Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, June 26, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Liam Madden gets an offer from the US military, a faux left think tank blathers, and more.
Starting with news of war resistance.  Eli Israel is an Army Specialist resisting the illegal war while stationed in Iraq.   Iraq Veterans Against the War and Courage to Resist (among others) have been getting the word out on the 26 year-old who "told his commanding officer and sergeants that he will no longer be a combatant in this illegal, unjustified war."  Courage to Resist notes that he did have a MySpace blog until the military cracked down on that and includes these statements:
I want you all to know, that most of us that are over here, came to Iraq, with the very best of intentions, and really thought that the Iraqi people wanted us here.  Now that I'm here, I realize that they want to work it out themselves, and I know we should respect that.
We'll return to that later on, for now note the wisdom -- far more wisdom than some paid for 'insight' can manage.  Resisting the war takes courage and the stand not only results in attacks from the right, it leads many on the left and 'left' to play mute.  But covered or not, it remains an important action.
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.

In addition to highlight Eli Israel's brave stand, Iraq Veterans Against the War are also launching a new action --  a summer base tour and have already visited Washington DC (June 23), Norfolk, VA (June 24).  Next up?  Camp Lejune in Jacksonville, NC on June 27th at 7:00 pm; Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina on June 18th 7:00 pm; the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm. 
In addition to the bus tour, Iraq Veterans Against the War continue to fight the US military brass that is both (a) scared of them and (b) attempting to silence them.  Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh have all been targeted.  At his site, Kokesh gives a heads up to the latest on Madden via Madden's reply to Lt Col Blessing:
This letter is in response to the offer of the Marine Corps Mobilization Command relayed to me via my military appointed attorney.  I am prepared to accept the settlement proposed in which the Marine Corps agrees not to continue with the discharge proceeding regarding my alleged disloyal statements and protest activity.  I understand that this is contingent on my oral promise not to engage n further political protest while wearing articles of my Marine uniform.
I will make such an oral agreement and stand by my good word if the Marine Corps is prepared to meet the following condition. 
I will orally agree to not wear my military uniforms while engaged in any political protests, hell, I'll have it carved into stone if you'd like, upon receiving a signed, written statement on official USMC letterhead acknowledging that my statements in question were neither disloyal nor inaccurate.  If the Marine Corps issues this statement, apologizing for erroneously (or possibly vindictively) accusing me of disloyalty to my country, I will not share it with another living soul.
Turning to Iraq and focusing on trends of violence, in yesterday's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin noted, "Farther north, in Mosul, a policewoman was shot to death by gunmen as she left home for work.  A 35-year-old Iraqi journalist was also shot to death on her way home from work in Mosul, The Associated Press reported.  The journalist, Zeena Shakir Mahmoud, had been writing about women's affairs for the newspaper Al Haqiqa."  Ellen Massey (IPS) reports on the "one important group that has largely been left out of the process: women.  But they are refusing to be left behind.  With little international support or media attention, a network of more than 150 women's organisations across Iraq is fighting to preserve their rights in the new constitutional revision."  And, Massey reports, they are attempting to enlist support from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.  Not all have been silent on the attacks on women and women's rights.  In March, MADRE issued "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML).   RadioNation with Laura Flanders' Laura Flanders (writing at The Huffington Post) observed: "Call me crazy but it still gets my goat that the entire Iraq debate takes place without the input of the female majority."   Flanders also interviewed MADRE's Yanar Mohammed on RadioNation with Laura Flanders in December (December 9, 2006).
May 14th, Amy Goodman spoke with Yanar Mohammed (Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq).  In April, Bay Fang's "The Talibanization of Iraq" (Ms. magazine, spring 2007 issue) addressed the issue.  Yifat Susskind, author of the MADRE report, wrote, at CounterPunch, a very realistic look at the attacks on women and their rights in Iraq and notes: "The US has empowered Islamist political parties whose clerics promote 'honor killing' as a religious duty.  The US has empowered Islamist political parties whose clerics promote 'honor killing' as a religious duty. . .  The US also destroyed the Iraqi state, including much of the judicial system, leaving people more reliant on conservative tribal authorities to settle disputes and on unofficial 'religious courts' to mete out sentencing, including 'honor killings'."  To be fair, those and others have noted to attacks on women.  Most media has sat out (big and small) but it's equally true that so have the faux think tanks.  Women are also facing other problems created by the US war and occupation (illegal war, illegal occupation).  Last month, Katherine Zdepf (New York Times) examined life for Iraqi demale refugees and found . . . prostitution.  Nihal Hassan (Independent of London) addressed the topic this week and noted, "There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women whose husbands or fathers have been killed.  Banned from working legally, they have few options outside the sex trade.  No one knows how many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founded of the Iraqi women's group Women's Will, puts the figure at 50,000."  In a further sign of how bad things are for women in Iraq, the US military reports that an Iraqi women "safely delivered a newborwn thanks to the efforts of Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soliders and the Iraqi Army."  A pregnant woman nows needs "the help of troops from 2nd Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division" in order to avoid a home birth. Speaking in Chicago last week, Dahlia Wasfi (via the US Socialist Worker) summed the situation up: "Women have all but disappeared from their roles in the workforce.  Once contributors to Iraqi society as teachers, judges, lawyers, doctors, engineers, traffic police and more, the threat of violence and kidnapping now imprisons many women in their homes.  But even there, they are not safe from the terrorism of daily house raids by American soldiers and their subordinate Iraqi police."
