Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, August 22, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, over 80 Iraqis are reported today, the US military announces deaths as well including those dead from a helicopter crash, Bully Boy demonstrates -- even before Karl Rove departs on Aug. 31st. -- that he doesn't need a brain and wouldn't use it if he had one, while Nouri al-Maliki hears voices and sees enemies and conspiracies all around him . . .
Starting with war resistance.  Camilo Mejia does a reading from his book  Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia at Different Drummer tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 pm.  Friday he has events in Syracuse (click here and check out the sidebar). Today, Deepa Fernades interviewed him on WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio.
Deepa Fernades: Can you just talk us through that . . . Those moments of deciding?  Of realizing "Okay, I really don't have any other option but the military?" What was going through your mind? Did you actually think, "This is crazy.  And what am I signing up for"?
Camilo Mejia: Not really because -- Well, first of all, I would disagree now days that there are no options.  I think there are some options. I think we need to fight for more options.  But young people really don't need to join the military to get themselves, you know, out of poverty and to get themselves educated.  But that was my mentality, certainly that was my mentality when I joined the military.
An important point and one that Iraq Veterans Against the War, of which Mejia was just elected to the board (as chair), will be making with a new campaign:  September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting.  It's also a point driven home in Army of None, a new book by Aimee Allison and David Solnit -- from Seven Stories press, available at book stores, online, and via Courage to Resist where you can support both the book and a strong organization.  In their book, Allison and Solnit offer an easy to comprehend and inspiring look at counter-recruiting including hands on details.  Mejia was mentioning how important it is for students to know there are other opportunities besides the military and the authors Allison and Solnit stress that in their book, the need to provide more "information on job-training programs, college financial aid, and youth service projects."  There are other opportunities -- however, the US government doesn't spend millions and billions of dollars a year promoting that.  The authors also note the opt-out portion of No Child Left Behind and since fall semesters are starting -- parents have exactly six weeks after the fall semester starts to put in writing that the US military is not to be provided with information about their children.  This must be done at the start of each school year. 
On A12 of today's New York Times, Sarah Arbuzzese reports on the huge drop in the number of African-Americans enlisting in the US military noting "the share of blacks among active-duty recruits declined to 13 percent in 2006 from 20 percent in 2001" and that the Army has seen the most dramatic decline (from 23% of the 2006 Army population to 13%), then the Marines (from 12% to 8%) and then the Navy and Air Forces.  African-Americans have been opposed to the illegal war from the start in large numbers and Abruzzese notes that the most recent polling showed 83% of Afican-Americans say "the United States should have stayed out of Iraq."  So counter-recruiting efforts are important and do have effects.  Many veterans assist and lead those efforts and IVAW, again, will be launching a campaign next month.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, 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.
Turning to Iraq, having already made clear (via the Sunni shut out of the alleged 'alliance') that the White House defined 'benchmarks' two and sixteen were out the window, Nouri al-Maliki made it even more clear that the Sunnis are not welcome in 'liberated' Iraq.  KUNA reports that a list has been issued "of wanted people" which includes the names of those "currently involved in financing attacks against the MNF" according to the Interior Ministry's Abdel-Karim Khalaf who has the title "Lieutenant General".  The Interior Ministry has long been accused of being run by thugs who are set upon driving Sunnis out but apparently they now have the means and capabilities to track down those "financing attacks" or, at least, to pretend they do in order to continue targeting Sunnis.
