Taunting Iran: A Delicate Balance

Last week, the US government and the media warned of a dangerous incident in the Persian Gulf. The accounts dramatized a serious threat posed by Iranian speedboats to three U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Pentagon released a video of the Hormuz confrontation, parroted here by CNN. Their version of the incident contained an Iranian officer saying, “I am coming for you…you will explode after a few minutes.

However, new information has shown that the incident did not involve such a threat. From Gareth Porter:

The new information that appears to contradict the original version of the incident includes the revelation that U.S. officials spliced the audio recording of an alleged Iranian threat onto to a videotape of the incident. That suggests that the threatening message may not have come in immediately after the initial warning to Iranian boats from a U.S. warship, as appears to do on the video.

Also unraveling the story is testimony from a former U.S. naval officer that non-official chatter is common on the channel used to communicate with the Iranian boats and testimony from the commander of the U.S. 5th fleet that the commanding officers of the U.S. warships involved in the incident never felt the need to warn the Iranians of a possible use of force against them.

Further undermining the U.S. version of the incident is a video released by Iran Thursday showing an Iranian naval officer on a small boat hailing one of three ships.

Here is a video of the Iranian version of the incident.

Despite the substance of the video, the administration still used the incident to warn of an Iranian threat. Bush said there would be ‘serious consequences‘ if Iran attacked US ships and maintained that Iran is a ‘threat to world peace‘. The president has now embarked on a tour of the Middle East, which is sure to be hailed as evidence of his strong commitment to peace (despite the historical record). In reality, the trip is nothing more than a PR stunt which will attempt to warn other Arabs of a dangerous Iran. “Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere,” Bush said Sunday, “So the United States is strengthening our longstanding security commitments with our friends in the Gulf, and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it’s too late.”

An event like the Strait of Hormuz incident brings to mind another misunderstood event, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which led to the massive build-up of American armed forces in Vietnam. The Tonkin incident (though it never occurred) resulted in a joint resolution of Congress that granted President Johnson the authority to conduct military operations in SE Asia without a declaration of war. Ten years, 2 million Vietnamese and 58,000 American deaths later, where is an apology or an admission of error?

Our country must be overly questioning and critical when a supposed ‘dangerous incident’ occurs. We cannot afford to be duped yet again into another costly war.

Check here for more info on the Hormuz incident.

Mid-week Roundup 12/12

Losing our minds over Illegal Immigration

NAFTA has the power to trump state laws!

The Historical Truth of Our Relations with Iran

Report shows Bush manipulated climate science, suppressed scientists.

Nigeria battles Pfizer in court for conducting an illegal, unauthorized drug trial on Nigerian children.

Bad News for Prescription Drugs: pharmaceutical sales reps may be given licenses.

Murdoch Ready to Makeover the Wall Street Journal

Did you know Venezuela is a Constiutional Democracy?

Taiwan and mainland China: conflicting amnesiacs

New Orleans Homes to be Demolished (with video)

Why Won’t the Candidates talk about Americans’ Economic Pain?

Nuclear Disarmament and Peace on Earth…what’s that?

A Decent Article by Sean Penn calling on Americans to do what’s right

Meet a Millionaire with a Lower Tax Rate than You! (with video)

Blackwater Worldwide

Blackwater Logo

The private security firm Blackwater is attempting to reconstruct its image, re-branding themselves Blackwater Worldwide this October. The US State Department’s largest security contractor had its operating license revoked by the Iraqi government this September after its involvement in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians. Yet they continue to operate there and are expanding operations even further. I’ll leave it to Jeremy Scahill to fill you in on the details:

Blackwater Bu$ine$$ (from The Nation)

Gunning down seventeen Iraqi civilians in an incident the military has labeled “criminal.” Multiple Congressional investigations. A federal grand jury. Allegations of illegal arms smuggling. Wrongful death lawsuits brought by families of dead employees and US soldiers. A federal lawsuit alleging war crimes. Charges of steroid use by trigger-happy mercenaries. Allegations of “significant tax evasion.” The US-installed government in Iraq labeling its forces “murderers.” With a new scandal breaking practically every day, one would think Blackwater security would be on the ropes, facing a corporate meltdown or even a total wipeout. But it seems that business for the company has never been better, as it continues to pull in major federal contracts. And its public demeanor grows bolder and cockier by the day.

