Thursday, June 08, 2006

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

An Iraqi doctor who was in Haditha during a deadly U.S. raid last year says there are many more stories like that in Haditha that are yet untold. The Pentagon admitted last week that U.S. Marines killed 24 civilians -- including a 66-year-old woman and a four-year-old boy -- in the Western Iraqi town last November. Before that, the military had maintained the civilians were killed by a roadside bomb.
"There are many, many, many cases like Haditha that are still undercover and need to be highlighted in Iraq," Dr. Salam Ishmael, projects manager with the organisation Doctors for Iraq, and former chief of the junior doctors in Baghdad's Medical City Hospital told IPS.
In Haditha itself, he said, the U.S. military cut electricity and water to the entire city, attacked the hospital and burned the pharmacy.
"The hospital has been attacked three times. In November 2005 the hospital was occupied by the American and Iraqi Army for seven days, which is a severe breach of the Geneva Conventions," he said. "In one of these attacks, the U.S. soldiers used live ammunition inside the hospital. They handcuffed all the doctors and destroyed the entire contents of the medical storage. It ended with the killing of one of the patients in his bed."

The above is from Aaron Glantz and Alaa Hassan's "U.S. Military Hides Many More Hadithas" (IPS) and was noted by Anne. More Hadithas but you won't hear about them when people provide nonsense. (We'll get to that.) First, we'll stick with reality. Susan notes Marjorie Cohn's "Stop the Beat" (Truthout):

In an annual security conference on Saturday, Donald Rumsfeld assured the audience, "We don't intend to occupy [Iraq] for any period of time. Our troops would like to go home and they will go home."
Why, then, would the United States be building an enormous embassy in Baghdad and a base so large it eclipses Kosovo's Camp Bondsteel, which had been the largest foreign US military base built since Vietnam?
The new embassy, which occupies a space two-thirds the area of the national mall in Washington DC, comprises 21 buildings that will house over 8,000 government officials. It has a huge pool, gym, theater, beauty salon, school, and six apartment buildings.
The gargantuan military base, Camp Anaconda, occupies 15 square miles of Iraqi soil near Balad. The base is home to 20,000 soldiers and thousands of "contractors," or mercenaries. The aircraft runway at Anaconda is the second busiest in the world, behind only Chicago's O'Hare airport. And, depending on which report you read, between six and fourteen more US military bases are under construction in Iraq. It doesn't appear we'll be leaving anytime soon - or anytime, really.
Bush's trumped-up war on Iraq has claimed nearly 2,500 US military lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives. Thousands of US soldiers suffer in military hospitals, most with head injuries, many missing limbs. Thousands more have PTSD. Our economy is in shambles from the war and Bush's tax-cuts-for-the-rich. And America's moral standing in the world continues to plummet.
So, with all the construction activity in Iraq, and with an overextended military and an under funded budget, how could the Bush administration possibly consider expanding the fight and attacking Iran? Logic and reason say it couldn't happen and shouldn't happen. But this administration has rarely paid much heed to logic and reason.

So we've got doctors talking about the killings that they're seeing, we've got Bully Boy with a huge blood lust. That's reality. People who address reality take that in and ask, "Now what?"
A perfect example of this comes via Belinda's highlight, Helena Cobban's "It's Time to Get Serious About US Troop Withdrawal" (Christian Science Monitor via Common Dreams):

