Thursday, September 01, 2005

Indymedia focus on Iraq

Kelly Dougherty has seen more of the world than the average 27-year-old American. A native of Cañon City, Dougherty joined the National Guard during her senior year at Cañon City High School. To her surprise, she was deployed overseas twice during her eight-year service period: first in 1999 to the Balkans, then in 2003 to Kuwait and, ultimately, to Iraq.
Now Dougherty is seeing her own country, crisscrossing the U.S. to attend rallies, give speeches and demonstrate against the war in Iraq and current American military policy.
Dougherty was assigned to a military police unit while in Iraq. An E5 sergeant, she spent nearly a year escorting convoys and conducting raids in a country of people she observed to be mired in poverty and traumatized by American bombings.
In August 2004, Dougherty departed military service with an honorable discharge. Around that time, she and eight other Iraq war returnees founded Iraq Veterans Against the War, a group whose mission is to bring the troops home, provide reconstruction aid to the people of Iraq, and support veterans and troops now and when they return home.
Dougherty believes the U.S. military should disengage as soon as humanly possible, before the war becomes another Vietnam -- a subject she knows something about, since her father is a veteran of that war.
The Independent caught up with Dougherty before she departed Colorado Springs on Sunday, Aug. 28 as part of a local group headed to Crawford, Texas to show solidarity with Cindy Sheehan and others demonstrating there in opposition to the war.

The above is the introduction to Kathryn Eastburn's "At war: Iraq veteran Kelly Dougherty speaks of the realities of life in Iraq and the growing movement against the occupation" (Colorado Springs Indy). Lisa e-mailed to note the interview.

Gary e-mails to note Jack Lessenberry's "The War Hasn't Even Started" (Metro Times Detroit):

We aren't winning in Iraq, of course. We cannot win, we aren't going to win and even if we could "win," we aren't willing to commit the number of troops necessary for enough years to have any chance of success.
Here's a hint from history. Foreign wars that we won generally had front lines. You could follow the progress of our troops on the map. This was true in both world wars and in the Korean Conflict. There are no front lines in Iraq.
We merely drive around from village to village, and they blow up our men with roadside bombs. Then we shoot up a town or city. We kill lots and lots of them, and make lots and lots of new enemies.
According to The Washington Post, we killed between 4,530 and 6,050 Iraqi military during the initial phase of our invasion. During our occupation about 25,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, by British estimates. The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health estimates that figure is really more than 100,000.
Does that make you feel a lot more secure? Nearly 2,000 U.S. troops have now been killed in Iraq. Do you feel it was all worth it?
Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother Bush refuses to meet with, is the tip of the iceberg. There will be another mother who refuses to accept the lying banalities about why her son or daughter died -- and then another, and another. The polls show support for the war falling, and most Americans now agree it was a mistake in the first place.
We have lost the war in Iraq. In the long run, that probably doesn't matter very much. Back in the 1960s, volumes of ink were used to predict all sorts of horrible consequences if we lost the Vietnam War. Guess what. We lost, and it barely caused a ripple in the wider world, and the domino theory that predicted godless communism would then spread to Thailand and Laguna Beach was all nonsense, as much so as everything being said now.

Sally e-mails to note Rick Anderson's "Home Front Casualties: Murders and suicides by military personnel might be part of the Iraq war toll" (Seattle Weekly):