Rather than hiding out and hoping for the scandals to fade, the Bush Administration’s preferred mercenary company has launched a major rebranding campaign, changing its name to Blackwater Worldwide and softening its logo: once a bear paw in the site of a sniper scope, it’s now a bear claw wrapped in two half ovals–sort of like the outline of a globe with a United Nations feel. Its website boasts of a corporate vision “guided by integrity, innovation, and a desire for a safer world.” Blackwater mercenaries are now referred to as “global stabilization professionals.” Blackwater’s 38-year-old owner, Erik Prince, was No. 11 in Details magazine’s “Power 50,” the men “who control your viewing patterns, your buying habits, your anxieties, your lust…. the people who have taken over the space in your head.”

In one of the company’s most bizarre recent actions, on December 1 Blackwater paratroopers staged a dramatic aerial landing, complete with Blackwater flags and parachutes–not in Baghdad or Kabul but in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium during the halftime show at the San Diego State/BYU football game. The location was interesting, given that Blackwater is fighting fierce local opposition to its attempt to open a new camp–Blackwater West–on 824 acres in the small rural community of Potrero, just outside San Diego. Blackwater’s parachute squad plans to land at the Armed Forces Bowl in Texas this month and the Virginia Gold Cup in May. The company recently sponsored a NASCAR racer, and it has teamed up with gun manufacturer Sig Sauer to create a Blackwater Special Edition full-sized 9-millimeter pistol with the company logo on the grip. It comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. For $18, parents can purchase infant onesies with the company logo.

In recent weeks, Blackwater has indicated it might quit Iraq. “We see the security market diminishing,” Prince told the Wall Street Journal in October. Yet on December 3 Blackwater posted job listings for “security specialists” and snipers as a result of its State Department diplomatic security “contract expansion.” While its name may be mud in the human rights world, Blackwater has not only made big money in Iraq (about $1 billion in State Department contracts); it has secured a reputation as a company that keeps US officials alive by any means necessary. The dirty open secret in Washington is that Blackwater has done its job in Iraq, even if it has done so by valuing the lives of Iraqis much lower than those of US VIPs. That badass image will serve it well as it expands globally.

Prince promises that Blackwater “is going to be more of a full spectrum” operation. Amid the cornucopia of scandals, Blackwater is bidding for a share of a five-year, $15 billion contract with the Pentagon to “fight terrorists with drug-trade ties.” Perhaps the firm will join the mercenary giant DynCorp in Colombia or Bolivia or be sent into Mexico on a “training” mission. This “war on drugs” contract would put Blackwater in the arena with the godfathers of the war business, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

In addition to its robust business in law enforcement, military and homeland security training, Blackwater is branching out. Here are some of its current projects and initiatives:

§ Blackwater affiliate Greystone Ltd., registered offshore in Barbados, is an old-fashioned mercenary operation offering “personnel from the best militaries throughout the world” for hire by governments and private organizations. It also boasts of a “multi-national peacekeeping program,” with forces “specializing in crowd control and less than lethal techniques and military personnel for the less stable areas of operation.”

§ Prince’s Total Intelligence Solutions, headed by three CIA veterans (among them Blackwater’s number two, Cofer Black), puts CIA-type services on the open market for hire by corporations or governments.

§ Blackwater is launching an armored vehicle called the Grizzly, which the company characterizes as the most versatile in history. Blackwater intends to modify it to be legal for use on US highways.

§ Blackwater’s aviation division has some forty aircraft, including turboprop planes that can be used for unorthodox landings. It has ordered a Super Tucano paramilitary plane from Brazil, which can be used in counterinsurgency operations. In August the aviation division won a $92 million contract with the Pentagon to operate flights in Central Asia.

§ It recently flight-tested the unmanned Polar 400 airship, which may be marketed to the Department of Homeland Security for use in monitoring the US-Mexico border and to “military, law enforcement, and non-government customers.”