Iraq has become a Hobbesian nightmare of the "war of all against all." The Arabic-speaking reporter Nir Rosen, who has spent many months in Iraq since 2003, wrote in The Washington Post after a recent trip there, "Today, the Americans are just one more militia lost in the anarchy."
So what is the point of keeping the US and coalition troops in the country? Do we have any rational basis to expect that this deployment, or any differently configured occupation presence, can help make things better for Iraqis (and for the US) in the future?
Based on the records of other occupation armies over the past century and on the three-year record of this occupation in Iraq, I would say, "No." The cycles of violence unleashed in Iraq and the deep reserves of anti-Americanism that the occupation has helped create - both there, and also among many other Muslim and non-Muslim peoples around the world - mean there is now no possible way of reconfiguring this occupation presence to make it a force for good. Before things get any worse in Iraq (and let us remember that they could become spectacularly so), Washington needs to find a workable and rapid way to withdraw.
Yes, a pullout itself will have many political consequences, some of them negative, both within Iraq and more broadly in the region and the world. But the consequences of staying in can much more reliably be predicted to be entirely negative. The record of the past three years shows us that. Over those years, Iraq has seen the nationwide proliferation of powerful partisan militias, the breakdown of vital services in a morass of omnipresent corruption, and the strong rooting of Islamist terrorists in some provinces. Beyond Iraq, meanwhile, the conduct by the United States during the occupation has caused it to lose the friendship and respect of many of the world's peoples. Iran and other foes of Washington have become much stronger. And the entanglement in Iraq has prevented the US and its allies from paying due attention to the rebuilding of Afghanistan. Taliban fighting-groups are now reportedly operating once again there in worryingly large numbers.
With every month that the US military stays in Iraq, these effects will continue to multiply. And the chances of another Haditha, or some worse war crime, or conversely of some large-scale, anti-US action, like the 1983 bombing of the US Marines barracks in Beirut, will increase. No American wants this. That's why, around the country, increasing numbers of people are now calling for a speedy and total US withdrawal.

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 Thursday, the official American military fatality toll in Iraq was 2472. Right now? 2489. That's reality. We're eleven deaths away from 2,500. That's reality. Wally's "THIS JUST IN! AMERICANS STILL HATE BULLY BOY'S WAR OF CHOICE!" notes more reality: 59% of Americans disapprove of the war. All the defocusing on reality by parading photos of a dead man won't change reality.

But here's what hurts reality, people not doing their part. I'm looking at 39 e-mails about a radio program (all offended by the program) and an e-mail sent out by ___ that is just nonsense.

That hurts. More than any Bully Boy propaganda, when the left shoots itself in the foot, that hurts.

Let's do the radio program first. Today, the radio program decided to address Iraq. (It has before.) I was actually listening with friends and when we heard the host note that the topic was Iraq, we pumped up the radio's volume in excitement. And then . . . we listened.

I don't know what to say about that program. I could say "That was nonsense" but when I do that on the phone to friends, I end up stuck in a "That was nonsense" loop that repeats at least six times.

Here's what has members offended. Propaganda made it on the airwaves with no questions asked. Two people, an Iraqi and a prissy American. The American will henceforth be referred to as "Prissy." On the Iraqi, I'll note that frat boys come in all sizes, shapes and, yes, nationalities. "Oink, oink," cried the sexist pig from Iraq. But we'll call him "Spoiled Prince." Why? As every e-mail noted, you have to be pretty well off to leave your country as a war is gearing up and come to another country (the one that will be attacking your country) to get a college education. I would have called him "Frat Boy," but we'll go with "Spoiled Prince."

So "Spoiled Prince" couldn't stop expressing his offense that the Iraqi government is called a "puppet government." That's what it is Spoiled Prince. He trotted out the "eight million voted!" nonsense. I would've addressed it some time ago if I'd known we'd still be stuck with it. Eight million may have voted. The ballot box was stuffed, but let's say eight million voted. So what?

It means nothing. Spoiled Prince also noted he wasn't concerned with the past, just with the present and the future. And that from a supposed college graduate? Well, Spoiled Prince and the community can agree that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was an authoritarian regime. (No reason to invade illegally, but whatever.)

If Spoiled Prince (or any of the others pushing the eight million nonsense -- and pretty much everyone pushed it, right or left) was a little more concerned about history, he might wonder how impressive that number is? It's not.

You're dealing with a people who had to vote. Had to vote. Had to. In the "free election" (dubbed the "first free election"), a people trained to vote voted. Trained out of intimidation and fear. Now they're an occupied people -- you think the fear factor vanished?

