Sunday, February 25, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

If my brother had won an Oscar and I asked him the five words that changed his life, he would say, "We regret to inform you." So would the other 3,139 Coalition families who have either heard these words or are about to hear them (three deaths are pending Department of Defense Confirmation right now). During the month of February, 70 U.S. troops have been killed. That means 67 families have gone to their doors to hear, "We regret to inform you" and three families are wondering if their soldier is one of those whose death has not yet been confirmed.
How have the more than half a million Iraqi families been informed of the death of a loved one? Whatever form the news takes, whether the death is witnessed or arrives through an anguished relative, friend, policeman, or the failure of a loved one to come home from the market, those left to process the unthinkable will never forget this day, this minute, the second the knowledge of death hits their consciousness and shatters their heart.
Maybe one of the recipients of an Oscar will make a statement Sunday night. Maybe, one of them will talk about this war that continues to destroy military families and Iraqis. Maybe, someone will have the sensitivity to say that these awards are meaningless in the face of what is being done by the Bush Administration in our names. "And the Oscar goes to"

The above, noted by Mia, is from Missy Comley Beattie's "Five Words That Change Lives" (CounterPunch). okay, here's how it works, lower case is me, rebecca. c.i. started work on this entry but there wasn't time to finish it. i'm just rounding it out. so when you see lowercase, it's me. mia's always great about finding things worth noting and usually from counterpunch. 'and the war drags on ...' pops up each sunday and thursday. originally, sunday was a look at media coverage from around the world and thursday focused on independent media. it's been over a year since they both became 'and the war drags on ...' c.i. would remember who sent in lyrics to donovan's song of the same title, but i don't. i do remember thinking it was strange how well a song about vietnam fit in describing iraq.

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 3137 (AP).
Tonight? ap's count now? i can't find it. c.i. said if i couldn't, just use afp or iccc and note which 1 i was going with. i'm going with iccc's count which is 3156. it's not even march and i say that because december 31st, the count reached 3,000.

violence continued in iraq today. ap reports that a female bomber is responsible for the deaths of at least 41 people at a shi'ite college. another ap story reports muqtada al-sadr reportedly has declared the 'crackdown' is doomed to fail (good call whomever made it, obvious call, in fact) and
offers this quote attributed to him: 'Here we are, watching booby trapped cars exploding to harvest thousands of innocent lives from our beloved people in the middle of a security plan that is controlled by an occupier who does as he pleases.' dalia hassan (mcclatchy newspapers) notes that in addition to the 41 killed, 55 were injured in the bombing, another car bomb killed 1 person and left 4 wounded in baghdad, a mortar attack in baghdad killed 2 people, another baghdad car bomb wounded 4 people, another baghdad mortar attack wounded 3 people, another car bomb killed one person and wounded another while 11 corpses were found in baghdad today.

cnn reports: 'Iraq's President Jalal Talabani has fallen ill and was flown to neighboring Jordan for treatment, though "there is no need to worry," a statement from his office said Sunday.
The statement said Talabani, an Iraqi Kurd who is in his early 70s, became sick "as a result of the hard and continuing work of the past few days." "He is in stable condition and we hope he will come back to this country in a safe and healthy way," the statement said. Talabani is head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two main parties controlling Iraqi Kurdistan.'

meanwhile reuters reports that the nation of islam leader louis farrakhan shared the stage with john conyers (and was introduced by anita baker - whom i love! - russel simmons and conyers)
where he denounced the illegal war, called for the impeachment of bully boy and told conyers if the congress won't impeach the bully boy they should sanction him.

and the united states' ambassador to the united nations under bill clinton, richard holbrooke, said the u.s. should be following england's lead in withdrawing troops - reported by the ap. unlike anita baker, who brought myself and many others much joy with her work, holbrooke's pretty disgusting. so when even the disgusting are calling (in a tiny way) for withdrawal, the situation has reached big proporitions.

now that's some of the violence. and there's a new poll that's been conducted which found that people in the u.s. have a vauge idea of how many americans (in the military) have died in iraq but have no idea how many iraqis have. over 655,000 according to the lancet study awhile back. lori notes cindy sheehan's "Iraqis are People, too" (Common Dreams):

