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Empire of Illusion

Empire of Illusion

By Chris Hedges

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Tag: Iraq

DoD / Tech. Sgt. Jerry Morrison, USAF

Gates Might Stick Around

The Financial Times is reporting that Barack Obama is keen to have Robert Gates stay on as defense secretary. The paper says the two are currently negotiating their differences, but then that’s the whole point: Obama wants people who disagree with him in his Cabinet.

Posted on Nov 18, 2008 READ MORE

Bracing for a Major Disappointment

The Americans who voted for Barack Obama as president were promised change they could count on, but it rather looks as if they may actually be asked to make do with a mildly refurbished Clinton administration, with many of the same officials and nearly all of the same policies.

Posted on Nov 18, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Morry Gash

America’s Wars of Self-Destruction

War is a poison. It is a poison that nations and groups must at times ingest to ensure their survival. But, like any poison, it can kill you just as surely as the disease it is meant to eradicate.

Posted on Nov 17, 2008 READ MORE

U.S. Army / Spc. Richard DelVecchio

Iraq Cabinet OK’s Occupation Deal

To the great relief of U.S. military commanders, Iraq’s cabinet approved an agreement that would provide a legal basis for the occupation beyond Dec. 31. The deal, which still must clear a vote in parliament, maintains partial immunity for U.S. soldiers and calls for the withdrawal of American forces by 2011. Update

Posted on Nov 16, 2008 READ MORE

Blackwater in Alaska

What’s Blackwater Doing in Alaska?

Juneau is hardly the top American target for terrorists, so what’s Blackwater doing in Alaska’s capital? Author Stuart Archer Cohen has spotted uniformed guards from the private security contractor, and he has some clues as to why they’re there.

Posted on Nov 14, 2008 READ MORE

How Many Villages Must We Bomb Before We Find bin Laden?

Barack Obama has said that he is not against war, only against stupid wars. One might then reasonably ask if the present war in Afghanistan is not a stupid war?

Posted on Nov 13, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Hasan Sarbakhshian

With Iran, Obama Needs More Carrot, Less Stick

Now that the presidential election has liberated Barack Obama from the need to play to the fickle whim of domestic politics, he should put away the saber and take a more enlightened approach to Iran.

Posted on Nov 13, 2008 READ MORE

This Is What He’s Sorry About?

It was nothing Bush did—no decision he made, no policy he pursued, no faith that he placed in ideological dogma—that he finds regrettable. Bush told a cable network, “I regret saying some things I shouldn’t have said” over the course of eight tumultuous years.

Posted on Nov 13, 2008 READ MORE

Afghanistan Girl After Acid Attack
AP photo / Allauddin Khan

How Bloody Can Bush’s Legacy Be?

The legacy of George Bush’s two “wars of liberation” may already be judged as foreign policy blunders, but the real costs of war remain even after the truism of failed empire. In Afghanistan, acid attacks on at least 15 female students mark a worrisome trend in women’s rights there. And in Iraq, an Iraqi soldier opened fire on a patrol of U.S. troops, killing two.

Posted on Nov 12, 2008 READ MORE

White House

Bush Regrets ‘Mission Accomplished’ and More

George W. Bush has had no shortage of gaffes during his reign of terror. One such miscue may also be the most enduring image of his presidency—that speech in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner before his war in Iraq turned into an outright catastrophe. He now regrets that moment, among others.

Posted on Nov 11, 2008 READ MORE

The Danger in Timidity

If Reagan had the voters’ permission to move away from strategies associated with liberalism, Obama has sanction to move away from conservative policies. And Reagan offers another lesson: His first moves were bold, and Obama should not fear following his example.

Posted on Nov 11, 2008 READ MORE

Only One Good Path for the Democrats: Go Big

Obama and the rest of the party should retire the Innocent Bystander Fable—the myth about being powerless onlookers.

Posted on Nov 6, 2008 READ MORE

Neocons Plot to Co-Opt Obama

The president-elect is a foreign policy novice and will find himself under great pressure to follow Middle Eastern and China and Russia policies inherited from George Bush, even though these are what Barack Obama was elected to change or terminate.

Posted on Nov 6, 2008 READ MORE

Organizer in Chief

Perhaps the job that qualified Obama most for the presidency was the one most vilified by his opponents: community organizer. Yet community organizing is inherently at crosscurrents with the massive infusion of campaign cash.

Posted on Nov 5, 2008 READ MORE

A New Era of Hope

With Obama’s victory, it’s time to hope that the era of racial backlash and wedge politics is over. Time to imagine that the patriotism of dissenters will no longer be questioned and that the world will no longer be divided between “values voters” and those without a moral compass.

Posted on Nov 4, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Jose Luis Magana

Only Nader Is Right on the Issues

Tomorrow I will go to a polling station in Princeton, N.J., and vote for Ralph Nader. I know the tired arguments against a Nader vote. But there is little disagreement among liberals and progressives about the Nader and Obama campaign issues. Nader would win among us in a landslide if this was based on issues.

Posted on Nov 3, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / LM Otero

The Obama Standard

A good politician triumphs by adapting to the times and taking advantage of opportunities as they come. A great politician anticipates openings others don’t see and creates possibilities that were not there before.