The vote proved nothing. More importantly when even the mouthpiece of Washington, DC (John F. Burns) brags/boasts in the New York Times of how Americans acted 'forcefully' to manuever the new prime minister (and puppet of the ocupation), you've got a puppet government. He may not like it (or he may have just said those things because he doesn't think he'll be able to speak freely in Iraq -- as he noted -- which calls into question the whole "freedom" nonsense), but that's what you've got. It's a puppet in more ways but we'll get to that.

So Prissy (whom Naomi Klein wiped the floor with in 2004), pushing his neocon-lite group (like the neocons, he trafficked in exiles prior to the war), has nothing to say that he didn't have to say in 2004. He wasted time in 2004 (although Democracy Now! was smart enough to team him up with Naomi Klein as opposed to teaming him up with the 'bud' he's touring with). He's got nothing to say and he never will.

As Stan Goff noted in "A Trojan Jackass for the Anti-War Movement" (CounterPunch):

The same goes for Eric Gustafson who heads up the Education for Peace in Iraq Coalition (EPIC), another vet mired in the issue-policy swamp of liberal pluralism. From their own news release in which they piled onto the campaign of lies directed at the Fayetteville action: "Founded in 1998 by human rights advocates, EPIC promotes peace, human rights, and democracy for the people of Iraq. Since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq two years ago this week, EPIC has advocated U.S. and international assistance for Iraqi-led nation-building and opposed the withdrawal of UN-sanctioned forces until Iraq is able to provide for its own security."
EPIC's website claims is "was" against the war, but now... here's the uniform mantra among these fronts... WE cannot "abandon" Iraq. The caps are intentional, and the claim is mendacious. Their opposition was not to invading and occupying Iraq, but to the way in which the neocons went about it... that is, without a resolution from the UN Security Council.
'Give me a Security Council resolution, and I'll release my masculine energy on those wogs in a cloudburst of 500-pound bombs!'
The other speciality of this "tendency" is to red-bait. So I might as well take that away right here. I'm as red as a baboon's ass and proud of it.
I don't have to put on a red hat, though, to talk about this WE business... this WE must not "abandon Iraq." Even my movement allies in the hardly-seditious North Carolina Council of Churches -- who co-sponsored the Fayetteville action -- know that support of ANY continuation of ANY imperial military occupation is NOT antiwar. If you support a military occupation, then you are supporting a war. Two plus two. This is not complicated.

(FYI , the other asshole, the one who, a few weeks back, referred to another guest on a program as a "caller" -- ticking off many -- is also mentioned in the article.)

So Prissy shows up, never being against war, never being against regime change and he's got his traveling 'bud' with him -- Spoiled Prince. So Prissy & Prince waste an hour of time.

Janice writes that it was "pure propaganda." She feels "it should have been challenged and it wasn't," that "this wasn't about reality and that's why I've never heard so many callers from the right on another show" and that "It was embarrassing." Matt feels it was "shameful."

If others want their comments noted, they need to say so in their e-mails. I'm not naming the show. The host does a good job (better than good). I have no idea what that was. I'll assume an off day.

Twenty-three e-mails ask what I think happened? (Those e-mailers listen to the show regularly and know that today wasn't indicative of the host's usual shows.) I have no idea. Here's a guess. Spoiled Prince is from Iraq. Host was attempting to let Spoiled Prince speak. There's nothing wrong with that. Even with what he was saying. But there was no balance on the show and I think that's what was so irritating (or that's what I'm seeing in the e-mails).

We (friends and myself) actually had a different reaction. I think (we think) it was nonsense to have TWO MALES on a show telling how wonderful things would be and how they were headed there and we just needed to figure out what the United States owed Iraq. The US owes plenty but it needs to get the hell out of Iraq -- the occupation is the cancer.

But when you're discussing Iraq and your only guests are MALE, you need to explore what's happening to women. If Prissy and Spoiled Prince wanted to push their nonsense, they should have been held accountable. Women have lost rights in Iraq. The puppet government doesn't give them a voice, not even if they serve in it (as Terri Judd just pointed out in The Independent of London this morning). This is not a new development. This is reality and has been for some time. Women have lost rights, women are under attack, that's Iraq. So when some Happy Talker wants to start spinning, they need to be confronted on the issue of life for women in Iraq.

