Sunday, December 17, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

The tragedy unleashed by the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq defies description. According to the most recent findings of the Lancet medical journal, the number of "excess deaths" in Iraq since the U.S. invasion is more than 650,000. "Iraq is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world," according to Refugee International: nearly two million Iraqis have fled the country entirely, while at least another 500,000 are internally displaced. Basic foods and necessities are beyond the reach of ordinary Iraqis because of massive inflation. "A gallon of gasoline cost as little as 4 cents in November. Now, after the International Monetary Fund pushed the Oil Ministry to cut its subsidies, the official price is about 67 cents," the New York Times notes. "The spike has come as a shock to Iraqis, who make only about $150 a month on average-if they have jobs," an important proviso, since unemployment is roughly 60­70 percent nationally.
October 2006 proved to be the bloodiest month of the entire occupation, with more than six thousand civilians killed in Iraq, most in Baghdad, where thousands of additional U.S. troops have been sent since August with the claim they would restore order and stability in the city, but instead only sparked more violence. United Nations special investigator Manfred Nowak notes that torture "is totally out of hand" in Iraq. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein." The number of U.S soldiers dead is now more than 2,900, with more than 21,000 wounded, many severely.
The underlying trend is clear: each day the occupation continues, life gets worse for most Iraqis. Rather than stemming civil war or sectarian conflict, the occupation is spurring it. Rather than being a source of stability, the occupation is the major source of instability and chaos.
All of the reasons being offered for why the United States cannot withdraw troops from Iraq are false. The reality is, the troops are staying in Iraq for much different reasons than the ones being touted by political elites and a still subservient establishment press. They are staying to save face for a U.S. political elite that cares nothing for the lives of Iraqis or U.S. soldiers; to pursue the futile goal of turning Iraq into a reliable client state strategically located near the major energy resources and shipping routes of the Middle East, home to two-thirds of world oil reserves, and Western and Central Asia; to serve as a base for the projection of U.S. military power in the region, particularly in the growing conflict between the United States and Iran; and to maintain the legitimacy of U.S. imperialism, which needs the pretext of a global war on terror to justify further military intervention, expanded military budgets, concentration of executive power, and
restrictions on civil liberties. The U.S. military did not invade and occupy Iraq to spread democracy, check the spread of weapons of mass destruction, rebuild the country, or stop civil war. In fact, the troops remain in Iraq today to deny self-determination and genuine democracy to the Iraqi people, who have made it abundantly clear, whether they are Shiite or Sunni, that they want U.S. troops to leave Iraq immediately; feel less safe as a result of the occupation; think the occupation is spurring not suppressing sectarian strife; and support armed attacks on occupying troops and Iraqi security forces, who are seen not as independent but as collaborating with the occupation.
It is not only the Iraqi people who oppose the occupation of their country and want to see the troops leave. A clear majority of people in the United States have expressed the same sentiment in major opinion polls and in the mid-term Congressional elections, which swing both houses of Congress and the majority of state governorships to the Democrats, in a clear vote against the imperial arrogance of Bush's "stay the course" approach to the disaster in Iraq. The public did not vote for more money for the Pentagon (as incoming Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada immediately promised, announcing a plan to give $75 billion more to the Pentagon), for more "oversight" of the war (the main Democratic Party buzzword these days), or for more troops (as Texas Democrat Representative Silvestre Reyes, the incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has demanded), but to begin bringing the troops home. A clear majority of active-duty U.S. troops want the same thing, as a much-ignored Zogby International poll found in early 2005, with 72 percent saying they wanted to be out of Iraq by the end of 2006.

The above, noted by Mia, is from Anthony Arnove's "Act III in a Tragedy of Many Parts:
The US Occupation of Iraq
" (CounterPunch). Is the tragedy ending? Not anytime soon. In addition to what Arnove notes regarding the Democratic Party, today a 'leader' proved that bravery, spine and common sense aren't required to serve in Congress. The KPFA Evening News led with US Senator Harry Reid's latest embarrassment, support for a 'temporary' surge of US troops in Iraq ("for two or three months," wimpered Reid) on ABC's This Week (the report includes the sound clip of Reid speaking). This is who is expected to be the Senate majority leader beginning next month.

