Nel's New Day

June 22, 2014

Religious War in Iraq, U.S.

Former Dick Cheney, the noisiest of the current chicken-hawks urging the U.S. to resume an Iraqi war, said in 2003:

  • People are wrong to think that we need several hundred thousand troops after military operations cease.
  • “[The United States] will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”
  • “Our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.”
  • The Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiites will come together in a democracy, Cheney told Tim Russert on Meet the Press, because “they have so far.”

“They understand the importance of preserving and building on an Iraqi national identity….  The prospects of being able to achieve this kind of success, if you will, from a political standpoint, are probably better than they would be for virtually any other country and under similar circumstances in that part of the world.”

No, none of this happened. Bush/Cheney pushed the well-trained Sunni military out of leadership and put the Shiites into control through the leadership of  Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, leaving the country torn apart.  Bush/Cheney destroyed the country’s infrastructure and replaced its government with another corrupt, brutal government.  Bush/Cheney put the Al-Qaeda in power because the Sunnis were not part of the government. Bush/Cheney went in with no plan and then signed an agreement to get out of Iraq before leaving office.

The $25 billion that the U.S. put into training and equipment for the Iraqi military paid for abuse of Iraqi civilians, primarily Sunnis, through unlawful raids and arrests, torture, and indiscriminate shelling.  The best summary of what happened in Iraq comes comedian Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

Despite his brutality, Saddam Hussein had kept an uneasy peace among the three separate identities in the country for almost 30 years. When Bush/Cheney removed him as leader, the rift became violent. Injured Sunnis were left for dead in a Shia hospital, and Sunni families who came to get the injured Sunnis were also in danger of being killed. Sen. John McCain said in April 2003 that the Shias and Sunnis had no history of discord. The U.S. totally failed to understand that this rift has existed for 1300 years, that Iraq was only labeled as a “country” in 1920 because Britain wanted its oil.

For a short time in 2008, Gen. David Petraeus demanded that the Sunnis be included in decisions, but this was soon dropped. A Sunni organization in Syria called ISIS made themselves popular with food and healthcare drives in the villages. ISIS built a fortune of over $2 billion after it took over some of the Iraqi banks this year, becoming the richest terrorist group in the world.

ISIS isn’t alone in its attacks on the Iraqi army. Although many Sunnis are disturbed by the ISIS violence, the group’s collaboration with local militias, including Ba’athist and Islamist sects, has made it easier for them to overtake a number of cities. Most of the media reports only on ISIS, but people in Iraq report that it is just one faction in a popular rebellion against Maliki’s corrupt government. For them, there is no other option.

Eleven years after the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq, most people have figured out that the U.S. isn’t going to plant “seeds of democracy” in a religiously war-torn nation. President Obama has announced that the U.S. would not intervene in Iraq until the Iraqi government makes concessions to the Sunnis. Yet he has already chosen sides with the Shiites by promising 300 “military advisers,” who will receive combat pay, to help the government fight against the Sunnis. The U.S. has already also increased its “intelligence and surveillance assistance” and continues to supply arms to the Shiite government, assisting the “genocide” against the Sunni population.

Religious and ultra conservative leaders in the U.S. are opposing any involvement in Iraq: Pat Robertson bashed the Bush/Cheney war on The 700 Club by agreeing that Hussein kept “those warring factions in check.” He added, “It’s unfixable. Those simmering animosities have been there for centuries.

Glenn Beck admitted he was wrong and the liberals were right for opposing the invasion:

“You were right. Liberals, you were right, we shouldn’t have…. Not one more life. Not one more life. Not one more dollar, not one more airplane, not one more bullet, not one more Marine, not one more arm or leg or eye. Not one more. This must end now.”

Fox network’s Shepard Smith criticized the people who were wrong in the first place and now want the U.S. to go back into Iraq. Megyn Kelly scolded Cheney for his op-ed criticizing President Obama for his Iraqi policy by telling Cheney how wrong he was:

“Now with almost a trillion dollars spent there with 4,500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talked to David Gregory on NBC’s Meet the Press today about the Bush/Cheney mistakes.

Much as I would like to think that these people have suddenly become sane, the intent may be to show up the war-mongering establishment GOP by siding with the over 80 percent of people in the United States who think that the U.S. needs to stay out of Iraq.

Historian Crane Brinton describes three phases of revolutionary change countries typically follow:

  • People revolt and the old order is overthrown.
  • Revolutionaries, the people who overthrew the old order, become oppressors themselves and use violence to stay in power.
  • People revolt against the revolutionaries to restore the peace and tranquility they used to have during the old regime.

When order is restored, the best parts of revolution are preserved. Iraq’s old order was overthrown in 2003. The country is still in the second, violent, phase. The Iraqis have to revolt against this violence to escape a cycle of radicalism and terror. The U. S. needs to stay out of the process.

