Monday, August 13, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Monday, August 13, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Operation Happy Talk makes a splash and thank the left and 'left' voices there, US withdrawal fights a strong push-back via spin while one of Bully Boy's nearest and dearest withdraws from the White House, John Howard flaps his gum yet again -- this time in a letter to the puppet of the illegal occupation, the puppet doesn't have time for mail as he faces stinging criticism, and more.
Starting with war resistance, Agustin Aguayo is the focus of Mary Wiltenburg's "When a US soldier in Iraq won't soldier" (Christian Science Monitor) which traces Aguayo's involvement in the US military, working two and three jobs to support his family, Aguayo thought of joining the Army Reserves but was persuaded the Army was the better choice, went to basic training and was distrubed by the chants ("Left, right, kill!," "We are not men. We are beasts,"  etc.), realized on the eve of deployment to Iraq that he couldn't kill anyone.  Helga Aguayo searched online and discovered conscientious objector, a term that applied to her husband and one they had never heard of.  That's why it's shameful when publications such as The Nation (the 'leading magazine of the left') refuse to cover war resisters in print or reduce Camilio Mejia (as they did in their overly praised article last month) to a 'deserter' while never noting that his 8-year-contract was up, had been up, and that as a noncitizen the US military could not extend Mejia's contract.  Mejia applied for CO status and was rejected.  But by all means, let's applaud The Nation for it's repeated cowardice and it's repeated silence.  The AP has done a better job covering the war resistance than the laughable Nation magazine.  (Community members remember, check in on Labor Day.)  In fairness, voices who didn't use the platform to note Ehren Watada but were happy to use their platforms to note a reporter should share the shame of The Nation.
Like Mejia, Agustin's CO application was rejected.  Wiltenburg notes, "The decision was divided: Aguayo's company commander and investigating officer called him 'absolutely sincere' and said he had a 'legitimate concern with being a soldier.' The next four levels of command recommended rejection; one called Aguayo's application 'an attempt to remedy [the] anxiety all soldiers face during an extended deployment in a combat theater'."  Perspective.  "The investigating officer said that it was in the best interest of the military to discharge him and that he believed that Agustin was sincere. However, higher ups in the chain of command -- that never met with my husband -- decided that he wasn't sincere and just didn't really give a reason, just said that he didn't qualify as a conscientious objector," Helga Aguayo speaking to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) Arpil 20, 2007.  Mary Wiltenburg's "When a US soldier in Iraq won't soldier" (Christian Science Monitor) is the first of multi-part story on Aguayo The Christian Science Monitor is doing.  So those wanting to be informed can look to that paper and ignored the useless Nation magazine..
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee,  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, Dale Bartell,  Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.        

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at 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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.
Over the weekend, the US military made a number of announcements including Saturday when the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died Friday in a non-combat related incident, which is currently under investigation." And, on Sunday, the US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed by small arms fire while conducting a dismounted patrol southeast of Baghdad August 11." and they announced: "Four Task Force Marne Soldiers were killed and four others were wounded by an explosion during combat operations south of Baghdad Aug. 11."  Today, they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was attacked during combat operations in a western section of the Iraqi capital Aug. 13."  The deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war ever closer to 3700.  The cakewalk that had Bully Boy declaring "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended" beneath the banner declaring "Mission Accompished" in May 1, 2003 over four years ago  When that lie was told at a photo op to sell the illegal war, Jesse Alan Givens  was the 140th US service member to die in the illegal war.  ICCC's current total is 3690.  3,550 US service members have died in Bully Boy's illegal war since he strutted around on the USS Abraham Lincoln beneath the manner crowing, "In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."  Repeating that, 3,550 have died since Bully Boy's photo op.  The 3700 mark looms and, so far this month, 32 US service members have lost their lives in Bully Boy's illegal war.
The five deaths announced Sunday indicate a new strategy in attacks on US service members.  Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) reports the first soldier was shot dead to draw "the others to a house rigged to explode."  It was a set up.  And nothing in the US military press releases notes that.
As the 'cakewalk' had dragged on (and on and on . . .) some of the world leaders who supported it (the few) have been replaced.  France has a new prime minister. Nicolas Sarkozy met with Bully Boy Saturday for a "casual lunch."  Bruce Crumley (Time magazine) notes Sarkozy showed up Saturday for "the kennebunkport weenie roast" late, "45 minutes late," at a time when a new poll in France found 40% of the citizens want no improvement in the strained relationship between France and the United States that cratered over the illegal war and 26% of those responding expressed the desire for even greater distance between France and the United States.  That's 66% of the country not wanting a big hug from the Bully Boy so, to no one's surprise, the two leaders, as Crumley characterizes it, agreed to disagree.
