Thursday, November 30, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

In the summer of 2006, a group of young women who had just become aware of Abeer Hamza's story approached Not in Our Name. These women were so outraged and sickened by the story they had heard in the news media that they pledged to somehow remember Abeer on what would have been her 15th birthday. This effort grew into a collaboration with other groups and individuals that resulted in tri-city vigils remembering Abeer Hamza's life on Saturday August 19th, 2006. At that time, we demanded "No Amnesty" for those responsible for these acts. We demanded justice for Abeer and all Iraqis.
Today we are reminded again of Abeer and her family. Today we are reminded that Abeer will not reach her 16th birthday this coming August. That her life was taken in the most horrific of crimes. That her young body was burned by the perpetrators to cover the evidence of their misdeeds.
Today we must also be reminded that this heinous crime happened against the backdrop of an illegal war and a brutal occupation. We can claim a small victory because one of these men has been held accountable for his actions. Our demand for No Amnesty and Justice for Abeer has been met in this way. However, until the last U.S. troop leaves Iraq, we continue to demand that the U.S. get out now. Abeer Hamza's case is one of many. It is one that has broken through the media silence and has reached our living rooms. Alongside this case are hundreds more.
What is happening in Iraq is more than a "quagmire," it is a crime against the people of Iraq and it must be stopped.

The above, noted by Lynda, is from Max Diorio's "More than a 'quagmire,' the occupation war is a crime against the people of Iraq" (Not In Our Name). Lynda noticed the Jeff Paterson photo credit from Courage to Resist and thought to check Not In Our Name. She wanted it noted that while a pool of reporters can chase after the Bully Boy to Jordan, they weren't interested in chasing down the story of Abeer.

Lynda: I have lost respect for all media outlets. Abeer's story should be as well known as Phan Thi Kim Phuc's. That image forced Americans to face what was going on in Vietnam. This story? Nothing. On the 'left' media, I don't know if they're fools, cowards, idiots or just all talk but there's no excuse for the silence. I'm disgusted by all of them.

Lynda, did you coach a group of college students? (That's a joke, see Kat's entry tonight.) Phan Thi Kim Phuc, for younger members, was nine-years-old when her village, Trang Bang, was bombed by the South Vietnamese. Nick Ut was the AP photographer who took the infamous photo.

For more on Abeer, you can refer to "Justice for Abeer and her family?" and "Abeer" (both The Third Estate Sunday Review pieces). This should have been a big story. Maybe it will be? Maybe when Steven D. Green goes to trial, since he was discharged from the military, he'll be made the sole focus? Possibly so. But while there was time to gas bag about the elections (and apparently still is), there was time to cover James P. Barker's confession. Not a big surprise since, when Abeer's story was unfolding during the Article 32 hearing, no one was too interested. Well, Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall were interested in making sure that the defense argument was made . . . before the defense could even make it. Before anyone knew of it. Strange that Worth and Marshall knew what the argument would be, especially since it came as a surprise to at least one legal expert. Guess they're psychics.

Strange how their 'gifts' work. For instance, not a peep out of them during the reign of Paul L. Bremer. Iraq's still suffering from his reign. West notes Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily's "Business Becomes a Big Casualty" (IPS):

"Iraq got the foreign investment rules long sought by U.S. corporations," Antonia Juhasz, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, and author of 'The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time' told IPS earlier.
Juhasz said the new laws, which were a part of the 100 'Bremer Orders' instituted by former U.S. administrator Paul Bremer when he headed the Coalition Provisional Authority during the first year of the occupation, provided a flood of benefits for U.S. companies.
These included "100 percent repatriation of profits earned in Iraq by foreign companies; 100 percent foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, including banks; privatisation of Iraq's state owned enterprises; 100 percent immunity for U.S. contractors and soldiers from Iraq's laws; and 'national treatment' which allowed for Iraqis to be all but excluded from the reconstruction for years while the U.S. government paid 50 billion dollars to some 150 U.S. corporations for work in Iraq."
What followed was "a U.S. corporate invasion of Iraq," Juhasz said. "Many companies had their sights set on privatisation in Iraq, also made possible by Bremer, which helps explain their interest in 'major overhauls' rather than getting the systems up and running."
In contrast, there was much state support for businesses under the previous regime, which followed a socialist system under which the government allowed Iraqis to establish their own factories and workshops, and supported them in many ways.

