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Update on House Vote

The Hastert-Gephardt proposal (H.J.R 114) passed the House today on a 296-113 vote.

The Hastert-Gephardt proposal (H.J.R 114) passed the House today on a 296-113 vote. The Senate also voted 75-25 to limit debate, meaning its vote on the war resolution could come as early as tomorrow. This is disappointing as the Spratt amendment was a common-sense approach to this whole killin’ Iraqis business. (For a glimpse of alternatives, Here’s a PDF that compares the various House and Senate proposals.)
All of this may be moot, however because sources on Capital Hill are saying that Bush doesn’t want war at all! That come Nov. 5, Bush will suddently start talking about how the United Nations is a useful body after all, and that inspectors will be allowed to do their job. I’m told Bush doesn’t want to be looking at an occupied Iraq two years from now when we have guerilla fighting in Baghdad suburbs, a massive drain on the national economy and a stable oil supply only because United States occupation forces keep Kurds, Shi’ites and Sunni Arabs (not to mention Turkomen and Iranians) from each others’ throats. Add to that a daily trickle of body bags as one or two GIs die every couple of days. That wouldn’t be very fun to run on, would it? Especially since Bush avoided the horrors of a long, drawn out guerilla war once before!
This would be a fascinating example of dog-wagging. At least President Clinton actually tossed some cruise missles around when he was accused of doing it to distract the nation from him “doing it.” In Bush’s case, however war with Iraq will have been talked up, the Middle East destabilized, the UN insulted and our reputation trashed with allies—all for short-term election gains. (Well, not all for short-term gains. No doubt there are plenty of true believers who think that Saddam should be blowed up real good, but trying to divine the influence of people like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney et al., is akin to Kremlinology.) A post-election change in rhetoric would prove the influence of “General Rove.”

Not so fast, Mr. President

There is a time when politicians should be applauded. This is one of those times.

There is a time when politicians should be applauded. This is one of those times. Reps. Spratt of North Carolina and Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., will introduce into the House debate on war with Iraq this alternate resolution. (It’s a PDF to be downloaded.)
In essence it allows military action but only after the UNSC has been allowed to do everything it can, including muscular and intrusive inspections. If the UNSC fails in its duties, the President must come back to Congress and ask for authorization for war against Iraq. (It actually says “military force” instead of war, but still.)
In the case of shooting, “the President should endeavor to form a coalition of allies as broadly based as practicable to support and participate with United States Armed Forces, and should also seek multilateral cooperation and assistance, specifically including Arab and Islamic countries, in the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq.”
And this:

In the event that the United Nations Security Council does not adopt a resolution as described in section 3, or in the event that such a resolution is adopted but does not sanction the use of force sufficient to compel Iraq’s compliance, and if the President determines that use of the United States Armed Forces is necessary for such compliance, the President should seek authorization from Congress to use military force to compel such compliance.

Clear enough? In essence, come back to us, Mr. President, when you’ve got some proof. Proof that Iraq is the clear and present danger you say it is, and proof that the UNSC is an impotent organization that can’t do its job. Only then do you get the guns.
The House rules committee has allowed this resolution in, so the whole House may vote on it. It likely won’t pass, but it’s a saner voice than what we’re hearing from the White House.
I don’t know Spratt or Snyder or other other sponsors of this resolution, but I suspect that I should. Thank you, gentlemen.

Saddam to hold referendum on presidency

With an upcoming referendum on his presidency, could Saddam be sending a message to Egypt and Syria, two of the most important allies of the United States in the Gulf War in 1991?

No, not on Bush’s presidency, although I’m beginning to think that’s not such a bad idea. (Technically, we have to wait two more years for that chance.) Instead, 11.56 million Iraqis will vote next week (Oct. 15) on another 7-year term for Saddam Hussein as the president of Iraq. Gee, who do you think will win? Reuters reports that tha last time such a referendum was held, in 1995, Saddam received 99.96 percent of the vote of almost 8 million votes cast.

The question that occurs to me is, Why now? To confer legitmacy on his rule, of course. The first referendum was in 1995, and his “term” is up. An overwhelming vote of support (note this is not an election since that would imply there are other candidates) from the Iraq people can be trotted out and presented to the world as “proof” that Saddam should not be deposed. But no one really believes that the vote is full and fair, so who the hell is he trying to impress?

This story offers some clues, I feel. The toppling of a “legitimate” presidency for Saddam (and he is the recognized head of state, for better or for worse) would mean that no head of state is in the area is safe. As Iraqi Deputy Prime Minster said on Wednesday:

“No Arab country is free of the threat, even if it takes part alongside America in the aggression against Iraq,” Aziz told reporters in Damascus. “Don’t think that (they are safe) if they make nice statements and offer bases to the Americans. When the crime ends, they will be made to submit to America and Zionism.”

So, Iraq’s no doubt overwhelming support for Saddam, as evidenced by the vote count, will be used as propaganda to be fed to the masses in other Arab countries who are already deeply antagonistic to United States’ actions. It should be noted that presidents Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Bashar Assad of Syria, both secular Arab leaders of countries with tense relations with the United States, regularly receive 90+ percent of the vote against non-entities. And like Iraq did in the 1980s, Egypt receives a great deal of aid from the United States. (Granted, Egypt gets it because of the Camp David accords and Iraq got it because it was fighting Iran, but still.)

Could Iraq be sending a message not just to the international community but specifically to Egypt and Syria, two of the most important allies of the United States in the Gulf War in 1991? This might be the case, especially since Assad is also a Baathist, like Saddam. Hm.

Announcing www.back-to-iraq.com

Well, it’s up, obviously. If you’re reading this, the back-to-iraq.com domain name has propagated out through the Net and all is working well… Again, kudos to superuser.net for getting me up and running so quickly. And extra kudos to MoveableType for creating very cool software to run these blogs.
Some information: This blog will be about things Iraq: What’s happening there and war preparations here at home. There will occasionally be personal information, but it’s not really about me. It’s about the world. To that end, please consider donating some cash through either PayPal or Amazon to the right. The funds collected will be used to send me back to Iraq for more reporting, at which you generous souls will get a first look.
So that’s about it. There’s a lot of items coming in the next day or so, but since I have a 9 a.m. meeting with Microsoft tomorrow, I’ll call it a night and pack it in.