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Why Is This Man Smiling?

Posted on Sep 4, 2007
Bush at Al-Asad
AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

All smiles:  President Bush poses with the troops at Al-Asad Airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province.

By Robert Scheer

          OK, throw another $50 billion down the rat hole that is the Iraq occupation.  It’s only money, if you ignore the lives being destroyed.  That’s what the White House is asking for, in addition to the $147 billion in supplementary funds already requested, and Congress will grant it after Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker follow President Bush’s photo op in Iraq’s Anbar province with a dog and pony show of their own.  Meanwhile, the Democrats are totally cynical about this continuing waste of taxpayer dollars and of American and Iraqi lives, and, wanting Bush to hang himself with his own rope, they will deny him nothing.

          In the effort to retaliate against terrorists who hijacked planes six years ago with an arsenal of $3 knives, this year’s overall defense budget has been pushed to $657 billion.  We are now spending $3 billion a week in Iraq alone, occupying a country that had nothing to do with the tragedy that sparked this orgy of militarism.  The waste is so enormous and irrelevant to our national security that a rational person might embrace the libertarian creed if only for the sake of sanity.  Clearly, the federal government no longer cares much about providing for health, education, hurricane reconstruction or even bridge safety, as the military budget now dwarfs all other discretionary spending, despite the lack of a sophisticated enemy in sight.

          Numbers are boring, and the media act as if there is no difference between a million and a billion dollars thrown at the military—let alone the trillion-dollar projected cost of the Iraq war.  That last figure is well documented in a solid study out of Harvard co-authored by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz but ignored by the mass media So too a recent authoritative report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office that, despite the $44.5 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars already poured into reconstruction, little detectable progress has been made in Iraq’s crucial oil and electricity systems. 

        Remember when Paul Wolfowitz, then the Pentagon’s resident neocon genius, assured Congress that Iraqi oil money would easily bear the entire cost of America’s Iraqi adventure?  Now the GAO tells us that, even after spending an additional $57 billion on the Iraqi oil and electricity infrastructure, and assuming peace is restored, Iraq would still not produce enough oil and electricity to meet local demand until the year 2015.

  Aside from corruption and the lack of security, the biggest problem in supplying Iraq with electricity is that the national electrical grid has broken down, and different factions, divided largely along ethnic and religious lines, are grabbing what they can.  This kind of anarchy is emblematic of the new, emerging Iraq, in which the central government has declining sway over the nation’s decisions.


Square, Site wide

That latter point was underscored this week by Bush’s happy-faced visit to a highly fortified and isolated American outpost in Anbar province.  After posing gamely with the troops at the Al-Asad base, Bush celebrated the return of Sunni areas to the control of U.S.-armed militias—composed largely of former insurgents who have at least temporarily decided that their Shiite rivals, currently in control of the central government, are a more pressing enemy than the American occupiers.  Speaking of one such group of Sunnis trained by the Americans and dubbed the “Volunteers” by their instructors, a U.S. soldier told The Washington Post, “I think there is some risk of them being Volunteers by day and terrorists by night.”

That is exactly what has occurred on the Shiite side, where anti-U.S. religious groups have completely infiltrated the American-trained Iraqi military and police forces.  In Iraq’s Shiite-controlled south, the domination of the military and police by the fiercely anti-American Madhi Army and other militias was ensured by the final withdrawal of British troops from Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city and a vital center of oil production, on the same day that Bush visited Iraq.  Instead of the liberated, united and democratic Iraq promised by this invasion, we are left with a nation ruled by religious fiefdoms sustained far into the future by U.S. taxpayers.

The French and the Germans, hoary veterans of various failed European adventures in imperialism, warned us about precisely this outcome.  While U.S. troops spill blood to guard broken oil pipelines, the Chinese and others go merrily about the world buying up black gold on the open market.  But hey, don’t worry about your tax dollars and the waste of lives—eat some freedom fries and learn, like our president, to keep smiling.

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By C Quil, September 5, 2007 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

Why are all those women blonde?

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By C Quil, September 5, 2007 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

Why are any of these people smiling?

Who’d want to be in a picture with that guy?

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By Turd Bird, September 5, 2007 at 11:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey Jon (#98672),

I’m a white male christian and I’m just as screwed as the next guy so please don’t be hating on people.  People like the Prez don’t get average people, irregardless of the tone of their skin.  Yesterday’s racism has become today’s classism.  It’s divide and conquer, friend.  So wipe the poo poo off your eyeballs and see it for what it is.  We need all the friends we can get.