§ A fast-growing maritime division has a new, 184-foot vessel that has been fitted for potential paramilitary use.

Meanwhile, Blackwater is deep in the camp of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Cofer Black is Romney’s senior adviser on counterterrorism. At the recent CNN/YouTube debate, when Romney refused to call waterboarding torture, he said, “I’m not going to specify the specific means of what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture will know what things we’re able to do and what things we’re not able to do. And I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some thirty-five years.” That was an exaggeration of Black’s career at the CIA (he was there twenty-eight years and head of counterterrorism for only three), but a Romney presidency could make Blackwater’s business under Bush look like a church bake sale.

In short, Blackwater is moving ahead at full steam. Individual scandals clearly aren’t enough to slow it down. The company’s critics in the Democratic-controlled Congress must confront the root of the problem: the government is in the midst of its most radical privatization in history, and companies like Blackwater are becoming ever more deeply embedded in the war apparatus. Until this system is brought down, the world’s the limit for Blackwater Worldwide–and as its rebranding campaign shows, Blackwater knows it.

The Wolf Returns…

Wolfowitz

The disgraced ex-president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, has managed to find new work in familiar surroundings. Wolfowitz, known as one of the primary architects of Bush’s Iraq policy, was forced to resign as president of the World Bank after approving an illegal high-paying promotion for his girlfriend Shaha Riza.

Despite the disgraced departure, Wolfowitz was quickly welcomed back as a ‘visiting scholar’ to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank that has placed many of its members in the current administration. So he didn’t have to wait long before landing a post back in the Bush administration, serving under Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The ‘Wolf’ had formerly served as Deputy Secretary of Defense under Bush II and under every president from Nixon to Bush I.

A bit of background on Wolfowitz:

  • He famously served as Reagan’s Ambassador to Indonesia, strongly supporting the brutal dictator Suharto, one of the worst mass murderers of the last century.
  • He also served as the State Department official responsible for Asian affairs under Reagan. He oversaw support for the murderous dictators Marcos of the Philippines and Chun of South Korea.
  • He is a long-time advocate of preemptive military policy. He is the guy that publicly claimed in 2003 that Iraq “can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.”
  • When Turkey sided with 95% of its population by choosing not to allow U.S. troops use their country as a base for the war against Iraq, Wolfowitz berated the Turkish military for permitting this to happen. He said, “Look, you have power, you can force the civilian government to do what we want them to do. The idea that they should listen to 95% of the population is outrageous.” He demanded that Turkey apologize to the United States and say that it understands its job to help the United States.

Despite his long-standing opposition to democracy, isn’t it nice to see the Wolf returning to the pack?
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Mid-week Roundup 12/5

Here are some headlines rounded up from this week:

Is “Save Darfur” a PR Scam?

Drug giant Pfizer will boost outsourcing to Asia; also their Celebrex expert testifies in court without a license.

Private Contractors look to profit from domestic spying.

Hillary is quite tied up with Big Oil and defense contractors.

Guiliani’s ties to a terror shiek

Virginia primaries will demand oath of loyalty from Republican voters.

Bush Justice Department is okay with kidnapping.

100 Students walk out on former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Guantanamo heading to the Supreme Court.

The human costs of the Iraq Occupation.

Join the military, go to college… The Pentagon’s education recruitment pitch is a scam?

Iraq Vet is punished for seeking help.

US War Vets to speak publicly about war crimes this March.

Bush and Maliki agree to long-term US troop presence in Iraq.

Also, John Pilger has a new book called ‘Freedom Next Time,’ and here is a speech he gave in Chicago concerning media journalism…if you have 45 minutes to spare.

Iran NIE Report

If you haven’t heard, a National Intelligence Report on Iran was made public that has failed to find any evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program there. It says that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program back in 2003.

In a recent press conference, President Bush said that he only learned of the report a week ago.

But Seymour Hersh wrote about the suppression of this report by Dick Cheney over a year ago, which he discussed on CNN recently.

Some have suggested there’s already evidence that Bush has known about this intelligence for months, as he has changed his language in referring to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Update: In fact, there is evidence that Bush knew ahead of time and continued to warn of Iran’s nuclear threat.

