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WAR IS A RACKET 07/06/2012

Posted by landfallprods in Purple Mind.
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“WAR IS A RACKET.  IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN.”  Major General Smedley D. Butler, 1935

Here is a bit of background on why we decided to make our independent feature film, “Purple Mind,” and why it might be worthwhile to forgo “Housewives of Beverly Hills” for an evening in favor of more thoughtful “entertainment.”

Purple Mind” explores the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffered by one soldier, whose fictional experience mirrors that of many  U.S. soldiers, particularly those who took part in operations such as the Battle of Fallujia.  To better understand the cost in lives and human suffering involved in the Iraq War, we offer the following chronology of events and decisions made by the Bush Administration as documented in Charles Ferguson’s Academy Award nominated 2007 film, “No End In Sight.”

May 1, 2003 – President Bush declared an end to major combat missions in Iraq.  By May, 2007, Iraq had disintegrated into chaos.  Many Iraqis no longer had access to clean water, sewage facilities and electricity.  Bagdad had been under an 8 pm curfew since 2006.  Over 3 million Iraqis had fled to neighboring countries.  Estimates of civilian deaths ranged as high as 600,000.  How did it happen?

From the beginning, George W. Bush’s foreign policy inner circle, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz set the Administration on course for war with Iraq.

January 20th, 2003 – President Bush signed NSPD-24 (National Security Presidential Directive 24), which gave control of postwar Iraq to the Pentagon.  That document made Donald Rumsfeld the Commander in Chief of the US Military.

On March 19, 2003, President Bush framed the invasion of Iraq as a humanitarian effort “to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”

April 9, 2003 – The US had overpowered Sadam Hussein and taken Bagdad.  US Marines recall that there had not been any plan on what to do next.  Many thought they would be returning home within a matter of weeks.

During the month following the fall of Iraq, the US did nothing to control massive looting.  Hospitals, universities, ministries…  One CPA estimated the cost of the looting at 12 billion dollars.

Many Iraqis believed that US commanders encouraged the looting if only by allowing it to happen.  Both Sunnis and Shi’a were outraged.

The Department of Justice made recommendations – based on previous peace operations – that US forces were likely to encounter massive civil disturbances and suggested they needed 2,500 constabulary forces, 4,000 street cops and teams of judicial advisors and corrections officers.

In mid-April, 2003  – with looting still underway – Rumsfeld canceled deployment of the 1st Calvary Division, a force of 16,000 soldiers which could have helped stabilize the country.

US forces did not act as police.  They didn’t know the streets of Bagdad.  They didn’t speak the language.  They didn’t have interpreters in sufficient numbers.  They had no intelligence.  The result was a free-for-all.

Donald Rumsfeld advised General Jay Garner, who was in charge of the Iraq forces, that the President had appointed L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer as the Presidential Envoy to Iraq.   Bremer spoke no Arabic and had no prior experience with the mid-east and had never served in the military.

For the ten days preceding his arrival in Bagdad, Bremer worked closely with Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz establishing a plan of action.  The plan consisted of three major decisions:

1.  Stop the formation of an interim Iraqi government – even though General Jay Garner had been working to establish one.  The understanding was that Bremer was in charge and no one else had the authority to even question his policy decisions… decisions which excluded the Iraqis from any role in governing the country,  and treating the Iraqi people, who had at first welcomed US forces, as the enemy.

2.  Bremer’s second decision was to purge approx. 50,000 members of the Ba’ath Party which Sadam had used to rule Iraq.  For most, Bremer’s order meant Ba’ath Party members would become permanently unemployed.  The policy also crippled Iraq’s government, educational system and economy.  Many senior government officials had joined the party simply to survive under Sadam’s regime.      The result?  Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis demonstrated, demanding jobs… engineers, managers, technocrats, librarians, the intelligentsia.  A peaceful population became jobless and were humiliated.

