Monday, February 28, 2005

Community Members comment on Iraq

Keesha: The happy talk that Hillary Clinton pushed was distressing at the time and only more so now. Molly Ivins has a column in the latest issue of The Progressive called "Use It Or Lose It" that starst out: "My friends, consider the immutable truth known to all Texas liberals: Things can always get worse." On Iraq, she writes:

OK, so it's a zoo again, I never root for bad things to happen, and found the Iraqi election moving, inspring, and hopeful. I felt that way about the election in Afghanistan last year, too, but it didn't dislodge a single rapist warlord. In Iraq, we've already had "mission accomplished," then when we caught Saddam Husseing everything was going to calm down, next the all-important transfer of sovereignty was going to cure all our problems, then we were going to break the back of insurgency at Fallujah. Well, we did destroy Fallujah.
Sooner or later, we will catch Zarqawi, and I venture to prophesy that won't make much difference, either. In the best guesstimate of how many Iraqis we have killed, the British medical journal Lancet says 100,000. Here's our problem: It's really very difficult to convince people you are killing them for their own good.

Keesha [con't]: I think that sums the situation up better than any happy talk has.
[Note: Ivins article is not available at the web site. It is in the March, 2005 issue of The Progressive.]

Bernado: Things are better and the insurgency is failing said Senator Hillary Clinton. Exactly how so? Reality appears to have scoffed at her easy verdict.

Lyle: While understanding and agreeing that the NYT needs to note which reporters are reporting second-hand from the Green Zone and which ones are actually observing things, I do worry that we are not following this situation closely enough by electing not to highlight to the NYT coverage. I also think John F. Burns has demonstrated himself to be a brave reporter and wonder if an exception can be made for his reporting?

[Note: Any member can highlight a story by e-mailing. The policy is I will not go through the paper each morning and then highlight the stories from Iraq. A member can e-mail early in the morning -- put something like "Iraq in this morning's paper" in the headline so I know you're referring to that when I'm doing the first entry of the day -- and that they noted it, and if there's something they want quoted from it will be mentioned in the first morning's entry. In addition, nothing prevents you from e-mailing later in the day and having a story noted from the morning's paper noted that evening. As for John F. Burns, I've noted his reporting many times so obviously I do enjoy his reporting. I would guess, possibly just out of admiration, that he does the leave the safety of the Green Zone. But it's a blanket policy and not knowing where, for instance, Dexter Filkins reporting comes from, it would be unfair to Filkins if he was venturing out of the Green Zone and Burns was being highlighted but Filkins was not. The answer is for the Times to note who's pulling from official sources and wire reports and who is reporting first hand observations. But again, that applies to what I select in the morning. Members can highlight anything they choose to.]

Terrance: Girl Blogger from Baghdad Burning is a voice I find valuable. She writes clearly and consisely and gets to the point quickly. I hope she will be linked to more.

[Note: Baghdad Burning will be a permanent link in this round of links. Sunday evening, I had some work releated things to take care of and a friend -- the same one who made sure the posts went up while I was in D.C. at the inauguration protests -- volunteered to add the links but stopped at eleven wondering if I was aware so many links were being added. We have added a lot of links -- and will discuss them March 1st -- but there are still a few more to be added.]

Shirley: I am very disappointed in the paper of record's coverage of Iraq. The Sunday Herald articles, for example, highlighted yesterday gave a perspective I hadn't seen this past week in the NY Times.

Brenda: I fear that we've not only become indifferent to the lies that led us into war but indifferent to the suffering in Iraq. We've shown little sympathy for the average Iraqis but now I notice that we don't even seem all that interested in the one thing that we did show interest in: U.S. military deaths. We're closing in on 1,500 and I'm beginning to wonder whether our domestic press will even note that or get caught up in Hillary Clinton's nonsese of "things are getting better" (as John Lennon would add, "couldn't get much worse").

Ralph: There seems to be this increasing so-what attitude sweeping the country. When a US senator distorts and minimizes reality it doesn't help. But the press's desire to run from this story and hide out in the safe zone has much to do with it as well.

