Sunday, May 28, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

Bush chided previous American administrations, saying that decades of excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make America safer.

Lynda notes the above, "Bush: War on terror akin to Cold War" (Al Jazeera).

Lynda: How long do we all have to suffer because Bully Boy couldn't measure up to the 'old man?' The family pyscho-drama should have been stopped long ago. If he wants to slap down his father ("previous administrations"), let him get drunk again and toss out that "mano a mano"
b.s Just do it in the living room and don't make the rest of us watch or suffer.

True, but then he couldn't play war games and little boys with something to prove generally love their war games (and love insulting fellow guests by dismissing them as "the caller" -- yes, I heard it too). It's an insanity and it's historical. Thomas notes Chris Floyd's "Bleak House" (Moscow Times):

It's a familiar image: the U.S. president followed by an aide with the "football," the ever-present attache case that holds the codes for launching a nuclear attack. But for years, these supposedly supreme commanders-in-chief did not have the slightest idea which targets would actually be hit at their order. This occult knowledge was reserved for a small circle of Pentagon officers who called themselves the "guardians of the arsenal" and kept the true attack plans secret from the civilian leadership.
The first civilian to see the plans, during the Kennedy administration, was, ironically enough, Daniel Ellsberg -- the Pentagon consultant who later leaked the "Pentagon Papers," revealing the disastrous lies behind America's war in Vietnam. What Ellsberg found was moral insanity almost beyond imagining. The only plan proposed by the "guardians" was an all-out nuclear strike on every city in the Soviet Union, as well as on China and the Warsaw Pact nations, with a deliberately low-balled estimate of 400 million people killed immediately. There were "no intermediate steps, no flexibility and no warnings" incorporated in the plan, which could be triggered by a range of non-nuclear provocations, some posing no direct threat to the United States at all. What's more, the high priest of the nuclear cult, General Curtis LeMay, reserved the right to launch this genocidal fury on his own, as a first strike, if he suspected the Soviets were preparing to attack.
Civilian control of the military was thus exposed as an empty myth; the center of power in the U.S. government had shifted from the decisions of democratically elected leaders to the imperatives of procurement and militarist paranoia emanating from the five-sided fortress raised up in a Virginia wasteland known as Hell's Bottom.
This is just one of the many chilling stories recounted in James Carroll's important new book, "House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power." Carroll, an acclaimed novelist -- and son of a top Pentagon official -- provides a devastating inside history of the military state-within-a-state that usurped the Republic and now reigns unchallenged in Washington.
It is a grim and dispiriting tale indeed. For more than 60 years, the vast, institutional engines of the Pentagon have permeated and skewed U.S. society toward a harsh, fearful and fearsome militarism. In almost every case, the inhuman scale of this gargantuan war machine has infected those who sought to master it. Even the officers and officials who entered its service with the best intentions -- and Carroll provides many such instances -- were inexorably driven toward the worst instincts of our human nature by the blood-and-iron logic of a system based ultimately on violence, terror and the world-murdering power of nuclear weapons.

And little boys can include little girls as well. Mad Maddie, Hillary and Condi have certainly underscored that. But, as Phil Ochs pointed out, "It's always the old to lead us into war, always the young to fall" --"I Ain't Marching Anymore" written by Phil Ochs and on the album of the same name. Some aren't marching. Polly notes "At least 1,000 UK soldiers desert" (BBC):

More than 1,000 members of the British military have deserted since the start of the Iraq war, the BBC has learned.
Figures for those still missing are 86 from 2001, 118 from 2002, 134 from 2003, 229 from 2004, 377 from 2005, and 189 for this year so far.
The news comes as Parliament debates a law that will forbid military personnel from refusing to participate in the occupation of a foreign country.

On this topic and another one, James in Brighton notes Andy McSmith's "Sixty attacks a month on British forces as 1,000 soldiers go Awol" (Independent of London):

British forces in Iraq have been attacked by insurgents nearly 60 times a month since the start of the year. The new figure, covering the first four months of 2006, is a 26 per cent increase on 2005.
The sharp increase is expected to prompt more calls for the troops to be pulled out quickly rather than staying on in the hope that the violence can be controlled.
The revelation coincides with a report, denied by the Ministry of Defence, of a sharp increase in the number of British soldiers who have been absent without leave for more than a month and who may have deserted to escape the long running Iraq conflict. The BBC reported that more than 1,000 soldiers have gone awol for more than 30 days since Iraq was invaded in 2003, and that about 900 have not been found. In 2005, 377 went Awol and are still missing.

It's not getting 'prettier' -- and it won't.

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)

Last Sunday, the official count for the American military fatalities in Iraq stood at 2455. Currently? 2464. And May's not even over. Hard to believe that it was only March when the press was pushing, heavy pushing, the latest round of Operation Happy Talk -- turned corner and all of that, remember? There are no corners to turn but, if they want to use that hideous (and false analogy), Iraq is box. You turn the corner and find no exit (Bully Boy's made sure of that), just that you're facing squarely the results of the occupation.

