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Oct-23-2008 16:02printcomments

Bush Continues to Make All The Wrong Moves in Iraq

It seems almost tragic to consider the "Bring Iraq Democracy" rhetoric when you look at the current picture.

Sons of Iraq member whose position will be terminated with the end of U.S. payments.  Photo by Tim King Salem-News.com
Sons of Iraq member whose position will be terminated with the end of U.S. payments. Photo by Tim King Salem-News.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - I find it amazing that the people who cry out loudest about Barack Obama raising taxes are the same people who support Bush, McCain and the war in Iraq. Our nation has squandered hundreds of billions of tax dollars waging a lethal operation that has cost thousands of lives and is no success story, to put it mildly.

Bush's reign has disrupted and destabilized the entire world. September 11th was tragic but it didn't have a darned thing to do with Iraq. I have been to Iraq and I have seen the instability. With a world coalition of partners, the former President Bush spent billions invading Iraq during Desert Storm and then left Saddam Hussein in power. He was a far more experienced politician and he knew that destabilizing a nation like Iraq was far too risky.

The currently administration has not only played bully with the world, it has substantially abused our military and we as a society will deal with the fallout from this for decades to come.

There is more being demanded from these fine volunteers than they should be required to give, and yet they just keep on giving. Some are passive in their feelings about it, and others will gladly come right out and tell you what they really think of the war, and it is rarely a good review.

Cutting Back on Success

There is often a lull between huge waves, and that might ultimately be a good analogy to what is happening in Iraq right now as the U.S. begins to pull money back from programs that have delivered a degree of peace.

They most likely won't be cutting back on the Haliburton's KBR or Blackwater contractors any time soon, but the U.S. government is cutting back on the very unique expense of paying our former enemies to work with us.

Perhaps the idea of paying former insurgents to be our friends is, as a whole, flawed. But what is even more amazing than the idea that this "enemy payment" was authorized in the first place, is the fact that they would halt it in mid-stride.

But then this is the president who canceled the Afghan Children's Fund in 2005, effectively cutting Americans off from the ability to help the poor and starving kids in that faraway land of war.

If we truly cared about the Iraqi people, we would continue to fund the programs that work and are effective, like the Sons of Iraq checkpoints. The only thing Iraqi's seem to care about in the bigger picture, is where their living is going to be earned. While we have paid them they have been mostly loyal. Now we are sending them back to the insurgency to earn a living.

The "Sons of Iraq" were created under the Sunni Awakening Councils; former insurgents now allied with Coalition policy. At least half of them are being cut loose and Iraq is expected to take over the payments for a little more than half the program. Most members of this group believe they will not see any payments from their now country.

Cutting off the payments to the Sons of Iraq is a colossal mistake. The checkpoints operated by the Sons of Iraq are exactly what has brought the peace to Iraq. Ending them is foolish, but we are doing it. These are mostly Sunni Muslims and they had a place in the Shiite government with the Sons of Iraq, but we are allowing one of the war's few success stories to end, and likely have not even begun to see the repercussions that are sure to come.

I asked one Sons of Iraq member to compare life before the U.S. invasion with the current state of Iraq. He answered through the interpreter, "Since the occupation it has been pure chaos here."

Bush's administration has made a record number of serious errors. Our nation's standing in the world has withered, and people in other countries that I communicate with so far are 100% behind Obama, most saying the would fear the policies of a McCain presidency.

I find it extremely interesting that people disconnect the dots and fail to see the road that has been traveled. They stand in this mess of a country, embattled and facing the worst financial crises since the Great Depression, and they blast a presidential candidate because he is "going to raise taxes." I know it is the chant of the GOP, but it takes taxation to make things work and no president in history has abused our money the way George W. Bush has.

I also stood with many people in believing several years ago that a positive outcome based on a military occupation of Iraq was unlikely. We have set the people of Iraq up for a big fall, and it all could have been avoided if President Bush had not been so damned determined to push it through; to make our military commit this irreversible act.

The truth is that many of our servicemembers in Iraq are tired of being there, the Iraqi people are tired of having us there, yet the ones who have cooperated thus far will face great danger when we leave. If we had more sense as a nation we would pay for the working programs in Iraq while we figure out how to pull our own military out. Bust once again, we are making foolish and regrettable mistakes.

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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. His coverage from Iraq has now commenced and will be ongoing throughout the next many weeks. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com



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ken ramey October 26, 2008 11:28 pm (Pacific time)

CJ: Interesting comment re: Chicago vs Iraq. Our work is done there and U.S. ought to "bring 'em home," but it is not likely to happen. The truth is Bush and McCain want to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely not subject to Iraq's sovereignty. If Obama is President, change may occur and the billions going to Iraq can be used to bolster the U.S, economy.


