Sunday, May 20, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

The US Army tried to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr, the widely revered Shia cleric, after luring him to peace negotiations at a house in the holy city of Najaf, which it then attacked, according to a senior Iraqi government official.
The revelation of this extraordinary plot, which would probably have provoked an uprising by outraged Shia if it had succeeded, has left a legacy of bitter distrust in the mind of Mr Sadr for which the US and its allies in Iraq may still be paying. "I believe that particular incident made Muqtada lose any confidence or trust in the [US-led] coalition and made him really wild," the Iraqi National Security Adviser Dr Mowaffaq Rubai'e told me in an interview. It is not known who gave the orders for the attempt on Mr Sadr but it is one of a series of ill-considered and politically explosive US actions in Iraq since the invasion. In January this year a US helicopter assault team tried to kidnap two senior Iranian security officials on an official visit to the Iraqi President. Earlier examples of highly provocative actions carried out by the US with little thought for the consequences include the dissolution of the Iraqi army and the Baath party.
The attempted assassination or abduction took place two-and-a-half years ago in August 2004 when Mr Sadr and his Mehdi Army militiamen were besieged by US Marines in Najaf, south of Baghdad.
Dr Rubai'e believes that his mediation efforts--about which he had given the US embassy, the American military command and the Iraqi government in Baghdad full details--were used as an elaborate set-up to entice the Shia leader to a place where he could be trapped.

The above noted by Mia is from Patrick Cockburn's "The Secret US Plot to Kill Sadr" (CounterPunch). Chatham House's latest report suggests that al-Sadr needs to be brought into the process and can't be "ignored." We noted when it was released, I'm tired and not in the mood for locating links. It's in Thursday's snapshot. We noted then that unlike the previous report (which was devasting), this one would get plenty of attention. That's because of the endorsement of shared goals: the report is pro-privatization of the Iraqi oil. Say that England has gotten too close to the US and lost its own independence and be greeted with silence in the US media, push for privatization and find yourself covered everywhere.

We're going to switch right now to the topic of self-checkouts. First up, Amy Ohler (TWEAN) reports on Eugene Cherry who served in Iraq for one year (6-04 to 6-05) and then suffered from PTSD, self-checked out after receiving no treatment at Fort Drum to enter treatment with Dr. Hannah Frisch, went back to Fort Drum and is facing a court-martial (he was missing for one year). From the report:

At a press conference last week, Different Drummer Cafe director Tod Ensign said they want people to hear Cherry's story because they fear the same thing will happen to other soldiers as they return from combat.

Todd Benham ("Chief of Behaivoral Health") maintains that "On the return side what happened is soldiers will get screened right as soon as they get back and so each of the soldiers is going to meet me with one of my mental health counselors." Really? Because as I've heard the story from those returning, they're brought into one room, with others returned, and asked basically, "Anyone think they need help with some mental problems?" In other words, "Anyone think they're crazy or need help?" You're supposed to announce you do in that forum. Most do not. And most people, in the miltiary or out, would not announce such a thing in a room full of people either.

That's Syracuse, now we turn to Shreveport. John Andrew Prime (The Shreveport Times) reports the arrest of two people on the charges of desertion -- 18-year-old Richard Ober has been missing for approximately 30 days and was arrested after a warrant was issued; 22-year-old Dominuqe Lataisha Hamilton was arrested at her job also on a warrant for being AWOL -- and Prime notes that last month 20-year-old Xavier E. Nelson was arrested for the same thing.

They are really trying to crack down on checkouts. If anyone reading this has self-checked out, you need to be prepared (and read "So you wanna be a war resister"). To stay on this topic, a number of visitors have been highlighting an article they want linked to on war resistance and now some members are highlighting it as well. We're not highlighting it because it's not correct. The basis for the claims is a guest who appeared on Democracy Now! discussing Gerald Ford and he didn't know what he was talking about. Sir! No Sir! demonstrates how our collective memory/history has been robbed of reality. That's very clear in the need to praise Ford for something he didn't do. There was confusion over what Jimmy Carter did. Jimmy Carter offered amnesty for all who registered with selective service but did not report when their numbers were called up. He did not grant amnesty to those who served and then self-checked out. (Draft dodgers was the popular term for the first category, deserters is the popular term for the second.) There is this move to credit Ford for what he didn't do. Jimmy Carter did that. Carter's attempts did not go far enough. (And were criticized in real time.) What Ford did was devise a very limited amnesty (far more utilized Carter's amnesty) which required several steps and was highly conditional.