Zach's already noted that Dahr was a guest on Flashpoints tonight and I'm listening to a broadcast of that right now. We'll work it into the snapshot tomorrow. But to the article West noted, it's important to remember there was a "plan." They say there wasn't. They say that's why Iraq suffers now. There was a plan. Naomi Klein documented what it was in "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine). That's where 'planning' went.

And when you grasp how much time was spent on that, you realize what a con the talk of 'liberation' and 'democracy' always were.

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 total number of US troop fatalities stood at 2871. Right now? 2887. That's 13 away from the 2900 mark. It's 67 for the month thus far and, no doubt, some will rush to print with "67 Dead for November" if they bother to leave the pack of sycophants surrounding Bully Boy (the fawning press) long enough to remember to check on Iraq. Of course, the US military has a habit of noting a death a day or two after the press plays the summary game.

So as 2006 enters it's final month and winds down, how's that 'cakewalk' feeling? March 2003, almost four years ago (no, I have no idea why some people are saying 'four and a half years' either, my math may not be strong but even I can count years). And we'll hit the 2900 mark. shortly. Some 'cakewalk,' huh?

And because Congress and many in the media, big and small (especially small?), can't address Iraq without hiding behind something (the flag, generals, you name it), that number will continue to climb and climb. And when the illegal war is finally over, watch for some of the media outlets who did nothing (I'm referring to small media here) to make claims they have not earned and to continue making those claims when the next illegal war comes along. People will scratch their heads then, as many do now, wondering what happened?

How come they were so brave then but they aren't now?

The truth, and be sure to pass this on because it's important, is that they weren't that brave in real time. They're brave only in a hazy afterglow. They can turn out election guides. They can write bad pieces on tired topics that have already fallen off the op-ed pages months ago, they just can't address the realities of war.

Today, one of the groups we spoke with, as Kat notes, was very angry about one print outlet. They had examples, oh, did they have examples. Valid ones. People are noticing, students are. While students are being slammed and hectored about their own activism (and they are active, despite the myth), they're noticing that would-be-leaders aren't.

To be tip-toeing, all this time later, is both silly and embarrassing. (And for one group of students, disgusting.) It's shameful, actually.

When the people are ahead of elected officials and the mainstream press, it's not surprising. Change comes from the people. But when supposed independents spend their time trying to avoid topics, it's just shameful. All the more so when the public has long ago turned against the war.

But not everyone's silent and let's be grateful for the few, the proud, the truly independent. Keesha notes Mickey Z.'s "Vietnam, Iraq, and the M Word" (Op-Ed News):

Jimmy Carter was the latest to use the M Word. The former president said he believes the "occupancy of Iraq and all the consequences of it are a big mistake." This echoes John Kerry's infamous 1971 question: "How do you ask a man to die for a mistake?" Hmm...perhaps recalling a few details about the Vietnam "mistake" might shine some light on the Iraq "blunder."
In 1954, Vice President Richard Nixon explained the need for U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia: "The Vietnamese lack the ability to conduct a war or govern themselves." Over the next two decades, the U.S. (by mistake?) dropped the equivalent of one 500-pound bomb for every person living in Vietnam. (Those bomber doors really needed better latches.) In 1966, David Lawrence, editor of U.S. News & World Report, wrote: "What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times." When challenged with stories of American atrocities in Vietnam, Lawrence corrected his little gaffe, "Primitive peoples with savagery in their hearts have to be helped to understand the true basis of a civilized existence." When at war with savages, you can rationalize dumping 400,000 tons of napalm on them.
What Americans (mistakenly) called the "Viet Cong" was really the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the NLF enjoyed the broad support of the Vietnamese people. In response, the U.S. Army began, as author Mark Zepezauer explains, "destroying villages, herding people into internment camps, weeding out the leaders and turning the countryside into a 'free-fire zone' (in other words, shoot anything that moves)."
Part of this terror campaign was Operation Phoenix, an assassination program put into action by the CIA (oops). "Between 1968 and 1972 hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians were rounded up and turned over to the Vietnamese police for questioning," says former CIA agent, Ralph McGehee. "Such interrogation has usually been marked by brutal torture." (Our bad.) Zepezauer adds: "Some were tossed from helicopters during interrogation." (Surely they slipped.)

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