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POLL: Regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, Is Obama "Old Wine in a New Bottle?"

In his conversation with Bill Moyers, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill was critical of President Obama’s use of private military contractors and his war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think what we’re seeing, under President Barack Obama, is sort of old wine in a new bottle. Obama is sending one message to the world, but the reality on the ground, particularly when it comes to private military contractors, is that the status quo remains from the Bush era... There’s no question that Obama inherited an absolute mess from President Bush, but the reality is that Obama is escalating the war in Afghanistan right now and is maintaining the occupation of Iraq... You have hundreds of people held without charges. You have people that are being denied access to the Red Cross in violation of international law. And you have an ongoing position by the Obama administration, formed under Bush, that these prisoners don't have a right to habeas corpus... The fact is that this man is governing over a policy that is killing a tremendous number of civilians.”

We invite you to take our poll and share your thoughts in the space below.


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I am sure ALL GOP's, who supported Bush's corrupt war in Iraq, made their children join the military. Otherwise, I can't imagine how disappointed Bushwackers must be in their children who decided to go to college and not join the military.

If we are short of troops, thanks to Bush, a draft needs to get started. First ones drafted should be those who support Bush's corrupt war in Iraq which he started off lies. Second ones to be drafted are all family members of those who support Iraq. And those fore mentioned to be drafted need to head to the front lines, anything less would be inappropriate.

Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld - Weapons of Mass Destruction, Weapons of Mass Destruction Well, where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction? You get ONE guess where the Weapons of Mass Destruction are NOT located. The basis for why we invaded Iraq yet there are NO Weapons of Mass Destruction, yet WE are still there. We got Weapons of Mass Destruction drilled into our heads by those idiots because of all the media coverage those idiots got. Biased liberal media coverage - You have got to be kidding! If Bush would have stayed focus on Afghanistan, the Taliban would not be terrorizing the world.

With a son in Afghanistan, listening to Obama during his campaign, he was eager to please; since being elected, it seems more like he wants people to please HIM. I didn't think the "change" he was talking about would be a change from Iraq to AFghanistan--silly me, I thought it would a change toward peace. With an expenditure of $8 billion in the last two months, while losing 91 American troops to death in the last two months--I say, "same crap, different face."

I agree with much of what MJA prescribes but I would add that we should have signed the Law of the Seas.
From a world perspective, we
HAD to bail out the banks.
Congress should have moved for impeachment of Bush & the duck hunter.
One prescription would save our democracy-public financ-
of political campaigns.

On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by Al-Qaeda. Their base of operations is in Afghanistan. We are pursuing them there so that there is no ‘sanctuary’ for them. The task is enormous as the terrain is very mountainous. History’s ‘best’ conquerors have all failed to subdue the place.

But the United States has tremendous resources and, with an effort on the scale of that mounted during World War II, undoubtedly the task could be accomplished. But would it eliminate Al-Qaeda? Would Al-Qaeda and their sympathizers simply leave the world scene?

I doubt that. It seems more likely that they would simply move to another ‘failed state’ or some other remote part of the globe. How many failed states is the United States willing to mount full scale military operations to subdue? And how long and at what price could control be maintained?

In addition, it must be remembered that the Al-Qaeda 9-11 operation was planned in Hamburg, Germany. Are we then to subdue all of the Mid-Eastern populations that have become minorities in all of the Western countries?

Think outside the bottle. (Containment of power, resources and authority in a too small container (oligarchy) is a major handicap.)

A barrel of oil continues bidding up even as domestic refineries run at 60% capacity. I will liquidate my holdings on Labor Day with an enormous gain.

Isn't it funny how American "conservatives" support a "liberal" in Iran? They have more in common with Mr. Dinnerjacket socially and ideologically. Our "system" has plenty in common with the Islamic Council form of government, structurally. Both goal-tend popular will and reform at the net.

Obama is continuing and expanding not only Bush's foreign policy but his domestic policy as well.

Change and hope are just words.

