Thursday, January 19, 2006

Indymedia roundup focus on the war

Principal Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Elizabeth Cheney (Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter) praised the Iraqi Constitution for freedom of religion, associated, speech and conscience -- but made no mention of women. Female members of the Iraqi assembly were outraged by the constitution. One, Dr. Raja Khuzai, who'd once termed President Bush "my liberator," said, "I [had] wanted Iraqi women to be free," but now that clerices are taking control, "I am not going to stay here." She was echoed by Safia Taleb al-Suhail, Iraq's ambassador to Egypt (and former Bush guest at his 2005 State of the Union speech(, who said that women "have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years."

The above is from "Dispatches Global" in the Winter 2006 edition of Ms. (page 30). It's Thursday when we do indymedia roundup and we've got one entry tonight and it's on Iraq.
The military fatality count (official) for US troops is 2222, British count stands at 98 and "Other" (the "coalition") stands at 103. We weren't going it alone, said the Bully Boy, we had a "coalition" and the burden of his illegal war would be spread out If you add the "other" and the British counts and multiply them by ten, you still don't read 2222. Which isn't to suggest that we spread the deaths around but it is to point out, for those who've never left Bully Boy Fantasy Land, that there was no "coalition." How many Iraqis have died? Who knows? I don't buy that the Defense Department isn't keeping track. So let's note an estimate from an unembed:

Between 3,000 and 4,000 Iraqis are killed every month, rendering "ridiculous" US President George W. Bush's estimate of about 30,000 civilian casualties since the start of the war, veteran British journalist Robert Fisk said Wednesday.

Political Gateway courtesy of the News Dissector. We're staying with the News Dissector for a momnt, that's Danny Schechter for any visitor and the link takes you to Danny's site and not to a single entry because Brad highlighted some things and had a problem getting individual links.
So you can use this link and utilize the archive for Thursday, January 20th's Dissector if a new one is up when you check.

Brad wanted to note this:

Your News Dissector will be on the air--on radio this week with FAIR's Janine Jackson, Peter B Collins in Monteray, The "Militant moderate" Alan Nathan on All American Radio in Washington DC and with Alan Colmes on Fox Radio here in New York on Friday Night.
And for those of you who might want to hear the voice of your news dissector, check out the new AUDIO BLOG I have posted. Tune in. The sound quality will soon be improving but what do you think of this move into other media too. Is a podcast is next?

If you're new to the News Dissector, Danny's never suffered from "War Got Your Tongue?". Quite the contrary, he's been addressing Iraq when others felt that, especially after the 2004 elections, there were other topics to focus on now and the war was something we should stop talking about. (If you're a younger member, that may be shocking, but it did happen. After the election, a lot of people folded up tents and stopped addressing the war.)

In 2004, Danny Schechter's WMD was released and Brad wanted this noted about the documentary:

My film WMD won the top jury award for documentaries in the Breakthrough Human Rights Festival in India. Alika Khosla writes from New Delhi:
"It is an amazing documentary which needless to say has been handled brilliantly. I would like to also congratulate on behalf of Breakthrough! We wish you could have been here to receive the award personally. It will be announced at the inaugural ceremonies across all 5 cities…"

The film is available on DVD. We praised it (deservedly) at The Third Estate Sunday Review, I've noted here many times (including in Feburary 2005). If you haven't seen the film, you should. It takes an indepth look about the media's role in the rush to war. If you followed the topic, you'll still be surprised by how much detail is in the film and if you didn't follow it, it's a great primer. This is not a PBS nature special. This is involving, so check out the film. As Bully Boy makes more war noises, you should see it just to be prepared for his next ramp up to a war.

