Darrell Anderson returned to the United States yesterday and we'll get to that after noting the latest on Saturday's development: Baghdad placed under house arrest.
In the New York Times this morning, Michael Luo attempts to make some sense of the events in "Baghdad Quite as Curfew Bars Cars and Pedistrians." The US military is suddenly a Chatty Cathy. For reports that ran yesterday, "The U.S. military declined to comment on the curfew" (Reuters). Today? They appear to want to back off the claim that the man held on Friday for allegedly plotting bombings in the Green Zone did, in fact, do that. (When did John Ascroft move to the Green Zone?)
Lt. Col Barry Johnson, a United States military spokesman, said a number of other factors, including an increase in suicide bombings and the rash of violence since the start of Ramadan last week, had led military officials to ask the Iraqi government to impose the curfew.
Who knows what happened? Who knows what, if anything was planned?
On the same topic, Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "Baghdad Under Curfew After Upturn in Attacks" (Washington Post):
The day-long curfew in this city of 7 million people was the first to ban both pedestrian and vehicle traffic since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, underscoring the security concerns enveloping Baghdad. It was requested by U.S. military officials concerned about the surge in suicide bombings and other violence since the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began last weekend.
"There is no single reason," said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman. "What we found was that implementing curfews from time to time helps break up the cycle of violence. It seemed like a prudent measure at this time to recommend a curfew."
[. . .]
A few hours later, the U.S. military altered its statement to say that "this operation in no way implies [Dulaimi] was associated with any illegal activity; he was not the target in this operation."
US military flacks say a curfew was "prudent." Raghavan notes a resident of Baghdad, Firas Hatem, who states, "My life is destroyed because of the politicians and the government. What have we gained from the curfew? Did they destroy the militias? Have they provided us with gas or electricity, or food? The curfew has pushed prices up, and everything is expensive, and the cheapest thing is us, meaning the human being."
Now we'll note The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: The importance of supporting the war resistance" on Watada:
If we had questioned the Army and the war before, now the questioning became the focus for our anger and our outrage. The antiwar militans in the platoon became point men against the officers. In Army indoctrination classes, the officers would try to convince us that the war was right, and that we should fight. The militants would question the officers, asking, "Wasn't our intervention illegal under international law? Didn't the CIA set up the Saigon regime as a puppet government? What about the atrocities?" The officers acted like macho straight men in a bad comedy. A typical exchange went like this:
Militant: "Sir, why should we fight when this is an illegal and immoral war of capitalist imperialism?"
Lieutenant: "Because we're fighting for freedom and democracy against Communist aggression, and as an American fighting man, you ought to understand that."
Militant: "Sir, if we're fighting for freedom and democracy, then why, after the French left, did we support the Saigon regime in blocking internationally supervised free elections to reunite Viet Nam?"
Sergeant: "Shut up, troop! Don't talk to the lieutenant like that!"
Militan: "Sir, does this mean you can't answer my question?"
The more thing stay the same, the more you should scream, "Quagmire." The above is from Michael Wong's "Honor's Death" (p. 582 of Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, edited by Maxine Hong Kingston, published by Koa Books) where Wong explains how his attempts at c.o. status didn't work out and how he ended up self-checking out of the army and going to Canada during Vietnam. Yesterday, Darrell Anderson returned to the United States from Canada.
Anderson served one tour of duty in Iraq. He was injured by a roadside bomb and awarded the Purple Heart. Then, facing a second tour of duty, he elected to self-check out of the military and go to Canada in January of 2005. In Canada, he applied for sancutary but, unlike during the Vietnam era, the Canadian government has not chosen to legally welcome war resisters.
As we started this editorial, there was only one story we could locate (through searches and phone calls) on Darrell Anderson's return, Lynne Olver's "Army deserter back in U.S., faces uncertainty" published late Saturday by Reuters:
After nearly two years in Canada, U.S. Army deserter Darrell Anderson rode over the Peace Bridge into New York state on Saturday and headed for Kentucky where he will turn himself in to military authorities, he said.
"It feels good to be back in the United States," he said by cell phone in Ohio. "It's been a long time."
Jim Warren has been covering Darrell Anderson's story for the Lexington Herald-Leader and he reports that there were at least three cars crossing the Peace Bridge -- the first contained Darrell Anderson and his mother Anita Anderson, the second contained Gail Greer (Darrell Anderson's wife), Jim Fennerty (Anderson's lawyer) and a photographer for the Lexington Herald-Leader, while the third car contained a reporter for the paper. The Andersons showed identification and were waived on through, the next two cars had to go through a questioning and search process.
Fennerty tells Warren that nothing is in writing; however, he's been told by a major handling the AWOL cases "that the Army had decided not to court-martial Anderson, and plans to release him within three to five days. Fennerty said the officer told him that a discharge would be mailed to Anderson a few days after that." The military would not confirm that to the press and Anderson's lawyer says, "Hopefully, this will be honored when he gets there."
