Wed 6/26: Killing Iranian people is not a reelection strategy, Mr. President. Take your war powers back, Congress! 2 actions.

See the full Iran tweet record at Rogue NASA!

Action #1 – Legislators – Publicly pledge support for HR 2354/S.1039 – Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019

Though this video is supposedly a comic program, it’s actually a good quick wrap up…

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to thank Rep/Sen [___] for cosponsoring {Rep. HR 2354/Sen. S.1039} – “The prevention of unconstitutional War with Iran Act“. I would also like Rep/Sen [___] to issue a statement that Congress not only supports diplomacy over war, but the President is not authorized to use any military force against Iran.

  • Rep-check here. Thank Brownley and Carbajal for already being cosigners.
  • Sen-check here. Thank Feinstein and Harris for already being cosigners.

Action #2 – Legislators – Take back the blank check. “YES” on H.R. 1274 – Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.  Finally.

Learn more about the “Authorization for Use of Military Force ” (AUMF) and how it’s been abused here.  Demand that your legislators take this dangerous tool away from Trump with H.R. 1274 .

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep [___] cosponsor H.R. 1274 – Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force. Please.

Rep-check here. Neither Brownley nor Carbajal have signed on.

Contact
Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal:
 email. (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?: hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com 

Background

We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth.

– columnist Sydney Schanberg. Nearly three decades later, during the Gulf War, he warned journalists not to forget “our unquestioning chorus of agreeability when Lyndon Johnson bamboozled us with his fabrication of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Vietnam:  American presidents have a knack for starting disastrous wars over lies and misunderstandings. And we, apparently, are incredibly gullible. The Gulf of Tonkin incident, the starting gun for America’s entry into the Vietnam War, never happened. What did actually happen was we sent 500,000 soldiers into Vietnam, of whom 57,939 did not return. Approximately 2 million civilians on both sides and some 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters died in the war along with an estimated 200,000 and 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers.

Iraq: Remember Colin Powell’s colin Powell“War was the only choice” UN speech? We were being lied to. It was all part of a public relations campaign to market an Iraqi war to us, a country still off-balance from 9/11. Americans polled in January 2003 widely favored further diplomacy over an Iraqi invasion. However, later that year, after repeated claims by the administration that Hussein was enriching uranium and buying “yellowcake” uranium” from Africa, Americans began to agree with Bush’s plan, 85% believing the administration’s claims that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, even though inspectors had not uncovered any trace of them.

By Feb. 3rd, 2003, Powell’s sterling reputation and his little fake vial of anthrax was the final stroke in the campaign, convincing 64% of Americans that we should go to war against Iraq. Everything we were told, however, by Powell and others in the administration about the intel and the threat that Iraq posed to the U.S., were lies. His success in persuading us of an improbable connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda resulted in a war that caused catastrophic losses for the region and the United States-led coalition, and that destabilized the entire Middle East.

 It wasn’t just us regular folks that were fooled. Lots of legislators believed the administration too. The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 passed the House, 297-133, with 82 Democrats in support and 126 against and in the Senate 77-23, with 29 Democrats supporting and 21 opposed. The power behind what is also known as the “Iraq Resolution“, which authorized the President to “use any means necessary” against Iraq, was ceded based on belief in those lies –  in Hussein’s possession of “weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the brutal treament of his citizens, as well as pressure from neighboring countries, like Saudi Arabia. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), a veteran who’d been awarded the Navy Star, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts, wrote shortly before the vote, “Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade.” 

image.pngThey lied about human costs: Sen. Webb was right. The boasts of a quick in-and-out victory were an illusion. By 2016, the US Department of Defense estimated that 4,424 American soldiers had died, and 31,952 had been wounded in action. There are a number of differing statistics on how many Iraqi civilians died, depending on whether they counted direct violence or indirect deaths from a destroyed infrastructure. The numbers range from least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

image.png“Iraq will pay for it”: We were also promised that the Iraqi war would be cheap. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz assured us that the war would largely pay for itself, sort of like a business. The bulk of the funds beyond the $21 billion Bush requested for Iraq’s reconstruction costs would supposedly come from the Iraqis’s own assets, such as oil, as well as some contributions from the international community. In April 2003, the Pentagon estimated the costs of the war itself at $2 billion, which was upped to $4 billion three months later. The actual Iraqi war costs, as of 2013, were $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits to those military personnel injured or killed, which could grow to $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest. (See the section at the bottom of this post for a brief discussion of all the “war on terror” costs”.)

We killed all those people and we paid all that money. All for a lie

Now it’s happening again, with Iran. Hey, 3 times the charm!

