Sunday, October 14, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

IVAW faces a critical juncture. As we have witnessed the addition of numerous new, talented members and the development of an organically constructed strategy, we have failed to implement our strategy with goals and plans that facilitate the achievement of our objectives.
During the National Strategy sessions held earlier this year, members analyzed why the war in Iraq was being fought and the institutions that enabled the U.S. government to continue the illegal occupation of Iraq. Clearly, the U.S. military is the single most important entity to the U.S. government's capacity to wage war and extend the occupation. We acknowledged that IVAW was in a unique position to remove the support of the military by utilizing three primary methods:
1. Organizing Active Duty resistance

2. Truth in Recruiting
3. Counter-Retention
Since the creation of this framework, our organization has been working to generate a unified effort among our members to implement this strategy. However, we didn't set goals or make plans that would guide our actions to fit directly into this strategy.
Recently, our members, particularly those who dedicate time to our strategy team, have devised a plan that will drastically refocus our energy to making tangible inroads into the active duty. This plan, as all plans henceforth should, passes the litmus test of the following questions:

*Does this project make our organization stronger (ie, more members, stronger community, healthier chapters, better active duty outreach, developing leaders, etc)?
*Does this plan/action assist in removing military support for the war?
A serious political question arises from this plan; it is the question that necessitates this entire essay:

"Why are we devoting time to building a GI resisitance movement?"
This question can be expounded to say: "Why build a GI movement if the next president or congress will end the war?"
It is vitally important to address this question so that we can move forward together as an organization with a common understanding of the significance and urgency of our work. Further, engaging in active duty outreach implies that we all know how to handle the inevitable questions that will eminate from the service members we encounter.
In order to explain why we want members and service members to organize with us, we must be able to analyze these pertinent issues
1. Why the U.S. is occupying Iraq

2. What it’s going to take to end the war
3. How the elections will affect our interactions
4. How U.S interests at stake in Iraq affect our actions
5. How this war is a symptom of a deeper problem
6. What are we asking service members to do
As we all know, the primary reasons given by the Bush administration for invading Iraq, WMDs that threatened the U.S. and its allies and terrorist links, were fraudulent. Thus the real reasons for invasion have been avoided by the government and media alike. This isn't meant to be a lecture on points we've all heard before, but it is necessary to illustrate that if our members or potential members feel that the U.S. invaded Iraq simply because Bush is an idiot or that he wants to "export democracy," we will fail to grasp why our strategy was devised.
The U.S. is perpetuating the occupation of Iraq to dominate world energy supplies and to project military power into the Middle East, ie, the war is being fought for neo-imperialism. It is important to note that this is not a problem that rests solely on the doorstep of the Bush administration, as we have seen from the prevailing position of ALL presidential front runners, no major candidate or party is calling for an end to the occupation. This is not because the democrats simply don't have the votes; in fact, they are basing their presidential campaigns on the grounds of a continued, albeit modified, occupation that perpetuates the same policy of controlling oil and projecting power.

The above, noted by Joe, is from Liam Madden's "Moving Foward Together" (Iraq Veterans Agains the War). Joe wishes the piece (we've only excerpted above) would be on every website and it should be. The piece is important for IVAW and for ending the illegal war. We'll include this screen snap from Democracy Now! of IVAW's Garrett Reppenhagen (at the podium) and to his right are Liam Madden and Adam Kokesh (that's from January's DC rally). Maybe that will draw a little more attention to Madden's column.


The column is important to ending the illegal war. And, if you missed it, the pushback is going through stronger than ever. A friend came over tonight to play a tape of KPFA's The Morning Show from Friday where Philip Maldari interviewed the New York Times' Tim Weiner (hot to sell his latest bad book). Weiner is grabbing the eraser and attempting to wipe the chalk board clean. It was so fact-free that, if you listen to it, your moth just hangs open in shock. Weiner's got a crush on Collie and insists that Collie was betrayed. He only lied to the United Nations before the illegal war started because he was given bad information from the CIA and that's why he was wrong. Collie Powell is a stand up guy, an honest man, a great man, and, one couldn't help thinking as Weiner continued gushing, apparently the focus of several wet dreams. Tim Weiner's trying to make 'good' the illegal war and lying at such a fast clip that you may not have time to enjoy them all (but savor the big lie that the only bad review his book has received is from the CIA -- either he's lying or his publisher is sheltering him). Weiner wants you to understand that Collie's sins are America's sins and actually -- shocking at this late date -- repeats the 'we were all wrong' lie. No, we were not all wrong. And Weiner can try to tongue away Collie's blot all he wants, but this nonsense had been addressed at length. (Ava and I address Collie's blot back in September 2005 "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were"). He lied. He took one for the team. It's his blot and it will remain no matter how much Weiner tries to tongue it away (keep licking, Timmy). Weiner's fall guy is George Tenet. Apparently George and George alone wanted an illegal war and lied to the White House to get it. If you listen, you can hear the disbelief in Maldari's voice (especially as Weiner gets more worked up as he goes along). If he hadn't been so shocked, Maldari might have asked, "Uh, Tim, what role did your paper play in this? Could you speak of Judith Miller, Micheal Gordon, right-wing fave John F. Burnsie and Dexy Filkins?" And he could have followed it up with, "Are you trying to say Tenet controlled the White House and your paper?" It was a curious fantasy Weiner presented. It just wasn't reality. Tim Weiner, no friend to trees, intelligence, readers or peace.

