In today's "Knight Report" --
VP Cheney gets another thunderous respomse to his secret visit to Iraq; and
Democrats decide to continue the War in Iraq by giving President Bush a bimonthly "allowance," rather than an annual "trust fund."
I'm Robert Knight in New York.
The man who mapped Iraq's oilfields as the payoff for the Bush administration's 2003 invasion today visited his prize territory under cover of darkness, where security required Halliburton alumnus and VP Richard Cheney to wear a massive flack-jacket under his blue blazer during yet another secret visit to Baghdad. Nevertheless, Cheney was serenaded with the percussive sound of nearby explosions, just as he was duriung his secret visit to Bagram airnbase in Afghanistan several weeks ago.
Today, mortars fired by the Iraqi patriotic resistance struck near the heavily guarded home of the Iraqi puppet parliament and prime minister inside Baghdad's US controlled Green Zone, with such force and proximity that Cheney's traveling team of reporters and mainstream media stenographers were quickly hustled from the rattling windows that framed a scheduled press conference, to the basement bunker of the US embassy compound, for their own safety.
Following the upstaging of his meeting with US "proconsul" Ryan Crocker and Iraq's de facto military governor, General David Petraeus, the surly VP terminated reporters' questions by growling that "This is just a photo spray." and grumbling that "There still are some security problems, security threats, no question about it." Later, as reporters filed into an embassy conference room for another photo-op of Cheney they overheard him tell his staff "...then we kick the press out."
Cheney's primary purpose was to pump the unratified Iraqi oil law, which was actually written by an American consultancy based near Langley, Virginia -- and which would abolish Iraqi national sovereignty over national petroleum reserves, in favor of lucrative extraction agreements with multinational oil conglomerates, whose proceeds the Bush administration had fondly hoped would help fund the 2-trillion-dollar cost of the ill-advised invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The legislation would also lead to a defacto partition of Iraq by disempowering the central Baghdad government, as well as Iraq's 18 provinces, in favor of so^called "regional governments" -- of which there is currently only one: namely, the Kurdistan regional regime in northern Iraq, which has long enjoyed the favors and clandestine presence of the CIA and Mossad.
But the legitimacy of the Kurdish construct was also challenged during Cheney's visit by the Iraqi resistance, which launched a suicide truck attack in the fortified Kurdish capitol of Irbil, killing nearly 2 dozen and wounding more than 100, in the most significant attack in three years. The "Islamic State of Iraq" claimed responsibility, saying it was in retaliation for the Kurdish government's dispatch of Peshmerga troops and militias to Baghdad for the American security surge.
Cheney's secondary purpose in Iraq was to demand speedy compliance from Iraq's "plantation parliament," which has yet to rubber-stamp the Bush administration's desperate desire for the oil law giveaway. The absentee assembly seldom reaches quorum because nearly half of its members now reside in London and in neighboring countries for their own safety. Cheney (along with most of the American mainstream media) feels competent to judge the parliament's plans for a 2-month recess during the 100-degree summer days of Iraq -- just like the US Congress enjoys during its annual recesses, as do most of America's schoolteachers and students.
More than 4 years into the disastrous occupation that Cheney and the the White House said would be "welcomed with open arms," Cheney today blamed the US-constructed occupation regime for the lack of post-invasion progress, saying of the scheduled Iraqi recess that "Any undue delay would be difficult to explain," and adding that "I do believe that there is a greater sense of urgency now than I'd seen previously."
But, unfortunately for Cheney, much of that urgency is in direct opposition to his presence in Iraq.
The Mahdi Army movement led by Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr today announced large demonstrations in the three holy cities of Kufa, Karbala and Kadhemiyah to protest Cheney's visit. al-Sadr has also withdrawn a half-dozen Sadrist party members from the occupation cabinet of puppet PM Nouri al Maliki, over his refusal to demansd a US troop withdrawal from Iraq. Yesterday the Sunni VP of the occupation, Tarek Al Hashimi, gave Maliki a one-week deadline for accomodatoing Sunni interests and ending the occupation -- or face the withdrarwal of Sunni contingents from Maliki's shaky coalition government.
