Sunday, July 01, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Tom Hayden' has credentials when it comes to movements opposing war and racism. From the early days of the original SDS to the Chicago 8, his Berkeley days with the Red Family collective to his time in the California legislature and today, his approaches have included confrontation, mass rallies and lobbying. Likewise, his theoretical takes have gone from ending a particular war to revolution to reform. Hayden utilizes this experience quite wisely in his new book Ending the War in Iraq, at least to a point.
He opens the book with a discussion of the history of the antiwar movement of the 1960s and 1970s, detailing its growth and setbacks. Taking into account the particular elements of that period in history, Hayden acknowledges the role the counterculture played in the opposition to that war, while rightly stating that the military draft was also important to the movement's growth. From there, he moves into a brief history of US involvement in Iraq, including Washington's support of Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of his rise to power and during the war between Iraq and Iran during the 1980s.
As his discussion shifts to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the rise of the insurgency, Hayden provides brief analyses of the various phenomena on the Iraqi ground and in its political minefield. Simultaneously, Hayden points to the failure of the warmakers to anticipate the insurgency and the arrogance of its postwar assumptions. It is here where Hayden stumbles. Like many antiwar progressives, Hayden tends to lay way too much blame for the post-invasion failures on the neoconservative elements of the Washington power structure. This analysis ignores the role played by the Democratic liberals in their acceptance of the lies used by the White House to justify the war. Furthermore, it tacitly accepts the idea that the war will end when the neocons are driven from power.
While Hayden is not as simplistic in his apparent belief in this scenario as many other antiwar "leaders," the fact that he places as much blame on the neocons without an equally angry attack on the liberal elites' votes for the war and its subsequent expansion make it clear that Hayden's sympathies lie with those in the movement who believe the best way to end the war is to pressure the Democrats. This is despite the recent surrender by the Democrats in Congress regarding the war funding measure passed in May 2007. Behind these sympathies lies a belief that the power of US is inevitable and permanent and can only be manipulated but not overturned. It is this lesson that Hayden seems to have drawn from his years in the political ring. It's not that he doesn't believe in the necessity of a mass movement; it's that he thinks the primary role of that mass movement should be to pressure the politicians into changing their allegiances. Once again, the most recent example of this strategy's shortcomings is the recent votes in Congress that ultimately gave the White House and the Pentagon exactly what they wanted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The above, noted by Mia, is from Ron Jacobs' "Ending the War, Organizing for Change" (CounterPunch). Jacobs is reviewing Hayden's book and Michael Brown's Building Powerful Community Organizations: A Personal Guide to Creating Groups That Can Solve Problems and Change the World as well. On the subject of reviews, since a lot of e-mails are asking, Kat's review is now scheduled for July 4th. Her plan was to break away during the writing session for The Third Estate Sunday Review, grab the notes she'd made and write the review. There wasn't time (very long session). She was hoping to do it this evening and was reading over he notes to Ty and myself. There's a lot there. She could pull it off by staying up well past midnight but there's no reason for that. It can go up July 4th and that will mean we'll have at least three entries at this site that day. And, reminder, something we're all working on will be posted at all community sites on the 4th. Does this look like a talking entry? It was. I've pulled almost everything. Olive, Skip, Pru, Billie and Marcia have highlights still in it but there was too much news going on so it ended up a bit like a snapshot. Apologies to others who e-mailed highlights. In the original version, they were included but there's just too much news today and it needs to be noted so I've rewritten this before posting.

Back to Iraq. Friday, CBS News reported on their latest poll which found a eleven percent increase from April in the amount of Americans (surveyed) who stated the illegal war was "going badly" -- an increase from 66% to 77% -- and an increase in the number of respondents saying all US troops should be pulled out of Iraq -- from 33% to 40%. On the delusional side, 22% say the illegal war is going just fine and 11% favor the number of troops in Iraq being increased. And, on Saturday, Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the shift in Iraq which found Baghdad deaths of Iraqis dropped last month to 189 (taken seriously because it's not the so-called official figures from a ministry and, instead, is based on McClatchy Newspapers own tracking) for Iraqi police and security forces while the numbers of US soldiers killed rose.

