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Archive for Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We must at least learn from Iraq mistake

March 19, 2008

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Pitts to chat

Beginning today, columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. will participate in weekly live chats on www.MiamiHerald.com. He will be chatting with readers from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday.

And five years later, here we are.

There were no weapons of mass destruction. We were not greeted as liberators. The war did not pay for itself. The smoking gun was not a mushroom cloud. There was no connection to 9/11. The course we stayed led over a cliff.

Worse, Iraq has become a recruiting station for Islamic terrorists. One presidential candidate foresees a 100-year occupation. Electricity is still a sometime thing in Baghdad. The war that was supposed to pay for itself was recently projected to cost us $3 trillion - that's trillion, with a "t," that's a three followed by 12 zeroes, that's "3 million millions." And American forces have sustained over 33,000 casualties, including 4,000 dead and 13,000 wounded too severely to return to action.

Pundits and politicians will spend a lot of time debating the war in Iraq on this, its fifth anniversary. They will analyze what we have achieved, pontificate on where we should go from here. I will leave those arguments to them.

Not that those are not worthy issues. But I cannot get beyond what is, for me, the one overriding truth of this war.

It should never have been fought.

Yes, I know: The point is moot. The war was fought and there is nothing we can do about it. But I submit, there is, in fact, at least one thing we must do. Learn from it.

Much has been made of the culpability of the Bush Administration, of the arrogance and incompetence that midwifed this mess. Less has been made, however, of the culpability of Bush's accomplices, the enablers and facilitators who made this misadventure possible. By which I mean you and me, the American electorate.

Granted, many of us have been screaming "no" as loudly as we could from the very beginning or shortly thereafter. But many more refused to own what we knew, refused to accept the evidence of our own eyes and call this administration to account. We were scared beyond the ability to reason and wanted to feel safe, we were too heavily invested in lies to be turned aside by truth, we needed with a desperation to believe what we were being told, to buy what we were being sold.

Excuses. At some point, you have to stand up and be brave. Stand up like American women and men.

This, we have largely failed to do. Three months after the war began, when it was becoming clear there were no weapons of mass destruction, 56 percent of us told Gallup it didn't matter, said the invasion was justified regardless. Play that back again: the primary rationale for the war was disintegrating like a sandcastle in the waves, yet a majority of us shrugged and said, "Whatever." Like our president, we were impervious to truths we did not want to know.

That majority is a memory, but it lasted long past the point it should've, lasted long enough to enable this disaster, to send George W. Bush back to office claiming a mandate, to dig us in so deep the sun feels like a rumor, to create legions of new terrorists, to run up a bill we will be generations paying off, to take the lives of 4,000 Americans and Lord only knows how many Iraqis.

So yes, we should at the very least learn from this, commit it to communal memory, so that maybe next time a fear-mongering leader tries to stampede us into precipitate and unwise action, we will have the guts to stop and reason and own what we know. And to realize that the electorate has a role to play in the life of a free nation and it is not mindless cheerleader.

One can only hope. In the meantime, here we are, five years later. The electorate has largely moved on, more concerned about the price of gas than the price of war.

But the war grinds on. Indeed, it has ground the president's approval rating down to the low 30s.

Maybe you think that's accountability at last. Me, I'm surprised it's still that high.

- Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald.

Comments

Mariann 6 years ago

parkay is a liar and needs to be deported.

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posessionannex 6 years, 1 month ago

*Always Remember Iran Contra!

Heck, why stop there?

*Always remember Watergate!

/idiots

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beobachter 6 years, 1 month ago

pisa, any former president looks great compared to the "decider". At they had a brain and the ability to think for themselves. You can't say that about the current occupant.

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JLoh21 6 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps the author of the letter should ask the Kurd's if saddam had "weapons of mass destruction."

saddam had them and he used them.

saddam was trying to acquire more and his past history indicated that he would have used them too.

saddam was also telling the world that he had already acquired additional weaponry.

saddam's mistake was thinking that Bush would act like a clinton.

"America fled into the dark as fast as it could." Bin Laden talking about clinton's panicked run from Somalia.

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pisafromthewest 6 years, 1 month ago

Windlass (Anonymous) says:

"Jimmy Carter was one hell of a president if the comparison were made today between him and George W. Bush. Well wait, any former Democratic president would be."

Somebody really, really needs to stop cheeking her meds.