Posted on Nov 3, 2008 READ MORE


Palin Talks of Wars in ‘Iraq and Iran’

This weekend brought yet another startling installment from the Sarah Palin School of International Relations, in which she talks about “needing to really shore up the strategies that we need over in Iraq and Iran to win these wars” during the first 100 days of her time in the White House with John McCain.

Posted on Nov 1, 2008 READ MORE

The Unlearned Lessons of Vietnam Continue to Haunt The U.S.

Governments, like corporations and modern organizations of all kinds, make much of systematically teaching “lessons learned” to those newly arrived to responsibilities, yet they seem infrequently to succeed.

Posted on Oct 30, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Carolyn Kaster

Hell to Pay

Sen. John McCain’s ideological ties to the Bush-Cheney administration have mostly passed beneath the radar of the mainstream media, but if McCain loses the presidential race to Barack Obama, his neoconservative legacy could erupt into the open with a force that should not be underestimated.

Posted on Oct 30, 2008 READ MORE

Reagan Library

Liberals Resurrect Reagan to Endorse Obama

OK, so Ronald Reagan isn’t around to actually endorse anyone. But that doesn’t stop political operatives from invoking his presidency to boost their candidate. A new, liberal Colorado-based group called Progressive Future is bringing back the Gipper to put in a plug for Barack Obama, while the conservative Let Freedom Ring calls Obama the “anti-Reagan.”

Posted on Oct 30, 2008 READ MORE

Obama Is the Superior Decider

The real issues of the American presidential election are the future of the economy and the future of American foreign policy. The one seems already settled. The second seems to unite John McCain and Barack Obama in support of a program doomed to fail.

Posted on Oct 30, 2008 READ MORE

Collage: AP photo / Chip Somodevilla, pool / Wikimedia Commons

Virtual JFK: The 44th President’s Foreign Policy Challenge

The leading issue in the current face-off between Barack Obama and John McCain is the economy. Once elected and inaugurated, however, a U.S. president’s politics become global literally overnight.

Posted on Oct 29, 2008 READ MORE

U.S. Attack in Syria Kills 8

Syrian authorities have demanded to know why U.S. forces crossed the Iraq-Syria border and killed eight people. A U.S. official said the raid—the first ever on Syrian soil—targeted foreign fighters. Damascus said the dead were Syrian civilians.

Posted on Oct 26, 2008 READ MORE

Flickr / BohPhoto

New York Times Endorses Barack Obama

This news isn’t going to make certain members of the Republican Party like the Gray Lady any more than they already do, which is not at all: The New York Times’ editorial board has officially endorsed Barack Obama for president.

Posted on Oct 23, 2008 READ MORE / youtube

Citizen Tim Takes On Obama by Himself

The one form of political advertising that’s completely unregulated and free is the speech of an individual citizen, even when money amplifies that speech by putting it on the airwaves. Tim D’Annunzio, who describes himself as a “concerned North Carolina businessman,” is doing just that.

Posted on Oct 23, 2008 READ MORE

Flickr / James Gordon

Time Is Running Out for Iraq Occupation Deal

Here’s one way to get U.S. troops out of Iraq: The tediously negotiated status-of-forces agreement between the U.S. and Iraq has met yet another snag. The current legal justification for the occupation of Iraq is about to expire, and the U.S. is eager to pass new guidelines, but the Iraqi Cabinet is hitting the brakes.

Posted on Oct 21, 2008 READ MORE

Iraqi police in Ramadi
Flickr/Jim Gordon

Brokering a Fragile Peace in Iraq

A key overlooked fact about the much-ballyhooed “surge is working” argument in Iraq is that the U.S. military actually paid some former insurgents $10 a day to help American troops keep the peace in parts of the country. But what happens when that setup changes in volatile regions like Anbar?

Posted on Oct 21, 2008 READ MORE


Wrong Again, Bill Kristol

The New York Times’ conservative stalwart William Kristol should receive some kind of award for being wrong with such baffling consistency while still retaining his job. Not only has he been credited (if that’s the right word) with steering John McCain toward picking Sarah Palin and waving his proverbial pompoms for the Iraq invasion, but he has just let fly with another doozy in his latest column.

Posted on Oct 20, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Henny Ray Abrams

The Idiots Who Rule America

Our oligarchic class is incompetent at governing, managing the economy, coping with natural disasters, educating our young, handling foreign affairs, providing basic services like health care and safeguarding individual rights. They have no concept, thanks to the educations they have received, of the common good.

Posted on Oct 20, 2008 READ MORE

Powell to the People

Posted on Oct 19, 2008 READ MORE    

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

The former secretary of state and Joint Chiefs chairman revealed on Sunday whom he is voting for and why. Powell explained that it was not easy to disappoint his friend, John McCain, but that Barack Obama is the “transformational figure” America needs at this moment.

Posted on Oct 19, 2008 READ MORE

Baghdad protest
AP photo / Hadi Mizban

Thousands of Iraqis Protest U.S. Occupation

Tens of thousands of Iraqis, with remote guidance from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, joined in a demonstration in Baghdad on Saturday to implore the Iraqi parliament to reject a security pact with the U.S. before the year’s end.