It will help explain how we ended up in an illegal war as for on the ground in Iraq currently . . .
Mada'ain? Do you know it? Brian Conley thinks it's a spot to watch in Iraq. Nolanda notes his "Mada'ain, Microcosm of the New Iraq?" (Alive in Baghdad):

I received a report from a friend in Iraq, regarding a recent campaign of civil disobedience, apparently begun in Mada'ain, a town south of Baghdad.
While attempting to uncover additional information about the civil disobedience occurring or being planned there, I uncovered some very interesting other news and history of Mada'ain. Some of you may remember, in April of last year, a report that several dozen to as many as 150/170 Iraqi Shiites had been kidnapped by Al Qaeda.
This report came from the Iraqi interim government, just prior to Iyad Allawi and the CPA-appointed government stepping down. What you may not recall, is that this event allegedly occurred in Mada'ain. Just over two weeks after this event, another, less publicized, event happened. More than two dozen Sunnis were found executed in Mada'ain. The Association of Muslim Scholars accused Interior Ministry agents of causing the massacre.
What some may not remember is that the mass-kidnapping by Al Qaeda appears to have been determined a hoax. The mass-killing of Sunnis however, was not. Many claimed when the "kidnapping" occurred that it was a new sign of the growing civil war and strained tensions between Sunni and Shiite. The rapid appearance of a cause-effect relationship in sectarian violence quickly shows how Mada’ain could be considered a microcosm of Iraq’s wider troubles.
Taking a step back for a moment, it Mada'ain can be seen to have an even wider historical significance in Iraq. First and foremost, Mada'ain is buiilt on the ancient site of Ctesiphon, capital of the Parthian and Sassanid Empires. Throughout its history Ctesiphon, later to become Mada'ain has been a center of conflict between competing empires.
Ctesiphon was once a capital of the "Iranian," perhaps more accurately, "Persian" empire of the Sassanids, before falling, in the 600s, to the creation of the Abbasid empire by Arab bedouins. Its not hard to grasp how the diversification of this part of what is now Iraq may have been started and has happened over the centuries since then.

How's that privatiziation working out for those who aren't stockholders in Haliburton or KBR? Riverbend reflects on how quickly reconstruction occurred after the Gulf War of 1991 as compared to the rate in the current occupation. The difference? Iraqis were in charge of the reconstruction after the 1991 war. From Riverbend's "A Tribute to Iraqi Ingenuity..." (Baghdad Burning):

Now, nearly three years after this war, the buildings are still piles of debris. Electricity is terrible. Water is cut off for days at a time. Telephone lines come and go. Oil production isn’t even at pre-war levels… and Iraqis hear about the billions upon billions that come and go. A billion here for security… Five hundred million there for the infrastructure… Millions for voting… Iraq falling into deeper debt… Engineers without jobs simply because they are not a part of this political party or that religious group… And the country still in shambles.
One of the biggest, most complicated and most swiftly executed reconstruction projects was the Dawra Refinery in Baghdad. It is Iraq’s oldest refinery and one of its largest. It was bombed several times during the Gulf War and oil production came to a halt. After the war, it is said that the Iraqi government negotiated with an Italian company to reconstruct it but the price requested by the company was extremely high. It was decided then that the reconstruction effort would be completely local and the work began almost immediately. Several months later, during the summer of 1991, when the Italian experts came back to assess the damage, they found that the refinery was functioning.
Below are some pictures that were sent to me by an engineer who was a part of the reconstruction effort and is currently jobless in Amman. The pictures are both painful and inspiring. Fifteen years later and it is difficult to see the damage that was wrought on the country… But the 'after' pictures give me faith that Iraq will rise once more- in spite of occupiers and meddlers.
Note: I was tempted to stamp all the 'after' pictures with "AMERICANS DID NOT RECONSTRUCT THIS" as I know that in a month some clueless Republican will send them back to me with the words, "Look at how we reconstructed your country!".

Jay noted the above and more reality comes from Dahr Jamail's "Freedom in action" (Iraq Dispatches) which we noted earlier but DK asked that we note it again:

Yet, the land of hallucinations is a nice place to be for someone like Mr. Bush, who also said yesterday that most Iraqis are upbeat about their future.
Despite rampant kidnappings, unemployment soaring to well over 50%, little electricity, no potable water and violence continuing unabated, Bush said, "The vast majority of Iraqis prefer freedom with intermittent power to life in the permanent darkness of tyranny and terror."
The security is so bad in Baghdad now that many people now don’t leave their homes unless it is absolutely necessary. Rampant abductions of Iraqis are symptomatic of the escalating lawlessness in Iraq which is of course aggravated by the political turmoil that has engulfed the country since the December 15 polls.
Iraqi officials say as many as 30 Iraqis a day are reported kidnapped in Baghdad. The abductions are part of the rising lawlessness accompanying the country's political turmoil/"freedom in action."
Nothing has changed with the kidnapping since my last trip to Baghdad. Many of the hostages are freed when the ransom demanded is paid by their families. Other times when the ransom is paid, as happened to a friend of my interpreter, the family received a call telling them they could pick up the body of their 16 year-old son at the morgue.

