Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, September 4, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Bully Boy takes a layover in Iraq, a lot of the press goes giddy, some in the peace movement play dumb, and more.
Starting with war resisters, but with a twist.  As noted yesterday in "The Nation ignores war resisters even as it publishes the child of one," Rebecca's "the nation magazine ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," Cedric's "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," The Third Estate Sunday Review's "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one," Trina's "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," Betty's "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," Elaine's "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," Mike's "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one" and Wally's "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one" (Ruth worked on the report as well) political theorist and writer Naomi Klein is the child of war resisters.  Her father could not serve in an illegal war and the family went to Canada.  The story isn't that uncommon in Canada (then or now) but it is worth noting at a time when some 'helpful' scolds want to insist that war resisters going to Canada today are 'destroying' their lives.  Many made that claim during Vietnam, well before and well after Pierre Trudeau's 1969 decision that Canada would welcome war resisters.  Klein, an internationally known author, activist and filmaker, is hardly toiling away in obscurity.  Her life was not destroyed by her parents' decision.  In fact, her latest book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, comes out in the United States later this month.  This is her follow up to her best selling No Logo (Fences and Windows was a collection of her previously published columns).  Joshua and Brandi Key have four children (Adam, Anna, Philip and Zackary), Jeremy Hinzman and Nga Nguyen have a son (Liam), Patrick and Jill Hart have a son (Rian), Kimberly and Mario Rivera have two children and those are just some of the war resisters in Canada with children.  They don't need lectures from 'well meaning' and 'helpful' types telling them it's "DOOM!  DOOM!  DOOM! I TELL YOU DOOM!"  Reality is Naomi Klein's life was not harmed or short changed because her parents went to Canada to avoid an illegal war.  It's bad enough when the BBC's War Hawk and John McCain lovin' Kathy Kay (subbing on NPR) tries that tactic with Joshua Key, it's even worse when this 'cautionary' note comes from those who are supposed to be supporting war resistance within the military.
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, 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.  The G.I. Rights Hotline link has been included in the snapshots forever now, but please note that this is a new website.  The new website is still being upgarded (but working) and with the new website comes a new phone number (877) 4474487 which is "GI RGHTS" the name but missing the second "I".  To make sure everyone's aware that there is a new number and a new (toll free) number, we'll included this notice in the snapshot all week.  Again, The G.I. Rights Hotline is a new and improved (and new and improving) website that will begin replacing the old site.
Last Friday, Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Crus testified in the trial of Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich. While Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) lead with the news: "A Marine squad leader executed five Iraqi men after a roadside bomb blast killed a Marine and then told squad members to falsely claim that the men were shot while running away" Paul von Zielbauer (New York Times) decided that news was so unimportant that it could be casually tossed out in the eight paragraph of his 'report' and then forgotten.  Reality v. fluff?  You saw the mainstream press at war with itself throughout the three day weekend.
For instance, on Sunday James Glanz (New York Times) informed that the Iraqi death toll had falled in Baghdad.  Though the Times has spent a ton of money in Iraq (villas aren't cheap -- NYT stockholders click here) they apparently do not have a single person who can take down the deaths that actually do end up reported each day.  So instead of being able to speak to the paper's own figures, Glanz had to cite AP and Reuters figures. Someone should have told him about McClatchy Newspapers.  On Monday, Renee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) would utilize those figures to note, "Statistics that McClatchy Newspapers collected in Baghdad don't show any drop in violence.  Civilians deaths in the capital were about the same in July as in December, before the American troops increase began.  U.S. officials in Baghdad declined to provide data to back up their claims of lower violence."  Why should they when the New York Times will rush forward to stand up for the spin?
Well if the US military (and the Times -- "and" provided they are separate entities) admit that the death toll rose outside of Baghdad and McClatchy Newspapers figures show that the death toll in the capital was essentialy "the same in July as in December" where, exactly, is the 'progress'? 
Those with a least a modicum of short-term memory may remember the was July was sold.  For instance, Stephen Farrell (New York Times) was trumpeting that US deaths had falled to 74. ICCC lists July's total as 79 and -- 74 or 79 -- 83 is greater and, in fact, the total number of US service members announced killed in the month of August (thus far announced).  Surely, it's a huge coincidence that the same paper that trumped the 'lower' death toll for the US as proof of 'success' in July 'forgets' to note the rising death toll in August?