Possibly it doesn't matter to Prissy and Spoiled Prince. But it does matter and listeners can be outraged that it wasn't addressed (listening, we all were).

That was an hour of nonsense and it didn't help anyone. It didn't help Iraqis, it didn't help truth and it didn't help listeners (though three called in to rave and note things like they were proud of their country, they loved their Bully Boy and they were for the war -- quiz, which one of the callers pretending to be new to Prissy's group actually wasn't?). (The answer will be in tomorrow's gina & krista's round-robin. A friend's written a column on the caller and what kind of a liar pretends to just be a listener when there's quite a bit more going on.)

To say that women's rights are an indicator of how open a society is isn't saying anything groundbreaking at this late date. Robin Morgan and others have covered that, charted it, noted it. To discuss Iraq demands discussing the destruction of womens' rights and the threats and violence they live under.

That's not to say everyone in Iraq isn't living under violence. They are. But there is a special war on women being conducted. Ignoring it isn't reality.

Now let's deal with the e-mail. Four members noted it in e-mails. We'll practice that playground honor Dorothy Parker once noted and allow the person and the ____ to go unnamed. Here's the opening lines of the e-mail:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq, was killed when US warplanes dropped 225-kilogram bombs on his isolated safehouse, officials said Thursday morning. It's not hard to cheer the demise of a terrorist who killed civilians with bombings and beheadings.

This came from the left. (Again, many will recognize it.) It's hard to figure out what's the most disturbing thing about that sentence.

Is it an endorsement of vigilante 'justice'? If so, will we carry that endorsement over to this country? Suddenly a right to trial is unnecessary, just drop two five-hundred pound bombs.
And let's deal with that now.

Do you think if Silly (that's what we'll call the writer of the e-mail) lived on a street that the US government suspected contained a "safe house" for terrorists (or "terrorists), Silly would be happy to have their street bombed?

Is anyone going to talk about the casulities and the fatalities? One five-hundred bomb does damage. Two? Did anyone see the photos of the rubble? Did that look like justice, something we should pursue in Bully Boy's War OF Terror (to steal from Cedric)?

Children were there. At least one child died. I don't know why Silly's feels the need to cheer. This wasn't punishment, it wasn't punishment from a court, but it wasn't punishment in any form because for all the talk of "precision," civilians were wounded and they were killed. To read reports, people in the town don't believe Zarqawi was there. Which means he either wasn't or they didn't know. Neither option saved them from seeing their street reduced to rubble.

Bully Boy wants to draw false links between 9/11 and Iraq. Here's a real link, when we were so outraged by the 9/11 attacks, it was because innocent people died. When we turn around and we kill and maim innocent people, I don't see how that's anything that's "hard not to cheer." (For the record, the e-mail goes on to note an article about how the death won't bring peace. The e-mail doesn't note that there was not a damn thing peaceful about what was done when a street was bombed with two five-hundred bombs.)

That's nonsense. Silly you should be embarrassed for writing such nonsense. That Silly is a pretty strong voice for the left makes that nonsense even more offensive.

That's not helping end the war. Here's another thing that's not helping end the war: The Nation has yet to write anything (even on "The Notion" -- the real time blog) about Ehren Watada. Not even in "Sweet Victory" (we link to Katrina vanden Heuvel's posts but never to those, they're co-written by someone who's made rude remarks about Alexander Cockburn and I'm not in the mood to plug that person). So wouldn't Ehren Watada qualify for a Sweet Victory? Someone standing up to the illegal war, doesn't that qualify? No, it doesn't.

Now some might be saying, that story only broke on Wednesday. Fair enough. Maybe they haven't gotten around to writing about it yet. But the thing is, Katherine Jashinski made history being the first enlisted woman to refuse to go to war. That was in November and last month she was sentenced. The Nation hasn't written one word of her.

