Monday, August 25, 2003

Bush Lies, Soldiers Die - A Continuing and Probably Endless Series

The lies continue to be revealed; the much-touted Iraqi "drones of death" program was, no surprise, no threat to anyone. Meanwhile, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter reports over at the NYT that vital information on Iraqi weapons programs was left unguarded by US troops and then looted. Considering that every Iraqi ministry other than the Oil Ministry was left unguarded and inevitably was then looted and burned, a pattern emerges, doesn't it? According to Ritter:

Today, with the tremendous controversy over the administration's pre-war assertions, it is impossible to overstate the importance of the archive that produced Iraq's 12,500 pages of claims - none of which have yet been shown to be false - that comprise the most detailed record of Iraq's weapons programs.

Gosh, if the information no longer exists, you can say anything you want about Iraqi weapons programs, can't you? When will the American people wake up and rid themselves of the pest in the White House?

Chickenhawks Don't Listen to Those Who Went and Got Shot At

While Dubya was AWOL in the Texas ANG, Navy pilot John McCain was cooling his heels in the Hanoi Hilton. Now Senator McCain is arguing that Dubya needs more troops in Iraq, and of course the military genius in the White House and his minions disagree:

"We are in a very serious situation ... a race against time," McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We need to spend a whole lot more money to get services back to the people. We need to get the electricity going, the fuel, the water. And unless we get that done and get it done pretty soon, we could face a very [serious] situation."

Administration officials rejected the call for bolstered forces. Asked on CNN's "Late Edition" if more troops were needed, L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator for Iraq, replied, "I don't think so."

Rrrriiiight. We'll see what happens if someone tries to blow up Paulie's headquarters.

A British View of American Lunacy

The fact is that Europeans can hardly believe how Americans permit religion to rule over every facet of public life. That used to happen in Europe, of course, and led to charming episodes like the Hundred Years War, assorted Calvinist atrocities, the Spanish Inquisition, etc, etc, etc, to the point that religion has been firmly kicked out of European life (perhaps, in fact, too much so, but that's another story). Gary Younge, whose pieces in The Guardian are always well worth reading, takes on the Alabama Ten Commandments craze with a jaundiced but observant eye:

Since the deadline passed at midnight on Wednesday, Christian activists have descended on the town from all over the country, keeping a 24-hour watch to make sure the monument is not moved and establishing phone trees to rally the faithful if it is. Many have T-shirts with slogans every bit as intolerant as the south's reputation. "Homosexuality is a sin, Islam is a lie, abortion is murder," says one. (It is difficult to imagine how many more people you could offend on one piece of summerwear.)

Indeed...makes one really proud of America's "educational" system, doesn't it? (Great article in this month's Harpers about that, too, btw) Younge concludes:

These differences go all the way to the top and explain much of the reason why the tone, style, language and content of America's foreign policy has been so out of kilter with the rest of the developed world, particularly since September 11. For these fundamentalist tendencies in US diplomacy have rarely been stronger in the White House than they are today. Since George Bush gave up Jack Daniels for Jesus Christ, he has counted Jesus as his favourite philosopher. The first thing he reads in the morning is not a briefing paper but a book of evangelical mini-sermons. When it came to casting the morality play for the war on terror he went straight to the Bible and came out with evil. "He reached right into the psalms for that word," said his former speech writer, David Frum.

Bush speaks in the name of the founding fathers but believes he is doing the work of the holy father. He cannot do both and condemn fundamentalism. But if he feels he must try, he might start with the sixth commandment: "Thou shalt not kill."

Of course that's the one Commandment the Republicans love to ignore.

American Soldiers Using Captured AK-47s

Unsurprisingly, many American soldiers in Iraq who are either underarmed with 9mm pistols as their primary weapon (most tankers) or who have learned to despise the still problematic M16 and its carbine variant the M4 are grabbing any captured AK-47 they can find. There are a number of reasons for this; for one thing, soldiers always find enemy weapons "cool." Secondly, the tried and true AK-47 does have a number of distinct advantages over the M-16. It is much more resistent to dirt and abuse. It fires a larger round, for more knockdown power. And, unlike the M16A3 and the M4 carbine, the AK-47 can fire in full automatic mode, where the American weapons are limited to semi-automatic mode and 3-round bursts.

If it's any comfort to American disturbed by our weaponry, the British assault rifle is actually worse than the M16, although there's been no word on whether British troops are snatching up AK-47s....


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