Sunday, July 16, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

The lead editorial for The New York Times on July 15 was entitled "Playing Hamas’s Game," and it told a whopper.
It exonerated Israel for any responsibility in the current crisis. Its only critical word toward Israel was to be prudent tactically.
"It is important to be clear about not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak, but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation," the Times intoned. "Both questions have the same answer: Hamas and Hezbollah."
And while it is certainly true that the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah were illegal acts of provocation, Israel's response was not designed to get the soldiers back safely. "That cannot be achieved by military means," as Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery has
(Avnery says "the real aim is to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet government," as well as to burnish the image of the Israeli military.)
The Times loudly condemned Hamas and Hezbollah--which deservedly earns more condemnation every day, most recently for the disgusting bombing of the Haifa train station on Sunday--but the Times only softly cautioned Israel.
"Israel needs to be careful that its far-reaching military responses, however legally and morally justifiable, do not end up advancing the political agenda that Hamas and Hezbollah hard-liners had in mind," the Times said.
Check out that clause once more: "however legally and morally justifiable."
Let's look at legally first.
Amnesty International, which knows a thing or two about the law, calls Israel's actions "a war crime."
It says Israel has been guilty of imposing collective punishment both in Gaza and in Lebanon by destroying civilian infrastructure.

The above is from Matthew Rothschild's "New York Times Tells a Whopper About Legality and Morality of Israel's Actions" (This Just In, The Progressive). We're starting off with that for a number of reasons. One, I just got off the phone with Rebecca who would be noting this if she wasn't on vacation. Yes, she's relaxing but she's also planning her wedding (Kayla wondered why I referred to her soon to be mother-in-law only as "Rebecca's former-mother-in-law" -- I didn't know Rebecca had posted that she was getting remarried). So that's one reason we're opening with the above. Another reason is Lloyd noted the highlight which he feels "could be stronger but if you read the responses Matt's getting on this, it's like people are going crazy."
Which does seem to be the case when you discuss the actions of the Israeli government. This country is conditioned to have a knee jerk reaction (I include myself in that). That's why I don't criticize someone for trying to cover that area. It's very difficult to cover it in this country. Forget groups who are going to scream anti-semitic, that's too be expected. But there have been too many decades of mainstream coverage (saturation coverage) that has too many convinced that to criticize a government (even a right-wing one) is to criticize a religion.

We don't discuss religion here. We don't hide behind it to make a point and we don't cloak ourselves in it to be liked. I'm sure visitors freak out, but I know members grasp that we're discussing a government and it's one that, taking a page from the Bully Boy handbook, thinks it can act in any way it wants. Do I endorse Rothschild's commentary above 100%? No. But I appreciate it as a way to start a dialogue.

If the people posting that Lloyd writes about actually are readers of The Progressive, that just indicates how we have all internalized the notion that to critique a government is to slam a religion. With regards to Iraq (other countries as well, but especially with regards to Iraq) the point has been made at this site repeatedly that a government is not a people. It's been said here many times that those of us in the United States would not want others to think we're in agreement with the Bully Boy.

Any government can be criticized and should be. Any government is answerable for its actions.
What we're seeing in the Middle East right now is the result of many things. For the United States, one of the things is the result of six years of Bully Boy 'leadership.' Were Bill Clinton (not to praise him as the greatest president the US has ever had) in the White House, there would be more than attempts at "pig jokes" coming from the White House. But these actions don't appear to concern Bully Boy. He's not worried about the deaths of civilians or the attacks on civilian structures -- why would he be now after not giving a damn for three years in Iraq?

The world community largely let him do what he wanted unchecked. Now you have other bullies who will follow his lead. For once, he really did clear the brush in a non-for show manner. He's paved the road for every Bully Boy who wants to march down it.

If my answer to a problem is to burn down a neighbor's house and I get away with it, everyone in the neighborhood is going to see that and suddenly it's not a crime, it's a response, one we can all use. The unipoloar theory (as a stabalizing force) was always problematic but those who supposedly were informed on international relations who pushed nonsense such as "the end of history" weren't looking at the world. They showed no evidence (for two decades) that they ever grasped that actions have reactions. They deluded themselves and deluded a lot of people (many of whom ended up serving in the current administration).

Domestically, the "unitary" theory isn't that different from the "unipolar" theory in that they're both divorced from reality. They both accept the premise that "one" controls everything and that no other players will ever question or respond. It's an ahistorical view and one that no one claiming to study international relations (or governmental ones) should ever make.

