Was it the promise or was it the SOFA?

On Friday, October 21, 2011, Mr. Obama, invoking one of his campaign promises, announced the complete withdrawal of all U.S. Troops from Iraq by "the [Christian] holidays." Over the weekend, he and his media arm further spun the story, claiming the deadline had been negotiated by G.W. Bush.

Behind the scenes — later paragraphs — we discover that the Pentagon wanted to keep at least 3,000 to 5,000 troops on Iraqi soil. The true number was significantly larger. But they’re all leaving. Why?

It was almost certainly the S.O.F.A., the acronym for "Status Of Forces Agreement."

Obama’s announcement signals that US officials have been unable to negotiate with Iraq’s leaders a renewal of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) governing the stationing and mission of American troops on Iraqi soil. Pentagon officials in particular, backed by a number of congressional leaders, had called for leaving a force of between 3,000 and 5,000 in Iraq for an extended period. –Iraq withdrawal: With US troops set to exit, 9-year war draws to close – CSMonitor.com

A key provision of any SOFA is exempting occupying soldiers from the laws of the country being occupied. It was this provision that Iraqi negotiators refused to renew. Thus, for example, once the old SOFA expired, U.S. soldiers who killed an Iraqi could be tried for murder under Iraqi law.

The Iraqis, it seems, found the back door to get rid of occupying U.S. troops.

This would likely work in other countries as well.

But that still leaves the drones.

Collateral Damage: The Equations

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, now, as the U.S. is losing its edge economically, it has one clear comparative advantage. And that’s in killing. And it’s using it. Obama has increased the attacks on Afghanistan, Pakistan. Brookings Institution last year estimated that for every one militant, as they put it, killed in Pakistan, the U.S. drones kill 10 civilians. –Allan Nairn: As U.S. Loses Its Global Economic Edge, Its “One Clear Comparative Advantage is in Killing, and It’s Using It,” Democracy NOW!, December 29, 2010

How does the “one militant per ten civilians killed” Drone Equation compare to other approved “collateral damage” equations? Well, during the Bush Administration, if a bombing strike was expected to kill more than 29 innocent men, women and children, the White House had to approve it. What would that be like . . . .

In the case of The Obama Administration, the acceptable “collateral damage” kill number has, apparently, been increased to 50 innocent civilians.

On the bright side, if you stay with groups larger than 50, the U.S. militaryindustrialcongressional complex may at least need a presidential order before it can kill you by mistake.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

The latest reported drone strike: –US Drone Strike Kills at Least Six in North Waziristan, House, Vehicle Hit in Attack, Identities of Victims Unknown, by Jason Ditz, January 07, 2011

Dubya was right??

From film-maker Oliver Stone’s interview with former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, we discover:

Oliver Stone: "Were there any eye-to-eye moments with President Bush that day, that night?"

Nestor Kirchner: "…I said that a solution to the problems right now, I told Bush, is a Marshall Plan. …He said the best way to revitalize the economy is war and that the United States has grown stronger with war."

Stone: "War. He said that?"

Kirchner: "He said that. Those were his exact words."

Stone: "Was he suggesting that South America go to war?"

Kirchner: "Well, he was talking about the United States. …All of the economic growth of the United States has been encouraged by the various wars. He said it very clearly. –Fmr. Argentine President Kirchner Dies of Heart Attack, Democracy Now!, Oct. 28, 2010

So, WAS Dubya right?

"War" [1] is indeed a key part of the U.S. economy. Some folks call this "military keynesianism."

Consider: Despite one of the most defensible geographic situations on earth — unless you fear the Canadians — the U.S. Government spends more on "defense" than almost the rest of the world combined. AND, not surprisingly, U.S.A. is the biggest arms merchant in the world.

So, Mr. Bush was exactly right.

If you’re a U.S. Citizen, approximately 43% of your income taxes go to pay for wars, past and present. And that’s before Uncle Sam is forced, kicking and screaming, into officially admitting PTSD is nearly universal in combat veterans, lasts a lifetime, and is expensive to treat. According to former IMF Chief Economist and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the two current "wars" will eventually cost U.S. taxpayers between four and six trillion dollars. That’s trillion. With a "T."

And don’t fret about the militaryindustrial budget. While Mr. Obama isn’t yet responsible for killing as many men, women and children as Mr. Bush — and hasn’t spent as much doing so, give him a chance — he’s not even two years into his presidency and he’s already sent at least 60,000 new U.S. troops into Afghanistan and has plans to escalate the U.S. presence in Pakistan, and the largely ignoredU.S. presence in Yemen too.

With these kinds of numbers — that 43% of your income tax spent for “wars” for example — maybe a bit of money invested in antiwar.com to stop them might be a good investment, not only for you, but for your kids, grand kids and the yet unborn. What do you say?

Notes:

[1] The U.S. Government hasn’t been at war according to its Constitution since the end of World War II. That would require the U.S. House of Representatives to vote for war, which it hasn’t done. This means the so-called "wars" — the Korean "War," the Vietnam "War," The Iraq "Wars," the "War" in Afghanistan, etc. — must be something else. Or, since they insist on calling them "wars" anyway, unconstitutional. But as George W. Bush is reported to have claimed, "The constitution is just a damned piece of paper." So, who cares? return

OOPS! Again.

…allegedly "hacked" software, in the case of the CIA, is now being used to guide killer drones to their targets, according to IISI’s legal pleadings, despite the fact that the modified software doesn’t function properly… –CIA Drone-Code Scandal Now Has A Big Blue Hue

Droning On. And On & On & On

Unfortunately, that’s not just Mr. Obama’s speeches – – –

AMY GOODMAN: "…the Obama administration’s drone war in northwest Pakistan is continuing. There have been at least nine drone attacks this month, the latest killing five people in North Waziristan Sunday. The United States has carried out at least sixty-three drone strikes inside Pakistan this year, killing an unknown number of civilians."

KATHY KELLY: …the United States is, at an alarming rate, moving into robotic warfare, kind of a mission creep, that could lead us into perpetual war. … children are among those who are being killed. And this is happening with such regularity in Pakistan and Afghanistan. … It’s clear that targeted assassinations, these arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings, are not allowed and that citizens have a duty, a responsibility, to prevent it….

There certainly is a constant construction. Our friends at the Nevada Desert Experience tell us that the cement trucks are arriving every day, … in Ellsworth, South Dakota, Whiteman, Missouri, those bases are now developing the technology so that drone attacks can be operated by people inside of those bases, and also, of course, at Hancock Field, where people in Syracuse are demonstrating on a daily basis. –Activists Go on Trial in Nevada for Protesting Obama Admin Drone Program

It’s not here, it’s there. It’s not us, it’s them. It’s not murder, it’s collateral damage.

And it could NEVER happen here.