Sunday, July 15, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Lawrence McGuire, a North Carolinian now teaching in Montpellier, France, organized a meeting of antiwar Americans and various interested French parties there at which I spoke last fall. Since then, we've been discussing off and on the strange fact that while two-thirds of all Americans oppose the war in Iraq and want the troops to come home, the antiwar movement is pretty much dead. McGuire raises the matter of direct solidarity with Iraqis fighting the US presence in Iraq. In other words, support their troops:
"I was reading a recent piece by Phyllis Bennis recently. She talked about the 'US military casualties' and the 'Iraqi civilian victims' and it struck me that the grand taboo of the antiwar movement is to show the slightest empathy for the resistance fighters in Iraq. They are never mentioned as people for whom we should show concern, much less admiration.
"But of course, if you are going to sympathize with the US soldiers, who are fighting a war of aggression, than surely you should also sympathize with the soldiers who are fighting for their homeland. Perhaps not until the antiwar movement starts to some degree recognizing that they should include 'the Iraqi resistance fighters' in their pantheon of victims (in addition to US soldiers and Iraqi civilians) will there be the necessary critical mass to have a real movement."
Now there are many obvious reasons why the direct solidarity with resistance fighters visible in the Vietnam antiwar struggle and the Central American anti-intervention movement has not been visible in the movement opposing the Iraq war. The "War on Terror" means-and was designed to mean-that any group in the US with detectable ties or relations with Iraqi resistance movements would be in line for savage legal reprisals under the terms of the Patriot Act. Another important factor: The contours of the Iraqi resistance have been murky and in some aspects unappetizing to secular progressive coalitions in the West, or so they virtuously claim.
But such cavils were familiar in the Sixties and Eighties too as huge chunks of the solidarity movement found endless reasons to distance themselves from the Vietnamese NLF or the Nicaraguan FMLN. That said, ignorance about the Iraqi resistance is somewhat forgiveable. This time there has been no Wilfrid Burchett reporting from behind the lines, and that has had consequences of the kind McGuire sketches out above.

The above, note by Mia, is from Alexander Cockburn's latest at Counterpunch. The link's coming but a WARNING: there is a photo of a topless woman in the piece (there's a reason for the photo). If you are using a work computer and visiting the page could get you in trouble, you have been warned. If not, you can click here for the article in full. Cockburn is right that the 'war on terror' has effectively (as intended) cut off any desire to see who composes the resistance. Tom Hayden explored a similar topic on RadioNation with Laura Flanders in 2006.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports all the breakaway Republicans of Bully Boy's illegal war of choice in the Senate aren't calling for troops out, they're calling for what amounts to a pull back. All the praise they've gotten, the mainstream media they've dominated and their 'plan' is continued illegal war. We noted they would break away at The Third Estate Sunday Review ("Editorial: The Party of Stella Toddler" and "Those wonderful Republicans ") and we noted why (Americans have turned against the illegal war and there are elections in 2008). But that didn't stop the lazy minded from praising them (in the MSM and outside). On a related topic, Edna notes Charles J. Hanley (AP via AfterDowningStreet) report on the air war where the US Air Force has increased the bombings in Iraq for an air campaign (which, no doubt, would take prominence should there be a pullback as opposed to a withdrawal) and Rick Lynch (Major General) is just tickled pink and nonplussed about civilian casualities. From the article:

Statistics tell the story: Air Force and Navy aircraft dropped 437 bombs and missiles in Iraq in the first six months of 2007, a fivefold increase over the 86 used in the first half of 2006, and three times more than in the second half of 2006, according to Air Force data. In June, bombs dropped at a rate of more than five a day.
Inside spacious, air-conditioned "Kingpin," a new air traffic control center at this huge Air Force hub 50 miles north of Baghdad, the expanded commitment can be seen on the central display screen: Small points of light represent more than 100 aircraft crisscrossing Iraqi air space at any one time.
[. . .]

Early this year, with little fanfare, the Air Force sent a squadron of A-10 "Warthog" attack planes -- a dozen or more aircraft -- to be based at Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq. At the same time it added a squadron of F-16C Fighting Falcons here at Balad. Although some had flown missions over Iraq from elsewhere in the region, the additions doubled to 50 or more the number of workhorse fighter-bomber jets available at bases inside the country, closer to the action.
The reinforcement involved more than numbers. The new F-16Cs were the first of the advanced "Block 50" version to fly in Iraq, an aircraft whose technology includes a cockpit helmet that enables the pilot to aim his weapons at a target simply by turning his head and looking at it.