That's pretty sad. That's not attacking the magazine or declaring war (as one person suggested in an e-mail to The Third Estate Sunday Review). Yes, The Nation did mention a war resistor in a recent story. They didn't identify him as such. They never mentioned he'd refused to serve in Iraq the entire article. We saw a Cindy Sheehan article recently (which ticked off a number of members) and? That's about it. (Members weren't ticked off by Sheehan, just to be clear, they were bothered by the article itself.) Maybe in the fall we can read another article?

That's not coverage. I've stated before (several times) they need to hire a columnist to cover the peace movement. (And I've suggest Leslie Cagan. There are others they could hire but that's who comes to mind for me.) Katha Pollitt and Naomi Klein are on hiatus (finishing books). The magazine needs a replacement columnist. This is the perfect time to provide coverage of the peace movement.

If that's too difficult, too abstract or too esoteric, they could consider doing a feature that's a roundtable of various members of the peace movement. (That's a roundtable of the peace movement, not a roundtable of the movement calling for 'stay the course' until everyone's dead.)
But the peace movement's not going to grow any faster without coverage. Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and everyone at Democracy Now! do a wonderful job but it shouldn't be left to them. (They aren't the only ones. On radio, you can hear coverage. Laura Flanders is another example but there are many more actually covering the peace movement. And the show reflects Flanders' point of view. The program is now called RadioNation with Laura Flanders but the coverage was there when it was The Laura Flanders Show. It reflects Flanders' point of view. She has charted the peace movement since she was on Air America Radio and before that with Your Call.)

Noting this error is not a "war" on The Nation. It is noting that something's missing. And it needs to be there. We rightly point the finger (you guess which one) at the New York Times and others who do a poor job of covering the peace movement. Being on the left (and opposed to the illegal occupation and invasion) doesn't give the magazine a pass. Quite the contrary, it means that the magazine needs to do the heavy lifting because it does speak to so many and because it has taken a strong stand against the war.

The (false) criticism of the peace movement is that it doesn't exist. It's just a lot of people saying "I'm against the war" and then "Eh, what you going to do?" There are many stories in the peace movement and until those stories are told, the movement will have to continue to count solely on word of mouth.

Wednesday on KPFA's Evening News, it was noted that John McCain refused to support a floor discussion on the war. Why? He said, "There's enough debate going on." Oh really?

Which brings us to an issue that pop ups from time to time in e-mails. John McCain is a war hawk and people seem surprised that he won't turn against the Bully Boy or the war. People ask why "Straight Talk" won't walk the talk on Iraq?

It's not a mystery. John McCain supported the illegal war. Not just with his votes, but before the invasion. He was a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. That group was set up to push for the (illegal) war. (Bob Kerry was also a part of that group.)

He won't tell the truth about the war today because he can't. He wasn't just a voter in the Senate. He was a cheerleader for this war.

A magazine that always covers Iraq is CounterPunch. (Alexander Cockburn's magazine, by the way.) Mia notes Bill Christison's "Proving the Case: What Bush Wants is More War" (CounterPunch):

