Sunday, October 07, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Just look at where we are: war without end, most likely, preemptive war with Iran, the Military Commissions Act, the Patriot Act, torture and extraordinary rendition, suspension of habeas corpus, warrantless domestic spying, a neglected infrastructure, a broken, overextended military, and the demise of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
Custody of our country was granted to Bush/Cheney through two fraudulent elections. During this tenure of fear, George and Dick have violated civil rights as brutally as a child abuser induces shaken baby syndrome. Congress is complicit as well. Isn't it time that we, the people, invoke our own protective services to remove those who are responsible for acting against our best interests? Isn't it time we take back the custody of our country?

The above, noted by Mia, is from Missy Comley Beattie's "In the Custody of Bush and Cheney" (CounterPunch) which really does capture our hijacked nation. Meanwhile, AFP (via Common Dreams) reports Nancy Pelosi went on Fox "News" (where else?) and declared that she believes the administration is using torture but, of course, that belief didn't prompt her to put impeachment back on the table. The article says she's "optimistic" that troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year but, of course, it's not all troops and we'll assume she's optimistic on torture as well since her announcement that she believes the US is torturing doesn't prompt her to begin calling for impeachment, let alone expressing outrage (from the quotes, she's more concerned that torture is ineffective than she is that it's being used).

Marcus notes a section of "When withdrawal doesn’t mean withdrawal" (Socialist Worker):

If you lived through the Vietnam period, you went through years and years of supposed withdrawal proposals. There were endless numbers of what I called in my book, The End of Victory Culture, "non-withdrawal withdrawal" proposals.
We're in that period now with Iraq--a period where this administration and the candidates to be its successor don't actually want to withdraw from Iraq, certainly not totally. So they make various proposals that kind of sound like drawdowns or cutbacks, but they don’t add up to a hell of a lot in reality.
One of the trickiest aspects of the whole withdrawal discussion over these last months is that when you look carefully, the presidential candidates and others are almost invariably talking about the withdrawal of "combat forces." That sounds to any normal American like the withdrawal of U.S. troops, but it's actually a technical term.
Combat forces aren’t all of the U.S. forces in Iraq. There are the trainers, whose numbers are supposed to go up. There are the soldiers guarding bases and a whole range of other types of troops. If a U.S. withdrawal were only a withdrawal of combat troops, you’d be talking about perhaps half or slightly less than half of the actual U.S. forces in Iraq--that’s my guess, based on what I've read.
A similar thing went on during the Vietnam period. When Nixon supposedly withdrew U.S. troops, the advisers, the guards and so on were still left. There were probably still 70,000 American troops of various sorts left in Vietnam after the "withdrawal of U.S. ground troops" in the "Vietnamization" era.

Marcus cuts off the excerpt there and notes he disagrees with what immediately follows. That's Seymour Hersh getting credit for covering the air war. Like Marcus, I disagree. Hersh has made himself the town crier of war with Iran ("It's coming! It's just about to break out! Any day now!"). I'm sure there are others but of "names," no one has done more on the air war issue than Norman Solomon. Crediting Hersh's dabbles is a bit like crediting Tanya Roberts for the success of Charlie's Angels.

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 3803. Tonight? 3815 announced. That would be 12 deaths in 7 days and yet I though from the press coverage that we had dropped to one to two deaths a week. (That was sarcasm.) 1,069,836 was the number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war (not a full count) last Sunday. Tonight? Just Foreign Policy lists 1,080,9023. Yes, Iraq Can Wait! And from that dumb and stupid slogan to news of a dumb and stupid feature article . . .

Gareth notes the softball piece ("so embarrassing no one puts a name to it") on John F. Burns in the Independent of London which is pure spit and polish. The only thing of use in "John F Burns: How a Brit came to star at 'The New York Times'" is the following:

The paper's executives say that they are spending more than $3m (£1.5m) a year on a story that has run for nearly five years. The expatriate team of around 15 reporters, photographers and administrators is supported by around 100 Iraqis.

The paper is the New York Times and we've long noted the huge amount of money they spend and that, forget the quality, the fact that the quantity is so miniscule is something that really should have been addressed long, long ago.

