in the EUSSR
standards used by the Empire to justify independence for Kosovo from Serbia
should then be applied also to Nagorno Karabakh. The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
should be recognized by the UN as a sovereign country independent from Azerbaijan.
But let's not stop there – let Abkhazia and South Ossetia be recognized as sovereign
countries independent from Georgia. Let the Russians propose a UN Security Council
resolution package including Kosovo independence together with Karabakh and
Abkhazia, etc., independence, and then let the Empire dare to veto the package
Let's see how
much the Empire enjoys having the shoe on the other foot.
~ Antranik Miranjian,
Whacking Moles in Iraq
With due respect,
every time a notable person casts doubt on the real estimate of Iraq's casualties
they are unwittingly supporting the administration's cover-up. I personally
find this appalling. We know the IraqBodyCount.org
figures are empirically false.
Please read "Counting
the Cost" by Richard Horton.
at the UK's Department for International Development
concluded that the
study's methods were 'tried and tested.' Indeed, the Hopkins approach
would likely lead to an 'underestimation of mortality.' The Ministry of Defense's
chief scientific advisor said the research was 'robust,' close to 'best practice,'
and 'balanced.' He recommended 'caution in publicly criticizing the study.'"
~ Simon Hos
Thank you for
your e-mail. There is no "correct" body count for Iraqi civilian casualties
because no one is keeping count. At best, there are various estimates. IraqBodyCount.org
uses reported casualties to document their statistics, hardly empirically false.
But it is probably safe to say that their numbers represent the "floor" for
the number of casualties.
study (.pdf file here)
uses a scientific
method (not number counting) to estimate casualties. Their numbers are only
as good as the reliability of the data reported to them. The study's methods
may be generally accepted as scientifically sound, but that doesn't mean that
their numbers are right. They may be. But the reality is that no one knows with
absolute certainty what the right numbers are. I cited both IraqBodyCounty.org
and the Lancet study because there is a range of what the numbers might
be and no one can say definitively what they are.
to the War Growing Among Troops
a member of the Air National Guard and a senior master sergeant (E-8) in the
disaster preparedness and emergency management Career field (which deals directly
with CBRNE and WMD for military personnel), I have strong feelings in opposition
to the the reasons for the war and the "Global War on Terrorism."
Prior to Iraq
our policy has always been that of setting the example to the world, of retaliatory
strikes, never preemptive. I, like many others, was misled by the current administration's
claims of WMD in Iraq. However, intel we were receiving in the career field
was never that of a WMD threat against U.S. soil, only to those that were in
the theater of operation. The range of the missiles was classified but the range
was very limited at the time and the only threat was against my fellow military
members whom I personally trained. ATSO or the ability to survive and operate
is part of every serviceman's training. We volunteer to protect American soil
from invasion from both foreign and domestic threats.
to be wrapped around the axle and misses important information that seems obvious,
yet I never see any of this in the news.
1. The policy
of containment was completely effective prior to the Iraq invasion. Yes, the
USS Cole was bombed, U.S. military personnel were potentially in harm's
way from the WMD in Iraq, and no doubt Saddam Hussein was an evil ruler.
2. The FBI and
state and local police have the responsibility within our borders to help prevent
crimes against our country at their respective levels. The CIA has the responsibility
to keep track of the enemy abroad, and the military is at the control of the
president to help insure national security and the protection of threat against
just because he was evil, then, becomes justification to topple several dozen
regimes in Africa, Europe, South America, other Middle Eastern countries, and
It is my strong
belief that we as a nation have overstepped our boundaries. We claim our sovereignty
yet tread upon the sovereignties of others under false premises. Our foreign
policy before the Iraq invasion was effective in containment, expensive but
far less costly on military equipment and personnel than the current strategy.
It is time to downgrade this from a war to policing terrorist threats. In our
efforts to promote democracy and freedom around the world we are rapidly giving
up our own rights and freedoms that I am fighting to give to other countries.
My service has taken me to Asia, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East. I have
seen many forms of government, and we are oppressing ourselves from within and
adopting internally the very things we are trying to set other countries free
As an Independent,
I prefer to look at extremism on either side of the two major parties as insanity
and getting so far behind a party line as to abandon all reason.
Our Founding Fathers
had it right when they argued for peace and commerce between nations, and against
entangling political and military alliances. In other words, noninterventionism
(to quote Rep. Ron Paul). This is not the same as isolationism. Yes, our brave
men and women in the armed forces volunteered, but let's not forget what we
don't have any idea what we swore to. Here is the oath we took for them:
do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution
of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will
bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders
of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed
over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
So help me God."
At what point
does a serviceman violate the defense of the Constitution or the orders of a
president when the two seem to conflict? There are three branches of government,
legislative (our Congress), the executive (our president) who gives the orders,
and the judicial who are suppose to make sure the other two are following the
When you look
upon it in this light we have to follow the orders of the president until such
time the judicial branch says our actions are unconstitutional, or our Congress
says enough and says our policies that we have been supporting are not correct
and make changes. Too simplistic? Maybe, but if it is any more complex than
this, it only puts our armed forces in a greater conflict on how best to carry
out their oaths to the defense of the Constitution and the orders of the commander
For anyone who
is curious about what supporting the troops means I will leave you with this
thought. We need money for resources to operate in theater when we HAVE to.
When injured in battle we need quality health care; our salaries are very poor
when compared to our civilian counterparts (my job on the outside is paying
double what I make serving you). Provide us with a decent retirement and don't
take it away, and when we are ordered unjustly or unconstitutionally to fight
an interventionist war, bring us home to our families and friends and our great
country. After living in tents for months at a time without the creature comforts
that you take for granted, we really appreciate your support to bring us home
for good and ready to defend you against a real threat not a fictitious one.