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 3815. Tonight? 3829 announced. Today the US military announced: " Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed and three were wounded during combat operations when an improvised explosive device detonated in a southern area of the Iraqi capital Oct. 14. ." And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died in a non-combat related incident in Nineveh province, Oct. 14." That's 22 announced dead for the month thus far. 1,080,902 was the number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war (not a full count) last Sunday. Tonight? Just Foreign Policy lists 1,085,134.

Turning to some of today's reported violence. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 10 lives (eighteen wounded), a reporter killed (we'll address that in a moment) in Baghdad, 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad, an attack on Dr. Hatim Mukhlis "(the general secretary of national Iraq movement)" in Salahuddin that claimed the lives of 3 of his bodyguards (two more wounded), a demonstration in Babil in which Sadrists and the Iraq military exchanged gunfire and 4 people died, 1 corpes discovered outside Kirkuk and an oil industry employee shot dead in Basra. Reuters notes 3 people shot dead in Kirkuk, a car bomb attack on the home of Waheed Dulaimi ("Police major") that claimed his life and the lives of 4 "members of his family," 10 corpses discovered in Baquba and "A farmer in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar . . . was killed when a roadside bomb he was trying to remove from underneath his tractor exploded".

The reporter killed was 32-year-old Salih Saif Aldin with the Washington Post. Joshua Partlow and Amit R. Paley's "Reporter For Post Is Fatally Shot In Baghdad" (Washington Post) note his murder:

"The death of Salih Saif Aldin in the service of our readers is a tragedy for everyone at The Washington Post. He was a brave and valuable reporter who contributed much to our coverage of Iraq," said Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Post. "We are in his debt. We grieve with his family, friends, fellow journalists and everyone in our Baghdad bureau."
[. . .]
Saif Aldin was killed in the same neighborhood where a journalist for the New York Times, Khalid Hassan, was shot and killed in July. Western news organizations rely heavily on their Iraqi staff members to navigate the hazards of reporting here: to witness scenes of car bombs, the carnage in hospitals, the grief inside the homes of Iraqis who have died in this war.
For The Post, no one did this more regularly, confidently and fearlessly than Saif Aldin, the divorced father of a 6-year-old daughter, Fatima. He had a striking presence: bald and barrel-chested, with a jagged scar on his bulging neck from a fight in his youth. He was a Sunni from Tikrit, the home town of Saddam Hussein and the epicenter of the insurgency early in the war.

He had studied at the Baghdad University College of Languages and shortly after graduating was hired as a correspondent in Tikrit for al-Iraq al-Yawm, or Iraq Today. Saif Aldin joined The Post in January 2004 as a stringer working from Tikrit. He quickly gained a reputation for tenacity and a seeming imperviousness to danger, taking on assignments that frequently put him in harm's way.
In 2005, he received a note threatening his life if he did not quit journalism and leave Tikrit. He refused. "This is my city, and I'm a journalist," he told colleagues.

Reuters notes:

"Salih's death reminds us once again of the central role that Iraqi journalists and others have played in our coverage of the war and the immense sacrifices they have made to help us understand it," said David Hoffman, the Post's assistant managing editor for foreign news.

