Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, January 10, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq with the discovery of over 70 corpses reported, Bully Boy goes primetime (you bought a flat screen for that?), the US military announces the deaths of three more US troops, US war resisters get attention (no, not from The Nation), and BuzzFlash interviews activist and author  Antonia Juhasz.
Starting with the speech to get it out of the way.  Later today (9:00 pm EST, 8:00 pm Central and 6:00 pm PST), Bully Boy will be making a speech where he will announce his intent to send more US troops into his illegal war despite having declared, on May 1, 2003, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.  In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."  Three years and eight months later, Bully Boy now wants to send more troops to Iraq.  As Danny Schechter (News Dissector) wrote, "Today is the day when the Bush Administration takes its next big shot like some schoolyard bully determined that his way is the only way."
3018 US troops have died in Iraq and Bully Boy now wants to send more troops.  Michael Abramowitz, Robin Wright and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported today that when Bully Boy met with Nouri al-Maliki (finally) in Jordan, "Maliki did not ask for more American troops as part of a new Baghdad security plan he presented to Bush, U.S. officials said.  Maliki's idea was to lower the U.S. profile, not raise it."  But now Bully Boy wants to send more US troops.
Iraqis want foreign troops out of their country, as polls have consistently demonstrated, and The Lancet study estimated over 655,000 Iraqis have lost their lives during the illegal war.  Now Bully Boy wants to send more troops.
On Democracy Now! today, one Iraqi, Abu Haider, voiced his opinion, "All the stances of America are indications of negative positions towards society and its citizens.Their decisions and credibility are negative. They damaged this country.  They said that they are here to spread freedom and democracy in Iraqi society but they did nothing but bring terrorism.”  Now Bully Boy wants to send more troops.  Abu Haider lives in Baghdad where most of the escalated troops will go (some, about a fifth, will also go to Al-Anbar Province). 
The BBC World Affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds notes how the 'fresh start' (that's what the US administration is calling it) "has echoes of Vietnam in the belief that another push will get the job done" and notes five specific echoes -- "the realisation in Washington that it is not winning"; "trying to hand over responsibility to the local government in the midst of battle, not after it"; "belief by the US administration that more troops are an important part of the answer"; "opposite belief by others that the enterprise cannot work and that disengagement must be sought"; and ""in Vietnam too the president consulted and outside group -- they were called the Wise Men and, like the Iraq Study group, they too urged a policy designed to lead to withdrawal."
Speaking yesterday on The KPFA Evening News, Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights and co-host of WBAI's Law and Disorder) declared, "Basically we can look at this in a few ways.  One is you [Congress] can cut off the funding and that they have a constitutional right to do.  Secondly, they could pass a resolution under the war powers resolution that repeals the authorization to use force in Iraq I think [Ted] Kennedy's argument is something.  There better argument in Congress is to say 'We repeal the Iraq War Resolution' --  that would take away the president's authority.  So Congress has remedies here.  The question is are the Democrats going to be willing to stand up and take them or are they just going to talk?  Kennedy, obviously, is going to do more than talk."
Ratner was referring to US Senator Edward Kennedy's speech to the National Press Club yesterday (see yesterday's snapshot) where Kennedy called the illegal war in Iraq "George Bush's Vietnam" and spoke of "introducing legislation to reclaim the rightful role of Congress and the people's right to a full voice in the President's plan to send more troops to Iraq.  My bill say that no additional troops can be sent and no additional dollars can be spent on such an escalation, unless and until Congress approves the President's plan."  The speech can be found in full in Kate Phillip's blog post at the New York Times and Kathy Kiely's USA Today report on the speech contains links to the audio and video of it.
What Micheal Ratner was referring when he noted a second option the US Congress had is something that another Michael apparently slept through (Michael Gordon of the New York Times), the reaction to Tricky Dick's announcement that he would bomb Cambodia led to a Senate vote to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which was followed by House of Representatives doing the same.
As Kennedy and other grown ups, including US House Rep. and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, attempt to address Bully Boy's non-stop, illegal war of choice, Ron Elving (NPR) observes that: "Anti-war activists have gained ground -- both at the polls and in the polls -- over the past two months.  A new Democratic majority is in place in Congress and surveys find well over half the public now wants to get the United States out of Iraq.  Not one American in five supports the idea of sending more troops to fight there.  Yet, before this month is over, opponents of the war will get a double does of disappointment" -- the first being Bully Boy's speech today and the second being, according to Elving, will be "the Democrats, empowered as the majority in House and Senate by dint of those November elections, will not be able to stop the greater troop committment."
Tom Hayden (Common Dreams) observes: "If and when the 20,000 Americans plunge into Baghdad neighborhoods, there will be dramatic television coverage of soldiers at risk.  It is possible, though far from easy, to 'stabilize' a Baghdad neighborhood for several months or one year, carrying the surge into the next presidential cycle.  The strategy fits the polling data showing only 21 percent of Americans favor immediate withdrawal, while the moderate middle might be open to an undefined new strategy if convinced it will shorten the war and bring the troops home.  More likely, the ranks of the peace movement are likely to swell with people angry over the perceived betrayal by Bush of the November voter mandate.  A failure by majority Democrats to prevent the escalation will convince more people to take to the streets or look to 2008 for a fix." 
