When I interviewed Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) last year, there was one thing he talked about that really intrigued me. He was pushing to get the Iraqis to adopt a national oil policy to split up the profits among all the people. He compared it to the way Alaska sends out checks to all residents for their share of that state's oil revenue.
It makes sense in Iraq, where much of the battle is over who gets control of the oil. The geography-impaired Sunnis don't have any oil in their territory, and they are afraid of being left high and dry, and they are fighting mad about it.
Splitting up the revenue among all Iraqis would help solve this issue. It would also help prevent corruption by putting the money in the hands of the people, instead of some government agency.
But the devil is always in the details, especially when you have oil men like Bush and Cheney involved.
The oil law that they are pushing the Iraqi government to adopt also opens up the country to foreign oil companies, and gives them great power over the third largest oil reserves in the world.
It's these provisions that have doomed the legislation to defeat, and help fuel the civil war even more.
So why do Bush/Cheney persist in pushing for it? As much as they claim that the war isn't about oil, their actions prove beyond all doubt that it is.
If you were Gen. Peter Pace, would you be more insulted that Sen. Harry Reid called you incompetent, or that the president of the United States fired you from your job as Joint Chiefs chairman?
The US military has embarked on a new and risky strategy in Iraq by arming Sunni insurgents in the hope that they will tackle the extremist al-Qaida in Iraq.
The US high command this month gave permission to its officers on the ground to negotiate arms deals with local leaders. Arms, ammunition, body armour and other equipment, as well as cash, pick-up trucks and fuel, have already been handed over in return for promises to turn on al-Qaida and not attack US troops.
Let's remember that it was the arming of Sunni insurgents in Afghanistan that created Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.
Hey, Mr. President, take this advice. Find the people who, before the war started, wrote a report that accurately predicted what would happen to Iraq and Iran, and put them in charge. If they were smart enough to clearly see how this misadventure would turn out before it happened, they have a better shot at finding an end to this disaster than you do.
I know that's asking a lot. You have shown that you punish those who turn out to be right, and reward those who screw up the most. But if you want to be known as something other than the worst president ever, perhaps this might be a start. Try rewarding those who have been right all along, and fire those who have been horribly wrong.
You can start by walking down the hallway and telling Dick Cheney, in the kind of language he understands, to go F himself.
Here is a vision of the saviors of Iraq, the people we are hoping to turn things around, the Iraqi Parliament:
No major issue has yet made it to the parliament floor, from the draft oil law to the review of the ban on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to amendments to the constitution....
It's unlikely the bills will be debated before Iraqi lawmakers break for their two-month summer vacation in June.
And what about that vacation?
The prospect of such a long holiday in the midst of political crisis, both here and in Washington, has infuriated U.S. officials and politicians. But Mahmoud Othman says Iraqi lawmakers are already taking off more time than members of the U.S. Congress know about.
"Every month we work two weeks," Othman said. "That's another point people should know about ... we are working half the time. So it's two-to-three hours a day, two weeks a month and then there is a holiday. So it's sort of a disaster."
Lawmaker Shatha al-Moussawi says U.S. objections to the vacation schedule here have only made matters worse, saying it sends a message that Iraqis "don't have any control" of their own country and "receive orders from America."
So, you see, the Parliament is going on vacation without getting anything done in order to prove they aren't puppets. Of course, most of them barely live in Iraq, and I guess it's too much of a hardship to have to come back every two weeks, with the danger on the highway to the airport and everything.
Maybe U.S. troops should get two weeks off per month. Or better yet, let all of them take a two-month vacation.
When will Bush get that the Iraqi government is a disaster that he is enabling?
One way to keep the public from turning against the war is to make sure they don't see it.
The military is cutting off access to MySpace, YouTube and other popular sites soldiers like to visit. The excuse for this is pretty lame, that their network can't handle the load. There are far better ways to handle bandwidth management than that. Combined with their new rules that require soldiers to get approval to post to blogs, the military is cracking down on one of the most important voices coming out of Iraq, that of the soldiers fighting it.
The second half of this one-two punch is that the Iraqi government is banning reporters from bombing scenes. After all, if there are no pictures, it's like it never happened, right?