Returning to war resistance, Liang notes a feature article on Ehren Watada and chose the excerpt thinking the look at his family life growing up would be of interest. From Peter J. String's "Lt. Ehren Watada: 'Experience Makes You Stronger'" (New American Media -- and note the link has text but it also has video):

Born and raised in the farming community of Fort Lupton, Colorado, Ehren Watada's father, Bob, remembers growing up amidst racism as one of the few Japanese in Colorado.
"Imagine going into a restaurant and sitting in the corner and not being served," Bob Watada said. "You could sit there for two hours, and they wouldn't serve you, even if they served everybody else. After a while, we would just walk out."
But he would not continue to walk out quietly for long. "I was always an activist," Bob Watada explained. From protesting the war in Vietnam and joining the Peace Corps in the 1960s, he instilled these values, "these roots" as he calls them, upon his son.
"My father has always been very community-minded, sometimes putting community things before family things," says the younger Watada.
Ehren Watada's mother, Carolyn Ho, a Chinese American born in Honolulu, is a descendant of a Chinese migrant who came to Hawai'i in the late 19th century to work on sugar plantations. Ehren was born in Honolulu in 1978, and Ho describes her son as always determined and a bit precocious. "Every time kids would fool around during soccer practice, I would see Ehren with a serious look on his face, calm and composed," Ho laughingly recalled.
Growing up, Watada was a Boy Scout, which he views as a precursor to the military. "The rank, the discipline, the patriotism, the ribbons, the merit badges -- it's very similar." Watada attained Eagle rank by the ninth grade -- an extraordinary feat for a 13-year-old since the average Eagle Scout attains his rank at age 16.

Being a Boy Scout was a primary motivation for joining the military. "The sense of adventurism you get from scouting is the same that you perceive in the military," he says, "Also, there's that really deep sense of service and giving something back."

In laugh of the minute news, mercenary and press heart throb Erik Prince is defending Blackwater USA by declaring that the lawsuit over the September 16th slaughter of innocenct civilians by Blackwater (in Baghdad) is 'politically motivated.' Oh go style the hair on top of your empty head.

Non Iraq related. Jonah's reminded (again) to add Michael Ratner's blog Just Left to the permalinks. It's right below the Center for Constitutional Rights which Ratner is president of. You have to do that (as Jonah knows), stay on me because I hate going into the template and never have time to except on Sundays (if then). Others that were needing to be added included Danny Schechter's Stop The Squeeze (which is on the left with other Schechter links) and American Freedom Campaign which is located (on the permalinks) under the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (a wonderful organization and Chip and others there work very hard) and has "(Naomi Wolf and others)" next to it. The other two are Wes Boyd and David Fenton, no offense to them, but I do believe the White male presence online is noted at every site on the web. Wolf is one of the three founders and if any of the three will interest this community it's Wolf. You can read Naomi Wolf's "American Tears" (Common Dreams) for an idea of the issues the organization is working on. Tori noted Wolf's piece. Moving from Wolf to Susan Faludi, Charlie wondered why there wasn't a link provided for The Terror Dream? [Referring to "1 Book, 10 Minutes -- Faludi's The Terror Dream" as well as past mentions at this site.] The book discussion we did for last week's The Third Estate Sunday Review that never posted there addressed that. A number of members used the link for that book (not Faludi's) and had huge problems with deliveries. As a result, we'll link to books only in certain cases in the future. With regards to Faludi's book (a wonderful book), it's available everywhere. Lauren e-mails to note that Blog Action Day now has 15,213 people and organizations signed up. When we wrote "Blog Action What?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) early, early Sunday morning there were 13,785 signed up to participate. We noted it would cross the 14,000 mark today based on our estimates. As Lauren notes, it has done that and more and stands at 15,213. Lauren wonders if anyone with a site in this community was planning to participate? Rebecca's thinking about writing on the environment tomorrow. That will be depend on what's going on tomorrow and what she feels like writing (true of anyone with a site, but remember she's a new mother with an infant who's not yet six-months-old). We're happy to note the action here but our focus (determined by members) is Iraq. Ava and I will be back on the road tomorrow and there probably won't be time for anything other than the usual entries. If there is, I may write something. If I do, it won't be research and will be more of a talking entry. Also noting Blog Action Day is Zach who wondered if there was anyone worth paying "especial attention too"? Cocaine (Stuck in a Handbasket), Julie (The Turning Tide), Nate (Views from the Left Coast), Siel (Emerald City), Alastair Dunning (The Path Less Taken) and Billy (Trees for our children . . .) are cited in the article because they wrote wonderful responses. I'd suggest checking those sites and you can also go to Blog Action Day tomorrow and find others (that link goes to the participants). One thing to remember, not everyone rolls out of bed, boots up the computer and starts posting. Some may be posting later in the day. Any visitor reading this who thinks it's an interesting idea and would like to participate, you can still sign up on Monday (action day itself) and take part or (as Rebecca may) you can take part without signing up. In Dallas notes that Law and Disorder's latest program addresses Guantanamo with a speech delivered at the Brecht Forum (by NYU's Viveck Chibbers) and Heidi Boghosian and Michael Ratner discuss recent headlines. The program airs on many stations including WBAI. WBAI is in pledge drive mode and it wasn't aired last week so it may be aired this week. If it is, it will probably be a two hour broadcast that will include Boghosian, Ratner, Dalia Hashad or Michael Smith with Geoff Brady (producer of the program) discussing things live during the pledge drive (it would start one hour later because during pledge drive, Amy Goodman and company -- and guests -- are on for the Democracy Now! time slot and the hour immediately following). I'm not telling anyone "Give!" That's your business. That's your business. If it means something to you and you have the money to give, please do so. If you don't, that's your business as well. But whether you hear the program tomorrow on WBAI or not (or during the week on another station), you can always hear it at the Law and Disorder website. And I believe, it's available at no charge to radio stations. So if you've got a low-fi (low-wattage?) radio station in your area or a college radio station in your area or a public radio station in your area, you can ask them to broadcast it and if you're told, "We don't have the money," I believe they make the program available at no charge, so that excuse really doesn't fly. Lastly -- and we're back to Iraq now -- CODEPINK is demonstrating each Wednesday outside a Berkeley recruiting station Shattuck Ave. This Wednesday, the same right-wing loons that beat up Carlos Arredondo are showing up to cause more idiocy. The topic will be addressed tomorrow morning on KPFA's The Morning Show.