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By Winghunter, September 5, 2007 at 10:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

LOL! ROFL! Yeah Tumork; Right!, my wide-eyed anger was beginning to roll over in pity for you fools until you opened your fly-traps again with the same foolishness.

Drooling in the most vile accusations without the smallest hint of rational OR reasonable evidence against our President and our country yet you have the mental midgetry to offer that I’m being “rude” and “un-American”??....Have you lost any fragment of commonsense or decency along with your sanity that God MAY have given you!?

You caustic clowns think nothing of generating or perpetuating fecal conspiracy theories with all the half-baked thoughts and stumbling “truth” a five year old could dream up.

I could provide you direct and unimpeachable evidence of everything you asylum escapees have driveled here but, in realizing just how far you’ve fallen there is no ladder long enough to throw down for you to climb out of this deep dementia…much of the evidence is available if your denial allows you to look yet I know you will not.

In the meantime feel very safe behind your keyboards as if you had puked just some of this crap up in my presence you would do well to remember that “Fighting Words” is an affirmative defense!

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By Nancy Newberry, September 5, 2007 at 10:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I continue to be amazed at people like Winghunter that obviously voted for and continue to support Bushler in spite of the overwhelming evidence that this administration has been an absolute disaster on all counts.  Such blind obedience to this idiot is unfathomable.  I cannot stand to see this country lose everything (people, money, parks, animals, respect, pristine places) and have us be seemingly so helpless to stop him. If I were younger, I would get out of this country so fast.  I would not want to answer to the next generation questions about how Bushler was re-elected (it is one thing to elect a man who turns out to be stupid and divisive and does not uphold the Constitution; it is quite another thing to re-elect him); how we let him lie and lead us to war; how he divided the country and rational arguements were never part of the discussion; how we continued to fund a war which bankrupted our own future; how we let him destroy our pristine areas for commercial reasons; how he was able to ignore global warming with bogus scientific information, and on and on and on.  I guess it is too much to hope for that Congress would refuse to fund the war and stop it now.  Impeachment is the only answer.

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By QuyTran, September 5, 2007 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

Ref. Mike Mid-City # 98638

Don’t insult Hitler, please !

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By cann4ing, September 5, 2007 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

While Robert Scheer’s critique is poignant, especially as it relates to the extent to which the military-industrial complex has seized on 9/11 as an excuse to expand, it is important to place this, and Iraq, within the broader historical context.

In “Nemesis:  The Last Days of the American Republic,” Chalmers Johnson observes:  “The United States has been continuously engaged in or mobilized for war since 1941.  Using statistics compiled by the Federation of American Scientists, Gore Vidal has listed 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and September 11, 2001, in which the United States struck the first blow….”

“It should be noted that since 1947, while we have used our military power for political and military gain in a long list of countries, in no instance has democratic government come about as a direct result.  In some important cases, on the other hand, democracy has developed in opposition to our interference.”

Prof. Johnson’s central thesis is that this perpetual state of war has radically transformed the U.S. government to the point that it bears little resemblance to what the framers of the Constitution envisioned in 1787.  As observed by James Madison, “Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most dreaded….War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few….War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement….The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity…are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.”

Of course we should all oppose the imperial war of aggression in Iraq, but if we stop there, if we fail to take stock of the true costs of imperialism and the military-industrial complex, both financial and in terms of the very survival of constitutional democracy, little will change even if, one hopes, the Bush regime does not make good on the threat embodied in executive orders to use a new terrorist incident on U.S. soil as an excuse to declare martial law and to extend the reign of this lawless presidency.

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By don knutsen, September 5, 2007 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

There goes the shrub again…..letting out proof to Osama of what he dreads most ...the development of two-headed female soldiers. I wonder how many of those smiling soldiers will get to come home to their families ?

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By ocjim, September 5, 2007 at 7:27 am Link to this comment

I say, “God, how did we get into this mess.”
He says, “You chose this fool as President and this path.”

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By tomack, September 5, 2007 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

Dear Winghunter,

I don’t know from under which rock you crawled, but your comments are rude, inaccurate, and quite frankly, un-American. 1) We have every idea what WMD’s were found—zero. If they had your “leader” would have spilled the news over every media link in the world. 2) Yes, Saddam was a murderer, however, this “war” has caused more innocent to die than he did. 3) Your “leader” approved the disbanding of the Iraqi army—not exactly helping your “flooding the theatre” scenario (by the way, as an ex-military man myself and student of military history I have always abhorred the use of the term “theatre” when it comes to describing destruction, localized or on a grand scale . THAT is NOT my idea of Theatre. 

You are correct only once in your brief tirade, and that being your comment, “Freedom aint Free.” However, the pursuit of true freedom is best sought by those whose freedom is at stake.

