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Health Care & Environment
07.21 Greta Thunberg: ‘They see us as a threat because we’re having an impact’ [We love a sane smarty-pants! Trump, you won't understand any of this, so just go off and tweet or chant, or whatever...]
07.20 Until Emissions Drop, Nothing Has Been Accomplished: The Climate Resistance Handbook Is Here. [Trump can't be bothered as the world turns into a large cinder. His laser focus is on personal greed.]
07.20 Cargo ships are emitting boatloads of carbon, and nobody wants to take the blame [1:19 video; Governments must commission to fight deadly shipping emissions, previously omitted in climate summit agreements....]
07.20 With Petition to Congress, 100,000+ People Demand Green New Deal 'That Fixes Our Food System' [Realtime proactive response to reality—now and threatening—doesn't get attention in this greed focused administration]
07.19 Trump administration won't ban pesticide tied to childhood brain damage [There is no truth to the persistent rumor that chlorpyrifos pesticide was heavily used at Trump's childhood home in Queens]
07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]
07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]
07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]
07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
07.21 A court ruled it was legal for guards to strip search female inmates and force them to remove their tampons in front of male officers for a 'training exercise' [The frequency and degree of immorality and degradation being reported in the media is very disturbing, as if society has been reprogrammed overnight to be more like the worst behavior of Nazi Germany]
07.21 THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS GETTING CRUSHED IN FUNDRAISING: “THEY NEED TO GET THEIR SHIT TOGETHER” [Since so-called moderate Democrats will prostitute themselves in many conceivable ways (offering that special quid pro quo) they have effectively become competitively ANTI-PUBLIC, like Republicans. Whereas progressive Democrats must promise not to take corporate donations at all as an effective litmus-test. The DNC refuses to raise funds for moderate and progressives separately, and thus donations fall short. Which is it to be: 1) Will the DNC change? or 2) Must progressive Democrats become corporate whores too? or 3) Maybe you don't need corporate contributions at all if your policies are fantastic?]
07.21 We're no longer in Brave New World. We're back in 1984. [1:35 video; Our despicable President is at it again]
07.21 BALTIMORE'S FILTHIEST HOODS [7:38 video. Ask your governments, why are our cities so much worse than Europe's? Why is our healthcare worse and so much more expensive? And why are our Billionaires so much richer? Ask if those results of bad government are all related, and why? Are they all caused by a power-elite with greed-obsessed immorality?]
07.20 Fact check: Trump says Puerto Rico got $92 billion. They've seen only a fraction [If he opens his mouth, Trump's lying.]
07.20 Trump Denies Being at North Carolina Rally [Not sure if Trump supporters 'get' satire, but here goes....]
High Crimes vs. Human Rights
07.19 Conscientious objectors of first world war – their untold tales [The record proves they were morally right by avoiding violent early deaths of their cousins and themselves]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
International & Futurism
07.21 Spain set for socialist-led government after Iglesias deal [Some loaded drama going on here...]
07.20 US to deploy troops to Saudi Arabia in face of 'credible' regional threats [Working with Osama bin Laden's godfathers, Trump wants to profit like Erik Prince (for-profit education secretary Betsy DeVos' brother) of Blackwater infamy (hurriedly renamed ‘Academi’), the U.S. taxpayer to pay inflated costs while Trump siphons off long-term emolument largesse]
07.20 Iran on 'dangerous path' with seizure of Stena Impero, says UK [Which is this, a tit or a tat?]
07.20 'Dark satanic mills': Tony Abbott continues his crusade against wind turbines [Too much CO2 air pollution makes you stupid, and turns your country into an “Idiocracy” (1:36 video clip)]
07.20 Bolsonaro declares 'the Amazon is ours' and calls deforestation data 'lies' [Lazy and willfully stupid whenever it serves his purpose, just like Trump. “And the rest of you can all go to hell.” Again, just like Trump. Has your country turned into an “Idiocracy”? (1:36 video clip)]
07.19 Iran makes 'substantial' nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions [Was barbaric Saudi Arabia—whose citizens were more involved in the 9-11 attacks—the wrong ally all along?]
07.19 “The Task Ahead Is Enormous, and There Is Not Much Time” [Read this and learn. Or read Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) | Twitter and/or President Trump (@POTUS) | Twitter. Are you serious? Or are you in hideously criminal denial?]
WHERE'S THE RATIONAL REASON?
Explaining the Drop in Iraqi War Dead
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com earlier today, 1 December 2009
The Iraqi government has announced that the civilian death toll for November – 88 – was the lowest since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, marking a two-year decline in killings that has corresponded with a less aggressive American military strategy and a pullback of U.S. troops to bases on city outskirts.
Yet how this welcome drop in bloodshed is interpreted – or misinterpreted – has become a troubling element in President Barack Obama’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan by sending some 30,000 additional U.S. troops to support an offensive into Taliban-dominated Helmand Province.