3.  Bremer’s third decision was to disband the Iraqi military and intelligence services.  Overnight, Bremer rendered unemployed and infuriated over half a million ARMED MEN.  As a result, the men who could have prevented an insurgency, CREATED ONE.  Former soldiers demonstrated.  Hundreds of thousands of families suddenly had no income, no providers.  People couldn’t buy food and went hungry.

Five days after Bremer’s plans were announced, General Jay Garner was sent home.  The same day, the Iraq insurgency began with two US soldiers killed in an attack on their Humvees just outside the Green Zone.

There were 70 large weapons storage depots and many more unguarded ammunition dumps in Iraq and not enough American troops to guard them.  The disenfranchised Iraq military all knew where the weapons and munitions were stored.   For several months after U.S. took Bagdad and combat actions ended, the depots were left unsecured.  Alarmed observers noted that Iraqi men were loading trucks with guns and explosives but when they advised US commanders, they were told “we just don’t have enough people to deal with it.”

Senior Iraqi generals went to UN Headquarters at the Canal Hotel in Bagdad to advise that letting Bremer’s order stand to marginalize the Iraqi military would create an insurgency.  They were ignored and the insurgency grew.

Most alarming of all was that Bremer’s decision had been made in secret by three men, not in Iraq but in Washington… three men who had never been to Iraq… men who did not consult their military commanders in Iraq, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department, the CIA, The National Security Council or even, apparently, the President of the United States…. the three were Cheney, Rumsfelt & Wolfowitz.

By July 2003, insurgents began planting improvised explosive devices [IEDs] all over Iraq.  There was a dramatic rise in casualty rates among American soldiers suddenly engaged in a war created by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolowitz.

On July 2, 2003, President Bush said, “There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there [Iraq].  My answer is Bring Em On.”

In the four crucial months after the fall of Bagdad, the two main things the US military was doing on the ground were:  1) looking for WMD supplies and 2) looking for Sadam Hussein.  The process of those searches – busting in doors at night, rounding up people, taking them to Abu Ghraib, and making mass arrests – resulted only in further embittering the Iraqi people.

Military age Iraqis became a prime target for arrest as suspected insurgents.  Taking men away from their families eliminated their bread winners, angering not just the men but their extended families because each was probably supporting more than his immediate family.

To counter attacks on US soldiers, U.S. patrols concentrated on finding the insurgents.  The efforts resulted in occasionally arresting or killing the wrong person.  Once an insurgent was arrested, they tended to disappear in the American military prison system for a long time without a trace.  Families could get no word of them or their condition.

American troops typically tried to “do the right thing,” but when their brothers and sisters were being killed and maimed, soldiers first thoughts are about survival and the reasons behind the war were invisible to most.  On the other side, people who had had good reason to hate Sadam Hussein now had even more compelling reason to hate Americans.

By early 2004 FALLUJAH (Pop. 350,000) west of Bagdad had become the center of the Sunni insurgency.

March 31, 2004 – Four American military contractors (Blackwater mercinaries) were killed and their bodies dragged through the streets by cheering crowds – before being hung from a bridge.

November, 2004 the Pentagon decided to attack Fallujah to “recapture” the city from the Sunni insurgents.  Residents were warned to leave.  The following battle destroyed 70% of the city, leaving 150,000 homeless.  Many insurgents “escaped.”  Forty Marines were killed.

The day after Republicans lost control of Congress, President Bush announced Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s resignation.  Bush replaced him with Robert Gates, saying, “I am replacing the Secretary of Defense to bring a fresh perspective as to how to achieve something I think most Americans want, which is a victory.”

By the time Rumsfeld was replaced, Iraq was completely out of control, dominated by militias, insurgents, criminals and warlords.  Mixed areas were purged by ethnic cleansing.  Shi’a militias infiltrated the police, using the cover for sectarian killings.  Kidnapping and violent deaths reached several hundred per day.

THE COST OF WAR:  As of early 2007, the direct costs of the Iraq war reached $380 billion; future operating costs were estimated at $390 billion; veterans’ health care and lost productivity were projected to be $482 billion; demobilization and replacing military equipment was estimated at $160 billion; increases in oil prices due to the war were projected at $450 billion…  TOTAL: $1.86 TRILLION (2007).