Meanwhile Iraq's president Jalal Talabani tried to happy talk his way through a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer today (Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer):

PRES. JALAL TALABANI, IRAQ: Thank you very much. I'm glad to see you again.
BLITZER: When do you think the United States will begin to start reducing significantly the number of its troops in Iraq? About 160,000 American forces there.
TALABANI: In next year.
BLITZER: When next year?
TALABANI: In the spring of the next year, I think.
BLITZER: Going down to what?
TALABANI: Yes. I think if this rearming of the Iraqi army will be speed (ph), it will be done quickly. In the next spring, the United States can start to reduce tens of thousands of these forces from Iraq. And I think it's possible at the end of the next year that a big part of the American Army will be back here.
BLITZER: What percentage would you say of 160,000? By the end of 2008, how many U.S. troops would you guess would still...
TALABANI: More than 100,000 can be back by the end of the next year.
BLITZER: So it will be -- by the end of next year, it will be down to 60,000 American troops?TALABANI: Well, I cannot decide the number of the...

Like Nancy Pelosi, Talabnai is 'optimistic.' Of course, when pinned by Blitzer, turns out the 100,000 is just a number he's loosely tossing around and he "cannot decide the number" but it probably excited a few viewers for a couple of seconds. In other non-news from the interview:

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about this resolution that passed the United States Senate. Senator Joe Biden introduced it. It passed 75 to 23. It supposedly calls for what they say is a soft partition of Iraq into three areas.I'm going to read to you what Senator Biden wrote with Leslie Gelb the other day in The Washington Post: "Federalism is the one formula that fits the seemingly contradictory desires of most Iraqis to remain whole and of various groups to govern themselves for the time being. It also recognizes the reality of the choice we face in Iraq: a managed transition to federalism or actual partition through civil war."Are those the two options, civil war or what he calls this federalism, three separate areas?
TALABANI: I agree. I agree with Senator Biden. And I have full respect of him. I know him as a good friend -- a great friend of the Iraqi people and Kurdish people. And I think the resolution passed by the Senate is a very good one. And I protected it in my interview with Al Hurra.I say that those who are criticizing it, they didn't read it carefully, because if they read it, you see in every article that it is insisting on the unity of Iraq, of the security of Iraq, of prosperity of Iraq, of national reconciliation and asking our neighbors not to interfere in internal affairs of Iraq.And even when talking about other regions, it says it must be according to the population and the elected leaders of the country.

Talabani isn't just a Kurd, he's a Kurd who came to office wanting Iraq split. Those in power in that area have long wanted to split the region off. It's why the ethnic strife -- underreported and little noted when it was reported -- in the region goes on as they try to 'purify' the region and it's why the Kurdish flag (not the Iraqi flag) has been popping up everywhere (schools, government buildings, etc.) in the last year especially (it was popping up prior).

What do the people of Iraq want? They've expressed their sentiments (and Alissa J. Rubin of the New York Times noted that, how she can't even walk around the Green Zone without being accosted by Iraqis expressing their outrage over a US plan to split up their country). But they don't have a president and they don't have a prime minister. The efforts of the US to split the country into three parts have always been prominent and can be seen in the three top figure head offices of president and vice-presidents (Iraq has two vice-presidents) where you find a Kurd at the top followed by a Sunni and Shia.

From AP via The Kuwait Times:

Hundreds of Iraqi refugees staged a sit-in in Damascus yesterday to protest against a recent nonbinding US Senate resolution that encourages splitting Iraq along ethnic and religious lines. Carrying Iraqi flags, about 400 protesters gathered in the al-Sayda Zeinab district. "No for occupation and no for division," read a placard carried by one refugee. "Dividing Iraq is the start for dividing all countries in the region," read another.

In some of the reported violence for today, KUNA reports that 12 rockets were launched "at Camp Echo in Diwaniya in souther Iraq, base to Polish forces". Meanwhile, Hussein kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three Baghdad roadside bombings that left tweleve wounded and 6 dead, another Baghdad bombing claimed 1 life with two wounded, 6 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and 1 in Babil province.