The AP goes on to report that dropping "500-pound bombs" happens more frequently and there's "the long view: Many expect the Army to draw down its Iraq forces by 2009, but the Air Force is planning for a continued conflict in which it supports Iraqi troops." That's the reality. Tom Hayden, Norman Solomon and others have warned about it. It happened during Vietnam as well. The public turns against the illegal war, the government's not willing to give it up but fearful of elections and domestic turmoil, so they pull back the numbers on the ground and utilize bombings from the air to continue the destruction and killing.

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 3606. Tonight? 3615 since the start of the illegal war and 36 for the month of July thus far. On the count, as the air war rollout to coincide with the troop rollback seems even more likely, we should note that, during Vietnam, the government thought they could manage public outrage with the pullback of troops on the ground (which should ideally reduce US deaths) and that as the death toll for Americans climbed a slower rate, the public would be lulled into a sense of complacency thinking "Oh, it's not as bad as it was." It really didn't work with Vietnam (and, in fact what really kicked up student action on campuses was when Nixon expanded the illegal war -- obviously expanded, it had already been expanded -- by attacking neighboring countries in the region) and it won't work for Bully Boy. Though it might work for the next occupant of the White House, Bully Boy is too tied into the promised "cakewalk" (and the promise of non-existant WMDs), the struting around to the banner of "Mission Accomplished," et al and if US military fatalities were to drop to two a month, the count has already gotten so much higher than anything he himself prepared the American people for that if he had the option of another term, like LBJ, he'd have to take himself out of the running. This is his illegal war. His successor may prove to be Nixon -- such a War Hawk and liar that the illegal war becomes his or her own even though he or she didn't start it. But the pullback won't work for Bully Boy. He's tied to the illegal war. (And if the administration authorizes an attack on Iran, looking for the same reaction in this country to Nixon's attack on Cambodia.)

Today, the US military announced: "A 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier was killed July 14 as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device which detonated near his vehicle while conducting a combat logistics patrol near Baghdad." And they announced: " One Task Force Lightning Soldier died as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion while conducting operations in Ninewa Province, Sunday." (The last is a Monday announcement, it's already Monday in Iraq.)

ICCC's tally on reported Iraqi deaths thus far this month has reached 856. On some of the violence today . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 5 lives (fifteen more wounded), at least seven other Baghdad. Baquba and Khanqeen bombings today resulted in 5 deaths with twenty-six injured. Reuters notes a bombing Mosul claimed the life of an Iraqi police officer (another was wounded), a Baiji roadside bombing claimed the life of a truck driver and a Tal Afar roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left three more wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Salih Mahdi was shot to death outside his home in Baghdad, 3 other Iraqis were shot to death in Baghdad, a man belonging to Kurdish security forces was shot dead in Kirkuk, and Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ghareeb Diskri was shot dead ("an ambush") in Sulaimaniyah. Reuters notes 4 police officers shot dead in Nassiriya, 7 border guards shot dead in Panjwin, a woman married to "the mayor of Aziziyah" and their "8-year-old son" were shot dead in Aziziyah, a police officer was shot dead in Tal Afar, and a man was shot dead in Falluja.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses discovered dumped together in the downtown area of the capital, 2 more corpses (women) were found in the eastern section of the capital, that 22 other corpses were discovered in Baghdad today, that 2 corpses were turned over to a hospital in Baquba. Reuters notes 4 corpses discovered in Mosul,

Last week, Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) revealed the findings of an internal army investigation into the January 20th Karbala attack that left 5 US soldiers dead (1 immediately, 4 were kidnapped and later found dead, in addition 3 more soldiers were wounded) and placed culpability on the US trained and supported security forces with them at the time (as well as others trained well enough to know the routine). Richard Mauer's "Death by treachery: While Fort Rich troops chatted with family, their Iraqi allies melted away as terrorists in disguise entered the Karbala compound" (Anchorage Daily News) has more on that incident:

