What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 29, 2008

Pittsburgh Anti-War Rally

Many thanks to Maria for posting the pics (sent to her via my phone) of today's rally.

As I actually have a real honest-to goodness digital camera, here are some higher quality images.

The March.

Pittsburgh's finest carefully observing the proceedings - making sure nothing goes awry.

The rather large, extremely peaceful crowd begins the walk through Oakland.

4,000 dead (so far) in Bush's illegal, unecessary, bloody war.

The students arrive.


C.H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.H. said...

a question...

After we, "end the war", what do you think will happen? Do you think that AQI and the JAM will hold hands, sing kumbaya, and pledge to work together for a better tomorrow? Do you think the Iranian axis of terror rotating across the Middle East will invite militia fighters into training camps to teach them the true meaning of peace?

Please, if you are going to advocate things like this, the way to say it is "end our involvement" in the conflict...because our abandoning the people of Iraq will not amound to "peace"...if anything, it will be just another opportunity where we stand back and say "Never again" as innocent people are slaughtered.

Let's go back to 1991, after we pulled out of Southern Iraq and Saddam withdrew from Kuwait. Well, after we encouraged the Shiites to rise up against Saddam (and they bravely listened to us), we abandoned them, leaving them at the mercy of the Republican Guard.

Bush 41's decision to do so was one of the worst decisions of the second half of the 20th century, right up there with the international community's reaction to the Rwandan Genocide and our retreat from Vietnam.

lets not make the same mistakes again.

infinonymous said...

And Bush Jr.'s decision to invade the wrong country appears destined to be the worst decision of the first half of this century. Better than four decades left, but Bush Jr. has set a standard that will be tough to exceed.

Now, the same folks whose predictions and arguments regarding invading Iraq were delusional, and whose decisions regarding the attempted occupation have been spectacularly incompetent and often immoral, are pushing us to stay the course.

Thinking these discredited ideologues are any better suited to make decisions about the conclusion of the fatally flawed misadventure in Iraq . . . now THAT would be making the same mistakes again.

The Republicans' all-you-can-kill-and-die plan has about ten months to run before the plug gets pulled. We have as much chance of achieving "total victory" in that period as we had from the outset.

The warmongers among us should strive to enjoy the next 10 months, because after that the fool's errand ends and the doomsday predictions will be revealed to have been foolish.

Char said...

There will be a slaughter. Its not just the war-mongers who say this. It's also many people who agree our involvement was a horrendous blunder, but who are also old enough to remember slaughters past. Like in 1991 as C.H. reminds us. Or like Viet Nam, which I remember vividly to this day.

Yes .... We must get out. It's not going to be easy, but we can and must find a way to do so without leaving a defenseless herd of civilians behind us, ready to be massacred.

EdHeath said...

One of the "warmongers" was Colin Powell, who gave us the pithy "you break it, you bought it" wisdom from Pottery Barn. We still haven't put Iraq back together yet. Our administrative people who are there know there will be no consequences for inaction, so ... we still haven't put Iraq back together yet. Maybe a Democrat president wil do better.

Anonymous said...

The right wing’s whole narrative that “the treasonous liberals want to pull out just when we’re on the verge of victory!!!!11!1 strikes me as just crass, disingenuous posturing: doing pre-spin on the inevitable withdrawal that must, given the math and the deteriorating state of our military, take place.

So, let’s get real. Using the right’s own (in my view, hubris-addled) metrics, let’s define “achieving victory in Iraq” as:

* Violence reduced to, at a minimum, Pre-March-2003 levels;
* A stable, secular, united central government in Baghdad;
* Infrastructure and services (power, water, food distribution, sewage treatment, etc.) exceeding standards that obtained in pre-war Iraq.

…thus providing the example of prosperous freedom that would be (highly debatably…) attractive to Arab populations living under dictatorships in the region.

How could the United States (and, given the level of support the United States could realistically expect from the rest of the world, it would be virtually the United States alone doing this) get there from here? What would it really, actually take to completely pacify Iraq? (Note that I’m just going to discard any considerations of the morality of the enterprise here, and argue from a position of cold, amoral pragmatism.)

Step one is troops. Lots and lots and LOTS of troops. Bush’s “surge” is comically inadequate to the task. You’d have to absolutely flood the non-Kurdish parts of Iraq with American troops, who could clear of insurgents, and then seal off to weapons smuggling, the whole of Iraq, village by village, city by city, region by region. You’d also have to effectively seal off, or at least monitor in fine-grained, very intrusive detail, the borders of the country, especially the ones with Syria and Iran - to the point that a ball-point pen couldn’t enter the country without American say-so.