Henry Ruark October 26, 2008 8:58 pm (Pacific time)

Millison: Yours irrelevant in both content and conclusion. Color-blue as point here meaningless as is yrs re p-pandering. UNsurprising you cannot recognize it, considering rest of your comments; denial is one of major symptoms.


Henry Ruark October 26, 2008 7:06 pm (Pacific time)

To all: A wise (and "conservative") American leader wrote: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion; but not his own facts." --Daniel Patrick Moynihan. I can attest to the facts in Tim's statement. Experience (aided by content analysis, too !) tells me that W. is deeply perturbed by his own lack of accomplishments and strikes out thus from envy and self-destructive denial of his own professional status. Jrnlsts must be truly intense persons to achieve success in very demanding work, and the casualties are considerable among those who fail to make it and fail themselves, too.


Millison October 26, 2008 12:24 pm (Pacific time)

I don't really care about the "color blue" when used to describe most urban area's, even though it is 100% accurate when using the color to denote political ideological control, but it's the statistics regarding the incredible murder rate and general violence in these locations and that's the only henious thing I see, and that ain't political pandering, that is what it is: Iraq v.s. Chicago.


Wisened October 25, 2008 1:00 pm (Pacific time)

You went to Iraq for a very brief period of time and saw very little. You have no formal training to make even the smallest of inane observations. Your mission was to get over there, say you have all this insight and then preach to the anti-military losers that post on kool aid blogs (and this is nothing more than a weenie blog). What military/civilian background and training/degrees do you have to understand the dynamics of what is happening in Irag, a country of over 24 million people and the approximate size of California? Actually there is no place on the planet where you could offer "qualified" assessments! You make these puffy statements like "I was a Marine" (and so what! Do you have some special skills that your lower enlisted rank provided you?). You say you have all this camera experience (again, so what). As far as you at KATU, I have never seen you at any of the private get togethers the various staff members had at their homes. I go back with some long before even draft dodgers like Linnman. You have an agenda King, and it is being pointed out via your own words. I was actually hoping that if you spent a little time in Iraq you would appreciate that you really know nothing, which is the first sign of developing some wisdom young man. Instead you will continue to head into the wind of continuing ignorance. It's really sad people like you...

Tim King : I normally wouldn't even engage someone like you over this but I want to clear a couple of things up.  It is comical if you are actually questioning whether or not I was with KATU, is that what you are actually suggesting?  I covered the Salem, Oregon area from 2002 to 2005.  It is a simple fact and nothing more.  Prior to that I worked for KVVU FOX-5 in Las Vegas, and I was at the Las Vegas NBC station before that; KVBC.  I spent three years in the Marine Corps right after high school in the 3rd MAW at El Toro.  I worked on the flightline as a tactical aircraft refueler and also in embarkation.  After the Marines I attended Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California where I majored in journalism.  I began working in TV news in 1988.  I also have several years in radio news.  During my broadcasting career I have earned the the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting, first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and I have earned five awards for news reporting and photography from the Arizona AP (1996),   Along with my wife I produced Fallen Fortress at Cape Lookout for Oregon Public Broadcasting between 1991 and 1993 that was the story from a sole survivor's perspective of a tragic B-17 bomber crash on the Oregon Coast in 1943,  

I have spent years researching military stories and also investigating airplane crash sites.  I have climbed mountains to record images of these historic scenes.  I have flown in almost every type of aircraft in the world including the F-16 jet fighter and literally every type of American military helicopter in use that transports passengers, a blimp, a hot air balloon, lear jet, Citation jet, Marine V-22 Osprey, etc.  I have interviewed veterans from every war since WWI.  I have spent time with Tuskeegee Airmen, an astronaut, Green Berets, Navy SEAL's, Marine Recon, and many members of foreign military in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  I also have gone parachuting and sky diving with Army Special Forces personnel, 

In the world of TV news, there are not very many veterans at all.  You write cruel and untrue things and you insult people like my friend Paul Linnman who is an extremely popular media personality in the NW without even having the courage to use your own name.  I am no longer with KATU and many people like Paul that I worked with have also moved on, but we are still friends.   I suggest you do more research next time before you start spouting off about how unqualified I am to do my job.  Trust me, there are a lot of achievements and accomplishments that I didn't even mention above.  I think I am more than qualified to assess what I saw in Iraq and you have absolutely no idea what I did or did not see or do.  The clear thing about you sir or ma'am, is that you are the one with an agenda.  I have written positive things about the people who are serving in Iraq, I reported those stories faithfully.  The policy decisions in Iraq are off track and people like youself would cut off your nose to spite your own face when it comes to admitting how badly this has all gone.  If you think things are better than I describe, then you are entitled to your opinion.  