America Says NO Surge! President Bush is expected to give his "new direction in Iraq" speech this Wednesday, January 10th -- he wants to increase the number of troops on the ground in Iraq. We have to make it clear that Americans do NOT want more troops in Iraq and we have to act fast! True Majority has created a coalition called AMERICA SAYS NO. We will take to the streets together after Bush makes his expected call for escalation in Iraq. We need to stop this "surge" with a stronger surge of protest. Can you join an event this week and help stop the surge? Click here to find an event near you and if you can't find one create your own. Read our latest action alert for more details.
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) speaks with US soldiers who, don't tell Bully Boy, don't see escalation as an answer in Iraq.  Those who would like to listen to the Bully Boy's speech tonight or, at least, to hear an intelligent discussion of it, KPFA and WBAI will be carrying it live with Larry Bensky offering analysis and discussion with various guests which you can listen to online (free of charge, no quiz to take or membership to apply for).  For those looking for something else to listen to . . . 
In fact, the dispassionate tone of the "debate" about Iraq in The New York Times and on every television screen seems psychotically remote from the reality of what will happen if war actually occurs. We are talking about raining death down on human beings, about thousands and thousands of howling wounded human beings, dismembered corpses in pools of blood. Is this one of the "lessons of Vietnam" that people have learned--that the immorality of this unspeakable murdering must never be mentioned? That the discussion of murder must never mention murder, and that even the critics of murder must always criticize it because it turns out not to be in our own best interest? Must these critics always say that the murders would come at too high a price for us, would be too expensive, would unbalance the budget, hurt the economy, cause us to stint on domestic priorities; that it would lose us our friends, that it would create new enemies? Can we never say that this butchering of human beings is horrifying and wrong?
That is from Wallace Shawn's Fragments from a Diary (written in 2003) and was among the pieces performed on WBAI's Theater Special: THAW ON THE AIR which broadcast Monday night and which is now in the WBAI archives (for a limited time) -- Jonah tells us it's filed under "Home Fries," Monday, January 8th, 9:00 pm.  Those interested in the broadcast but unable to listen can check out Rebecca's report on it.
Turning to news of war resistance, Robert Fantina (CounterPunch) writes of Ivan Brobeck.  Yes, Ivan Brobeck -- the war resister independent media forgot.  Or those who keep up.  The Full Brobeck is a term the community uses to note what passes for coverage of war resisters in independent media -- so named when only  KPFA's Flashpoints covered Brobeck when he returned to the US from Canada to turn himself on election day (November 6, 2006 -- day before the election -- is when the interview conducted by Nora Barrows-Friedman aired).  Robert Fantina (CounterPunch) writes: "Lance Corporal Ivan Brobeck, Sergeant Ricky Clousing, Sergeant Kevin Benderman, Sergeant Camilo Mejia: each a veteran of the Iraq war, and each charged with desertion.   Mr. Benderman, Mr. Mejia and Mr. Clousing were convicted, sentenced and have completed prison time.  Mr. Brobeck is currently serving an 8-month sentence.  Yet with government studies indicating that thousands of soldiers have deserted during the Iraq war, why are only a few charged, while so many others are basically ignored?  This is not a new phenomenon.  As communication has improved over the two centuries of America's life, the ability for war resisters to reach a wider audience has greatly increased.  The four brave men listed above demonstrated their courage first on the battlefield.  They then not only further showed their bravery by leaving the U.S. military -- a tremendously brave act in and of itself -- they went the additional step of speaking out publicly against the war.  This, it seems, is what brought down the wrath of the U.S. government upon them."
In Peggy Got A Message For Me, From Jesus news: Wonderful article but can someone get it to The Nation -- with sections highlighted?  ("Peggy Get . . ." line from Tori Amos' "Cooling" off To Venus And Back.)  Elaine will be addressing that topic this evening at Like Maria Said Paz.  That topic?  The Nation's refusal to cover war resisters.
Meanwhile William Hughes (San Francisco Indymedia) reports that, in a recent speech, Daniel Ellsberg opposed the escalation option (that Bully Boy will be pimping in the Big Speech), opposed expanding the war and "lauded Lt. Ehren Watada for his principled stand against the Iraqi war."  Ehren Watada is the first US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  Last week, a pre-trial hearing began which preceeds the planned February 5th court-martial.  John Catalinotto (Workers World) reports that Camp Resistance is across from Fort Lewis (where Watada is stationed) and "plans to stay until the end of Lt. Watada's court-martial" while there will be "nationally coordinated demonstrations for Feb. 5, the day his court-martial is scheduled to open."
