Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And this is what happens when people refuse to lead

Gerry Condon, Vietnam war resister and organizer of Project Safe Haven in Canada to speak in San Francisco and show new film "Breaking Ranks" about Iraq war resisters at Centro del Pueblo (474 Valencia St.), July 10 at 7pm
Gerry Condon, Director of Project Safe Haven, will talk about the growing movement of soldiers, marines, sailors and airpersons who are refusing to fight in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Condon was an Army resister in the Vietnam war who refused orders to fight and sought refuge in Canada and Sweden. For the last 3 years, he has spent much of his time in Canada working with former U.S. military personnel who are refusing to fight in Iraq and are seeking refugee status in Canada. Project Safe Haven's main mission is to develop a network of support for the growing numbers in the U.S. military who are saying ‘NO’ to the illegal occupation of Iraq. Condon will also show a new film following the struggle of GI resisters. "Breaking Ranks" is a moving documentary that examines the current phenomena of US soldiers seeking refuge in Canada as part of their resistance to the war effort in Iraq. With intimate access to four American military deserters, their lawyer and families, this film documents their experiences as they try to exercise their consciences amidst profound emotional, ethical and international consequences. If deported, they face the venom of mainstream American opinion and one to five years in prison. If Canada instead follows the legacy established by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau during the Vietnam War, when Canada welcomed tens of thousands of war resisters, there may well be an unprecedented crisis in U.S.-Canadian relations. Filmed over the course of the refugee process, this provocative film explores the meaning of duty through the powerful testimonies of these young soldiers. In so doing, "Breaking Ranks" poses challenging political, cultural and historical questions for Canadians and the world.

The above is Tina Landis' "War Resister Gerry Condon to speak Tues. in SF, screen powerful new film 'Breaking Ranks'" (Indybay Media). Condon runs the site Soldier Say No! which is on our permalinks. He has helped many war resisters in Canada and among those are Kyle Snyder whom Condon was there for when the US military said "We'll discharge you. You're lawyer's gone? Okay, we lied." Condon alone makes for a strong event. The topic makes for a strong event but as an extra bonus, Michelle Mason's brilliant Breaking Ranks will be shown.

In the New York Times this morning, John F. Burns and Alissa J. Rubin contribute "U.S. Envoy Offers Grim Prediction on Iraq Pullout" and the best that can be said there may be it's not the earlier version of the article (by one writer, not Burns or Rubin) the paper almost went with. That version couldn't even get the quote right, going for a 'summary' instead, which is rather appalling when the quote was already being reported and quoted by all the wire services. The quote was the nonsense by Hoshyar Zebari (the civil war aspect of the quote was 'tinkered' with -- making Zebari sound like less the idiot than he is).

Last week, The Nation e-mailed to explain themselves. And you know what? Here's the perfect example of how they need to get a grip and embrace their many failures on Iraq.

Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn (to cite only two) have been addressing the issues involved in a withdrawal. The Nation? Is that whiney "BE HONEST" paragraph from Katha Pollitt supposed to suffice?

By refusing to lead, The Nation provided nothing. There's now a scramble for how this topic will be addressed and if The Nation had done their job (they still have the largest circulation of any political weekly), the scramble wouldn't be taking place.

The reality is the US breeds the resistance, the US' continued presence fuels the violence. Who knows what Pollitt's nonsense paragraph (ticked off on in a laundry list column which -- for the record -- no columnist should be allowed to do, you either a topic to develop or you pack it in, leave that nonsense to Larry King) was supposed to say or be directed to but BE HONEST the magazine's consistently refused to address the topic of post-withdrawal.

And, no, Pollitt's nonsense that unnamed people's alleged claim that everything will be wonderful after US forces leave is not addressing anything.

What's going to happen?

Violence may increase. It may not. Foreign Policy in Focus has tried to address possibilities, to cite another example of those not sleeping on the job.

Violence may not. Phyllis Bennis has spoken of this as well.

But a puppet government (several variations) has been propped up repeatedly and that's not democracy but it is a breeding ground for anger, rage and hostitlity.

In its latest version, the puppet government has focused too much on handing over Iraqi oil (gee, wonder why) and refused to address the Constitution (which remains a joke) that they promised they would over a year ago. In fact, that Constitution passed with the promise that it would quickly be addressed. It never has been. Nothing having to do with Iraqis has been addressed. Forget US imposed 'benchmarks' that blame Iraqis for their puppet government, the reality is the puppet government has done nothing for the Iraqi people and lived up to no promises. It has still not addressed the purge of Baathists (which Paul Bremer, not any Iraqi, pushed through). You can not purge an entire political party from a process. But Bremer did that and the puppet government(s) have refused to rectify that.

Puppet governments are not democracy, they do not represent self-rule.

They do add to the anger and rage of an illegal occupation and they are as much a part of the problem today as is the US occupation.

What's going to happen?

Unless you're a psychic, you don't know.

But the US presence has fueled the violence (some would argue created the violence) and things aren't going to get better with the US in control. Withdrawal, as we've often noted here, will happen. Giving it X more time won't change that. All it does prolong the whole ugly process. And those playing alarmists today about what's going to happen should realize that the longer the US stays the worse it may likely be. The illegal war should have never begun; however, the reality is that the longer the US stays, the worse it is.

To those saying, "The violence! The violence!" -- the longer the withdrawal is postponed, the worse it will be. It's worse today than it would have been in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.

The US is not going to stay forever, neither the Iraqis or the Americans would stand for that. The administration that started the illegal war has refused to address the chaos they have created but, instead, ignored it repeatedly.

There is no progress, there has been no progress. That is not a fault of the Iraqi people. They have not been allowed self-rule. Puppet governments have done as the US directed and the longer they continue to do that, the worse it gets.

That's reality. That's a "known" even in the Donald Rumsfeld book.

Iraqis are the only ones who can steer their direction and the longer that a puppet government stands in their way, the worse post-withdrawal conditions will be. And a withdrawal will happen. It was always going to happen. The US cannot stay there for ever because, again, neither Iraqis nor Americans would ever stand for that.

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