Thursday, May 17, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

In northern Baghdad, about 200 Iraqis marched down a street in the mostly Shiite neighbourhood of Shaab, shouting slogans and carrying banners demanding that the thousands of US soldiers conducting a security crackdown in the capital stop creating forward operating bases in neighbourhoods and searching homes for suspected insurgents and militiamen.

The above is from Thomas Wagner's "Hunt is on for missing troops" (AP). In today's snapshot, the following appeared in the first paragraph: "protests take place in Baghdad." The above wasn't noted anywhere in the snapshot. Thank you to Keesha for e-mailing to point that out. I'll note it in tomorrow's snapshot. I obviously wrongly assumed it was in there due to dictating the snapshot in pieces. My apologies. And we can team that up with:

"U.S. Conducts House-to-House Searches Looking for Missing Troops" (Democracy Now!):
In other Iraq news, thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops have been conducting house-to-houses searches in an attempt to find three missing U.S. soldiers. Iraqi residents complained about the actions of the U.S. troops. Iraqi Woman: "They damaged the fence of the house and entered. They damaged the house and belongings, seizing our money, gold, passports and identity cards. They threw the old man here and hit the young man too. They blind folded them and bound their hands."

Which is one way to get 200 people out in the streets.

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 3384 (ICCC). Tonight? 3403. And Reuters reports that the marine Corps Commandant General James Conway stated, "The difference in the time we in uniform need for success in Iraq and the amount of time our countrymen are prepared to invest is a disconnect that's troubling." No, what's troubling is that a military commander thinks the people's thoughts are the "disconnect." In the United States there is civilian control over the military. That's why Bully Boy is not the Commander-in-Chief of the American people (no matter how many times Diane Sawyer repeated that dopey phrase in 2003). In the US, the military is under civilian control and, guess what, a commander's wants or dreams (within the job) are always subject to the civilian control. The people are not the problem and James Conway needs to have that explained to him. If tomorrow his 'mission' is cancelled, oh well, get used to it.

The alternative is a nation-state that's controlled by the military and that's generally termed a "junta" and not a "democracy." So if Conway values the Constitution or the country, he'll get it through his head that it's not up to him or military brass. That's not their decision. If tomorrow Congress decided all US troops leave Iraq on September 30th, that's the end of the mission and that's the end of it period. Bully Boy's perfectly comfortable unleashng the military and perfectly comfortable letting the ones on the ground die. If that sounds harsh, how else do you explain his bragging, months ago, that the US would be in Iraq through the end of his term and it would be left for the next person occupying the White House to end the illegal war?

Congress can end the war, obviously. But that he would make that decision just proves that he has no interest in what the brass says. Maybe Conway heard that talk and thought otherwise?
Or maybe he hears Bully Boy talking about listening to the brass and takes that seriously? Bully Boy doesn't listen and he demonstrated that when he announced

As noted in "Make Room For Bully Peters Out" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, August 27, 2006):

We're not leaving so long as I'm the president. That would be a huge mistake.

So let's stop pretending that Bully Boy listens to any reports and makes judgements about planning based on that. "Send more!" isn't planning.

He likes to hide behind the military and maybe that's why Conway thinks he's in a position to deride the American people? The American people are the country. It is a democracy. If the mission ends and Conway's unhappy he can take any moral stand he wants. But he doesn't make that call and I think the military trashing the people as a whole is even more insulting than their insulting a president, whomever the president may be at any given point.

If there's a "disconnect," Conway needs to look to himself and not project it out on the American people. And excuse me, but has any commander died in Iraq? I don't belive so. I believe they've been safe and sound while the rank and file have been the ones risking life and limb. It must be really easy to want to stay longer and longer when you've got it comfy and cozy. Maybe he's got it a little too comfy and cozy and that's why he can say things like this: "I think there is less of an appetite in our country than we, the military, might think we need to sustain that kind of effort over that period of time." The will of the people is the will of the people. That's what rules in a democracy.

If he wants endless wars, there are several mercenary companies he can apply to but when he serves in the US military he needs to grasp that it is held in check by civilian authority, not the other way around.

3403 Americans have died. (Nearly 1 million Iraqis.) At what point will Conway be satisfied? How many more lives because there is no 'win' there? And Conway better grasp that the US is leaving. That's not even a question anymore, the only question remaining is when.