Friday's gina & krista round-robin included Pru's column (with photos) of the march last week. We noted Chris Bambery's reporting on it in two snapshots last week but it's worth noting in full. "Anti-war march to parliament beats the ban" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Thousands of campaigners from across Britain defied a threatened ban to join the vibrant Stop the War demonstration to parliament on Monday of this week. Chris Bambery reports from the protest
"This has been a bad couple of days for Gordon Brown," quipped a pensioner as he stepped out down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square.
He was heading up a march which up until only an hour before had been declared illegal.
Police and the parliamentary authorities had issued a ban on Stop the War protesters marching to parliament on Monday, the day parliament reconvened to hear Brown make a statement on the British presence in Iraq.
Then, just half an hour before the rally in Trafalgar Square got underway, police officers approached the organisers to say they could go ahead.
As the news spread there was a sense of elation, pride and determination in the 5,000 strong crowd.
"The police backed down because of the size of the turn out," was the verdict of Duncan Metcalf, a student from Solihull College who’d joined a 30 strong delegation from Birmingham.
There was widespread disgust that the government could lavish praise on pro-democracy demonstrators in Burma and at the same time try to ban people protesting outside the "mother of parliaments".
Feeder march
The big turn out of students on the march demonstrated Stop the War's success in establishing itself on campus this year. Two hundred and fifty students joined a feeder march from the School of Oriental and African Studies in central London.
Alexandria Szyellowski had travelled from Warwick university because she felt it important "to exercise democracy". She said there was an active Stop the War group at the university.
Birmingham university student Rachel Hudd chipped in to say she'd come to protest at the police ban. She added that she felt that students needed to build a Stop the War group at her college.
Matthew Vickery had come from Sheffield Hallam University where a Stop the War group has just been launched. "This is the first thing we've done as a group. Ten students have come down. People were furious when they found out the march had been banned."
Simon Keble from Swansea university slated the hypocrisy of Gordon Brown "who tells us we have the right to protest and then tries to ban this demonstration."
"Everyone has the right to protest," he added. "Our dissent shows the government we won't back down."
There was also a sizable number of pensioners, trade unionists and peace activists on the march. Edmund Quinn is an 83 pensioner from Coventry who served in Bomber Command in the Second World War. He explained why he was there, saying, "I consider it my duty to protest. I was in the war -- the politicians haven't learnt anything from that."
Colin from Potters Bar was one of a number of striking postal workers at the front of the march.
He'd joined the protest after a strike rally in nearby Westminster Central Hall. Colin told Socialist Worker, "I've supported this movement from the start, coming on national and local protests."
When asked about Gordon Brown he smiled saying, "He wasn't my choice."
Twenty people had travelled from Norwich on the Stop the War Coalition minibuses. Pete Offord from Norwich Stop the War explained that more had come on public transport.
"That's not bad on a working day," Pete explained. "It shows the support is still there."
Among the Norwich group was an international student from Grenoble, Ilheme Yasmine.
She said it was her first anti-war protest but that she had been on the school student and worker protests over job security which rocked France last year.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
‘'Burning flame of anger against injustice'» Sense of victory as the protest goes ahead
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