Continue reading

Extraordinary Rendition

Extraordinary rendition describes the kidnapping and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one state to another. The term has become prevalent in the Bush administration’s prosecution of the “war on terror.”

Amy Goodman reports one of the many examples of this practice with the story of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen:

The U.S. government also engages in “extraordinary rendition.” This Orwellian phrase describes how foreigners are grabbed off the street or from their home and secretly delivered to some other place, outside the U.S. (in Arar’s case, Syria), where illegal and brutal interrogations can take place beyond the reach of Congress and the courts.

Arar’s Kafaesque nightmare began Sept. 26, 2002. He was returning to Canada from a family vacation, with a plane change at New York’s JFK Airport. There he was pulled aside, searched, questioned and imprisoned. Two weeks later, U.S. authorities sent Arar to Syria.

Arar spent the next 10 months enduring brutal beatings and psychological torture, kept in a cell the size of a grave. Arar was accused of being connected to al-Qaeda, and of having been to a training camp in Afghanistan. Neither was true, but after weeks of beatings, he admitted to everything. Worse than the beatings, Arar said on “Democracy Now!,” was how he suffered while isolated in the dank, windowless cell:

“The psychological torture that I endured during this 10-month period in the underground cell is really beyond human imagination. I was ready to confess to anything. I would just write anything so that they could only take me from that place and put me in a place where it is fit for a human being.”

As inexplicably as Arar was kidnapped to Syria, he was released home to Canada, a broken man. Canada just finished a thorough inquiry that completely exonerated him and supported his request for financial damages. Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Bush ally, has asked Bush to “come clean” on the Arar case.

Leahy is demanding action: “The Bush administration has yet to renounce the practice of sending detainees to countries that torture prisoners, and it has yet to offer even the hint of an apology to Mr. Arar for what he endured with our government’s complicity.”

Leahy also pressed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the issue back in January.

Maher Arar’s case is not an isolated incident. The procedure of extraordinary rendition, though not exclusive to the Bush administration, has become quite prevalent in the ‘war on terror’. Other cases include:

  • Abu Omar: kidnapped in Italy in 2003, rendered to Egypt for interrogation, held for four years before being released
  • Khaled Masri: detained in Macedonia in 2003, drugged and rendered to an American-run prison in Afghanistan for interrogation, held for five months, then released on a road in Albania, where he made his way home to Germany
  • Mamdouh Habib: detained in Pakistan in 2001, transferred to Egypt, then Afghanistan, tortured, transferred to Guantanamo and released without charge 3.5 years later
  • Muhammed al-Zery: arrested in Sweden in 2001, flown on American jet to Egypt, tortured and beaten, imprisoned for two years, then released without charge

In the case of Abu Omar, an Italian court has issued an arrest warrant for twenty-two CIA agents suspected of the kidnapping. Hopefully that will help to remind US authorities that these practices are in violation of international law.

Al-Anbar: Progress in Iraq?

When we hear talk of progress in Iraq, administration officials often point to the success in Al-Anbar province, where attacks on US troops have declined in previous months.

They had attributed this success to Abu Risha (recently deceased), who was credited with allying Sunni tribes to fight against al Qaeda in Iraq. (shown below with Pres. Bush)

Bush & Abu Risha in Al-Anbar province

So the new US military strategy this year has been arming and funding Sunni Arab tribes that have promised to fight Al Qaeda militants. These are the same militants to which they were previously allied when they were fighting against American forces. This strategy is quite controversial, amid fears that we are building up Sunni forces for a future civil war in Iraq, especially with the predominantly Shiite government.

What you won’t hear about in the news is that Abu Rashi was not a shiek; in fact, he was no longer welcome in Al-Anbar province. He claimed to be the “leader of all Iraqi tribes,” but he lead no one. He was a PR stunt used to sell the success of the surge in Iraq to the American people, in return for reported millions in ‘reconstruction contracts’.

The real cause of the success in Al-Anbar province was ethnic cleansing by the Sunni tribes that we are continuing to arm. Thousands of Shi’a families were forced to leave their homes at gunpoint, then dumped in slums on the skirts of Baghdad.

