Freedom isn't 'free'

ALSO - a brief look at Iraq under Saddam

Colin Powell, former soldier and still an all-American hero
The freedoms we enjoy today are only possible because of the sacrifices of those who served.

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Colin Powell - Integrity, not WMDs

General Colin L. Powell

Colin Powell

WASHINGTON, D. C. 20318-0001

The freedoms we enjoy today are only possible because of the sacrifices of the soldiers who have served this great Nation in war at various times for over 300 years. Since 1641 there has never been a time in this country when African-Americans were unwilling to serve and sacrifice for America. Before revolutionary times and through every war to the present, Black men and women have willingly served and died for their country.

During the Revolutionary War one-sixth of those who fought for freedom were black. And in every conflict since, African-Americans have worn the uniform of the United States as proudly and courageously as any other American. In every conflict we have had our heroes. Heroes ....... forever engraved in our heritage.

I am mindful of the sacrifices that were made by Black service men and women who suffered to create the conditions and set the stage for others to follow. They were of enormous ability and potential but, because of prejudice and intolerance, they were not allowed to make their full contribution to or receive their full recognition from this great country.

I am mindful, too, that the struggle is not yet over. There is still racial intolerance in this Nation. The challenge is still before us. We have to remember the past. We must continue the struggle until all barriers have fallen -- a struggle until achievement and recognition in our society are based principally on performance.


Joint Chiefs of Staff

Freedom isn't "free"

time to remember


Silent Voices: unanswered questions about southeast Asia

lest we forget

All Gave Some - - - Some Gave All

RobtShepherd's tripod page boosting his favorite candidate:

Colin Powell

A slight spring thaw - Republicans 2001

Thomas Sowell

Colin Luther Powell

The America I Believe In

April 11, 2005

I believe in America and I believe in our people.

[Powell goes on to say he believes in ]

An America that each day gives new immigrants the same gift that my parents received. An America that lives by a Constitution that inspires freedom and democracy around the world. An America with a big, open, charitable heart that reaches out to people in need around the world. An America that sometimes seems confused and is always noisy. That noise has a name, it's called democracy and we use it to work through our confusion. An America that is still the beacon of light to the darkest corner of the world.

[Source: This I Believe. Jay Allison, Dan Gediman]


Iraq through the eighties and nineties

When Saddam took over Iraq (July 16, 1979) Iraq was one of the world's leading producers of oil. Saddam quickly moved to establish control and to consolidate his own hold on Baathist Iraq. Long dominated by the minority Sunni sect, Iraq in the religious sense saw little change when Saddam forcibly imposed his own style and rule. Oil wealth allowed him to develop one of the srongest military forces in the region -- a growing concern to his neighbors.

Saddam Hussein Internally, Saddam brooked no dissent, and extremely little opposition. As his power grew, he increasingly clamped down on every sector of Iraqi life, and eventually gained a reputation for repression, human rights abuses, and terrorism.

Smoldering tensions with Shi'ite Iran soon flared up. A long-standing territorial dispute over control of the Shatt al-Arab waterway broke into full-scale war on Sept. 20 1980. Iraqi planes attacked Iranian airfields and the Abadan refinery, and Iraqi ground forces moved into Iran. Iran's Khomeini Revolution had decimated its military leadership, leaving it in some sense weakened.

Despite the smaller size of its armed forces, Saddam's military took the initiative by seizing Abadan and Khurramshahr together with substantial Iranian territory by December, and beating back Iranian counter-attacks by January.

But in 1982, Iraqis fell back to their own country and dug themselves in behind sandbagged defensive fortifications. From the beginning of the was in Sept 1980 to Sept 1984, foreign military analysts estimated that more than 150,000 Iraqis had been killed. The Iraqis clearly wanted to end the war, but the Iranians refused. In February 1986, Iranian forces gained on two fronts; but Iraq retook most of the lost ground in 1988 and a cease-fire took effect that August.

In July 1980, Saddam claimed that Kuwait was flooding world markets with oil and forcing down prices. A mediation effort by Arab leaders failed, and on August 2, 1990, over this and territorial claims, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and set up a puppet government.

On January 18, 1991, the UN forces, under the leadership of Gen. Norman Schwatzkopf, launched Operation Desert Storm, liberating Kuwait in less than a week.

Despite rebellions by both Shi'ites and Kurds following Iraq's crushing defeat in the Gulf War, Saddam maintained his draconian grip on Iraq. The UN Security Council barred Iraq from selling oil except in exchange for food and medicine. Despite the debilitating effects of the UN sanctions, Saddam continued to defy, evade, and circumvent the terms of the cease-fire agreement. In the end, the sanctions were a near-total financial and trade embargo, yet Saddam remained largely defiant.

The original stated purposes of the sanctions were to compel Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, to pay reparations, and to disclose and eliminate any weapons of mass destruction. UNSCOM was supposed to have open access, but Saddam saw all this as a violation of Iraq's sovereignty -- and refused full cooperation.

Even as President Clinton sought a path of firmness but conciliation, Saddam was waging a propaganda campaign that blamed the US for the starvation and poverty suffered by the Iraqi people rather than his own refusal to meet the terms required for removal of the sanctions. Ratcheting up his anti-American rhetoric, Saddam demanded a lifting all sanctions on its country, including the weapons sanctions.

Ultimately Saddam halted the UN inspections altogether. Both Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright insisted that an attack on Hussein could be stopped only if Hussein reversed his decision to halt arms inspections. "Iraq has a simple choice. Reverse course or face the consequences," Albright said.

