Thursday, December 07, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

ANTHONY ARNOVE: Well, I think the report offers only a slight correction of course for a policy that needs fundamental reversal. We need to bring the troops home, not to talk about prolonging the presence of the United States in Iraq. This report of the Iraq Study Group lays out keeping troops, not only combat troops, in Iraq until 2008, but well beyond that.
And, in effect, it continues a policy that the Bush administration has put forward, of we will stand down as the Iraqis stand up, and it suggests that there's somehow a technical solution to the problem of Iraq, if we just had better training of the Iraqi security forces. But the problem isn't a technical problem, it’s a political problem. The Iraqis want the US troops to leave. They reject a foreign occupation. And as long as US troops are there, the US troops will be a source of instability and will fuel sectarian conflict, rather than dampen it, and they will fuel the kind of violence which we see escalating and getting worse every day in Iraq.

The above is from Democracy Now!'s "Anthony Arnove On Iraq Study Group: 'Report Offers Only A Slight Correction For a Policy That Needs Fundamental Reversal'" today. Jonah noted it and wanted to urge everyone to attend a workshop of Arnove and Howard Zinn's The People Speak, based upon their Voices of a People's History of the United States. (I can, and will, echo that.)

Jonah wasn't the only one noting a highlight from today's Democracy Now! and we'll work the other two (there may be three) in as we move along. If you missed the program today, Amy Goodman had a roundtable discussion on the James Baker Circle Jerk's report. From Congress, Representatives Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey participated, Arnove (of course),
Sami Rasouli who is an Iraqi-American who has returned to Iraq to help that country (something the James Baker Circle Jerk didn't appear to concerned with doing) and Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda). One member asked if it might be offered as a premium during the next fundraising drive? It might but you can purchase a copy at the Democracy Now! website.

What's helping to end the war? Serious discussions like that (contrast any segment with the 'reporting' in this morning's New York Times).

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 number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 2887. 13 away from the 2900 mark and that mark was passed Sunday. Right now? 2921. 34 in seven days. Do you see that in the coverage? Does anything indicate that as people file puff pieces on the James Baker Circle Jerk? 11 died on Wednesday alone. Visitor "DunCle" e-mailed asking why the 11 deaths weren't noted in today's snapshots? They were noted this morning in "Wednesday was one of the deadliest days for US troops in Iraq, but NYT missed that story" and "Other Items" and ten of the eleven were noted in Wednesday's snapshot. Every day there are things that don't get noted. Sometimes I can't figure out how to work it in it, sometimes it's an issue of having a very limited amount of time to do the snapshot in but it's called a "snapshot," not a "poster" or "billboard."

Today's actually could have been e-mailed an hour before it was (there is a point to this ramble). But there was nothing on Iraq. There were tons of reports on the James Baker Circle Jerk. In fact, Reuters seemed to have been trapped in some sort of loop. They never even updated their Factbox (they usually do that several times a day) on the events in Iraq. There was Bully Boy and Blair, there was the Circle Jerk. But Iraq?

A friend called with the heads up to the AP story on deaths in Iraq, that was added and then the thing was e-mailed and, unlike yesterday, it hit within an hour.

But Thomas Wagner (AP) has an update on today's reported events in Iraq which included: 12 dead, nine injured while Iraqi police and resistance fighters fought in Ramadi (the dead and injured were bystanders); two police officers dead from a car bomb in Falluja with another wounded; a seven-year-old girl who will not see eight-years-old (she's dead) end up a bystander in a fight (as in Ramadi) between Iraqi police and resistance fighters; another professor (Mohammed Haidar Sulaiman) shot dead (Mosul is the locale); and a car bomb in Baghdad that claimed one life and left two wounded.

On another issue, Wally (he and Ty are along on this trip) wanted it noted that there are over 70 links in today's snapshot. Why? He has an e-mail about a post he and Cedric did in November where someone's telling him he should have linked to ___. Wally and Cedric have been grabbing an excerpt of the snapshot and posting that in their daily entries. The reader who wrote him didn't read too closley because they weren't referring to what Wally and Cedric had written, they were referring to the snapshot. So just to note this here, there are as many links in those as I have time for. Sorry. (And apologies to Wally that he gets scolded for something he didn't write.)

The link that someone thought should have been included had nothing to do with anything in the snapshot and had nothing to do with Iraq. Many things don't get included each day that actually do have something to do with Iraq. Patti Ackerson, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin and Missy Comley Beattie should have been in a snapshot before today. They weren't. And that is Iraq related. I asked Rebecca to cover it because, if nothing else, I could have just done one sentence, if time was short, steering people to Rebecca's post. (Thank you, to Rebecca, for picking that up.) There are impeachment rallies going on around the country this weekend and those are important. If the past coverage is any indication, they'll be covered elsewhere. I skipped them today because I wanted to note the weekend's activities of war resisters because war resisters do not get the coverage they deserve. Hopefully, people will participate in both. But I went back and forth on that and decided that we'd emphasize the war resisters. David Swanson, Cindy Sheehan and many others will be participating in the impeachment rallies and, hopefully, there will be time to note them in some form tomorrow. It's an important issue and has to do with Iraq -- it's not a tangent, it has to do with Iraq directly. But somethings have to go into the snapshot and, for community members, war resisters are one of those things.