In fairness to the paper, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno wasn't selling this point in August as he had done in July but, in fairness to news consumers, why the paper felt the responsibility to back up baseless claims by the US military to begin with is a question worth asking.
Also worth asking is what about the Iraqis resources in their daily lives?  Are they any better off?  Or are we all supposed to forget that July ended with Oxfam issuing a reported that found: "Forty-three per cent of Iraqis suffer from 'absolute poverty'. According to some estimates, over half the population are now without work. Children are hit the hardest by the decline in living standards. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 per cent now."?  Apparently, we are.  And apparently we are being strongly encouraged to forget last week's reports of cholera outbreak in northern Iraq.  Now the outbreak goes on but is it really the job of the New York Times to report reality or to prop up an illegal war?  AP reports today that Jordan has "banned entry of food supplies from Iraq" as a result of the cholera outbreak in Iraq and notes that a United Nations "Development Program team recently returned from Iraq . . . [and they] blamed the inadequate water supply system and deteriorated infrastructure for the outbreak and warned the disease could spread to other cities in the northern Sulamaniyah province."  On the Sulaymaniyah province, Relief Web notes, "Since 23 August 2007, a three to four fold increase of acute watery diarrhea cases were bing reported from one of the teaching hospitals of Sulaymaniyah province in Northern Iraq.  Laboratory test performed on stool specimens confirmed Vibrio cholerae serogroup 01 Inaba as the causative pathogen for these reported acute watery diarrhea cases.  So far between 23 August and 02 September 2007, the cumulative number of cases of acute watery diarrhoea reported from four out of the eleven districts of Sulaymaniyah province stands at 2,930 including 9 deaths with an overall case fatality rate of 2.30%."  Jordan is the only country taking measures to prevent the outbreak spreading to their borders (Jordan has noted they are not closing their borders or stopping Iraqi refugees from entering).  NTV MSNB reports that Turkey is so concerned that everyone "entering Turkey from its Habur border gate in southeastern township of Silopi would be scanned for cholera."  Sara Flounders (Workers World) notes that 70% of Iraqis lack "access to safe drinking water and 80 percent lacks effective sanitation" and states, "The anti-war movement here must focus attention on the reports that expose the all-pervasive violence of the U.S. occupation.  Otherwise the corporate media are able to put their 'spin' on who is responsible for the violence in Iraq today.  Consistently they blame the Iraqi people for the unfolding horror and not the U.S. occupation army.  The corporate media are currently giving extensive daily coverage to the drumbeat coming from U.S. politicians, Republican and Democrats alike, who wring their hands and describe the chaos and violence that would follow a U.S. troop withdrawal.  This constantly repeated theme is woven together with coverage of seemingly senseless and sectarian attacks on civilians by 'terrorist forces.'  U.S. troops are described in every news article as trying to end the 'sectarian violence' and desperately seeking to bring security and order.  The media's constant focus on seeminly random violence and mayhem, allegedly committed by contending Iraqi militias, is meant to mask the total violence of occupation.  It also distorts who the resistance is and what are the primary acts that resistance forces are engaged in. . . . The [centrist think tank Brookings Institute] report contains a chart showing that the vast majority of the resistance attacks are on U.S. forces and Iraqi security forces, not on civilians.  According to this chart, 80 to 85 percent of the attacks target the occupation and its collaborators."