On the heels of US Senators Carl Levin and John Warner's announcement that the Iraqi prime minister's "last chance" had arrived, Bully Boy attempted a show stopping performance today by dusting off his Dark Lady lp, popped it on the turntable and sang along with Cher about just being "a Dixie girl who prays/ Some day she'll be a Delta queen/ Find a good man . . . "  Possibly that was his way of entertaining the VFW?  Speaking of the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, Bully Boy pronounced him "a good guy, a good man". But it wasn't all spangles and head tosses, Bully Boy also wanted to give a history lesson and, suffice to say, he's no Howard Zinn.  Mangling every known fact to humanity, Bully Boy came off like a college student dependent upon the "gentleman's C" which, for the record, was how he got through college.  As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, Bully Boy's declaring withdrawal from Iraq will cause the violence that followed when the US withdrew from Vietnam -- violence in Camobia and Laos as well as Vietnam.  On the issue of Cambodia, in a speech in June, John Pilger addressed Cambodia, "I've made a number of documentaries about Cambodia.  The first was Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia.  It describes the American bombing that provided the catalyst for the rise of Pol Pot.  What Nixon and Kissinger had started, Pol Pot completed -- CIA files alone leave no doubt of that.  . . . The [US] troops were withdrawn from Vietnam after four long years.  And during that time the United States killed more people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with bombs than were killed in the preceding years.  And that's what's happening in Iraq."  There's Bully Boy's actual historical comparison -- the one he won't make.  To read Pilger's speech click here for Dissident Voice, click here for Democracy Now! which offers it in audio, video and text.  As Saul Landau (CounterPunch) has noted of the US and Cambodia, "Between March 1969 and May 1970, Kissinger ordered some 3,600 B 52 raids on Cambodia.  Kissinger later lied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying he had selected only 'unpopulated' areas of Cambodia for bombing.  Somehow, between 600,000 to 800,000 civilians died in these 'unpopulated' areas.  This carnage occurred before Pol Pot won power. . . . Kissinger's undeclared war against Cambodia also included overthrowing the government of Prince Norodom Sihanouk.  A pro U.S. military coup produced an ineffective regime and subsequently led to the seizure of power by the Khmer Rouge."  "Bush is rewriting history -- never his best subject," notes Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) who also notes,  "he's counting the victims of the Khmer Rouge, who came to power only after the U.S. ruined Cambodia.  And he's not counting the three million people the U.S. killed in Southeast Asia during the war.  Just as he's not counting the 70,000 to 700,000 civilian Iraqis his war has killed, or the one in ten who have been forced to leave their homes." 
David Jackson and Matt Kelley (USA Today) cite Vietnam historian Stanley Karnow saying the "historical analogies . . . don't track" because "Vietnam was not a bunch of sectarian groups fighting each other. . . . Does he think we should have stayed in Vietnam?"  "We" would not, of course, include Bully Boy who joined the National Guard to stay out of Vietnam and couldn't even complete his duties there.  (Note, in the 90s, Bully Boy would make comments indicating he was against the US involvement in Vietnam.  That may have been the closest he ever came to making sense.)  Joe Allen (ISR) noted Stanley Karnow referring to the invasion of Laos as Tricky Dick and Crooked Hank (Kissinger)'s "drastic new initiative" to distract from losing to the North Vietnamese with Allen noting: "In February  1971, 150,000 South Vietnamese troops invaded Laos in an operation called Lam Son 719.  The U.S. Air Force flew 8,000 ariel sorties in support of the invasion.  They advanced about a dozen miles into Laos without much opposition, then they were hit with a major counteroffensive by five divisions of the North Vietnamese Army.  It immediately became a major rout, with the South Vietnamese Army fleeing back to South Vietnam . . .  The Laos debacle proved that even with U.S. air and logistical support, the South Vietnamese Army was a useless fighting force.  There was a rapid disintegration of the U.S. position in Vietnam during the remaining two years of the war."  (That's from part three of Joe Allen's Vietnam series, click here for part one and here for part two.)  Matthew Davis (BBC) analyzes the false comparison and quotes "Iraq analyst at King's College, London" James Denselow: "This smacks of spin, a last throw of the dice designed to pre-empt the anti-war lobby and justify the US's continued presence.  This is an issue of how America goes to war, and how it gets out of it.  It is rare for a leader in a democracy to take a country into war, and to take the country out."   Click here for Thom Shanker's laughable 'Bully Boy is right and look Council on Foreign Relations and a host of War Hawks say so!" And no link to The Nation because John Nichols is apparently representing the entire magazine and most of the timid left who refuse to call out the Vietnam nonsense (Nichols zooms in Korea. Way to go, we'll all go home and watch M*A*S*H!).  This is how the Vietnam revisionary history took hold to begin with, people smart enough to know it needed calling out refusing to do so.  (In fairness, Nichols is apparently the only working at the magazine today.)  Check instead the piece by Ron Fullwoood (OpEdNews).  Or The UnCapitalist Journal which notes, "Incapable of admitting utter catastrophe in waging a 21st Century war of aggression that has left the U.S. armed forces debilitated and incapable of effectively fighting even a single theater war against a real enemy, and unable to face up to the wreck visited upon the fiscal house of the nation by irresponsible tax cuts for the rich coupled with unending, uncontrolled costs of vaporous war against a stateless band of criminal maniacs, the President of the United States of America is about to go all the way back and blame Richard Milhouse Nixon for this miserable failure of a Presidency."