More reality is that Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, has failed to meet another one of his predicitions. He set a date for himself to establish his cabinet and he didn't meet it. He just managed to meet the constitutional deadline (May 22) for the cabinet but did so only by leaving posts vacant. Last week, he announced that he would be fill the vacant posts this weekend. Unless Iraq's having a three day weekend, he's again failed another of his own predicitions -- there remains no heads for the interior, defense and homeland security ministries.

Mia notes Tia Steele's "A Gold Star Mother's Memorial Day Plea" (CounterPunch):

This Memorial Day let us remember all fallen troops by insisting that the United States no longer engage in wars of aggression. In this election year, the voters must make it abundantly clear to anyone running for office in the United States that candidates will not have their votes, funding or volunteer time if the politicians do not insist on a rapid withdrawal from Iraq and opposition to future wars of aggression.
Of the troops currently fighting in Iraq, a majority (72%) say that the U.S. should get out of Iraq within a year. A majority of the U.S. public agrees. Yet our elected officials - who are supposed to represent the people's views - continue to vote for funding the war in Iraq and fail to speak out against aggression against Iran. On this critical issue of war or no war there is a huge disconnect between the voters and the people elected to represent them and their views.
My stepson, Lance Corporal David Michael Branning, was killed on November 12, 2004 in the assault on Fallujah. He was KIA when he and his buddy were ordered to kick in the door of a private home in that city. I imagine that in the last minutes of their lives, these two young men must have known that there might be people in that dwelling - people who were defending their home. These defenders fired on David and his fellow Marine. David was shot in the throat and the bullet exited his head; he died virtually instantly. His friend bled to death within minutes. David was 21 years old and the other young man was 20. I don't want other families to suffer the loss and pain that my family, and others, are suffering. I don't want other young men and women to suffer the fate of David and other Marines and soldiers ­ too many lives have already been lost.
My mission since David's death is to do all that I can to stop the madness that is sending more innocents to their unnecessary deaths. After David was killed I quit my job to work fulltime in the peace movement. I have been privileged to work on the "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit, which includes a pair of combat boots representing each troop who has been killed, and civilian shoes representing the Iraqi casualties in this war. I do everything I can to honor David's life as well as his death, and contribute what I can to make sure that the U.S. does not continue to perpetuate an aggressive military strategy that puts more young people, and civilians in the countries we attack, at risk. The greatest monument to David and the nearly 2,500 U. S. troops who have been killed will be an anti-war movement that is well organized enough and powerful enough to end this war and prevent future unnecessary wars.

Pru gets the last highlight, an editorial from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Lessons learnt from an imperial history
During the Vietnam War, the US ruling class reacted to growing domestic opposition to the conflict by getting locally recruited forces to take over the bulk of the fighting, and thus the bulk of the casualties. The process was known as "Vietnamisation".
The British government copied that policy in Northern Ireland from the mid-1970s--they called it "Ulsterisation".
Today the US and British occupation forces are attempting to implement the same policy in Iraq. The new Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, surprised Tony Blair during his fleeting visit to Baghdad, saying the British handover to Iraqi forces could begin next month.
Blair refused to give a timetable, but his official spokesperson said, "Troop withdrawal comes after the process of 'Iraqisation'."
This is a cynical policy, which will lead to mounting Iraqi casualties. It also reflects the weakness of the occupiers.
In a statement which could have been made in Vietnam or Belfast, a marine captain said, "We're holding it down to a manageable level until Iraqi forces can take over the fight."
US forces are attacked when they venture out and their bases are hit when they don't. Most patrols consist of going out, coming under fire and then returning to base.
Blair has admitted that there is a serious situation in the south as well. British forces occupying the region are also largely confined to their bases because of the level of opposition.
As in previous occupations, faced with growing resistance, the US and Britain are quite prepared to stoke sectarian tensions in an attempt to regain control.
The occupation has created a hell in Iraq -- and the conflict threatens wider destabilisation. In the north, Turkish forces are inside the country attacking Kurdish fighters, and Iranian troops regularly shell Kurdish forces.
The occupying forces should quit now -- it would not be a moment too soon.
Trouble at the TUC
A sign of the Trade Union Congress's (TUC) commitment to fighting for our pension rights can perhaps be glimpsed in the state of its own staff pensions.
According to accounts just released, the TUC’s pension fund ended 2004 £2.4 million in the red, up from £148,000 a year earlier.
The TUC has pushed through a number of pension cuts for its own workers, including an end to early retirement.
They haven't got rid of the final salary scheme, but considering the mess they are making of defending workers' pensions against the government and the bosses, it probably won't be long.
Nuclear power
Profits before safety
Tony Blair announced last week that nuclear power was "back on the agenda with a vengeance"

-- pre-empting a government report due out in July.
His posturing comes the same week that it was revealed that there have been 57 incidents at existing nuclear power stations since Labour came to power in 1997. With plans to privatise chunks of the nuclear power industry, Blair is putting the needs of big business above safety.
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