After spending two heart wrenching hours listening to two Iraqi gentlemen, one an educator, one a scientist, giving agonizing testimony about what is really going on in Iraq (outside the Green Zone), in Istanbul, I returned to my nearby hotel room and read something from the AP that tore my heart apart even further.
In the article entitled:
Americans underestimate Iraq death toll, Christopher Gelpi, a Duke University political scientist who tracks public opinion on civilian casualties in war said:
A better understanding of the Iraqi death toll probably wouldn't change already negative public attitudes toward the war much. People in democracies generally don't shy away from inflicting civilian casualties and they may be even more tolerant of them in situations such as Iraq, where many of the civilian deaths are caused by other Iraqis.
This above statement is unspeakably appalling Why do people in democracies not shy away from inflicting human casualties? If this statement is true then why are we spreading American brand of democracy (fake elections and puppet leaders, i.e.: Bush and Malicki) all over the world. Why do we want more democracies around the world? To inflict more civilian casualties? This is not acceptable to me and I renounce governments and shy away from other humans who do accept these casualties.
This statement ignored a very basic fact, also. The invasion/occupation of Iraq is a horror that was based on lies, deceptions and greed. The people of Iraq are suffering terribly in THEIR country while George Bush, Dick Cheney, and 99% of the American public do not have to sacrifice one iota of comfort or concern because of the terror that is being inflicted on a civilian population that have done nothing to be punished so harshly.
Another one of our fellow Americans had this to say about civilian casualties:
"You have to look at who's doing the killing," said Neal Crawford, a restaurant manager in Suttons Bay, Mich., who guessed that about 10,000 Iraqis had been killed. "If these people are dying because a roadside bomb goes off or if there's an insurgent attack in a marketplace, it's an unfortunate circumstance of war -- people die."
This comment also ignores the fact that the occupation of Iraq is a war of choice that never should have been waged. No insurgency existed before American troops were forced to roll their tanks into a country that was filled with innocent people. Would Americans take such a cavalier attitude towards "unfortunate circumstances of war" if it were an equivalent amount of Americans being killed? I don’t think so, 3000 of us were tragically slaughtered on 9-11 and we have used this as a justification to destroy two countries that didn't attack us and commit genocide on people who just want to be left alone. Now Bloody George has killed more Americans than Osama bin Ladin and many, many times more Iraqis.

i think cindy sheehan presents it well. i won't say the same about every 1. in fact, this weekend, i heard a radio scold asking 'what are you going to do about this?' i thought, 'shut up.' seriously, sometimes you want to talk about iraq - in the abstract - sometimes you don't and now you're whining what are 'you' going to do? do your own work stupid ass. (i told c.i. i would watch the language in my comments because the common ills is 'work safe' language wise. otherwise 'ass' would be a much stronger word.) i'm sitting there and listening to that nonsense and thinking, 'quit asking other people what they're going to do and why don't you do something your own damn self?' i mean the scold didn't talk about the rapes (the 2 iraqi woman last week who came forward to say they'd been raped - 1 of whom has already seen her attackers confess to the rape - or about abeer). so exactly what is this 'you' nonsense?

get off your damn high horse and start covering iraq before you start trying to shame your listeners. seriously. and i don't know how this story is presented elsewhere but i also thought the scold was an idiot.

how many people in the u.s. know how many aid workers have died in iraq? that's important as well. and any 1 thinking much about it would realize that before mounting the high horse to exlaim what are you going to do?

i say we throw it back in the faces of all these people who sometimes talk about iraq and sometimes don't: what the hell are you going to do?

are you going to keep wasting our time playing globe trotting, red cross worker rushing from emergency to emergency or are you going to get serious about an illegal war?

now c.i. had included the below on Ehren Watada and i'll just bring you up to date in case you're reading on monday and trying to figure out what you've missed. (i know some members only have online access at work - see i pay attention!) friday, the u.s. military decided to refile charges against Ehren Watada despite the issues of double-jeopardy after his court-martial earlier this month ended in a mistrial advocated by judge toilet (aka john head). if you're in hawaii, you've got an upcoming forum where you can hear about the issues. Joan notes Gregg K. Kakesako's "In the Military" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin):

The University of Hawaii law school will host a debate titled "Lt. (Ehren) Watada's Case and the Legality of the War in Iraq" between Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, and Michael Lewis, a visiting law professor from Northern Ohio University, at 12:40 p.m. Tuesday at the Moot Court Room. It is free and open to the public. On Friday, the Army reinstated charges against Watada, a 1996 Kalani High School graduate, after his first court-martial ended in a mistrial.
Lewis is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School. Before pursuing a legal career, he was a Navy fighter pilot and attended the Navy's Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun). Seitz is a graduate of the University of California Boalt Hall School of Law.

so al-sadr has reportedly noted the 'crackdown' is a failure. it has been 1 since it began in june. micah has a highlight on this from Peter W. Galbraith's "The Surge" (New York Review of Books):

