Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Other Items

The pre-trial hearing in the case of U.S. v. First Lt. Ehren Watada opened Jan. 4 in Ft. Lewis, Wash., as a demonstration of over 100 of Watada’s supporters gathered for a rally and vigil at a freeway overpass near the fort’s entrance.
Watada is the first officer to refuse duty in Iraq, calling it his responsibility to refuse to participate in a war crime by taking part in an illegal war of aggression.
Members of IVAW, which supports Watada, had arrived from across the country to set up "Camp Resistance" across the road from a side gate to the fort, with plans to stay until the end of Lt. Watada's court martial.

[. . .]
Watada's supporters plan nationally coordinated demonstrations for Feb. 5, the day his court-martial is scheduled to open. For more information see

Nolanda noted the above, from John Catalinotto's "GI dissent ready to go public" (Workers' World) . More information on Watada and other war resisters can also be found at Courage to Resist.

Tonight, Bully Boy takes to primetime in an attempt to fool Americans yet again and in an attempt to cow the voices in Congress who might be able to put an end to his illegal war of choice. It's the same roll out we've seen time and again and Eddie notes Danny Schechter's "Can We Really Purge the SURGE?" (News Dissector,

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. If he's succesful and this is not a White House that respects dissent or critics, a step up in the war in Iraq will mean a step up in casulaties but also the likelihood that the Iran campaign will follow sooner rather than later.
Today is the day for the public marketing push, the great sales spiel for "the SURGE strategy to be lauched with a full court press by the Prez and his many surrogates in many forums. The country will be bamboozed by the seeming reasonabless of a strategy that appears to already have and require the cooperation of Iraq. Count the number of times Iraq will be referred to as a Sovereign state. The more they call it that, the more obvious that it is a compliant client state trying to shake the image of being a sectarian stooge.
What we will witness is a well orchetrstated effort to sell what will be presented as a moderate option between the extremes of inaction and overreaction ie. withdrawal. We can expect many "Democrats" led by Joe Lieberman to reluctantly endorse it as the best of many bad options. You can be sure that the Right wing media is primed to supportit with messagepoints galore while a number of moderates . even anti-warvoices will be trotted out to endorse it.
On the surface, its a package--only 20,00 troops (to start of course) with more Iraqis being moved into Baaghdad. A billion bucks to generate jobs (and pay-offs); "benchmarks" to get the Bafghdad government to lighten up on the Sunnis, co-opt the Baathists, and send more do gooders from STATE to make reconstruction noises.
Ultimately this is the kind of BIG LIE MEDIA politics I explore and condemn in my film
Weapons of Mass Deception. ....
Don't say it can't be done. It can and will given the failure of most media outlets to challenge the Administration and give time and space to ant-war voices. not just the same collection of middle of the road pols, and toadies.

Same topic, Lloyd highlights this from Michael Abramowitz, Robin Wright and Thomas E. Ricks' "With Iraq Speech, Bush to Pull Away From His Generals" (Washington Post):

There is little question that more troops for Iraq seemed far from the conventional wisdom in Washington after the beating Bush and the Republican Party took in the midterm elections Nov. 7. Indeed, when Bush met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, on Nov. 30, 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. "The message in Amman was that he wanted to take the lead and put an Iraqi face on it. He wanted to control his own forces," said a U.S. official familiar with the visit.

Far from conventional wisdom and far from publicly supported. As John Yakukey (Gannett News Service) notes: "In the USA TODAY-Gallup Poll, taken Jan. 5-7, only 26 percent approved of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, the lowest percentage since the invasion nearly four years ago. And by a ratio of nearly 2-1 (63 to 32 percent), respondents said they wanted Democrats in Congress, not Bush, to control the direction of the country over the next year. The poll has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points." Yesterday, Ted Kennedy (rightly) noted (in a speech at the National Press Club), "The American people sent a clear message in November that we must change course in Iraq and begin to withdraw our troops, not escalate their presence." Though the Times basically ignores the speech today, they did think enough to blog on it yesterday. (See yesterday's snapshot.) Kathy Kiely reports on it for USA Today and there are links for audio and video. (The Times mentions the speech in the article. Major speech by a lengthy veteran of Congress. People have been dubbed "Man in the News" by the paper for far less. And the paper has devoted "news analysis" pieces to far less.)

Beginning at 6:00 pm tonight (PST), KPFA will broadcast the speech withLarry Bensky providing analysis and discussing the address with various guests. We'll close with Marci's highlight, Tom Hayden's "Presidential Campaign Launched in America with Ethnic Cleansing in IraqAs Debate Begins, Sunnis Decry Massacres" (Common Dreams):

Politically, the coming escalation by 20,000 US troops in Iraq is best understood as the comeback strategy of the neo-conservative Republicans rallying around Sen. John McCain’s presidential banner.
The political spin-doctors are calling it a "surge", an aggressive term implying a kind of post-election erection for Bush and the neo-conservatives. In fact, or course, it is an escalation, a term apparently carrying too much baggage from Vietnam.
The hardcore neo-conservatives, their ranks thinned by defections publicized in Vanity Fair, leaped immediately to salvage the war from November’s voter disapproval. Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and William Kristol of The Weekly Standard began promoting an increase of 50,000 troops, mainly to Baghdad. Bush, who all along said he was listening to his generals, now sacked generals Casey and Abizaid, who had plans to reduce troop levels over one year ago, and who now opposed more American soldiers in Iraqi neighborhoods. John Negroponte, a specialist in the black arts of counter-intelligence, became the State Department's point man on Baghdad. US ambassador Zalman Khalilzad, a Sunni who has been critical of the Shi’a-controlled interior ministry, was removed from his Baghdad post. An Ivy League general, David Petraeus, with a counter-insurgency agenda to prove, took over command of US troops.
Right after the election, Sen. McCain was touring Baghdad with his potential running mate Sen. Joe Lieberman, promoting the plan to escalate, although supported by only 20 percent of Republicans, 11 percent of independent voters, and a statistically-insignificant 4 percent of Democrats [LA Times/Bloomberg, Dec. 11, 2006]
It is a brilliant strategy -- for a faction dealt a losing hand.
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.
If the proposal to escalate somehow is blocked by Congressional Democrats along with a few Republicans facing re-election, McCain and the neo-conservatives will be able to salvage a narrative blaming the "loss of Iraq" on Democrats. Their Plan B is to claim the US should have escalated from the very beginning.

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