Dahr Jamail's take on this nonsense is offered in the report, "Let's not forget that during the Vietnam war this was called 'escalation' not 'temporary increases' or anything like this, but this is an escalation of the occupation." How sick is Harry Reid? Even Colin The Blot Powell is opposed to the so-called surge, "If you surge now, you're going to keep troops who have already been kept there long even longer."

The report also notes David Swanson's reaction, "Look we voted on Nov. 7th in the clearest national mandate Congressional election in US history. I mean, this was a statement by the American people that we want to end this war and already our new majority Democratic Senate in Congress are talking about, not ending the war, in fact, of escalating it. Obviously the surest way to end it and withdraw is not to send in more troops but to withdraw." [Note: Quote in full. "not ending the war" added after KPFA's The Morning Show played it today -- Monday.]

If their goals, the Democratic Party's, are planned frustration or to drive off voters, they seem well on their way to acheiving. If they, as a party, give a damn about ending the illegal war, they've yet to demonstrate or even indicate that.

Returning to the topic of David Swanson, Eddie notes this from Swanson's website:

For the holidays this year, give your loved ones some TRUTH:
Camp Democracy lasted for 18 days this past fall; 18 days of workshops, press conferences, education, and actions. Some of the highlights have been captured in a 45-minute documentary. You and your friends and family can listen to the wisdom of Howard Zinn, Jeff Cohen, Elizabeth Holtzman, Col. Ann Wright, Ray McGovern, Iraq War vets, Iraq War resisters, Hurricane Katrina survivors, and many more. Watch the Bush Crimes Commission verdict being delivered to the White House and hear a panel of experts lay out the case for impeachment. See Helga Aguayo tell the story of her husband's refusal to serve in Iraq. Camp Democracy can continue to educate and engage those newly awakened to the issues before us; those who were there can remember the lessons learned.
Read more about the DVD.
Purchase the DVD. They're $17 each. The cost of shipping and handling is included.

I don't know that this would be delivered in time for the holidays (due to the mail this time of year -- domestic mail in the US) but I do think the DVD is important. Most are strapped for cash this time of year, so I'm not guilting or saying, "You must buy!" I thought Eddie's highlight was worth noting because it is about the peace movement and, as the year draws to a cloase, read over the above and ask yourself where you read about it -- chances are it wasn't in print, big or small. With or without attention (and 2006 was all about with attention), the peace movement continues and grows.

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 Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq stood at 2929. Right now? First, today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing three Soldiers north of the Iraqi capital yesterday. The combat patrol was conducting a route clearance mission in order to free the roads of any possible dangers so that a follow-on unit could move through the area without harm. As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles, killing three and wounding a fourth Soldier. Four days prior to this incident, the unit successfully completed a cordon and search mission, finding a weapons cache. Taking the weapons away from the terrorists hampered the enemy's capability to disrupt operations by Iraqi Army and coalition forces and wound or kill innocent Iraqi citizens. " Monday (it's almost eight a.m. Monday in Baghdad as I type this) the US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Dec. 16 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The above brings the ICCC total to 2948. 19 more, while Bully Boy says he'll wait until next year to make any announcement on Iraq. Now there was no delay in the lighting of the White House Christmas tree. And there will be no delay in his special Christmas morning but while he dawdled, nineteen more Americans won't be celebrating the New Year -- the New Year when he'll announce that he's basically going to do the same thing he's been doing all along -- pushing the illegal war day after day.

In addition, Reuters notes that 25 people were kidnapped in the Baghdad office of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (that's the figure the ICRC goes with), also in Baghdad "three members of the Adhamiya municipal council" were kidnapped while a fourth person was killed, a car bomb took one life and left two people wounded in Mahmudiya, mortar rounds wounded six in Balad, an Iraqi soldier died not far from Tikrit (roadside bomb), Alaa Muhsin ("Sunni Sheikh from the Sunni Islamic Party") and Ismail al-Khanfashi ("deupty of an Iraqi NGO") were shot dead near Iskandariya, while corpses were discovered -- five near Rutba,two in Jurf al-Sakhar. (On Saturday, fifty-three corpses were discovered in Baghdad and ten in Baquba.)