Posted on Oct 18, 2008 READ MORE

Simon Lewis on Traumatic Brain Injuries

A devastating and growing problem is explored in Michael Paul Mason’s riveting new book, “Head Cases.”

Posted on Oct 17, 2008 READ MORE

U.S. Loses Its Grip on Europe

Military and economic disasters have caused Europeans and European governments to view the United States in a new, unflattering light.

Posted on Oct 16, 2008 READ MORE

collage: DoD / Flickr (Marcn)

What Do John McCain and Saddam Hussein Have in Common?

The answer is William Timmons, a lobbyist tapped by McCain to head his transition team. Timmons was connected to a lobbying effort on behalf of the Hussein regime, though he has denied any wrongdoing.

Posted on Oct 14, 2008 READ MORE

U.S. Navy / Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Scott

Bush Doctrine Becomes DoD Dogma

The Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy statement says nothing directly about American national defense. It is a strategy for intervening in other countries, and preventing others from blocking or resisting American interventions.

Posted on Oct 14, 2008 READ MORE

DoD / CWO2 Michael A. Lujan, USMC

Turkey Bombs Northern Iraq

The Turkish military launched an airstrike aimed at Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq on Sunday. It was the latest in a series of cross-border attacks authorized by the Turkish parliament in response to what it has criticized as the Iraqi government’s lack of attention to the Kurdish fighters.

Posted on Oct 12, 2008 READ MORE

Afghan woman mourning
AP photo / Fraidoon Pooyaa

‘Collateral Damage’ Not Much Different From Targeted Killing

When U.S. troops massacre Iraqi civilians in Haditha because their buddy has been murdered, what is the difference between their revenge and that of Saddam?

Posted on Oct 11, 2008 READ MORE

The ‘New Multilateralism’

The issues that have fueled Russian-American tensions in Europe in recent months, and European tensions with both Russia and the United States, have suggested a willingness on all sides to reignite tensions that on the face of it serve no one’s real interests. Recent developments could change all that.

Posted on Oct 9, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Jim Bourg, pool

Third-Party Blues

Ralph Nader is right: The two-party system is failing America. There isn’t time between now and Election Day to create a viable third-party candidate, and so the sad reality is one of two deeply flawed men, the byproduct of a deeply flawed political system, will serve as president for the next four or eight years.

Posted on Oct 9, 2008 READ MORE

What McCain and Obama Just Don’t Get About Central Asia

There are only two real issues left in the foreign policy debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. Yet neither the Iraq nor the Afghanistan issue is within the power of any American president to resolve.

Posted on Oct 7, 2008 READ MORE

Weapons of Mass Distraction

John McCain and Sarah Palin are going to try their best to make us talk about anything but the big issues facing our country, because most Americans think Barack Obama’s solutions are better.

Posted on Oct 6, 2008 READ MORE

Pelosi Happy, With Pen
The New York Times / Doug Mills

The Bailout: Take Two

On Friday the House approved, after initially rejecting, the $700-billion bailout package for the financial industry in what is likely to be the most expensive government intervention in the nation’s history. This, of course, only slightly surpasses another notable “government intervention”—the nearly $600 billion spent in the war in Iraq.

Posted on Oct 3, 2008 READ MORE

With Palin, McCain Is Gambling With the Country

The key to understanding how John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate was provided by The New York Times last weekend when it described an episode in which he “tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table.”

Posted on Oct 2, 2008 READ MORE

Will the Pentagon Be the Next U.S. Institution to Crash?

Less apparent to most people than the economic crisis, but just as real, are the signs of an impending crash of an American military system in which, since the end of the Cold War, Pentagon dysfunction has metastasized so uncontrollably as to scandalize the men who have overseen it.

Posted on Oct 2, 2008 READ MORE

Invasion of the Sea-Smurfs

If the economy does collapse, if people can’t go down to the bank to withdraw their savings, or get cash from an ATM, there may be serious “civil unrest,” and the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team may be called upon sooner than we imagine to assist with “crowd control.”

Posted on Oct 1, 2008 READ MORE

Bush Favors Bankers Over Soldiers

By grotesque mischance, $700 billion—the cost of George Bush’s Wall Street rescue plan—is about the same figure the president has squandered on his preposterous war in Iraq, the war we have now apparently “won” thanks to the “surge.”

Posted on Sep 29, 2008 READ MORE

McCain’s Debate Implosion Bodes Ill for His Campaign

September began as John McCain’s month and ended as Barack Obama’s. McCain’s high-risk wagers aimed at shaking up the campaign turned into very bad investments. And Friday’s debate eliminated McCain’s best chance to deliver a knockout blow.

Posted on Sep 29, 2008 READ MORE

Obama and McCain debate in Mississippi

Obama and McCain Face Off in First Presidential Debate

Thankfully, Jim Lehrer wasn’t left at the moderator’s podium on Friday, as both Barack Obama and John McCain showed up for their scheduled presidential debate at the University of Mississippi to field questions about the economy and foreign policy.

Posted on Sep 28, 2008 READ MORE

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