Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, November 28, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy plays petulant and ignorant (well . . . maybe he's not playing), freedom of speech takes another blow in Iraq, the US Air Force asks for more money, Tony Blair takes a leak in public, and who gave what orders?
Starting with children's games, the US administration remains in denial about the civil war raging in Iraq.  Peter Walker (Guardian of London) reports Bully Boy says Iraq is not in a civil war.  It's not, it's not, it's not, and if you don't stop saying it is, he's going to run to Big Babs and you'll be sorry.  Bully Boy pins the blame on al Qaeda.  He's 'assisted' by the likes of Michael R. Gordon and Dexy-Dexy "Pads a Million" Filkins (New York Times) who take dictation very well in this morning's paper as they single-source the 'news' with an anonymous source who just happens to pin the blame on "the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah."  Congratulations to Gordo and Dexy for proving that the male secretary is far from a thing of the past.
While the stenogs provide cover for the Bully Boy, Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) reports: "Iraq is rending itself apart.  The signs of collapse are everywhere.  In Baghdad the police often pick up over 100 tortured and mutiliated bodies in a single day.  Government ministries make war on each other.  A new and ominoous stage in the disingration of the Iraqi state came earlier this month when police commandos from the Shia-controlled Interior Ministry kidnapped 150 people from the Sunni-run Higher Education Ministry in the hear of Baghdad.  Iraq may be getting close to what Americans call 'the Saigon moment, the time when it becomes evident to all that the government is expiring."  All but the stenogs.
Sunday's stoning of and jeeering and shouting at the puppet of the occupation in the Sadr City section of Baghdad demonstrates the risks of reality intruding when Nouri al-Maliki leaves the heavily fortified Green Zone.  And outside of Baghdad, Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) report, things are as bad if not  worse.  Linzer and Ricks report on a Marine Corps intelligence report, "State of Insurgency in Al-Anbar," which finds that Al-Anbar Province is beyond US control, that it's become "a failed province" and that the Sunnis in the region are fleeing. 
On the subject of fleeing, The Arizona Daily Star reports that the lifting of the cufew in Baghdad on Monday resulted in "[h]undreds of Iraqi families . . . [making] a beeline for the airport, where they handed over their savings for one-way tickets to anyplace safe.  Others ran for the border, with suitcases strapped to cars bound for Syria and Jordan.  Families that stayed stocked up on food, kept their children home from school and waited for another round of sectarian bloodshed."  IRIN reports that Human Rights Watch is calling "on Jordan to provide a Temporary Protection Regime (TPR) for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in its territory."
In the face of reality, Bully Boy turns a blind eye.  CBS and AP quote him stating, "There's one thing I'm not going to do, I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete."  Ask him what the mission is and prepare for vague statements with no concrete markers.  As Bully Boy gets pouty, Tony Blair takes a leak on Des Browne and the British public.  Yesterday, England's Defense Secretary Des Browne stated, "I can tell you that by the end of next year I expect numbers of British forces in Iraq to be significantly lower -- by a matter of thousands”.  Reuters reports today that Blair has declared, "We will remain there (in Iraq) in significant numbers even if there is . . . an adjustment to our role, there will still be a requirement."  The promised handover of Basra will apparently change nothing.  Meanwhile, AFP reports that South Korea has decided "to extend the mission for another year" in Iraq but will be cutting it's troops from 2,3000 "to around 1,200".
[Added: Andy Sullivan (Reuters) reports Bill Keller has issued a statement stating that the New York Times will call Iraq what it is, a civil war.  Keller is quoted: "It's hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war."  The article notes LA Times has been doing so since October and that McClatchy Newspapers, The Christian Science Monitor, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Sacremento Bee have called it a civil war.  Yesterday, NBC became the first network to officially call it what it was.]
Meanwhile, in Australia, Peter Tinley, former Australian soldier who served in Iraq and declared the illegal war "morally bankrupt," tells ABC's Lateline that Australian forces are maxed out: "I'm not talking about the number of troops on the ground . . . I'm talking about the span of command, the span by which the Defence Force can operate and manage the number of operations."
Can Baghdad be 'managed'?  Ned Parker and Ali Hamdani (Times of London) report that
"In the war for Baghdad, mosques serve as garrisons.  Sunnis use religious sanctuaries as strongholds to fight for mixed neighbourhoods.  Shia extremists covert their mosques and prayer rooms, called husseiniyas, into execution chambers.  As Iraq falls apart, people like [Hassan] Mahmoud are now terrified by Baghdad's places of worship, which they regard as potential gulags and gallows in the Sunni-Shiar war."
But the problem?  The media.  Apparently.  As Sandra Lupien reported onn yesterday's The KPFA Evening News, "Iraq's parliament speaker implemented new rules banning reporters from the legislative building and imposed a thirty minute delay on broadcast of sessions This in an apparent bid to hide from the public what are increasingly bitter debates between Shi'ite and Sunni lawmakers."  "Freedom" still doesn't include a free press in Iraq.