When young Marine Renee DiLorenzo of Whatcom County was shot and killed last month, she became an uncounted statistic of war. Same for Kim Denni, killed last year in a place appropriately called Battle Ground. They are among 10 Western Washingtonians who've died in military-related conflicts since the 2003 invasion of Iraq--four in just a two-week period last month.
None of the casualties, however, occurred in Iraq. Like the others before them, the four all died on the home front: DiLorenzo, 18, who'd just signed up for the U.S. Marines, was killed July 28 by boyfriend Saxxon Rech, 20. Rech, who was mysteriously discharged early from the Marines in February, then turned the shotgun on himself. Army Spc. Leslie Frederick Jr., 23, a decorated Fort Lewis soldier who served in Iraq, committed suicide July 26 in Tacoma. And Army Spc. Brandon Bare, 19, also an Iraq vet, stabbed to death his wife, Nabila, 18, at Fort Lewis, military prosecutors allege.
The case of Nabila Bare is at least the third in the past two years involving a local soldier who killed a lover after returning from Iraq; the DiLorenzo/Rech deaths may also qualify. Altogether since 2003, there have been seven homicides and three suicides on Western Washington soil involving active troops or veterans of Iraq, based on an accounting of medical examiner, military, and news reports. Fives wives, a girlfriend, and one child have been slain; four other children have lost one or both parents to death or imprisonment. Three servicemen have committed suicide--two of them after killing their wife or girlfriend. Seven of the deaths are linked to soldiers from Fort Lewis. Four soldiers have been sent to prison, and one awaits trial.
No one can say if the killings can be directly connected to the psychological effects of war. But most involve a risk factor distinctive to the military--armed men trained to kill--and some killers carry the invisible scars of war. Bare, for example, was being treated for a brain injury from an Iraq roadside bomb. Army Reserve Sgt. Matthew Denni, who killed his wife, Kimberly, in Battle Ground, Clark County, apparently suffered from the post-traumatic stress of Iraq combat, convincing a jury to convict him of second-degree rather than first-degree murder. Two weeks ago, Sgt. 1st Class James Pitts was imprisoned for drowning his wife in the bathtub of their Lakewood, Pierce County, home just weeks after returning from Iraq. "I wish I was dead," he told a judge.
Statistics on home-front casualties tend to be anecdotal. Neither the Pentagon nor the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) keeps figures on military-involved stateside homicides or suicides. "It's almost impossible to track," says Steve Robinson, head of the National Gulf War Resource Center in Maryland. "I tracked it last year and found as many as 35 suicides [nationwide], but I am sure it's higher now." Another group, the National Gulf War Service Center, estimates as many as 90 soldiers and vets committed suicide while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan or after returning home--including several at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Sally, I will pass this on to Elaine but tomorrow's her last planned day at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. (Rebecca returns from her vacation Monday for anyone who's missed that.) If she's already got something planned for her last entry, I'm sure she'll bring this up at The Third Estate Sunday Review so check that as well. (And I'll try to remember to note either here.)

Charlie e-mails to note imc volunteer's "Operation Opt-Out: Act to Protect Your Privacy From Military Recruiters" (Rogue Valley IMC):

The Youth & Militarism program at Peace House is seeking volunteers to leaflet local high schools during the first weeks of the new school year. We need your help to inform local youth about how to protect their privacy from military recruiters. Please contact to get involved in this effort.
No Child Left Behind (section 9528) requires school districts to give out private contact information to military recruiters...
Sign an opt-out form and turn it in soon!
Contact Peace House to receive a sample opt-out form.
Schools push the ASVAB test as a career exploration tool...
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a military test given to high school students which shows recruiters what military job you are qualified for. You can refuse to take this test and encourage your friends to refuse to take it too!
Military recruiters are often heard saying, "We'll give you $$ for college" or "We'll train you for an exciting career." Here are some things they don't tell you.... Recruiters may promise tens of thousands of free dollars for college. but it's NOT FREE. In order to qualify for any college money, you pay $1,200 (non-refundable) to the military. If you leave the military early, decide to put off going to college, or receive a less-than-honorable discharge, the military will keep your money and give you NOTHING!!
In short and simple words, military training is designed for military jobs, not to help you get a job in the "real-world" later. As Dick Cheney said when he was Secretary of Defense, "The reason to have a military is to be prepared to fight and win wars. It's not a jobs program." For more information or to get involved in our efforts, contact Peace House Youth & Militarism program.

Tesa e-mails to note Lynn Gonzalez's "The Cindy Spark: Mainstream America Stirs" (San Diego Indymedia -- and note there are a number of photos with this essay):

Cindy Sheehan is among many inspirational people I've been privileged to meet in the fight to stop the war. I've known and loved her for the better part of a year and, though she has always filled me with tender admiration, she’s just Cindy to me. But not to the nearly 10,000 people who have come through Camp Casey. Or the hundreds of thousands that have sent cards, letters, gifts and money enough to set up a full kitchen in a football-field sized tent at the new campsite. To them she is the "new Rosa Parks"; the face of the mainstream American majority; newly empowered and resolute in their certainty that we can -- and will -- stop this war NOW! Cindy herself is well known in activist circles; and, to be sure, there are many national anti-war figures from Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, Code Pink, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and others that are spear-heading the media and events in Crawford. But they represent neither the bulk nor the overriding spirit of what is happening outside Bush's ranch.