Instead of addressing those realities, David S. Cloud and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) today report on Bully Boy's layover in Iraq yesterday which they state "lasted eight hours."  While the steno pool at the Times gets giddy that Bully Boy stated the obvious (some level of US troops may be withdrawn at some point), Martin Fletcher (Times of London) breaks down the reality: in the face of the Congressionally mandated report this month on the White House established 'benchmarks' by which to judge Iraq's 'progress,' Bully Boy needed "to show that the 'surge' is working, which is why he chose to land not in Baghdad, but in the remote air base of al-Asad in Anbar province. . . .  Mr Bush's visit was also significant for where he did not go -- namely Baghdad. . . .Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, instead flew to meet Mr Bush in Anbar province".  Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes the visit was six-hours and "a publicity stunt aimed at presenting an image of progress in the US military occupation and generating favorable coverage in the servile US commercial media."  Ouch, cry Cloud and Myers!  Martin also points out that Bully Boy "traveled in complete secrecy to a huge US base, 17 miles in circumference, manned by 10,000 troops, located in relative isolation from Iraqi population centers, near the point where the Euphrates River crosses the Syria-Iraq border.  Al Asad is one of the four huge bases -- more like transplanted American cities -- which the Pentagon has built as garrison points for the indefinite stationing of American troops and warplanes.  These four bases would play a critical role in any future US war in the region, particularly against Iran or Syria."  Here's what had the Times steno pad so excited, Bully Boy declared,  "But I want to tell you this about the decis-- about the decision, about my decision  -- about troop levels -- those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground, not a nervous reaction by Wallic -- Washington politicians to poll results in the media.  In other words, when we begin to draw down troops from Iraq, it will be from a position of strength and success, not from a position of fear and failure."  (Audio and video here at Democracy Now!)  Thank goodness, he's not going to listen to Wallic, but who is Wallic?  His imaginary friend?  Ken Fireman and Nicholas Jordan (Bloomberg News) provide the context of Bully Boy's 'draw-down' talk: "Bush, for all his 'stay-the-course'' rhetoric, is constrained by a troop-rotation schedule that requires pulling out some forces early next year -- as well as the need to outline an exit strategy for Republicans eyeing the 2008 elections."  It's equally true that on August 17th when Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno spoke with reporters and made it very clear that he'd always been told the escalation would end in April stating "what I'm talking about is drawing down to the pre-surge levels," "The surge we know, as it is today, goes through April of '08," etc.  (For those who missed it, during the slaughter in Karbala last week, the US military stood down.  That came out during Lt. Gen. James Dubik's press briefing August 29th in reply to a question by Samarra TV.)  As if Bully Boy distortions and the Times running with them wasn't enough trouble, Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports the puppet of the occupation has new delusions and felt the need to claim yesterday "that his government was making progress".  'Progress?'  Reuters observed, "Iraqi lawmakers reconvened on Tuesday after a month-long summer recess, under mounting pressure to get legislation passed that Washington believes will help heal deep sectarian rifts in the country. . . . Parliament has not yet passed any of the benchmark laws, including measures that would equitably share oil revenues, ease restrictions on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party holding public office, and set a date for provincial elections. . . . Parliament reconvened with 164 members and adjourned after about 90 minutes after lawmakers asked for time to read 10 bills that had been presented for their consideration, member of parliament Hussein al-Falluji told Reuters.
The 10 bills did not include any of the benchmark laws."
AP reports that the Governmental Accountability Office's report has been passed to them (final draft) and it finds that the puppet government "has not met 11 of its 18 political and security goals" and that the report is "slightly more upbeat than initally planned."  Last week, Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported on the draft version which found "Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress . . .  The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker."  That was last Thursday.  By Friday, DeYoung (Washington Post) was reporting of the allegedly independent report that, "The Pentagon has disputed parts of a progress report on Iraq drafted by the Government Accountability Office, and asked that some of the assessment's failing grades on key political and security benchmarks be changed before the final report is made public next week, a Defense spokesman said yesterday."  So much for an 'independent' report.
In news of other leaks, Edmund L. Andrews (New York Times) reports that the former "top Iraq envoy" was not flying solo. Paul Bremer has provided the paper with correspondence which "shows that President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to 'dissolve Saddam's military and intelligence structures'". Andrews writes, "In releasing the letters, Mr. Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush's comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House." In one reply, Bully Boy lays it on thick writing, "Your leadership is apparent. You have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence."
And we know how that worked out . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad mortar attacks that wounded seven people, a Baghdad bombing ("near Zayuna Communications Centre") that claimed 1 life (five wounded), an Iraqi soldier killed by a bombing in Ishaqui (four more wounded),  and a Tikreet bombing that claimed the lives of 3 people ("Chief of Police of al-Siniyah" and two of his bodyguards).  Reuters notes a Baiji roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers and "an Iraqi army major", a Kirkuk roadside bombing that left two Iraqi soldiers injured and a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life (five wounded).
