan invaded Grenada despite assuring the United Kingdom, seat of the Commonwealth to which Grenada belonged, that there were no plans to do any such thing. The pretense that the democratically-elected President had been murdered in an "unstable" nation so close to America and that "medical students" were there, ostensibly secured justification; however, the fact that the United Kingdom was not consulted or notified by America about a military operation on a protectorate nation smells rotten.

El Salvador, a nation embroiled in Civil War in the 1980s, was also used as fertile ground for covert American intervention as Presidents Reagan and Bush the first, via the CIA, helped to influence the outcome of the 1984 election in that country.

In 1989, Panama's Noriega sought to flaunt his power by nullifying a democratic election and maintaining his office by force. President Bush, the first, was called a wimp by the media in relation to this situation. To this, Bush the first responded with a military intervention in Panama that was more in the interest of saving international face and to settle a grudge match than the arena of bettering the lives of Panamanians. Norieaga was forcibly extradited to America where he stood "trial" and now resides quietly in a Club Fed.

Bush the first, was also responsible for the now-infamous escapades in Somalia and Kuwait. Though the Battle of Mogadishu -- the Black Hawk Down incident -- has resonated forever among of the world as a shining example of the ability to contest the technological and military supremacy of America and the west, occurred under the Presidency of Bill Clinton, the insertion of American forces, a policy of strategic intervention in conflicts such as that in Somalia, was Bush.

First, however, there was Kuwait and the first Gulf War. America moved to protect its strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia. Then, with a little spin from the media, it found reason to intervene in Kuwait, and then to beat Hussein back to Baghdad. Then, when the whole Iraq mess could have been solved once and for all, America saw fit to leave him in power. America, then turned a blind eye to the brutal crushing of uprisings in both the north and south, with the exception of UN mandated no-fly zones, and did not return until another Bush, the second, assumed the White House.

Finally, Bill Clinton could not collect the political will in America to intervene in Rwanda in the face of the genocide of ethnic Tutsis.

> Clinton (DEMOCRAT) went to war in Bosnia without UN or French consent.
> Bosnia never attacked us.

Since when does any American look for French consent or sanction?

I haven't finished my research on this really, really complex topic. The surface says that America, maintaining its alliegences with NATO, became involved in the conflicts of the former Yugoslavia.

> He [Clinton, I assume] was offered Osama bin Laden's head on a platter three
times by Sudan and did nothing. Osama has attacked us on multiple occasions.

What would it have cost America to take bin Laden from the leaders in Khartoum? Would it have been to turn a blind eye to the genocide unleashed in Sudan since Bush took power and, as a result of being spread all over the world, has not been adequately addressed as a form of terrorism by America or her allies?

Personally, I find it a little suspect that an Islamic government would offer up one of the best sources of financing, and reputed hero of during Afghanistan's fight against the Soviets, to America. If it was the participants on the "other" side of the Sudanese Civil War, did they ever really have bin Laden?

> In the years since terrorists attacked us , President Bush has liberated two countries, crushed the Taliban, crippled al-Qaida, put nuclear inspectors in Libya, Iran, and North Korea without firing a shot, and captured a terrorist who slaughtered 300,000 of his own people. And the Democrats are complaining about how long the war is taking.

I like what Mel said here:

"The paragraph could easily read:

"In the years since terrorists attacked us, President Bush has decimated two countries, emboldened the Taliban, bungled their intelligence regarding al-Qaida, and spent $50 billion/month on a war that has fledging public support and overseen 2 recessions.

"Not saying either is correct, but let's not pretend that this thing is over. Iraq certainly has not 'been taken'."

For my part, I'd like to remind the audience that life Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly in Iraq, has been reduced to that of Hadean nightmare. The Taliban yet moves against coalition forces and is not, therefore, crushed. It has certainly been unseated. In both countries, sewage fills the streets of Baghdad, people subsist on less than $1/day, there is the constant threat of being swept up from multiple sides in violence, and government is completely ineffectual, far from representing the people or their concerns. "What price freedom?" Everything, it seems.

As for capturing a "terrorist," Saddam Hussein, for better or for worse, was president of Iraq. He, supported by the US for more than a decade, was turned into an enemy only when America could no longer control him. Whether or not he slaughtered 300 000 of his own people is no longer a matter of history but a matter of policy. On the other hand, America simply imprisons those that would be killed (now 1% of the adult population) and executes those that twelve or fourteen "reasonable" people decide deserve to die. Hussein was executed for the deaths of about 148 people during a time when he was supported by the US.

