While Americans are being injured and killed in Iraq and while we are headed, unless something changes, for trillions of dollars in additional debt under the Bush presidency, there is no reason for not taxing at a rate of 95 percent all businesses with a profit of 1 billion dollars a year on anything above that and all individuals earning more than a million dollars on anything above that.
I have seen a lot of dirty stuff in politics in my life but nothing quite as obscene as sending hundreds of thousands of Americans into harm’s way in Iraq while cutting taxes for the upper two percent of the wealthiest citizens; a pay back to mostly the president’s supporters. It’s just plain obscene. I’d like to see our president explain that one to a group of troops about to embark to the Mideast.
There are Americans earning tens of millions of dollars while the country sinks into an ever-growing debt; much of it held by ever-strengthening China (how many Chinese troops are being killed in Iraq or even near the place?) and other Asian countries. There are many corporations, including the oil companies, earning multi-billions of dollars at a time when every week, U.S. citizens are dying in a distant land. One failed executive was recently fired and received a $30,000,000-plus termination package. At least $29,000,000 of that should not have gone into his pockets. When we start doing this, they’ll find a way to get us out of the mess.
When the last American soldier has left Iraq and when the national debt has been reduced to what it was when George Bush took office and when every injured soldier has been properly taken care of financially and medically and every family taken care of generously if their loved one died over there, we can go back to tax levels we were at several years ago.
It’s time to change our course of action regarding how we use our strength. In the future, we need to refrain from entering other people’s civil wars. And we will be tempted. The best and most sophisticated public relations campaigns will be directed at us to get involved.
Great Britain, at the end of World War II, made a decision to stop being an empire. Their resources would be used at home. They got suckered into helping George Bush on Iraq, but by and large, they have stayed out of their several hundred years of battles all over Asia and Africa.
Other than responding with overwhelming force, we are the most powerful nation that has ever existed. If we are attacked as on 9/11, our resources should go for building hospitals, medical training, ending the still present hunger and starvation in the world, providing clean water, ending child prostitution, ending slavery, lowering worldwide pollution of the land and air and seas, saving endangered species, exerting our moral pressure to end torture and imprisonment for expressing ideas. We could do it for pennies on the dollar compared to what warfare costs us. To think what we could have done for our own country and the world with the treasure we have expended in Iraq, it can make you sick, especially that it has been revealed that Iraq had largely dismantled its military to the extent that it was no longer a threat to the region.
Although it may not seem so at times, the United States, I believe, is the most spiritual nation in the world and had the best values. We have done more to make this a better world than any other country in history. We need to refocus, and military and “nation building” is not the answer. If we never knew that before, we sure know it now.
We can consider we “won” in Iraq by toppling the monster Hussein and giving Iraqis the opportunity to create a government without him. Pretty soon, it’s time to declare our purposes have been achieved and it’s up to the Iraqis to work out how they want to spend the next hundred or thousands of years.
“We came here to do a job and then go home, whether that takes 10 years or even 15 years,” said Spc. Allan Annaert, from Headquarters Support Company, of the 94th Engineer Combat Battalion, (Heavy), which is stationed in Mosul, Iraq.
For Annaert, the thought of returning to Iraq would weigh heavy on any decision to stay in the Army.
“I joined the Army after the war in Iraq started and I caught the tail end of [Operation Iraqi Freedom I],” he said. “After a year in Germany, I’m back [in Iraq] for a year. For me personally, if it could mean coming back here once or even twice more, I would probably get out when my enlistment is up.”
The Atrios blog caught a telling moment on "Hardball with Chris Matthews," during its recent interview with Melanie Morgan of Move America Forward, the right-wing outfit that recently sponsored a feel-good tour of Iraq. As Morgan squared off against Iraq war veteran Paul Rieckhoff of Operation Truth, Matthews admitted that some of his guests tell him different versions of the truth when the cameras are rolling than when the cameras are off: "What I keep doing here is asking people on and off camera who come on this program, high-ranking officers, enlisted, former officers. I get sometimes, not all the time, two different versions, the version they give me on the air and the version they give me the minute when we‘re off the air. The version they give me when we‘re on the air is gung-ho, we‘re doing the right thing, everything is moving along. The version they give me off the air is, Rumsfeld is crazy. There aren‘t enough troops over there. We‘re not taking this seriously enough, or, we shouldn‘t be there, sometimes."