To support the current Iraqi regime is to support Iran. When the Iraqi soldiers defected, Iran sent the Revolutionary Guard to help Maliki, increasing Iraq’s independence on Iran. Anything the U.S. sends to Iraq may easily go on to Iran.

Even some of the Shiites want the U.S. out of Iraq. In a sermon Friday, Nassir al-Saedi, loyalist to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, said that their group will attack the U.S., “the occupier,” if it comes back. Tens of thousands of al-Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi army, paraded through the Baghdad streets yesterday.

The U.S. needs to concentrate on the domestic terrorists in our country. The Ku Klux Klan is organizing a military-style combat training for its members to participate in a racial civil war. At this time, existing and new KKK members now overseas and leaving the military will be leading these trainings. One of the women in the KKK said, “The Klan is a Christian organization, so they get to read the bible and they enjoy going to rallies and they get to play with kids their own kind.”

The Klan is starting to develop its followers in the same way that ISIS did—by helping people. Part of their agenda is to volunteer for neighborhood watch programs. KKK members dropped flyers in Chesterfield County (VA) that stated, “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake.” The klan may appear to be small at this time, but it will be joined by angry violent groups with almost unlimited supplies of guns because of lax laws in the U.S.

Conservatives will do anything they can to keep the KKK in business. After U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced  that the DOJ is bringing back its committee on Domestic Terrorism, the extremist right wing came out in force. According to their beliefs, white supremacists using violence and terrorizing communities for their political agenda are exercising their free speech rights. They are “patriots.”

Extremists claim that Holder’s committee is a war on white men while bombing abortion clinics and killing doctors is just showing that you disagree with them. Cliven Bundy was merely exercising his rights not to pay his debts; the government was the terrorist, according to the radical right. In 2009, DHS issued a report that identified white supremacists as the greatest threat to national security, and the far right went ballistic.

Membership in the KKK has tripled since President Obama was elected the first time. Members claim that it’s a “non-violent, Christian organization.” The past six years has seen a constant diet of vicious, racist diatribes not seen since Herbert Hoover’s Southern Strategy to attract Southern racists to the GOP. Republican candidates use openly racial language in an attempt to win votes.

Parallels between Muslim fundamentalists and U.S. Christian right:

  • Motivated by extreme religious beliefs
  • Tend to have antiquated ideas about the role of women
  • See themselves as “soldiers of God”
  • Harbor strong homophobia
  •  Vigorously defend their way of life by using violence if necessary

About a half century ago, a Catholic president promised to follow the constitution and keep his religious beliefs separate from his political views. Since Ronald Reagan was elected president, far-right religious candidates have become more and more fanatical about incorporating the Bible into political decisions until the radical Christian fundamentalists have started to force everyone in the country to follow their beliefs.  Like the Shiites, these legislators are the religious fanatics who protect the domestic terrorists.

We need to turn back to a democracy instead of a theocracy like Iraq. Our government—including Congress—needs to start protecting “our homeland” from “our” domestic terrorists before the Christian fundamentalists take over U.S. cities by force.

June 18, 2014

Domestic Terrorists, a Bigger Problem than Foreign Ones

Almost 13 years, 19 al-Qaeda extremists killed 2,977 people in the U.S., a tragedy that allowed George W. Bush to start two “military actions” costing us over one trillion dollars. Reasons beginning with a search for non-existent weapons of mass destruction evolved to an excuse of bringing democracy to the world—preferably countries with oil. In the past 11 years, the U.S. has caused 6,717 military deaths, 650,000 or more Iraqi civilian deaths, and at least 320,000 brain injuries.

Shortly before Bush left the presidency, he signed an agreement that required U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq by December 31, 2011. President Obama complied with Bush’s agreement, but the Sunni insurgents that the U.S.-appointed Shia government replaced are returning.

So are the conservative war hawks in Congress. As violence in Iraq escalates and Sunnis take over parts of Iraq, the conservative rhetoric against the president and for another “military action” in Iraq ramps up. The chicken hawks in Congress are demanding that the U.S. military kill more Iraqis.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is outraged because we are losing all those non-existent “gains” that the U.S. made in Iraq. He was wrong when he said over ten years ago that winning would be easy and that Iraqis would greet the U.S. as liberators, and he’s wrong now when he said, “The fact is, we had the conflict won. The surge had succeeded. And then, the decision was made by the Obama administration to not have a residual force in Iraq.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to cover for his buddy when he injected greater fear in his warnings. “The people that are moving into Iraq … have as part of their agenda … to hit our homeland.” What Graham ignores is that “our homeland” is already under attack. The attackers, however, are not foreign terrorists; they are domestic terrorists.