Friendo (Anonymous) quotes:

"then the Security Council shall convene in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance"

Thanks for pointing out how completely useless and ineffectual the UN has always been. Despite the fact that Hussein was not in compliance and was interfering with the inspectors, they reneged on their own resolution to reconvene the security council. And if they had (after how many years of Hussein laughing his a** off?), they would have passed yet another_resolution, sat on their useless butts for _another ten or twelve years, before they considered ... passing another resolution, all the while with our troops sitting in Kuwait at our cost waiting forever for the UN to do what they always do: absolutely nothing.

The UN has never, ever been worth the paper their charter was written on.


cool (Anonymous) says:

"we must learn from the mistake of election 2000 as well."

Why is it that the liberals always seem to forget that after all the votes were counted, their idol Gore still lost?

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Mkh 6 years, 1 month ago

kansas778 (Anonymous) says:

"So Windlass, are you saying that Clinton would have invaded Iraq in 1998 if only it weren't for those darn republicans?"

If 9/11 would have happened in 1997...you can bet the farm that Clinton would have invaded Iraq under false pretenses not long afterwards. Bush and Clinton are both criminal puppets who work for the same string master. All of you are wasting time and brain cells trying to make one look better than the other.

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Mariann 6 years, 1 month ago

I was referring to nascar fans who claim to be into sports.... lots of redmeat and high cholestoral, eh?

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kansas778 6 years, 1 month ago

Babboy--exactly, a couple of cruise missiles and we can feel like we did something without actually committing ourselves and without actually doing anything. That's the way we keep our approval ratings high. I think it's quite funny how those few minutes that Bush was sitting in that classroom seem to be the sole reason Bin Laden is at large. If only Bush had acted 60 seconds sooner!

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BABBOY 6 years, 1 month ago

Just a couple quick comments, but it would appear windlass and I agree on a lot of issues. I would only point out to Kansas778 that Clinton did in fact authorize several cruise missile launches trying to pre-emp strike Bin Laden. I sometimes wonder if George W Bush even knew who Bin Laden was until the 911 strike and his rude awaking in the kindergarten class room when he sat around doing absolutely nothing for several minutes upon being told that our nation was under attack (then he went into hiding).

Also, did Mr. Values get the boot? That is too bad, he was such a friendly fellow ....(sarcasm alert)

Maryann, not a redneck, not religious, but I love and played seriously sports (I played football -- too small for D-1 however). Not in favor of this Iraq occupation. Believe our resources could be better used in Afghanistan or other areas. Stereotypes are usually the wrong way to prove a point and coutner productive...

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ChristmasCarol 6 years, 1 month ago

Mistakes? I am perfection embodied and I can read your mind.

I love myself and my ego. I just took another shot at love with Telia Tequila and I am going to go kill with 100000000 rounds of millimeteres of ammo with 3 kazillion rounds of mass manufactured stuff.

I grew up playing "Die or die" video games and I have as many lives as mom and dad have gumption to let me play this dastardly game where I kill a million aliens with 40 retractable pocket weapons of mass destruction( glad they don't rub against each other too much they might explode in my pocket.)

I am convinced that I am representing the rednecks. I think it the techno brats that think they can conquer the world with one mighty boom.

I agree let's just send the latest in pop music and sports channels and the Iraqis will kill themselves knowing what is coming their way.

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Mariann 6 years, 1 month ago

Mistake from Iraq? Nope- not with all the rednecks who call them selves christians and sports fans.... What a crock.

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cool 6 years, 1 month ago

we must learn from the mistake of ELECTION 2000 as well.

never again let votes go uncounted in a state governed by the presidential candidates brother !

never again disallow a recount in a state goverend by teh presidential candidates brother !

never again let votes disappear from the count in a state governed by one of the candidates brother !

that is the real debacle of the new century / that america entered the new age without a freely elected president.

no wonder he wasn't 'watching' or listening (via condi) to the terrorist alerts in August 2001.

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Friendo 6 years, 1 month ago

Where have all of Mr. Values post's gone? I hope there's no censorship afoot.

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kansas778 6 years, 1 month ago

You're right windlass, it has been longstanding policy of the US after Vietnam to remain detached and not get directly involved, particularly with ground troops. We've learned from Iraq and Vietnam that we must sit back while our enemies grow stronger, because unless there is a direct move like the invasion of Kuwait, or the attack on 9/11, there will be no end to the criticism and condemnation, so it's better to sit around and do nothing.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

"What Jimmy Carter did was allow the Shah into the U.S. for medical treatment, and he refused to hand him over for trial in Iran."

You forgot to add that he did it at the request of the Shah's good buddy, Henry Kissinger.

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Windlass 6 years, 1 month ago

We'll never know, and that is thanks to the Republican Party.

Still and all, Papa Bush took us into Iraq two years after Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds, and Bush did nothing to remove Saddam from power. Let's also not forget Reagan running away when the marine barracks were bombed.

