Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Other Items

Rebecca's logging into her site and republishing. She's on the phone and if that's the problem, we'll know shortly. (And for any visitor who wonders why that opens this entry, you simply have no idea of Rebecca's popularity inside and outside the community.) Having addressed that, we'll now address Iraq.

Martha notes Ann Scott Tyson's "Pentagon Weighing Report On Anbar: Violence Negated Plan to Pull Troops" (Washington Post):

The Pentagon is taking "very seriously" a classified intelligence report concluding that the U.S. military has fought to a stalemate in Iraq's western Anbar province as political conditions also worsen in the "epicenter" of the country's Sunni insurgency, a senior defense official said yesterday.
In congressional testimony on security in Iraq, Pentagon officials also said the rise of "ethno-sectarian violence" has laid the conditions for civil war, aborting plans by U.S. commanders to begin withdrawing U.S. troops. Gaps in the capabilities of Iraqi security forces leave open the prospect that U.S. forces may have to stay in the country for as many as five or more years, they said.

Calling Anbar "a very hot zone on the battlefield," Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric S. Edelman said the secret report on the volatile, strategic province was gaining high-level attention at the Pentagon.
"It is an important report. We've taken it very seriously," Edelman told a panel of the House Government Reform Committee. "This is an operational assessment by one very good intel officer," he said, adding that "a lot of us are looking at it very closely" and are seeking a further assessment on Anbar from top U.S. commanders in Iraq.
The report, first outlined publicly in The Washington Post yesterday, said a shortage of U.S. and Iraqi troops in Anbar and the collapse of local governments have left a vacuum that has been exploited by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. It painted a bleak picture of security prospects in Anbar, a large province bordering Syria and Jordan that includes the troubled cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.

Martha asked that we please include the final paragraph she excerpted "because the Post deserves credit for breaking the story, more so after Gordo." (Agreed, read the previous entry.)
Liang beat Martha to another Post article (by twenty minutes) and notes Ellen Knickmeyer and Sudarsan Raghavan's "Top Aide to Sadr Outlines Vision of a U.S.-Free Iraq" (Washington Post):

In a shabby but spotless living room in the holy city of Najaf, a top deputy of Shiite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr quietly sketched out his vision of the Iraq to come, after the Americans withdraw.
First, "there will be a civil war," said the aide, Mustafa Yaqoubi, as his three young children wandered in and out of the room. The rising violence and rivalries under the American occupation make a shaking-out all but inevitable once foreign forces go, Yaqoubi said. "I expect it."

"No matter the number of people who would lose their lives, it is better than now," he added. "It would be better than the Americans staying."
When the tumult ends, the Sadr aide said, Iraq's Shiite majority will finally be able to claim its due, long resisted by the Americans -- freedom to usher in a Shiite religious government that Yaqoubi said would be moderate and perhaps comparable in some ways to Iran's. The bespectacled, bearded cleric's mild tone buffered his talk of the blood that would have to be spilled to achieve this goal. No matter when the Americans withdraw, "the first year of transition, it will be worse," Yaqoubi warned. "After that, it will gradually improve."

Moving to the Los Angels Times, but staying on the subject of militias, from Solomon Moore's "Iraqi Militias Seen as Spinning Out of Control:"

As U.S. and Iraqi officials seek a way to disarm Shiite militias involved in the sectarian violence driving Iraq toward civil war, the paramilitary forces are splintering into more extreme groups that militia leaders say they are powerless to control.U.S. officials had hoped that an ongoing military sweep in the capital would curtail the Sunni Arab insurgency and convince the Shiite Muslim militias -- armed partisan brigades that guard neighborhoods, mosques and political offices -- that they could leave security to the Iraqi government.
But a series of devastating paramilitary strikes against Shiite neighborhoods has eroded early gains attributed to the security sweep and severely undermined U.S. arguments for disarming militias.Recent violent clashes pitting Shiite paramilitary fighters against Iraqi and U.S. troops, and against rival Shiite forces, also have cast doubts on militia leaders' ability to rein in their fighters even if they choose to do so.U.S. forces have been drawn into confrontations with militiamen in recent weeks. Late last month, U.S. warplanes dropped a 500-pound bomb on militia members battling Iraqi troops in the southern city of Diwaniya, further complicating efforts to negotiate with the groups.

On actions in this country, Cindy notes Medea Benjamin's "Historic Latino Congreso Takes Strong Anti-War Stand" (Common Dreams):