Randall notes Zoltan Grossman's "New Challenges for the Antiwar Movements in 2006: How Some Arguments Against the War Might be Twisted to Prolong It" (Madison Indymedia):

The U.S. Occupation of Iraq has entered its fourth calendar year. As criticism of the Iraq War intensifies across the political spectrum, its supporters are deploying new arguments (or repackaged old arguments), in order to defend the war. In December, President Bush delivered a series of speeches to build public support for the Occupation. His speeches were such a failure that they could easily be repackaged and released as a DVD under the title "How to Lose a War in 10 Days."
Yet even some of the Democratic and Republican critics of Bush's policy are not advocating an end to the war, but rather proposing a change in the war's form, or a shift in its focus. Instead of ending the violence, some of their arguments could be used to justify continuing (or even intensifying) violence against Iraqis. Some of the arguments they are making against Bush's Iraq policy can easily be manipulated or twisted by his Administration to prolong the war.
Specifically, the arguments that U.S. troops should be redeployed to neighboring countries, and that the chaos in Iraq could lead to a civil war or Shi'ite theocratic rule, are now being reinterpreted to justify rather than end the war. In this shifting political environment, the peace movement should be extremely cautious that its original arguments against the war do not become a justification of a new phase of the war, or even fodder for a new war.
The "civil war" argument
The growing call for a withdrawal of U.S. troops has reinvigorated the old argument that the troops need to stay to "prevent a civil war." Bush claims that if American forces leave Iraq, chaos will follow. His claim evokes the reign of Louis XV, whose followers proclaimed "Apres moi, le deluge" (After me, the flood).
Yet this argument is made not only by Bush, but across the political spectrum--from Fox News to Hillary Clinton. It is even accepted by some liberals who opposed the invasion of Iraq, and blame Bush for worsening internal divisions among Iraqis, but justify the Occupation as a way to keep those divisions from erupting into war.
The "civil war" argument is at best a self-fulfilling prophecy that is actually helping to stimulate a civil war among Iraqis. At worst, it is based on a racist image of savage uncontrollable Middle Easterners, who need a Great White Father to keep them from slitting each other's throats. The fact is that many of the ethnic and religious divisions in the Middle East have been widened, not narrowed, by foreign control. Since the colonial era, outsiders have tended to worsen internal differences, not improve them, and have exacerbated internal tensions to the point of triggering civil wars.
The reasons are rather simple. Colonial rulers have always tended to side with one internal faction against another. They need native leadership to help them carry out indirect rule, and often offer advantages to leadership from a particular ethnic or religious group. Belgian colonial rule over Rwanda constructed the resentment of Tutsis by Hutus, much as British colonial rule over India exacerbated tensions between Hindus and Muslims. During the 1920-32 British mandate in Iraq, the colonial rulers installed Sunni Arab rulers, and repressed Kurdish and Shi'ite Arab insurgents, laying the groundwork for their own defeat (and for Saddam's later Sunni dictatorship).
The American tendency to select "good guys" to fight "bad guys" in internal conflicts strongly resembles this colonial history. The U.S. entered Somalia in 1992 as a "peacekeeping" force to keep warring clan militias apart, but took sides against one warlord, and paid the consequences. In former Yugoslavia, U.S. interventions opposed Serbian nationalists, but sided with Croatian and Albanian nationalists. The massive expulsion of Kosovar Albanians in 1999 started after NATO began bombing the Serbs, and was followed by a reverse expulsion of the Serbs and others. Outside intervention in Kosovo and Bosnia brought a "peace" based only on this successful "ethnic cleansing."
Since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, it has been following the same pattern, siding with Kurdish militias and fighting a Sunni Arab insurgency. Its stance toward the majority Shi'ite Arabs has been almost schizophrenic, marked by wild swings between empowering and fighting the Shi'ite militias. U.S. efforts to integrate Sunnis into the government have been mainly public relations moves to undercut the insurgency. As long as Bush equates "democracy" with "majority rule," the minority Sunnis will remain afraid. The inconsistency of Bush's approach is helping to stimulate an actual civil war. Any group that he supports has the stigma of being seen by Iraqis as American puppets.
It is simply not inevitable that in the absence of Western troops, Iraqis will naturally want to kill each other. Despite their ethnic and religious diversity, Iraqis have a set of common experiences that have helped construct a state identity over the past century. Iraqis' resistance to Turkish and British colonial rule, and the overthrow of their pro-Western monarch, were only the beginning. In recent decades, Iraqis have also together faced Saddam's harsh repression, a brutal border war with Iran, and bombing, sanctions, and occupation by the Americans and British. Iraqis have more in common with each other than with foreign rulers or exiles.