Kendrick notes an e-mail from an Iraqi doctor that Dahr Jamail shares at his website (the photo is disturbing -- the illegal war is disturbing -- I think members are mature enough to handle reality -- even our teenage members -- but for any visitor, you have been given a heads up):

"This is 20 month-old Iraqi baby girl, who was severely injured and mutilated, in a blast by a car bomb in Al-Sadr City 21 days ago,she lost her two eyes.
"Her name is Shams-means sun in Arabic-... well not anymore, her mother was killed during the accident. Shams
lies now in a surgical specialty hospital in Baghdad, and as we live in these terrible conditions in Baghdad she has not much chance to get any proper medical care...

On Dahr Jamail, swiping from Ruth's latest report:

The military's trying harder to continue the war. That includes the decision to court-martial Ehren Watada in Feburary. As part of that effort, they are attempting to legally compel journalists Dahr Jamail and Sarah Olson to testify for the prosecution. Monday, on KPFA's The Morning Show, 7:00 a.m. PST, 9:00 a.m. Central and 10:00 a.m. EST, Mr. Jamail and Ms. Olson will be among the guests addressing this development.

That is Monday (tomorrow) morning. We'll cover it in the snapshot, but if you're able to listen to the broadcast (or the archived broadcast after the show airs), please do.

Now we're going to note something that was e-mailed. We'll use the time to remind visitors that our focus is Iraq -- this is a community site and that's what the community wants. A new site's started that will supposedly cover Iraq in a "bi-partisan" manner. I like Eason Jordan, I know him, I defended him when he was under attack, but the last thing a news person needs to be pushing is a 'bi-partisan' approach. News is supposed to be approached in a non-partisan manner. I explained this some time back in the gina & krista round-robin and how I'd love it if we could link to the site but I didn't see the point in 'bi-partisan' coverage. The country's not made up of "bi-partisans." There's no reason in the world that a news site should be. Now you can gear towards the left or towards the right (we're not a news site, but we are a left site) and be a news site. But I don't see how you claim to be a news site and shoot for 'bi-partisan.' I don't care for either-or dualities and I don't think they reflect America. I went into other reasons, in the column in the round-robin, why we wouldn't be linking to that site here. But visitors continue to mention it. If there's something worth noting within a snapshot, it will probably be noted. But otherwsie, that's it.

One site we do link to is having problems and I'm pasting the e-mail that was sent out to sites, et al, that link to Watching America:

This is a polite note to let you know that the servers of Watching America's hosting company are under attack but we are still around and will be back up as soon as possible. We’d be most grateful if you could let your readers know, as we know some of your readers are also some of our readers, and we don’t want them to abandon us -- or to think we have abandoned them!
In fact, many hosting companies servers are currently under a denial-of-service attack. This means that someone, somewhere, is overloading the servers with masses of information, slowing them right down, or causing them to grind to a halt. It is affecting numerous sites.
We've been down for two and a half days, but hundreds of technicians all over the US are trying to find its source and get us all back on our feet.
Thanks very, very much for your time and support.
Very best wishes,
Robin Koerner
Cofounder, Publisher

That's Watching America which offers translations on articles from around the world. (Not all that different from Jordan's new project but his focus is Iraq.)

Pru has two highlights but wondered if one could go in a snapshot this week? No problem. Tonight, we'll go with the musical highlight, "Anti-war single aims for the top" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

A group of anti-war musicians has released a cover version of Edwin Starr's classic War (What Is It Good For?) as a download-only single -- with the aim of taking their message to the top of the charts in the new year.
The group, called Ugly Rumours -- the same name as Tony Blair's old college band -- will donate 20p to Stop the War from every single sold.
Respect MP George Galloway makes an appearance in the single's video. You can download it from his website at
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