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This is What Democracy Looks Like

New Year's Eve Madman

December 31, 2006


There will be no Madman on Monday, New Year's Day. -NG

The Death of Saddam

Whether or not you're a proponent of the death penalty, today, is inconsequential. I think we all can agree that if there ever was a man who deserved to pay the ultimate penalty for his horrific deeds, it was the former dictator of Iraq. Saddam Hussein met his death somewhere around 6:00 AM Baghdad time this past Saturday morning.

This was the man responsible for the deaths of at least 100,000 Kurds in northern Iraq, although some would say that President George H.W. Bush's apathy is almost as complicit, it was Hussein who turned his arsenal of weapons, including chemical weapons, against his own people.

It was Hussein who hurled all of his offenses at the Iranians in a decade-long war which Iraq eventually won, but at a high cost in human life. Human life was never a cost that Saddam Hussein wasn't willing to pay. One might even look at how George W Bush, today, looks at American soldiers in that same manner.

And it was Saddam who invaded the small, but rich nation of Kuwait in 1990 which started his own downfall some thirteen years later (some would say thirteen years too late).

This was a man whose mourning, it appears, is limited and whose death comes as joyous news to most of the world. As a commentator on MSNBC noted this Saturday morning, the people of Iraq couldn't look to a new future with Hussein still alive. Whether he's right or wrong is something we'll never know.

I shed no personal tears for Hussein and am, in fact, glad that he's gone. When Hussein, at his trial, was accused of killing more Kurds than he would admit to, his answer was "I only killed 100,000." Now that's a bad answer.

We hear that his loyal Sunnis will rise up and make a nation that is in turmoil worse. A quick look at cable news will show that it simply can't get much worse. The Sunnis are up in arms because they feel they aren't getting their fair share in the new Iraq, not because they wanted Saddam to be their leader.

The Shiites who, under Hussein, bore much of the brunt of his wrath were cheering in the streets. In Michigan, with its large Muslin population, parties were being thrown as the news of the hanging spread.

The Media
But what really irked me most was how the American media was handling this execution. Fox News, MSNBC and CNN alike all waited like vultures for the news t come in that Hussein was hanged. Much like an election evening, when each station wanted to be the first to announce the new President of the United States, they stood at their starting lines waiting for the gun to go off. I was watching the CBS show Numbers (NUMB3RS) when Katie Couric jumped in with the special news bulletin. She even had an on-call expert waiting at the news desk with her. I wished they could have been there until three- or- four-o'clock in the morning instead of announcing just after 10PM.

All Saturday morning the news shows were looking for their very own little spin on the death of Saddam. The very first thing the New York Post online wants you to see is the video of Hussein's hanging. nice, huh? And the Cable Stations needed to show us all the grainy image of the lifeless body of the dead dictator, just to make sure.

The big question that each and every channel asked was "How much of a bump in the polls will this hanging give President Bush and how long will it last?" Bush stayed on vacation in Crawford and said nothing, although the White House did put out a typical statement.

"Saddam Hussein's execution comes at the end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops. Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the War on Terror."
-Bush's statement form whitehouse.gov

Although the Bushies are being low-keyed now, one wonders what the near-future will bring. Let's face it, not taking credit for something which they judge to be good for them just isn't their style.

And as for the media, well, it must be a hardship for those ghouls to have Hussein hanged on a weekend where we bury both former President Gerald Ford and the Godfather of Soul James Brown. They could have had the decency to die a few days apart, for ratings sake.

After all, it's all about the Neilson's, isn't it?

-Noah Greenberg

Awaiting 3,000

Today in History
The Lone Star State
Became No. 28*
Ford lies in state,
Saddam awaits his fate.

