Thursday, July 10, 2008

The U.S. has a lot on its plate

By Carol Gee

The people of the United States have "big helpings" of problems on our plates right now. The economy has either moved overseas or is in serious decline. We are into the difficult transition of moving to new non-poluting energy sources. Many Democrats are disappointing those of us still in the party, and Republicans are in desperate straits. The United States Congress is as bad a failure as the Bush administration, most recently demonstrated by the passage and signing of an unconstitutional FISA bill. The SCOTUS is stacked with too many conservatives and teetering. With such a full plate, how can we have any heart for thinking about what is going on in the overseas wars?

And the nation remains at war in Iraq and Afghanistan -- This interminable war in Iraq is just too much about which to also worry, so we stay in denial that it is a huge problem. And nobody can agree on what to do next. Though Germany plans to increase its number of troops by 1000, Afghanistan is still a very dicey deal. Even Congress, according to an excellent feature in The Washington Post, is "at war with itself over the war." A troop draw down has begun last month in Iraq, according to Reuters (6/23/08), but U.S. military leaders maintain that "Iraq still needs our help." To quote:

Iraqi troops are not ready to take full responsibility for security and combat operations in any part of the country, said Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the No. 2 U.S. military commander in Iraq.

. . . the Pentagon pulls U.S. troops out of Iraq after a buildup last year. By August, five combat brigades will have withdrawn, leaving about 140,000 U.S. troops in the war zone. Commanders then will assess violence and the condition of Iraqi troops as they weigh whether more American forces can be withdrawn by the end of 2008.

The latest news about Iraq often comes from Professor Juan Cole, who writes Informed Comment. On June 9, Cole reported that the chances of getting a Status of Forces Agreement have markedly declined. Prime Minister Malaki wants a timetable for troop withdrawal, and that is a part of his party's platform for the fall elections. This post also contains details about many deaths still happening in Iraq -- U.S. soldiers, Iraqi soldiers, insurgents, civilian contractors, etc. And some of the deaths are, according to The Washington Post (7/10/08), happening as a result of "a powerful new weapon." To quote:

U.S. military officials call the devices Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions, or IRAMs. They are propane tanks packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives and powered by 107mm rockets. They are often fired by remote control from the backs of trucks, sometimes in close succession. Rocket-propelled bombs have killed at least 21 people, including at least three U.S. soldiers, this year.

The U.S. has its plate full because of eight years under the unitary presidency of George W. Bush and his administration, and due to Congress' failure to do its primary job under the constitution in the face of this stampeding president. I wish the Democrats would consider impeachment, but, again it is ducking, or "bowing," as Glenn Greenwald puts it. We have a plate full of hard to stomach food these days, and insufficient implements with which to eat. Actually, I feel a bit sick to my stomach at this moment. You'll have to excuse me.

Today in history: July 10, 1787. Constitution Convention - Washington reported to Hamilton on difficulties at Constitutional Convention.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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