Thursday, August 16, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

It seemed like a good idea when Timothy Richard joined the U.S. Army in November 1999.
But weeks prior to his scheduled discharge he found himself training in the infantry, readying for deployment to Iraq, with his contract in the army unilaterally extended.
He fled to Canada.
"It was something I wouldn’t have minded doing, defending America," Richard said, from his home in Ontario. "After Sept. 11, we were all very behind the president."
Richard joined the National Guard at Sioux City, Iowa in 1999. He was placed in the cavalry, performing maintenance work on machines. He understood that being in the inactive reserve meant that he would be stationed at home, putting in his one weekend a month, two weeks per year, in case of attack on the U.S.
In August 2005, just three months before his six-year contract expired, he was called up and moved from cavalry to infantry, and began training at Camp Shelby, Miss., for deployment to Iraq.
"I initially went along with the whole thing," Richard said.
His contract was extended to 2031 without his permission, due to a clause that allows the U.S. government to extend military contracts at their discretion, said Richard.

The above, noted by Vince, is from Melissa Fryer's "War resister returns support" (The Nanmio News Bulletin). And before anyone late to the party questions Timothy Richard's stop-loss, that was not an isolated incident. It happened to many others. It happened to Camilo Mejia who has talked about it and it is noted in the afterword to his book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia. Timothy Richard is one of many war resisters who have gone to Canada (including Kyle Snyder, Johsua Key, Patrick Hart, Ryan Johnson, Ross Spears, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Corey Glass, Christian Kjar . . . The War Resisters Support Campaign is an organization created to assist war resisters in Canada, to raise awareness of the issue, to mobilize the public and more. It's a Canadian organization and their information is available online in both French and English. War resisters take a very strong stand and know there will likely be no amnesty because there wasn't after the US left Vietnam.

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 Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3684. Tonight? 3702. Funding the war is killing the troops -- Tina Richards, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out.

The 3700 mark was passed. Who headlined it?

Who mentioned it as anything but an aside?

We're talking media outlets. The Ottawa Recorder offered it in a headline "U.S. military deaths in Iraq at 3,700." They used the AP count. All who did should have (as The Ottawa Recorder did) have run their stories already. Their brief identifies Army Staff Sgt. Alicia A. Birchett as the last name released (story ran Wednesday) by the military (By the AP count or ICCC, she was not the 3700. She was just the most recently identified when The Ottawa Recorder ran the story. Noting that before an urban legend starts.) The Defense Department says she died August 8th at the age of 29, was from Mashpee, Mass., assigned to Fort Campbell, and her death resulted from "injuries suffered from a non-combat related accident" in the capital. ICCC doesn't have the 3700 yet either (the name hasn't been released yet by the Defense Department). The last name released is actually five. All died in the helicopter crash Tuesday. There names were Christopher C. Johnson who was 31 and from Michigan, Jackie L. McFarlane Jr. who was 30 and from Virginia Beach, Va., Sean P. Fisher who was 29 and from Santee, Calif., Stanley B. Reynolds who was 37 and from Rock, West Virginia and Steven R. Jewell who was 26 and from Bridgeton, North Carolina.

Their deaths directly effected friends and family and all the 3700 have had those. Another mark's approaching. 3999 is ICCC's current count of the total number of foreign service members killed in Iraq. That's one away from 4,000 lives. That's 299 deaths that have been non-US citizens. As long as the illegal war continues, the numbers will get higher and higher. Funding the illegal war is killing the troops.

It's also killing the Iraqis and the Just Foreign Policy counter currently reads 1,009,516 Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war. That number builds on The Lancet study and the reported deaths since the study. Many Iraqi deaths go unreported. Some bodies aren't found, some don't make it to a morgue or a hospital but are buried by family and friends right away.

Most people in the US seem to grasp that the illegal war is not worth the cost of the US lives. (CNN's poll out today found that only 33% of respondents support the illegal war.) There were many lies that sold the illegal war and one of them was the idea that the Iraqi people would be 'helped'. Over a million dead is helping? Is liberation? Is democracy?

4 million Iraqis are displaced either internally or externally. Combine it with the death toll and over 5 million Iraqis are paying for Bully Boy's 'cakewalk' of choice. That's a fifth of the CIA's estimate for the Iraqi population. And let's not pretend other Iraqis aren't suffering (outside the Green Zone) where potable water remains a dream, where electricty has become a novelty as it is not only below pre-war levels, not only out more hours than it is on . . .

Today, CNN reports on the Iraqi women who have been forced to turn to prostitution and the report is on Baghdad. It's 'cute' the way so many US reporters pretended prostitution didn't exist there while frequenting the women. But no one's supposed to talk about that. When prostitution finally began to get coverage from the mainstream media, Iraqi women turning to prostitution, they rushed to focus on what was happening to Iraqi women whom the illegal war turned into refugees outside of the country. That was especially cute coming from one paper whose correspondents have lived it up in the Green Zone while doing very little reporting. And of course, they were one of the first outlets to finally discover Iraqi women engaged in prostitution . . . outside of Iraq.

The CNN report talks about how the Iraqi women, in Iraq, often end up trying to commit suicide. It's doubtful that's a mental picture any of our Big Boys of the press will bring home with them or have brought home with them.

This was never unknown. It just wasn't talked about.

Maybe to cover their own asses, maybe because it fit the whole narrative they were selling? For whatever reason, the prostitution in Iraq was largely ignored by mainstream media coverage even if it wasn't ignored by US mainstream media reporters.