Larry e-mails to note Tarik Abdelazim's "The Path out of Crawford Leads to Binghamton" (Binghampton IMC):

The five-week "working" vacation of spurious George is nearing its end, which means the true measure of the Sheehan phenomenon will be known shortly to us all. Will the anti-war tide dispel as quickly as it gathered, or will the roadside vigil mark the first resolute steps of the anti-war movement’s long, sustained march for justice? Early signs show the latter; the Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour rolls out of Crawford today, and the major peace and justice organizations have promised solidarity long enough to organize and co-host a major, late September convergence in Washington.
But if the anti-war movement wants to deepen the protest, to announce our determined commitment to both resist the aggression, deception, and intimidation of this administration, and also hold to account the ministers of war (Republicans and Democrats), then the route from Crawford to Washington must be amended.

Next stop for the anti-war movement: Binghamton, New York.
The St. Patrick's Four: Killing Cannot Be With Christ
On September 19, the first federal conspiracy trial of civilian war resisters begins in Binghamton. The case traces back to an act of nonviolent resistance committed by four parents on March 17, 2003, two days before the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. The four, since nicknamed the "St. Patrick’s Four," walked into a military recruiting center just outside their hometown of Ithaca New York and carefully poured their own blood around the vestibule. They prayed, knelt, and awaited the authorities.
Tried in April 2004 on charges of criminal mischief and trespassing, the four Catholic Workers represented themselves and articulated a compelling defense that braided together history, morals, and constitutional and international law. Peter DeMott, a Vietnam veteran, spoke of the horrors of war, of men and women who, when asked to kill for dubious reasons, return forever changed. Danny Burns explained our constitutional obligation to international treaties as the "supreme law of the land" (Article 6), and why this planned invasion was in direct violation of the UN Charter. Clare Grady spoke of her moral obligations as a Christian peacemaker. Teresa Grady reminded the court of how modern warfare harms women and children disproportionately, and so as a mother, saw no legal or moral justification to wage merciless war on Iraqi children who obviously posed no threat to our national security.
When all was said and done, nine of twelve jurors voted to acquit. Months after the trial, Judge David Peebles admitted that the four had represented themselves "probably better than some of the attorneys that practice in this court, frankly."
However, in February of this year, the federal authorities decided to retry the case. Incredibly, for a nonviolent act committed in accordance with their Christian faith and international law, the four are being charged with "conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States" and other lesser charges. If convicted of conspiracy, each parent faces up to six years in prison and $250,000 in fines--a dangerous precedent for sure.

Libby e-mails to note a voice from the wilderness' "Nothing to report from Iraq's front, America" (Colorado Indymedia):

Confronting and dealing with wholesome, honest criticism is not in the cards for this president. Ask Cindy Sheehan, a grieving mother of a fallen American soldier in Iraq, now camping body and soul outside Bush's Crawford ranch. She is there determined to meet the Commander-In-Chief responsible for her son's death, and to express to him, as the man who holds the power of life and death for those in the US military, face to face, her one and only desire. and that is "that no one else, not one mom, should have to lose her son in Iraq."
Here is a president who purposefully, if blindly, took his nation to war, brandishing with equal mastery ignorance and incompetence, yet one unwilling to make amends with a coating of truth, whitewashing all events, instead, with the brush of his power.
Moscardó, in much of an Abrahamic sacrifice (for his ideals, not God), no matter how misguided this action may seem to some, caused his son Luis to be executed when he refused to surrender the Alcázar. Sheehan in turn, had her son's life cut short by the decisions of Bush, an elected leader entrusted by the people of the US to be prudent in his exercise of power.
But make no mistake. Bush is no Moscardó. The latter sacrificed his son's life for a cause, while Bush sacrificed Sheehan's son and other Americans' lives without cause, right or reason to do so. Notwithstanding the lives of Iraqis and the well-being of a nation that had not done, nor intended to do, the United States any harm.
Sin novedad from the White House, America. and the world! Bush's America can be counted on to stay the course.

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