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09/16/2003 Archived Entry: "Reservists in Iraq"

Only the Canadian government could lose money as a drug dealer. According to the Ottawa Citizen, "Some of the first patients to smoke Health Canada's government-approved marijuana say it's 'disgusting' and want their money back."

Propaganda Photoshop has 143 anti-war, anti-Homeland Security posters/leaflets...some of which are quite funny.

The lead story on the antiwar.com site today is "Iraqi police ready to turn guns on US troops." The article from the London Times opens, "Iraqi policemen declared themselves holy warriors yesterday and vowed to take revenge for the deaths of their comrades in the town where ten police and a security guard were killed on Friday in the worst "friendly fire" incident of the Iraq conflict." The establishment of a "native" police force has been one of the very few positive developments in Iraq to which the Bush administration has been able to point; now that achievement may become a source of regret, embarrassment, and casualties. The Americans in Iraq are in over their heads. I am not merely or even primarily referring to the ongoing guerilla warfare that they are woefully ill-equipped to fight -- approx. 15 attacks against troops each day, with 449 dead and 1478 wounded since the beginning of the invasion. The troops are in over their heads because too many of them are reservists who were never meant to function as replacements for regular army, let alone to pull down duties that take them away from their families and lives for as long as 16 months. And, yet, in the past two years, more than 212,000 reservists and National Guard troops have been mobilized both for overseas and domestic duty. The New York Times has a revealing story of one such reservist, "Mike Gorski thought he was done with active military duty when he left the Marines for civilian life more than a decade ago and signed on with the National Guard a few years later. A banker with a new wife, Kim, and a new house here, Mr. Gorski, 33, knew that he would have to spend one weekend a month in training and two weeks a year on active duty. There was always the possibility of being called up for perhaps one six-month deployment. But since the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Gorski, a staff sergeant with the 870th Military Police Company of the California National Guard, has spent 16 months away from home, first at an Army base in Tacoma, Wash., and most recently in the southern Iraqi city of Karbala. He is likely to spend eight more months in Iraq, and he has decided to leave the National Guard as soon as he can." The story about Gorski is revealing because he is leaving the National Guard, as I believe a large number of returning troops will do. Who can blame him/them? His family is probably living on savings in order to pay the mortgage. He signed up for a 6-month duty, at most, but he won't be home for over two years -- perhaps longer if his stay is abruptly, unilaterally extended once more. The bitter reality for many returning soldiers will be that their families have fallen apart during and due to those years of absence: many marriages will not survive the extraordinary stress and demands. Even for those soldiers who can walk back into arms held open...parents will have died, children will not know them, houses and cars may have been repossessed, savings depleted, careers ruined... The human devastation being wrought by the "Bring 'em on!" crowd is terrible. Recruitment into the National Guard must be at an all-time low. If so, what will happen when all the Gorskis in Iraq come home and there are no volunteers to throw back into that God-forsaken desert of a nation? That's the point at which the US will either be backing out of Iraq or instituting a draft. The only "upside" of the latter option is that I don't believe Bush could possibly win a second term if he introduced conscription before next November.

Charley Reese, now one of my favorite columnists, has a good piece entitled "Bush's big blunder" in which he comments, "On Sept. 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by a single organization, al-Qaida, headed by Osama bin Laden. We had not been attacked by North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Colombian guerrillas, Philippine guerrillas, the Taliban, Indonesian guerrillas, Muslims in general or anybody else. Just that one organization, al-Qaida, hit us. Once that was ascertained, President George Bush should have told the American people that we were going to track down the members of that organization and kill them."

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney is still denying that he helped Halliburton, his former oil services company, get a multibillion US government contract for which it did not have to compete with other bidders. Cheney claims to have severed all financial ties to Halliburton -- and, in the letter of the law, perhaps he has. But the financial distance between the VP and Halliburton is not a centimetre more than that required by law. For example, although he does not own, he has stock options. As quoted in yesterday's blog..."Halliburton...is still making annual payments to its former chief executive, the vice-president Dick Cheney. The payments, which appear on Mr Cheney's 2001 financial disclosure statement, are in the form of "deferred compensation" of up to $1m (600,000) a year." With Cheney, you have to look at what is -not- being said in order to understand what is going on. Re: the Halliburton sweetheart contracts, someone should ask "What didn't you do and when didn't you do it?"

Best to all,

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