Possibly someone should write a book entitled You'll Never Make Love In The Green Zone Again?

Women and children have been especially hard hit by the illegal war. The US hasn't produced democracy but it has created orphans. It has allowed the malnutrition rates to soar.

Also targeted have been gay men and lesbians because, yes, they did exist in Iraq as well. Again, that might not fit with the narrative of 'simple children who need the "super-power" to save them.' But they did exist. They still do. In smaller numbers. Because the US government backed the religious extremists. They backed them and they looked the other way while segments of the population were targeted. They were the 'friends' and so it mattered less if they targeted other Iraqis because, after all, how much is an Iraqi life worth?

That's been the attitude from day one. The US government has disregarded Iraqi life. It's disregarded the public opinion of Iraqis that ALL foreign fighters need to withdraw. It's disregarded the history of one of the first advanced civilizations in the world. What did it matter if antiquities were destroyed? Didn't Rumsfled say it was just one vase shown over and over on a video loop?

The greed for oil and markets made Iraqis an inconvenince to get around. That's how you install a puppet government and tell the world (including the US) that it's the 'democratic' voice of the Iraqi people.

And to keep everyone off guard and living in fear, you explore funding and backing 'the other side'.

Those are some of the realities of this illegal war. The children trying to grow up in the war zone that the Bully Boy has turned the country of Iraq into will all pay a huge cost. If they're lucky their families will remain somewhat intact. Some are already orphans on the street attempting to support themselves. But all live in the chaos and fear imposed by the daily illegal war.

On the subject of Grassroots for America (Tina Richards' group), In Dallas fowarded a wonderful e-mail. We'll rerun it in the newsletters (it'll be in the gina & krista round-robin tomorrow, etc.) but it's not up at the site so we'll consider it a private e-mail. You can sing up for the alerts and actions and more at the website. From the e-mail, we'll note this (I don't think that's private):

CALL TO ACTION: March of the People Need Your Help
Mario, Elliot, and Gordy started a march from Chicago to DC. It wasn't a march with rides in between nor was it a march funded with stays in plush hotels; it was a march started with a dream and a belief in the People of our Country. Right now that dream is struggling. Places that they reached out to have not responded. Their car to carry their gear is gone. Their resources are low.
As our youth speak out to us for help, we must be there.
Below is a list of places needed for hosts. If you know of someone near those areas, please reach out to them. Register as a host on their website as soon as possible so they know they will not be left on the streets. A warm place to sleep and a hot meal is all they ask. People to walk beside them.
Grassroots America is not just an organization, but an idea. An idea with a belief in the people across our nation that support peace, denounce prejudice and torture, and above all, places the power in the people, not our government. If not you, then who?
I will be joining them in Baltimore MD, Laurel MD and on to College Park in their walk. Everyone that is planning on coming in for all the events starting September 11, will you come join in their walk on September 8th to help them reach DC?
"We do not march out of hate. We do not march out of abandonment. We march out of hope, provoked out of sadness for the Nation we love. It is a Nation that our forefathers, and with them, our own soldiers, died to protect. It is a Nation degenerated into a prison of fear and silence that is the current administration. It is a prison of deceit and half-truths, and a trail of unaccountability that is so long it pales the very length of this march. We march to Washington in the name of the Constitution, in the name of the Soul of the People that inspired it, both of which are hijacked by the conspiracies and unilateralisms that History will infamously know as the Bush regime." Mario, Eliot and Gordy
59 Greensburg, PA
60 St Vincent College
61 Ligionier, PA
62 Jennerstown, PA
63 Stonystown, PA
64 Schellsburg, PA
65 Bedord, PA
66 Everett, PA
67 Graceville, PA
68 McConnellsburg
69 Mercersburg, PA
70 Hagerstown, MD
71 Smithsburg, MD
72 Thurmont, MD
73 [reststop-Frederick Cnty], MD
74 Frederick, MD
75 Ridgeville, MD
76 Lisbon, MD
77 West Friendship, MD
78 Ellicott City, MD
79 U of Maryland, MD
80 Elkridge, MD
81 Waterloo, MD
82 Laurel, MD
83 Howard U (Beltsville)
84 U OF Maryland, MD
85B Washington Monument, DC
85A John P. Sousa Brdg: Capital March
85C Lincoln Memorial: Captial Rally
Where will you be September 15?
I'll be standing with the Iraq Veterans Against the War, National Council of Arab Americans, Muslim America Society Freedom Foundation, Veterans for Peace, and military family members, like myself, as we confront Gen. Petreaus when he delivers his report to George W. Bush and congress on September 15.
Those that sacrifice the most for this war realize the importance of September 15. We live with this occupation everyday. When we turn off our televisions, our radios, close our papers or books, the war rages on for ourselves, friends and family.
Every politician in Washington DC has said wait until September 15. Wait for the report. As they waited, more of our sons and daughters died. Iraqis saw their country ever more devastated while tens of thousands more became displaced in their own country.
The wait is over. The Gathering of Eagles is mobilizing on September 15 to try to intimidate us. The Department of Interior is threatening $10,000 and more in fines for lawfully advertising for this day. The forces are mobilizing to try to silence us as General Petreaus gives his report. As he calls for years more of war. The streets of DC cannot be silent on September 15.
The streets of DC cannot be filled with warmongers as they spread their hate. September 15 is our day, the day of the peace makers, to denounce their policies of war, denounce their occupation and denounce their hate as we strive for justice in our streets.

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