There was a letter Sunday in response to my column last week about how the Iraq civil war can't be won by the current course set by President Bush. He suggested that it was lucky I wasn't around during World War II, because I would have negotiated with the enemy instead of fighting.
I respect this writer's opinion, and if Iraq was anything like WWII, I'd have to agree with him. But that's the rub. What this letter really points out is there are a number of people out there who want to see Iraq as just like WWII. It's like trying to compare cabernet to ketchup.
After thinking about it, I think it's important to point out the top
10 13 reasons why Iraq is not WWII.
- Iraq did not attack us. Japan did, and Japan's ally Germany attacked our allies in Europe.
- Iraq had no ability to attack us. Their military was a shadow of its former self, and even at full strength had no ability to project power to our shores.
- The enemy in WWII was the same from the first day of the war until the last day. While a small case could be made for the Italians switching side, for the most part we knew exactly who the enemy was. In Iraq, that enemy started off as Saddam, then the Sunnis, then al Qaeda, the the Shiites, then who knows who.
- Japan and Germany were imperial powers. There were countries who wanted to take over the world, and had the resources to do it. Iraq was a fourth-rate power without either the will or the ability to conquer.
- Japan and Germany did not break down into civil war. Huge difference. Imagine if we had tried to occupy Japan and referee a civil war.
- We had far, far more troops in WWII, even if you make allowances for the difference in size of the enemy. We had three times more troops when we took on Saddam in 1991 than we have there now.
- The nation was asked to sacrifice during WWII. We were urged to enlist (if not, then drafted), and to do without certain luxuries. For Iraq, we got tax cuts, no call to duty. Just go on with your regular life.
- Neither Japan nor Germany had the kind of serious ethnic/religious divisions of Iraq. Germany did have the division with the Jews, but their "final solution" pretty much eliminated that division, and not in a good way.
- The world wasn't against us in WWII. We had a very strong network of allies all contributing to the efforts against Germany and Japan. Every major power in the world was involved in some way, and all of them were on our side.
- Changes is technology has enabled irregular guerrilla forces to fight effectively against regular armies. Cell phones, email and websites make communications between groups easier. Combined with video cameras, insurgents have a way to communicate with the public. Weapons like AK-47s, RPGs and improvised explosives with remote triggers can make even a small group a formidable challenge to regular army forces.
- Germany had WMD, Iraq didn't. Germany had stockpiles of poison gas, including nerve gas, but didn't use them. They were also very close to coming up with an atomic bomb, way more advanced than Iraq was.
- Germany and Japan didn't have any resources that we would want. They don't have oil, Iraq does, and the Iraqis know this. They believe this war is about oil, and that the two oil men in charge of the U.S. who started this war want to steal that oil. It is this perception that makes this situation so hard to handle.
- Our allies in Iraq are not our friends. The Maliki government has close ties to Iran, and the radical Shiite cleric al Sadr. They are working at cross purposes to the U.S.
I'm sure there are more reasons I haven't thought of this morning. The point is, this isn't your granddaddy's war.
While the search is on for three missing U.S. soldiers, let's not forget that Bush abandoned another American solider who was captured, so as not to make our "friends" over there angry.
The peaceful Kurdish section of Iraq -- so lacking in violence that 60 Minutes did a segment on how safe it is there -- is safe no more:
Meanwhile, a suicide truck bomber crashed into the offices of a Kurdish political party, killing at least 45 people, including the police chief, and wounding scores, officials said. It was the second suicide attack in Kurdish areas of the north in four days.
The U.S. military commander in Iraq told his troops to fight by the rules after a Pentagon survey found many soldiers and Marines back torture and would not report colleagues for killing or injuring civilians.
"This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we -- not our enemies -- occupy the moral high ground," General David Petraeus wrote in a letter dated May 10.
Petraeus, who took command in February to oversee a troop "surge" aimed at securing Baghdad, said the argument that torture can elicit quick information was "wrong".
"Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful or necessary," he said in the one-page letter, which was obtained by Reuters.
Should someone ask if he thinks waterboarding qualifies as torture?