Information about Camp Resistance can be found in The Nation.  Did you laugh at that idea?  Me too.  Seriously, information about Camp Resistance can be found at Iraq Veterans Against the War which has a page for it and other actions entitled Iraq Veterans Against The War Deployed with photos and blog posts.
Watada and Brobeck are a part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next week (MLK day).  [Yes, that is a federal holiday and, yes, Congress won't be in session.]
And remember that Lisa Brobeck is requesting people write her husband, war resister Ivan Brobeck, "so he is constantly reminded that he is not alone during this time in the brig and that he is supported in his brave and courages stand."  The address:
LCPL Ivan S. Brobeck 
MCB Quantico Brig 
3247 Elrod Avenue 
Quantico, Virginia 22134 

In Iraq today -- all was calm and peaceful -- or to judge by the US media it was.  In
reality . . .
Reuters notes a car bombing in Mahmudiya that took one life and wounded three other people; a bombing in Tal Afar that killed the bomber, 4 other people and left 11 wounded; near Tal Afar, a bombing "killed a child and wounded three policemen and one civilian"; and a bombing in Kirkuk wounded three people.  Abdelamir Hanun (AFP) reports four "wounded in two roadside bomb attacks" in Baghdad, "one of which also ruptured a water pipeline supplying the impoverished Shiite slum district of Sadr City."  Mohhamed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the bomb that ruptured the water pipeline was on Al Kanat Street and that "the pipe was destroyed which led to the cut of the water supply to sadr city."
Abdelamir Hanun (AFP) reports: "Nine Iraqi Shiites coming home from Mecca after the annual hajj pilgrimage have been shot dead in cold blood by gunmen" amd also notes that "a woman and a male nurse" were shot dead in Mosul.
Abdelamir Hanun (AFP) notes that 60 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that 8 corpses were discovered in Mosul, 4 in Mahaweel, 4 corpses were discovered in Qaim,  and 1 in Iskandariya.  (That's a total of 77 corpses discovered today.)
Today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, died Tuesday as a result of injuries sustained from a gunshot wound while conducting combat operations in Diyala Province."  And they announced: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group and One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Tuesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."
Meanwhile, Ross Bynum (AP) reports that the Army's 3rd Infantry Division is preparing for their third deployment to Iraq in four years: "The 3rd Infantry, which has about 19,000 troops, is the first Army division to be tapped for a third deployment to the war.  Barely a year has passed since its soldiers returned from their last yearlong rotation."
And the slaughter of Haifa Street continues (see yesterday's snapshot).  Leila Fadel and Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) note that "residents from the predominantly Sunni Muslim area and Sunni leaders said the American forces had been duped by Iraq's Shiite-dominated security forces into participating in a plan to drive Sunnis from the area."  CBS and AP note that "Haifa Street is a broad, two-lane thoroughfare that stretches northwest from the Green Zone through the heart of Baghdad along the Tigris river.  Apartment buildings of up to ten sotries high line the street, with retail space on the ground level."  AFP notes that, today, "troops were out in force on the streets and most residents stayed indoors" and, most importantly, that the assault took place approximately one mile from the Green Zone.  Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) notes Haifa Street "is virtually adjacent to the heavily fortified Green Zone".
Turning to the US, BuzzFlash interviews Antonia Juhasz (author of THE BU$H AGENDA which they are offering as a premium) on the topic of the illegal war:
BuzzFlash:  You're saying that the war in Iraq was as much economic invasion as it was a militarily one.   
Antonia Juhasz:  Yes, the two most important chapters of my book cover the economic invasion of Iraq and the Middle East trade area and point to what I think are the heart of the problems.  The Bush Administration is pushing aggressively forward on rewriting Iraq's oil infrastructure to allow greater control and access to U.S. corporations for its oil under the ground, for exploration and production.  I believe that's what's keeping the Bush Administration in Iraq and pointed towards having the United States military remain in Iraq.   
Iraq isn’t the end.  One month after the invasion, the Bush Administration announced plans to expand the Middle East as a free trade area.  That free trade pact is moving along quickly, with individual countries making deals with the U.S. out of fear of economic or military retribution.  Included in those agreements are increased access to those countries' oil. 
The Democratic Congress is going to have to be forced to address these free trade agendas, both in Iraq and across the Middle East, and to reject them.  The occupation of Iraq has to end, but not just the military occupation, also the corporate occupation.  The United States cannot use the stick of the war to press its own economic agenda across the Middle East.  The results will be just as devastating to the rest of the Middle East as they have been in Iraq, and, of course, reverberate back to the United States.   
FYI, A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College in Tacoma, Washington and Antonia Juhasz will be among those participating.
Others include Ann Wright, Denis Halliday, Daniel Ellsberg, Nadia McCaffrey, Darrell Anderson.
Finally, Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) take a look at the attacks on media (government attacks) in Iraq noting that the "press freedom index of the watchdog Reporters Without Borders" is lower now than it was before the start of the illegal war, the banning of journalists, the expelling of outlets (such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya) and being targeted "for reproting the growing resistance to the occupation."

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