If this is of concern to you, and you can spare twenty minutes, I highly recommend the following video:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Doublespeak & Political Framing

In George Orwell’s 1984, we read of a totalitarian state where the government monitors all aspects of the citizens’ lives. The world of Big Brother introduces the reader to an entirely new vocabulary, including:

  • Doublethink – the power to hold two completely contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accept both of them.
  • Newspeak – a propagandistic language designed to diminish the range of thought; all words describing ‘unorthodox’ political ideas have been removed to limit the range of ideas that can be expressed.

A modern word has been formed combining their meanings:

  • Doublespeak – deliberately evasive language that says one thing but means another, usually the opposite.

This evasive language is often used by our politicians to expand power or avoid responsibility. Joseph Goebbels knew the power of doublespeak very well, as propaganda minister for the Nazis. A few terms he came up with were:

  • concentration camp = labor/death camp (joycamp in Newspeak)
  • protective custody = imprisonment without due process of law
  • Verschärfte Vernehmung = German for ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques (for which some were found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death)..sound familiar?

I would like to highlight some of the new vocabulary commonly used by ourselves and by our leaders in the present day.

  • War on Terror – implies a ‘good vs. evil’ mentality that our imperialism is fighting for freedom while ‘terrorists’ are fighting against freedom
  • War in Iraq – in reality an unprovoked, illegal invasion and military occupation, not a war
  • patriotism – unquestioning loyalty to the administration’s interests
  • freedom fighter – terrorist supporting America’s interests
  • terrorist – political rebel working against America’s interests
  • ally – client state
  • terrorist insurgency – seemingly everyone we kill is reported a ‘terrorist’ or an ‘insurgent’, which implies there is no Iraqi resistance; in reality about a million Iraqi civilians have been killed.
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Just Cause, Operation Enduring Freedom, A War to Liberate the Iraqi people, and the like – political slogans for military operations
  • Support the Troops – approve of war no matter what; in reality, it should be to keep our troops safe
  • freedom – supposed to be “what we’re fighting for” yet Bush has enacted programs curbing freedoms
  • the Patriot Act – legislation responsible for trimming the Bill of Rights and limiting our civil liberties
  • unlawful enemy combatant – term used to deny prisoners the writ of habeus corpus
  • advanced interrogation techniques = torture
  • extraordinary rendition – deportation of prisoners by one country to another not burdened by following international laws, for the purpose of torture (“The USA does not torture” = we take them to Syria for that)
  • national security letter (NSL) – document used to bypass judicial warrant for search and seizures
  • self-injurious behavior incidents – Pentagon’s phrase for suicide attempts by prisoners
  • material witness – someone jailed without probable cause
  • security alert level – arbitrary system of colored code designed to scare the general population
  • stop-loss program (back door draft) – changed voluntary service to involuntary service after 9/11 to prevent soldiers from leaving
  • national security – term used to justify countless actions
  • security directives – secret laws made by unelected officials that we are not allowed to see
  • US Department of Defense – up until 1949 it was called the Department of War
  • regime change – forceful change of government by a foreign power
  • manifest destiny = imperialism
  • No Child Left Behind – school program of standardized tests that under-funds districts that need it most
  • down-sizing – massive employment termination
  • privatization – transfer of former public sector services to management by private firms
  • pacify someone – subdue him by force
  • propaganda – information from an opposing viewpoint
  • embedded journalists – reporters invited to war that live with the military, usually restricted in what they can report and who they can talk to
  • spin – an effort to portray events in a light favorable to the presenter
  • fair & balanced – Fox New’s slogan when it is nothing of the sort
  • truthiness – knowing things intuitively “from the gut” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts (thank you Stephen Colbert)

We truly live in a world of Orwellian doublespeak as our perception of reality is framed by choice of words. Perform an experiment by listening to Bush talk about the war; see how many times he mentions the words freedom, peace, democracy, and terror. Bush uses the word ‘freedom’ to draw the most significant distinction from the word ‘terror’. He thus frames the fight against al Qaeda as a ‘struggle between freedom and terror’, a battle of ‘good against evil’.