As those who follow these pages may know, I have been despairing for a long time over the fact that the principal mission has been subordinated by what I’ve called the “democracy diversion” – the administration’s theory that the (highly dubious) prospect of democratizing Iraq and the Islamic world will quell the Islamists. (Aside: go ask Israelis if they think the fledgling “democracy” in Gaza and the West Bank – which is very likely to bring Hamas to power – promotes their national security.)
Now, if several reportsthisweekend are accurate, we see the shocking ultimate destination of the democracy diversion. In the desperation to complete an Iraqi constitution – which can be spun as a major step of progress on the march toward democratic nirvana – the United States of America is pressuring competing factions to accept the supremacy of Islam and the fundamental principle no law may contradict Islamic principles.
There is grave reason to doubt that Islam and democracy (at least the Western version based on liberty and equality) are compatible. But that is an argument for another day. The argument for today is: the American people were never asked whether they would commit their forces to overseas hostilities for the purpose of turning Iraq into a democracy (we committed them (a) to topple a terror-abetting tyrant who was credibly thought both to have and to covet weapons of mass destruction, and (b) to kill or capture jihadists who posed a danger to American national security). I doubt they would have agreed to wage war for the purpose of establishing democracy. Like most Americans, I would like to see Iraq be an authentic democracy – just as I would like to see Iran, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, etc. be authentic democracies. But I would not sacrifice American lives to make it so.
But even if I suspended disbelief for a moment and agreed that the democracy project is a worthy casus belli, I am as certain as I am that I am breathing that the American people would not put their brave young men and women in harm’s way for the purpose of establishing an Islamic government. Anyplace.
It is not our place to fix what ails Islam. But it is utter recklessness to avert our eyes from the fact that militant Islam thrives wherever Islam reigns. That is a fact. When and where militant Islam thrives, America and the West are endangered. That is also a fact. How can we possibly be urging people who wisely don’t want it to accept the government-institutionalized supremacy of Islam?
And if the United States, in contradiction of its own bedrock principle against government establishment religion, has decided to go into the theocracy business, how in the world is it that Islam is the religion we picked?
Al-Hayat writes, "Also, an agreement was reached that Islam is the religion of state, and that no law shall be enacted that contradicts the agreed-upon essential verities of Islam. Likewise, the inviolability of the highest [Shiite] religious authorities in the land is safeguarded, without any allusion to a detailed description. The paragraph governing these matters will specify that Islam is 'the fundamental basis' for legislation, though there will be an allusion to the protection of democratic values, human rights, and social and national values. A Higher Council will be formed to review new legislation to ensure it does not contravene the essential verities of the Islamic religion." Personal status law, concerning marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance, and so forth, will be adjudicated by religious courts in accordance with the religion or sect to which the individual belongs.
Similar law is present in the constitution of the US-installed "Islamic Republic of Afghanistan". In fact, the text of the Afghanistan constitution is instructive:
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Preamble We the people of Afghanistan: 1. With firm faith in God Almighty and relying on His lawful mercy, and Believing in the Sacred religion of Islam . . . 3. While acknowledging the sacrifices and the historic struggles, rightful Jehad and just resistance of all people of Afghanistan, and respecting the high position of the martyrs for the freedom of Afghanistan . . .
Chapter I The State
Article 1 [Islamic Republic] Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state.
Article 2 [Religions] (1) The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam (2) Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law.
Article 3 [Law and Religion] In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam . . .
Article 131 [Shia Law for Shia Followers] (1) Courts shall apply Shia school of law in cases dealing with personal matters involving the followers of Shia Sect in accordance with the provisions of law. (2) In other cases if no clarification by this constitution and other laws exist and both sides of the case are followers of the Shia Sect, courts will resolve the matter according to laws of this Sect. '
The United States is pressuring Kurds to accept demands of majority Shiites and Sunnis on the role of Islam in government in order to reach agreement on a draft constitution, a Kurdish official taking part in the negotiations said early Saturday.
Those demands would give the Muslim religion a bigger role in Iraqi society at the expense of women's rights and civil liberties, said the official, who refused to allow his name to be used because of the sensitivity of the issue.
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