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Behaving Honorably

by Sudhama Ranganathan Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 at 4:53 AM

Recently in addressing the issue of withdrawing troops from Iraq President Obama discussed the idea that to do so was honoring the troops that made so many sacrifices there. He discussed the idea that ending our mission there was the right thing to do. He essentially asserted that by ending the conflicts there and focusing on our home front that we as a nation were behaving honorably. He discussed honoring the Bush timeline as the right thing to do, though he didn't necessarily use those words.

Behaving Honorably...
behavinghonorably.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x300

He discussed honor Monday when saying, “We're here to mark the end of this war, to honor the sacrifices of all those who made this day possible, and to turn the page, begin a new chapter in the history between our two countries — a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect.” (

Yet President Obama actually tried to continue troop presence in Iraq right up until his announcement on October 21, 2011. ( In fact US taxpayers will be footing the bill for “a private army of 5,500 U.S. mercenaries will be staying on in Iraq to guard the 10,000 State Department employees – yes, 10,000 – who aren't leaving Iraq anytime soon. And CNN reports 150 troops are set to remain though 2012 'to assist in arms sales.'” ( We will be paying for all of that.

Why didn't the president just discuss the fact he was interested in paying for more money to go towards such a sizable population of contractors or to try and leave even more US troops there? Wouldn't it have been really truly honorable? Why are US troops being used to watch over arms deals? Why are we the taxpayers footing the bill to pay private security for arms traders or any business interests? We know that Iraq has at least the world's fourth largest oil reserves. ( Surely there are American oil corporations that would like to get their hands on it or be involved as they have been to this point in extracting it.

Though he has not discussed it openly, the president no doubt thinks about that when considering keeping troops there and when he in fact tried to extend the Bush timeline. By keeping so many private military contractors there it is essentially a backdoor way of doing just that. Some Republicans talk about staying there criticizing the president for not finding a way to stay longer and “win” a war that was a “mistake” in the first place. In fact recent Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on December 10, 2011 when talking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, “we got thrown of Iraq. We didn't leave Iraq. They said we don't want you here anymore. The council said no. They're not sure. Let me tell you, as sure as you're sitting there Iran is going to take over Iraq and they're going to take over those oil reserves.

“BLITZER: So the whole thing was a waste of time? Waste of money?

“TRUMP: Much worse than that. Not a waste of time. Excuse me. It wasn't a waste of time. It was a waste of lives and what about the Iraqi lives?

“BLITZER: In fairness to president Obama, you remember the president who started the war.

“TRUMP: I'm not -- excuse me. Have I been a supporter of Bush? The answer is no. That war should have never -- look, Saddam Hussein did not knock down the World Trade Center. And one good thing about Iraq, he killed terrorists. He was very good at killing terrorists. There were no terrorists in Iraq. Now it's Harvard. It's like going to Harvard for terrorism.

“Saddam Hussein killed terrorists. He would wipe them out so fast. And right now they're using Iraq as the primary breeding ground for terrorists.

“So here's the thing. If Iran is going to take over Iraq and the oil reserves, why don't we just keep the oil reserves?” (

And there it is from someone set to moderate an upcoming televised Republican debate that we need to “get the oil” by using our troops. How exactly are “we” getting anything? Where is this “we?” We're not a socialist country owning oil companies. Oil corporations profit and if they are American companies then they get money, but where is there capitalism in using tax dollars to point guns at other nations and say “hands up, now hand over all that black stuff underneath your feet or the women and kids get it?” This from the billionaire businessman advocate for the “free market?” That isn't letting the markets decide, that's what we accused Nazis and Communists of doing. Which one are we when we practice such things?

President Obama is saying he wants to stay in Afghanistan until 2014 and perhaps longer. Originally when he ran for president he just wanted to finish the mission of finding the people responsible for 9/11 and bringing them to justice and then leaving. But we found Bin Laden, that's over, yet he wants to stay until 2014 and why? Natural resources. Again Donald Trump and Wolf Blitzer discussed this on December 10 saying, “BLITZER: End result in Afghanistan will be like the end result in Iraq.

“TRUMP: Here's the difference. No, probably even less except there is a difference. Iraq has oil. Afghanistan basically doesn't. So --

“BLITZER: They do have some natural resources.

“TRUMP: By the way, you know who is taking out all those?

“BLITZER: China.

“TRUMP: China. While we're fighting, China is taking it out. So we're fighting. And China is taking all those mineral reserves. I mean, how stupid are we?” (

So there too Donald Trump admits what no one else will; rich folk are pressuring our government to use our tax dollars to act as soldiers of fortune so they can get their hands on sources of wealth in Afghanistan. The only difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to this is Republicans are at least openly admitting they want taxpayers to foot the bill to force these nations to give American corporations more wealth in the form of their resources.