The first time the piece was highlighted by a visitor, I read it thinking we could use it. The more I read, the more obvious it was that we would never highlight it here. When respected (or 'respected') figures put out mistruths, it does have an impact and the guest who put this crap out into the public discourse has polluted it. Carter's plan was weak and criticized in real time as such by many but it went much further than Ford's (and with less hoops and less maybe-you'll-then-be-cleareds). The guest took part in the week long "We Loved You, Gerry!" and as to the reasons for that, you'll have to ask him. But he has polluted the discourse and people are taking what he said as fact when it isn't, it wasn't, it ain't never going to be (to steal from Whitney and Aretha).

War resistance is important. We should be highlighting as many articles, reports, commentaries on it as we can. OpEdNews had a thing on Sir! No Sir! that was noted by a visitor after the film had aired on Sundance and I never got around to a way to work that into a snapshot. That's something I regret (though hope to still work in at some point). That deserves to be highlighted. In other cases? We don't highlight mistruths. Which is why we didn't "miss" a piece about a "conservative" -- the piece was incorrect and a decision was made (by me) not to highlight it. I've also made the decision not to take part in the "We Loved You, Gerry!" myths. This isn't about a different view or how a call could go either way. I'll give the benefit of the doubt there. (I'm not referring to those who slam war resisters -- they don't get highlighted.) But if something's based on incorrect facts it will not be highlighted here. I lived through the period and, unlike the guest on Democracy Now!, I remember it. (I'm giving the guest the benefit of the doubt that he misremembered it -- many members who e-mailed to complain about the appearance feel that he elected to distort that and other things.)

Untruths won't end the 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, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3396. Tonight? 3422 (71 for the month thus far). December 31st, the 3000 mark was passed. We're now well into the 3400s. Today the US military announced: "Six MND-B Soldiers and one interpreter were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated in the western section of the Iraqi capital May 19." And they announced: "One 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier was killed and two were wounded in an improvised explosive device attack against their tactical vehicle near Ad Diwaniyah at approximately 12 a.m. May 19."

Aaron Sheldrick (Bloomberg News) reports:

Thousands of U.S. personnel are still searching for three soldiers missing in Iraq since a May 12 ambush that killed four others and an Iraqi army interpreter near Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. The search is diverting soldiers from a security clampdown in Baghdad, where the military used aircraft to destroy what it said was an insurgent safe house on May 19.

That point, like everything else, escaped Paul Eaton who slept through the supposed debate/discussion on CBS' Face the Nation today allowing Fred Kagan to spin wildly.

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Baghdad car bombings today that left 4 dead (19 injured), the death of an Azzaman reporter hours after he'd been kidnapped, a Baghad mortar attack that left two injured, Dhia H. Jasim was shot death into Baghdad, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded one police officer, and 19 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Reuters adds that Baghdad corpse count grew to 24 and they note 9 corpses discovered in Tikrit and 4 outside Kut, Iyad al-Alwani was shot dead in Falluja, and a Ramadi truck bombing (chlorine gas) that left one civilian dead and 11 more ill (from the gas). Al Jazeera reports the number dead from the Ramadi bombing is now 2.

Sunday is day nine since Alex R. Jimenez (25 y.o.), Joseph J. Anzack Jr. (20 y.o.) and Byron W. Fouty (19 y.o.) went missing. They are assumed captured (following the attack 2 Saturdays ago that left 4 US soldiers dead and 1 Iraqi translator dead). The media has largely treated this as a side-bar issue at best.