The definition of terrorism is violence against innocent civilians to advance a political cause. People in the United States are far more likely to be killed by right-wing Americans than foreign terrorists. Since 9/11, right-wing extremists (aka terrorists) have killed people at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a church in Kansas because a doctor performed abortions,  These acts were not simply one person deciding to murder another; the killers were tied to far right-wing groups.

In both the recent murders at the Jewish Community Center and the Boston Marathon bombing, three people were killed. One of these events produced hours and hours and hours of media attention, even on its anniversary; the other event received far less attention. A big difference is that the killer at the Jewish Center yelled “Heil Hitler” instead of “Allah Akbar.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calculates that the United States has 939 far right-wing hate groups, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, and border vigilantes. This is 56 percent more than in 2000. SPLC stated:

“This surge has been fueled by anger and fear over the nation’s ailing economy, an influx of non-white immigrants, and the diminishing white majority, as symbolized by the election of the nation’s first African-American president…. The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, skyrocketed following the election of President Obama in 2008 – rising 813 percent, from 149 groups in 2008 to an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012.”

The standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch because he didn’t want to pay his debts to the federal government is an indicator of domestic terrorism in the United States. Well-armed self-identified militia demanded that federal officials stand down and give up their guns. To prevent deaths, the federal officials complied. While conservatives refer to the people fighting the Iraqi government as insurgents, they use the term “patriots” to refer to the self-identified militia in Nevada and Utah. These armed “patriots” pointed weapons at federal officials, took armed control of local roads without challenge, and rode roughshod over federally-protected sacred Native American lands.

Five years ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report about violent right-wing extremist groups that were recruiting military veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Conservative columnists expressed outrage, and DHS retracted the report. They stopped examining non-Islamic terrorist threats—anti-abortion extremists, white supremacists, “sovereign citizens,” eco-terrorists, etc.

The myths that gun carriers are good people and that killings can be stopped by gun carriers were erased less than two weeks ago when members of the militia on Bundy’s ranch walked into a Las Vegas Walmart and killed two cops before killing another man. There have been claims that the couple was asked to leave because one of them was a felon, but he was still part of the group holding off the federal officials.

While the killer was at the Bundy ranch, he spoke to reporters:

“I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around or something like that. I really don’t want violence toward them, but if they’re going to come bring violence to us, well if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it.”

Before he fired on the police officers, he reportedly yelled, “This is the start of a revolution.” After the murders, the couple draped the bodies with the Revolution-era “don’t treat on me” flag.

A few days before the murders, the Department of Justice announced a law enforcement group to investigate domestic terrorism. The Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee was formed after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 but disbanded after 9/11. Attorney General Eric Holder said it was to “return our focus to potential extremists here at home,” specifically those motivated by “causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice.”

Conservatives are again in a snit about the committee. Pat Dollard said it was waging war on white men. Alex Jones claimed that the president is going after his political enemies. Glenn Beck thinks that “this regime” is terrified about attempts to “re-establish our constitutional government.”

Another Bundy-follower and self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen,” 60-year-old  Brent Douglas Cole, shot a BLM ranger and a California Highway Patrol officer last Saturday at a campground in California’s Nevada County. According to SPLC, “Sovereigns believe that they–not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials–get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes.” Cole describes himself as “a statutory Attorney General of the United States.”

The “stand your ground” laws that allowed people to kill others and walk free has been superseded by an even more horrifying  NRA-promoted law in Indiana. In that state, anyone can kill police officers who might be overstepping authority. If a police officer trespasses on property, for example, that person can be shot and perhaps killed. The couple who killed the police officers in Las Vegas was from Indiana.

Graham is wrong about al-Qaeda hitting “our homeland.” People within the “homeland” are doing just fine at destroying it. Gun makers, gun sellers, gun show vendors, NRA execs and lobbyists, and open carry fanatics are terrifying members of Congress so that more people—including small children—will be killed and others will start to hide. The gunners succeeded in frightening people in Nevada and Utah, breaking laws with impunity and taking over governments.

The Pentagon has an ongoing series of studies to investigate large-scale civil unrest. The Minerva Research Initiative, started in 2008, is now studying only non-violent activists as part of a “social contagion.” A concern is that “problem-causers” in peaceful protests are “threatening the established balance of power and influence, and challenging law and order.” Part of the study also deals with how “to counteract grassroots movements.”

Instead of spending trillions of dollars to “fight terrorism abroad,” the country needs to fight homegrown terrorists who are taking over the United States. Instead of concentrating on non-violent activists, the Pentagon needs to look into domestic terrorists. We have a serious problem in “our homeland,” and it needs to be addressed.

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