Today is our 1,672nd day in Iraq.
We'll start this morning as we always do, with the latest casualty figures in the warron terra, courtesy of Antiwar.com
Since war began (3/19/03): 3829
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 3690
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3368
Since Handover (6/29/04): 2970
Since Election (1/31/05): 2392
Other Coalition Troops: 302
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 449
Turning to our friends at IAVA
, we find that they too are concerned about the recent veto of the SCHIP program.
As it turns out, there are two little-known riders within the program that help the families of wounded troops.
NEW YORK – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation's first and largest nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, today urged Congress to override the President’s veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization. SCHIP includes two little-known provisions which help the families of critically wounded troops. The provisions provide one year of employment discrimination protection to family members caring for severely injured troops, and extends permitted work leave for those family members from three months to six months. Congress passed SCHIP earlier this month, but President Bush vetoed the legislation for reasons unrelated to these military families’ amendments. This Thursday, the House will vote on whether to override the President’s veto.
“Any member of Congress who supports the troops should vote to override the President’s veto. If SCHIP fails, so does this protection for families of our most grievously wounded troops. These service members and their families carry the heaviest burdens of this war and they need all the help they can get,” said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA Executive Director. “Thanks to improved battlefield medicine, thousands of troops are surviving catastrophic injuries, but they face long and painful recoveries at home. The last thing these wounded heroes should have to worry about is whether the loved one at their bedside is going to lose his or her job.”
One in five severely wounded troops say a family member or friend has been forced to give up a job to care for them. This is true of Annette McLeod, who is featured in the national TV ad campaign IAVA is running this week to demand that Congress and the President improve care for veterans. Mrs. McLeod’s husband, Specialist Wendall McLeod, sustained multiple, life-threatening injuries while serving in Iraq. “When my husband returned home grievously wounded, it ripped my life apart,” said Mrs. McLeod. “I lived in South Carolina, but Wendell was being treated in Washington, DC. After just three months, the human resources department at the factory where I had worked for 20 years said I had exhausted my time off. Being forced to give up my job made a heart-wrenching and difficult time even harder.”
Moving on to Think Progress, there's another voice added to the "duh" file. Gen. John Abizaid says in a recent interview, Of course it's about the oil.
During a round table discussion on “the Fight for Oil, Water and a Healthy Planet” at Stanford University on Saturday, Gen. John Abizaid (Ret.), the former CENTCOM Commander, said that “of course” the Iraq war is “about oil“:
“Of course it’s about oil, we can’t really deny that,” Abizaid said of the Iraq campaign early on in the talk.
“We’ve treated the Arab world as a collection of big gas stations,” the retired general said. “Our message to them is: Guys, keep your pumps open, prices low, be nice to the Israelis and you can do whatever you want out back. Osama and 9/11 is the distilled essence that represents everything going on out back.”
Abizaid has previously argued that the U.S. would need “to keep a long-term military presence in Iraq” in order to protect “the free flow of goods and resources” such as oil, but his Stanford comments go much further in pinning oil as a prime motivator for the war.
The Bush administration, however, still denies any connection between the war in Iraq and America’s geopolitical interest in Middle East oil. Just last month, after former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan wrote that “the Iraq War is largely about oil,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates rejected the notion, saying “I just don’t believe it’s true“:
“I wasn’t here for the decision-making process that initiated it, that started the war,” Gates said. But he added, “I know the same allegation was made about the Gulf War in 1991, and I just don’t believe it’s true.”
“I think that it’s really about stability in the Gulf. It’s about rogue regimes trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. It’s about aggressive dictators,” Gates said.
Though Abizaid says that Bush’s Iraq policy seeks to keep oil “prices low,” the per-barrel cost of oil has risen dramatically since the U.S. first invaded. In March 2003, the price of oil was roughly US$35 a barrel. Today, prices reached “above $85 a barrel for the first time.”
We'll end up today on the political front. Since she voted to authorize Iraq, I guess it only makes sense that Hilary would attack Iran, too.
Hillary Clinton today moved to secure her position as the most hawkish Democrat in the 2008 presidential race, saying she would consider the use of force to compel Iran to abandon its nuclear programme.
In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine intended as a blueprint for the foreign policy of a future Clinton White House, the Democratic frontrunner argues that Iran poses a long term strategic challenge to American and its allies, and that it must not be permitted to build or acquire nuclear weapons.
"If Iran does not comply with its own commitments and the will of the international community, all options must remain on the table," Ms Clinton said.
Elsewhere, Ms Clinton took the edge off her steely posture by saying she would abandon the Bush administration's policy of isolating its enemies, and would deploy diplomacy.
"True statesmanship requires that we engage with our adversaries, not for the sake of talking but because robust diplomacy is a prerequisite to achieving our aims."
She says she would even consider offering incentives to Iran in return for a pledge to disarm. However, she sets out a series of stringent conditions that are virtually identical to current White House policy.
"If Iran is in fact willing to end its nuclear weapons programme, renounce sponsorship of terrorism, support Middle East peace, and play a constructive role in stabilising Iraq, the United States should be prepared to offer Iran a carefully calibrated package of incentives," Ms Clinton wrote.
And so it goes.