There remains a great deal of 'disagreement' between Bully Boy and the rest of the world and you don't need to look at the international polling and note how great the drop in favorable opinions of the US since Bully Boy began his illegal war to be aware of that.  You can look at England's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, who has replaced "The Poodle" Tony Blair and isn't as pliable as Blair causing alarm in the US administration.  Sean Rayment and Philip Sherwell (Telegraph of London) report: "America is preparing to pour thousands of extra troops into southern Iraq amid fears that Gordon Brown is committed to withdrawing British troops from the region early next year." While England plans to turn over southern Iraq to the Iraqis, the US prepares to station US troops there.
They can do that thanks to Bully Boy's escalation, which has led to approximately 160,000 service members stationed in Iraq (the highest number since Janutary 2005).  Over the desires of the US public and the 'symoblic' resistance of the US Congress, Bully Boy began increasing the number of troops in Iraq at the start of this year.  Tim Reid (Times of London) reports the Bully Boy thinks he can continue the escalation "well into next year" and cites a "a string of positive reports" on Iraq that Reid maintains have "left Democrats increasinly powerless to end the war."
The "positive reports" do not refer to any progress in Iraq or even official presentations.  They refer to the waves of Operation Happy Talk that began in mid-July.  An illegal war the White House refused to end and the US Congress played dumb about -- what to do?  Grab a box of "Iraq War Helper!"  Which is exactly what the administration began doing in July.  Which is why and how you got nonsense such as US General Walter E. Gaskin declaring "we have turned the corner, we truly turned the corner" while for some reason referring to Iraqi soldiers's "hard".  No one questioned it because the waves of Operation Happy Talk were splashing and isn't homoerotic subtext what we all expect from generals in the US military?
As Reuters' Kristen Roberts noted, one of the few, General Gaskin's briefing was very "optimistic." And strange and divorced from reality.  But Gaskin was a piker compared to Lt. General Ray Odierno, Commander Mulitnation Corps-Iraq, who declared that a "bit more time" was needed for the illegal war and that General David Petraues's September report really wasn't going to tell anyone anything worth knowing because it would be November before anything could be known.  In that press conference, Odierno immediately clarified,
In that, he was successful.  In the same press briefing, he also attempted to sell the unproven link between the Iranian government and resistance fighters in Iraq.  He was less succsessful there because reporters pressed him forcing him to admit that there was "no specific intelligence" and, still in the same press conference,  "We don't see any evidence -- significant evidence".  That didn't prevent the New York Times' Michael Gordon from repeatedly citing the false link in July or August or utilizing Odierno as his source (including last week).  What a few others questioned, Michael Gordon ran with.  No surprise since Judith Miller's former co-writer was there to sell the illegal war from the start.  Of course, it helps that 'star' 'reporter' Gordo has to answer to few and that the Baghdad chief for the New York Times is John F. Burns who could, and did, start off the month publicly opining, "I think there's no doubt that those extra 30,000 American troops are making a difference." He did so not in print because reporters aren't allowed to opine on the pages of the New York Times, that's a no-no.  So he took his cheerleading on over to right-winger Hugh Hewitt's radio show where he also opined that the US withdrawing from Iraq will
The waves of Operation Happy Talk also saw sporting events presented as indicators of 'progress.'  All the little boys of the press who never got to play sports in their pimply, geeky, sunken chest schools days grabbed their jock straps and pounded furiously at their key boards over soccer matches and what it 'means'?  If it meant anything, and it didn't, the alarm should have sounded when the Iraqi soccer team defeated the one from Vietnam.  That should have sent a shudder through the jock-boys' spines since, of course, Vietnam was a defeat for the US not all that long ago.  So those wanting to read the tea cups (or the sweat stains on the jock cups) should have pondered if that means that, in Iraq, the US has an even stronger resistance?