In many ways, they sold that nonsesne to get us where we are today. Now they want to back off their theories (if they're smarter than the idiots who didn't develop them but grabbed on to them) because they see a taste of reality.

What's going on right now in the Middle East outside of Iraq is influenced by the Bully Boy's actions in Iraq. (And, for all their screaming of how academia will not give them a voice, the truth is that many of the little elves spent the Clinton presidency in academia promoting their hogwash as academic inquiry.)

So the action and reaction is what Cedric was writing about on Friday and what Isaiah's comic is about today.

With cause and effect in mind, Tom notes Linda McQuaig's "Wildly Disproportionate Attack on Lebanon Seems Like Pretext to Confront Iran" (Toronto Star via Common Dreams):

As Israeli firepower rained down on Lebanon last week, pundits here in the West wasted no time pinning the blame on -- Iran.
"Iran and its radical allies are pushing toward war," wrote Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
Washington defence commentator Edward Luttwak weighed in: "Iran's leaders have apparently decided to reject the Western offer to peacefully settle the dispute over its weapons-grade uranium-enrichment program."
In fact, Iran's leaders haven't rejected the "Western offer;" they've said publicly they will respond to it by Aug. 22. This isn't fast enough however to satisfy Washington, which considers the "offer" more of an ultimatum.
Is it really Iran that is pushing for war? Think about it. Why would Iran want to provoke a war with Israel and the U.S. -- both heavily armed nuclear powers -- when it has no nuclear weapons itself?

Most members will remember that Dahr Jamail is enroute to Iraq. He landed in Damascas last week. In "This is a big disaster for the Lebanese" (Iraq Dispatches), he draws the comparisons:

Once again the U.S. government has refused to condemn the Israeli invasion of Lebanon as the bombs fall on Beirut, killing scores of civilians.
In a moment of levity while driving to the border, Abu Talat turned to me and said, "You know what I miss?" I replied, "What do you miss sir?" He smiled and said, "Iraqi chai!" He then turns to our driver and asked him if he'd ever had Iraqi chai, then went on to brag about how tasty it is. "It is the greatest of chais," he said proudly when looking back to me once again.
When we arrived at the Lebanese border this morning we found
thousands of people streaming across in cars with their luggage lashed on top, and many on foot pulling wheeled suitcases.
Little Bush, the ever obedient spokesman for Bush, announced that he thinks Syria should be punished for their role in supporting Hezbollah, so the mood in Damascas is one of anxious waiting to see what comes next. The how and when of the punishment is what is on our minds.
So the latest Israeli onslaught of Lebanon is in full swing, and with the Israelis need for the water of southern Lebanon, perhaps this occupation of Lebanon may last longer than the last one of 22 years. If indeed Syria gave the green light for Hezbollah to cross the UN line in southern Lebanon and launch their attack on Israeli soldiers where they detained two soldiers and killed another eight, they have effectively handed the Israeli war planners an excuse for all out war against Lebanon. In addition, the Hezbollah attack, if indeed supported by Syria, would give the U.S. the ability to give a green light to Israel to attack Syria. We wait, watch, and hope that the bombs don't begin to fall on Damascas.

Still on the blood drive for war but now focusing solely on Iraq, we'll note the following:

Her biggest regret as opinion leader was not questioning the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the war. While the editorial page has long opposed the invasion, due mostly to the lack of a U.N. authorization, it had supported the contention that WMD's existed early on.
"If I had to do it over again, I would have paid a lot more attention to the people on the board who had doubts," Collins said. "I thought there were weapons of mass destruction and most of the board members did. Frankly, we did not spend enough time debating the issue."
She said that led to early editorials that proclaimed the existence as a matter of fact rather than a questionable assertion.
"We should have argued among ourselves more," she stressed. "Given our readers some of a sense that there was an argument about it, we tended to take it for granted."

Collins is Gail and not Joan. It's from Joe Strupp's "Collins Reflects on Five Years As 'NYT' Editorial Page Chief" (Editor & Publisher). That's nice that Collins can admit she has some regrets but there is nothing in those comments that suggest she learned a damn thing. Arguing among themselves might have been nice, but the reality is there was no factual reason to accept that there were WMDs. That's reality. Again, great for Collins for being able to express regret (only after the country's turned against the war) but the reality is, she's at a newspaper. They're not supposed to present as fact anything that's not an established fact. She could argue that she's on the editorial side (which she is) and that there's a wall (which there is) but the problems at the paper result directly from everyone involved (in any form) who forgets that that they are in the news business. Collins can write any editorial she wants on any subject she wants. But as someone in the news business, it's her responsibility to base her opinion on fact. Accepting as fact a claim the government makes isn't being in the news business.