Gary Lee Howard,
The bottle metaphor is interesting.
Based on yoour analogy; I would like to use your bottle metaphor to add my analogy.
The shape of the bottle is not what is important. What is important is what is in the bottle. as far as what is important about the bottle is that there are no contaminants in the bottle before it is filled with wine. The quality of the wine is dependent on what ingredients and processes go into producing the wine going into the bottle.
There can be many various forms of bottles that contain the good wine and there can be many different flavors of wine.
When the analogy is applied to human societies; there are many contaminants that must be excluded in order to have a "good" society. Plato's Republic addresses this concern. Good has to be consistent with the best interests of the people who live their lives in the society.
People need to eliminate contaminants such as greed, maliciousness, monopolies, inequity, injustice, lobbyists and corruption that poison people's lives.
Instead of saving the best wine for last; we need to make sure that there is always good wine.

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

I strongly agree with Jeremy Scahill, President Obama must start walking the walk. I feel he needs time to change all the disfunctional republican policies that have damaged our country in every conceivable way. I'm not affilated with any political party, but I can't understand the republicans' negative rhetoric toward Obama and why they want his policies to fail (don't they understand that we are all Americans). During the last 8 years, they have lost all credabilty with all their excessive failed policies. Everything they say is ridicules. I voted for Obama for change. I hope he is not in the corporation's pockets, just as the republican party is. If he is, our country will be destined to be a third world country.

Let's clear up this awkward analogy. Global corporate capitalism is the bottle. Dub Bush was poured out and Obama funneled in. A liquid has no shape or structure but flows through channels to the lowest point. Put Nader, Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney or Ron Paul in there and the bottle remains determinant. Testy wine will be described as turned or sour and discarded. Democracy and free elections would be good if we had them, but no meaningful reform will occur until we tame global corporate capitalism.

Right now I am profiting from speculation in crude oil and gasoline futures. I will take the profit and give it to environmental causes, but the damage will be done. The perverse class will be wealthier and more powerful in controlling policy and the energy will have been mostly wasted. A few crumbs of charity cannot save a suicidal system. We need socialism (or something about like it)controlled by citizens in their own communities. Right now capitalism (which should also be limited in scale) pre-empts the possibility of both citizenship and community. We are worshiping "the bottle" without regard to the contents, and are corked inside it, right along with our greedy neighbors and Mr. Obama.

As soon as you people realize that the once great U.S. is NO longer #1 I would say 4th or 5th in the world economy,heath care,industrial,and service of goods.Just to name a few because the republicans/democrats have sold us all out and could care less because they are all setting pretty well off.They start wars over rumours to line their pockets and their ceo buddies also(none of their children or family/friends are dying)they premote sports to suck us taxpayers dry building race tracks& stadiums and the allready rich keep getting more money while breaking the laws of this once great country.Look at your congressman for someone that has broken laws.Ever notice that we NO longer have the right to get mad/upset/p-ssedoff because if you do and think about talking/doing something about it you used to get labeled a RADICAL now thanks to GEORGE W it is TERRORIST.We need a plan people and the 1st thing we need to do is vote these idiots out!!!! PALIN said anyone with a college education can see OBAMA can not keep throwing money we do not have and getting money from CHINA.We do not need college educations to figure that out.We need to get off are butts and be heard and find a different party because all these two have done is lie,cheat etc,etc,and sell us all out!

Misleading, I would say. Whether intentionally or not, Scahill makes it
seem, no?, as if all 250 thousand are "fighting the wars". But that's not
true. It is true, there are 242,657 "DoD Contractor Personnel" in Iraq,
Afghanistan, and elsewhere. But most of these are unarmed (hence, not
fighting the wars in a natural sense of that phrase). They include
construction workers, translators, communication support personnel, etc.
Of the 242,657, there are 10,743 armed contractor personnel in Iraq, and
4,111 in Afghanistan. According to the report* (see below),

· There was a 23% increase (from 8,701 to 10,743) of armed DoD PSCs in
Iraq compared to the 1st quarter FY 2009 census. This increase can be
attributed to our improved ability to account for subcontractors who are
providing security services. · There was a 29% increase (from 3,184 to
4,111) of armed DoD PSCs in Afghanistan compared to the 1st quarter FY
2009 census. The increase correlates to the build up of forces in that

Bad, maybe, but not as bad as first impressions, upon hearing Scahill,
would suggest.