Linda Bilmes, of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University said, “The big, big cost in terms of Veterans disabilities is for the many hundreds of thousands of soldiers who come back and they find that they can’t work and hold down a job the way they used to because they’re just not quite the same as they were before.”

General Jay Garner, when asked why he thought all the mistakes of the Iraq war occurred, said, “I don’t know.  It’s puzzling.”

“It’s puzzling?”  Is that enough?  Does “it’s puzzling” help when your son or daughter, your husband or father is killed or comes home a shell of the person he or she once was?

On several occasions, including his 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush expressed his concern for Iraq in the following words, “We will bring to the Iraqi people food, and medicines, and supplies, and freedom.”

Is Freedom What Operation Iraqi Freedom Was All About?

On September 10, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld revealed at a press conference that, “According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.” (DOD)   An interesting coincidence occurred the following day during the attacks of 9/11.  The “passenger jet” which hit the Pentagon destroyed the Army Budget Office where thirty-eight Army employees were attempting to track the missing trillions. (Col. Paul Hughes, Dir. Strategic Policy for US Occupation, 2003).

“It’s puzzling.”  Really?

In his documentary film “Fahrenheit 911,” Michael Moore makes nine allegations concerning the Carlyle Group, the 11th largest defense contractor in the U.S., including: That the Bin Laden and Bush families were both connected to the Group; that following the attacks on September 11, the Bin Laden family’s investments in the Carlyle Group became an embarrassment to the Carlyle Group and the family was forced to liquidate their assets with the firm.  Moore focused on Carlyle’s connections with George H. W. Bush and his Secretary of State James A. Baker III, both of whom had at times served as advisors to the firm.

Whatever one thinks of the morality or necessity of the war in Iraq, one thing is undeniable: many well-placed companies made billions of dollars off the war, including Halliburton, General Electric, Boeing, Motorola and others.” Two companies with close ties to the Bush and Cheney families that reaped huge profits are the Halliburton Company and the Carlyle Group.

LA TIMES – “Pentagon officials have acknowledged that Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and other Bush administration political appointees were involved in a controversial decision to pay Halliburton Inc. to plan for the postwar recovery of Iraq’s oil sector, a Democratic lawmaker said yesterday. The decision, overruling the recommendations of an Army lawyer, eventually resulted in the award of a $7 billion no-bid contract to Halliburton, which Cheney ran for five years before he was nominated for vice president.”

OLIVER MORGAN, OBSERVER – “Halliburton, the engineering group formerly run by US vice-president Dick Cheney, has been given $1 billion worth of reconstruction work in Iraq by the US government without having to compete for it, thanks to repeated delays in opening up a key contract to competition.  12/03

Interesting Dick Cheney Facts:

–  Cheney served as Secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993

In January, 1993, Cheney left the Department of Defense and joined the American Enterprise Institute.  From 1995 until 2000, he served as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Halliburton, a Fortune 500 company and market leader in the energy sector.

– Cheney’s 2000 income from Halliburton: $36,086,635

– Increase in government contracts while Cheney led Halliburton: 91%

– Minimum size of “accounting irregularity” that occurred while Cheney was CEO: $100,000,000

– Pages of energy plan documents Cheney refused to give Congressional investigators: 13,500

– Amount energy companies gave the Bush/Cheney presidential campaign: $1,800,000

VICTOR THORN, BABEL MAGAZINE – “A few weeks ago, James Baker publicly offered advice to the Bush Administration on how they should proceed with their war on Iraq. What he and every newscaster or commentator failed to mention was that Baker is now employed by the highly-influential Carlyle Group, which is the eleventh largest defense contractor in the United States. . . If you’re not familiar with them, the Carlyle Group has become a powerhouse in affecting the direction in which our foreign policy takes, especially in regard to war. They accomplish this by hiring former government officials, then investing in private companies that are subject to government change.”

WAR IS A RACKET   —  “That’s not what I signed up for.”  Cpl. Roy Matthews in “Purple Mind.”

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