There was also some back-tracking in Washington, where Democrats in Congress are adopting a new strategy to maintain the war in Iraq, while appearing to oppose it.
The latest Democratic party gambit in prolonging the bipartisan war is to not end funding for the war, but to transfer President Bush from an annual war-making "triust fund," to a bi-monthly "allowance."
The Democrats' proposal would pay for the war through July, then give Congress the option of renewing more money if conditions meet up with arbitrarily-defined "benchmarks" -- not the least of them being... passage of the oil law. The Democrats would also agree to eliminate withdrawal requirements and give Bush a blank check for a potential invasion of neighboring Iran. The bill would fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for three months, but "sequester" $48 billion until Bush made an automatic and unchallenged claim of "progress" in Iraq.
Even so, the White House said today it would still veto the new conditional House legislation -- which Democrats consider a "win-win" tactic, because it would give the impression (with renewals every few weeks) that they are "opposed" to the war and occupation that more than 2/3 of the American public wish to come to a rapid comnclusion.
Nevertheless, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day commander for U.S. military operations in Iraq, revealed today there are NO plans to end the US escalation in Iraq anytime soon. Odierno said "The surge needs to go through the beginning of next year for sure," .
And that's some of the news of this Wednesday, May 9, 2007.
From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for Flashpoints.
That's "The Knight Report" that aired on Wednesday's broadcast of KPFA's Flashpoints Radio which airs Monday through Friday, 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm, on KPFA, KPFB and KFCF Fresno. It can be streamed online live or you can use the archives at KPFA or Flashpoints Radio at any time provided you can listen online. Each Tuesday, Monday's "The Night Report" appears in Hilda's Mix which is a community newsletter for all members but is geared to address the concerns of disabled community members. This was sent into the public account and a) thank you and b) I'm sorry that I didn't see it (or that Ava, Jess, Martha, Shirley or Eli didn't see it) before the snapshot went up today. It would have been included.
In far less space than John F. Burns occupied in today's New York Times, Robert Knight conveys Wednesday's events and does so in a way that is both informative and alive. As stated this morning: "You would know that if you heard Robert Knight's 'The Knight Report' on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio yesterday. You just won't find out about it in the Times." And as you reflect on the fact that the illegal war passed the four year mark in March, let's not pretend that the bulk of the media has gotten any better. They've learned to keep their heads down (the smarter ones) but they haven't changed a great deal. That's really not a surprise. There was no huge change in the days of Woodward & Bernstein. You saw emerging reporters eager to tackle things, yes. But you didn't see the established ones embrace investigative reporting. Not in the mainstream. It was the "young crew" (which could be older people but new to the beat) that (briefly) demonstrated the power of the press. An ahistorical narrative's been written and that's partly because some are too young to have lived through it but it's also because the "decay" resulting from the Clinton-era is a pleasing, self-stroking narrative. Under Reagan, the US government regularly attacked and funded attacks (sometimes covertly) on Latin America. The New York Times' response when the Reagan State Department objected to reality was to pull Raymond Bonner from his beat. Let's not all, as Susan Sontag once rightly said, be stupid together. If you're able to but have not yet sampled the work of Robert Knight, Nora Barrows-Friedman, Dennis Bernstein, Emily Howard, Miguel Molina and others on Flashpoints, please make a point to. (If you like it and can spare it, KPFA is in pledge drive mode currently. All Pacifica stations are so, if there's a voice that speaks to you and you have the money to donate, please consider doing so.) The media could be doing so much more (sadly that also includes some small media). By not even trying, they ensure that the illegal war drags on.
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 Thursday, the American military fatality count in Iraq, since the start of the illegal war, stood at 3357 (ICCC). Tonight? 3384. Since the snapshot earlier today, the US military has announced: "An MNC-I Soldier was severely wounded by small arms fire at approximately 5 p.m. Thursday in Diwaniyah. The Soldier was evacuated for treatment at the Coalition hospital in Baghdad but later died of his wounds." And they announced: "While conducting combat security operations in a southern section of the capital, a Multi-National Division -- Baghdad patrol was attacked with small arms fire, killing one Soldier May 10."