The report* (from May, 2009, referenced both by Scahill, and by me just
above), called "Contractor support of U.S. Operations in USCENTCOM AOR,
IRAQ, and Afghanistan — May 2009" can be accessed at

One of the things one learns on reading this is that of the 4,111 armed
contractors in Afghanistan, 4,070 of them are Afghanis (local guns for

I've deployed to OEF and work directly with the government and military full time. The only thing I disagree with Mr Scahill on is that right now there is a huge conversion going on with regard to military contracting. Many are being done away with or are being converted to government positions.

The main thing we have to fear is not fear itself, rather from within, Chinese Communism.

I want the military out of Iraq and Afghanistan.. the sooner the better..

Wib Smith,
I appreciate your following list of wishful objectives.
"My self interest tells me I want to see single payer heath, unions strong enough to negotiate, no banks [or other institution] that is too big to fail, out of Iran and Afghanistan, repeal of FISA snooping."
I would think that your wish list would be in the self interest of those in power considering they will not stay in office if they do not comply.
It is nice to think that we are a nation of "do-it-your-selfers" but the fact of life is that we are dependent on our government to use their resources to "make it so". That is what our government is given the authority to do and what we pay them to do.
Unfortunately, we are indoctrinated to accept authority and accept our fate no matter how bad things get. Just like the Jews in Germany; they were happy with Hitler until they found out what he was really up to.
We have too much at stake to let our government coast into oblivion.

Obama is dealing with the world as it is, not as it should be. The opposition - those in the
Democratic Party, as well as most Republicans will not support more progressive [or radical] actions. Politics is the art of the possible.
...remember the weak progressive Clinton Administration? Too many times, progressive in name only. The position of the left, and also a number of issues the majority of the electorate generally agree on do not get action unless there is enough power behind those positions to compel action.
Obama will not use his energy and resources to fight a battle he is not likely to win.
My self interest tells me I want to see single payer heath, unions strong enough to negotiate, no banks [or other institution] that is too big to fail, out of Iran and Afghanistan, repeal of FISA snooping. When those issues are truly in the self interest of those in power, they will happen. The struggle continues, and I would rather it happens with good will and compassion than what we had. It means Obama's success in meeting my goals requires more hard work from me, Moyers, his guests and the rest of you.
Wib Smith

I have to agree with MJA; President Obama is a man of words not a man of action. By the time he gets the "ship" turned around it will be on the bottom of the ocean.
I just hope and pray that he will not turn out to be another Condalisa Rice or Colin Powell selling out to the highest bidder.
We cannot survive another eight years of failed policies.

Dear Bill,

President Obama's first week in office should have looked like this:
Tuesday-Close Guantanamo
Wednesday-Leave Iraq
Thursday-Leave Afghanistan
Friday-Initiate single pay health care
Saturday-Sign Kyoto and tell the bankrupt companies to bail themselves out.
Sunday-Rest and a family day at the beach with the new dog.
Save the smoke and mirrors for your next campaign Mr. President, now is the time to act.
And with those actions, you won’t need any words.


The foreign policy so far has been same, as was as "under Bush!"
"Right now there are 250 thousand contractors fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's about 50 percent of the total US fighting force. Which is very similar to what it was under Bush."

Very true and disturbing, "The radical privatization of war continues unabated under Barack Obama."

"If Obama was serious about fully ending the occupation of Iraq, he wouldn't allow the U.S. to have a colonial fortress that they're passing off as an embassy in Baghdad. This place is the size of 80 football fields."

"PRESIDENT OBAMA: Make no mistake. We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict."
The Wishful hope - "if we could be confident....!"
"We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can." Trojan horse or " colonial fortress of 80 football
fields passing off as an embassy!" Hypocrisy at its best, the war goes on either that be
in Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia i Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Pakistan.
To bring our troops home is to AMEND THE CONSTITUTION!

I'm not expecting Obama to change things in 6 months.
I voted for him but I always thought he was a moderate and the alternative of the republican ticket of MaCain/Palin was so repugnant to me that I had no other choice if I wanted to vote.