Pru gets the last highlight, Chris Bambery's "March on parliament to defy Stop the War ban, says Tony Benn" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Tony Benn and Labour national executive member Walter Wolfgang are set to defy the law and lead a banned anti-war march down Whitehall to parliament next Monday—the day Gordon Brown has promised to deliver a statement on Britain's presence in occupied Iraq.
Benn states, "I will be marching. It is entirely up to the police and government what they do."
Comedian and campaigner Mark Thomas also pledged to defy the ban.
Musician Brian Eno warned that the government hoped the ban would keep the issue of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan "off the agenda".
He warned that legal powers would be used to sideline protests over any military adventure against Iran.
The Metropolitan Police have told the Stop the War Coalition it is banned from marching from Trafalgar Square to parliament on the day it reconvenes after its lengthy summer break.
The ban extends to anywhere else within a mile radius of the Palace of Westminster. That covers a huge swathe of central London, including the centre of political power.
Senior police officers told march organisers from the Stop the War Coalition that the ban followed pressure "from within parliament".
The Metropolitan Police are under the direct control of the home secretary Jacqui Smith.
The ban comes less than a week after the prime minister pledged at Labour Party conference "to uphold the freedom of speech, freedom of information and the freedom to protest" as part of an effort to distance himself from Tony Blair.
The ban is being enforced under the terms of the sessional order passed by MPs at the start of each parliamentary term. It guarantees the right of access of MPs and peers to gain access to the Palace of Westminster.
Tony Benn and the Stop the War Coalition have promised to assist any MP en route to the commons next Monday.
While cabinet ministers support the democracy protests in Burma, at home they are backing the ban on the Stop the War demonstration.
The power to ban protest speaks volumes about democracy in Britain in the 21st century -- and how what rights we enjoy were won.
The legislation allowing parliamentary authorities and police to ban protest was passed over a century and a half ago to deal with Chartist and pro-democracy protests, in the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839.
The Stop the War Coalition will be allowed to rally in Trafalgar Square, but that is because protests won the right to assemble there at bitter cost following Bloody Sunday in 1887, when savage police attacks on unemployed protests in Whitehall left one protestor dead.
The government and Scotland Yard were forced to back down and lift a ban on rallies in the square.
Activists have made it clear that next Monday's march will go ahead despite Brown's ban. It will mark the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.
'We have to stand against war on 8 October'
Stop the War groups around the country are mobilising to get people to the demonstration on 8 October.
"The demonstration is a big focus for the movement," says Jonathan Shafi, a student at Strathclyde university in Glasgow. "The banning has made people more determined to attend.
"The vast majority of people are anti-war. At our freshers fair last week we met a few people with questions about Iraq, but no one who was gung-ho and pro-war.
Nearly 400 students left contact details to get involved in our Stop the War society.
"This week we have been going through timetables and picking out lectures to go to and make announcements about the demo. I spoke at a politics lecture. The lecturer was happy to let me make the announcement.
"I told people about the demo and why it was important, and got a really good reponse. At the end someone came up and said they agreed and they definitely want to go on the demo.
"The anti-war movement is growing. I think the demonstration will help revitalise the campaign for troops out.
"And I think that in the back of their minds many people are worried about a possible attack on Iran."
It's not only students who are set to protest at parliament. Jim Warner, joint secretary of Dudley NUT teachers' union told Socialist Worker that he is coming to the demonstration along with the other joint secretary.
Jim said, "Our union branch is affiliated to Stop the War so we are representing the views of the branch.
"After we heard that the demonstration had been banned from Parliament Square we were even more determined to come.
"It is hypocritical that a government that talks about democracy in Burma can't guarantee democratic rights here.
"The war has been a disaster. It is very important that we protest at this particular time."
The following should be read alongside this article: »
Chilling signs that Brown will back a US attack on Iran» Final day of Faslane protest against Trident weapons
Not one more death – bring all the troops home now! Demonstrate Monday 8 October – assemble 1pm at Trafalgar Square, central London. Called by Stop the War Coalition – for more details go to
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