And, as for how long the war is taking, I might, at this juncture refer to Nineteen Eighty-Four. The war on terror IS the war that can never be won. The Global War on Terror is a war against ideas, against Thoughtcrimes, against dissent in all of its forms. It is the Orwellian Constant Emergency.

This is the war that America chooses to fight, to support without question, without remorse, and, most importantly, without review?

> But Wait, There's more!

Please, don't quote infomercials.

> It took less time to take Iraq than it took Janet Reno (DEMOCRAT)
> to take the Branch Davidian compound.
> That was a 51-day operation..

America has finished "tak[ing]" Iraq? It's been, as of this writing, 1880 days. See: "No End in Sight"

> We've been looking for evidence for chemical weapons in Iraq for less time than it took Hillary Clinton (DEMOCRAT) to find the Rose Law Firm billing records.

Still looking for stuff America put there in the first place? Or is it stuff that's just not there?

> It took less time for the 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines to destroy the Medina Republican Guard than it took Ted Kennedy to call the police after his Oldsmobile sank at Chappaquiddick.

Is this the most obscure reference ever? That last one was pretty obscure, but this...

> It took less time to take Iraq than it took to count the votes in Florida !!!

Again, Iraq has been "take[n]"? I'm still pretty sure that ALL the votes in Florida weren't counted.

> Our Commander-In-Chief is doing a GREAT JOB!

I think that Bush is Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces, not of the general American population. If he is Commander-In-Chief of the American population, America is no longer a democratic state, it is a Military state. Like Burma, or North Korea.

> The Military morale is high!

Except for all those Afghanistan and Iraq veterans committing suicide at unprecedented levels. The latest info pegs that at 18 veteran suicides per day.

> The biased media hopes we are too ignorant to realize the facts

Or, is that fakts? (Loving the obscure references)

> But Wait
> There's more!

Please, please stop quoting infomercials.

What follows is not what it is cast as in the email; an exchange between Senators on the Senate floor. This is, in fact, an exchange between two Democratic (think Obama vs. Hilary) candidates for the Senate during a debate in 1974.

> Some people still don't understand why military personnel do what they do for a living. This exchange between Senators John Glenn and Senator Howard Metzenbaum is worth reading. Not only is it a pretty impressive impromptu speech, but it's also a good example of one man's explanation of why men and women in the armed services do what they do for a living.
> This IS a typical, though sad, example of what some who have never served think of the military.
> Senator Metzenbaum (speaking to Senator Glenn): 'How can you run for Senate when you've never held a real job?'

What Metzenbaum actually said is unrecorded and predates the debate. The words "never held a real job" are fictional. What he actually said, in keeping with his campaign strategy of undermining Glenn's lack of civilian leadership experience, is that he "had never met a payroll." Would a candidate for the Senate politically shoot himself in the foot like this, accusing as historic a military person as John Glenn -- the first US astronaut -- of never having held a job?

> Senator Glenn (D-Ohio): 'I served 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. I served through two wars. I flew 149 missions. My plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire on 12 different occasions. I was in the space program. It wasn't my checkbook, Howard; it was my life on the line. It was not a nine-to-five job, where I took time off to take the daily cash receipts to the bank.'
> 'I ask you to go with me ... as I went the other day... to a veteran's hospital and look those men ... with their mangled bodies . in the eye, and tell THEM they didn't hold a job!
> You go with me to the Space Program at NASA and go, as I have gone, to the widows and Orphans of Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee... and you look those kids in the eye and tell them that their DAD'S didn't hold a job.
> You go with me on Memorial Day and you stand in Arlington National Cemetery , where I have more friends buried than I'd like to remember, and you watch those waving flags. You stand there, and you think about this nation, and you have the gall to tell ME that those people didn't have a job?
> What about Metzenbaum?'
> For those who don't remember During W.W.II, Howard Metzenbaum was an attorney representing the Communist Party in the USA
> Now he's a Senator!

Metzenbaum is not presently a Senator. Presently, he is dead. This might change, but I don't think it will.

> If you can read this, thank a teacher.
> If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.

This is the most saddening part of this entire email. Of course all of the people reading it will read it in English. But, to continue tying the influence of the English language to military supremacy of English-speaking countries expresses a blatant colonial attitude. Yes, military conquest has led to open-markets and open-markets requires a lingua franca, which, at this point, is English. So, English-speaking people can travel the world. However, the assertion; "[i]f you are reading it in English thank a Veteran" does disservice to the relationships that people must build within open-markets. There will always be a great deal that is alien to us as foreigners, but to adopt a stance that our way is better is no different than that of the colonial powers that the 20th century was spent dismantling. It is cultural relativism.