Same lies, much more dangerous target. Watch this video…

First – the usual misleading information or outright lies: Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff at the time of the Iraqi conflict, wrote an op-ed in February of 2018 called “I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again.” He pointed out that elements were repeating themselves, such as the claim made by Nikki Haley, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, that there was “undeniable” evidence that Iran supplied Yemeni insurgents with missiles and other arms that had been used against the Saudis. However, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres disagreed as inspection showed both Iranian and American components in the debris and the manufacturer could not be determined. Iran protested against Haley’s assertion, stating that they were being falsely accused similarly to the Iraqi WMD debacle.

Stated Col Wilkerson: “It’s astonishing how similar that moment was to Mr. Powell’s 2003 presentation on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — and how the Trump administration’s methods overall match those of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. As I watched Ms. Haley at the Defense Intelligence Agency, I wanted to play the video of Mr. Powell on the wall behind her, so that Americans could recognize instantly how they were being driven down the same path as in 2003 — ultimately to war. Only this war with Iran, a country of almost 80 million people whose vast strategic depth and difficult terrain make it a far greater challenge than Iraq, would be 10 to 15 times worse than the Iraq war in terms of casualties and costs.”

Then the press steps in to amplify the lies: News organizations have largely failed to refute false or misleading narratives coming out of the Trump White House on Iran. In early November of 2017, news outlets latched onto claims by unnamed American officials that newly released documents from Osama bin Laden’s compound represented “evidence of Iran’s support of Al Qaeda’s war with the United States” despite the concept of Shia Islamist Iran truly cooperating with Sunni Islamist al Qaeda being as unlikely as the fiction of Hussein’s supposed partnership.

Both the adminstration and press ignore alternate theories: The tanker attacks are in the news and the Japanese government says the evidence provided so far by the Americans is not “convincing”. The Japanese owner of a tanker attacked in the Gulf of Oman claimed Friday that it was struck by a flying projectile, contradicting reports by U.S. officials and the military on the source of the blast.

The UAE along with Saudi Arabia and Norway presented the preliminary findings that an unidentified state actor was involved in the oil tanker attacks during a private briefing to members of the UN security council, which will also receive the final results of the inquiry and consider a possible response. Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, said after the closed-door briefing that no evidence had been presented linking Iran to the attacks. “We shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” Safronkov said.

Malicious actors that could be responsible for the attacks include Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Israel, ISIS, and Al Qaeda – all likely to believe that they would benefit from an American war on Tehran and might decide to speed the process along by fomenting an incident. This is very possible. The Iraqi war started on the word of an Iraqi defector codenamed Curveball, who falsely claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, admitted to the lies today and said he is proud he was able to trick the U.S. and its allies into launching the Iraq War, helping to topple Saddam Hussain.

Meanwhile, the Saudis aren’t having it. “This investigation will be continued.” Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador said after the briefing “We believe the responsibility for this attack lies on the shoulders of Iran.” A newspaper owned by the Saudi royal family has already called for U.S. strikes on Iran. Saudis will assuredly press the U.S., just like they did with Iraq.

The public is again assured that war is cheap: Just like with the Iraqi conflict, we are being messaged that an armed action against Iran would be painless for us. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas suggested war with Iran would be quick and easy. “Two strikes,” he announced confidently, “the first strike and the last strike”—and that would be it. This month, Lindsey Graham similarly reassured listeners that an attack on Iran would not produce “endless war.”

If Iraq and Afghanistan taught us anything, it is that war alone cannot bring regime change. Attempting it in Iran would require hundreds of thousands of boots on the ground, far more than in Afghanistan and Iraq — with a huge human toll in military lives and more injured and disabled veterans. Any attack will also harm Iranian civilians and start yet another massive flow of refugees. US action would strengthen the most virulently anti-American elements of Iranian society and suppress those who favor détente.”

Our president, who likened his boarding school experiences to military training and the dating scene in the 90’s to Vietnam, stated. “We’re in a very strong position if something should happen. We’re in a very strong position. It wouldn’t last very long, I can tell you that. I’m not talking boots on the ground. I’m not talking, we’re going to send a million soldiers. I’m just saying if something would happen, it wouldn’t last very long.

Trump started this crisis a year ago.: No one is mentioning that President Donald Trump’s decision a year ago to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran and his imposition of economic sanctions was essentially economic warfare. If it is determined beyond a doubt that Iranians are guilty of the damage to the tankers, questions still need to also be asked on what legal or constitutional basis, can the Trump administration attack Iran over alleged attacks on Emirates or Saudi or Norwegian or Japanese tankers in the Gulf or how such attacks constitute an attack on the United States? How does the administration justify what Sen. Tom Cotton ludicrously calls a “retaliatory military strike?” As a headline in the Onion describes pretty accurately where we are now… “John Bolton: ‘An Attack On Two Saudi Oil Tankers Is An Attack On All Americans’.”

So what is it with us and Iran?