Nearly 3,000, only eight
more before we congregate
with candles to illuminate
bands and signs to demonstrate
Not one more soul wanted
nor dollar for this hate

congress is at a checkmate
and will try to procrastinate
unless we all together participate
and make a point to communicate
So 4,000 deaths we don't celebrate!
~ Deidra Anne Rose Lynch
* 1845


It's truly tragic that what awaits the United States in the New Year is:

1) The 3000th American casualty in this illegal immoral Iraq debacle.
2) An escalation in the troop levels when the public voted for withdrawal in 2006.
3) An escalation in defense spending - the Pentagon is looking for a 127 billion supplemental.

The Iraq war/occupation must be the top priority for progressives in 2007. As long we occupy Iraq, it's essentially impossible to act on national priorities such as health care, education and creation of good paying jobs. I remind everyone that there is a large protest in the works for January 27. Please come to Washington DC on that day.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane

More on the End of the Vietnam War

My father was an army officer and did one last tour in Vietnam just before I graduated from HS, most of classmates' fathers did the same, so most of us enlisted pretty soon after we left HS and I think about 100% of us enlisted in combat arms specialties.
One kid went to West Point.

Of the 36 boys in my HS graduating class 17 were killed or wounded in Vietnam. Three were killed in Tan Son Nut. One was killed immediately after arriving, another while awaiting departure and a third was in the air force and killed in performance of his duties.

My high school roommate was a tail gunner on a Huey and went up every day and smoked the shit out the people on the ground and came out physically unscathed.
Another classmate became a Huey pilot and was shot down and came home with the mind, manners and behavior of a six year old. His only adult habit was that he smoked a pipe.

I was at Ft. Jackson, in AIT, when they announced the cessation of US combat activities and was assigned to the third inf div in a place called Kitzingen, afterwards. We spent most of our time in a place called Coburg guarding installations spying on the east Germans. Since my father was what they called a GS high number and stationed in a nearby Post, the cadre all knew who I was.

I always had more freedom, better assignments and was encouraged to engage in activities, like the divisional boxing, wrestling and marksmanship teams. I had to train and I had to win a certain number of matches to stay on the team, but it was way better than sleeping in tents with 60 other guys in the field. In the winter, I definitely had the best deal going. Interestingly, since I was competing with soldiers from other divisions and from other armies, the brass thought I should get promoted pretty often, too.

I was in college by the time Watergate started and Saigon fell. My Dad came over to attend some conference in Kentucky when Saigon fell and I met him there, planning to spend a couple of weeks and play some golf with him. When he heard the news of the fall of Saigon, he was very bitter. He said that when he was in Vietnam they could have joined hands and swept across the country.

I asked him why they didn't and he replied that they were restrained by their orders. I observed that the orders were restrictive to prevent encounters with elements of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

He responded that we should not be afraid of China and if necessary fight them now rather than in the future. I definitely understand the mentality of people who want to defeat our enemies, but I also understand other things:
1) our enemies are also capable and victory after a bloody struggle could well destroy whatever we are fighting for;
2) our costs and losses are always greater than the enemy's: the Vietnamese suffered enormous causalities in every encounter they had with us, but in each encounter they weakened the total strength of the American forces more than the losses they suffered
3) war is politics with guns, people fighting for their homes and for their native countries will always resist and have a stronger political will than people going thousands of miles away to fight for abstractions and money.

There is almost no theater in the world today where the people are so poor, the sense of nationalism so weak, the military so disorganized that they could not resist and over the course of time defeat the American army. Our ability to inflict horrendous casualties on foreigners is the ability to kill them not to defeat them.

We will never have the political will to decimate a people to the extent necessary to extinguish the flame of their identity and defeat them by immolation. Ford never understood that, if he could have he would have continued the Vietnam struggle, Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense for goodness sake.

Bush as President would have had to make the same choice as Ford, because it was dictated to us by the superior forces of the North Vietnamese Army.

We are approaching the same problem in Iraq. Very soon the military situation will exceed our ability to manage it and our forces will be driven from the field. The purpose of our strategy now is to prevent that.

-Robert Chapman

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-Noah Greenberg