Marcia e-mailed to note Foreign Policy in Focus' "What's Next for the Peace Movement?" (which was also noted by two visitors in the public account). This is a response to
Lawrence Wittner "How the Peace Movement Can Win." Marcia writes some things sound good, some not so. She offered to write her own thoughts down for Hilda's Mix Tuesday if I'd address it tonight. I'm so tired I'm about to fall over so there was no need for a trade, I'll grab it gladly, but that means members should check their inboxes for Marcia's take. We may agree or disagree (Marcia didn't share which ones she enjoyed and which ones she didn't) and that's the nature of a conversation so, first, let's note that Foreign Policy in Focus is addressing the topic (and that you can't say the same for a lot of other publications). It's various people sharing their thoughts. Secondly, Geoffrey Millard shares his thoughts. I'm not going to address those. If I disagreed, I wouldn't say so. (I strongly support Iraq Veterans Against the War.) So it's really not fair to do a highs and/or lows and include him if he's not going to get a low when the others are. (I haven't read his thoughts. I'll do so after this posts. And I'm tired, as this goes on, expect more lows to be noted and less highs.)
So let's dive in. We highlihgted Wittner's essay previously. He is not the voice of god. He is someone initiating a serious conversation about the peace movement, where it stands, where it could go, etc. Wittner is a historian and that brings the very real wisdom and experience that's often missing in an insta-world. It's also true that sometimes we can be so seeped in experience that we're missing new changes.
Frida Berrigan gets the ball rolling rightly by noting that a single message, as proposed by Wittner in his essay, will not allow some issues to be addressed. Expanding on that is the issue of who decides. NOW (which I support) has a NOW PAC that endorsed Hillary Clinton. Not all NOW members are pleased with that. Some are so outraged they've written off the organization. So is it just "majority rule"? Is that how the peace movement would arrive at their single message? Isn't one of the greatest strengths of the peace movement, historically, that it has been able to take up issues that went beyond "mob rule"? So that's the high. The low? I am all in favor of demonstrations and actions to protest the imprisonments at Guantanamo but I am aware of criticism (from non-peace movement types) that the issue is a "justice" issue and not a peace one. (I'm not agreeing with that, I am noting the criticism.) I don't believe Wittner would state that. But some would and they'd say that the action isn't a peace action and therefore doesn't belong in the peace movement which demonstrates the need for a single message.
For the record, I don't agree with the single message nonsense. I've heard that about every protest. "If they didn't allow ___ on the stage/at the mike, I would've gone . . ." But the thing is the illegal war is over 4 years old and the people saying that to me haven't done a damn thing. There have been actions they could take part in that didn't have whatever issue featured or whatever group or whatever person and . . . they still didn't participate. I think a lot of that is nonsense, it's a cop-out that's used and, if whatever was removed, the result would be that the do-nothings found another excuse to do nothing.
Brian Corr identifies what he thinks will work. I'm going to jump to the low on Corr. Myself, I didn't need to hear what Wittner got 'right' in Corr's opinion. I think that's besides the point. It's polite. It also, my opinion, wastes time. Corr's got some very strong points. More room could have been devoted to them if we didn't need to hear about Wittner's "strong points." I'm self-criticizing in that choice for low because I do the same thing. But Corr's points are too strong for readers to have to wait for them. Corr's addressing the issue of representation and diversity and pointing out that for those principles to really mean something you don't just talk them or provide a speaker or two or three . . . , the structure of the organization needs to be diverse. These are real issues that come up in every movement. I'm picking the "low" as the low (and remembering, my own fingers point back at me) because Corr is the only one raising this issue and it doesn't need to share time with Wittner's strong points. One of his key points is a question he cites: "What are you willing to give up so that our organization will look more like the society we are trying to change and will therefore be able to achieve what we all believe in."