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Windlass 6 years, 1 month ago

The CIA's codename for its covert operations in Iran in the 1950s was Boy Scout.

F the Republicans, or what I should say is F 'em back.

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kansas778 6 years, 1 month ago

So Windlass, are you saying that Clinton would have invaded Iraq in 1998 if only it weren't for those darn republicans?

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Windlass 6 years, 1 month ago

Using the CIA to topple foreign governments began during the Eisenhower administration, and the first oppurtunity for the GOP to use the CIA this way came when they struggled with the Soviet Union for control of oil in Iran. In 1951 Mohammad Mossadegh demanded an end to British control over Iran's oil industries, which Britain seized during WWll, and took the country's oil as if it was theirs. When Mossadegh became Iran's Prime Minister, Britain requested the CIA to engineer a coup, and they did. Mossadegh was toppled and arrested, and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was returned to power. Now, fast forward to January 1979, and this coup becomes the mass demonstrations, strikes and riots that led to the shah being forced to leave Iran. This wasn't anything Jimmy Carter had any role in. What Jimmy Carter did was allow the Shah into the U.S. for medical treatment, and he refused to hand him over for trial in Iran. That's all Jimmy Carter did. Everything else is the guilt of the Republican Party.

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Ray Parker 6 years, 1 month ago

Our mistake was not unleashing our military forces to kill Muslim terrorists fast enough, and not hauling the cowards we captured to Gitmo fast enough. Too often, the killers escaped, regrouped, and attacked our troops again. The USofA is justified in attacking any country or civilian population that harbors Muslim terrorists. Iraq had plenty of fair warning and refused to cooperate in eliminating the threat to our national security.

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Windlass 6 years, 1 month ago

Jimmy Carter unleashed the islamic instability in the middle east when he ousted the shah. It may take 4 more republican presidents before we can undo the harm done by one democratic president. We're working on it.

So stupid. I can't believe the wool you're always trying to pull over everybody's eyes.

The Shah of Iran was a pro-Western puppet who was deeply corrupt on the side of the United States since he was installed by the United States government. The Iranian's suffered a great deal of brutality under this "American ruler." And if this reminds you of the Iraq government that the United States recently installed, and which is some 98% corrupt, it should.

Jimmy Carter was one hell of a president if the comparison were made today between him and George W. Bush. Well wait, any former Democratic president would be.

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Windlass 6 years, 1 month ago

Here's what we've learned from the Iraq mistake: don't try and stop your enemies before they are strong enough to cause real damage, you'll be criticized for "lying" about the danger and for "illegal" invasions. Instead sit back and wait like Clinton while the world plots against us; at least your approval ratings will be high.

Classic misinformation again. Geez Kansas778 people like you are a real work of art.

President Bill Clinton was forced away from his duties as Commander-in-Chief by the Republican-controlled Congress who only cared about impeaching him over a sexual tryst. Everybody knows the truth except those folks who just can't handle it.

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Windlass 6 years, 1 month ago

We are at the point of no return now. There is so much we don't know because the White House occupants have chosen to operate in secrecy. I believe, however, that we will learn so much more as time passes and the history books are published. We will not be proud. I also have to fault the American people who are the electorate of the free world. Well, not so free now. Time is up for people who may have decided since 2004 that they should vote. Time's up. Brace yourselves for the next devastating Depression instead. It's coming. The Federal Reserve, even if it wanted to, has no possible means to save our economy now. Banks will continue to collapse, and I believe the next bank to go will be in New York, but that's only what I believe. Any bank is next. George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Lesbian Rice, Alan Greenspan, all of them usurped the power and the economy of the United States because we let them. We will pay incredibly dearly, but they won't pay a thing. The real kicker is that we gave them their immunity a long time ago.

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Mr_Values 6 years, 1 month ago

Resolution 678, passed on Nov. 29, 1990, authorized member states to "use all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area." (Resolution 660, passed on Aug. 2, 1990, demanded that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait.)

Because Iraq has not complied with the cease-fire terms of Resolution 687 (a subsequent relevant resolution), which required it to disarm and cooperate with weapons inspectors, among other things, member states still have sufficient legal authority to use force ("all necessary means") against Iraq.

Friendo, Unfortunately you interpretation is wrong. Resolution 678 was the authority to wage war. It had not been rescinded, superceded or cancelled. Every resolution after was in support of 678. Again, if you are given permission to do something, why would you go back and ask again, and again for permission.

An Army of lawyers from several countries all concurred that the action was legal. The world court has not ruled against the legitimacy of 678.

