motherjones:

theatlantic:

Ten years ago this week, the United States invaded Iraq. These two stories by James Fallows are essential to understanding the consequences of that decision.

The Fifty-First State (Nov. 2002): Months before the invasion began, Fallows warned of the difficult responsibilities America would face as an occupying power. Was the U.S. prepared for a long-term relationship?

Bush’s Lost Year (Oct. 2004): “As a political matter, whether the United States is now safer or more vulnerable is of course ferociously controversial. That the war was necessary—and beneficial—is the Bush Administration’s central claim. That it was not is the central claim of its critics. But among national-security professionals there is surprisingly little controversy. Except for those in government and in the opinion industries whose job it is to defend the Administration’s record, they tend to see America’s response to 9/11 as a catastrophe.”

“The Fifty-First State” may have been the best story written about the Iraq War—four months before the Iraq war. Go read it.

motherjones:

Happy 10th anniversary, Iraq war. We got you these charts.

You give the most depressing gifts MoJo.

motherjones:

Happy 10th anniversary, Iraq war. We got you these charts.

You give the most depressing gifts MoJo.

Tags: Iraq war

"And now we get to prematurely place behind us another quite troubling incident in our recent history. Secret prisons? Eh, let’s forget about those. Torture? Let’s just move on. A incredible transformation of huge chunks of the military into a privately contracted mercenary army? La la la la la! Years and years of National Guard reservists being unexpectedly called up for active duty in Iraq? Oh well! Thousands of soldiers having had their service contracts forcibly extended, creating a stop-lossed conscription army, under a policy that somehow no judge would find illegal? Sorry guys and gals! (And sorry families of dead guys and gals.) Operation New Dawn: the war we had after the war? Deadly. A decade of a wildly, wildly, crushingly expensive invasion, that involved more than a million Americans in combat, and the occupation of a country under false pretenses? Let’s just agree to not talk about it anymore. The CNN crawl says ‘Ceremony Ends Nine Years of Conflict,’ which isn’t actually what happened either: we actually didn’t have a ‘conflict.’ America’s great at putting things behind us, so guess we’ll just file this under “things that are already over,” though we still have billions of dollars to spend in ongoing operations. But at least we should let the Iraq War have an asterisk for ‘things that should never have happened.’"

— Choire Sicha, The “War” Is “Over” (via peterfeld)

(via markcoatney)

Tags: Iraq

motherjones:

President Obama should be making his remarks regarding the drawn down shortly.

Watch the live stream above.

It’s always fun watching the pundits talk over each other in the lead up to presidential addresses.

(Source: motherjones)

"I’m not for taking them out of the region. I’m for listening to our generals."

Rick Santorum, answering whether he’d support sending troops back to Iraq if security there fell apart. (via shortformblog)

This got applause from the audience, which surprised me.

(Source: shortformblog)

Report: Iraq War U.S. troop levels may fall to historic lows

shortformblog:

  • 3,000 total number of troops in Iraq at end of 2011 source

» A steep drop: Currently, between 46,000 and 50,000 troops are in the region as of 2011 (though combat operations ended last year), so this would be a massive drop if the number is accurate. And the decision would be controversial. One Pentagon source puts it as such: ”We can’t secure everybody with only 3,000 on the ground nor can we do what we need to with the Iraqis.” Is this the right move, guys?

Read ShortFormBlogFollow

(Source: shortformblog)

"We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area."

— UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer, back in 2007, in response to claims that the British released (honey) badgers into southern Iraq.

Serving with my unit 2nd battalion 16th infantry in New Baghdad Iraq, I vividly remember the moment in 2007, when our Battalion Commander walked into the room and announced our new rules of engagement:

“Listen up, new battalion SOP (standing operating procedure) from now on: Anytime your convoy gets hit by an IED, I want 360 degree rotational fire. You kill every [expletive] in the street!

We weren’t trained extensively to recognize an unlawful order, or how to report one. But many of us could not believe what we had just been told to do. Those of us who knew it was morally wrong struggled to figure out a way to avoid shooting innocent civilians, while also dodging repercussions from the non-commissioned officers who enforced the policy. In such situations, we determined to fire our weapons, but into rooftops or abandoned vehicles, giving the impression that we were following procedure.

On April 5, 2010 American citizens and people around the world got a taste of the fruits of this standing operating procedure when WikiLeaks released the now-famous Collateral Murder video. This video showed the horrific and wholly unnecessary killing of unarmed Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists.

I was part of the unit that was responsible for this atrocity. In the video, I can be seen attempting to carry wounded children to safety in the aftermath.

The video released by WikiLeaks belongs in the public record. Covering up this incident is a matter deserving of criminal inquiry. Whoever revealed it is an American hero in my book.

(Source: azspot)

motherjones:

Here’s your morning must-read:

The allegations were explosive when they first hit in 2007: A 20-year-old woman named Jamie Leigh Jones alleged that four days after going to work in Iraq for contracting giant KBR in July 2005, she was drugged and gang-raped by fellow contractors. She accused the company, then a subsidiary of Halliburton, of imprisoning her in a shipping container after she reported the rape, and suggested KBR had tampered with some of the medical evidence that had been collected at an Army hospital. The harrowing story has made international headlines. It’s been the subject of congressional hearings and has inspired legislation. Jones even plays a starring role in the new documentary Hot Coffee, about efforts to limit access to the justice system.