Susan: I saw this and thought of a Laura Nyro song ["Triple Goddes Twighlight"]: "He left a war/ To walk in peace/ Said life was for/ Our dream/ Our dream of progress." It's "Regaining My Humanity" and it's by the conscientious objector Camilo Mejia (who the mainstream media is ignoring):

I was deployed to Iraq in April 2003 and returned home for a two-week leave in October. Going home gave me the opportunity to put my thoughts in order and to listen to what my conscience had to say. People would ask me about my war experiences and answering them took me back to all the horrors -- the firefights, the ambushes, the time I saw a young Iraqi dragged by his shoulders through a pool of his own blood or an innocent man decapitated by our machine-gun fire. The time I saw a soldier broken down inside because he killed a child, or an old man on his knees, crying with his arms raised to the sky, perhaps asking God why we had taken the lifeless body of his son.
I thought of the suffering of a people whose country was in ruins and who were further humiliated by the raids, patrols and curfews of an occupying army.
And I realized that none of the reasons we were told about why we were in Iraq turned out to be true. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. We weren't helping the Iraqi people and the Iraqi people didn't want us there. We weren't preventing terrorism or making Americans safer. I couldn't find a single good reason for having been there, for having shot at people and been shot at.
Coming home gave me the clarity to see the line between military duty and moral obligation. I realized that I was part of a war that I believed was immoral and criminal, a war of aggression, a war of imperial domination. I realized that acting upon my principles became incompatible with my role in the military, and I decided that I could not return to Iraq.

Rod: I wonder when exactly we're going to see the press have the guts to say what most people are already saying, "We need to bring our troops home now."

Brian: In 2003, I saw Howard Dean speak while he was still campaigning for presidential nominee. About ten people ran up to the front chanting "end the occupation!" I read the Times coverage of that appearence and there was no mention of it. Since then I've given up hope that the mainstream media ever intends to acknowledge the will of the people until it reaches ninety percent. (By the way, Jodi Wilgoren was the author of the piece of Howard Dean's appearence. I was really surprised that considering her hostile reporting on the Dean campaign, she didn't report on the stage rush since she could have made so much with it.)

Troy: It makes you want to cry to see the reality of what we are doing in Iraq. It makes me want to yell when I hear people trying to put happy faces on it.

Gore Vidal is God: History will come down strongly against us for our actions in Iraq.

Trina: Hillary Clinton better not count on my vote if she runs for president. I don't vote for the willfully blind.

Maria: I saw this in The Guardian. It's a story [by Gary Younge] about a soldier's surprise reaction to some letters from children. The letters are fairly straightforward but if anyone's surprised, it's only because they aren't paying attention. As a teacher, I've seen the children be huge leaders on this issue. The media's refusal to address issues may result in adults not paying attention but the kids' ideas and ideals are coming against an ugly reality and they are asking questions. (I e-mailed Laura Flanders about the reaction I saw in the kids I teach and she read from my e-mail on air.)

Another read: "I feel that you are being forced to kill innocent people. Iraq never attacked us, if Bush cared so much about this country then we would be out there trying to find Osama bin Laden. Bush calls this war the war on terrorism. What terrorism? Name one terrorist from Iraq ... I know I can't."
Most letters did include support for the troops, but few were completely uncritical. A Muslim boy wrote: "I know your [sic] trying to save our country and kill the terrorists but you are also destroying holy places like mosques."
Another stated: "Bush thinks he's brave ... in his safe little white house with as many guards as he thinks he needs." He concluded with: "By the way, when you shoot someone, is it great or horrible?"
Pte Jacobs, 20, told the New York Post: "It's hard enough for soldiers to deal with being away from their families, they don't need to be getting letters like this. If they don't have anything nice to say, they might as well not say anything at all." Pte Jacobs added that the letters were demoralising.

Maria [con't]: I find nothing surprising in those letters. I hear much more every day.

Gina: I don't know anyone I work with that thinks things are going good in Iraq. People are destroying their credibility in the media and out of the media by thinking they are pulling their wool over our eyes.

Eli: I cannot believe how far off course we have been driven in the last four years. I've seen bad and painful times in my life but this is the darkest chapter in American history I've lived through.

Roy: Did everyone catch the headlines on Democracy Now! this morning? Here are two items that go to last night's post about the status of the new Iraq:

Car Bombing in Iraq Kills Over 125
In the Iraqi town of Hilla over 125 people have died in one of the deadliest car bombings since the Iraq war began almost two years ago. Scores more were injured in the blast. The car exploded outside a medical center where dozens of Iraqi seeking work had gathered outside waiting to pick up medical certificates. The head of the local hospital told Agence France Press "All the hospital's rooms, even those used for cardiology, are filled with the wounded." Hilla is a mainly Shiite town located 60 miles south of Baghdad.
Gen. Myers: Insurgency Could Last A Decade in Iraq

The attack comes just days after top U.S. military commander Air Force Gen. Richard Myers admitted that the Iraqi resistance could keep fighting for another decade. Myers told a crowd in Los Angeles that over the past century, similar insurgencies around the world have lasted anywhere from seven to 12 years. He said "This is not the kind of business that can be done in one year."