Joanne Landy feels there are two chief issues that the movement needs to win -- stopping aggression and providing an alternative. She's thinking long term (that's not an insult). She's calling for plans that detail how we stop what we are against and how we implement what we are in favor of. She then hits her low by bringing up history as examples and the history is old debates between various factions of the left movement going back decades and decades. For younger readers that might be useful, for those who lived through any of it, you may find yourself gnashing your teeth and wondering, "Are we learning or are we back to settling old scores?" If you feel the latter, you may wonder why someone feels the need to bring that into today's peace movement which will carry on long after those of us who lived through those times are gone and is it worth it to saddle today's movement with all that baggage? I'm not saying Landy is attempting to saddle anyone with baggage. I don't recognize her name and she may not have even lived through that. I am saying that will be the reaction of many. I'm not sure how much of a concern that is to today's peace movement because I'm not aware, with few exceptions who have to write about "Mother Russia," of those who take their cues today from the actions of another country. (I've just insulted many older people with that comment. That's not my intent. I can't put it another way. I'm too tired and I lived through some of that nonsense during Vietnam as older people wanted to debate Stalin, Trotsky, et al which really didn't involve those of us who were younger at all because we hadn't bent to the will of something outside of ourselves.) There's also a desire expressed that in fact calls for just the sort of structure that would recreate those divides. (Which were a nightmare to sit through during Vietnam. You just wished the old geezers would take it outside already.)
We must, these are her feelings, be able to oppose Iran for its repression while decrying war against Iran. Okay, the Egyptian government practices blantant homophobia. My point? What she ideally wants is a scorecard we all operate from and I believe that's how a great many schisms and divisions started to begin with in some quarters that toed a party line as opposed to a peace line. Who's creating the scorecard? Who's keeping people on message? Who's doing the teaching/indoctrination? And let's be really clear that the latter would come along. I'm not interested in that, I've never been interested in it. And this idea that there's going to be a scorecard on every country and every issue strikes me as nonsense. Is it appropriate to launch a pre-emptive war of agression? That's the issue for me. No, it's not appropriate, it's illegal. When we get into the "I see your point that Iran is just frightening and abusive to so many but . . ." You've lost the undecicded before you got to the "but".
As I read the suggestion, I see it as creating divisions and I'm quite aware anytime I plan to invite people over (to this day) that with certain older people I have to tick off in my mind where they stood when to know whether or not they can be seated at the same table or even invited to the same function. (I'm not talking about preventing debate and discussion here. I'm talking about people standing up and yelling curses at one another over long held grudges.) These are decade old grudges they've carried that will soon be century old grudges and life is too short.
There are aspects I agree with in her commentary; however, any question of whether or not I was misreading the argument were put to rest for me when she felt the need to bait another organization working to end the Iraq war. That's exactly the crap I'm talking about. "You were for Stalin!" "You ignored ___!" It's ugly and it needs to stop. Calling an organization "deeply compromised" in a supposed essay on peace is just the sort of ugly nonsense that goes back and forth and I don't see that it serves any purpose. When I was a college student, we (my peers and I) would get so sick of these grudge f**ks from the past being brought into the work we were attempting to do (in the then present).
Don Kraus is presenting the reality that groupings can be more effective. They can come together, they can splinter. As needed. He rejects a top-down structure. He is attempting to expand, not divide. A weak point is in likening the structure to entrepreneurial nature and assuming everyone will get the comparison. That would be more effective if it were developed.
He may be assuming that this is the journal of a think tank and readers will know what he's referring to. The mistake is that the journal is available online and will get readers from all over, some of whom scratch their heads in confusion at his aside. This is actually going to a short coming. Someone, if this were a roundtable where people had a free exchange, might ask him to elaborate. Since people aren't exchaning ideas, just offering their own statements, there's no opportunity for that. (The previous opinions might have been strengthened for the same reason.) The biggest weak point for me personally is when he feels we can all get on message. We don't need one voice, we need many voices (my opinion) and that's made clear (for me) by his example which is the opposition to John Bolton for UN ambassador. He thinks the decision to use "one basic message" was a good one and then provides it: "wrong man for the job."
I wouldn't sign onto that slogan. "Wrong man for the job." Meaning there's a "right man"? Which could send the message that the "right" will be a "man."