Is it unfair to label the current president "Pee Dubya?" No, it is not. Let's look at a little background. Back on March 16, 2006, the White House published a new document, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. This replaces or, more properly, supplements an earlier document with the same title that the White House put out in 2002.
Most people in the U.S. and elsewhere did not pay much attention to the new version of this document, because it is loaded with clichés and much of it reads like the propaganda put out by far too many current Bush administration spokesmen these days. It is not an inspired piece of writing. The first two pages contain a cover letter from George W. Bush to "My fellow Americans" that seems particularly propagandistic. In these two pages, the words "democracy" or "democratic" appear seven times; the words "freedom" or "free," eleven times.
But the document is nonetheless important. Perhaps the major difference between the 2006 and the 2002 version is the greater bluntness with which the new version proclaims that the U.S. is in a struggle that will last for many years and defines who our alleged principal enemy is. Several recent speeches of Bush had already presaged this bluntness, but the new White House document puts the same thoughts into the most prestigious and official foreign policy pronouncement that the present administration makes public.
In the very beginning of the paper, immediately following Bush's covering letter, the "ultimate goal" of the U.S. is described as "ending tyranny in our world." A cliché? Of course, but noteworthy for its arrogance. The paper then continues, "Achieving this goal is the work of generations. The United States is in the early years of a long struggle. . . . The 20th century witnessed the triumph of freedom over the threats of fascism and communism. Yet a new totalitarian ideology now threatens, an ideology grounded not in secular philosophy but in the perversion of a proud religion." Later in the document, this statement appears: "The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century." This comparison of 20th century threats with 21st century threats makes it quite clear that the Bush administration foresees new world wars in the 21st century that may be every bit as bad as the world wars of the 20th. And there are no statements that the U.S. will make any great efforts to avoid such wars. "Pee Dubya" just doesn't seem to care.
Nowhere in the 2002 version of The National Security Strategy were such comparisons of 20th century fascism and communism with 21st century "militant Islamic radicalism" made, although a formulation almost as blunt did appear in a very high-level U.S. publication (for the first time that this writer can recall) -- in the 9/11 Commission Report released in July 2004.
The 9/11 Commission, consisting of both Republicans and Democrats appointed by the leaders of both parties, issued a report that contained absolutely no dissents or even hints of disagreements. The commissioners unanimously concluded, in what was a key passage of the report, that "the enemy is not just 'terrorism,' some generic evil. . . . It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism. . . . Bin Ladin and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say: to them America is the font of all evil, the 'head of the snake,' and it must be converted or destroyed. . . . [This] is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate. With it there is no common ground -- not even respect for life -- on which to begin a dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated. . . . This process is likely to be measured in decades, not years." The only things missing from this diatribe were the comparisons with fascism and communism.
So, from 2002 to 2004 and then to 2006, there was a progression -- a gradually increasing willingness at top levels of the government to talk explicitly about Islamic extremism as the cause of all our troubles and to talk more openly and bluntly about a conflict lasting for "decades" or "generations." At lower levels around Washington, among mid-level neocon officials and media representatives of the neocons such as Charles Krauthammer, such bluntness has been in evidence for a considerably longer period. But by 2006 the bluntness was also an open part of the presidentially-approved dogma in the highest level U.S. documents.

But we're not done yet. Carl noted John Walsh's "MoveOn Rigs Its Own Vote; Betrays Its Membership" (CounterPunch):

On May 17, I received an email from signed by Ben Bradzel, Matt and Eli (Pariser) inviting me to a "trial" house party to begin creation of a "positive agenda" for 2006. The house party was the very next day, May 18. According to the email, the "positive agenda" to be created had to come "from the grass roots." While the email suggested that we could decide on anything that we liked ("The sky's the limit."), it named three possible elements in the "positive agenda": "universal health care" (not specified as single-payer), "clean energy," "publicly financed elections." (Remember these three.) Later in the email it was made clear that there should be 3 points to the new agenda."
It was striking to me that there was no mention of the war on Iraq or Iran in this email--striking but not surprising in light of MoveOn's long-standing failure to call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Moreover, at the end of the missive the reasons for developing the "positive agenda" was made clear. Not only were MoveOn members asking for it, but the MoveOn bosses considered it crucial to "getting people to the polls" and "winning in November" which meant that "Democrats" would "gain seats in November. There was no question about whether the Democrats deserved to win seats in November. This was a goal slipped into the "p.s." of the email to be taken as a given. We were also told in passing that the "conversation" at the house party would be "guided," which meant directed by a script which as we shall see also failed to mention the war.
The second email.
I was curious but unable to attend that "trial" house party, but the following week the real thing emerged. The next week on May 22 another email appeared, announcing a series of nationwide house parties on May 24. I decided to go. But I was disappointed that once again there was no mention of the war in the email. So I decided to call a staff contact that we were given. She was young, enthusiastic and dedicated but inexperienced. I asked her why there was no mention of the war. I pointed out that a clear and ever growing majority of voters were for that. And I informed her that Karl Rove essentially conceded that the war was Bush's Achilles heel. So if MoveOn wanted to defeat the Bushies, why not raise the war? Silence came over her. She then said, as if recalling something, that opposition to the war was "negative" and we had to have a "positive" agenda. I asked whether "Bring all the troops home now. Peace now." would amount to a "positive agenda." Silence. She did call the national office for me, but they had nothing to say in response.