Rick Jervis (USA Today) notes: "Disagreement over the future role of foreign investment in Iraq's oil fields has stalled passage of an oil law the Bush administration says is crucial to Iraq's future." On the same topic, Lynda notes Emma Sabry's "Who are the real beneficiaries of Iraq’s oil law?" (Al Jazeera Magazine):

Iraq’s oil revenue-sharing law, one of the main “benchmarks” set for the Iraqi government by the Bush administration, was introduced as a key step toward uniting Iraq’s religious and ethnic groups. But now some analysts say the law could further escalate sectarian tensions in the war-torn country.
The law, drafted by Iraqi and U.S. officials, is strongly backed by the Bush administration, the Congress and the Iraq Study Group, whose 2006 report said such a law was needed to “create a fiscal and legal framework for investment" in the oil industry, where Iraq is considered a key player as it holds the world's second-largest proven oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. But the oil law’s status as a benchmark for progress in Iraq is stirring debate in Baghdad and Washington, according to an article on the Christian Science Monitor.
The Bush administration is angered by the Iraqi government’s perceived foot-dragging in passing the oil law. But the oil legislation is being closely examined in the United States as the Democrat-controlled Senate inches closer to drafting a new war-funding bill that includes benchmarks for progress in Iraq. Some American officials started to question the substance of the oil bill, particularly whether it really aims at easing Iraq’s sectarian tensions or granting international firms a substantial role in the country’s vast oil fields.
"While we can't confirm it, there are enough reports out there that appear to indicate that undue, unfair preference and the influence of our oil companies are part of the Iraqi hydrocarbon law, and if that is true, that is not correct," says Rep. Joe Sestak, a former admiral and defense adviser to the Clinton administration. "The aim of benchmarks is to help the process along, but we need benchmarks that are appropriate for the Iraqis and the Americans – not just our economy but our ideals."

Kendrick notes Gail Russell Chaddock's "How will Iraq share the oil?" (Christian Science Monitor):

But now the oil law's status as a US "benchmark" for progress in Iraq is emerging as a flash point in both Baghdad and Washington.
So far, the frustration on Capitol Hill is mainly over the Iraqi government's perceived foot-dragging in finishing the oil law, which US advisers had a hand in crafting. But resistance is also surfacing to the substance of the oil bill, especially whether its main effect will be to ensure international companies a lucrative role in Iraq's rich oil fields. With House and Senate conferees about to put their heads together on a new war-funding bill that includes benchmarks for progress in Iraq, the proposed oil legislation is beginning to come under closer scrutiny.
"While we can't confirm it, there are enough reports out there that appear to indicate that undue, unfair preference and the influence of our oil companies are part of the Iraqi hydrocarbon law, and if that is true, that is not correct," says Rep. Joe Sestak (D) of Pennsylvania, a former admiral and defense adviser to the Clinton administration. "The aim of benchmarks is to help the process along, but we need benchmarks that are appropriate for the Iraqis and the Americans – not just our economy but our ideals."

Fueling new resistance to the oil benchmark are reports that the draft law in fact says little about sharing oil revenues among Iraqi groups and a lot about setting up a framework for investment that may be disadvantageous to Iraqis over the long term. On the flip side: Iraq's oil industry badly needs new investment, and oil companies are reluctant to go into Iraq without a legal framework that ensures that the contracts they sign will be respected by future Iraqi governments.
Last week, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio, who is a presidential candidate, led off opposition to the draft law in a letter to Democratic colleagues. On Thursday, a coalition of oil industry watchdog groups and peace activists called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Reid to drop the Iraqi oil law as a benchmark for progress in Iraq.