Increasing the pressure on Saddam, the Clinton administration again used the UN auspices. The Iraqi no-fly zones were a set of two separate no-fly zones (NFZs), and were proclaimed by the United States, United Kingdom, and France after the Gulf War of 1991 to protect the Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south. Iraqi aircraft were forbidden from flying inside the zones. The policy was enforced by U.S., UK, and French aircraft patrols.

American and British aircraft continuously maintained the integrity of the NFZ, taking anti-aircraft fire from Iraqi forces almost daily. In the south, Operation Southern Watch was underway to watch over the persecuted Shi'ite populations. This operation was launched on August 27 1992 with the mission of preventing further Human Rights abuses against civilian populations. Iraq challenged the no-fly zone beginning in December 1992 when a USAF F-16 fighter plane shot down an Iraqi MiG-25 Foxbat fighter which had locked on to it in the Southern no-fly zone. The next month Allied planes attacked Iraqi SAM sites in the South.

The exasperation of the Clinton Administration (as well as ally Tony Blair) seemed to focus on the evasions and the "games" played by Saddam over inspections. "If he has nothing to hide, no WMD's, why is he so evasive?" On November 13, 1997, Iraq expelled American members of the UN inspection team mandated to ascertain that Iraq has destroyed all its nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic arms. Under the 1991 cease-fire resolution, the UN would not lift sanctions until Iraq fully complied.

The standoff stretched on over months, and as tensions rose, the US began a military build-up in the Gulf. In February 1998, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan brokered a peaceful solution to the stand-off. Over the next months Saddam continued to impede the UN inspection team, demanding that the sanctions be lifted, haranguing the international community with his tirades against the United States

President Clinton and Secretary Albright continued to press with restraint, preferring to use the United Nations pre-eminently as the agent for, they hoped, Iraqi cooperation. Nevertheless, the warning was expressed. In Clinton's 1998 State of the Union Address, he warned Congress of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's possible pursuit of nuclear weapons:

"Together we must also confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons, and the outlaw states, terrorists and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade, and much of his nation's wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

"The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job, finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was destroyed during the entire gulf war. Now, Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing their mission. I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein, 'You cannot defy the will of the world,' and when I say to him, 'You have used weapons of mass destruction before; we are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.'

Finally, in August 1998, Saddam put a complete halt to the inspections. This time, against pushed to the wall, the Clinton administration once more resorted to diplomatic arm-twisting rather than a military threat. In September the Un Security Council voted unanimously that removal of sanctions would not be discussed until Saddam offered to resume cooperation with UN inspectors.

To weaken Saddam Hussein's grip of power, Clinton signed H.R. 4655 into law on October 31, 1998, which instituted a policy of "regime change" against Iraq, though it explicitly stated it did not provide for direct intervention on the part of American military forces. The administration then launched a four-day bombing campaign named Operation Desert Fox, lasting from December 16 to 19, 1998. At the end of this operation Clinton announced that:

"So long as Saddam remains in power, he will remain a threat to his people, his region, and the world. With our allies, we must pursue a strategy to contain him and to constrain his weapons of mass destruction program, while working toward the day Iraq has a government willing to live at peace with its people and with its neighbors."

American and British aircraft in the Iraq no-fly zones attacked hostile Iraqi air defenses 166 times in 1999 and 78 times in 2000.

Also see (perhaps of interest) The Kurds of Kurdistan - an ancient people who even still pursue self-determination

See -   Michael Taube (2013) - The real Reagan record on civil rights

Pundits and their two cents

Entering Texas politics, George W. Bush had the same challenge his father had faced, reassuring the staunch conservatives of the right that he was not just a liberal yankee New Englander. Both father and son managed to rise to the challenge, proving that they could be a moderate Republican (up to a point) without betraying the firmly conservative principles of the base (more right wing). There was always grumbling (that Dubya was a carpet-bagger - not a true Texan, not a real conservative).

Running for president in 2000, George W Bush was seen as a Republican who could win. His moderate-to-liberal side was temporarily forgiven by conservatives, though voices like Limbaugh's made sure conservatives were aware of the "liberal" tendencies of the Bush rhetoric -- lifting the marginalized, closing the gap of hope, that we need more compassion in America. His close political friendship with the liberal Powell was obviously worrisome to conservatives like Limbaugh.

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For good or ill, Dick Cheney hijacked the Bush presidency

After 9/11 Cheney effectively became the most powerful man in the world

Mark Danner, "Dick Cheney remade our world" (Review, New York Review of Books)

It was Cheney's singular genius to reshape the vice presidency into the most powerful position in the American government

It is a truism and a quite inadequate one to say that Richard Bruce Cheney was the most powerful vice-president in American history.

Cheney was lucky to be vice-president during the attacks of September 11, a national security crisis that drew on precisely the encyclopedic knowledge and bureaucratic skills he had cultivated in a quarter-century spent at the heights of power in Washington, from White House chief of staff in the 1970s to leading member of the House Intelligence Committee in the 1980s to wartime secretary of defense in the 1990s. And he was particularly lucky in serving an untested president who, while intelligent and strong-willed, found himself at the apex of a government suddenly under attack, a government that he knew he lacked the experience and knowledge and confidence to effectively lead.

While the caricature of George W. Bush as his vice-president’s puppet is plainly false -- “The alpha male in the White House was the president,” says former Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers -- after September 11 Bush clearly needed Cheney, and he knew it. He needed Cheney’s knowledge of foreign and security policy, particularly his familiarity with “the dark side” where Cheney proclaimed, less than a week after the attacks, a major part of the war on terror would be fought, and even more he needed Cheney’s deep knowledge of the government and his unique ability to push forward effectively what was a truly radical transformation. These changes could not have been imposed without experience, dedication, and ruthlessness.

We needed a Svengali - we got Dick Cheney