Did Gail Collins know there was WMD in Iraq? No. So she (and the board) should never have accepted it as fact. It was a claim. She could certainly support the claim if she chose to do so. But to accept it as fact, that's not the news business and that's at the heart of why the Times has so many of the problems they do today.

And the mainstream media's failure (as a whole) to do their job, is why the United States is still in Iraq.

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 American military fatality count was 2544. Tonight? 2548. And the violence continues since noted this morning. Among other incidents, Adel Kazzaz was kidnapped (oil ministry official) the AP is reporting. The AFP notes four hospital guards dead after a hospital in in Diyala was stormed to free "detainees." Reuters notes 21 dead in [CORRECTION] Tuz Khurmatu, north of Baghdad, when a cafe was bombed. In a later report, the AP notes the figure on that bombing has climbed to 26 people dead (at least 22 wounded).

The dying goes on, the violence goes on, the chaos goes on and Gail Collins may have regrets and may voice them (again, only after the popular opinion in the United States turns agains the war), but she's demonstrated nothing that indicates she's learned anything. Learning something would mean saying more than, "I should have listened to the dissenting voices on the board." Yeah, she should have. But as a news woman, the most important for her to grasp is that claims are not facts. There was nothing in her statements to indicate that she grasped that, that she's learned from the error.

As the opinion continues to harden against the illegal war in the United States, what's needed? Upping the ante, as Ann Wright noted last week. Wright is among the people participating in the Troops Home Fast. With more on last week's show of support from Congressional members, Micah notes Scott Galindez' "'Out of Iraq' Caucus Joins 'Troops Home Fast'" (Truth Out):

The "Troops Home Fast," which was launched on July 4th in Washington, DC, now includes over 3,700 people who have pledged to fast for at least one day in support of the long-term fasters.
Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, who fasted on Thursday, said she participated in the fast because whatever discomfort she felt "couldn't compare to the dangers being faced every day by our troops in Iraq or the horrific conditions being endured each and every day by the Iraqi people."
Congresswoman Maxine Waters compared the fasters to Gandhi, and Martin Luther King III called on the president "to provide relief to the heroic fasters and troops in Iraq by bringing the troops home now."
Congressman Dennis Kucinich encouraged the fasters to "continue organizing for a society where we will solve conflict with diplomacy and not war."
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney listed a few recent news headlines to illustrate that even the Supreme Court and the Pentagon are now admitting that the opponents of the president's policy in Iraq have been right all along.
But Congresswoman Barbara Lee warned, "Our efforts will be in vain if we're not vigilant ... Politically motivated, cosmetic troop draw-downs may begin as the November election approaches."

Upping the ante. On the other side, on the bully side, the ante's being upped throughout the Middle East. Pru gets the last highlight, "War veterans: 'He felt as if the army used him and dumped him'" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

David Bradley, 41, turned himself in to police last Sunday, 12 hours after killing his aunt and uncle Peter and Jospehine Purcell and their two sons. All four victims were killed at point blank range with an automatic pistol.
Bradley was a veteran of the first Iraq conflict 15 years ago during which he had seen six soldiers killed by US pilots in a "friendly fire" incident.
Victim Josephine Purcell's brother Joe, 51, said, "If this was caused by the stress of war then it is awful. Soldiers go through terrible things and they need to be looked after."
Larry Cammock, of the Gulf War Veterans Association, said Bradley first contacted him for help in 1996 - five years after returning from Iraq. He said the former soldier suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Cammock said, "He was struggling with life and was being plagued by very strong mood swings. He felt as if he had been used and abused by the armed services and then just dumped."
Referring to Bradley's time in Iraq, Cammock added, "He came across the bodies of a lot of Iraqis who had been killed during the bombing raids. He had also seen a number of his colleagues killed in 'friendly fire' incidents."
Hundreds of veterans from the first Iraq conflict have blamed Gulf War Syndrome for a range of crippling illnesses including mental health problems.
Shaun Rusling, of the Gulf Veterans Association, said, "We don't know how many end up in care or in prison, but seven are in prison for murder and 250 have committed suicide.
"The ministry of defence has deliberately played it down. I'm only surprised that it's not even more common - 30,000 lads went to the Gulf, now 10,000 are ill and 8,000 have applied for disablement pensions."
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

The e-mail address for this site is