He then starts confusing the peace movement with lobbyists, PACs and just about everything else you can think of. And we'll all be on the same page! Which raises Corr's points (again, they are strong ones and he's the only one making them) of who gets to determine the message, who gets invited into the structure and the decision making and who doesn't?
George Friday I know so I won't address. (That's neither a slam or an endorsement. I didn't catch that name when I was reading through Marcia's e-mail.)
Saif Rahman offers some interesting examples as he wishes the peace movement had something like NOW, NAACP, etc. You don't want that (my opinion). NARAL became useless the minute it was a DC group. It traded independence for access and lost any real power. Look at what's going on with The Nation as issue after issue is all about those 'lovely' Dems. That's why I do believe in the power of groupings that Kraus was speaking of. Smaller units can ensure that issues are addressed. I also reject the idea that the peace movement is not succeeding (asserted by Wittner). The peace movement has succeeded. Want it to succeed more? Demand that The Nation cover it. Demand that mainstream media cover it. A magazine recently told us what was wrong with the coverage of the January DC action. By someone who was present. For someone who is full of ideas of what the press should have done (ideas I agree with and ideas we've done at The Third Estate Sunday Review for every demonstration we've written about) wastes everyone's time when they refuse to do so in the space they have. This was an activist and she wrote the piece (some points of which I disagreed with strongly) to show you what big media did wrong. If she truly wanted to show what was wrong, she could have done so by providing examples or even making her entire piece about how the mainstream could have covered the demonstration. I'd also add that in limited space, a multi-line quote from MLK isn't advancing anything. You can summarize it. But to use limited space to share a quote? MLK has had his say and should be remembered. But as the only youth voice invited into the discussion, it was more important to hear from that then to hear a lengthy quote (eight lines) from MLK.
Scott Bennett? I'm too tired for. It's too academic.
David Cobb. Cobb's addressing issues. This isn't finger one organization. He's not afraid to call out the members of Congress who are hailed as heroes but practice double speak. His is probably one of the most enjoyable reads. It reads like one of his speeches or like something said in conversation. Example: "If you are for peace, you don't vote for war. It's really pretty simple. Likewise, no peace activist should vote for any candidate unable or unwilling to show the political courage necessary to vote to end the war." Whether you agree with him or not, he is straight foward. (I agree with him for any wondering.) He is also the only one I saw who made the point that Democratic officials don't just abandon the peace movement, they abandona labor.
(They abandon reproductive rights, they abandon African-Americans and women, they . . . go down the list.) If, as Wittner does, you argue that Congressional Dems abandon something, you should be aware that they abandon somethings -- plural.
Bal Pinguel quickly uses Wittner as a leaping off point for a very effective argument against centralization of power. Pinguel is also the only one who is addressing the United States as something other than a place where war will be launched. Pinguel writes of the real costs at home: "As we will come to realize, the poor, people of color, women, and children are the main casualties of the Iraq war at home." I am sorry to pick on the same person from before but she wanted to have a scorecard of agreement that this foreign country does this (plus) and this (bad) and blah, blah, blah. Unlike Pinguel, she didn't have anything to say about the US. The war is harmful to the US and that goes beyond the monies borrowed. Pinguel also notes MLK but doesn't turn over time to a lengthy quote.
Andrew Lichterman notes the reality of setting up a seat in a 'center of power' and gets at the importance of decentralization. Lichterman gets shortchanged by me because my eyes are watering and I have to be up in about two hours (after I go to sleep). He has a strong argument and points of it can be found above.
Now, let me be clear. Those are all my opinions. Read the article and form your own. Tuesday, Marcia will share her opinions. I'm sure she'll approach each argument from a different persepective -- as she should. A dialogue about the peace movement needs to be ongoing. For the most part, it can't even get started. No links, I'm too tired, but CounterPunch has addressed it. Ron Jacobs did in one piece and another person did as well. Foreign Policy in Focus is addressing it now. They're trying to start the dialogue.