Billed as the most comprehensive gathering of Latino leaders in the US in three decades, over 1,600 delegates and observers attended the Latino Congreso in Los Angeles from September 6-10. The Congreso grew out of the massive mobilizations of Latinos this spring for immigrant rights, and was a forum to discuss not only the status of immigration reform, but also a wide range of issues from how to best use Latino voting power to global warming to the economic empowerment of Latino communities. Mayor Antonio Villarraigosa and numerous Latino Congresspeople greeted the participants, who represented a diversity of labor, student, environmental, health and community development groups.
The convention was organized by some of the largest Latino advocacy groups in the nation, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the William C. Velasquez Institute and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
The war in Iraq was not high on the agenda. Of the dozens of workshops and plenaries, only one session was dedicated to the war--a panel that included Fernando Suarez del Solar, a man who lost his son Jesus in Iraq and has been speaking out against the war ever since. But the elected officials who addressed the crowd--Congresspeople, mayors, city council members--failed to mention the war, and when Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez spoke at a reception for Latina leaders, she advised Latinos to enroll in schools like West Point and the Naval Academy so they could get good jobs in the military.
When the delegates convened in a plenary session to discuss proposed resolutions, however, the first to come up was an anti-war resolution proposed by Rosalio Munoz, coordinator of a group called Latinos for Peace and a veteran of the Chicano Moratorium against the war in Vietnam. The resolution represented a radical position for a Congress sponsored mainly by organizations that have never taken a public stand on the war, in part because many of their members are military families and they don’t want to appear disrespectful to the soldiers.
Entitled "US Withdrawal from Iraq War", it condemned the aggressive recruitment of Latino youth into the military, the spending of billions on war instead of much-needed community services, and the post-9/11 racial profiling that has hurt all people of color. It called for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and a foreign policy focused on diplomacy and peaceful development.
"Polls show that 70% of Latinos oppose this disastrous war," said Munoz, "but few Latinos have been speaking out. It's time for that to change."
Amendments were proposed from the floor to make the resolution even stronger, like calling on elected Latino officials to take leadership in promoting legislation to bring the troops home. To the surprise of even Munoz, not one delegate spoke out against the resolution, and when the voice vote occurred, a lone "nay" was overwhelmed by a sea of emphatic "ayes."
Among those delighted with the vote was Fernando Suarez del Solar. "Ever since my son was killed in Iraq, I’ve been trying to organize the Latino community to come out against the war," said Suarez del Solar, "but many of our elected leaders and community organizations have been afraid to step forward for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. So the passage of this resolution represents an important milestone in our community."
Another indication of the strong anti-war sentiment at the Congreso came from the enthusiastic response to a petition being circulated by the women's peace group
CODEPINK called Give Peace a Vote. Part of a coalition effort of Voters for Peace designed to create a strong anti-war voting bloc, the petition asks people to pledge that they will only vote for candidates who support a speedy withdrawal from Iraq and no future wars of aggression.

Turning to news on Ehren Watada and Parents Of Soldiers Support Their Decisions Not To Return To Iraq" (Oregon Public Broadcasting):

Parents of two soldiers who've refused to return to Iraq, spoke out in Portland Monday.
Bob Watada is the father of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, who's stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Ehren Watada is charged with skipping his deployment, contempt and unbecoming conduct -- for refusing to fight in Iraq. Bob Watada: "I'm very proud of my son that he took the stand that he did. It's a very difficult stand to take. But he felt he had taken an oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

The report goes on to state that Suzanne Swift's mother, Sara Rich (not named in the piece), stated that her daughter has been charged with being AWOL. Rich has stated her daughter left the military (self-check out) due to sexual harrassment which was not dealt with by the chain of command. Her mother, and others, have spoken out and stated that Swift should receive an honorable discharge as a result of what she experienced and the military's failure to address it.
(Swift self-checked out after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq.) Swift's story is not uncommon and, in fact, Matthew Rothschild interviewed a woman who served in Iraq a few weeks back (The Progressive Radio Show) who spoke of how she began to see the behavior as normal because it was everywhere and it had to be pointed out to her that in no other work setting would it be tolerated. (West notes that Greg Palast is interviewed on this week's program and that peace activist Ken Butigan was interviewed last week by Matthew Rothschild.)

[Sidebar -- West notes that Matthew Rothschild's work covering Iraq on The Progressive Radio Show this summer was noted at The Third Estate Sunday Review, in "Hint, hint," Sunday but there was no link. I don't do links for them. Dallas hunts down the links, all the links pretty much, and that was a long session so he was tired as everyone else and probably just overlooked it. The only exception on links is that Ava and I usually do any links in our TV things, otherwise the entire burden falls on him. He does a great job and that may have been overlooked or it may have been a case of "It's got to go up now" coming down before he was done with links. There were visuals that were supposed to be in the edition but they did not dry -- paintings. There were the usual technical problems and Jim kept handing back Ava and my TV review saying, "No, include the jokes you two were making during the week." It was a very long session. Also not noted in the edition is a thanks to Rebecca who posted visuals that did get posted at her site so they could be used. And Wendy pointed out that I, to read the note, worked on nothing but the TV commentary -- I'm not listed except for that. That was also an oversight -- and one that doesn't need correcting. We were tired, it was long and we all just wanted it done. No disrespect was meant to Rothschild who has kept Iraq on his radar with the radio show, with his writing and with his speaking. Nor was any disrespect meant to Rebecca -- and she did more than post than to her site, she took the e-mailed visuals and enhanced them, adding a "pinch" to one and something else to another. If it's not already a permalink at The Third Estate Sunday Review, we'll add Rothschild's program to the permalinks this weekend. West is a huge fan of the show and Rothschild's work. Hope that clears that up.]

And Rebecca's site is now viewable again, just FYI.

Returning to Iraq, Tom notes Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily's "Fallujah Under Threat Yet Again" (IPS via Truthout):

Fallujah - After enduring two major assaults, Fallujah is under threat from U.S. forces again, residents say.
"They destroyed our city twice and they are threatening us a third time," 52-year-old Ahmed Dhahy told IPS in Fallujah, the Sunni-dominated city 50km west of Baghdad.
"They want us to do their job for them and turn in those who target them," he said.
Dhahy, who lost 32 relatives when his father's house was bombed by a U.S. aircraft during the April 2004 attack on the city, said the U.S. military had threatened it would destroy the city if resistance fighters were not handed over to them.
"Last week the Americans used loudspeakers on the backs of their tanks and Humvees to threaten us," Dhahy said. Residents said the U.S. forces warned of a "large military operation" if fighters were not handed over.
A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said he had no reports of such action.

The clueless US military spokespeople. As noted in Friday's snapshot:

This as Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'." Falluja. Again. As if November 2004 wasn't destructive enough. Hearts and minds, as Mark Wilkerson has noted, are not being won.

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