Though I don't agree with it I realize there is a contingent of people here in America that say “yeah let's get that stuff and get more money. More money for us.” Yet it would seem those folks aren't really thinking that through. There may have been a time when American companies that dealt in such things weren't incorporated in the Cayman Islands thus avoiding taxes and not contributing their fair share like the rest of us and also thus not technically American companies anymore technically.

There may have been a time when American companies brought those raw resources back home to be refined and worked on and implemented into goods manufactured here. There may have been a time those companies hired mostly Americans to work the oil fields and mines etc overseas. But that is no longer. Thus, even those arguments, which I don't agree with as they are unconstitutional and anti-capitalist, don't hold water anymore.

If the companies are not incorporated here and don't pay taxes here, they're not American companies anymore. Why should our tax dollars protect them, let alone force others to give them things they want at gun point? Is that what our US men and women in the service sign up for?

It is well known most large US firms working with raw materials, especial those obtained elsewhere no longer refine, process or even implement those materials into products destined for the retail market in the US. Oil is processed overseas and companies that use petroleum in their products are trying to et the cheapest labor they can get their hands on patriotism be damned. They do it overseas mostly. America means nothing to those corporations anymore.

The natural resources Trump was salivating over in Afghanistan is mainly Lithium and it is commonly used in hand held devices like cellphones, tablets, laptops, etc. But where are people manufacturing these? Not in America, they are manufacturing them overseas predominantly in Asia. In fact Apple manufactures much of it's iPhones in the very nation Trump was slamming, China. What China was doing in Afghanistan more closely resembles free-market practices and capitalism than what he proposes.

His version says, like a common street mugger, point a gun at the leadership and people of Afghanistan and say “give up the goods, punk.” The Chinese just used business practices and outdid our boys apparently if they're getting the contracts. If he's such a good businessman and cares so much, why doesn't he consult them on how to use capitalism to make more money? What'd they forget? I guess of course that might involve lines of credit and if our banks won't extend them the credit then the next country to go to would be... oh right.

And as far as jobs, those corporations that used to hire Americans to work overseas no longer do. The labor is done by the cheapest workers they can get their hands on. They fly in people from countries all over the world usually brokered by middlemen to deliver cut-rate prices. (,0,656119.story)

So don't believe the hype and just think about it. Oil prices skyrocketing if some tax dodging corporation incorporated overseas doesn't get their hands on Iraq's oil? Please. We are the world's biggest consumer, same with technology. They want our business whether they are companies that admit they are located overseas or companies that are, yet pretend to be American. OPEC is not going to do that to the people that give them the most money.

These extended wars have corrupted what is done in the name of “honor” with our money. Dictators get paid off and kept in power so wealthy American corporations can curry favor. There are million dollar military golf courses overseas paid for by American tax payers in strategic locations where wealthy “American” companies just happen to be located. Imagine the installation and maintenance costs of the ones located in the Middle East? How much do those located in the desert cost us to keep up? Don't cut a penny from defense budgets? I wonder.

There have been rapes in Japan by American servicemen of Japanese women and even minors. ( There have been US military contractors working on US military helicopters in Bosnia that were purchasing the passports of 12 year old girls to keep them as sex slaves many of the men in their sixties. ( There have been the facilitation of the raping of young boys sometimes as young as six by male adults in Afghanistan by military contractors at parties they throw all funded by US taxpayer dollars to keep people in certain regions friendly to us. (

President Obama tried to extend a war he once labeled as a “dumb war” which he was reminded of yesterday as he hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. ( In the original speech that he said that in the president stated, “You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure that…we vigorously enforce a nonproliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

“You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

“You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

“Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.” (

That sounded so full of honor, so full of hope and so full of the promise of change. Yet, here in 2011 the president has tried to extend the war he called dumb, his administration initially took the side of the dictator in Egypt when the people asked for freedom, he stayed quiet about the Saudis brutal crackdown of peaceful protesters in their country and even their neighbors, he wants to invest more tax dollars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now his newest war in Uganda and has neglected hope, education poverty right here in America.

Heck it has gotten so bad people have taken to the streets as they have in the Middle East to fight corruption and inequality and instead of standing up for them he has stood by while they get pepper sprayed, beaten, tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, sent to the hospital and more streamed live online and the whole time he has done nothing to stand up for those fighting peacefully for freedom from inequality and corruption in is own country. It not only happened in Republican districts, but in the districts of his own party and the country he is president of.

What the heck happened to that guy that gave that speech back on October 2, 2002. Now he sends in troops to get killed for wealthy corporations so he can get campaign contributions. He refuses to stand up for protesters speaking out against people that donate to his campaigns. He is even giving out no-bid contracts – something else he railed against the Bush Administration for. (

For all that Bush bashing, the minute he got some power he sure started acting like George W. Bush. Perhaps it is as Deepak Chopra said this past weekend when he said, “moral self righteousness is just jealousy with a halo.” ( There's nothing honorable about that. Hopefully over the next year before the elections we will see some of the man President Obama claimed to be when he was just candidate Obama – and through more than just talk.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to

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