Kendrick wanted to note that he wasn't sure who he was supporting in the Democratic primary but he's been following Trina's Kitchen closely and has decided to vote for Dennis Kucinich. (Trina is for Kucinich and includes something about him in each post on Saturday.)
To repeat, members can note who they are supporting (if they're supporting anyone). Just note in your e-mail that you mean for it to go up here. I'm not endorsing. A note to members who are not supporting Democrats, you need to share your candidates if you want the community to be aware of them. That's not "Do it now!" The 2008 election isn't breathing down our necks. But if you have selected a candidate already and would like to share it, it can be noted here. In addition, all community newsletters will include any "I am voting for ____ because . . ." in full.
If you're not up to writing something like that, Polly, Gina, Krista, Hilda, Maria, Francisco and Miguel all say they're happy to include something like "Kendrick states he is supporting . . ." They will also allow each community member to pick one campaign press release and run that in their newsletters (in full) as well. (A campaign press release can be either a candidate's or a party's.)

Third Party notes Ralph Nader's "Timid Democrats and the Antiwar Movement" (CounterPunch):

The current issue of the UTNE Reader (May--June '07) carried a short but sensibly provocative article protesting the stagnation and the cul-de-sac nature of street protests that involve nonviolent civil disobedience.
Joseph Hart, the author, asks why the current antiwar movement is so impotent, despite "a staggering 67 percent disapproval of President Bush's handling of the war--a level that matches public sentiment at the tail end of the Vietnam War, when street protests, rallies, and student strikes were daily occurrences."
He believes it is because, quoting Jack DuVall, president of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, that "a street demonstration is only one form of protest and protest is only one tactic that can be used in a campaign. If it's not a part of a dedicated strategy to change policy, or to change power, protest is only a form of political exhibitionism."
Both gentlemen are being incomplete. Even without a military draft in place to arouse a larger public, the protestors against the Iraq war have affected the 2006 elections, performed sit-ins in Congressional offices, filed lawsuits against Bush's violations of people's civil liberties, brought Iraqi spokespeople to meet with influential Americans, worked with Iraq veterans against the war as well as with numerous former high ranking military, diplomatic and intelligence officials now retired from service in both Republican and Democratic Administrations who openly opposed the invasion at the outset.

For the record, I do not believe that the peace movement is impotent and hope this is not Utne's first article run on the issue (I don't read Readers Digest and I don't read Utne -- I'm not a "best of" or "greatest hits" type of person). The peace movement has done strong work (that will only continue to increase) with very little support or coverage from independent media. The movement continues to grow. As Jim's noted, in 2005, I said I didn't believe the illegal war would end by 2008. That's because it takes a lot of work to end an illegal war. Those expressing the impatience with the peace movement should self-check to see if they're transferring their outrage over the illegal war onto the peace movement? If so, they could make up for that by demanding that independent media cover it and by making a contribution (if they have the money to spare) to an organization working to end the war. The twice-busted for trolling online for underage females pig wants to remake the peace movement (with himself at the top -- surely the figurehead that will convince the country!) into something resembling the military. He's a War Hawk and always has been one. He's part of the reason that the Iraq war was sold -- it predated Bully Boy. It's interesting that The Nation can repeatedly publish him (and publish his "books") but they refuse to cover the peace movement. But then The Nation's only interested in top-down and Council of Foreign Relations these days.

The pig, like many (though not all) at The Nation doesn't know the first thing about movement building, hasn't ever participated in any and should take their ahistorical asses elsewhere. Those of us who took part in movements before are fully aware that ending a war does not happen overnight, takes many years, and includes a wide range of groups (some of which haven't even emerged yet -- the peace movement, as a movement, lays the groundwork for other groups to emerge).

Outrage over an illegal war is a natural reaction. People are dying daily. Iraq is destroyed each day it continues to be occupied and, in the US, our understanding of humanity and democracy (and legality) is destroyed as well. While I want the illegal war to end immediately, I'm not foolish enough to toss aside the reality of past movements and screech and holler (or roll around in my own filth) about the peace movement which continues to work with little coverage from media big or small and continues to grow. I think it's hilarious that a twice-busted pig is held up by The Nation (and others) as the voice we need to listen to. Will it take a third bust or a young girl being assaulted to make them wake up? Or do they just not care?