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logicsound04 6 years, 1 month ago

""Even the mighty oak was once a nut like you." Chinese proverb"


And then there are some nuts who never grow up...

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Friendo 6 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Values if you read United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 you will see that paragraph's 4, 11 and 12 make it absolutely clear that should Iraq be non -compliant with this resolution, (Para. 4), or should the IAEA or the UNMOVIC report any interference by Iraq in carrying out it's inspection activities or failure to comply with this resolution,(Para 11), "then the Security Council shall convene in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance", (Para 12). Unfortunately no such second meeting took place and the use of force against Iraq was not authorised. Mr. Values, I am delighted that you bought United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 to everybody's attention today because on the basis of it the invasion of Iraq was completely illegal. I hope I was of some help in clearing this up for you.

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kansas778 6 years, 1 month ago

Here's what we've learned from the Iraq mistake: don't try and stop your enemies before they are strong enough to cause real damage, you'll be criticized for "lying" about the danger and for "illegal" invasions. Instead sit back and wait like Clinton while the world plots against us; at least your approval ratings will be high.

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Mr_Values 6 years, 1 month ago

Jonas, It took Hurricane Katrina 2 days to destroy New Orleans. Are you saying it should take FEMA 2 days to rebuild it?

There you go, being naive again.

"Even the mighty oak was once a nut like you." Chinese proverb

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Mkh 6 years, 1 month ago

And has anyone running for President actually learned from these mistakes? Well no, besides Ron Paul.

Even Obama, whose only claim to fame is not wanting the Iraq War is ready and willing to attack any nation anywhere the "terrorists" might be...sound familiar? He speaks how "great a threat" Iran is to US national security and threatens to invade Pakistan.

Obama also hasn't learned the lessons from our loss of civil liberties, he supports the Patriot Act, Real ID, and Homegrown Terrorism Bill. Yet the "Left" wants us to believe he is somehow different, and has the interest of the people in mind.

Don't even get me started on the other two idiots.

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autie 6 years, 1 month ago

"all necessary means". ?? Burn up 3 trillion dollars, kill 4000 Americans, wound 29000 more? For what? Not cheap oil. Not democracy. Not world prestige. It has all been a big waste of lives and money for absolutely no return. Gosh, even my 84 year old, ultra conservative father recognized this early on. Mr. Values would tell us what language/words mean. I would say i can twist and spin about anything to mean what I want it to mean..it doesn't make it right though.

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jonas 6 years, 1 month ago

Mr_Values (Anonymous) says:

"Defender, Jimmy Carter unleashed the islamic instability in the middle east when he ousted the shah. It may take 4 more republican presidents before we can undo the harm done by one democratic president. We're working on it."

So, does that mean that Republican Presidents are four times less effective than Democrat Presidents? Do you have the figures for all of this?

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Mr_Values 6 years, 1 month ago

Bozo, "all necessary means", is english a second language for you?

Our President did not require another authorization, he already had one. Why would he get permission again? Iraq did not comply with the resolution. We found numerous violations, oil for food corruption and the list is endless. The congress overwhelmingly agreed with the above course of action. Lawyers from the state department, from the justice department agreed. The British parliment and British lawyers agreed, spain and a plethora of other countries. But everyone is insane except the one here named for a clown.

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mick 6 years, 1 month ago

The biggest lesson to be learned is that the mainstream media favors the neocon (PNAC and AIPAC) agenda. They lie and manipulate and most Americans are hypnotized by them. It's not simply a "liberal media." They love war and greed as much as any "conservative" Republican.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, Mr. Sheeple. That was not UN authorization to invade. Since your memory is faulty, I will remind you that BushCo chose not to seek any authorization to invade, because they knew they wouldn't get it.

BTW, Iraq complied with that resolution to disarm, as inspections confirmed.

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Mr_Values 6 years, 1 month ago

Defender, Jimmy Carter unleashed the islamic instability in the middle east when he ousted the shah. It may take 4 more republican presidents before we can undo the harm done by one democratic president. We're working on it.

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Defender 6 years, 1 month ago

"When clowns (libtards) try to be statesmen and soldiers the results are inevitably cleaned up later by patriots."

So, when was this cleaned up? Sorry, but it hasn't been, period.

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Mr_Values 6 years, 1 month ago

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 was a resolution by the UN Security Council, passed unanimously on November 8, 2002, offering Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" that had been set out in several previous resolutions (Resolution 660, Resolution 661, Resolution 678, Resolution 686, Resolution 687, Resolution 688, Resolution 707, Resolution 715, Resolution 986, and Resolution 1284).

