Sunday, December 24, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

Christmas 2006 will be the third Christmas that our family has endured since the death of Casey. The holiday season is hard for so many people as evidenced by the skyrocketing number of suicides and suicide attempts. Many people feel lonely and separated from joyous events and the orgy of consumerism that now is the "reason for the season." Especially since Christmas 2003 was the last time we saw Casey alive, this season is so difficult for our family. Imagine getting out the boxes of Christmas decorations and pulling out your dead child's stocking or "Baby's First Christmas, 1979" ornament. Well, the Sheehan family and almost 3000 other American families don't have to imagine the pain -- we deal with the trauma 24/7; Christmas, birthdays, graduations, weddings, births, anniversaries, will never, ever be the same for us again.
2006 was a year of ups and downs for our family and for the nation. Despite the facts; the criminal and corrupt occupation of Iraq continues unabated and in fact worsens on an hourly basis. Body bags are coming home from the Middle East in the dark of night at a steady clip and our troops are being grievously wounded for no reason other than to reward the CEOs of the war profiteers phenomenal holiday bonuses. Our children are being sacrificed like Christmas turkeys so the turkeys in the White House can strut around and posture like dictators of banana republics.

[. . .]
Join Gold Star Families for Peace and a coalition of Peace and Justice Groups in our Walk for Change when Congress reconvenes on the 3rd and 4th of January.
Support peace groups who are on the front-lines struggling against the war machine.

The above, noted by Billie, is from Cindy Sheehan's "And So This Is Christmas: In Search of Peace" (BuzzFlash). 2006 is winding down and what have you done? And what are you willing to do in 2007? Something to consider as the War Hawks again demonstrate how badly they need the war to continue to satisfy their blood lust. The 'surge.' Brandon notes W. Patrick Lang and Ray McGovern's "Troop 'surge' in Iraq Would Be Another Mistake" (Common Dreams):

The generals in Iraq may have already been ordered by the White House to ''get with the program'' on surging. Just as they ''never asked for more troops'' at earlier stages of the war, they are likely to be instant devotees of a surge, once they smell the breezes from Washington. As for Gates, it is a safe bet that whatever personal input he may dare to offer will be dwarfed by Cheney's. Taking issue with ''deciders'' has never been Gates' strong suit.
Whether Gates realizes it or not, the U.S. military is about to commit hara-kiri by ''surge.'' The generals should know that, once an ''all or nothing'' offensive like the ''surge'' apparently contemplated has begun, there is no turning back.
It will be ''victory'' over the insurgents and the Shiite militias or palpable defeat, recognizable by all in Iraq and across the world. Any conceivable ''surge'' would not turn the tide -- would not even stem it. We saw that last summer when the dispatch of 7,000 U.S. troops to reinforce Baghdad brought a fierce counter-surge -- the highest level of violence since the Pentagon began issuing quarterly reports in 2005.
A major buildup would commit the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to decisive combat in which there would be no more strategic reserves to be sent to the front. As Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway pointed out Monday, ``If you commit your reserve for something other than a decisive win, or to stave off defeat, then you have essentially shot your bolt.''
It will be a matter of win or die in the attempt. In that situation, everyone in uniform on the ground will commit every ounce of their being to ''victory,'' and few measures will be shrunk from.

And that's the reality of the 'surge' and don't count on reading that truth in the 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 Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq stood at 2948. Tonight? 2969. And so far for the month of December? 80. Though the New York Times doesn't think it's important to let readers know that. That averages out to more than three deaths a day this month but the Times doesn't care. They're too busy selling the war, selling the 'surge,' selling more death and destruction.

Swiping from The Third Estate Sunday Review: ". . . today, the US military announced: 'An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southeast of the Iraqi capital Dec. 23. ' And they also announced: 'An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 23.' " And since this morning, more announcements. There's this from the US military: "Three 89th Military Police Brigade Soldiers were killed and one Soldier was wounded Saturday when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device at approximately 12:20 p.m. in east Baghdad." And the US military also announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, died Saturday as a result of an explosion while conducting operations in Diyala Province. A second Soldier from this unit was wounded and was transported to a Coalition Forces’ medical treatment facility for treatment." Maybe it'll make the last sentence of an article about what officials said or did or might say or might do or that an unnamed whisperer thinks they might say or might do. Death is a whispered aside in the Times these days.

Reuters notes 12 Iraqis were wounded in Baghdad from a mortar attack and 47 corpses were discovered in Baghdad on Saturday. And CNN reports:

A suicide bomber walked into a police station in Muqdadiya, Iraq, on Sunday morning and blew himself up, killing at least seven police officers and wounding 30 more, according to a security official in the Diyala province.
[. . .]
Four separate attacks in Baghdad wounded 21 Iraqis on Sunday, including seven soccer players with the Al-Zawra club, wounded when three mortar rounds exploded in a field on western Baghdad where they were playing a match, an Interior Ministry official said.
Gunmen kidnapped a doctor working for the Iraqi Health Ministry. Mohammed Qassim Mahmoud was driving on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad about 5 p.m. (9 a.m. ET), when an unknown number of gunmen kidnapped him. An hour later, gunmen kidnapped a second doctor in central Baghdad, Qassim Saleh, who has a private practice in the capital.
Roadside bombs wounded 18 people in the town of Khaneqain, in Diyala province, and three people in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.
Iraqi police reported finding 29 bullet-riddled bodies in different areas of Baghdad on Sunday.

The 'surge' proposal means many more corpses. That's apparently what Bully Boy wants. But the people are the 'surge' protecotr. We can say no. On that note, Mike notes Marjorie Cohn's "Don't Count on the Democrats to End the Iraq War" (CounterPunch):

Now that the Democrats are taking over the reins in Washington, we have a golden opportunity to set things right. But incoming Senate majority leader Harry Reid has decided to align himself with the 12 percent of Americans who support sending more troops to Iraq.
It seems more likely the Republicans, not the Democrats, will try to derail the Cheney-Bush war express. Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore) declared last week on the Senate floor: "I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore."
Ultimately, it is up to the American people to step up to the plate and stop this war. It's fine to tell the pollsters we want our troops out of Iraq. But that's not doing the trick. The Vietnam War ended after thousands of people marched in the streets. We may not have the draft to get the college kids off their duffs. But we do have our consciences. And that should be enough.

It should be and it can be. Not in 2006, that's almost over. But in 2007, we can continue the work we've been doing, we can up it, increase the action, increase the volume and end the war. Pru steeres us to "Solving Iraq's chaos means troops out" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Having spent years justifying the invasion and occupation that have caused the deaths of an estimated 650,000 Iraqis, the world's rulers seem to have suddenly discovered that Iraq is a disaster.
The recent Iraq Study Group report revealed the depths to which the US is prepared to sink to try to extricate itself from this disaster.
As US and British troops poured into Iraq in March 2003, the long oppressed Kurds of northern Iraq were promised self rule in exchange for their cooperation.
Now that the US is facing defeat in Iraq, it needs Turkey's cooperation. The price for this support will be paid for by the Kurds.
The report's chief author James Baker wants to reassure Turkey by having the Iraqi constitution rewritten to remove guarantees of autonomy for Kurdish areas.
The US is also proposing to give Turkey the green light to hunt down "Kurdish rebels" in northern Iraq -- guaranteeing future war.
The US used Kurdish aspirations to further its aims in the region. Now it no longer needs the Kurds, it wants to throw them to the lions.
The liberation of the Kurds can only be acheived as part of the liberation of the whole region. The neocons and the Blairites have no workable solutions for Iraq. The only answer is to get the troops out now.

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