Jones’ charges fell on fertile ground, compounding KBR’s reputation as a corporate scofflaw—all the more so when it came out that the firm’s contract had included a mandatory arbitration clause intended to block employees from suing it. Jones spent years fighting for a jury trial, and now, six years after the alleged attack, she is finally getting her day in court in a civil suit that accuses KBR of knowingly sending her into a hostile workplace. The verdict could come as early as Thursday. And—in a twist that’s likely to shock her numerous supporters—there’s a good chance she will lose.

Full story here.

motherjones:

This and other intriguing, outrage-makey facts about women in the military, in an infographic from Good.

evilteabagger:

A U.S. drone strike in Yemen Thursday was aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric who is suspected of orchestrating terrorist attacks on the U.S, but the missile missed its target, according to Yemeni and U.S. officials.

The drone strike comes less than a week after a U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan. Had the drone strike in Yemen been successful, the U.S. would have killed two of the top three most-wanted terrorists in a single week.

A liberal democrat president campaigned on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing the troops home “first thing”. Since then, 30k more troops have gone to Afghanistan and drone strikes in countries we haven’t even declared war with have tripled under his administration. To top it all off, this same liberal democrat is signing off on targeted killings of American citizens without due process.

Get your facts right before you start calling him a liar. President Obama said often during the campaign that he would refocus our efforts in Afghanistan.

On July 20, 2008, then-Senator Obama spoke with CBS’ Lara Logan and discussed his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are some quotes:

"For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three. I think it’s very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough.

The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism.

[…]

And despite what the Bush Administration has argued, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we were distracted from our efforts not only to hunt down al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but also to rebuild this country so that people have confidence that we were to here to stay over the long haul, that we were going to rebuild roads, provide electricity, improve the quality of life for people. And now we have a chance, I think, to correct some of those areas.

There’s starting to be a broad consensus that it’s time for us to withdraw some of our combat troops out of Iraq, deploy them here in Afghanistan. And I think we have to seize that opportunity. Now’s the time for us to do it.

He even discusses his plans regarding Pakistan:

What I’ve said is that if we had actionable intelligence against high-value al-Qaeda targets, and the Pakistani government was unwilling to go after those targets, that we should. My hope is that it doesn’t come to that - that in fact, the Pakistan government would recognize that if we had Osama bin Laden in our sights that we should fire or we should capture him.

Here’s then-Senator Obama’s plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan, in which he calls for two additional brigades to be sent to Afghanistan, that is, 7,000 troops.

Seems to me he’s doing exactly what he said he would. And when and where did he sign off on killing American citizens without due process? Provide some evidence for your claims. Oh, what’s that? You can’t? Because it’s not true? Then stop lying.

Kind of sucks when facts get in the way of your ranting, doesn’t it?

(Source: antigovernmentextremist)

nickturse:

Chris Hondros: How He Got that Picture : CJR
From Columbia Journalism Review:
As the world knows by now, the photographers Chris Hondros and Tim  Hetherington were killed on April 20 in Misurata, Libya. Hetherington  was the better known of the two for his documentary, Restrepo.  But we have a special feeling for Hondros, whom we got to meet when he  took part in a CJR panel discussion. In late 2006, for our forty-fifth  anniversary issue, the magazine ran an extended oral history, which  later became a book, Reporting Iraq, an oral history of the war  by the journalists who covered it. It included photos, and every time we  laid our potential choices out we were drawn to Hondros’s work. They  had a recognizable humanity and an almost-beautiful light, even when  they depicted the worst. One photo we chose was taken moments after a  family car had been accidently shot up at a checkpoint. We see a soldier  and a blood-covered little girl who had just lost her parents, not an  image you can quickly get out of your head. When Judith Matloff  interviewed Hondros for our history, we found the backstory of that  photo so compelling that we used it to end the book. Here is the result  of that interview, Chris Hondros on how he got that picture…
photo credit: Chris Hondros/Getty

nickturse:

Chris Hondros: How He Got that Picture : CJR

From Columbia Journalism Review:

As the world knows by now, the photographers Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington were killed on April 20 in Misurata, Libya. Hetherington was the better known of the two for his documentary, Restrepo. But we have a special feeling for Hondros, whom we got to meet when he took part in a CJR panel discussion. In late 2006, for our forty-fifth anniversary issue, the magazine ran an extended oral history, which later became a book, Reporting Iraq, an oral history of the war by the journalists who covered it. It included photos, and every time we laid our potential choices out we were drawn to Hondros’s work. They had a recognizable humanity and an almost-beautiful light, even when they depicted the worst. One photo we chose was taken moments after a family car had been accidently shot up at a checkpoint. We see a soldier and a blood-covered little girl who had just lost her parents, not an image you can quickly get out of your head. When Judith Matloff interviewed Hondros for our history, we found the backstory of that photo so compelling that we used it to end the book. Here is the result of that interview, Chris Hondros on how he got that picture…

photo credit: Chris Hondros/Getty