Resolution 678, passed on Nov. 29, 1990, authorized member states to "use all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area." (Resolution 660, passed on Aug. 2, 1990, demanded that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait.)

Because Iraq has not complied with the cease-fire terms of Resolution 687 (a subsequent relevant resolution), which required it to disarm and cooperate with weapons inspectors, among other things, member states still have sufficient legal authority to use force ("all necessary means") against Iraq.

Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002,[1] a law passed by the United States Congress in October 2002 as Public Law No: 107-243, authorizing the Iraq War.

Bozo, recommend you stick with romping in the romper room and leave politics and America's security with those that know best. When clowns (libtards) try to be statesmen and soldiers the results are inevitably cleaned up later by patriots. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton cases in point.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Always remember the republican party as the elected officials who NEVER question THEIR president just bow down and vote party line. This behavor began in 1980 under Reagan/Bush. Remember Reagan/Bush,Reagan/Bush,Bush/Quale,Bush/Cheney and Bush/Cheney

Those Bushes make bad decisions including Neil Bush who made bundles ripping off a savings and loan.

Jeb Bush: A Savings and Loan Bailout, and Bush's Son Jeb

By JEFF GERTH, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES Published: October 14, 1990

LEAD: After Jeb Bush, a son of the President, and a partner bought a Miami office building using money an associate had borrowed from a local savings and loan, the Federal Government wound up repaying most of the loan.

After Jeb Bush, a son of the President, and a partner bought a Miami office building using money an associate had borrowed from a local savings and loan, the Federal Government wound up repaying most of the loan.

The savings institution became insolvent, and the Government paid more than $4 million to make good the loan as part of the bailout of the savings industry. Mr. Bush and his partner negotiated a settlement with regulators in which they repaid $505,000 and retained control of the building. While they still have a $7 million mortgage to pay on that property, the settlement with the Government lifted from their backs a $4.565 million second mortgage.

How are Bushes making out on the sub prime scandal? I am quite curious.

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Defender 6 years, 1 month ago

"After reading the first paragraph, I guest it was written by Pitts."

'I guest...' Really? You don't know any better than that?

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beobachter 6 years, 1 month ago

hey valueless, what UN resolution?

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

As republicans run for office: ALWAYS remember Bush/Cheney! Always Remember Iran Contra! Always Remember The Patriot Act! Always Remember Spying on Americans! Always Remember $3 trillion Dollars Always Remember the tens of thousands of disabled and abused USA soldiers! Always Remember the millions of Iraq people that have been either killed or wounded all for the USA oil cartel! Always remember 9/11/01 as an example of substantial incompetence of the republican party! Always remember War should NOT be american foreign policy! Always Remember Cost of Iraq = Loss of Prestige,Power&Influence http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/30413.html

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

"We had a UN resolution "

Really? Which resolution was that?

"Lying about Iraq?"

That you haven't recognized it yet is testimony to your gullibility and willful ignorance, Mr. Sheeple.

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Mr_Values 6 years, 1 month ago

Merrill and circus, Racism? Like world war I (Kiezzers) or ww II (Japs, nips, krauts, etc.) weren't racially motivated. And I'm so tired of the libtard line "illegal invasion". We had a UN resolution and our own congress authorized it.

Lying about Iraq? So you have substantial legal evidence and you have filed suit against them in federal court? ....You don't and haven't?

KooKoo KooKoo

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

There is racism in Iraq on the battlefields which is appalling to some troops: http://www.democracynow.org/2008/3/18/winter_soldier_contd_us_vets_active =============================================== And when the PNAC Neocon republican party starts screaming war... where's the hard evidence neocon repub party. =============================================== One thing that has been learned is that presidential power should be reined in substantially. Bush/Cheney repub party brought to the office a serious dictatorship mentaliity and abused the office of the president and abused our troops. Lying about Iraq should have landed both of them a job in San Quentin.

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temperance 6 years, 1 month ago

mancityfooty -- Don't you love the racism just lurking below the surface of the war cheerleaders. Are we liberating them or nuking them? And who is "Them?"

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Corey Williams 6 years, 1 month ago

Good idea. Take the high road and just kill as many as possible when we illegally invade another country. As long as we don't spoil any of their oil wells or ruin any deposits underground, there shouldn't be a proble.

Yes, I'm being sarcastic. And maybe, just maybe, even your vulgar post can at least be discussed in a civilized manner...just as soon as you realize it's spelled "guessed".

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igby 6 years, 1 month ago

After reading the first paragraph, I guest it was written by Pitts.

Next time Leonard, we will just nuke the living crap out of them. It's cheaper.

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