That's what we volunteered for.
This is what support
means to me (and I believe to many other servicemen and women): I appreciate
the thank-yous when you see us in uniform (the appreciation that was missed
on the Vietnam vets), those warm, heartfelt gestures make us feel proud for
volunteering and serving you, but please support us by making sure that we are
meeting the oath we swore to uphold.
~ Brett Heck
are absurd. That's obvious. But how do you know 9/11 was not an inside job?
A "fringe opinion"? Many home crimes are committed by people known to the family,
even family members? Your 9/11 view is mere opinion. You've bought the Bush
story. You should at least be neutral about something you don't really know
~ C. Varela
don't believe in conspiracy theories unless given good evidence. Every time
there is an unusual happening, there is a conspiracy theory – JFK's assassination,
MLK's assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing (in addition to the two convicted
guys), and even Anna Nicole Smith's death. I said that it was a fringe opinion;
I didn't rule it out completely. The burden of proof should be on the conspiracy
Democratic Sellout on Bush's Mercenaries
president of the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) I'd like
to just make a few quick comments about Jeremy Scahill's latest article "A Democratic
Sellout on Bush's Mercenaries," which is largely a rehash of previous pieces
he has published. IPOA is a trade association of more than 30 companies – including
Blackwater – that provide critical services to stability and peace operations
around the world.
First, as in his
book and in past articles Mr. Scahill omits the fundamentally important fact
that the overwhelming majority of contractors doing security and reconstruction
in Iraq are Iraqis – the very people who should be doing security in reconstruction
in their own country.
the U.S. military is designed to be the most capable organization in the world,
it is not designed to be cost effective. It is estimated that the Pentagon is
paying $15,000-$25,000 per month per soldier in Iraq. Contractors, brought in
to support the effort from a hundred different countries, bring remarkable cost
effectiveness, capabilities and expertise. And yes, not surprisingly they cost
far less than trained combat soldiers.
Nor should we
become overly obsessed with Iraq as IPOA member companies also provide critical
support services to stability and peace operations in Darfur, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Haiti, Somalia, and other vital humanitarian missions where
the West does have the political will to send their own militaries. In fact
IPOA member companies have more personnel working in UN and African Union peace
operations than all but a handful of countries. It is difficult to imagine how
Mr. Scahill would hope to replace these personnel and capabilities if companies
were banned from providing these services.
what Mr. Scahill claims, many companies have been held to account or penalized
contractually – that has been less of a problem (for some light reading pull
out the Federal Acquisition Regulations sometime). More complex under international
law is the difficult issue of holding individual foreign contractors accountable
– and again it is important to remember here that Iraqi contractors which make
up the overwhelming majority of contractors are under Iraqi law (for better
supports the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) and its expansion
and enforcement. We have found the U.S. Department of Justice to be depressingly
slow at enforcing the law on the books and we are constantly criticized on the
accountability issue. As a result, our association is in the interesting position
of being the most proactive NGO working to enhance contractor accountability.
Mr. Scahill, oddly,
prefers to try civilians in military courts under UCMJ. That concept has been
rejected by human rights organizations who object not just in the case of contractors,
but for the detainees in Guantanamo. Thus I do have a fundamental disagreement
with Mr. Scahill on this point.
advises our member companies that when there is an allegation of illegal actions
in the field they should remove the individual in question from the theater
so that they are no longer a problem, and then to fully cooperate with authorities
to do a full investigation. While Mr. Scahill apparently has faith that the
Iraqi legal system is far ahead of the curve in the reconstruction process,
it is not yet widely recognized by the international community as being fair
and impartial. Until their legal system has improved, foreign and U.S. contractors
accused of felonies should be tried in U.S. federal courts under MEJA (or numerous
other laws that can be used, including international laws and even the PATRIOT
Act). IPOA has been proactive at improving MEJA, endorsing its expansions and
improvements, and holding a public roundtable with members of Congress to find
the best ways to ensure effective accountability (Mr. Scahill did not attend).
Mr. Scahill revels in the use of the term "mercenary" it really has
no significant legal definition. It is simply a derogatory word, and I submit
the best definition is my own – "a mercenary is a foreigner or business
person we don't like." We should get beyond the name calling on this important
Fifth, if one
bothers to read Mr. Scahill's book it becomes clear that his primary objection
to Blackwater is the fact that it was founded by Republicans – the book would
be little more than a 10-page pamphlet if you remove his deep-seated horror
at that shocking fact. As a Democrat who used to work for the Democratic Party
let me say there are far better works available which actually provide reasonably
balanced examinations of the use of the private contractors.
are not new. They serve in peace and stability operations because we – as humanitarians
– want them there. They have been used in pretty much every recent conflict,
including hundreds in support of the UN in Sierra Leone and some 80,000 in support
of U.S. efforts in Vietnam. We need them: their skills and capabilities are
irreplaceable. Problems that arise need to be addressed, accountability enhanced
and IPOA has suggested how this can be done (see our Web
site or our Journal
of International Peace Operations for more information and insights
on this). Good oversight and accountability are good for good companies. But
we can ignore the private sector’s value to peace and stability operations only
at great humanitarian peril.
numerous citations in his book, and frequent mention in his articles and media
appearances, Mr. Scahill has never bothered to interview me or anyone at IPOA.
On the contrary, we made numerous efforts to meet and talk with him over the
past year, all have been rebuffed or ignored. Even if he fundamentally disagrees
with the use of the private sector in support of stability and peace operations,
considering the focus of his book, wouldn't a chat with the primary industry
trade association have made at least a wee bit of sense?
~ Doug Brooks,
president, International Peace Operations Association (IPOA)