Monday, June 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the battles is on! for . . . control of the messages, the US military announces another death, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist explores war resistance, and more.
Starting with war resistance, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Anna Quindlen (Newsweek) examines the resistance in the ranks noting Iraq war resister Ehren Watada, Iraq Veterans Against the War, noting that "[w]hat was once underground is now-in-your-face," and Scott Pelley's 60 Minutes piece (May 27, 2007) on a soldier whose experiences in Iraq changed his opinion of it and destroyed any notions that the illegal was about 'freedom.' Quindlen concludes, "So, of course, have many Americans. The difference is that they don't have to pick up a gun and climb into an armored vehicle on a mission they've concluded is senseless, endless and just plain wrong. There are those who argue that such a conclusion is above the pay grade of anyone but the commander in chief, and that discipline overrides dissent. But it's the guys in the field who are best able to judge whether the mission is right and just and is working on the ground. They are the ultimate embeds. As one man said on a posting to the IVAW Web site, 'when the people who fought the war are speaking out against it . . . maybe you should listen'."
The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adam Kokesh appeared today on Mark Levine's Inside Scoop where he and the host discussed the street theater and the actions behind Operation First Casualty, the attempts by the military to silence Kokesh (resulting in the so-called hearing), his service in Iraq and the process of his speaking out publicly against the illegal war. On what needs to be done, Kokesh stated, "I think if we immediately withdraw all our occupying forces we can continue to honor our obligations to the people by paying reparations and hope that someday they'll find their own way to a proper democracy."
Today, Iraq Veterans Against the War took Operation First Casualty to Chicago: "In an effort to illuminate the true reality of the conflict in Iraq, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War will engage in a series of street theater actions around the Chicago area on Monday, June 18. The street theatre action is entitled, 'Operation First Casualty' (OFC) because the first casualty of war is truth. Members will carry out reenactments which highlight various aspects of life in combat in Iraq. The event will be treated like a military operation with participants in full military uniform, however, there will be no weapons used at any time. This will be IVAW's fourth OFC."
In Iraq, a war rages . . . for control of the message. War Pornographer Michael Gordon weighed in Sunday (New York Times) with some heavy breathing about a 'major offensive.' As Gordo threw his pompoms in the air (possibly his legs as well), truths began emerging. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reports David Petraus ("top commander in Iraq") spoke Sunday of how "Conditions in Iraq will not improve sufficiently by September to justify a drawdown of U.S. military forces" and quotes him answering a question as to whether or not the escalation would be over by then with "I do not, no. I think that we have a lot of heavy lifting to do." This as Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) notes that only 40% of Baghdad -- home of the year long 'crackdown' -- is "under the control of security forces" according to Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. The escalation took place over the objections of American people, if not over the objections of Congress ('symbolic' measures are only 'symbolic' objections). The American people have been told the escalation would be short term, was temporary, but the reality appears to be -- like everything with this illegal war -- Bully Boy lied to get what he wanted and a do-nothing Congress (regardless of which party's been in charge since 2003) didn't prevent him and won't punish him. But Editor & Publisher notes that the escalation, according to a report released by the Iraqi Red Crescent, has 'accomplished' displacing even more Iraqis, creating more Iraqi refugees.
The big talking point of the 'New Iraq' is that new 'plans' and 'strategies' are emerging when the reality is that a fire is blazing and someone says, "No, not two gallons, let's try four gallons of gasoline this time." But a 'development' that was supposed to prove promising was the arming on non-Shi'ites. As with every other Bully Boy non-plan, didn't work out quite the way they sold it. Nancy A. Youssef and Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) report that "some U.S. military officials in Washington and foreign policy experts" say arming the Sunni population "undercuts the Iraqi government and years of U.S. policy, and is a tacit acknowledgement that the country's violence is really a civil war" and military "officers also say it abandons the long-stated U.S. goal of disarming militias and reinforces the idea that U.S.-trained Iraqi forces cannot control their country." Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) quotes an unnamed "senior Iraqi government" stating, "Every three months they have a new strategy. This is not only a distracting way to conduct policy, it is creating insecurity for all. I don't think these strategies have been thought through deeply. It is all about convenience." Meanwhile Patrick Wintour (Guardian of London) reports that Jay Garner, kicked out by the US administration for wanting to hold elections in Iraq, states that "the country is on the brink of a genocidal civil war and its government will fall apart unless the US changes course" -- Garner is advocating the same 'solution' as US Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Joe Biden: divide Iraq into three parts. Tom Baldwin (Times of London) reports that US ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker speaks of a "clear absence of progress" -- but he's blaming the victims (Iraqis) and not taking accountability so we'll move right along.
Which brings us back to the non-plan built around the so-called success of the al-Anbar 'model' which, the lie tells you, was a huge success when the US military decided to arm militias in al-Anbar province. Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports that the so-called success has been a failure that has "won it more enemies instead," that there were "short-term victories" but, long-term results were to turn "people more and more strongly against the occupation," that the US backing (cash payouts -- that's me, not al-Fadhily) criminals and 'leaders' installed by the British during the 1920 occupation who long ago left Iraq but, historian Mohammad al-Dulaimy states, "They then found a chance to return under the American flag."
Meanwhile, CBS and AP report an ongoing battle in Amarah that has resulted in 36 people being killed and over 100 wounded. BBC states the fighting began "before dawn" and was completed in two hours with British troops offering only "logistical support". Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that those fighting were "Shiite militants and U.S.-led forces" and that the fighting including helicopters which, residents report, "attacked two homes where women and children slept."