 

 

 

 


Henry Ruark October 25, 2008 12:03 pm (Pacific time)

Curt: You wrote:"Appears that Iraq is doing better than the deep blue city of Chicago." Your choice of color clearly shows intent for absolutely inane, irrelevant and totally unworkable comparison. This, too, is political pandering in its most heinous form, contemptible in itself and contemptuous of our readership and its mental realities. In old Chicago lingo, gfys.


Curt J October 24, 2008 9:35 pm (Pacific time)

Appears that Iraq is doing better than the deep blue city of Chicago. Chicago's Murder Rate Double American Soldiers Killed in Iraq Chicago residents have faced an exceptionally deadly Summer this year — 123 people were shot and killed, twice the amount of US soldier casualties in Iraq over the same period


Vic October 24, 2008 8:15 am (Pacific time)

Once again, great article Tim, and would add that we are glad you made it back in one piece !


Henry Ruark October 23, 2008 7:38 pm (Pacific time)

To all: "Conditioned"rates "big smell" on rapid content analysis. Dunno where big/blowers like that come from, but do know where they need to go...and do when they get there. From personal experience can report that real-thing would simply contact Tim direct with no Comment playing to readers. Re Tim's Perspective it is right dead on target, from our own trained, skilled,dedicated journalist worthy of our best comprehensive appreciation and full community support.


A friend of Salem-News.com October 23, 2008 7:07 pm (Pacific time)

Geez Tim, all you have to do to meet standards like this guy's is to sell your soul to the devil. Not interested in doing that? Hell no, I'm sure you're not. You guys have made some big waves and broken some big stories and your presence in Oregon and the rest of the world is growing, just remember that.


Conditioned October 23, 2008 6:25 pm (Pacific time)

King I'll make it a 100% go, all expenses paid for you to go introduce yourself to some of my people below. Most were officers and have a pretty good idea about what's going on in the world via actual experience. Maybe you can share your experience and that gifted insight you have. Just give the word and a "bonded" travel agent will provide you all the documents and funds you need. Also for possible future investors for your website, why not make your P and L available. Bet that would draw the investors in pronto. Heh? P.S. If not for private contractors America would never have happened, nor continued to exist. You have many of these wonderful people living not far from you, though in far superior digs.
"It's bad news for shippers, but an opportunity for Blackwater Worldwide, the North Carolina-based private military contractor. Last week, the company announced plans to dispatch the MV MacArthur, a 183-foot vessel with a crew of 14 and a helicopter pad, to the Gulf of Aden to provide escort services for ships in need of security.

"Billions of dollars of goods move through the Gulf of Aden each year," said Bill Matthews, executive vice president of Blackwater Worldwide, in a press release. "We have been contacted by ship owners who say they need our help in making sure those goods get to their destination safely. The McArthur can help us accomplish that."

The mercenary outfit--founded by former Navy SEALs in 1997 and heavily involved in U.S. military efforts in Iraq--has tentative plans to build a small fleet of two or three anti-piracy vessels, each able to carry several dozen armed security personnel, according to reports in Lloyds List Maritime. Although the Blackwater vessels will not be armed, the crew will be. Unlike official military personnel, they may have fewer qualms about using those arms against pirates.

Blackwater grabbed worldwide attention last year when guards in Iraq allegedly shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians with little or no provocation while escorting a convoy of U.S. State Department vehicles in Baghdad. The incident sparked a huge controversy over the appropriate role of private military contractors in U.S. combat operations. Although Blackwater temporarily lost its license to operate in Iraq, the U.S. State Department ultimately reinstated it. The company will need a State Department license to sell its services to a foreign government or business, said Anne Tyrrell, a Blackwater spokeswoman.

The company's decision to provide maritime security services reflects rising concerns in the maritime industry about sea piracy. The growth of global


(Excerpt) Read more at forbes.com ...

Tim King: I have written about the problems surrounding modern day piracy (see: What About Real Bloodthirsty Pirates? and I would actually applaud Blackwater taking on that kind of mission.  If you had a Forbes link here our system stripped it out automatically.  If you want that link on your comment then email it.  As for your statements about our P and L, just remember that Bonnie and I are not mainstream fish and we have labored hard here with the help of some good people to keep Salem-News.com alive.  Four years have passed and we are negotiating with more than one potential investor right now.   We both left fantastic career media positions to make this site a reality and we could have much more if we weren't so darned preoccupied with improving and changing the way media works in this country.  If you know my work then you know I stand solidly behind veterans.  I think that is more important than anything else. 

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