Whether you agree with a point of view in the feature or not, every one was engaged in attempting to address the issue. Even Joanne Landy whom I was the most hard on. But I do not believe we pass on the baggage to future generations. I didn't like it when it was passed on to my generation and I have no interest in passing it on to the next. Some people may read Landy and feel she is the most on the money. If that's what you feel then that is correct. The voices you respond to are your own business. In a different article, I would have read Landy's statements differently but, again, I've lived through that nonsense. I'm not interested in it. There are groups that are popular with members and we note them here. That doesn't mean I have to agree with them. Or agree with them 100%. The issue for this community is more voices, not less and when Landy wants to revive old issues, I'm just not interested. (It should also be noted that the organization she finger points at has no voice presented in the article which makes the finger pointing even worse. And it should be noted that on her end no finger pointing may be a motivating factor. She may just be attempting to tell her own truth as she sees it.) If an organization's working for peace, they're working on the same larger issues that everyone in the community is. There's no need to have 100% agreement. And that goes to the point the most successful contributions in the article made, the need for a variety of voices.
I think I'm repeating myself.
Big news today is Tony Blair's announced impending departure. Many European members have e-mailed about that. It's the topic of my column in the gina & krista round-robin and it's also the topic of Three Cool Old Guys' column in the round-robin. In addition, Pru, Gareth and Polly took to the streets of London to get reactions. They will be doing that on Saturday as well for Polly's Brew Sunday. What we will note tonight is this section of Tariq Ali's "Adieu, Blair, Adieu" (CounterPunch) that Brady highlighted:
Tony Blair's success was limited to winning three general elections in a row. A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician, but without much substance; bereft of ideas he eagerly grasped and tried to improve upon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. But though in many ways Blair's programme has been a euphemistic, if bloodier, version of Thatcher's, the style of their departures is very different. Thatcher's overthrow by her fellow-Conservatives was a matter of high drama: an announcement outside the Louvre's glass pyramid during the Paris Congress brokering the end of the Cold War; tears; a crowded House of Commons. Blair makes his unwilling exit against a backdrop of car-bombs and mass carnage in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands left dead or maimed from his policies, and London a prime target for terrorist attack. Thatcher's supporters described themselves afterwards as horror-struck by what they had done. Even Blair's greatest sycophants in the British media: Martin Kettle and Michael White (The Guardian), Andrew Rawnsley (Observer), Philip Stephens (FT) confess to a sense of relief as he finally quits.
Last highlight is from the Green Party of Suffolk:
Kimberly Wilder, Green Party of Suffolk, Press Secretary
(631) 422-4702 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roger Snyder, Green Party of Suffolk, Chair
(631) 351-5763 email@example.com
The Green Party of Suffolk will be holding a "Summer in Setuaket--Green Fundraising Party" on Friday, June 22 from 7pm to 10pm at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket. (Main Street is north of 25A and 6/10th of a mile west of Nichols Road) http://www.setauketneighborhoodhouse.com/ The evening will include a potluck dinner, music, an art auction, and a display of the Green Party of Suffolk’s "Bring Home The Troops" poster contest entries. The winning poster from the youth category is on display now at http://www.gpsuffolk.org/.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes will be served. Admission is $15 (with a dish) and $20 (without a dish). Children are welcome. There will be a silent auction of work by local artists. Please note that political donations are not tax-deductible
Blacklisted & The Banned will perform their unique style of original, political music. Blacklisted features Sonny Meadows, Bob Westcott, Jon Foreman, Bob Campbell and Robert Langley. Blacklisted’s repertoire is sure to include some words against war and you can also expect them to play at least one song from their recently released first album, "I Never Thought I'd Miss Richard Nixon." More information about Blacklisted & The Banned can be found at http://www.sonnymeadows.com/.
The Green Party is an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. The Green Party’s values can be described by the four pillars of: Nonviolence; Grassroots Democracy; Ecological Wisdom; and Social and Economic Justice.
Donations and/or requests for advance tickets can be sent to: Green Party of Suffolk, 14 Robin Drive, Huntington, NY 11743. For more information call Roger at (631) 351-5763 or go to http://www.gpsuffolk.org/
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries may start late tomorrow morning.
and the war drags on
foreign policy in focus
green party of suffolk