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 3559. Tonight? 3580. The toll for June (barring any last minute announcements -- and they are known to happen regularly) is 101 and July has already had two deaths (on this first day of the month). Today the US military announced: "One Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed when a combat patrol was targeted with small arms fire in a southern section of the Iraqi capital July 1."* And the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed in a small arms fire attack that followed an improvised explosive device strike targeting a joint combat patrol in a western section of the Iraqi capital July 1. Two Iraqi National Police officers were also wounded in the attack."* [*It was actually Monday in Baghdad when these were announced.] June 2007 saw the most deaths of US troops of any June since the illegal war started, it also continued the trend began in April 2007 where each month had over 100 deaths announced. As Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Buried Bomb Kills 5 G.I.'s in Baghdad Neighborhood" (New York Times) noted Saturday: "The attack on Thursday in Dora, a dangerous neighborhood in southern Baghdad, added to the toll of the deadliest quarter yet for the American military in Iraq: 330 troops have been killed over the past three months, including 100 so far during June, according to the Iraq Coalition Casuality Count."

This morning, Stephen Farrell's "2 U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murder of 3 Iraqis" (New York Times) noted a 'raid' by US forces in the Sadr City section of the capital which locals say killed innocent civilians. This continues a trend towards realism that started last week. From Wednesday's snapshot:

In Iraq, Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Governmental and political parties' sources in Khalis disputed a U.S. military statement that was issued a few days ago; the statement said that a U.S. helicopter killed 17 terrorists but these sources say these men were protecting their own town from terrorist attacks. They said that Abbas Muthafar Hashim, Shakir Adnan, Ali Jawad, Jassim Jaleel, Abbas Jaleel, Kamal Hadi, Jamal Hassan and Mohammed Abdul Kareem were killed and 8 others were injured. They noted that the killed were members of what is called the popular committees that protect the area from the terrorists attacks, as they said." The US military press release on that incident was issued Friday, June 22nd and noted that those killed were "17 al-Qaeda gunmen" and that they US forces "observed more than 15 armed men attempting to circumvent the IPs and infiltrate the village. The attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen and destroyed the vehicle they were using." Obviously the people of town differ with the US military on the dead and, since they knew the dead and didn't just observe them from the air, one would assume a follow up by the military is in order. Those very likely wrongful deaths make the news as Molly Hennesy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports this from today, "Witnesses said U.S. troops opened fire on civilians in the sprawling Sadr City neighborhood of the capital after a passerby fired a revolver into the air to settle a family dispute. The ensuing gunfire left two men dead and three injured, witnesses said. A spokesman for the U.S. said he had not received reports of soldiers firing at civilians."

The Khalis incident was noted by the BBC on Thursday:

Relatives of 11 Iraqis killed by US troops in the village of Khalis last week have demanded compensation, and have called for the Americans to withdraw claims the men were from al-Qaeda;That's one of two incidents that are getting very little attention.

And from John Ward Anderson's "Residents Say 17 Killed by U.S. Were Not Insurgents" (Washington Post, Friday):

The U.S. military is investigating the killings of 17 people in a U.S. helicopter attack north of Baghdad a week ago, after residents of the area complained that the victims were not fighters from the group al-Qaeda in Iraq, as the military originally claimed, but members of a village guard force and ordinary citizens.

On Saturday's 'raid' in Sadr City, Raheem Salman and Ned Parker's "U.S. raid angers Iraqi prime minister: The Army says it killed 26 militants. Maliki criticizes the use of force in Sadr City without permission" (Los Angeles Times):

The Iraqi government rebuked the Americans for carrying out the raid in a Baghdad neighborhood without its permission, and local leaders said many innocent bystanders had been hurt.
The raid could stir further difficulties for Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, whose relationship is already rocky with Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr. Maliki, in charge of a fractious coalition government, is locked in a confrontation with Iraq's leading Sunni bloc, which holds 44 seats in the 275-member parliament, over an arrest warrant for Iraq's culture minister, who is a Sunni. The Sunnis have withdrawn from the Cabinet over the warrant for Asad Kamal Hashimi in the slayings of two sons of an independent Sunni legislator.
The military could face a backlash from Maliki's government over the early morning raids in Sadr City, the bastion of Sadr's Al Mahdi militia and home to more than 2.5 million people. A failure to stand up to the Americans might further erode backing for Maliki's fragile coalition government among the general Shiite population, which forms the bulwark of his support.