The BBC reports the deaths of at least four in Baghdad with at least seven wounded as a results of car bombs outside Yarmouk hospital. Reuters raises the wounded from those bombings to 40 and notes a home in Tal Afar which had been "booby-trapped with explosives" and left two police officers wounded while another two police officers were wounded in Mosul from a roadside bomb.  Peter Walker (Guardian of London) reports that Kirkuk was the site of an assassination attempt on the governor of the province -- "The attacker, wearing a hidden explosives belt, tried to get inside the governor's car, but when he found the door locked he detonated his explosives, killing one civilian and wounding 17 other people, police said."  AP notes three dead from a roadside bomb in Baladrooz (four more were reported wounded).  And Reuters reports mortars injured 23 people in Baghdad.
AFP notes the shooting deaths of five in Mahmudiyah and seven people shot dead in Baquba.
Reuters reports thirty-six corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
The US military announced today, "One Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Nov. 27 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."  The announcement comes as Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reports on "a new study by the Caresey Institute" which finds that "[t]he mortality rate for soldiers from rural America is about 60 percent higher than the mortality rate for soliders from metropolitan areas."  Glantz notes that the study finds that those "from rural Vermont have the highest death rate in the nation followed by Delaware, South Dakota, and Arizona."
Andrea Shalal-Esa (Reuters) reports that the United States Air Force says it needs "$33.4 billion in extra funding for fiscal 2007 to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and costs related to the 'longer war on terror'." 
Current cost of the illegal war, via counter on Tom Hayden's website, $346,000,000,000. 
And all the money going to support the illegal war couldn't be used in a better way, right?
New Orleans?
Kyle Snyder: There are over 20 engineering units, there's more than 20 engineering units in the U.S. military.  I was part of an engineering unit.  And to see places that look worse than Iraq in my own country makes me sick, it makes me disgusted, that they're not doing any rebuilding effort for the poor, for the African-American community.  It's like they just left it there.  They're not even cleaning it up.  It's a disaster area.  It's, logistically, it's the most horrible thing I've seen because we have engineering units in Iraq when they should be here. . . .  This should be first priority. . . .  Start pulling troops from Iraq and rebuilding in New Orleans.
US war resister Kyle Snyder spent Thanksgiving week by joining with Iraq Veterans Against the War, Col. Ann Wright, war resister Darrell Anderson and others to protest the School of Americas in Georgia and then going to New Orleans with Iraq Veterans Against the War to work on the rebuilding.  Video clips are available at Soldier Say No! and the one quoted from is also available at Google Video.  Snyder self-checked out of the US military in April of 2005, moved to Canada and then returned to the US and turned himself in at Fort Knox on October 31st, only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again.  Snyder is now underground and on the road.
Also traveling is CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin who was recently in South Korea and spoke with Christopher Brown (OhmyNews International): ". . . the job of the peace movement is going to be not [to] put down its guard, to really be forcing the Congress to carry out what is a mandate for radical change, and the radical change is to bring the troops home, to stop allocating money for this war and to have no permanent bases in Iraq.  And I think the issue of more money for the war will come up very soon in January when the new Congress reconvenes because they are going to be asked for over a hundred billion dollars more for this war."
Benjamin and others were in South Korea to support the people objecting to US base being expanded and asking that South Korea's troops be brought home from Iraq.  Other activists on the trip included Cindy Sheehan who was interviewed about it by Jennifer Veale (Time magazine). In her latest column (BuzzFlash), Sheehan considers the proposal of returning to the draft and is "100% categorically opposed to forced conscription" and outlines her reasons which include that the draft didn't stop earlier wars, the "draft will never be fair and balanced," and that "a draft will only give the war maching more of our children to consume to generate its wealth."
The peace movement includes Cindy Sheehan (who sparked it back to life), Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright, Diane Wilson, Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Camilo Mejia, Alice Walker, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Parades, Missy Comley-Beattie, Agustin Aguayo, Stephen Funk, Carl Webb, Stan Goff, David Swanson (who examines war resistance here), . . . and many more (hopefully including you).
Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Tom Hayden notes that "the anti-war movement has been a major factor in mobilizing a majority of the American public to oppose the occupation and killing in Iraq" and, noting the failure of media to cover the movement: "the only recourse is to prepare widespread demonstrations and ground organizing in the key presidential primary states, to make it impossible for any candidate to become president in 2008 without pledging to end the war and occupation. If there is no peace movement, there will be no peace."
What would there be instead?  More abuses, probably done more openly. On Saturday, Reuters reported Janis Karpinski's statement about the letter "signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation."  (Karpinski wrote about that in her book, spoke about it with Amy Goodman and Dennis Bernstein.)  We can pair that with The Socialist Worker's report on British major Antony Royce's statements in the court-martial for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners where he testified that he was instructed "by Major Mark Robinson, a brigade intelligence adviser, to 'condition' prisoners.  Royce said that he then checked with Major Russel Clifton, the brigade's legal adviser, and was again told that 'conditioning' and hooding were acceptable."
[Pru highlighted the article on Royce.]
Lastly, the Pacifica's Archives is  presenting a two-day special: Pacifica Radio Archives Presents Voices For Peace And Non-Violence.  It is airing on all Pacifica stations (KPFA, KFCF, KPFT, WBAI, KPFK, WPFW), many affiliates and online.  The special started today and pulls from the fifty plus years of archives.  (Donations made during this two day period go to preserve the archives.)  Among the voices heard today were MLK, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Camilo Mejia, Lena Horne, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Fonda, and many others.

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