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
Bush’s Defining Moments
Bush may not be the greatest of wordsmiths, but he certainly nailed it when he said that the battle in Basra, in which the puppet governent of Nuri al-Maliki and the Iraqi military were attacking the entrenched Mahdi Brigades of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for control of Iraq’s crucial port city, was a "defining moment" in the five-years-and-running Iraq conflict.
That battle, which saw al-Maliki fly down to the presidential palace in the country’s second largest city to direct the army’s fight, only to be spirited away by an American air rescue team when he was in danger of being captured or killed, is indeed a defining moment. (It might even have been a trial run for the eventual rescue of the US ambassador and the American commander in Iraq from the Green Zone at some future date.)
It defines the utter failure of the Bush/Cheney administration’s year-long "surge" scam, which was supposed to "give the Iraqi government time" to get on its feet, pass a law on sharing the country’s oil wealth among the various regions and tribes, and resolve the issues of power sharing between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds.
A year, a thousand American deaths, uncounted tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, $150 billion in US taxpayer money and countless repetitions of the phrase "the surge is working" by administration hacks and by Republican presidential candidate John McCain later, it’s clear that the extra 30,000 troops the US shipped over or held over in Iraq accomplished nothing.
The country is still a basket case.
The battle of Basra ended-at least for now–with Moqtada al-Sadr stronger than ever, his fighters still armed and in control of the city, and of their stronghold in the slums of Sadr City, Baghdad. It concluded with a cease-fire agreement-negotiated by Iraqi governmet offials who, embarrassingly, had to go hat in hand to meet al-Sadr in his headquarters in Iran–under which the Iraqi army and police must stop attacking al-Sadr’s forces, as they have been doing for months, and must release members of his forces currently being held captive.
As a "defining moment," this battle, in which US forces played a significant role in directing Iraqi military actions, provided air support, and injected special forces, was the definition of a defeat.
As in 2004, the last time al-Sadr frontally attacked US forces, his Mahdi Brigades showed that they are committed, fearless, and able, despite being outgunned, to outfight even the world’s mightiest army on their home turf.
If anyone wanted a sign that it was time for the US to pack it up and go home, this was it.
Had the US not plucked al-Maliki from his embattled fortress in Basra, he would not be being paraded through the streets of Basra with a plaque on his chest saying "American puppet" (that’s if he were lucky). Instead, he has survived to serve his American masters another day. (And let’s give Maliki his due: at least he had the guts to go lead his troops. It’s hard to picture Bush or Cheney directiing American forces from a bunker in Baghdad…or anywhere remotely unsafe.)
John McCain has to be privately ruing the day he decided to hitch his star to the "surge" and to General David Petraeus, it’s author and defender.
As defining moments go, the battles in Basra and Sadr City should also serve as fair warning to those advocating a war against Iran that things might not go so well for American forces. The Mahdi forces, after all, have gotten their inspiration and some training from Iranian forces, and are showing themselves to be skilled urban fighters. US forces, even stretched as thinly as they are in Iraq, might be able to handle a conventional attack by Iranian forces on open desert terrain in Iraq, but they would be up against something entirely different were they to enter Iranian terroritory, and try to conquer Iranian cities.
The real lesson to be taken from this latest fiasco in the running disaster that is Bush’s and Cheney’s war in Iraq is that it is time for it to end.
Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton are both still playing it cautious, afraid to say what really needs to be said-that the US needs to get its troops out not over the course of a year or nine months, but yesterday.
They should pack up and go, blow up what military equipment they can’t bring with them, and leave the porta-potties and dining halls for the locals to enjoy.
They should take heart from another defining moment that occurred yesterday. That was when President Bush went out on the field in RFK Stadium to throw the opening pitch for the first game of the season for the Nationals. As he walked out onto the field, loud booing could be heard from the stands. It subsided until he threw his pitch to the Nationals’ manager (it was way high). Then it became a roar again when Bush waved a last time to the crowd before disappearing from the field.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is "The Case for Impeachment", co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.
He can be reached at: email@example.com