In other violence today . . .
Reuters notes a Samarra car bombing that claimed 5 lives (all Ministry of the Interior commandos), a Falluja truck bombing that left 2 dead (10 wounded), a Baghdad bombing that killed 9 (25 wounded) and a Falluja car bombing that resulted in 3 dead (15 injured). Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a car bombing in Baghdad utilizing two cars to attack people waiting to refuel which claimed the lives of 3 (27 wounded) and Baghdad mortar attacks that killed 2 people (7 wounded).
Reuters notes two Iraqi soldiers shot dead in Balad and Mohammed Abid ("manager in the Diyala electricity station") shot dead in Baquba. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 33 corpses discovered in Baghdad today. On Saturday the BBC reported that the corpses "of 13 members of an Iraqi taekwondo team seized a year ago" were discovered "near the town of Ramadi" and that, since 15 were kidnapped, the whereabouts of 2 remain unknown.
The US military announced today: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near a foot patrol in the southern part of the city."
In England, an inquest into a May 6, 2006 helicopter crash in Iraq is ongoing. BBC reports that today's testimony was that the helicopter was shot down and quotes Pte Stuart Drummond who states, "I saw two yellowy objects going towards the helicopter. I thought they were missiles. The helicopter exploded. It was engulfed in flames and went down." Five died in the crash: "Wing Commander John Coxen RAF; Lieutenant Commander Darren Chapman RN; Flight Lieutenant Sarah-Jayne Mulvihill RAF; Captain David Dobson AAC and Marine Paul Collins." As noted May 9, 2006, Mulvihill was the first female British service member to be killed in Iraq and the first to "be killed in action for more than 20 years" (latter quote from Scotland's Herald in 2006, they have retooled their website). Please note that until January 2007, the US military maintained that helicopters could not be shot down because the machinery/weapons were not available. They went to the well with that lie one time to many and the press started calling it out. But we now know that as early as May 2006 (if not before), forces in Iraq had the capabilities and machinery/weaponry to shoot down helicopters.
In the United States, a flurry of renewed interest in Iraq as Antonio Taguba (Taguba Report fame) reveals that then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon forced him to retire when they were unhappy with what his investigation into Abu Ghraib was turning up. David S. Cloud (New York Times) summarized a press report Sunday. Good or bad, Cloud's covered Iraq in the last two years while others have wondered off to Game Theory, to put it mildly. Translation, one article doesn't make The New Yorker worth reading.
Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) ponders the distance that is caused by the TV reports -- to which many in the US would ask, "What TV reports?" (Ava and I noted The Manny Named Brian was left to point out what many wouldn't -- two weeks ago, Charlie Gibson and ABC thought two minutes of Iraq was enough coverage for a week's worth of evening news reports.) What TV reports? Solomon notes, "Part of the accepted wisdom is the idea that media outlets are pushing envelopes and making the Iraq war look bad. But the press coverage, even from the reputedly finest outlets, is routinely making the war look far better than its reality -- both in terms of the horror on the ground and the agendas of the war-markers in Washington." On the two minutes given to Iraq in five half-hour broadcasts of Charlie Gibson's evening news, let's note what was going on during that time -- from Ava and my piece Sunday:
For those not familiar with the week of June 4th through June 8th (Monday through Friday), Iraqi oil workers went on strike, Adam Kokesh suffered through a trumped up, kangaroo hearing, Liam Madden (whom the military was also attempting to silence) held a press conference, the number of US service members killed in the illegal war passed the 3500 mark, tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq increased, two Sunni mosques were attacked in Baghdad (which may have been the motivation for the Samarra mosque attack last Wednesday, but people would have to know of the two mosques attacked June 7th to even consider that), a video of Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez -- two US soldiers missing since a May 12th attack -- turned up portraying them as dead (June 5th), an unnamed Iraq veteran was publicly protesting the war by doing laps around the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, California, and that was just some of the events from the week in which Charlie Gibson could only spare two minutes for the topic of Iraq.
Short on time and swiping from this morning -- For laughs, read Thomas Ferraro's "Newly empowered US Democrats draw wrath of voters" (Reuters) Where's the humor? Read the article. Harry Reid shares maybe the Dems built up too much excitement. Joe Biden offers hilarity as well. No one, including Ferraro, points out the obvious, the conjobs. First conjob the laughable "100 Days" which didn't even bother to address Iraq. The second? The lust for "symoblism." A symoblic vote on the escalation. A symbolic Pelosi-Reid measure (March) that was toothless and non-binding and they (and their Party Hacks) wanted to promote it as "action!" And then The Great Sell Out where they claimed there was nothing to do. As a party, they have done nothing. They have refused to do anything. Voters aren't stupid and Reid can act like, "Golly, gosh, I guess I built Christmas up too much this year but . . ." Truth of the matter, not a single damn present under the tree. And voters grasp that.
On that topic, Dave Lindorff (This Can't Be Happening!) observes: "No Harry. You didn't raise the bar too high. You ducked under the bar, when it came time to act to defund the war.
Last month, instead of cutting off funding for Bush's war in Iraq, Congress passed a measure providing him with over $100 billion to fund it, attaching no strings to the measure--not even any deadlines for starting to withdraw troops. This after running a 2006 campaign on ending the war. No wonder Democrats and the independents and, yes, even Republicans who voted Democrats into control of Congress last November are furious."
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