And today, as Farrell did, Ned Parker's "2 U.S. soldiers charged in Iraq killings" (Los Angeles Times) reports on

Two U.S. soldiers have been charged with premeditated murder in connection with the deaths of three Iraqis and with planting weapons on the bodies to cover up their crimes, the Army announced Saturday.
The men were identified as Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley of Candler, N.C., and Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval Jr., of Laredo, Texas. Hensley faces three counts of premeditated murder, obstructing justice and planting weapons, the military said in a statement. Sandoval faces one count of premeditated murder and one count of planting a weapon.
The crimes allegedly took place between April and June around Iskandariya, about 25 miles south of Baghdad, the military said. The area is part of the "triangle of death," a stronghold for Sunni militants who have been at war with U.S.-led troops and Iraq's Shiite majority since shortly after the 2003 invasion.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life (three more wounded), a Baghdad bombing wounded three, a Baghdad roadside bomb wounded four and a Baghdad car bombing that killed 1 person (two more wounded). Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports a truck bombing in Falluja as well as "three rocket-propelled grenades" which claimed the lives of 2 police officers, a Ramadi bombing that claimed the lives of 5 police officers (eleven more people wounded) and a Baghdad car bombing was "nearby Jadriya bridge." Reuters notes: "A woman was killed and two others were wounded when a mortar bomb landed on their house in Yusufiya".


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 police officers shot dead in Baghdad (eight more people wounded), another Baghdad shooting that claimed 2 lives (one more wounded), two people were kidnapped and shot dead in Baghdad (another Baghdad kidnapping/car jacking, resulted in a truck driver and his truck going missing), attorney Ibraheem Haseeb Hussein was shot dead in a Kirkuk home invasion, Iraqi soldier Majeed Muslih Khamas was shot dead in Kirkuk and a Basra clash involving rockets, mortars and machinegun fire that left 9 dead (five more wounded). Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports three people shot dead in Ramadi today by "masked men" and that Majeed Muslih Khamas was in Kirkuk "to guard local oil facilities.:


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 14 corpses discovered in Baghdad today, in Basra the corpses of Col. Nasir Ali was discovered and, on Saturday, 40 corpses were discovered in Falluja. Reuters notes Nasir Ali was a police col, that two corpses ("blindfolded and bound") were discovered in Latifiya and two corpses were discovered ("shot and tortured") in Numaniya while Saturday 16 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

In news of war resistance, Diane Carman's "Iraq war home for the holiday" (Denver Post) reports on Iraq Veterans Against the War's plan for street theater in Denver on the Fourth of July:

Several members of IVAW from Colorado will participate in the program, called Operation First Casualty.
(It's about truth. Get it?)
Most of them, including Army National Guard Spec. 4 Jared Hood, used to believe in the rationale for the mission.
"I was a member of the young Republicans," said Hood, a graduate of Bear Creek High School. "I had a lot more trust in our government then. I believed there had to be some driving purpose" before any president would risk soldiers' lives.
Hood enlisted in 2003 and was assigned to a military police detachment at Fort Carson. He trained private contractors who were hired to be MPs in Iraq, and later worked with counselors treating troubled soldiers returning from the war. He also helped with recovery work after Hurricane Katrina.
As he learned more about Iraq, Hood began re-evaluating not only his support for the war, but his philosophy about war in general.
"I filed for conscientious objector status a couple months ago," he said. On June 9, he failed to report for annual training and was declared AWOL.

Add Jared Hood's name to the ever increasing number of war resisters going public, such as James Burmeister (noted Saturday and today in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: War Resistance Is All Around"). But remember, The Nation magazine, in print, wants to pretend that this movement doesn't exist. And AP ran that laughable article Thursday, which outlets ran with -- big amd small, like Truthout have reposted without comment or question -- which was pure disinformation. The movement exists and many more war resisters go underground without going public. It was the most underreported story of 2006 and it's not fairing much better in 2007. We've seen mulitple arrests in Louisiana, we've seen a great deal. If we dig for it. As noted in Sir! No Sir!, during Vietnam, you didn't have to dig. This was in the magazines (mainstream) and on the TV. Today, even our independent media tends to ignore it.

Iraq Veterans Against the War are near the end of their summer base tour (a topic big media covered, credit them for that, while small media, with few exceptions, took a pass). Their next stop is 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.

Turning to political news, Edward Epstien (San Francisco Chronicle) reports US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has declared "the House will vote in July on legislation to withdraw almost all American troops from Iraq by April" (finding her spine possibly after CBS News' poll released Friday -- see earlier in this entry) while US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (both Pelosi and Reid are Democrats) will only state publicly that Iraq will be the topic of "votes." The article notes (and I haven't read this bill so remember this is what the article reports):

The Democrats admit that public frustration with the continuing war in Iraq has hurt their popularity after six months in control of Congress, especially after they campaigned on a platform that promised a new direction in Iraq policy.
The new withdrawal legislation in the House would require a troop pullout beginning within 120 days of enactment and completed by April, Hoyer said. It may be a stand-alone bill, meaning it could be considered separately from military appropriations legislation. Democrats also may offer other proposals seeking to wind down U.S. involvement.
The only troops that would be allowed to stay in Iraq would be those needed to directly combat al Qaeda, train Iraqi forces and protect the U.S. Embassy complex in Baghdad.