At any rate, we should all be wary of pigs who try to push their way into a movement and grab center stage. If they do so while trashing one of the people who's done so much (Cindy Sheehan) we should publicly disown them. But the pig tells an alternative weekly his thoughts on Sheehan and the response is? Not a damn word. Just continue to push him. Just continue to promote him. While pig repeatedly attempts to profit and set himself up (not so easy after big media washed their hands of him -- tends to happen when you have that kind of an arrest record), Cindy Sheehan's out there working every day. Pig's idea of working is to insult the peace movement (that he wants to lead), to insult peace activists (Sheehan specifically but all in generalities -- repeatedly on that stupid 'speaking tour'). He's got nothing to offer but more Chicken Little warnings. The fact that he's considered a 'respectable voice' isn't a failure of the peace movement, it is a failure of independent media -- so desperate to lick his crotch that they'll gladly ignore his two arrests.

For the record, The Nation has mentioned Cindy Sheehan in one piece (at the same time the mainstream press was first discovering her) and that's it. They've repeatedly offered pig's thought. Don't blame the peace movement when independent media shuts it out but gladly runs the Chicken Little rants of a pervert.

And don't blame the peace movement for war fatigue. They haven't given in to it. They're still doing their work. What happened to the movement after US troops left Vietnam? Hype and fatigue for many. Hype that now everything was 'solved' and fatigue because many failed to grasp it was a historical struggle. We don't need to repeat those mistakes. We don't need to (wrongly) assume that when US troops leave Iraq everything is 'solved' or that we can pack up and head home (or get on with our lives). And we need to get over the fact that the illegal war, that any illegal war, does not end just because the people turn against it. That's step one. It is not the 'end'. Quit blaming a movement which continues to address the illegal war every day -- something that most in independent media can't also claim.

And quit asking where the peace movement is when you obviously never bothered to look. Just as students have toiled invisbly with no interest from the media (other than to wrongly slam them for doing nothing), people are out in the streets. And if you're not pleased with the numbers maybe you need to hop off the high horse and start getting the word out on actions. Ignorance of what students were doing was no excuse to slam them and ignorance of the peace movement as a whole is not an excuse to slam it. And if you're not happy with the peace movement, start your own group. Groups emerge all the time. They don't threaten the movement, they only expand it. (Attempting to take control of the peace movement is a threat. Which may be why The Nation is so keen to repeatedly promote the pig -- nothing in their print coverage has indicated any interest in the expanding the peace movement. But when you're more comfortable running the bad writing of your centrist friends, you're really not interested in changing much.) And I'm stopping on that note before I include the issue of "ties" that I argued to have removed from a feature at The Third Estate Sunday Review this morning. But I will note, if you're part of a centrist organization, maybe you shouldn't be involved in left independent media?

Pru gets the last highlight, from Great Britain's The Socialist Worker, "Tell Gordon Brown to get the troops out:"

Sign the Stop The War Coalition’s new petition
The occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is the nightmare Gordon Brown will inherit when he eventually becomes prime minister.
The Stop the War Coalition has launched a petition demanding that Brown brings the troops home within 100 days of his entering 10 Downing Street.
Meanwhile Brown will be addressing ten hustings, along with Labour's deputy leadership contenders, commencing this Sunday in Coventry. Stop the War supporters will be lobbying on the outside and the inside of these hustings for troop withdrawal.
Margaret James, a former Labour Party member in Coventry, explains, "I left the party over the Iraq war. The deciding thing for me was when the one Labour councillor who voted against the war in the council debate on the issue was punished for his stand.
"This was at a time when only an idiot would believe the pro-war rubbish -- when people understood that they were being lied to about the reasons to go to war.
"Basically Tony Blair lied, and I think that he and George Bush had an agreement to lie.
"I suspect that Gordon Brown will be nothing other than New Labour. He has done little to differentiate himself form Blair in the last ten years.
"The Stop the War petition to call for Brown to get the troops out in his first 100 days in office will mean that the Iraq war is kept at the top of the agenda. We should make sure it is as high profile as possible."
Join the lobbies, gather signatures for the petition at work, college, school and in your community.
Let’s step up the pressure to end the nightmare of Britain's support for Bush’s wars.
Go to to download the petition
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