A Fictional War

August 30, 2011

Even as Vermont drowns in its own water, the politics of war still plays on the airwaves, especially after The Dick Cheney made the rounds boasting of his new literary efforts in disengaging the truth from a lie.

Seemingly, the further away from the invasion of Iraq and closer to the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, we all get, the repulsive ugly of George Jr.’s term as a war president becomes even more apparent — the real question is why are these people not in jail.
In the newest wrinkle, an October 2002 letter from Tony Blair’s office reveals he and George Jr. were going into Iraq come hell or high water: A letter from Blair’s private secretary reveals that “we and the US would take action” without a new resolution by the UN security council if UN weapons inspectors showed Saddam had clearly breached an earlier resolution. In that case, he “would not have a second chance.”

(Illustration of Pablo Picasso’s ‘Head of a woman‘ found here).

On the letter from the UK’s The Guardian (the link above):

In a devastating passage, Rycroft (Blair’s secretary) added: “In other words, if for some reason [such as a French or Russian veto] there were no second resolution agreed … we and the US would take action.”
The Downing Street letter is particularly significant considering the government’s repeated emphasis in public at the time on the need for UN approval before any invasion of Iraq.

Another of that public to private bullshit.

Also from the UK yesterday, Baroness Manningham-Buller, former director general of the domestic security service, who retired in 2007, said Blair and his lackeys had been warned prior to any war action an Iraqi invasion was a major f*ck up.
Via The Telegraph:

In an interview with the Radio Times, Lady Manningham-Buller suggested that she argued at the time that the Government should focus on defeating al Qaida and winning the war in Afghanistan instead of attacking Saddam Hussein.
“Iraq did not present a threat to the UK,” she said.
“The service advised that it was likely to increase the domestic threat and that it was a distraction from the pursuit of al Qaida.
I understood the need to focus on Afghanistan.
Iraq was a distraction.”
She said it was “for others to decide” whether the Iraq war had a mistake but added: “Intelligence isn’t complete without the full picture and the full picture is all about doubt.
Otherwise, you go the way of George Bush.”

And The Dick.

In a realistic look at The Dick’s most-wonderful new book, ‘In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,’ a column at antiwar.com by political activist, Medea Benjamin (Susan Benjamin), co-founder of Code Pink, explains the tome actually needs to be in a bookstore’s fiction section.
She lists 10 reasons why — most touching war crimes, torture and genocidal actions, but the #3 reason is financial:

War profiteering.
U.S. taxpayers shelled out about $3 trillion for the Bush-Cheney wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — a major factor in our nation’s present economic meltdown.
But Cheney and his cronies at Halliburton made out like bandits, getting billions in contracts for everything from feeding troops in Iraq to constructing the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan to building the infamous Guantanamo prison.
Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995-2000, leaving for the VP position with a $20 million retirement package, plus millions in stock options and deferred salary.
Before the Iraq War began, Halliburton was 19th on the U.S. Army’s list of top contractors; with Cheney’s help, by 2003 it was number one — increasing the value of Cheney’s stocks by over 3,000 percent.

Big bucks for The Dick.

And in that vein, a couple of members of the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan penned an op/ed in Sunday’s Washington Post, claiming billions and billions of US bucks have been flushed down  The Dick’s toilet of war.
A few enlightening snips:

At least one in every six dollars of U.S. spending for contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, or more than $30 billion, has been wasted.
And at least that much could again turn into waste if the host governments are unable or unwilling to sustain U.S.-funded projects after our involvement ends.

Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted through poor planning, vague and shifting requirements, inadequate competition, substandard contract management and oversight, lax accountability, weak interagency coordination, and subpar performance or outright misconduct by some contractors and federal employees.
Both government and contractors need to do better.

The contractor workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan has at times exceeded 260,000 people and has sometimes outnumbered U.S. military forces in theater.
The roughly 1-to-1 ratio sustained over the years reflects a basic operating truth that Defense Department officials expressed in testimony to the commission: The United States cannot conduct large or prolonged military operations without contractor support.

Projects that are or may be unsustainable are a serious problem.
For instance, U.S. taxpayers spent $40 million on a prison that Iraq did not want and that was never finished.
U.S. taxpayers poured $300 million into a Kabul power plant that requires funding and technical expertise beyond the Afghan government’s capabilities.
Meanwhile, a federal official testified to the commission that an $11.4 billion program of facilities for the Afghan National Security Forces is “at risk” of unsustainability.

And that’s no fiction — after awhile that mounts up to some real money.

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