Friday, December 01, 2006

Other Items

The Bush administration is deliberating whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government, according to U.S. officials.
[. . .]
Opponents of the proposal cite three dangers. Without reconciliation, military commanders fear that U.S. troops would be fighting the symptoms of Sunni insurgency without any prospect of getting at the causes behind it -- notably the marginalization of the once-powerful minority. U.S. troops would be left fighting in a political vacuum, not a formula for either long-term stabilization or reducing attacks on American targets.
A second danger is that the United States could appear to be taking sides in the escalating sectarian strife. The proposal would encourage Iraqis to continue reconciliation efforts. But without U.S. urging, outreach could easily stall or even atrophy, deepening sectarian tensions, U.S. sources say.
A decision to step back from reconciliation efforts would also be highly controversial among America's closest allies in the region, which are all Sunni governments. Sunni leaders in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms have been pressuring the United States to ensure that their brethren are included in Iraq's power structure and economy.

The above, noted by Lloyd, is from Robin Wright's "U.S. Considers Ending Outreach to Insurgents" (Washington Post). If New York Times readers are wondering why they've been unable to read of the efforts, possibly you can't be a Bobble Head Pundit out of DC and report at the same time? Meanwhile, Peter Wallsten and Solomon Moore (LA Times) note that "Sunni Arab leaders are wary of greater Shiite control over Iraq's security forces, elements of which are widely accused of thousands of death-squad killings of Sunnis."

The rest of this entry's focus is war resistance within the military. First up, Joy notes Dan Margolis' "Super-Sunday events for PWW" (People's Weekly World):

"We'll raise several thousand dollars," Lance Cohn said of the 19th Annual People's Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo Banquet in Illinois, of which he is a principal organizer. Cohn said that the banquet, which will be held in a Greek restaurant, has attracted a wide audience. "We have more elected officials coming this time than before. The mood is going to be upbeat.
"We're coming off of a celebration," Cohn added, "and people will be a lot more generous knowing that the PWW was an important part of this drive to change Congress."
The Chicago banquet, to be held Dec. 3, will feature living wage and peace resolutions sponsor city Alderman Freddrenna Lyle as the keynote speaker, and will honor immigrant rights activist Elvira Arellano, union activists Bea and Frank Lumpkin, disability rights group ADAPT, the March 10th immigrant rights coalition and AFSCME workers who are fighting to organize Resurrection Hospital -- all familiar to PWW readers.
PWW friends in Chicago are not the only ones organizing events. That same weekend, friends and supporters of the People's Weekly World will host banquets and forums across the country, celebrating the November victory, uniting for upcoming struggles, honoring activists and organizations and raising money for the PWW. It’s the PWW's Super Sunday.
• In New York City, Rep. Major Owens will be honored at the annual "Better World Awards" for his years of progressive struggle in Congress. Also being honored is Betty Smith, president of International Publishers and longtime fighter for peace and democracy. Elena Mora, chair of the N.Y. State Communist Party, will discuss the recent election results.
• In Oakland, the featured speaker will be Navy war resister Pablo Paredes. Joining him on the platform will be Kenneth Hayes, recent high school graduate and anti-youth-violence activist. Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the anti-nuclear-weapons organization Western States Legal Foundation; Lester Rodney, sports editor for the PWW's predecessor paper, The Daily Worker; the Blue Diamond Workers Organizing Committee; the Campaign against Unjust Immigration Laws; and the Coalition for Justice for Immigrants are all being honored.

There are more events mentioned in the article, but Joy wanted to note Pablo Paredes. And with more on the topic of war resisters, Brad notes Jay J. Harker's "Is There a Case for War Resistance?" (Dissident Voices):

Conscientious objection is based on a religious objection and is only granted if you have what the draft board considers a sincere belief. Some people's objections to serving are not based on this, so this becomes a problem for them too which should be changed. Many others don't know they could be COs. They haven't heard of it. And they could qualify for the status on religious grounds easily. Maybe we need Congress to change the laws and spread the word about conscientious objection.
In the 1960s we were heavily involved in fighting the Vietnam War and there were massive protests. The Civil Rights had been going on and many people were growing their hair long and "dropping out". As a youth in those days you could not help but be affected.
In High School, I was an honor roll student, an active participant in soccer and baseball, a co-president of the student body and when I met another boy who was doing this, who was not going to register, I said, "Yes, this is it."
Ah, the folly of youth, eh? But I thought it was the right thing to do. It made a clear statement that I would not participate in a system whose sole purpose was the taking of life. This is conscientious, religious objection based on an interpretation of Jesus's message to us. I also think that it is a logical choice in a mad world. At some point we have to say no more of this nonsense. Jesus, too, would have been a "draft dodger"!

And, from United for Peace and Justice, Kendrick notes "War Resisters -- Support the Troops Who Refuse to FightNovember 29th, 2006:"

It takes courage to say that you will not fight -- especially if you are a soldier. As more members of the U.S. military step forward for peace, the peace movement must step forward to support them.
Large numbers are now refusing to serve: The Department of Defense estimates that there are about 8,000 AWOL service members. The
GI Rights Hotline (800-394-9544) is currently receiving about 3,000 calls a month.
Most importantly, a growing number of soldiers are speaking out, against the illegality and immorality of the Iraq war and the orders they are being told to carry out. These brave men and women are risking jail time and their futures to stand up against the war.
Here are two of the growing number of resisters,
click here for a fuller list:
Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, had been facing more than seven years in prison for criticizing the president in a public speech, until the charge of "contempt toward the President" was rescinded following public outcry. He still faces up to four years in prison; his trial is set to begin on Feb. 5, 2007.
A federal appeals court is currently reviewing Army medic
Spc. Agustín Aguayo's case and considering whether to overturn the Army's decision to deny him conscientious objector status. If Aguayo's appeal is successful, it will be a historic victory; if it fails, Aguayo could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
The stories of returning combat veterans helped turn the tide and end the war in Vietnam. Today's war resisters are providing critical first-hand knowledge of the horror and illegality of the Iraq war. Each servicemember who has spoken out against the war in Iraq has inspired more war resisters to come forward.
What You Can Do:
Keep war resisters' cases in the media: Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper or call into radio talk shows and talk about their cases;
Organize a war resister solidarity event in your area: Invite a war resister or someone working on a war resister's case to speak at a public event;
Keep pressure on the military to treat war resisters fairly: Write letters to officials at the base where a resister is being held and/or his or her case is being tried;
Write letters of personal support: See websites listed below for details;
Join the December 8-10 days of action, organized by Courage to Resist and the War Resisters Support Campaign, in support of Lt. Watada and all GI resisters.
Click here and on the websites listed below for the latest news on war resisters' cases and more specific information on how best to help them:
P.S. In January, on Martin Luther King Day, a petition called "An Appeal for Redress," signed by more than 500 active duty troops, will be delivered to Congress. It reads: "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home." To support this powerful effort, sponsored by UFPJ member groups Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out, write letters to the editors of your local newspapers and to your congressional representatives bringing this campaign to their attention, and urging them to listen to these courageous soldiers.

The e-mail address for this site is