Roy [con't]: If you caught it, great. But read that carefully because the picture's not a pretty one no matter how many people try to push Operation Happy Talk.

Wendy: Bring the troops home. Now.

Lori: I see a change in my own family. Six months ago, they were still for the war. Now, and these are staunch Bush-ites, they're saying we need to get our kids back home and let Iraq determine it's own course. The lack of change after the election in January has only made them more doubtful of the man they voted for.

Denny: Dahr Jamail has a great article that I'd like to highlight. You can find it at Guerrilla News Network. It's called "Media Held Guilty of Deception." Here's the part I'd like to share:

The panel accused western corporate media of filtering and suppressing information, and of marginalising and endangering independent journalists. More journalists were killed in a 14-month period in Iraq than in the entire Vietnam war.
The tribunal said mainstream media reportage on Iraq also violated article six of the Nuremberg Tribunal (set up to try Nazi crimes) which states: "Leaders, organisers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes (crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity) are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such a plan."
The panel that heard testimonies included Francois Houtart, director of the Tricontinental Centre in Belgium that has backed several peoples movements in Latin America, and Dr. Samir Amin, director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal. Dr. Haleh Afshar, who teaches politics and women's studies at the University of York in Britain, and Italian author and newspaper editor Ernesto Pallotta witnessed the proceedings.
"This is not simply an exercise to denounce the mainstream media for their bias and incompetence," said Dr. Tony Alessandrini, a human rights activist who has published several articles on the U.S. colonisation of Iraq. "These denunciations have been going on for months. Here in Rome, we must go further.."

Billie: It's easy to read the news of Iraq and feel hopeless. But someone who always keeps me from throwing in the towel is Howard Zinn and I'd like to share this from his latest article in The Progressive:

This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas. It is so simple a thought that it is easily overlooked as we search, desperate in the face of war and apparently immovable power in ruthless hands, for some magical formula, some secret strategy to bring peace and justice to the land and to the world.
"What can I do?" The question is thrust at me again and again as if I possessed some mysterious solution unknown to others. The odd thing is that the question may be posed by someone sitting in an audience of a thousand people, whose very presence there is an instance of information being imparted which, if passed on, could have dramatic consequences. The answer then is as obvious and profound as the Buddhist mantra that says: "Look for the truth exactly on the spot where you stand."

Ellen: I think this article is really important. It's called "Iraq’s Right to Resistance and Self-Determination" [written by Ghali Hassan]:

Furthermore, the destruction of Fallujah was evidence of the "anti-war" movement's weak strategy and opposition against an illegal war of aggression. The movement approaches to stop the war and end the Occupation are delusional. It is difficult to dispute this, which appears to be critical today. The new approach taken by the leaders of the "anti-war" movement and the Left/Liberal elites is to have a "good" Occupation to prevent "civil war". This kind of approach adopted and promoted in the mainstream media because it is flawed to the core, and designed to serve US interests and legitimise a long and violent Occupation.
[. . .]
Despite the unpopularity of the US Occupation, and the violence and the havoc wrought upon the Iraqi society, opposition to it in the West, particularly in the US remains mute and passive. The continuing US atrocities in Iraq are greeted with yawns in the West. As Bertrand Russell once wrote, "It is the nature of imperialism that citizens of the imperial power are always among the last to know and care about circumstances in the colonies". Since the Occupation and deliberate destruction of the Iraqi society began, the West "anti-war" movement remains silent pretending it is not supporting "violent" Resistance led by "fundamentalists". Unfortunately, it is the occupation forces and the Bush right-wing administration that are spreading this line. The violence is brought by the Occupation, not by the people fighting to end it. Everywhere, violent resistance arises from a violent foreign military occupation. Those who obliged to kill to defend their country and people are called "terrorists"; those who kill en masse to enforce their tyranny of domination are the noble (wo)men of Western "civilisation". As the American civil rights advocate, Martin Luther King said, "I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed ... without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government".

Stephanie: In some ways, I miss the day to day commentary on Iraq here but considering what I read in the Times, I think it's better that the Iraq reporting be ignored. I prefer the additional sources that are being provided. I'd also like to ask that "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" be reposted.

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