In other political news in the US, Reuters notes Bully Boy's meet up with Putin in Kennebunkport, Maine had additional guests, an estimated 1500 protesters "banging drums and carrying peace signs. They chanted 'impeach W, impeach Cheney too'." In other political news, Olive notes Lincoln Wright's "PM's secreat Iraq pull out" (The Sunday Telegraph of Australia):

PRIME Minister John Howard has a secret plan to begin withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq by February, a senior military source has revealed.
And Mr Howard intends to use the plan to ambush Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd at this year's election.
Mr Rudd has committed Labor to pulling out Australian troops from the increasingly unpopular war, if he wins.
But Mr Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer have both denied any timetable for a pullout.

The article notes that the plan is "one of the most closely guarded secrets in the top levels of the bureaucracy" and that even the US White House hasn't seen it. Skip notes AAP's report on Howard's denial that any such plan exists which quotes him saying, "The plan is so secret I don't know anything about it."

Also on Australia and the illegal war, Marcia notes Mike Head's "Antiwar protesters fined for entering US-Australian spy base" (World Socialist Web Site):

The depth of antiwar sentiment among ordinary people was evident when a jury in the central Australian city of Alice Springs took almost five hours on June 12 to convict four Christian pacifists for entering the highly secretive US-Australian spy satellite base at nearby Pine Gap.
The Howard government invoked 50-year-old defence legislation to charge the "Christians Against All Terrorism" protesters--Bryan Law of Cairns, Jim Dowling and Adele Goldie of Brisbane and Donna Mulhearn of Sydney. In December 2005, the group attempted to carry out a "Citizens Inspection" of Pine Gap to highlight its key role in the ongoing US-led bombings and missile strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Under the previously-unused law, the four faced jail of up to seven years for entering a "prohibited area" and another seven years for taking photographs inside. They also faced charges of trespass and property damage. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock personally authorised the prosecution under the 1952 Defence (Special Undertakings) Act.
According to reporters, the 12 jury members were visibly distressed when delivering the verdicts. Before they retired to consider the case, Northern Territory Supreme Court Justice Sally Thomas specifically ordered them to put aside their personal feelings and disregard the defendants' beliefs about Pine Gap’s contribution to the civilian deaths and injuries in Iraq.

And Billie notes that at least one other publication (besides Newsweek) has picked up Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Quindlen's column on war resisters -- "Even some soldiers are speaking out against the Iraq war" is carried by the Fort Worth Business Press (Fort Worth, Texas).

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Quotable Bully Mama" resulted in a number of e-mails (all left in the folder for Isaiah) and one question was why was it so large. (There were many compliments on it.) It was so large because Flickr stills new. I always choose the "large" size option so it will be visible and, for some reason, that made it huge today. I've gone back in and selected "medium" so it's now the normal size everyone's used to. Pru noted that she printed it up and left it in "choice spots" around London. She also notes Simon Assaf's "US surge can't stop Iraq resistance" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The US army are holding 300,000 Iraqis hostage as they lay siege to Baquba, a mainly Sunni Muslim city north east of Baghdad.
Over 10,000 troops, backed by their Iraqi allies, have surrounded Baquba in a “surge of operations” reputedly targeting "Al Qaida groups".
The offensive is the biggest by US troops since the assault on Fallujah in November 2004 and is part of the "surge" of troops by George Bush. It is a desperate gamble to rescue the occupation from defeat.
Yet US commanders admitted that the Iraqi army would be unable to hold the city once it has been cleared.
One of the US commanders described the operation as a "kill sack".
After cutting off all escape routes they launched repeated air strikes on civilian neighbourhoods claiming they were killing resistance fighters. But a senior commander admitted that "80 percent" of the fighters fled ahead of the assault.
An unknown number of civilians have been killed. Local emergency workers said that US troops were blocking ambulances from reaching the wounded.
The US killed a group of village guards then attempted to cover up the crime by suggesting the guards were Al Qaida supporters.
The strategy in Baquba has been dubbed "clear, hold and build". Troops would smash their way into an area, then provide reconstruction. Yet according to a study of Basra carried out by the International Crisis Group the strategy is a dismal failure.
The group reported that in 2006 British troops "sought to root out militias and hand security over" to Iraqi security forces.
But "relentless attacks against British forces in effect had driven them off the streets into increasingly secluded compounds”.
The group concluded that "Basra's residents and militiamen view this not as an orderly withdrawal but rather as an ignominious defeat."
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