This means anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of combat troops…in each large city in Iraq. Baghdad alone would probably need something in the neighborhood of 200,000 troops, just for the city itself. Plus, every road into Baghdad (and every other city in Iraq) would need to be under 24-hour patrols and surveillance, to prevent insurgents and weapons from moving from place to place. Not to mention saturating every border crossing of any size with American troops, and regular, pervasive patrols of every mile of the border.

The entire population would need to be disarmed: the military would need to just say something like, “you have six weeks to turn in any weaponry. Any Iraqi civilian found to be in possession of a weapon after that time will be presumed to be an insurgent, and will be subject to imprisonment.”

In other words, the American Military would need to effectively run Iraq in the short- to mid-term. The total American forces in the country at any moment would probably total somewhere between one and two million troops.

Step two: Once the violence was quelled (and, with sufficient troops, there is virtually no doubt it would be): “turn the lights back on.”

Prime targets of insurgents are electrical lines, to keep the population uncomfortable and inconvenienced, and thus resentful. So, rebuilding existing generating capacity, building new capacity as needed, and then putting power stations, and every mile of power line, under 24-hour guard, is essential to undermining support for the insurgents.

Next, restore basic services: Water, sewage, garbage collection.

Garbage collection especially would improve quality of life life measurably for the population, in a highly visible way, and would almost certainly be rewarded with lots of goodwill. Garbage collectors are prime targets of insurgents, because garbage piles by the side of the road make good hiding places for IEDs.

Step 3: Send the vast, vast majority of the American contractors in Iraq home, and hire Iraqi companies for all future rebuilding projects, and pay them in dollars. Iraqi unemployment is pervasive, and unemployed men (especially former Iraqi Army soldiers) are ripe for recruiting by insurgents. Employing them would dry up this particular resource for insurgents, and also give Iraqis a sense of ownership of the projects they would be building. Even people not involved directly in building schools, post offices, etc., would see them being built, and have a clear sense that everyday life is getting incrementally better.

All this would, of course, be hideously expensive - hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars, every year. There would probably also be another sharp spike in American casualties, but the insurgency would probably hugely diminish in the face of pervasive American troops, so the spike would be significant but temporary.

Of course, some of those casualties would be draftees, because summoning the level of troops required for all this would require a draft (and a big one) without question: a level of mobilization not seen since World War II. I expect the war fetishists at Little Green Footballs would get awfully quiet if they were faced with the prospect of having to actually, you know, risk their own worthless necks fighting in the war they masturbate to.

Once some semblance of stability was achieved, some sort of conference amongst the various factions in Iraq could probably hammer out an agreement that would be acceptable to all parties, or at least one that everyone would be equally dissatisfied with.

This whole project would all take a level of consensus in the United States that clearly does not obtain. A large majority of Americans oppose the occupation as it is currently being conducted. If large numbers of their children were being drafted for, and their taxes raised to pay for, an even bigger occupation, Washington D.C. would undoubtedly be overrun with citizens chasing their congressmen and senators around with torches and pitchforks.

And, it may not even work: what happens if Americans start withdrawing troops, and violence increases?

Anonymous said...

John K. says: So your idea of supporting the troops is to protray them in coffins. Man you left wingers are sick.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: Man you left wingers aren't looking at my weenie! Forget the war! Look at my weenie! Lookie!

Anonymous said...

After we, "end the war", what do you think will happen? Do you think that AQI and the JAM will hold hands, sing kumbaya, and pledge to work together for a better tomorrow? Do you think the Iranian axis of terror rotating across the Middle East will invite militia fighters into training camps to teach them the true meaning of peace?

No, but if our soldiers keep dying in Iraq, all of those good things WILL happen.

Keep those coffins coming home, CH. 4000 isnt enough. Keep the Iraqi people scattered all over the middle east. Keep bombing those civilians.

Peace through war! Truth through lies! Serenity through disruption!

Smitty said...

In Pew's latest survey, as many Americans say the military situation in Iraq is going well as say it is not going well (48% each). In February 2007, fully two-thirds (67%) said the war in Iraq was not going well - the largest percentage expressing this view since the war began. The current division on this question is comparable to public perceptions through most of the second and third years of the conflict, while evaluations turned decidedly negative during the fourth year.

Americans continue to be divided on whether to keep troops in Iraq or bring them home. A slim plurality of Americans (49%) now supports bringing the troops home as soon as possible, while 47% favor maintaining troops in Iraq until the situation there is stabilized. A year ago, a narrow majority (52%) favored a troop withdrawal as soon as possible, compared with 43% who favored keeping the troops in Iraq. Public support for a troop pullout peaked at 56% in June 2007. The percentage favoring withdrawing the troops as soon as possible is at its lowest level since mid-January 2007 (48%).

Anonymous said...

Rasmussen, March 18, 2008:
Pull out now: 23%
Within 1 year: 36%
Total out w/in 1 year: 59%

Stay: 35%