All through history there are numerous examples of strong powers “helping” other, smaller players, and in most of those cases there is always a payoff, or pot of gold at the end. What could it be here?

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By Gold Star Father, September 5, 2007 at 7:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bush isn’t smiling. He’s smirking. The trademark facial expression of the bushcheney tyranny.

We all know what will happen when Patreaus and Crocker come to Washington this month. “The surge is working”.

Please help stop this madness. March on Washington on September 15th and the week after. Stop this government from causing any more of our sons and daughters to die in Iraq.

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By Paracelsus, September 5, 2007 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

“In the effort to retaliate against terrorists who hijacked planes six years ago with an arsenal of $3 knives”... Ralph!!! Sorry Scheer, just some liquid laughter here. Bwap! Oh God! I’m dry heaving now. I wish I could explain it to you. Graaap! Now I am almost through. No, I am not. Blah! 9-11 was an inside… Oh God… Back to my toilet altar.

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Paolo's avatar

By Paolo, September 5, 2007 at 6:47 am Link to this comment

The quote of the day:

“The waste is so enormous and irrelevant to our national security that a rational person might embrace the libertarian creed if only for the sake of sanity.”

Robert, you’re on the right track!

Libertarians oppose empire-building because of what it is: the ultimate, most monstrous government program of all. Empire-building features governments doing what they do best: killing people, destroying property, and creating poverty.

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By Biloxi, September 5, 2007 at 6:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He isn’t “smiling” he is LAUGHING WITH THE SAME FOOLS that agree with his psychopathy and indeed, fulfill it for him.

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By riceowlex, September 5, 2007 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

This war is based on the murder of 2769 people that were murdered with the use of demolition explosives placed in the WTC on 9/11/2001. It has been the pretext to this Iraq treasury/oil corporate free for all. It was the pretext to the SPP and the furthering of the North American Union, which will destroy American sovereignty and eliminate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Ask yourself why Bush wants amnesty here for foreign illegals(are any terrorists?) Ask yourself why we can police 130 countries and will not police our borders where terrorists could smuggle nukes inside the US and destroy huge cities. WAKE UP!!! Bush knew damn well the WTC was going to be blown to kingdom come. He is a murderer and a traitor. Bush, Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Ashcroft all accessories to murder and treason. Ask yourself why Bush desperately avoided a criminal investigation into 9/11. He is the commander in chief, he should want to know exactly who, where, when and how and see that the guilty are punished. There is chemical, visual and audible evidence that the WTC was demolished. Therein lies all you need to know concerning the war on terror!

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By peter, September 5, 2007 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By referring to 911 as achieved by the vaunted hijackers equipped with 3$ knives is gatekeeper stuff to divert attention from the demolition black op that really took out Ground Zero and Building 7 that is studiously ignored. It is a deep rabbit hole that the gatekeepers systematically avoid. Once one goes down this route the whole scam unravels.

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By Jon, September 5, 2007 at 5:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

George is smiling because he knows that the american Theocracy owned, operated and run for the sole, discretion, pleasure and profit of the white male christian will fund the Crusade. George has already identified the standard by which he and the next theocratic leader will continue the wars of this decade and beyond.  He said that 55,000 rotting dead ameican soldiers and millions of dead rotting civilians in Vietnam WERE NOT sufficient to have withdrawn from that Genocide.  Now we know what, at least, is the minimal acceptable death count for the Crusade in Iraq, Iran, Saudia Arabia, Pakistan, Syria AND where ever else you find non-white-non-christian people with oil under their feet.  It is the white man’s god that gives the theocracy this right and obligation to march forth. ah yes - the judeo-christian-islamic religious triangle of terror is alive and well. god bless all the delusion for shortly it will only be their delusions they have left.

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By roberto, September 5, 2007 at 4:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why is BUSH smiling???

The question in MY mind is, why are the SOLDIERS smiling?!

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By jay, September 5, 2007 at 4:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The idiot is smiling because:

1-He has killed more innocent people (iraq,afghanistan,lebanon,...where does the list end?)more than all the dictators put together for the past 2 decades if not more,and no one holds him accountable.
2- He is going to “create” another situation where he can attack Iran where he can kill more and he knows no one can stop him.
3- He and his cronies has made billions of dollars (from taxpayers money of course) and ghost contracts granted to rebuild and secure iraq where he doesnt give a hogs a$$ if theres democracy or if the sectarian chiefs slaughter more people everyday as long as theres more money to be made.
4-He goes on Tv and make speeches that are too embarrasing to listen to because it insults ones intelligence but he still has a few dimwits(probably as stupid as he is) actually applaud.