Do not forget that tomorrow the tribunal on the Bully Boy begins. From Bush Commission via NYC Indymedia:

Friday, January 20, 5pm and Saturday, January 21 at 10am, Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive
Sunday, January 22 at 1pm, Columbia University Law School, 116th & Amsterdam Avenue
An unprecedented citizens' tribunal will hear testimony from international expert witnesses and whistle-blowers on war crimes and crimes against humanity alleged against the Bush administration.
Witnesses at the Tribunal include: former commander of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray who exposed the use of information gathered through torture, former arms inspector Scott Ritter, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Dahr Jamail (journalist who has reported extensively from Iraq), Guantanamo prisoners' lawyer Michael Ratner, Katrina survivors, former State Department officer Ann Wright, among many more.
January's hearings will be the second and final session of the Commission. Indictments from the first session were formally delivered to George W. Bush at the White House on January 10. Bush's staff would not receive the indictments at the gate, saying that the president "will not accept any materials from the public." As TV cameras rolled, a hazmat squad was called in by White House personnel to remove the envelope.
The indictments are based on moral, political, and legal grounds, and are undertaken in fulfillment of the Commission's Charter: "When the possibility of far-reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity exists, people of conscience have a solemn responsibility to inquire into the nature and scope of these acts and to determine if they do in fact rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity...." The Bush White House has been invited to testify at the Tribunal in its defense. The indictments allege war crimes and crimes against humanity authorized by the Bush Administration in relation to:
Wars of Aggression, particular reference to Iraq and Afghanistan;
Torture and Indefinite Detention;
Destruction of the Global Environment, distortion of science and obstruction of efforts to stem global warming;
Attacks on Global Public Health and Reproductive Rights, potentially genocidal effects of enforcing abstinence-only, and global gag rule concerning abortion; and Failure of Bush administration, despite foreknowledge, to protect life during and after Hurricane Katrina.
The commission was organized by the Not in Our Name Statement of Conscience and is endorsed by: Center for Constitutional Rights, National Lawyers Guild, After Downing and others, including Former Sen. James Abourezk, former British MP Tony Benn, authors Gore Vidal and Howard Zinn, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and actor Edward Asner.
The Charter, full indictments, standards for judgment, audio and video coverage of the first session and schedule are available at: Interviews with witnesses and judges can be scheduled by contacting Connie Julian at 917-449-9064.

NYC isn't the only place where vents are taking place. Portland notes the following from "News Briefs" (Eugene Weekly):

The U.S. occupation of Iraq is a political and economic quandary not only for the U.S., but also for Iraq and the world. No positive resolution is in sight, so what are our options and alternatives?
Community Alliance of Lane County's (CALC) Progressive Responses is sponsoring a forum titled, "Which Way Out? Beyond Iraq: Getting To The Big Picture." The event begins at 7 pm Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St. in Eugene. The discussion will be moderated by Alan Siporin, and scheduled speakers will include representatives from the offices of Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Ron Wyden.
"Beyond the Iraq crisis, there are three major global challenges facing us now and in the near future," according to a statement from the organizers. "Declining petroleum and natural gas, the pace of global warming and the severe inequities that exist between citizens of rich and poor nations."
Forum speakers will lead discussions that will highlight alternative approaches that rely on multilateral cooperation, creative citizen involvement and enlightened leadership from elected officials to solve these problems.
Discussion topics include why the Iraq occupation is bad for Iraq, bad for the U.S., and bad for the world; the benefits of complete withdrawal; broader U.S. foreign policy considerations; the effectiveness of military actions; and an overview of alternatives.
For more information, call 485-1755.

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