Thursday, September 21, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

BAGHDAD, Sep 20 (IPS) - Renewed raids at Iraqi homes by joint U.S.-Iraqi security forces are angering Iraqis -- while failing to improve the worsening security situation.
"Operation Forward Together should be called 'To Hell Together'," 53-year-old Hamid Fassal, an estate broker from the Dora region of Baghdad told IPS, referring to the major U.S.-Iraqi joint security campaign launched in June. "They should be ashamed of what's going on after four years of plans and such huge expenditure. The result is only more deaths and more agony for all Iraqis."
U.S. troops accompanied by Iraqi soldiers have conducted raids across much of the Sunni region of Iraq in search of death squads. Several Iraqis say they are surprised about the areas searched because they say U.S. forces know that the majority of death squads are located in the Shia areas.
"I do not understand what they are really looking for and whether they are doing it right," Salim al-Juboori of the Sherq Journal in Baghdad told IPS. "They searched Amiriya, Adhamiyah, Dora and other places in Baghdad where citizens are the victims of gangs who come from other places under government flags, and during curfew hours."
Residents of the Amiriya neighbourhood of Baghdad recently faced a week-long blockade after U..S. troops raided more than 6,000 houses. Residents had to face checkpoints and body searches.
"They detained many innocent people and robbed lightweight valuable materials from the houses they raided," a member of the Amiriya local council told IPS. "It seems they were searching for gold, cash and expensive mobile devices. They know very well where to search for criminals, so why destroy Amiriya?"

The above, noted by Eddie, is from Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily's "Home Raids Provoke Increased Unrest" (IPS via Iraq Dispatches). It's one 'crackdown' after another and there is no normal life in Iraq. And the digging of the moat (which the US' latest spin is that it harkens back to earlier times in Iraq -- as though reliving worse than the Saddam Hussein reign wasn't punishment enough -- Together . . . Backward) and reducing entry to the city to twenty-eight paths won't provide security and it won't result in anything resembling life for the people of Baghdad. But elections are coming up (in the United States) and something drastic must be done for another quick-fix.

Some American voters bought the nonsense of "democracy" when laughable elections were held in Iraq. Maybe a 'moat' will slow the dying briefly enough to swing those swing voters? Cosmetic fixes and the reality is that (see snapshot) Italy handed off their responsibilites today and there was no talk of "cut and run" no talk of terrorists 'embolden,' no talk of 'stay the course.' Instead it was hailed as progress by the US ambassador to Iraq and the commander of the US military in Iraq. Progress involves others leaving but the US staying. "Progress" in Iraq happy talked the usual suspects today.

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 American troop fatality stood at 2677. Tonight? 2694. (52 for the month, 3 British soldiers have died thus far in September and 1 "other.") 17 more since last Thursday. Some weeks, it's two or three or more, some weeks it's a double-digit number. Regardless of the quanity in the "count," the number always rises. As the US spends more time in the Iraq war than they did in WWII, people die. Iraqis and others. And the deaths may be just numbers to those lucky enough not to be personally effected and lacking in empathy (like Colin Powell) but the deaths are felt and so are the wounds. Colleen Jenkins and Jamal Thalji (St. Petersburg Times) explore life after the wounds for the family of Josh Cooley as his mother and brother prepare to go to court to strip his wife of power of attorney. Or there's Jake Kovco's family dealing not only with the April 21st Baghdad death but with a military inquiry that was a joke
and brought no answers despite lasting months. (The finding of the board should come sometime in October if not sooner. Suicide has been ruled out.)

Stories like those (and there are many) could be talked about but it's much better for the Rangels and Pelosis to line up behind the Bully Boy. Condi Rice says Hugo Chavez' comments on Bully Boy don't merit a response. Fortunately for her, some Dems need to prove . . . something. So Pelosi calls him a 'thug' (Chavez, not the Bully Boy) and Rangel makes you remember that if the Dems don't reclaim a House in November's elections, it's not all bad, Charlie Rangel will be gone.

The words of Hugo Chavez must be blasted, apparently, and the US administration's attempts to overthrow him ignored. The cowards are on parade in full flight and it's no surprise that we're still in Iraq. I believe it was the Times' own gossip in residence, Helene Cooper, who offered an "only in America" take on the UN speech -- only here could Chavez speak his mind and not be thrown in jail. Jail's not really necessary when the self-righteous rush forward to grandstand. Because, apparently, at heart they're all invaders.

Which might be a good time to remember the (Dem) party line that Dems were tricked into invading Iraq wasn't true then and it's not true today. Pelosi's statements today might be her most laughable were it not for her public appearance in California trying to justify the bases being built in Iraq as being not permanent because, golly, gee, goodness, nothing is really ever permanent, is it? Cowardice, I think that may be permanent.

And greed, like party hacks (of any political party), will always be with us as well.

But the reality is that people knew better before the illegal war began and they know better now. So maybe that's why the Rangels and Pelosis (and sadly the Harkins) rush to weigh in on the 'water cooler topic' which is also known as 'responding' as opposed to 'leading.' When Condi Rice does a better job of staying in action-mode than do Democratic "leaders," it's obvious why the party continues to struggle. They're all stricken with that sound-byte fever and in the meantime, America's thirsty for answers.