I'm not expecting much from Obama. His economic picks are pretty dissapointing.

Bottom line corporations seem to be at war with the citizenry of this country. When I hear a story such as the one Jeremy Scahill told about the private electrical contractors doing such shoddy work that people are dieing it make me sick. Why is this not being investigated? Why is that the both wars are not being investigated for the waste and fraud that was and is being committed by these privateers that call themselves corporations.

This is a huge scandal as far as I'm concerned. Bush and Cheney have a lot answer for.

Sadly far too many of us still believe in the myth that there is a real difference between the Democratic and Republican Party’s when it comes to major national and foreign policies. The root causes for many of our issues lies mostly with an electoral and legislative funding system run amok by a corporate-lobbyist network which is contaminating the national and foreign policy decisions made in Washington. Regardless of party affiliations most of this funding primarily originates from the same corporate-lobbyist networks with the Titians of industry hedging their campaign and lobbyist bets. While it can be argued that the Democratic favor more socially oriented programs when it comes to major national and foreign policies both essentially want the same things are in collusion and servitude with the same multi-national benefactors. Regardless which party is elected to power the corporate agenda continues unabated. This has been going on for a very longtime and neither party offers any real alternative solutions as there is too much vested interest in maintaining the status quo. See: “An Agenda For Real Change” ; and “An Infantry of Corporate Lobbyists Waltzing with Wash. DC”

It seems to me people are expecting miracles from President Obama and believe he is the Messiah that the right-wingers kept calling him!!

Well, he is not. He is doing the best that is possible under these circumstances. I think his heart is in the right place and he wants to do good for all people.

What do you want him to do? Look at the policies of the United States in the last 100 years. The directions these policies took the United States can not be changed in five months. Americans are so impatient, they want everything NOW! Give the guy a couple of years, minimum. It is going to take much longer to deal with all that is wrong with our government (which I believe is the best form of government there is).

I, and my friends, who worked to elect Obama are still very optimistic about him.

I'm an American living in India. Before Obama was elected, I continually told my Indian friends, "you just wait and see, things will be different in this part of the world soon." I'm not expecting Obama to fix anything in 6 months, but my friends are certainly right in giving me the "I told you so" line every chance they get. Frankly, I'm deeply disappointed.

I didn't vote for the democrats that we could expand the war. Even more to the point, ending the war would allow us to concentrate on the massive problems we face within our borders and free up money that we are currently wasting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Other issues, Obama has clearly defined himself as dropping his campaign promises into the deep dark lagoon and continuing Bush's agenda. It's not about what they say, it's about what they do.

I tend to agree with Jeremy Scahill that President Obama is just new packaging for the Bush war in Iraq and Afganistan. Since I voted for him, and believed his message, it's painful to believe that the status quo continues in the Obama White House.

I have read comments like Scahill's online. However, I found Scahill in person to add a dimension that text alone misses. Thank you for providing him the air time. A picture (in the form of an outstanding interview) truly is worth the proverbial thousand words.

I am against the US having a mercenary military presence anywhere in the world. If we can't fight our own wars, we need to find out how to make peace. Continuing the use of Haliburton, BlackWater and any other outsourcing of US presence will only continue to propagate the anger of the world against the US. If we are so financially strapped by deficit spending and government overextension, the first thing we can do is fire the contractors and order a civilian commission to assess the waste in government spending and war profiteering. We did not elect President Obama to continue the policies of the Bush administration of killing innocent civilians in IRAQ and Afghanistan. Wake up news media and report on this before all aspects of our character are gone for good.

"The media in this country, we have an obligation to treat him [Obama] the way we treated Bush in terms of being critical of him. And, yet, I feel like many Democrats have had their spines surgically removed these days, as have a lot of journalists."

"a lot of journalists" were critical of Bush? Really? On Iraqi WMDs? Hussein - Al'Queda connection? Building an out-sourced army?
Most mainstream journalists were NOT critical of Bush.
Scahill is embarrassingly uninformed.

It seems Obama is damned if he does or damned if he doesn't on every issue he has been left with. I'm reserving judgement because it is still too early to tell.

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