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Winslow Wheeler is director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information at the Project on Government Insight. He writes One of Robert Gates' More Real Legacies:

[This week's] fixation in Washington is former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' so called new revelation, breathlessly reported by the the Washington Post (Robert Woodward), The New York Times (Thom Shanker) and others, that Barack Obama was not fully committed to George Bush's (and Robert Gates') war in Afghanistan, especially the troop surge there which Obama allowed himself to be maneuvered into by the Pentagon's generals (and Robert Gates). 

We are then blown away—well, not entirely—by the other dramatic news from Gates that Hillary Clinton said politics influenced her own position during her 2007-8 presidential campaign on the other troop surge-the one in Iraq. Quite a stunner, eh? 

Without giving this fluff any further attention, it's time to consider something a little more important and a little less comforting to those seeking to distract us from the effects of their handiwork.  

Consider the question of life and death.  Specifically, almost a half a million deaths, mostly of civilians.  That is the tally in Iraq directly attributable to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq: "461,000, just under half a million people," a recent study says. […]

"Mortality in Iraq Associated with the 2003-2011 War and Occupation: Findings from a National Cluster Sample Survey by the University Collaborative Iraq Mortality Study" appears in an international, peer reviewed publication,PLOS Medicine.  

The study is the work of researchers at the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins, Fraser University in Canada and the Iraqi Ministry of Health. The typical Washington apparatchik will ignore the study as from an obscure publication; individuals with any interest in data and analysis will look at the article's description of its methodology and realize that this is a piece of research that cannot be ignored—even if Washington already has.

In sum, the study surveyed 2,000 randomly selected households throughout Iraq, using methods to ensure the sample was nationally representative-including of those who were either internally or externally displaced. Direct interviews were the primary data collection technique--with procedures to verify what the interviewers were being told.
[…]

It is also highly likely that the 460,000 deaths are an undercount. The baseline death rate was the 26 month period just before the US invasion in March 2001; that was a death rate already elevated by the effects on the Iraqi infrastructure from the bombing of civilian targets (such as water treatment facilities and electricity generation) during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and also elevated by years of US-led economic sanctions. Moreover, it is not clear if the new study included infant mortality in its accounting, and its assertion that only 15 percent of the families that left Iraq during the US occupation had a death in the family seems more than a little conservative for that group.

Perhaps the upper bounds of the statistical analysis (751,000 deaths, or more if you include the emigrant households) approach the reality of the impact of the American invasion and occupation. […]

For it all, we have many people to thank, not just Robert Gates.  Anyone reading this commentary knows their names.  However, as you contemplate Gates' efforts to write his own legacy, think about what he was a part of-but which his eagerly fawning reviewers write no whisper of. 


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005Time for chickenhawks to ante up:

Uh oh. We're being stretched thin:

Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist said the U.S. military is struggling to keep up the fight against insurgents who want to disrupt the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq for a new national assembly.

Frist, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," declined to say whether he would support extending the current 24-month tours of active duty for reservists and U.S. National Guard members. He said that might hurt recruitment.

"We are straining our Guard and reservist personnel," Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said of the part-time force that makes up 40 percent of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
We need more troops, and where, oh where, can we find people who think the war is peachy, justified, and going great to help fill the ranks?

Atrios suggests the 101st Fighting Keyboardists, and that's a wonderful idea! I mean, they argue that things are improving, right? So they should have nothing to fear. How many war supporters in Congress and the White House have sons, daughters, and grandchildren aged 18-35? A bunch, I bet. And let's not forget the civilian leadership in the Pentagon.

And all those Bush voters who stood at attention when words like "freedom is on the march" were uttered? Time to ship out. Cause, really, Bush needs you.


Tweet of the Day:

People kept stealing the 420 mile marker in Colorado. This was CDOT's solution. http://t.co/...
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On today's Kagro in the Morning show, 9 counties in WV, and as many as 300,000 people got their supply "libertarian-ed." Brian Beutler notes the danger for the Gop in ACA cost curve-bending. Greg Dworkin took the reins and told us "liberal" self-ID is up, examined the realities of health care costs & how they mesh with social services. We review Christie's marathon presser, then recap Rachel Maddow's alternative theory of the case. And just for fun, we watched noted wackadoodle Mark Levin drag out his stock outraged response, cross out where it says "liberals" and instead pencil in Mitch McConnel & the NRSC. It's Yargle vs Bargle!


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