Saturday, August 18, 2007

War and more war

* 48 American soldiers killed in Iraq so far in August - as of 8/17

Well, what have we found out in the last couple of weeks?

- The Pentagon can't account for 190,000 weapons that went to Iraq. We don't know who has them now. Could be our friends, could be our enemies. Could be people who pretend to be our friends, like Iraqi soldiers and police officers, who are really part of the insurgency or militant death squads. We don't know who they are being used against but it seems likely that at least some of them targeting our own soldiers. It is a heck of a situation when you just open the store houses and let whoever come in and grab up almost 200,000 weapons. But, typical of this administration. Think of thousands of trailers meant for Katrina victims currently rusting away in Arkansas.

- A new report states that soldiers are committing suicide at the highest level since Vietnam. Is anyone surprised? You can only put people under so much stress without expecting some of them to crack. But, somehow, the party that supports sending them back into a war zone over and over again is the one that has the reputation for supporting the troops. The Democrats offered legislation that would require that the active military have as much time off at home as they spent in combat and that the National Guard receive 3 years off between deployments so their lives aren't completely upended. The Republicans hung tough and defeated the bill. But this is the party that insists it is the one that supports the troops. Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland. I've slipped behind the looking glass.

- The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, has found that the U.S. has completed 2,797 rebuilding projects (schools, hospitals, power plants, etc.) in Iraq at a cost of $5.8 billion. Of these, the Iraqi government has accepted only 435 of them. Why? Because inspection found most of them to be shoddily built, crumbling and abandoned. Makes you wonder who got the $5.8 in rebuilding funds though, doesn't it? And why those construction companies aren't being fined and/or otherwise punished. Even when we got it right, the Iraqis managed to screw it up themselves. Example: we spent $90 million to refurbish two huge turbines at a power plant in Baghdad but they were ruined when Iraqi employees used the wrong fuel in them. You'd think electricity would be a high priority in Iraq, where residents usually only have power for a few hours a day. Are the people in charge, both Americans and Iraqis, simply inept or is it deliberate because of some profit motive? Will we ever know?

- "Wait for General Petraus", has been the mantra of the war supporters for months now. It was the touchstone for their continued backing of the war. Well, mid-September is rushing towards us and now it appears that the General's report isn't going to be his at all. It is going to be the Bush administration report with "input" from General Petraus. I have thought from the beginning that the Petraus Report was just a mechanism for buying yet for time for this war which has been sold to us in a endless series of "six more month" increments. I assumed the General would inform us that "some progress has been made" and the administration would seize on that as a device to insist on six more months to let the surge work. I still think that's what will happen. The surge will have to end in the spring, according to military experts, because our military will run out of bodies to keep it going. So, with great fanfare, it will be declared a success and we'll be told that we are now able to "withdraw" some troops. Then the numbers will settle in to what they were before the surge and stay that way as long as Bush is president.