Sunday, February 18, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

A federal appeals court refused Friday to overturn the detention of an Army medic who declared his opposition to war on the eve of his deployment to Iraq.
Agustin Aguayo, who enlisted in 2002 during the run-up to the Iraq war, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to release him from a military prison. He had sought an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector.
Aguayo, who has been held in a U.S. prison in Germany since going AWOL, said he enlisted as a way to earn money for his education. Although military operations in Afghanistan were underway and discussions about Iraq were ongoing, he said he never considered that he’d have to fight.
He faces up to seven years in prison on charges of desertion and missing movement and is scheduled to face trial next month, said his attorney, Peter Goldberger.
Goldberger said he would ask the appeals court to reconsider the decision.

The above is from Matt Apuzzo's "Army medic is denied objector status" (AP) Agustin Aguayo is set to be court-martialed (in Germany) March 6th. This is a talking entry for Sunday night, just FYI. Aguayo has been turned down and now faces the scheduled court-martial but we're still not supposed to talk "impeachment" or even offer criticism. On the latter, Mia notes
Missy Comley Beattie's "The Object of My Disaffection" (CounterPunch):

Respect for the office-don't you wonder about the meaning of this? Aren't you aghast that anyone would have the testicles or breasticles to blast and bash me or anyone else for criticizing the occupier of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Truth is I receive e-mails from people who read my articles and don't like it that I unleash my inner insight and open a can of fury on George Bush. But it's not just the internet responders. I actually know people who can't bring themselves to say anything remotely disapproving of the worst president in the history of presidents because they respect the office of the presidency. Egad.
The office of the presidency-yeah, this sounds impressive, conjuring a visual of noble decisions being made after exhaustive examination during which choices are weighed and consequences are considered.
The office of the presidency-yeah, this sounds heavy, conjuring images of sleepless nights that ought to accompany great responsibility.
But, according to George, he sleeps fine. And each of us should wonder why. Because there are now almost 3,150 U.S. reasons why George Bush should lose sleep. And there are more than half a million Iraqi reasons why George Bush should suffer insomnia and wonder, not only just why he ever ran for public office in the first place but question, why he was ever born. Soon, there may be just as many Iranian reasons for George Bush to need Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta, or something much stronger. But he doesn't. I repeat-George Bush sleeps fine. He lies down to his own idea of pleasant dreams.

Yeah, he brags about sleeping just fine, like Bully Mama, no reality or hardship need to touch his "beautiful mind." In the real world, people aren't so fortunate. In the real world people are dying because of his illegal war.

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 3123 (AP).
Tonight? AP's count is now 3137. So that's fourteen more and the 'crackdown' (which was never more than a pancea) has, yet again, cracked up. Brian Murphy (AP) reports: "Militants struck back Sunday in their first major blow against a U.S.-led security clampdown in Baghdad with car bombings that killed at least 63 people, left scores injured and sent a grim message to officials boasting that extremist factions were on the run. The attacks in mostly Shiite areas - twin explosions in an open-air market that claimed 62 lives and a third blast that killed one - were a sobering reminder of the challenges confronting any effort to rattle the well-armed and well-hidden insurgents. Instead, it was the Iraqi commanders of the security sweep feeling the sting." In addition, Reuters notes a car bomb in Baghdad that killed two and wounded eleven, a bomb attack in Samawa wounded four bodyguards, five corpses were discovered in Baghdad (on Saturday), three in Balad (on Saturday), one in Suwayra today, and two today in Sulaiman Pak.

That's only some of the news. There were also announced deaths. The US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died in a grenade explosion in a northern neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Feb 17." And they announced: "Insurgent small arms fire targeted a Multi-National Division - Baghdad dismounted patrol north of the Iraqi capital, killing one Soldier Feb 17. The unit was conducting a combat security patrol on foot when they came under fire, killing the Soldier. There were no other U.S. casualties in this attack."

Dropping back to last week's efforts to sell/spin Iran as the next war zone, the administration found a lot of stenographers willing to repeat the nonsense with little to no questioning. (Proving that the lesson of Judith Miller was no change at all.) From Patrick Cockburn's "First, the US Deluded Itself About the War, Then About the Source of the Weapons" (Independent of London via Common Dreams):

There is something ludicrous about the attempt by the US military in Iraq to persuade the world that the simple but devastating roadside bomb or IED (improvised explosive device) is a highly developed weapon requiring Iranian expertise.
Here is the official police report of one IED attack. It reads: "At about 8.25am, 100 men of the X Regt with their colonel in charge, marched with their band from the military barracks at Y to their rifle range via fixed route. When they got to place Z a land mine exploded, killing three outright and wounding 22 others, three of these died shortly afterwards. The mine was connected to an electric battery by about 150 yards of cable. It is believed that there were only two men involved in carrying out this outrage."
This is fairly typical of a roadside bomb. It might have happened in Iraq yesterday - except it didn't. The IED in question exploded in the town of Youghal in County Cork on 21 June 1921. I happen to have read the Royal Irish Constabulary report on the incident, because I was born 29 years later about two miles away from the site.
IEDs have not changed much in the decades that followed. They have been used everywhere from Cyprus to Vietnam. They are cheap and easy to make, and can be detonated by a single person. They came as a nasty shock to the incoming US soldiers who invaded Iraq in 2003 because they were so well equipped to fight the Soviet army - American military procurement long ago detached itself from real conditions on the battlefield.