When the US decides to pull out, he's perfectly welcome to step forward as War Supporter and take whatever moral stand he wants but the people control military, not the other way around. Which is why Congress' refusal to do anything about Suzanne Swift, for instance, is so appalling. She's harassed, she's bullied. She tries to get help and ends up being 'trained' in how not to 'invite' sexual advances. That's really something, isn't it? That someone who signs up has to learn how not to be seen as a sexual outlet. Conway might want to spend some of his fretting time on that very serious issue because it's the lack of leadership that allows these events to take place. And Congress' refusal to address what happened to Swift (and has happened to many other women serving) is an abdication of their responsibility.

Or maybe Conway can worry about recruiters who tell people to lie so they can be accepted and inducted?

He's got a lot to worry about. The will of the American people? That's not his worry. The people are the last word in a democracy. Since the craven Joe Lieberman tossed aside the Florida recount by asserting that military votes matter more than any other vote in a democracy, it's been a rush to hide behind the military. The military doesn't call the shots in a democracy. If Conway's unhappy with the American people, he might need to look for a career in a profession that isn't answerable to them. He can share his thoughts on Iraq, he can share his thoughts on the military but when he's bemoaning the will of the American people, he's crossing over into dangerous territory.

Monday, Ehren Watada's pre-trial hearing is scheduled to begin. In addition, Megan notes Carol Brouillet's "Questioning War- Organizing Resistance- War Resisters Radio Show" (Indybay IMC):

Monday, May 21, 2007, 7-9 pm (PST) on the Questioning War- Organizing Resistance internet radio show, the show will be devoted to War Resisters with guests- Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia, Michael Wong, Jeff Paterson. The show is hosted by Carol Brouillet.
Listen 7:00- 9:00 pm (PST) to the and to our guests-

More information via the link. Today, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez spoke with Agustin Aguayo and Marcia notes this from "War Resister Agustin Aguayo Speaks Out After his Release from Military Prison for Refusing to Fight in Iraq" (Democracy Now!):

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about your time in jail, but begin with your explanation of why, though you joined the military, you applied for conscientious objector status?
AGUSTIN AGUAYO: Yes, Amy, I came in the military, 2003, wanted to do wonderful things for myself and my country, and I soon realized that morally I couldn’t participate in this armed conflict. I was there. I did the best I could.
I decided before I left I wouldn’t take anyone's life. While I was there, it was overwhelmingly clear to me that war is definitely something I couldn’t take part of anymore, based on moral principles, life experiences, so I decided not to return.
I [sought] all the legal channels to be recognized as a CO, and I was unsuccessful. There was a constant struggle, and at the Pentagon, the panel of three people that decided on my case, they were divided two-to-one. So conscientious objection is something that they struggle with -- I mean, who is one and who is not.
When you show that you make the ultimate experience of your sincerity by not going back, then you are punished the most harsh, in the most harsh way. My time in prison was a time of deep reflection. I felt completely free there, as free as I had not been in so long. I was able to share my experience with others, and that brought me a sense of joy. It was also painful, since I was separated from my wife, but this was something I was willing to pay or something I was willing to do in order for me to save my sanity and not go against my conscience.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And how did your fellow soldiers react to your stance, both while you were serving in the Army and then while you were in the brig?
AGUSTIN AGUAYO: Well, while I was serving in the Army, those who knew me well supported me, especially when they got to know me. Initially, when people heard about me, you know, there was some resentment, because we all are volunteers, and they figured, you know, people just want to get out of dangerous situations. But after meeting me and living with me and spending time and speaking, they could understand that that fear had nothing to do with it. And the ones that got to know me well truly respected me, I feel.
AMY GOODMAN: Agustin Aguayo, it's interesting that your IO, your investigating officer who investigated your desire to be considered a conscientious objector, recommended it, said that -- and I looked at the documents. He said, you know, this is the real thing, you’re the real deal here.
AGUSTIN AGUAYO: Yes, Amy. And the interesting thing you point out about that is that in my court-martial, all these facts came out, and when he was called, he responded and said to the attorneys, you know, no one could ever explain to me why he wasn't a conscientious objector, which is very interesting to me. I mean, there was a constant debate between them -- should we, or should we not? Should we keep him, or should we not?
And I think, in the end, it really has to do with the numbers. Retention is hard, and, you know, they don't really want to see people go, people that they’ve trained, people that they know they can count on. And it's sad, because our country has a history of conscientious objectors and the government recognizing them, and I think it's important that we focus on this issue and, you know, consider that the Army prepares us for many things -- for war, for danger -- and I was there -- and we can function in this environment, but it doesn't teach us to deal with our moral conflict, because it's not in the best interest, of course.

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