Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from Chris Hedges….
Chris Hedges calls CounterPunch “the most fearless, intellectually rigorous and important publication in the United States.” Who are we to argue? But the only way we can continue to “dissect the evils of empire” and the “psychosis of permanent war” is with your financial support. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
Trying to Create a Next World War
According to the January 7, 2007 edition of London’s Sunday Times, two Israeli Air Force squadrons are training for a nuclear attack on Iran. The article, which obtained its information from Israeli military and Mossad sources, briefly describes how the attacks would be carried out on Iran’s nuclear facilities. According to one source, the end result would be " one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished." Of course, the fact that nuclear weapons destroy much more than their intended targets and kill many more people than those in the target zone is not even mentioned–dismissed without even a thought as if the potential deaths of thousands of Iranians should be irrelevant to Tel Aviv’s pathological need to destroy any threats to its paranoid body politic.
Across the Atlantic, the new House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, told the Jerusalem Post that a military strike on Iran has "not been taken off the table." Hoyer, like his supposed opponent George Bush, did acknowledge that he prefers negotiations to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, but insisted that the use of force was an "option" that shouldn’t be removed from the so-called table. All this because Hoyer (like the rest of Washington) says that a "nuclear Iran is not acceptable." It’s not that anyone wants a nuclear Iran, but than again, who wants a nuclear United States?
Which brings us neatly to the current plans underway to replace the current nuclear warheads in the US arsenal with a new bunch of warheads (to the tune of at least $100 billion). Plans that have yet to garner hardly a peep of opposition from the Hill. By the time any such opposition might be forthcoming, the program will probably be a foregone conclusion. To further alarm those of us not in favor of nuclear weapons in any government’s hands, the White House is being told by its advisors not to commit to anyone that these weapons will not be tested during the construction process. Sounding a lot like Washington’s bogeyman Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Gen. James E. Cartwright, head of the Strategic Command, which controls the nation’s nuclear arsenal, recently stated that, "Right now, it is not the nation’s position that zero is the answer to the size of our (nuclear) inventory." In other words, he’s not going to get rid of any nuclear weapons on his watch. No wonder so many other nations want nukes of their own.
Meanwhile, Back in Iraq
There’s a document hanging around that’s probably been George Bush’s favorite reading material for the past few weeks. It’s written by Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and is titled Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq. From all indications, this document is the blueprint for Mr. Bush’s upcoming speech on Iraq. Operating on the belief that victory is still possible if only the US sends enough troops into Baghdad and other trouble spots in Iraq, Mr. Kagan’s powerpoint presentation notes that as of December 2006, there were 52,500 US combat troops (Marines and infantry) in the country, of which 17, 500 were in Baghdad. Kagan continues by calling for a series of incremental increases in US combat troops through September 20007, when he hopes to see a total of 84, 000 combat troops wearing US uniforms in the war. If one projects the proportionate number of logistical forces that accompany this number of troops (at current levels it is approximately 1.6 logistical troops to every combat soldier–52,500 combat out of 140,000 total troops), that means there will be around 224,000 US troops in Iraq in the fall of 2007.
Leaving aside the question of how the White House and its warmongering generals plan to find all these soldiers and Marines, this means only one thing. The White House and its supporters have no intention of leaving Iraq until they control it–Green Zone, Al-Anbar and oil derrick. Ignoring the demands of the antiwar movement (which is not unusual), the advice of more seasoned empire builders like James Baker and his posse, and the desires of the majority of the people in the United States (not to mention the world), the policymakers whose policies got us into Iraq in the first place still have the only two ears Mr. Bush owns. This is to say the least, a dangerous fact.
The document notes that his group’s call to change the Pentagon’s focus from training Iraqi soldiers to securing the Iraqi population and containing the rising violence (by increasing the violence) is certain to invigorate the Iraqi resistance in all its forms–Sunni, Shia, tribal and otherwise, yet the only answer the document provides to this fact is that the US troops must be more aggressive and not only attack but hold areas where their attacks succeed. According to Kagan, up to now "securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority." Of course, this will mean more casualties, a fact Kagan dismisses in a manner that proves once again how little the warmakers care about those who fight the war. Yes, he states, there will be more casualties, but a "short-term increase in casualties is not a sign of failure." In fact, his view of the situation believes that "long term casualties over a nine month period will decrease as the population is secured." In other words, if the war goes on long enough the number of dead won’t seem like that much when you average them out. Unmentioned in this discourse is that this is the same nonsense Bush and his minions have been telling us since 2003. Furthermore, and with less excuse, it is the same nonsense that the Congress has been accepting as accurate each and every time the war funding comes up for their vote.
How will this new aggressive combat change things? According to Kagan and his group, there are three possible outcomes. The first is that the situation will improve in a couple years and the US forces can go home; the second is that Iraqi forces will be sufficiently trained and convinced that the Green Zone government is worth fighting for and US forces will take on less combat; and third, if the first two don’t happen in the next year or two, by then there will be enough new active duty soldiers coming from the US (from the enlarged military also called for in this document) so that the battle weary ones can go home and wait for their next tour.
The document ends with a series of statements that go a long way towards revealing the truth of the US mission in Iraq. The one that sticks out the most? We can win in Iraq and we must. Yep, they’re still saying that! Nowhere in the entire document are the people of the United States mentioned except in an aside where it is written that the success of this plan demands a national commitment. In other words, we need to be willing enablers of what is clearly a sociopathic murder-suicide. I think it’s way past time we beg off of this one.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is forthcoming from Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org