As everyone except Bush seems to understand, Iraq's Shiite-led government has no intention of transforming itself into an inclusive government of national unity. The parties that lead Iraq define themselves--and the state they now control—by their Shiite identity. For them, Saddam's overthrow and their electoral victory is a triumph for Islam's minority sect that has been 1,300 years in the making and a matter of historic justice. They are not going to abandon this achievement for the sake of a particular Iraqi identity urged by an American president.
Sunni Arabs are implacably opposed to an Iraq ruled by Shiites who want to define their country by the religion of the majority. Most see the current Iraqi government as alien and disloyal to the Iraq the Sunni Arabs built. (On the gallows, Saddam spoke for many Sunni Arabs when he warned against the Americans and "the Persians," by which he clearly meant Iraq's Shiite rulers.) The Sunni Arabs will not be reconciled with what they see as small measures, such as a guaranteed share of petroleum, a relaxation of de-Baathification laws, or constitutional amendments. They object to the very things that are quintessential to the claims of the Shiites, namely Shiite rule and the Shiite character of the new Iraq.
Bush's strategy depends on the Iraqi police and army eventually taking over from US forces. Somehow the President imagines that Iraq's army and police are exempt from the country's sectarian and ethnic divisions. In reality, both the army and police are as polarized as the country itself. US training will not make these forces neutral guarantors of public security but will make them more effective killers in Iraq's civil war. It is hard to see how this is in the US interest. The execution of Saddam--in which, as Iraqi officials subsequently admitted, members of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army participated--illustrated just how pervasive is the militia penetration of Iraq's security services. Since the advocates of the President's surge strategy have had no idea about how to make Iraq's police and army committed to an inclusive Iraq, they simply pretend the problem does not exist.
At best, Bush's new strategy will be a costly postponement of the day of reckoning with failure. But it is also a reckless escalation of the military mission in Iraq that could leave US forces fighting a powerful new enemy with only marginally more troops than are now engaged in fighting the Sunni insurgency. The strategy also risks extending Iraq's civil war to the hitherto peaceful Kurdish regions, with no corresponding gain for security in the Arab parts of the country.

and the extension of the civil war seems to be just what is happening. certainly, last week's rape news inflamed tensions further as it appeared that shi'ites could get away with anything and the puppet of the occupation, nouri al-maliki, has decided some things (violence against sunnis, for instance) just aren't worth pursuing. Gareth notes Anne Ashford's "Defeat: Why Bush Cannot Win the War in Iraq" (Socialist Review):

For George Bush "staying the course" remains the order of the day but for most people the war is already lost. Anne Ashford spoke to award winning Iraq correspondent, Patrick Cockburn, and Iraqi exile Sami Ramadani about the resistance, the roots of sectarian violence and about "exit strategies" for the occupiers.
On Christmas Day 2006 around 1,000 British troops reduced the Al-Jamiat police station in Basra to rubble. Their intended targets, members of the city's Serious Crime Unit, had already fled but the soldiers of the 19 Light Brigade blew up the building anyway. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) verbose press release, the police station "erupted in a tower of debris and dust, removing a powerful symbol of oppression and corruption from the Basra skyline". The Serious Crime Unit, British commanders claimed, ran death squads and kidnapping gangs.
These days MoD press officers are kept busy writing breathless accounts of daring raids into lawless Basra on the trail of rogue cops and militia masterminds. Back in 2004 the picture was rather different. Shortly before the first anniversary of the invasion I was at a meeting given by a former senior member of the Coalition Provisional Authority's Southern Region. He talked about how British efforts had created a "virtuous spiral" with "quick impact projects" to rebuild the emergency infrastructure, and complained that the foreign media had not been interested in how coalition forces helped to save the winter tomato crop in Maysan province nor in the reopening of refurbished water works.
Towards the end of the meeting someone asked about the militias which were already a prominent feature of life in Basra. British troops were sometimes faced with the scenario of private armies claiming complete control of an area's security, the official explained: "They say to you, 'We'll guarantee security here. Just leave it to us.' It is very tempting, but this raises the spectre of chaos and civil war." Instead, he went on, particular districts, such as the area in Basra known to the British as the "Shia Flats", had their own "night-watchmen". The Coalition licensed young men, nominated by their elders, to patrol under the supervision of the military forces. "By doing this we are working with the grain to enhance security," he concluded.
Patrick Cockburn understands better than many why the "night-watchmen" did not simply remain under the occupiers' "supervision". He crossed the Syrian border with Iraq secretly in February 2003 and has covered the war ever since, watching as US and British officials have come and gone - along with a constantly changing carousel of "sovereign" Iraqi governments.
"Iraq is full of networks of loyalty that have nothing to do with the state," he argues. "This is true of the Middle East in general. A government is easier to overthrow than to conquer a village. The Americans hadn't really got a grip on what it would be like. They were astonished at the beginning to see that everybody was armed. I remember in the early 1990s Saddam had a buy-back programme for heavy weapons - and they gave money to people who turned up. Iraqi officials told me that a tribe in south east Iraq turned up with three tanks, asking if the government wanted to buy them back."
Yet the failure of the occupation is not fundamentally about US officials' lack of knowledge of Iraq, Cockburn insists. "One of the basic and most important things about the occupation was that it created a reaction. Occupations create a reaction in all countries, particularly when they are as crude as this. But if it had been less crude I don't think it wouldn't have made that much difference.
"It could have been modified, let's say there'd been more US troops. Some 20,000 to 30,000 extra troops sounds like a lot of people, but you put them in Baghdad - greater Baghdad has six million people - you would then see that it's like a drop of water in the ocean. But also the more people you send the greater the reaction. Some things in Iraq are very complicated but some are very simple. In the summer of 2003 whenever there was an attack on a US patrol or a humvee was blown up, I'd drive there immediately and I'd always find cheering crowds. You didn't have to think too much about what the feeling of the people was."