Someone who has been covering war resisters is Nora Barrows Friedman (as has her co-host Dennis Bernstein) and today's KPFA's Flashpoints featured an interview (thank you to Kat for taping it and playing it over the phone, I wasn't in the area and was speaking when it was broadcasting). If you missed it, or would like to hear it again, you can access the archives at KPFA or Flashpoints. Rebecca's "kyle snyder, nora barrows friedman, the james baker circle jerk" covers some of it and I won't repeat what she's already covered.

Snyder self-checked out in April 2005, went to Canada. He returned to the US at the end of October and turned himself in on October 31st. An agreement had been made between the military and his attorney, Jim Fennerty, and, after his attorney left, the military decided to toss aside the agreement (burning him the same way they did with his recruiter and while he was serving -- he wasn't allowed to attend his grandfather's funeral, his fiancee received no health care and her pregnancy didn't result in a child as a result, and there's so much more). He refused to sign a statement saying he'd agreed to return to his old unit and, when left at a Greyhound station to board a bus and join his old unit (heading to Iraq next month), Kyle checked out again. "I went out to eat, I enjoyed Halloween."

Snyder went to Iraq to help with the reconstruction. He wasn't doing engineering work. Instead they "made me an escort . . . for high ranking people." What he saw in Iraq wasn't what he expected (what the Bully Boy repeatedly lied to the people about). He didn't see 'grateful' Iraqis. "I expected to at least see the civilians . . . accepting us . . . [Instead] children were flipping us off." Bully Boy hyped the policies and seeing the reality of the policies (not the hype) was what brought home the reality to Kyle Snyder.

He's still speaking out against the war now. "I'm not hiding from the government," he noted. And he's not, it's the most public 'underground' you can find. Now he's out there "fighing for the rights of AWOL soldiers" and speaking out "to areas targeted by recruiters" which include poor areas, minority areas. He encounters soldiers who are AWOL where ever he speaks and some of them are planning to go public with their resistance in the immediate future ("more will be coming out in the next months").

He is in contact with active duty soldiers and recieves encouragement from them because they're discovering that the stated reasons for the war "were false, they were all lies."

Nora Barrows Friedman asked him what he'd tell people that were thinking of signing up and he stated that he "would encourage them to get both sides of the picture." Those who are being targeted by recruiters, he would advise to realize that they aren't "special," someone's just trying to make their recruiting targets for the month. In doing so, "they overglorify it" and turn it into a Rambo movie. When the reality is that it's not an action film over there. "Gunner, medic, driver or escort. Those are the four jobs there are."

The "special" point, Snyder was heavily targeted by recruiters. He was noting that the attention can make a person feel that they really must be cut out for this and that is not the reality. Recruiters will tell you anything.

He also noted that there are 38 war resisters in Canada who are applying for refugee status.

That matters. It was a strong interview, war resistance matters, Kyle Snyder matters. The attention that he and others in the war resistance movement receive is no where near the level their actions merit so, when choosing things for snapshots, war resisters are high up on the list.

If the war's going to end, it's not going to be because someone encourages you to take that activism into the voting booth. It's going to take more than that. The war is not going to be a 'win' and even the establishment has accepted that it's lost. The James Baker Circle Jerk is a face saving move and not much else. But without pressure and awareness, the war will continue to drag on.

Which was why Mia noted this exchange from Democracy Now!'s "Anthony Arnove On Iraq Study Group: 'Report Offers Only A Slight Correction For a Policy That Needs Fundamental Reversal':"

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank Congressmember Woolsey for joining us. We're going to stay with Anthony Arnove, and we're going to head to Iraq. But I want to ask you a final question, Congressmember Woolsey, on the issue of what difference it makes now for people around the country, for constituents, to weigh in on this issue with their congress members?
REP. LYNN WOOLSEY: It makes a great difference. We know they’re ahead of the Congress on what we should be doing and that we must leave Iraq, and they need to tell their members of Congress. I hope the people of this country aren't lulled by this report, because, you see, it's way too late. This is too little, too late to start, all of a sudden, realizing we've got a disaster in Iraq.

