Thursday, April 20, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

For many of the more activist IVAW vets, their political evolution did not follow the simple trajectory one might expect, from idealism at enlistment to postcombat disillusionment. In fact, many of them shipped off to war despite serious political misgivings. "I went to Iraq opposing the war," says Garrett Reppenhagen, the former sniper with the irreverent potty-mouthed patch on his hat. Reppenhagen served a year with the Army's First Infantry Division in and around the very violent city of Baquba. "I was reading Zinn's People's History and John Perkins's Economic Hit Man before I went."
What's that? Someone went off to be killed or maimed or possibly to kill "hajjis" despite being an antiwar leftist? And Reppenhagen is not alone. A recent Zogby poll found that 29 percent of soldiers in Iraq favored immediate withdrawal, which some see as a sign of an imminent crisis in military discipline. But the poll could be read in exactly the opposite fashion. If the Army and Marines can keep the disgruntled soldiers fighting and fighting, even 70 percent of troops could favor immediate withdrawal and it would mean nothing.
The question for peace activists thus becomes: How is it that antiwar soldiers continue to fight? And what does it really take for an antiwar soldier to resist? The answers lie largely in the sociology of "unit cohesion" and the ways the military uses solidarity among soldiers as a form of social control. Similarly, the peace activism of IVAW requires the spread of an oppositional form of loyalty and camaraderie.
Since 1973, when Congress ended the draft, the armed forces have been restructured using unit cohesion as a form of deep discipline. In other words, social control in today's military operates through a system that could be straight from a text by French philosopher Michel Foucault: Soldiers are managed not with coercion but with freedom. Because they join of their own free will, they find it almost impossible to rebel. Volunteering implicates them, effectively stripping them of the victim status that conscription allowed. Soldiers who would resist are guilt-tripped and emotionally blackmailed into serving causes they hate. During my time embedded in Iraq, I met several antiwar soldiers, but none of them considered abandoning their comrades. They said things like "you signed that paper" or "they got that contract"--as if contracts are never broken or annulled.

The above, noted by Karen, is from Christian Parenti's "When GI Joe Says No" (The Nation). This is an indepth article and we may note it again on Sunday. Before Sunday comes Saturday and where will you be? If you're in Saratoga, you can see Jimmy Massey:

THE DISCUSSION WILL FOCUS ON how modern war affects members of the armed services, veterans, their families and civilians.
To be held SATURDAY APRIL 22, 2006
FROM 9:30 AM TO 11:30 P.M.
MR. Massey, a 12 year marine veteran, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and given an honorable medical discharge after participating in the invasion of Baghdad during April and May of 2003. An ardent defender of the constitution, Jimmy became disillusioned with the occupation when he witnessed the killing of innocent civilians.
"One minute you’re passing out candy to a little kid, 10 minutes later you’re opening fire on a vehicle with women and children", said Mr. Massey.
Unable to reconcile this with his ideals for America, he went to superior officers with his concerns and was sent stateside. As part of his healing process he has been speaking about his experience in Iraq to individuals and groups across the U.S.
Dr. Edward Tick, a psychotherapist practicing in Albany, NY for over 30 years, specializes in work with survivors of severe trauma and violence, particularly combat war veterans. He is a nationally recognized expert on the psychological, spiritual, historical, and cultural aspects of war. An ordained interfaith minister, Dr. Tick has also served as consultant to numerous community, church, and veterans organizations on the treatment of veterans and the training of staff for such work. He has authored a number of books, his most recent being "War and the Soul", published by Quest books.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jim Fulmer at 518-583-7501, or Elliott Adams at 284-2048

Massey, members may remember, was attacked by ulitmate embed Ronnie Harris on Democracy Now! "You're wrong, your story doesn't check out," (even though Ronnie doesn't read French and critiqued a book available only in French) cried the reporter who cried chemical weapons in Iraq. So Tom asks that we get the word out. If you're in the area, check it out. If you are in the area or aren't, get the word out.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

The war drags on. It's indymedia roundup and I'm dragging, sorry. Last Thursday, the number of US American fatalities stood at 2369. Right now? 2378. What will it take to end the (illegal) war? More speaking out. More getting the word out. More action. And more holding war hawks accountable.

War hawks like the one Sarah notes, "Senator Feinstein Joins Call For Rumsfeld To Resign" (The Santa Barbara Independent).

Feinstein, a moderate Democrat, is often mentioned by name when antiwar progressives talk about the failure of Democrats to distinguish themselves from Republicans. Feinstein said that long ago she decided to "govern from the center," choosing the best from both progressive and conservative agendas. On Tuesday, though, she seemed to play up her leftward leanings, warming up the crowd by citing her more recent environmental accomplishments, including a recent expansion of Gaviota State Park, through the acquisition of coastal and river habitats in Ventura County. She pledged to resist attempts to open the ocean floor to more oil drilling.