I know it has been said over and over again,but its “REALLY ITS TIME FOR THE PEOPLE TO TAKE MATTERS IN THEIR OWN HANDS”.

Ps..He is always smiling because he’s demented and delusional,but he doesnt realise it.

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By Brian Paterson, September 5, 2007 at 4:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bush and Howard here in Sydney Australia for the Apec meeting are still smiling, but the people of Sydney are not smiling with the lockdown that has occurred in their city, perhaps when we see Bush and Howard in the front line in Iraq, we with the American and Australian people will then be smiling

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By nefertiti, September 5, 2007 at 2:55 am Link to this comment

Because he is an idiot and he does not know it.

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By Winghunter, September 5, 2007 at 2:49 am Link to this comment

Ohh, what a bunch of sniveling , slack-jawed wimps.
That’s enough of your drivel, here’s a box of bibs for you infants.

Bobby shakes his rattle so hard here he can’t think beyond his single dimensional train of thought…the train with all the empty box cars.

You have no idea of the WMD’s that were found nor will you ever likely know.

You had no idea that the mass murderer Saddass orchestrated a hit on a President well before the war as he continuously thumbed his nose at the world in continuing to make ready his biological, chemical and nuclear weapons as fast as he could.

For the cheap seats, twits…the war was absolutely necessary and correct in every way and the only area our current President screwed up is was by listening to his jackass generals and not flooding the theatre to root out the terrorists who arrived from every corner of the world to fight us instead of trying to murder us here at home.

Grow some hair on your pea size testicals and repeat after me worms…Freedom ain’t FREE!! Grow the hell up and get a clue.

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By Rudi P., September 5, 2007 at 12:54 am Link to this comment

Thanks to Robert Scheer for reminding us that Germany and France (and Russia) warned about this quagmire before the war started. Americans should hold their government accountable for their misjudgments, not just by giving them low approval ratings. Impeachment seems to be a sensible option in such times.

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By Michelle, September 5, 2007 at 12:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bring our troops home Bush Dedicated to OUR Soldiers

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By TAO Walker, September 5, 2007 at 12:07 am Link to this comment

Robert Scheer lost this old Indian at “....terrorists who hijacked planes six years ago with an arsenal of $3 knives,....”  Is this oft-repeated bow-and-scrape in the direction of the “official” 9/11 myth the price he must pay to keep this site from being taken down by hackers in-service to the plutoligarchy? 

Perhaps we should applaud, rather than censure, his willingness to play the fool….if that is indeed what he’s doing.  It can’t be easy for a man of his credentials to make such a sacrifice.

Let’s hope, for his sake, it is made for something more noble than merely the preservation of his rather privileged comfort-level (a previously self-confessed priority of his).  Let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, truth is really the “value” here.


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By G.Anderson, September 4, 2007 at 11:29 pm Link to this comment

What ever happens, in Iraq, or Iran from this point on, there will be no consequences to president Bush.

He won’t be impeached, and he won’t suffer any personal financial loss for his failures.

The corporations who have benefited from the lavish war time expenditures, will have the money to donate to their favorite political party, and those that lobby on capitol hill for larger military expenditures will have more money with which to influence congress.

President Bush and his military advisors, will try and convince the American people that they must continue to support the war in Iraq. They will try to convince us that we are fighting for freedom in Iraq.

But it does no good to speak about freedom, when in your heart you believe in slavery. When every photo shoot, is careful staged, every fact is cleverly spun, to avoid the truth leaking out.

No, the truth in Iraq will eventually have to be faced, but not by this president, it will be for other American’s in the future, to try and pick up the pieces, and face the grim reality that we have made of Iraq.

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By kevin99999, September 4, 2007 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Every time I see this man’s picture I want to puke in disgust.

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By Mudwollow, September 4, 2007 at 10:52 pm Link to this comment

Why not smile? He just spent an additional few hundred million (of your tax money) for another repulsively PR stunt and is going home to a congress and press who will kiss his ass for it.

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By RickinSF, September 4, 2007 at 10:40 pm Link to this comment

Posing with his “captive” audience, W reminds me of an old expression:

“He’s so sorry we had to tie a pork chop ‘round his neck to get the dog to play with him.”

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By Mar Del Zur, September 4, 2007 at 10:25 pm Link to this comment

If there were any justice left in this country Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz would be swinging from gallows in front the of Lincoln Memorial.

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By rowdy, September 4, 2007 at 10:13 pm Link to this comment

it’s easy to smile when you surround yourself with self deluded sycophants.

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