Where there are no sane comparisons to be made there is John Howard.  Howard is not just (for now) the prime minister of Australia, he is the last of the Bully Boy defenders who got on board with the illegal war and (for now) still holds his official title.  Now Howard didn't get way on board with actual troops.  In fact, his loud mouth and hyperbole appear to be a desperate attempt to compensate for that and prove he can waddle with 'the big boys.'  While he talks big, he sends very few troops.  (Australians would not put up with him increasing the troop levels and they may not be putting up with him much longer as the election looms.)  But Howard loves to shoot the mouth and this year decided the thing to do was to interject himself in US politics as he went on attack against US Senator and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.and the Democratic Party claiming their victories in 2008 would be a winfall for terrorists and terrorism.  "Barack Obama: Warmonger" (Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report) has made embarrassing steps repeatedly though the Sammy Power crowd tries so hard to prop him up.  In this instance, dropping Chicken Sop for the Soul and leaving aside the I Talk Tough rhetoric, Obama actually scored points -- against a world leader.  (It should have been a tip off to his chaotic campaign, but they're all so lost.)  Noting that the loud mouth John Howard liked to talk big but has only provided approximately 1,000 troops to Iraq (that would be approximately 159,000 troops less than the US), Obama declared Howard should put up or shut up, send 20,000 more troops into Iraq, because
"[o}therwise, it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric."  Howard sulked off and tried to keep his head down. But there's a wave of Operation Happy Talk to ride (actually it's over but Howard's timing has always been poor) and damned if Howard's going to miss jock talk!  Australia's ABC reports Howard has dashed off a letter to puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki declaring that "Iraqis should follow the example of their nation's Asian Cup-winning soccer team".  How so?  By only some returning (briefly) to Iraq following the win?  That is what happened.  The ones he returned got a secluded, within the heavily guarded Green Zone, muted celebration.  Somehow that didn't get splashed across the front pages of the New York Times, et al. 
al-Maliki doesn't really have time for pen pals these days.  He's just returned from trips to Turkey and Iran.  Prior to leaving, he saw walk outs in the Iraqi Parliament and his own cabinet.  al-Maliki's manner of dealing with it was to term those protesting obstructionists and began speaking publicly (yet again) about conspiracies to oust him.  The whole country of Iraq was against him!  The travel apparently did him well and he returned to Iraq, as Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) notes in a more peaceful and moderately sane (for him) mood declaring that he was committed to resolving "the growing political crisis" and that "[h]is primary goal will be to reconcile with nearly half of his cabinet members, who have stopped attending meetings in three separate protests against his leadership."
For some Iraqi leaders, the response was, "It's not that easy."  Reuters reports that Adnan al-Dulaimi ("a senior figure in the main Sunni Arab political bloc in Baghdad") has declared (in an open statement to al-Maliki), "Your brothers in Baghdad are suffering in genocide carried out by militias and the death squads with Iranian planning, instructions and weapons. If you think what is happening to us will end at Baghdad then you are wrong. By God, this war that started in Baghdad will not stop here. It will extend to every Arab spot where the Arabic tongue is spoken. It is a war of history."  Others joined al-Dulaimi in condemning the puppet.  Suleiman al-Khalidi (Reuters) reports Sheikh Harith al-Dari ("the top Sunni cleric") stated, "If the Americans remain with this policy and rely on the same men who proved their failure again and again then they will leave Iraq in failure. . . . The U.S. administration should rectify its position in Iraq and stop depending on puppets . . . who have proven their failure."
CBS and AP focus on al-Dulaim, and ignored al-Dari, noting that al-Dulami had spoken out against the Shia militias "unprecedented genocide campign".
As the waves of Operation Happy Talk started, 'war critics' showed up to say it was winnable and few bothered to note the 'critics' had argued for the illegal war to begin with.  As July drew to a close and August began, the left and the 'left' largely made themselves useless as they accepted talking points (such as 'only 72 Americans died in Iraq in July!' -- a lie when they wrote their pieces) to move to 'bigger' points.  Here's reality, the push-back was obvious in July.  Save your bigger points until after you address the lies that are being told right then.
They didn't, because they know best.  Obviously.  After all they stopped the illegal war from even starting, didn't they?  Oh, no, they didn't.  And if anyone needing to see how that effort failed in real time need only review those end of July start of August critiques.  "Wait!  We had the MSM to go up against before the illegal war started!  They were all selling it!"  Yes, and they were all selling it again last month and this month and where the hell were you?  Which is why CBS can report a new poll that finds a 10% bump in support for the escalation that Bully Boy calls the 'surge.'  Attitudes against the illegal war have hardened and that remains true as the same poll indicates -- 30% want a timetable for withdrawal, 30% want US troops home now.  But via a hard-sell by the MSM and a lot of crap from left and 'left' voices, he did get a 10% bump in approval for his escalation.  The bump didn't translate into a bump for the Bully Boy himself (he stands at 29% approval rating in the latest poll) but it wasn't about Bully Boy.  He has no election to win.  He's over.  The war drags on.  And what the p.r. stunt proved was that (a) the MSM would run with it, (b) the voices with platforms would largely take the spin and say, "True, but . . " instead of calling it lies out right, and (c) new 'techniques' could be seen as worth exploring if a hard sell took place.  The lesson for the administration (and War Hawks) was that they might be able, if the press real hard, to string the illegal war along by tri-mesters.