Environment? Concerned for the enviornment? And what does she think depelted uranium does to the environment? Or has she removed herself so far from the suffering in Iraq that she assumes it's on another planet? She'll keep distancing herself from the war (one she advocated for then and still is consumed with the war lust) until she realizes that even the Mighty Feinstein
is answerable to the voters. When she realizes that her "win" is far from guaranteed, she might have to start recognizing the opinion in her own state. She needs to grasp that the protestors staking out her various offices aren't a fringe mood, it's the mood of the state. Between the war and her hideous performance at the confirmation hearings (especially Alito), her re-election isn't the sure thing she's hoping for. If voters can get that message across, she may have to start being responsive to their cries for ending the war. But maybe she has a higher calling?

From Joshua Frank's "The Mansion the War Bought" (CounterPunch):

Senator Feinstein, who sits on the Appropriations Committee as well as the Select Committee on Intelligence, is reaping the benefits of her husband's investments. The Democratic royal family recently purchased a 16.5 million dollar mansion in the flush Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. It's a disgusting display of war profiteering and the leading Democrat, just like Cheney, should be called out for her offense.

But there's money to be made in Iraq, if they can get the people "pacified." Which would be scared and it's the whole "carrot and stick" approach that the administration has pushed. The administration hopes the current chaos (that they created) makes the people run for a strong man and forget about everything but "security." The steps are in place. All they need is for the Iraqi legislative body to ratify the contracts that will allow corporations free rein. In the meantime, the money agencies get a little itchy. Amanda notes Basav Sen and Hope Chu's "Operation Corporate Freedom: The IMF and World Bank in Iraq"
(Left Turn):

Not content with the extent to which Iraq's economy has already been restructured on neoliberal lines by the U.S., the IMF and World Bank have more designs for the Iraqi economy, and are using debt cancellation as leverage to compel Iraq to comply with their conditions. In addition, they have begun normalizing their relations with Iraq, thereby strengthening their hand in the country. The IMF made its first-ever loan to Iraq in September 2004. In July 2005, the World Bank made its first loan to Iraq since 1973. This was followed by a $100 million World Bank loan for the education sector last November, and an IMF Standby Arrangement in December. The cancellation of Iraq's debt under the Paris Club plan, referred to earlier, is conditioned on Iraq entering into this Standby Arrangement, and implementing it to the satisfaction of the IMF.
Timing the IMF deal immediately after the elections is a move that appears designed to prevent Iraqis from having a say in the deal. If the deal had been signed before the elections, it would have been an election issue. "The timing of the decision spared politicians from voters' wrath," the Washington Post pointed out in a December 28 story.
The recent increase in domestic fuel prices was a requirement of the Standby Arrangement with the IMF, under which prices of petroleum products are to rise to the levels of corresponding products in other countries of the region by 2007. The price increases required by the IMF are staggering: the initial increases implemented in December on the eve of signing the Standby Arrangement were 400% for regular gasoline and kerosene (from 20 dinars to 100 dinars per liter, and from 5 dinars to 25 dinars per liter, respectively), and 800% for diesel (from 10 dinars to 90 dinars per liter), with further quarterly increases planned through September 2006. The IMF makes clear its intentions of keeping tabs on the price increases: "Progress in adjusting petroleum product prices will be assessed in the context of the programs' (quarterly) reviews," according to the language of the Standby Arrangement.
Fuel is an input to the retail price of most goods, since they need to be transported. Inevitably, the prices of most goods, including food, have risen sharply as a consequence of the increase in fuel prices.

How did so many fall for the Bully Boy's lies that led us into an illegal war? End Zone notes
Peter Eichenberger's "Our addiction to TV is killing us" (Raleigh-Durham Independent)

For example, Dumbya, greased by the fawning lapdogs of the media (you too, newspapers), had utter success flummoxing millions of Moo Cow Muricans into Iraq using the non-investigated murder hole of 9/11, later shucking any responsibility for negligence and/or manslaughter over Katrina. After the next prepositioned 9/11 goes down, Iran'll be a breeze to sell. Watch it happen. Mooo.
Remember how the Nazis used Massachusetts-born rocket inventor Robert Goddard's patents to rain death and terror on European civilians? In the mad scramble after the war, the U.S. intel community's Operation Paperclip brought Nazi war criminals/mass murderers to form the basis of the U.S. Apollo project. Similarly, the antidemocratic theories of Viennese-born Bernays were perfected by Joseph Goebbels and his Nazi mind-control freaks, and later adapted by the United States OSS/CIA to manufacture consent for illegal and immoral acts by way of outright seizure and control of the media.
Ve didn't loos, ve choost moofed.
So, my little television advocates, you are uninformed, willing subjects of mind-rape. Let the magic waves silence all those troubles, my children. Now, give us the money. Suckers.

