Less than a month before his court-martial begins, Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada turned to the public Friday, urging it to get involved in the discussion about the Iraq war.
Seven months ago, Watada made headlines when he refused to deploy to Iraq with a Fort Lewis-based Stryker Brigade, saying the war was illegal. His decision drew the attention of the anti-war movement, and eventually charges for conduct unbecoming an officer and missing a troop movement.
On Friday, Watada continued to talk, wondering about the lack of public outrage over the nearly four-year-old war.
"Could it be that ... many people don't care about the illegality of this war?" Watada asked students and others who packed a hall at Seattle Central Community College. "It is my belief that the American people have relinquished their responsibility."
He also blamed elected officials.
[. . .]
"We have all been deceived," Watada told the audience. The "American people have the power to end this war."
The above is from Paul Nyhan's "Public inaction dismays Watada" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and if you're looking for someone to blame, blame the media. I'm not speaking of Nyhan or any of the others, big and small media, who have covered Ehren Watada. I am speaking of a cowardly, disinterested independent media which doesn't show any interest in war resisters but also demonstrates very little interest in the war. It's so much more fun, apparently, to gas bag about Steny or Obama or whatever else useless subject that can squeeze out several columns of nonsense from. Independent media is supposed to lead and it hasn't.
People are aware of the war, they are taking action. They exist across the country. If they are disconnected or if you are from them, media may go a long way to explaining that. Where it could be leading, independent media abdicates. (There are exceptions and we've noted them before. Exceptions tend to get noted in the snapshots as well because they are doing their job.)
Where is the outrage?
Well, a recent panel supposedly on Iraq was full of people who didn't want to discuss Iraq. They wanted to talk about Iran and a little bit about Syria. They were bored with Iraq, they had nothing to say about it. They had the war lust in their own way as they rushed, spellbound, to discuss the potential of war on Iran. That's very likely a possibility. But it's also true that the topic was Iraq, that the guests were all invited to speak of Iraq, that Iraq has gone to hell and that they didn't have time for that.
This week, we learned that Steven D. Green, considered the ringleader in the rape of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the murders of her and her family, had been diagnosed with mental issues ("homicidal ideations") three months prior to the crime he allegedly committed. (James Barker has confessed to his role in the rape and murders and named others in a court of law.) That wasn't worth discussing. The refugee crisis wasn't worth discussing. The death squads weren't worth discussing.
And when Antonia Juhasz brought up the very real problems that will come about if legislation is passed in the Iraqi parliament the attitude was "Oh, that will be overturned a few years on down the line, I'm not worried about that. Let me talk about Iran!"
Oh, how nice for you -- if not for Iraqis. In a few years (5? 10? 15? . . .), when another government is in place, you believe that the Iraqi people may get some sort of break. In the meantime we're talking about a nation that's lived under sanctions throughout the 90s and is now a war zone. We're talking about a country where the UN estimates 100 die each day. We're talking about a country where malnutrition is a serious issue for children. But all you give a damn about is jaw boning about the prospect of another war?
If Iraq isn't getting across to the people, you heard why on Kris Welch's Living Room Thursday. That's not a slap at Welch who did a find job moderating the panel. That is to note that there were four guests and all are supposed experts on the topic of Iraq but it wasn't enough to note that there was a concern about a future war with Iran, the two male guests had to make that their topics.
I'm sorry, that doesn't cut it. Now maybe that war talk makes the males feel macho, I have no idea. I do know the show was about Iraq, the people picked for the panel were selected because they could speak about Iraq and the two male guests elected not to. That's nonsense.
Apparently, they wanted to be Jimmy the Greek and get their predicitions in. In the meantime, Iraq's falling apart and that wasn't worth addressing to them.
There are death squads, there are bombs, there are drive-bys, there are discovered corpses daily but the males elected to rush after the possibility of war on Iran. War on Iran wasn't the scheduled topic. Noting their concerns of that did not require them making it their main point -- not on a show that was supposed to be about Iraq. So portion out the blame to include people who, when presented with the opportunity to discuss Iraq, elect not to.
Ehren Watada is "scheduled to speak tomorrow at the Coupeville Recreation Hall, 901 NW Alexander ST., Whidbey Island in Coupeville, Washington at 1:00 pm. Also tomorrow, there will be a benefit performance for him Corvallis, OR when Crooked Kate and the Childers-Carson Duo take the stage of the Sunnyside-Up (116 N.W. Third St.) at six pm. In addition, later this month A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College to address the illegality of the war. In addition, Iraq Veterans Against the War are staging Camp Resistance in support of Watada." (That's from yesterday's snapshot.) His court-martial is set for February 5th. If you're wondering where the impassioned editorials from independent media defending him are, join the club. It's disgusting. And that's the state of our independent media today (with few exceptions). So let's all stop pretending that it's the public and start demanding more from our media, big and small.
Turning to the New York Times . . .
Never forget that David E. Sanger served in the Elite Fluff Patrol. Even in those giddy days, he never hit the low he does today but . . . it take a war pornographer and teaming him with such a thing (Michael Gordon) produces "Rice Says Bush Authorized Iranians’ Arrest in Iraq" which contains this non-fact presented as fact:
The White House decision to authorize the aggressive steps against Iranians in Iraq appears to formalize the American effort to contain Iran's ambitions as a new front in the Iraq war.
Seers Gordo and Sanger have looked into Iran's groin (come on, Gordo doesn't recognize hearts) and seem something troubling, apparently. The whole article is strung around a few for the record remarks by Rice and a many more remarks made by her (off the record) and by others. It's stenography at its finest so it makes sense that the paper would team the war pornographer with one of the secretarial pool known as the Elite Fluff Patrol.
Tomorrow, look for one of the stenographers to write up, at length, Bully Boy's announcement that critics of his escalation should offer suggestions -- "those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible." Excuse me, but many on the left (and, in fact on the right as well) have been calling for withdrawal for some time. It's also true that the James Baker Circle Jerk issued a number of suggestions -- which were all blown off by "The Destroyer" (who wants to be called "The Decider"). He's playing dumb and let's see which mindless scribe at the paper joins him tomorrow in playing dumb and acting as though there aren't many alternatives that have been proposed for some time.
Meanwhile Bully Boy wants to escalate. He wants to send more US troops over and his latest 'answer' is for them to train Iraqis (which has resulted in the death of US troops, but we're all supposed to play dumb there as well). Lloyd notes this from Nancy Trejos' "Battling With Sadr for Iraqi Soldiers' Hearts" (Washington Post):
At best, said several U.S. soldiers interviewed at the base this month, some of the Iraqi troops they advise are sympathetic to Sadr and his army. At worst, they said, some are members of the militia, also known as Jaish al-Mahdi. Despite the uneasiness of the alliance, 100 U.S. troops and 500 Iraqi soldiers have conducted joint raids and shared a base on the eastern side of the Tigris River, once a mixed area that is becoming predominantly Shiite.
In the meantime, he's started an illegal war that he refuses to end and now he wants to whine that there are no other solutions. And Condi's all over the wires with her 'we won't pull the plug on Iraq.' I guess that means they plan to send in Jeb and sherrif deputies?
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