Though the puppet has made no known comment on Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia, Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports he's spitting mad over talk that he needs to go declaring, "No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government.  It was elected by its people."  Setting the issue of the election aside, al-Maliki wasn't elected by the people and should have been tossed out in May of 2006 by the Iraq Constitution since he failed to meet the deadline to put together his cabinet (after missing it, for those who've forgotten, al-Maliki tossed out the Constitutional deadline and created his own deadline -- which he also missed).  Paul Tait and Mohammad Zargham (Reuters) report that al-Maliki declared of US criticism (the reporters note it wasn't "clear if he was referring to Bush or [US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan] Crocker"), "These statements do not concern us a lot.  We will find many around the world who will support us in our endeavour."  Really?  Because the puppet was whining (when the US Congress was speaking of withdrawal at the end of spring) that the US forces couldn't leave (though poll after poll demonstrates the Iraqi people want them to).  The puppet who never met a conspiracy he couldn't latch on to also began seeing a plot caused by the trip he's currently on, "Those who make such statements are bothered by our visit to Syria.  We will pay no attention.  We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere."  "Our"?  It's his trip.  Is the "we" also al-Maliki speaking of himself in the plural form?  While al-Maliki gives a performance to rival Mary Todd Lincoln, Robert H. Reid (AP) reports that members of Iraq's Parliament "lack the votes to replace him" (maybe not) and that the White House fears no one else "could do a better job".  So Iraq's stuck with al-Maliki the way the Democratically controlled US Congress tries to stick the American people with Bully Boy?  Further calling Reid's reporting skills into question, he cites War Hawk Kenny Pollack -- who's been so 'right' about everything from the start (that was sarcasm).  Jonathan Steele (Guardian of London via ICH) observes of al-Maliki's outburst, "In one sense, the crisis only confirms what has been clear for months.  Whoever sits in the Green Zone in nominal charge of Iraq's government has little power or authority beyond its walls.  Bush's political project for Iraq looks more fragile than ever."
Fragile?  In some of today's violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life (five wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded two, a truck bombing in the Salahuddin Province that killed 12 (twenty-five wounded), a car bombing in Tikrit that claimed 1 life (police officer, three more wounded),  a Kirkuk car bombing that wounded one police officer and a roadside bombing near Flaifel left four members wounded. Reuters reports 6 killed (thrity-five wounded) in a motorcycle bombing in Muqdadiya, 20 dead (fifty wounded) in a tanker bombing in Baiji.  The Baiji truck bombing death toll rose to 45 dead (eighty wounded), CBS and AP report. Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) notes the death toll has climbed to 51 and that it "leveled" Baiji's "main police station" as well as causing "neighboring buildings" to collapse while noting the toll contains "such high casualties because most residents do their shopping in late morning and the station was located on a main commerical street."
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Ahmed Hassan was shot dead in Al Riath.  
Reuters reports, "Armed men stabbed a female professor to death in the Shi'ite city of Kufa". 
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Counting corpses that is 88 deaths and that's not all of the deaths today.
The US military announced: "Fourteen Task Force Lightning Soldiers died when the aircraft they were riding went down in northern Iraq Wednesday. Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were on a night operation when one of the aircraft crashed. That helicopter had been carrying four crewmembers and 10 passengers. Initial indications are that the aircraft experienced a mechanical malfunction."  Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) notes at least 63 helicopters have crashed (my term) in the illegal war with at least 36 being "struck by enemy fire".  CBS and AP note that the deadliest helicopter crash in the illegal war took place on January 26, 2005 "when a CH-53 Sea Stallion transport helicopter went down in a sandstorm in western Iraq, killing 31 U.S. troops."  Like that helicopter crash, this one too "is under investigation."  The January 26th helicopter crashed outside Ar Rutbah. 
The US military wasn't done -- they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and three others were wounded during combat operations in an area west of the Iraqi capital Aug. 22."  Today's deaths brought the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war to 3722 with 64 of those from the month of August thus far (ICCC).
And finally, in media news, Jeff Zeleny and the New York Times have smeared the peace movement with a big-old-fat lie.  Yesterday, Senator Barack Obama (and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful) delivered a speech to the VFW where he declared, "The graves of our veterans are hallowed ground.  When men and women who die in service to this country are laid to rest, there must be no protests near the funerals.  Its' wrong and it needs to stop."  Obama was referring to the 'vangical fringe that is the gay hating Fred Phelps crowd.  The extreme right wing set.  As Cedric's "New York Times lies again!" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! NEW YORK TIMES LIES ABOUT PEACE MOVEMENT!" noted yesterday, somehow New York Times' Jeff Zeleny heard that and decided Obama was talking about the peace movement: "He also said it was wrong for anti-war activists to protest at military funerals, declaring: 'It needs to stop'."  The print version of the story ran in this morning's paper on A11 and does not contain the error/lie; however, the story is still up online at the paper's website and has not been corrected.  How many times is the Times going to smear the peace movement during this illegal war?

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