The Suburbans had big cylindrical antennas on their front bumpers, the kind you see on Army Humvees and contractor SUVs all over Iraq to jam signals used to trigger roadside bombs. And like contractor and Army vehicles, there were placards in the rear windows, warning motorists in English and Arabic to stay back 100 meters.
The men inside were dressed in U.S. Army camouflage and carried American weapons. They knew enough English to bark simple commands and offer polite greetings. They knew exactly how the U.S. soldiers would defend the compound. They knew the compound's most important room was the command and control center with its radio base stations, and they knew that at 6 p.m., the soldiers in the room would be off guard and relaxing. They even knew that the two most senior American officers in Karbala would be in the room next door.
Who paid for and trained the force about to attack, and who betrayed the Americans, have become among the most troubling questions in the Iraq war. Senior U.S. officers, including Col. Michael Garrett, commander of the Anchorage-based airborne brigade that provided most of the troops at the compound, said the lightning assault was one of the most sophisticated and complex attacks on coalition forces since the fall of Baghdad.
At a briefing two weeks ago in Baghdad, a military spokesman disclosed new suspicions of high-level Iranian involvement in the attack, including the alleged use of Lebanese proxies to train the force.
But while U.S. officials speak about the Iranian role in planning the attack, they have said little about how Iranians obtained the detailed intelligence needed for the raid or who carried it off.
An official Army investigation, completed in February and recently released to the Daily News under the Freedom of Information Act, also suggested Iranian involvement in the attack.
But the investigation also raises serious questions about the role of Iraqi police -- the coalition's supposed ally in imposing the rule of law in Iraq.
Not only were police negligent in surrendering their guard positions to the intruders without firing a shot or warning the Americans, the report said, but investigators found strong circumstantial evidence that police officials gave the attackers key intelligence and may have been complicit in allowing an advance force of attackers into the compound.

You don't need Iran as a bogeyman the way the US government keeps attempting to play it. (It not only offers an excuse for the failure of the illegal war, the bogeyman sets up another one.) All you needed was a country that wants the US out, the puppet's militia that terrorizes Iraqi civilians and for them to be trained and armed by the US. Incidents like the above happen to Iraqi citizens daily and, largely, everyone looks the other way. This time it happened to US troops and there seems to be some high level of shock that thugs would turn on their trainers. It's been happening over and over in Iraq and the only ones looking the other way are war supporters and a healthy chunk of the US press.

Pru gets the last highlight and it's from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

This article should be read after: » Gordon Brown tries to hide war link to bomb attacks
Call for troops home wins wide support at Scotland United Against Terror rally"
A Glasgow rally against terrorism last weekend received much media coverage. But what wasn’t so well reported was the deep feeling at the demonstration of opposition to the war in Iraq, writes Keir McKechnie, secretary of Glasgow Stop the War Coalition
The Scotland United Against Terror rally held in Glasgow last Saturday was called by a coalition of Muslim organisations.
It was backed by the Muslim Council of Britain, the Office for Muslim Affairs and all the mosques across Glasgow.
There were about 2,000 people at the rally -- a very good mix of Muslims and non-Muslims from across the city. It was also supported by the Unison union which campaigned to build the event.
Many Unison shop stewards came after receiving letters about it from the union.
Speakers at the rally included Scotland’s deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Matt Smith from Scottish Unison, the imam from Carrington Street mosque in Glasgow’s West End and the assistant chief constable of Strathclyde police.
Speakers talked about Scotland taking a united stand against terrorism.
All of them made clear statements that Scotland would also stand united against racism and Islamophobia.
Matt Smith in particular said that Unison would actively oppose any racist backlash against Muslims -- and underlined how important it was that people had turned out from different communities to state that opposition.
I spoke at the rally on behalf of the Stop the War coalition.
I said that we deplored the car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, but we also opposed the cluster bombs being dropped on children in Baghdad and Kabul.
This was very well received. I also asked why Britain had become a target for terror attacks, and argued that it was because of the British and US occupation of Iraq.
When the call was put out for the troops to be withdrawn as the solution to terrorism, the rally erupted in applause.
It was clear that there was a strong anti-war mood on the demonstration.
Despite the fact that the organisers didn't have the confidence to tap into that mood, many of them were very pleased that the Stop the War Coalition had called for the troops to come home. It is important to oppose attacking innocent people at airports. But it also important to say clearly that the root cause of terrorism is war and occupation -- and that to stop our cities and towns becoming a target, we need to withdraw the troops.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
Gordon Brown tries to hide war link to bomb attacks
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