Category Archives: War

“Today We Have 50 Saddams”

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the statue of Saddam Hussein falling in Iraq.

Five years ago William Shawcross wrote this in the Wall Street Journal (h/t Rachel Maddow):

April 9th–Liberation Day! What a wonderful, magnificent, emotional occasion–one that will live in legend like the fall of the Bastille, V-E Day or the fall of the Berlin Wall. Watching the tearing down of Saddam Hussein’s towering statue in Baghdad was a true Ozymandias moment.

It slowly tumbled and, with perfect symbolism, just two rusty pipes were left sticking up from the boots. In the BBC’s London studio an Iraqi dissident said though tears, “April 9 is not just spring, it is for Iraqis eternal spring.”

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Well done Shawcross, you idiot. Read the rest of that article it’s really effed up. It’ll bring back some old memories.

Ibrahim Khalil, an Iraqi mechanic, took part in toppling that statue. He told AFP that he deeply regrets that. “If history can take me back,” he said, “I will kiss the statue of Saddam Hussein which I helped pull down.” He went on to tell AFP, “Now I realize that the day Baghdad fell was in fact a black day. Saddam’s days were better. I ask Bush: ‘Where are your promises of making Iraq a better country?’ These days when we go out we have to carry a pistol. In Saddam’s regime, we were safe. We got rid of one Saddam, but today we have 50 Saddams.”

A war with a price tag

Nobel prize winning, former chief economist with the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz has coauthored (with Linda Bilmes) a book on the Iraq conflict. There are lots of books on Iraq, but few so revealing. It is called ‘The Three Trillion Dollar War’ and based on that that price I will concede use of the word war.

Let’s start with the trivia, just to get the mind around some numbers.
Private security contractors earn up to $1222 a day; army sergeants between $150 and $190 a day.
• Bush economic advisor Larry Lindsay said the war would cost $200 billion
Donald Rumsfeld called that figure baloney and quoted $50 – $60 billion
Andrew Natsios, Agency for international development, quoted reconstruction at $1.7 billion
Paul Wolfowitz thought the whole shebang would ‘pay for itself’.

Some hard numbers
• Iraq is currently costing US taxpayers $12.5 billion a month
• Seven US soldiers are injured for every fatality
• In Vietnam there were only 2.6 injuries per fatality
• 45% of the 7000 US troops in the first Gulf War filed for disability which now costs $4.3 billion a year.

I haven’t done the math yet, but $3 trillion sounds impressive. We are assuming around 45% disability claims on much higher raw numbers and actual casualties.

The good news is, as the bills start to trickle then flood in, the US will not be in any economic shape to prosecute any more of these misadventures, at least for a generation or so. The Bush administration has just pissed your future up against the wall.

You Didn’t Happen to See Four Nose-cone Fuses for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles Did You?

China wouldn’t be mad if we accidentally hooked Taiwan up with some ICBM technology by accident would they? I mean, it’s not like we’re arming space or anything… Uh…

From CNN.com:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. Defense Department accidentally shipped non-nuclear ballistic missile components to Taiwan, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Four nose-cone fuses for intercontinental ballistic missiles were shipped instead of helicopter batteries that Taiwan had requested, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said.

The fuses were shipped to Taiwan in 2006 and kept in a warehouse there. The Taiwanese military informed the United States last week about their presence on the island.

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China has been notified. China, you might have noticed, is in a bad fucking mood due to the simmering unrest that threatens to make their precious Olympics into a legendary embarrassment.

By the way something, on her radio show last night, Rachel Maddow spoke to sports writer Dave Zirin about the likelihood of protests affecting the Olympics. Zirin, who is very good on radio, explained that countries are making it very clear to their athletes that they are not to make political statements of any kind. Zirin predicted that the most likely group of athletes to break that silence could be NBA players. Members of the Cleveland Cavs, shamefully not LeBron James, have already spoke up, calling on China to help end the genocide in Darfur. LeBron has other interests. Zirin pointed out that this is pretty weak sauce from a guy who claims to be following in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali.

Zirin wrote an article for The Nation looking at how the unrest in Tibet affects the Olympics.