The prevailing wisdom in Washington is that President George W. Bush’s decision in early 2007 to “surge” troops in Iraq – a policy implemented by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus of the Central Command – led to the decline in Iraqi violence. Therefore, the thinking goes, a “surge” should be tried in Afghanistan.
However, there’s an opposite way of reading the same data – that Bush’s “surge” increased the Iraqi violence in late spring 2007, including a spike in U.S. casualties, and that only a political-military decision to pull back from offensive operations that summer began the gradual reduction in the killing. That drop has grown dramatic since mid-2009 when U.S. forces withdrew to bases on the edge of the cities.
If one reads the data that way – seeing a correlation between fewer American troops on patrol and less overall violence – Obama’s Afghan decision could be viewed as likely to increase the disorder in Afghanistan, not tamp it down.
Clearly, in an endeavor as complicated as war, it is difficult, if not impossible, to dissect from recent events exactly what achieved a specific result. But there is logic behind the notion that pulling back U.S. and other occupying military forces could do some good in bringing greater stability to war-torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.
It’s widely recognized that nationalism – or at least hostility to foreigners – has been a powerful recruiting tool for insurgents throughout history, even for extremists who otherwise might have little appeal to a population.
Withdrawing occupying troops or at least making them less intrusive in the daily lives of the occupied population could logically be expected to weaken or eliminate this rallying cry.
In Iraq, the U.S.-led invasion, which purged many Sunnis from positions of influence in 2003, enabled radical Sunni Islamists from al-Qaeda to gain a foothold in the previously secular country. Sunni insurgents allied themselves with al-Qaeda to fight the occupying Americans, not because Sunni tribal leaders felt much affection for al-Qaeda’s bloodthirsty tactics.
Indeed, it may have been the widespread disgust at al-Qaeda’s excesses – as much as the U.S. payments to Sunni tribal leaders – that gave rise to the so-called Sunni Awakening in 2006. Even al-Qaeda leaders back in Pakistan were aware of how the brutality of al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was backfiring, according to letters intercepted by U.S. intelligence.
Zarqawi, who spurred the Sunni-Shiite civil conflict by bombing Shiite shrines, was killed by a U.S. air raid in June 2006. But the sectarian killing raged on, causing many Iraqis to flee their old neighborhoods to seek safety in areas dominated by their Islamic sect, thus creating a de facto ethnic cleansing.
It’s possible that the combination of those factors – ethnic separation, Zarqawi’s death and the Sunni Awakening – would have caused the extreme violence of 2006 to burn out anyway. However, Bush decided to go with a plan devised by influential neoconservatives to dispatch more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops in a “surge” that would have American soldiers pushing into -- and staying in -- Iraqi neighborhoods.
Bush’s “surge” was accompanied by a further rise in violence. From April through June 2007, 356 American and coalition soldiers died, according to icasualties.org.
The soaring U.S. death toll had political consequences back home, leading Bush's commanders to a shift away from the more aggressive tactics. Over the next three months, U.S. and coalition fatalities declined to 247. (All told, more than 1,000 U.S. troops died during the “surge” – or roughly one-quarter of the total U.S. deaths in the Iraq War.)
Through 2008, as U.S. forces continued to refrain from major offensives and the other new facts on the ground – Sunni rejection of al-Qaeda and the ethnic separations – took hold, the violence in Iraq continued to decline. The U.S. and coalition death toll averaged about 27 a month in 2008.
Still, the most dramatic drop in violence has been seen in the last five months, since a new “status of forces agreement” required U.S. troops to stop patrolling in Iraqi cities and to withdraw to bases removed from population centers. The American death toll has fallen to nine soldiers a month and violence among Iraqis is also down dramatically.
Though statistics from the Iraqi Health Ministry surely undercount the full civilian death toll, the trends have been significant. The 88 civilian deaths in November represent the first time that the monthly body count has dropped below 100 since Bush unleashed the carnage with the March 2003 invasion.
Yet how those numbers are interpreted is having dramatic consequences for the war in Afghanistan. In Washington, Republican politicians and the ever-influential neoconservative pundits have sold the simplistic narrative that Bush’s courageous “surge” did the trick.
During last year’s presidential campaign, Obama first tried to make a more sophisticated argument, crediting the “surge” as only one factor in the decline in violence. But network anchors pummeled him in interviews, demanding that he accept that Republican John McCain – and President Bush – had been right about the surge and that Obama had been wrong to oppose it.
Unwilling to pay the price for challenging Washington’s conventional wisdom, Obama finally ceded the point and admitted that the “surge” had “succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”
That concession – and Obama’s decision to retain Gates and Petraeus – are now having real-life consequences for Afghanistan. Having bought into the “successful surge” conventional wisdom, Obama is now "surging" some 30,000 additional troops into the Afghan war zone on top of some 22,000 that he sent in the spring, more than doubling the force there when Bush left office.
If the Washington pundit class had tolerated a different analysis of the Iraq casualty figures – that the way to reduce violence is to pullback U.S. occupation forces, not launch new offensives – there might have been a different result in Obama’s Afghan deliberations.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on December 1, 2009.