The song the community picked for inclusion this week is Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier" which, I'm guessing, Belinda didn't vote for (hold on for the reason):

He's five feet two and he's six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He's all of 31 and he's only 17
He's been a soldier for a thousand years
He's a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain,
a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
and he knows he shouldn't kill and he knows he always will
kill you for me my friend and me for you

Why do I think Belinda didn't vote for it? She e-mailed to ask what the song used on Democracy Now! today ("it was a woman and something about a solider, I was driving and forgot the information as soon as I parked") was? There's the answer, Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier." Recorded by Donovan and by Sainte-Marie. Written by Sainte-Marie. Belinda liked the song and was hoping to get it this weekend. You're best bet, on a store walk-in, is a best of. If you're ordering it online, you can get it on The Best of the Vanguard Years, The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie and (debut album) It's My Way. The albums can be ordered here (Vanguard) or you can use the link just for information on her life and career.

By the way, that's not knocking Belinda. Members have introduced me to many wonderful songs. And Democracy Now! uses some great music.

Terrence writes, "More music!" (Kat did a review yesterday of Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun -- in case anyone missed that.) He notes Hannah Levin's "Pink vs. Karen O: What the Little Girls Understand" (Seattle Stranger) which has praise for one of his favorite artists (Pink):

Her full-frontal attack on George W. comes from a similar political standpoint as Green Day's antiwar opus American Idiot, but with a deceptively demure, acoustic backdrop that throws lines such as "What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?/And what kind of father would hate his own daughter if she were gay?" into stronger relief.
Moments like that abound, including the admonishment of a possessive lover, and a hilarious swipe at the pointless bravado of "pimp culture." However, the most arresting track is the first single, "Stupid Girls," an incisive, take-no-prisoners critique of female gender roles, beauty standards, and consumer culture. Lyrically, Pink alternates between cheeky laments ("Whatever happened to the dream of a girl president?/She's dancing in the video next to 50 Cent") and blatant barbs aimed at vapid girls who dumb themselves down to appeal to men ("Maybe if I act like that/That guy will call me back").
The video takes those assertions to literal levels, with Pink adopting the narcissistic, materialistic personas of Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Simpson, and other Hollywood pop tarts, satirizing what she sees as a plague of stupidity ("The disease is epidemic/I'm scared that there ain't a cure"), and urging other girls not to assimilate ("Outcasts and girls with ambition/That's what I wanna see!"). Marxist theory it ain't, but for an artist with such a huge audience of impressionable females, giving them imagery and inspiration of this caliber is both a potent endorsement of feminist values and an admirable creative jump for a huge pop star.

Liang found a speech she wanted to note a portion of and we'll close with it because it's something to think about (especially when, as Elaine noted, even some on the left want you to hop on the Force Wagon whose destination will probably be illegal occupation). From Grace Lee Boggs' "A Country that never was -- and yet must be" (The Boggs Center):

And, especially since 9/11, how are we to achieve reconciliation with the two-thirds of the world that increasingly resents our economic, military and cultural domination? Can we accept their anger as a challenge rather than a threat? Out of our new vulnerability can we recognize that our safety now depends on our loving and caring for the peoples of the world as we love and care for our own families? Or can we conceive of security only in terms of the Patriot Act and exercising our formidable military power?
When the chickens come home to roost for our invasion of Iraq, as they are already doing, where will we get the courage and the imagination to win by losing? What will help us recognize that we have brought on our defeat by our own arrogance, our own irresponsibility and our own unwillingness, as individuals and as a nation, to engage in seeking radical solutions to the growing inequality between the nations of the North and those of the South? Can we create a new paradigm of our selfhood and our nationhood? Or are we so locked into nationalism, racism and determinism that we will be driven to seek scapegoats for our frustrations and failures -- as the Germans did after World War I, thus aiding and abetting the onset of Hitler and the Holocaust?
We live at a very dangerous time because these questions are no longer abstractions. Our lives, the lives of our children and future generations, and even the survival of the planet depend on our willingness to transform ourselves into active planetary and global citizens who, as Martin Luther King Jr. put it, "develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual society."
The time is already very late and we have a long wayto go to meet these challenges.

The e-mail address for this site is By the way, Micah's item hasn't been forgotten. It will be it's own entry after this goes up.