Either real pressure is put on or people practice 'activism' every two years when an election is held. With more on the James Baker Circle Jerk, Gareth notes Jonathan Steele's "Baker's predictable plan is what Bush is already doing" (Guardian of London):

James Baker is a lawyer, a fixer, a Republican, a friend of the Bush family, and a deeply political animal. He is not an independent radical or a man known for original thinking. So the question in the wake of his Iraq Study Group's predictably uncontroversial report is why it was ever set up. The first purpose was to provide an alibi for the president ahead of last month's congressional elections. Critics of his disastrous strategy in Iraq could be told that Bush was listening to the American people and understood their concerns. That was why he had set up a blue-ribbon panel to evaluate all options. Nothing was taboo. The tactic did not work, and Bush and his Republican party took a heavy beating. It was not Baker's fault so much as a sign that voters felt they had to send a message to Baker as well as Bush. A majority of Americans, as well as Iraqis, want US troops to leave.
The second purpose of the study group was to co-opt the Democrats, to get them behind Bush's war. Having a bipartisan panel with an equal number of members from both parties was intended to make it hard for Democrats to reject its report. Baker, after all, was the man who masterminded the manoeuvrings in 2000 over whether Florida should have a full recount. His job was to get Al Gore and the rest of the Democrats to swallow their anger and fall into line behind the argument that there was no time and that the better strategy was to take the dispute to the supreme court - where Bush's side had a clear judicial majority.
Now the plan is to lock the Democrats into agreeing with the main thrust of Bush's Iraq policy over the next two years, with the aim of preventing it from provoking a major divide during the 2008 campaign for the White House. It is not a difficult task. The main Democratic contenders, starting with Hillary Clinton, are weak fence-sitters who show no desire to challenge Bush directly. None are as clear-sighted as John Murtha, the Pennsylvania congressman who started calling for a US troop withdrawal a year ago. Nor, unless he or she is yet to emerge, is there a Eugene McCarthy or Robert Kennedy figure with the authority to rally voters against a failed president, as there was when Lyndon Johnson was mired in Vietnam.

Pru wrote that she wasn't even going to bother to send a link but that there are some in England wondering why England doesn't have their own James Baker Circle Jerk. (Isn't that what the ones standing beside Tony Blair still are?)

Pru: The United States Congress abdicated their responsibilities and tried to save face by farming them out to an unelected group composed of people who've never called for a withdrawal. I honestly think that's the last thing my country [England] needs and would be rather embarrassed if some heeded the call for the creation of one.

She has a blistering column in tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin so look for that.
Maria notes this from today's Democracy Now!, "Iraq Study Group: A Response From 'Out of Iraq' House Caucus Co-Founders Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey:"

AMY GOODMAN: And what about Congressmember Pelosi, the Speaker of the House to be, saying that cutting off funding is off the table?
REP. BARBARA LEE: Well, let me just say, I believe that we should not support this supplemental. Everyone has their points of views on how we end this occupation and civil war in Iraq. I do not support the supplemental, but I have not supported it since I have been here, nor have I supported a $400 billion-plus military budget.
When you look at this military budget, we have identified -- Congresswoman Woolsey and myself have identified $60 billion that could be cut: the development of Cold War era weapons systems. We have our Common Sense Budget Act. So there are some of us who believe that the military budget is no more about national security and a strong national defense, but it’s about funding military contractors and the military construction industry. So I believe that we need to begin to not only not support the war and end this occupation, but we also provide for reconstruction and redevelopment and humanitarian assistance for the Iraqis, but we need to support our troops by bringing them home.

And in case there's not time for it in tomorrow's snapshot, here's information from David Swanson's "December 10, 2006: Human Rights and Impeachment Day" (

December 10 is Human Rights Day, and this year we're making it Human Rights and Impeachment Day. Slogan: "Putting Impeachment on the Table."
We encourage you to organize a town hall forum or rally on this day for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

You can create a public listing of your event here. You will be able to communicate with the people who sign up for your event, and to edit the listing for your event, changing or filling in details later.
You can view existing events and sign up to attend one here.
Here is a list of
available speakers with their contact info.
Be sure also to invite your Congress Member or newly elected future Congress Member to speak.
Here are
resources that will make your event easy and effective.
If you want to include war resisters in your event, you may want to join forces with
this effort by Courage to Resist and also list your event on their website.
Big December 9 Event in New York City
Big December 10 Event in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Lots of December 10 Plans in Los Angeles, Calif.
Big December 10 Event in San Francisco, Calif.
Big December 10 Event in Washington DC
There are also events planned outside the United States. The technology of the events system we're using won't include them, but you can submit them to us to be posted here.

No members e-mailed asking because we've covered it before many times but since we seem to be getting a number of visitors with assumptions, to be very clear, I favor impeachment of Bully Boy. "To teach, you must impeach." Both to teach him and to teach future Oval Office occupants that illegal wars are not minor offenses. We're still living with the fallout from the failure to addrss Iran-Contra (only one example and if you're a visitor who is new to that, check out Robert Parry's Consortium News). That will be nothing compared to what the country will face if we avert our eyes on what Bully Boy has done. (From the war, to the illegal spying, to the criminal incompetence on display everywhere including those areas hit by Hurricane Katrina.)

The e-mail address for this site is

kyle snyder

amy goodman
democracy now