MoveOn moved on after the November 2004 elections. They had no time for Danny Schechter (another person not afraid to cover Iraq or the peace movement), they had no time for the war. (And though he's probably far too busy, he's another person The Nation could consider as a columnist to cover the peace movement.) Why? Ask them. If it's an organization about party politics, that's fine but there have been many, many e-mails from members who feel they were tricked (because in the summer of 2004, it appeared -- largely from the short film contest -- that they were interested in the war).

There's a war going on but a lot of people want to play dumb. Iraqis, American troops and others don't have that luxury. (Others includes all reporters, embeds and the real ones.) Fortunately, Democracy Now! never plays dumb. Today's broadcast featured "Will Al-Zarqawi's Death Fuel the Insurgency or Diminish It?"

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk, I'm looking at a Washington Post piece from a while ago that talked about the Pentagon conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of Zarqawi. Some military intelligence officials, believing the campaign may have exaggerated his importance, helped the Bush administration make the link between the Iraq war and the September 11th attacks reportedly used to build sentiment against non-U.S. foreigners in Iraq. One military briefing was entitled: ‘Villainize Zarqawi, Leverage Xenophobia Response’. Another document lists, ‘U.S. home audience’ as a target audience for the campaign.
ROBERT FISK: Yeah, well, you see, this is a war, so you expect to go through this babyish-type nonsense. The fact is, that the Americans constantly said, you know, Zarqawi is the most evil, wicked, dangerous person in the history of the world, etc., in Iraq. And then they managed to produce the rough cuts of the famous video he made (or the infamous video) in which he couldn't fire an AK-47 and needed help to unlock the new ammunition clip. Thus making him to be a fool. So either he's a fool or he's an evil and brilliant carrier-out of mass murder. You know, I can't help but remember -- because I've been reading recently about the Algerian war -- the degree to which the French army kept announcing, between ’54 and ’62, that the killing or destruction or liquidation of FLN leaders meant that there was a severe blow to the terrorist campaign against the French in Algeria. And each time, the terrorist campaign, or the war of independence, or whatever you like to call it, just continued as it did before.
The fact of the matter is, that it is we, the public, who listen to all this nonsense, who are in a sense partly guilty of accepting and allowing people to turn these extremely unpleasant, vicious people into evil monsters of a kind that they don't actually deserve to be because they are beneath that level. But, you know, this is nature of war I'm sorry to say. You only have to watch, for example, CNN this morning (as I had the misfortune to have to do here in Montreal) and then to remember as your – as, you know, our colleague rightly says from Italy, that this was supposed to be the link between Osama Bin Laden and – you know, and Saddam, which is complete nonsense. But no one remembers that story now. No one says: But hang on a minute! But hold on a minute! The odd thing is that, you know, we journalists continue to fail to do our job by not challenging the line, the narrative, that our authority sets down. We comment upon it, but we don't challenge it. And that's the problem with the whole Iraq war. The fact of the matter is, if you listen to Bush and Blair and those tapes again as your listeners undoubted will on the hour, what they're saying is, this is a tremendous victory and everything will continue to be as bad as it was. That's what this is about unfortunately.
AMY GOODMAN: Loretta Napoleoni, if you could just give us a thumbnail sketch of how Zarqawi rose to power in Iraq, starting in Jordan.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, for a start, al-Zarqawi met Osama Bin Laden in 2000 in Kandahar, and it was a meeting in which he refused to join Al Qaeda because he could not share Osama Bin Laden's view of far-away enemy, i.e., the United States. He was very much focused on the existing Arab regimes, in particular Jordan. He managed to carve within the Taliban regime a very little niche --- a little camp in Herat, whereby, you know, he started to train future suicide bombers who would be active in Jordan [audio lost]. After the fall of the Taliban regime, he escaped in Iraqi Kurdistan, because he had some contacts there; and it was because of that, because of his presence there, that the Kurdish secret service alerted [audio lost] Al Qaeda man in Iraq had arrived. And, of course you know, that was false information. But the information was embraced by the United States because, in the moment in which they could not find proof of any weapons for mass destruction, the only chance they had to justify intervention in Iraq was to link Saddam Hussein with international terrorism, i.e. Al Qaeda.
So al-Zarqawi became that link, that fictitious link. And that was sufficient to transform a very small leader of an even smaller group of Jihadists into number two member of Al Qaeda in the world. That is really what made al-Zarqawi. From that moment, not only us in the West, but also people in the Muslim world believed that al-Zarqawi was the number two of Al Qaeda. So, people start flocking to join his insurgency. Money starts flowing towards that insurgency. So that was the beginning of the myth. And today we have not at all killed the myth. Unfortunately, because, you know, it's very easy to create these myths. It's very, very difficult to destroy them.