Turning to another Iraq topic that trends repeatedly, bridges.  What should now be apparent is that Iraqi bridges are being targeted not by accident or whim but with an intent to control the traffic flow and deny access.  IRIN reports today that the destruction of and to bridges is impeding "delivery of humanitarian aid in war-torn Iraq"  and "Some analysts see the attacks on the bridges as an attempt to make it difficult for Iraqi and US troops to bring supplies from one side of the [Tigris] river to the other.  Others believe the goal is to divide the city's predominately Shia east bank, known as Risafa, from the mostly Sunni west bank, or Karkh."  And for those who still can't grasp how serious the issue is, note that the US military has issued a press release on it in which the world learns that, following the June 2nd bombing of the Sarihah Bridge, the US military and Iraqi forces were able to create "a critical bypass road to reestablish traffic around the Sarihah Bridge near Tuz Khurmatu, Iraq, June 24."  Now potable water, among many other things, the Iraqis have waited and waited in vain for.  But on June 2nd a bridge is bombed and within three weeks a "critical bypass" had been completed.  Even if some still do not grasp what's going on, the US military brass grasps the danger.
Another trend story that can't be captured in the daily violence summaries is life for Iraqi children.  IRIN noted in May that Iraqi's vaccination supplies have been largely destroyed.  In April, IRIN sounded the alarm for the increased risk of "[d]ehydration, cholera and bacterial infections" which would impact children (and the elderly) in greater numbers.  And near the middle of this month, IRIN noted that thousands of Iraqi children now live on the streets and are forced to work, as young as 12, to provide family income.  As Dahlia Wasfi observed last week, "For the children . . ., during the first three and a half years of occupation, 270,000 newborns received no immunizations.  Eight hundred thousand Iraqi children are not in school due to the chaos, lack of security and severe poverty.  According to the State of the World's Mothers report, released last month by Save the Children, the chance that an Iraqi child will live beyond age 5 has plummeted faster in Iraq than anywhere in the world since 1990.  In 2005, one in eight Iraqi children died of disease or violence before reaching the age of 5.  Operation Enduring Freedom would more appropriately be named Operation Dead Children."  And today, Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported on the "immense and largely unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequnes" and noted: "Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, half of them children, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.  Many are being killed inside their sanctuaries -- at playgrounds, on soccer fields and in schools.  Criminals are routinely kidnapping children for ransom as lawlessness goes unchecked.  Violence has orphaned tens of thousands."
The above three trends result from the illegal war and occupation.  But no 'benchmarks' address women, children or infrastructure.  Faux think tanks are happy to press for the theft of Iraqi oil but no interest at all in something as basic as vaccinations for children. 
The violence continued today and among the events were . . .
Reuters reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left three wounded.  The US military notes that British Royal Air Force GR-4 Tornado bombed a building "near Slman Pak" today with a "2,000-pound bomb" and, with the help of two OH-58D helicopters, killed at least six people who they hope, really, really hope were so-called 'insurgents.'
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Dr. Nihad Mohammed Abdul Rhman ("assistant dean of Al Nahrain college") was shot dead in Baghdad, that Hussein Al Najjar ("Iman of Al Arab msoque") was shot dead in Basra and Hamid Abid Sarhan Al Shijiri ("sheikh of Shijirat tribe") was shot dead in Baghdad.  Following yesterday's Baghdad hotel bombing, which claimed the lives of four sheikhs, this 'random act of violence' might not be so random. Reuters note a police officer shot dead in Baghdad (three more injured) and a student shot dead in Mosul.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21 corpses were discovered in the capital.