These methods dramatically oversimplify the complicated arena of world politics; in fact, they are potentially dangerous in arousing jingoist sentiments and emotions. His “you’re either with us or against us” mentality blindly creates enemies where we haven’t any.

Politicians excel in the art of doublespeak, so try to call it out when you see it. If you’d like a test case, watch any of the presidential debates.

In Orwell’s world, it was the Ministry of Truth that concerned itself with lies, the Ministry of Peace with war, the Ministry of Plenty with starvation, and the Ministry of Love with torture. The motto of their country was: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.”

And down is the new up.

(For a good, readable article on Political Framing, please click here.)

Invasion of Iraq

The supposed ‘war on terror‘ took a severe misstep with the US invasion of Iraq.

The groundwork for the preemptive invasion of Iraq was laid out by the National Security Strategy of 2002, which refined the concept of preventive war to say that the United States reserves the right to attack any country with the “intent and ability” to develop weapons of mass destruction, which essentially means any nation our leaders deem fit.

Subsequently, all of Bush’s initial reasons for invading Iraq were proven false: Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, he’s an imminent threat to US security, Saddam provided al Qaeda with weapons and training, and insinuations that Saddam was somehow behind the attacks of 9-11. With these reasons failing, Washington then shifted its stance to promoting the president’s ‘vision’ of spreading democracy throughout the Middle East.

So we are meant to believe that the United States has no interest in controlling the second-largest oil reserves in the world, which would give us leverage over Asian and European economies in the future. Rather, this is a mission in the name of ‘democracy’: to liberate the people of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant; there’s no doubt about that, but Washington’s justifications to attack Iraq are lacking in credibility and timeliness. After all, Saddam was strongly supported by current administration officials and their mentors during the Iran-Iraq war in the eighties, and continually supported through his worst atrocities (the gassing of the Kurds in Halabja, the crushing of a Shi’ite rebellion that may have overthrown Saddam, etc.). The US continued to provide him with arms and funding (over $5 billion on credit between from ’83-90), as well as technology and biological agents that could be adapted to weapons of mass destruction.

In the early nineties, the Gulf War led to a decade of harsh economic sanctions on Iraq, which caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (mostly children). When asked on national TV about the deaths of half a million Iraqi children, Secretary of State Madeline Albright said, “we think the price is worth it.” These sanctions crippled the Iraqi economy, destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, increased civilian dependency on their dictator, and eliminated Saddam’s capacity for aggression. This made Iraq one of the weakest countries in the region; Kuwait and Iran did not even regard them as a threat. So you can see that the brutal Saddam was much more dangerous back when he was our friend and ally, rather than when we invaded Iraq in 2003.

Nevertheless, the drumbeat for war ensued; Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice each played on the fears and emotions of the American people. They warned of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, uranium from Africa, aluminum tubes, mushroom clouds, yellow cake, mustard gas, al Qaeda ties, etc. Failing to obtain UN support, the invasion proceeded with a ‘coalition of the willing’ (primarily the UK & Australia), in which only four other countries supplied troops.

The war was deeply unpopular with the citizens of all the coalition countries, except within the United States, where the administration’s message resounded to exploit the fears of its citizens. They predicted we would be ‘greeted as liberators‘, that Iraqi oil would pay for the cost of the war, and Rumsfeld doubted it would ‘take 6 months‘. Post-invasion, they assured the public that the insurgency was in its ‘last throes‘, that the violence was just the ‘birth-pangs of a new Middle East‘, and that ‘major combat operations in Iraq have ended‘ in Bush’s famous ‘mission accomplished’ speech.

Contrary to their predictions and assurances, the Iraq occupation has lasted for over four years so far, cost the American people over half a trillion dollars, and caused the deaths of nearly 4,000 American troops (plus over 50,000 wounded). The country has fallen into sectarian civil war between Iraqi Sunni and Shi’a factions while American troops are left in the middle. About one million Iraqis have died as a result of this fighting; more than 1.7 million people are internally displaced, while two million refugees are living abroad. These results are unquestionably contributing to the destabilization of the Middle East.