How do you drive home that we're at war? A number of people are trying. One that's doing it via art is the subject of the next highlight. Zach notes Bradley's "Counting Lives Lost, Making Tangible an Abstract Measure of Grief" (Santa Cruz IMC)" which features a photo of an art exhibit and a statement by the artist -- this is Bradley's intro:

While traveling through Watsonville on June 1st, I came across a grid of four inch figures representing "every person who has died in Iraq since we invaded." The exhibition is at Sierra Azul Nursery and Gardens and is part of the Pajaro Valley Arts Council exhibit, Sculpture IS, which is showing June 2nd through July 30th. Thirty-nine regional artists are showing over seventy pieces of work ranging from installation and performance art to a variety of sculptures that are kinetic, functional, traditional and collaborative. "Counting Lives Lost, Making Tangible an Abstract Measure of Grief" was installed by a volunteer group of artists over Memorial Day weekend. Two tons (four thousands pounds!) of clay were reportedly used so far to make the figures and I believe there are plans to continue adding new figures as more Americans and Iraqis continue to die in the Iraqi War. Only American and Iraqi deaths are being represented, but installation artist Kathleen Crocetti is well aware that people from other parts of the world are also dying in the Iraqi War.

And we'll start winding down by noting this upcoming action by CODEPINK:

On July 4, we will launch an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Please sign here to join us in DC or to support us in your hometown and encourage your friends to do the same.

Last highlight, also noted by Anne, Brian Conley and Isam Rashid's "Morgue Tells the Updated Story" (IPS):

Baghdad's central morgue received more than a thousand bodies each month this year, a doctor has revealed. The body count here gives a more accurate picture of the story in Baghdad than any official statistics. Before the war this morgue located at Bab al-Mu'atham near the city centre received only about 200 to 300 bodies a month, Dr Kais Hassan who has worked at the morgue said. There are only three storage rooms, and two doctors at the centre.
Today the morgue is overflowing. On some days more than 100 bodies are interred at the morgue. The capacity became stretched particularly during the term of Ibrahim al-Jaafari who took over as prime minister after the January 2005 elections but was finally persuaded to stand down earlier this year. The ministry of interior was then under Bayan Jabr..
Killing in Baghdad increased after the occupation, but it has flourished under the militia explosion and the creation of what Iraqis commonly refer to as death squads.
"Most of those brought dead here have been tortured by beating, electricity, acid, drills, and by other horrible ways," said an Iraqi who refused to give his name. "When any Iraqi is arrested by police now it means we will find his dead body in Baghdad's streets after some days. Because of all this killing, this morgue is not enough."
The smell of death is all around the morgue. That and the crowds of crying families searching for their dead are now a ubiquitous sight around the morgue. IPS was refused access to the morgue, and was told journalists are forbidden to report on the conditions inside.

The e-mail address for this site is and members should use either of the private addresses because we are way behind (and thanks to Martha and Shirley who've been helping the last two days) in the public account.