And tired of waiting for leadership to come from above (referring to Congress, not spiritually).
Fortunately, not everyone waits for opposition to the war to hit 100% before doing something or finding their voice. From Sue Anne Pressley Montes' "Antiwar Push Starts Near White House; 34 Arrested" (Washington Post):

"Today, here in front of the White House, we kick off a week of intensive antiwar action throughout the nation," said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, which she described as the country's largest antiwar coalition. "It is time to end the war in Iraq. It is time to bring all of the troops home."

It's direct, it's to the point, and demonstrates more courage than you'll find in either House of Congress most days.

I had to leave the house of conformity
In order to make art
I had to be more or less true
To learn to tell the two apart
And I had to leave the house of fear
Just about as soon as I could crawl
Ignore my face on the wanted posters
Stuck to the post office wall
-- "Shroud" written by Ani DiFranco, off her Reprieve album

A song that those rushing to be 'respectable' in the eyes of the Robert Novaks (he apparently sets the term -- e.g. he calls someone "nonpartisan" and, therefore, they are). Look for a lot of the usual useless types to weigh in on the very 'hot' topic of what Chavez said -- a topic that matters oh-so-little to most of our daily lives -- because it's so much easier than addressing something as serious as Iraq.

There were 13 paragraphs that followed. Jim was reading over my shoulder and begged that it be made its own entry. So that will go up at some point tomorrow. In addition, you'll have Ruth's Report and a review by Kat. I'll cover the Times in the morning and try to do an Iraq snapshot. (Today's was delayed due to multiple problems -- including Blogger/Blogspot going down. There's a longer snapshot that I dictated which was sent in and may hit the site at some point. If it does, we'll change the time stamp on it and put it ahead of the current snapshot for Thursday.) (And Bonnie, your e-mail isn't being ignored. The 13 paragraphs are a reply to your e-mail. It will go up tomorrow.)

We'll close with Pru's highlight, Matthew Cookson's "Military families will defy peace camp ban" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Families of British soldiers have told Socialist Worker they will set up a peace camp outside this week's Labour Party conference in Manchester, despite attempts to ban them by the city's council.
The council, which is controlled by Labour, claims the camp, organised by Military Families Against the War (MFAW), is unacceptable on "health and safety" grounds.
The families, relatives of soldiers who have died or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, were set to start building the camp in Manchester's Albert Square on Thursday of this week.
Council leader Sir Richard Leese claimed the authority had a "proud record" of supporting protest and opposed the war on Iraq.
Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon Gentle died in Iraq in 2004, told Socialist Worker, "It is really disgraceful. The council says Manchester is a 'city of peace', but it allows a warmonger like Tony Blair to go and speak there -- while trying to ban the peace camp of the families of soldiers.
"They don't want us to go and talk about our sons. We think that the Labour Party has got the council to do this.
"It is too embarrassing to Blair. He hides every time a British military family appears. But we are not backing down. We will set up our camp as we planned on Thursday afternoon.
"More families have been saying they are going to the camp now after the attempt to ban it. A family from Paris have phoned to say they are coming over to make their point.
"They have boys serving in the Nato force in Afghanistan.
"The people of Manchester are behind us. Our camp is major news in the city.
"A poll in the Manchester Evening News on Monday of this week showed that 79 percent of people supported our right to hold the camp.
"When Blair was in Israel he met the families of Israeli soldiers who had been kidnapped, but he has refused to meet us. It is one rule for some people, and another for other people.
"I hope Labour MPs come and stand with us and show their support."
Rose has been a thorn in the side of Blair for some time. But some of the families involved in the Manchester protest are new to the anti-war movement.
Wendy McCartney said, "I will be attending the peace camp because I have a son in Iraq. I am from a ­longstanding military family.
"I am proud of that connection, but not so sure about the government's decisions. We have a democratic right to question its decisions, which I feel we're being denied.
"I am concerned with the way that the troops are being used, and bereaved families are ignored."
Peter Brierley, who lost his son Shaun Brierley in Iraq in 2003, said, "I expected there to be objections to our camp, but the police are supporting the application.
"The council claim that there are health and safety problems over the lack of running water and toilets. But we have overcome these problems before.
"There have been MFAW camps in Trafalgar Square and outside Downing Street before. They have no legitimate reason to ban us.
"The only reason this is happening is that a Labour council is protecting Mr Blair. He is on the ropes and this is his last speech to a party conference. The Labour Party is closing ranks to protect Blair.
"We're supposed to be in Iraq and Afghanistan transmitting democracy, but our rights are being taken away here. We have a right to demonstrate and complain about the government.
"We are trying to push the point that the troops should come home. There are almost daily casualties in Afghanistan and the majority of the population have turned against them."
Lynda Holmes, whose son is in the army, said, "Blair will reap what he has sown. It is about time he got his comeuppance."
She added that the attempt to ban the families' protest had backfired. "So many people are hostile to the ban," she said.
For more information and to send a letter of protest to Manchester City Council go to
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