Although the U.S. has a lot of enemies, or frenemies, like China, North Korea, and Russia, no other country compares to this kind of loathing, fear, or hatred, that Iran inspires in Washington, DC. It’s assuredly a repressive theocracy, but the Trump likes oppressive regimes. Tehran is no threat to the United States and has been a staunch opponent of jihadi groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. They scrupulously complied with the most rigorous nuclear inspection regime in history.  So why does it remain the focus of 40 years of animosity?

It’s like this: Wilkerson explains why people like John Bolton, who wrote an op-ed “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”, want to destroy Iran at any cost: It’s very complex. And it’s not just this, but it is composed of a lot of this. They pushed our man down, the Shah. (The Shah was installed with the help of the CIA and British intelligence after they engineered the forcible removal of the popularly elected prime minister for the “crime” of  attempting to nationalize of Iran’s oil industry.) They took our people hostage for 444 days. They entombed a president in the White House, Jimmy Carter. They cost him the election etc, etc. The Iranians have never been punished. That’s the way a lot of these people think…They (Iran) got away with it. And no one should get away with tweaking the great empire.” 

tweet 5.jpeg

Meanwhile, we have a insecure president who wants to erase Obama’s legacy and is very worried about getting reelected. His history of tweets about Obama shows that he is very aware of the powerful distraction that war provides and that Americans stick with wartime presidents.  He has surrounded himself with Iran hawks – fellow draft-dodger John Bolton, who believes that the unfounded rumors of Iran’s connection with al Qaeda would be enough to use the AUMF to strike Iran tomorrow and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who, during the Obama administration, stated that “2,000 sorties” would be enough to end the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Outside the White House, Senator Tom Cotton  stated in regards to the supposed tanker attacks “What I’m talking about is not like what we’ve seen in Iraq for the last sixteen years or Afghanistan for the last eighteen years. But retaliatory military strikes against Iran that make it clear we will not tolerate any kind of attacks on commercial shipping on the open seas.” 

Everyone’s doing it.: Mehdi Hasan, from “Deconstructed” states “there’s no cost, no penalty, to being a hawk on Iran. Almost everyone’s a hawk on Iran here in Washington DC. As my guest Peter Beinart, the journalist and author, pointed out on this show just last week, the Democrats yes, support the Iran nuclear deal, and oppose escalation, as of right now, but they’ve never really questioned the underlying premise that Iran is a mortal threat to the U.S., and should not be engaged or normalized, in contrast to say Saudi Arabia which is supposedly a friend and ally.” Who kills journalists and continues to bomb Yemen into extinction..

Yeah, it was about the oil: This article has a great synopsis of what we did to Iran, and how we became allies with the even more repressive regime of Saudi Arabia, which routinely undercuts American interests and values, and holds a dangerous stranglehold over U.S. policy, especially our “War-on-Terror” actions.

We agree with Doug:
Instead of being the president that promised to stop our endless Middle East wars, Trump could find himself sending more than 100,000 troops back into the desert. Only this time, the United States was invading a country with 80 million people (twice Iraq’s population), a territory 68 percent larger than Iraq and Afghanistan combined, and with hundreds of thousands of the best paramilitary troops in the world. We like Doug Bandow’s solution  – “Why a U.S. – Iran War could end up being a historic disaster

  • The U.S. should stand down our military.
  • We should offer to host multilateral discussions with oil consuming nations, energy companies, and tanker operators over establishing shared naval security in sensitive waterways, including in the Middle East.
  • Suspend the “maximum pressure” campaign. Immediately end the latest sanctions, at least on oil sales, and stop trying to destroy their economy
  • In return for Iranian willingness to drop confrontational behavior in the region, the U.S. should offer to reciprocate—for instance, indicate a willingness to cut arms sales to the Saudis and Emiratis, end support for the Yemen war, and withdraw American forces from Syria and Iraq.
  • Stop trying to crash the Islamic Republic. Washington should encourage Iran to open up, creating more opportunity and influence for a younger generation that desires a freer society. That requires greater engagement, not isolation.

How much have we paid so far for the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror”

(Source – Foreign Policy In Focus)

First, the economic costs: According to estimates by the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the “war on terror” has cost Americans  $5.6 trillion since 2001, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.

The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post- 9/11 war veterans

It means Americans spend $32 million per hour, according to a counter by the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. Since 2001, every American taxpayer has spent almost $24,000 on the wars — equal to the average down payment on a house, a new Honda Accord, or a year at a public university.

image.png

(From The Hill) The human costs of our post-9/11 wars are almost incalculable — over 350,000 deaths on all sides, including over 200,000 civilians and 7,000 deaths of U.S. troops. Hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women now suffer with physical and psychological damage, including a high prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Traumatic Brain Injuries. In fact, 1 million of the 2 million U.S. troops who have cycled through our recent wars have applied for and received lifetime disability benefits. And the security situations in Iraq and Afghanistan not only have not stabilized, but in some ways have actually gotten worse.

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