Monday, March 22, 2010

Seven Years and $747 Billon in Iraq, Quartet Demands Freeze


Seven Years and $747 Billon of of Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Iraq

By Robert Greenwald,
Brave New Films: March 20, 2010

We've arrived at the 7th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of the Iraq

There's a temptation as we begin to end our combat presence in Iraq to
search for the happy ending. Newsweek, for example, recently ran a cover
photo of President Bush with the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner in
the background, declaring that now, finally, we have "Victory At Last." But
that's an awful revision of history. We have an obligation to insist on
uncompromising truth rather than the versions that make us feel better about
ourselves. Tens of thousands of dead people demand it.

No "mission" was accomplished in Iraq because we went to war on false
pretenses. We failed the moment we invaded.

More than 4,300 American lives. At least 95,600 Iraqi civilians dead, with
some estimates more than six times that number. More than $747 billion spent
so far, which, combined with the effect on oil prices and with indirect
costs, helped lead to the economic crisis. Reduced, not enhanced, American

The Iraq war, like the Afghanistan war, is a massive case of waste, fraud
and abuse.

While it's a good thing that President Obama committed to ending the Iraq
war, he's ratcheting up a more expensive Afghanistan war while we're still
reeling from the economic impact of the former. With Al Qaida having been
driven from the country and with our increased troop presence having been
met with increasing violence nation-wide, it's clear that Obama's War, like
Bush's War, also fails to make us safer. We don't have a spare trillion
dollars for useless war.

Our new video marks this tragic anniversary. But, we need your help in
letting the administration know that we understand the damage done to Iraq
and to our country. We also know that there will be no economic recovery as
long as we're spending $100 billion a year on another war that doesn't make
us safer--the war in Afghanistan.

That's why we're asking everyone to report the Afghanistan war as an example
of waste, fraud and abuse on the White House's official economic recovery
website, Simply scroll down to the field marked "What" and
paste this message into the text box:

"I'd like to report the waste of billions of dollars of our national wealth
in Afghanistan on a war that doesn't make us safer. It's fraud to portray
this as a war that increases our security, and it's abusive of U.S. troops
and local civilians to drag out this war any longer. End the war so we can
have real economic recovery."
You don't have to fill out the whole form. Just let them know that you think
spending more for useless wars is a clear example of waste, fraud and abuse
of the taxpayer that will undermine economic recovery.

Thanks to Bush, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a massive waste
of human life and treasure. Let's not let the Obama administration make the
same mistake again in Afghanistan.

Robert Greenwald is the director/producer of "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War
on Journalism," as well as many other films. He is a board member of the
Independent Media Institute, AlterNet's parent organization.

© 2010 Brave New Films All rights reserved.
View this story online at:


Quartet Calls for Settlement Freeze

Al Jazeera English: Published Friday, March 19, 2010

The so-called Quartet of Middle East negotiators has demanded that Israel
halt all settlement activity and denounced Israel's plan to build new
housing in East Jerusalem.

The Quartet's comments came at a news conference in Moscow on Friday,
following a meeting by the group, which brings together the United Nations,
the US, the EU and Russia.

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary-general, read a joint statement by the group,
saying that the Quartet "urges the government of Israel to freeze all
settlement activities".

In the statement, the Quartet condemned "the decision by the government of
Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem".

Ban also said that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should
result in the resolution of the conflict within 24 months, and expressed
concern over the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Condemnation welcomed

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, welcomed the Quartet's
condemnation of Israeli settlement building, but said that the Quartet
needed to monitor Israeli activities on the ground.

"The Israelis have the choice now, either to continue with settlement
activities or to engage with the peace process," he told Al Jazeera.

"We want the Quartet to have the Israeli government, to monitor their
actions, to monitor their activities on the ground, because they're playing
many games of deceit on the ground - they say now 'we're not going to
announce more settlements, but we're going to continue with settlements'.
That is deceit.

"The Quartet must have mechanisms for implementation and monitors on the
ground to make sure that the Israeli government complies with its
obligations originating from the [2003 peace talks] road map."

He said: "I don't think we can have a meaningful peace process without
Israel stopping all settlement activities."

Growing tensions

Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh, speaking from the Qalandiya checkpoint in the
occupied West Bank, said the Quartet's statement would likely fail to win
over the Palestinians as it had not included any provision for intervention
if Israel failed to comply.

"There were no concrete measures, which is what Palestinians want first and
foremost. No statement from the Quartet that if the situation doesn't get
better, or if the parties don't comply, the Quartet will take such-and-such
action," she said.

"There's an increasing sentiment here [in the Palestinian territories] that
without strong, effective third party intervention there won't be any
movement on the ground.

"And if the deadlock continues politically the tension we are seeing here
will only get much worse."

The Quartet meeting comes amid rising tensions between Israel and the US
over Israel's plans to build 1,600 new settler homes, a move announced
during a visit to the country by Joe Biden, the US vice-president.

Settlement spat

Settlement building in the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem is
illegal under international law and has been one of the main stumbling
blocks to talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Some senior US officials have called the timing of Israel's announcement an

In an apparent move to defuse tensions, a statement from the office of
Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, said "mutual
confidence-building measures"were being considered, but no details of those
measures were given.

Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, also reportedly
discussed the issue in 45-minute phone call.

At the Quartet's news conference Clinton said that the phone conversation
had been "useful and productive".

The Israeli settlement announcement prompted the Palestinians to pull out of
indirect "proximity" talks meditated by the US.

The spat between Israel and the US has also delayed a visit to the region by
George Mitchell, the US special envoy to the Middle East, but Clinton said
the Mitchell's visit would still go ahead.

Source: Al Jazeera and agenices

© 2010

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