And other facts that put the spin into doubt emerge elsewhere, such as from Farah Stockman and Thanassis Cambanis' "Doubts raised on linking of Iran to US deaths in Iraq" (Boston Globe):

According to data compiled by the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a nonprofit group that tracks US deaths, a staggering 60 percent or more of US deaths have occurred in areas where Sunni insurgents are active. Those insurgents are believed to receive much of their funding and weapons from private donors in Sunni Arab countries, including Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, not Iran. Only 4 percent of US casualties have taken place in Shi'ite controlled areas in the provinces, while about a quarter of total US fatalities have taken place in Baghdad, where both Shi'ites and Sunnis fighters operate.
That data goes against the assertion on Sunday by a US official that "Iran is a significant contributor to attacks on coalition forces."

And it cuts both ways. From Kim Murphy's "Iran alleges U.S. involvement in deadly attack" (Los Angeles Times):

Bullet cartridges bearing a U.S. insignia and English lettering were among the weaponry seized last week from Sunni militants suspected of killing 11 members of Shiite-dominated Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Iranian officials said Sunday.
A photograph of the cartridge box, along with an array of other ammunition, was published by Iranian newspapers and agencies.
The Iranians did not provide direct access to the weapons and explosives, drawing skepticism from analysts, and there was no way to evaluate the claims independently. But Iran is worried that the United States is quietly helping Iranian opposition groups foment internal instability, even while the Bush administration is directly confronting Iran over its nuclear program and its alleged arming of Shiite militants in Iraq.

If the US can put out unsourced claims, why not others?

Okay, the talking part. Jess and Ty (no links, I'm tired) were replying to e-mails (Jess to this site and Ty to Third) and a number of e-mails came in on that noting they seemed distant or detached or bothered. That's actually my fault. Somewhere in hour two of waiting for illustrations to upload to Flickr, I passed out. When I came to, I crawled into bed. I didn't realize that it was 'freaky' until after I got up a few hours later. (By the way, Jim posted to the first entry today. I was out of it and waiting for Third's links to be available, so he just put those in and posted it.) When I realized there was concern (over the fact that I banged the hell, repeatedly, out of my head when I hit the ground), I called Elaine so she could attest that this is usually how a faint has always gone for me. (In fact, at one point, for kicks -- this was years ago and is not recommended, just something stupid kids do and grow out of it -- a group of us were attempting to pass out. I know Elaine's brother managed to catch me and slid me to the floor, but I know, once I was on the floor, I was banging my head repeatedly against it.) So once Elaine did explain that to me, everyone was fine. Susan and Julia both specifically e-mailed asking, "Is something wrong with you?" so I'll guess that others who wrote today and got replies may have picked up on something as well.

That's all it was. That and being up since six am Saturday morning and still up after 4:00 pm today. My head is killing me (from banging it while I was out) but there's nothing "seriously wrong" as Marcia wondered in her e-mail.

That is why we don't have a note finished at Third. But anyway, that's also why this entry will be a challenge to follow. Congrats if you've been able to. There will be at least one entry (by me) tomorrow and Ruth's planning on doing her report. I was already iffy on the snapshot. If there are a number of things going on, there may end up being a snapshot, but it's highly likely that there won't be.

Jeremy Brecher's "A New Paradigm for Peace in Iraq" is popping up in e-mails. Link goes to Common Dreams by the way. We're holding our Nation stats for next week for two reasons -- one it didn't fit into the theme that suddenly developed for The Third Estate Sunday Review, two, I'm furious, there's no other word. Harvard grads whose parents are 'connected' don't need to be in the internship program at The Nation and that's certainly not how it's sold when they have their hands out (yet again) begging. The internship program is supposed to assist and help those in need get a foot in the door. By it's very nature, an internship program is supposed to help people who would otherwise be shut out. When you're jetting from your Harvard campus to another country, with a movie star, you're not suffering. You have no doors closed to you. You do have a backroom deal going on organized between your parents and the magazine. And that's digusting. Considering how few African-Americans or Latinos ever pop up in that damn magazine, for them to be handing out internships to spoiled, pampered, jet setting children is appalling. (It's equally appalling that someone in that situation would accept such an internship.) The whole thing comes at a time when Ralph Nader just made the point about how elitists some are (Friday on KPFA's Living Room with Kris Welch).

So I've just explained that I am furious with the magazine like never before (and members know I have been the one pulling punches in this community). Brecher may be getting caught in the fallout of my fury. I think the article is a good step, I will say that, it's past time that they talk about withdrawal. I think it's not very honest to, when you finally get around to addressing what Naomi Klein, Sharon Smith, Howard Zinn, Anthony Arnove, Antonia Juhasz, etc., have been addressing all along, play like people are as stupid as your magazine. Nobody is as stupid as The Nation. In fact that might need to be the new advertising slogan: "Nobody is as stupid as The Nation." In a baby steps kind of way, at another time, I could find things to applaud in Brecher's article. Instead, it's flaws are on full display, such as when he talks about the oil privatization in a really superficial way (he can't offer readers the percentages involved that will be going out of the country) and he can't note Antonia Juhasz who has done more work on that subject than anyone else in the last year. So I think the article's pretty much worthless. People are aware of what withdrawal means if, unlike The Nation, they've been advocating it and exploring the topic for some time. If that's not fair to Brecher's article, my apologies but I'm disgusted by the internship program. (And if a spoiled brat is offended by the comments above, in my college days, I was called one as well -- of course, I turned down opportunities and suggested they go to other people -- people in need -- because I knew I already had finanical opportunities that some people will never have.)

That's it for tonight. The e-mail address for this site is