which is what the featherbrain's never grasp - that the occupation itself breeds the resistance. they act like it's a surprise. how stupid are they? Pru gets the last highlight. In London yesterday, people took the streets to demand an end to the illegal war. Matthew Cookson's "100,000 on London anti-war march demand all troops out of Iraq and no Trident replacement" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

A huge demonstration filled the streets of central London today, calling for all occupying troops to be withdrawn from Iraq, no replacement of Britain’s nuclear weapons system and no attack on Iran.
Over 100,000 people joined the protest, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, CND and the British Muslim Initiative.
The march once again showed the depth, breadth and vibrancy of the anti-war movement. Thousands of students, trade unionists, Muslims, Christians and campaigners joined the protest.
Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, told marchers, "Tony Blair says the war on Iraq is not his fault. He took us into war on lies. He is responsible for the death of 655,000 Iraqis
"Blair wants to site the Star Wars US nuclear defence system here. He wants to spend money on Trident not on hospitals and schools.
"Blair had to announce the withdrawal of 1,500 troops from Iraq this week. Our movement made him announce that.
"They want to send 1,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. We want the troops home from there too. This is an unsustainable and unwinnable war.
"We are fed up with a government that is addicted to war. This war is spreading from, Afghanistan to Iraq, Somalia and Lebanon. Now they want to attack Iran.
"If they do we will be on the streets in even greater numbers. We will demonstrate, strike and take action until all these wars are at an end.
John McDonnell MP, the left wing challenger for the Labour leadership, told the marchers, "This tremendous demonstration shows the anger of the British people.
"We have come together every time because we want a peace agenda. We want all British occupying troops out of Iraq immediately and we don't want any threats to Iran.
"We want a peace prime minister, not a warmonger in 10 Downing Street."
Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, said, "London is proud to have this demonstration here today. The overwhelming majority of its population oppose war and the next generation of nuclear weapons.
"The biggest threat humanity faces is climate change. Any government that doesn't make that its priority is betraying the people. A new world is being formed of people who don’t accept the US agenda."
Respect MP George Galloway said, "Tony Blair must go now before he does any more damage. Not content with the death and destruction he has caused all over the world, he is planning with Israel and George Bush another war against a Muslim country -- Iran.
"I warn him that there will be riots in Britain if he takes us into that war."
Solidarity was brought to the marchers from Judith LeBlanc, the co-chair of the US United for Peace and Justice and Augusto Montiel, a Venezuelan MP.
Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Bob Wareing, John Trickett, Green MEP Caroline Lucas and Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans all also spoke.
The support of trade unions for the movement was made clear by the speeches of Paul Mackney, the UCU lecturers’ union joint general secretary, Billy Hayes, the CWU communication workers' union general secretary, and Keith Sonnet, the assistant general secretary of the Unison public sector workers' union.
Rose Gentle of the Military Families Against the War also spoke, as did playwright David Edgar, Doctor Daoud Abdullah of the Muslim Council, Ismail Patel of the British Muslim Initiative, and Noreen Fatima of Stop the War's Muslim Network.
Andrew Murray, the chair of the Stop the War Coalition, stated that the movement would stay on the streets against the occupation and any threats to attack Iran. He called on people to attend the Stop the War Coalition’s People’s Assembly in central London on Tuesday 20 March.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
Pictures of 24 February Troops Out demo in London (1)» Pictures of 24 February Troops Out demo in London (2)» Pictures of 4,000 strong Glasgow Troops Out demo on 24 February
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okay, so again, lowercase was me. hope i filled in alright and didn't let any 1 down. for those who are reading on monday, i'll note 'Ruth's Report' went up saturday night (read it!), kat's 'Kat's Korner: Air kisses from Diana Ross' (her latest review went up saturday morning) and isaiah's 'talking dick' went up this morning. so be sure to check all 3 things out. glad to help out, don't know how much good i did. 1 more time, all lowercase statements were made by me, rebecca, if you have a problem with them, take it up with me.