The War Hawks can laugh at portions of the left who make themselves useless, who will accept the same spin the MSM does, and who will be so dense and stupid that they will applaud crap and encourage people to view it.  "No End In Sight when the peace movement gets behind crap"  addressed that nonsense at various left and 'left' voices began praising a 'documentary' by a Council for Foreign Relations flunky which ignored the entire issue of the illegal war to instead sell the lie that the US screwed up on the ground.  No End In Sight exists for one reason only, to sell the concept of wars of choice, wars based on lies, and get us to all agree that the real problem is with the planning, not the illegalities themselves. "Blood on the scarecrow, blood on the plow," as John Mellencamp once sang.

CBS and AP note, "At least 37 people were killed or found dead in sectarian violence nationwide. Nearly half of that number, 17, were tortured bodies discovered in Baghdad, officials said." In some of today's reported violence . . .

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack claimed 1 life (three wounded),
Reuters notes an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Hilla.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Laylan kidnapping today where a truck driver was seized "on Gargcha bridge". Reuters notes that "the mayor of town of Dijla" was kidnapped today.
Over the weekend, some realities emerged in the press.  Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times)
reported that all was not as upbeat as the waves of Operation Happy Talk maintained such as in the Amil section of the capital where checkpoints are set up everywhere but that hasn't stopped Amil and the Bayaa section from accounting for being the site of 160 discovered corpses since May.  Meanwhile, in the foreign press, reports emerged of a US helicopter killing 8 Iraqi electrical workers when a rocket was fired on them.  Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) was pretty much alone in the MSM in picking up the story and was told by the US military that, on Thursday, in that area, a US helicopter had killed "six men" but they were 'insurgents' who were "in the back of a truck."  After speaking with Oppel, the US military would issue a statement and in the military press release on the helicopter firing they would note "eight insurgents" were killed, up two by their original figure -- and consistent with the reports of the US military killing 8 electrical workers last Thursday.
In other news, the US military is trumpeting their recent war games (click here for Nancy A. Youssef's report) which predicts chaos will come to Iraq when the US withdraws.  Chaos came in March 2003.  The war game is a game and as useless to reality as holding the Monopoly deed to Park Place when you have no place to live.  In the real world, Robert Hutton (Bloomberg News) reports that the United Kingdom's Parliament is predicting the Bully Boy's escalation will fail and that "[t]he cross-party panel of lawmakers called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to set out a policy to promote reconciliation between rival political factions in Iraq."  The escalation is a failure and the US military pulled back and slowed the announcements of the deaths of US service members in an attempt to trick -- fortunately many were willing to be tricked.  There has been no progress.  All this time later, potable water, electricity and security remain impossible.  The point being made in the British Parliament are similar to the ones made by US Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Joe Biden on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show Thursday -- there is no diplomtic 'surge,' there is no progress in basic needs, the focus has been on the privatization of Iraqi oil at the expense of what is good for Iraqis and there is no way to claim that the escalation of US troops into Iraq has resulted in progress.
In news of withdrawals, Karl Rove will leave the White HouseAmy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports, Rove will leave Aug. 31st and this "comes while he is at the center of several Congressional investigations. Last month Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy subpoenaed Rove to testify about his role in the politicization of the Justice Department and the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. So far Rove has ignored the subpoena and has refused to testify, citing executive privilege. In addition, two weeks ago Rove skipped a Congressional hearing on the allegedly improper use by White House aides of Republican National Committee email accounts. Rove told the Wall Street Journal that he is resigning in order to spend more time with his family. For the past 19 years Rove worked as George W. Bush's closest political advisor, first in Texas, then in Washington. During that time he earned the nickname of Bush's Brain."  Goodman explored the topic in depth today with News Dissector Danny Schechter who noted, "Well, with his brain gone, what's left? I mean, this is rats deserting a ship. You know, the ship is sinking, clearly. His comment --- President Bush's comment the other day --- he doesn't speak English --- is indicative of an administration that doesn't know what it's doing or where it's going. Bush's top adviser leaving is certainly not going to make it any easier for him. We're going to see more and more crises.

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