Turning to faux think tanks, allegedly on the left.  Today, on NPR's The Diane Reham Show, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Republican Lawrence Hart (there will be no correction to that characterization, words and actions indicate he remains a member of the Reagan cabinet in heart and mind).  Now if our goal was to waste time, we could gush and note every word out of Brezezinski's mouth.  But we don't give a damn.  Similarly, we do not give a damn about a xenophobic, faux peace plan coming out of the centrist Democratic think tank  known as The Center for American Progress.  Yes, some of the left are stroking it.  We won't.
A few basics.  You cannot say you are opposed to "permanent bases in Iraq" (as the laughable report claims) and that this a 'troops home now' proposal when the reality is, your plan staffs the "embassy" with troops and the Baghdad embassy is not an embassy, it is a fortress -- 104 acres. In addition, the report would allow troops to be left in Iraq in order to "work with Kurdish peshmerga in protecting Iraqis who have fled to northern Iraq to escape the violence . . ."  Oh, are we still serving that lie?  Are we still pretending that there's any real difference in that section?
There's not.  The attention's been on the Shi'ite and Sunni conflict, the bloodbath in nothern Iraq's never received much attention outside of a few human rights organizations.  That region, and the people holding power in it, got the gold star and the US looked the other way.  The reality is the same competition of resources and power going on throughout Iraq (and instigated and stoked by the US) is going on there as well (and expected to increase).
It's one falsehood after another from the laughable report put out by the laughable Center for American Progress.  Take the claim that moving thousands of US troops (remember -- people are calling this a 'peace plan') to "Afghanistan to complete the unaccomplished missing of eradicating Al Qaeda there."  Eradicating al Qaeda?  First of all, the US military is currently responsible for more deaths in Afghanistan than any other group or grouping.  Second of all, the problems throughout the 90s are the same problems today and you can thank the US administration for bombing an already war torn country, strutting around with big words, only to turn the country back over to the same war lords. 
Now the centrist Center may not be stupid.  They may just be attempting to take the easiest road.  Or they may be attempting to clampdown on very real outrage (the Center includes a lot of Council for Foreign Relations types including Lawrence J. Korb)?  It doesn't matter. 
If you have any respect for Iraqis, for Americans, for humanity, read through the 61 page (counting end credits) report and try not to be offended.  It won't be easy and what the Center is STILL selling is the notion that the US can or should dictate terms to Iraqis.  Equally appalling is that the report fails to note that the US presence fuels the resistance (let alone why that reaction is).  When you can't even talk that reality, you have nothing worth saying.
Last week, a report was issued [PDF format warning] that did actually attempt to address reality, the "Independent Report on Iraq:"
Executive Summary [Read] [French]
Map of Major Coalition Attacks, Bases and Prisons [
See map]
Political Map of Iraq [
See map]
1. Introduction [
2. Destruction of Cultural Heritage [
3. Indiscriminate and Especially Injurious Weapons [
4. Unlawful Detention [
5. Abuse and Torture of Prisoners [
6. Attacks on Cities [
7. Killing Civilians, Murder and Atrocities [
8. Displacement and Mortality [
9. Corruption, Fraud and Gross Malfeasance [
10. Long-Term Bases and the New Embassy Compound [
11. Other Issues [
- Iraqi Public Opinion and the Occupation- Cost of the War and Occupation
12. Conclusion and Recommendations [
Apparently CounterSpin is to be the only national media that will cover it?
Meanwhile the faux think tank gets attention, gets coverage and the reality is that it has nothing to offer.  Assume for a moment that the plan was not so offensive and did not assume Iraqis are 'bad' children, is Bully Boy going to implement it?  No.  It's nothing but cover.  "We had a plan!"  And, apparently, if a Dem gets in the White House, this 'plan' will allow the Dem to propose another year of illegal war?
As is too often the case, Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) is ahead of the curve.  Today he addresses the realities of neocons ("their goals for the US are no different than the goals of the rest of the Washington establishment.  Only their means differ at times.")  and the realities of the lead up to this war which did not come in 2002 or 2001:
But, someone might say, Al Gore wouldn't have invaded Iraq.  Yet, Bill Clinton and Al Gore attacked Iraq several times, maintained an illegal flyover program on the country that bombed the country almost daily, and enforced sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.  All of these policies along with others not mentioned created the situation George Bush and his administration found themselves in in March 2003.
That's why the left doesn't need faux 'left' think tanks and why the left shouldn't be in bed with them.  Yes, so-called "Student Nation" that means you.

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