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Tikreet (three more wounded) and Fadhel Mohammed al-Dulaimi shot dead in Hawija while attempting to drive home. Reuters notes a member of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan was shot dead today in Mosul (and that one was shot dead yesterday in Mosul)
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the corpse of a woman was discovered in Kirkuk "(20-25 years of age, and had been shot several times")
Staying on reality, today  KPFK's Uprising aired the latest radio commentary of Rahul Mahajan (not yet posted at his site Empire Notes) where he took on the piece of illegal war trash that is No End In Sight.  "Over the weekend, I had the dubious pleasure of watching No End in Sight, a documentary about the war on iraq made by Charles Ferguson, a political scientist, former consultant for the Brookings Institute and internet millionaire.  Although the film has been garnering excellent reviews, it has a must feel to it.  Ferguson prides himself on the fact that this film is neither a Republican nor a Democratic one.  The upshot is that it's a film about a reasonable foreign policy establishment, a reasonable invasion, and a bunch of reasonable people being sabotaged and undercut by a small handful of jackasses -- Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Bremer and the only onscreen villain -- a Washington bureaucrat named Walter Slocombe who first developed the military demobilization plan.  There is no examination of the sense of the larger project, of an establishment that mostly supported the war, or even of what the real motives of the invasion might have been.  George Packer and Samantha Power as outside critics are not the people to do this job . . .  What the film really brings home is that the story of this war is already written and heavily promoted and, unlike the case of Vietnam, it's a script for restoring the status quo ante.  It's a story told by members of the Council on Foreign Relations, New York Times journalists, Congresspeople, retired generals and mildly dissident members of the military-intelligence establishment -- a group not exactly noted for ever getting anything right.  So far, the antiwar movement has not made any headway in telling its own story -- insofar as it even has one." Or as we put it last month at The Third Estate Sunday Review, "No End In Sight when the peace movement gets behind crap."  And sadly, some are.  Some are plugging this hideous film that avoids the issue of the illegal war to 'teach' a better illegal war, one with better planning.  How stupid is the alleged peace movement?  Including one 'name' who included the public e-mail address for this site to pass on, "I agrfee [sic] completely with ____.  it is VERY powerful....with administration and high army officials 'playing themselves,' so to speak."  No, it's not a film for the peace movement to support (and why I was placed on this forward along with a hundred others, I have no idea).  To return to Naomi Klein, her  "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine) outlined (in 2004) that the chaos in Iraq wasn't an accident, it was planned by the US administration.  Now either you support Klein's reporting (and Greg Palast's and Antonia Juhasz . . . ) or you support this 'filmmaker' (first time) with the Council for/of Foreign Relations and Brookings Institute to his 'credits,' this filmmaker who stated that the problem with "the war" (he doesn't call it illegal" was that there were not enough "boots on the ground" -- sell that 'surge,' Charlie, sell it!  And, sadly, he'll get a lot of help from that from people -- from 'names' -- that should know better -- that should damn well know better.  His fictional film (passed as a documentary) sells illegal wars by accepting them (and Charlie was for the illegal war and still is) as evidenced by public statements such as "if this had been done competently, it could have turned out much, much differently." (Those are his words when he appeared on Uprising July 31, 2007.)
In other news of get serious quick, Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas a rally was a failure.  It was a failure for multiple reasons including poor planning, location choice, time (you don't do a march or rally in the mid-day Texas heat), and just about every thing else that could have been done wrong.  Click here for our report at The Third Estate Sunday Review. And here for our report on the trip to Dallas: "The party was a big success. People talked about Iraq, had some great food (and drinks -- Jim's become an expert at mixing drinks), told jokes, shared, caught up, great tunes, you name it. Did it end the illegal war?  No. Neither did the crappy event in Fort Worth. But at least our spur of the moment party had attendance.  Comments by members (and my own) can be found here.  It was a 'leadership' failure where 'leadership' sent a message people picked up on: You aren't wanted.  And so they rightly stayed away.  There's a big lesson there.

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