As planned, if not arrested crossing the border, Anderson will now travel to Fort Knox to turn himself in Tuesday. Is the military sincere in their statements to Fennerty?
If so, why this approach? Maybe because of publicity concerns in court-martialing a veteran awarded a Purple Heart? Maybe concerns over exactly how big this movement could be?
In June, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to serve in the illegal war. An Article 32 hearing completed with the recommendation of court-martialing Watada. (No decision has yet been announced as to whether or not there will be a court-martial or not. Bob Watada, Ehren's father, begins another speaking tour to raise awareness on his son's case Monday. Click here for his schedule in PDF form, click here for his schedule in HTML.) In August, Ricky Clousing announced at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle that he was turning himself in after self-checking out and that he would refuse to go to Iraq. (Clousing's lawyer has been advised the Clousing will be charged with desertion.) As August wound down, Mark Wilkerson held a news conference at Camp Casey III announcing that he too would be turning himself in and refusing to go to Iraq (after self-checking out of the military). September? You've got Darrell Anderson and you've also got Agustin Aguayo who turned himself in Tuesday after self-checking out September 2nd when the Army refused to grant him C.O. status.
As noted at his site, Aguayo has not only been informed that he's facing a hearing but that he will be transported to either Germany or Kuwait for that hearing and they are preventing any contact (phone or in person) between him and his wife or between him and his two daughters. In the meantime, his case in civilian courts (Writ of Habeas Corpus v. the Secretary of the Army) is scheduled for November 21st and "is the first such case brought before the District of Columbia Circuit since the Vietnam War era."
In addition, there is also Sir! No Sir!, ". . . in the summer of 68 as thousands of supporters protested the jailing of the Presido 27, the G.I. movement had arrived."
This is why it's important to talk about the war resisters. If they're seen as a lone individual with no support base, the military doesn't worry. They just don't sweat it. They do whatever they want and know they can because no one's watching, no civilian oversight of the military is taking place. But when a war resister has the country's attention, has support, it can make a difference in the way the military responds.
The Army may go back on their oral promise to Darrell Anderson's attorney. They may not. Whichever way they go doesn't excuse you from following his case or the case of anyone saying no to war. We need to hear the "no"s, we need to hear them from activists, we need to hear them from war resisters and we need to hear them from the people around us. Even when the media's not watching, the world needs to be and, for that, in the end it comes down to you. Are you willing to, at the very least, get the word out on opposition to the war?
Long before the press recognized it, the country turned against the war. Some calcified opinion makers (well, they fancy themselves as that), have recently written that country has turned against the war. If they checked the actually polling, they'd find that turning happened some time ago. (We called it the tripping point and made that call in the summer of 2005.) Those types ride their desks really well, they just don't get out among the people. The running of the beltway bulls never really effects (or reflects) the people but it does throw down the gauntlet to the politicians.
When they've lost the gasbags, they can either admit that they've lost period or they can go further into delusion (like Tricky Dick Nixon, Bully Boy may invent a non-existant 'silent majority' that supports him). The country's turned on the war and the truth is the would be opinion-makers probably grasp that. But they have to step lightly because being a Beltway Bull means forever running with the pack, never getting ahead of it. No one wants to be the first to challenge the conventional wisdom. You may not see the fences of el encierro, but trust us, they've been internalized and gas bags know the limits that have been placed upon them.
Which is why you didn't see any opinion pieces on Darrell Anderson in the mainstream outlets this month. Some columnists basically strung together several old columns, wrote a wrap around about Bob Woodward's new book and their papers printed that. The lesson here is that if you want a story to be known, you have to work to get it known. Not by contacting the media that will probably Continue to Resist covering war resisters. (Continue to Resist should be set up as a group in support of the delusioned.) You get the story out by talking it up in your own circles, by making it an issue your circle knows about and cares about. The circle expands and expands. That's how the word gets out these days. This week, you need to continue to get the word out on war resistance. Bare minimum, you need to find five people to talk to (face to face, over the phone, i.m.) or write to (e-mail or letter) to get the word out. And doing it one day alone won't mean a thing. A one-day news cycle carries little weight.
Think about a CD you bought or downloaded this year or a film you saw -- one that you really loved. Did you get the word on that from the media? Very unlikely. You heard about it from the people around you. Just as you can (and should) get the word out on Michael Franti & Spearhead's Yell Fire!, you can get the word out on the war resisters of this summer. Be the media. Don't wait for them to do their job (you're waiting in vain). For more information on war resisters, check out Courage to Resist.
In addition the above, the following new content is available there as weLL:
TV: White Man Talking (and talking and talking . . .)
The lost chapter to State of Denial
Somebody tip Gramps' rocker already
They trashed paradise, put in a torture czar
Baghdad Placed Under House Arrest
Condi Flips the Bird at America
Separated At The Turnip Truck
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