Thursday, October 18, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

"I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. My oath of office is to protect and defend America's laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath today," U.S. Army First Lt. Ehren Watada said.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said to the graduating Air Force Academy Class of 2007: "For a real leader, the elements of personal virtue -- self-reliance, self-control, honor, truthfulness, morality -- are absolute. They are absolute even when doing what is right may bring embarrassment or bad publicity to your unit or the service or to you.
"Those are the moments that will truly test the leader within you -- test whether you will take the hard path or the easy path, the wrong path or the right path. The willingness always to take the right path, even if it is the hard path, is called character. In every aspect of your life, whether personal or professional, you must always maintain the courage of your convictions -- your personal integrity."
At a pre-trial press conference Watada remarked that he believed it his "duty to refuse to fight in the [Iraq] war," and that he was "prepared to face prison time for my beliefs."
There is a tradition in the Japanese American community to act on personal belief from volunteer 442/Nisei Linguist (while their family and friends were in camps), the NoNo Boys and the Vietnam War resisters. There are words, yet actions speak loudly. "Mission accomplished." T. Kyoshi Nagano Los Angeles CA

The above, noted by Marica, is T. Kyoshi Nagano's "Watada's Leadership" from "Letters" in People's Weekly World. Tomorrow is Iraq Moratorium day -- the third Friday every month and many will be showing their support for Watada. In June 2006, he became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Before going public, he attempted to work out an alternative with the US military that told him they wanted that. He offered to resign, he offered to go to Afghanistan. He could not go to Iraq because it is an illegal war and not only would that open him up to potential charges of war crimes, it could also mean that for those serving under him. Watada took a very brave stand. But this wasn't a stand that was just for him. He was standing up for those who would be serving under him, he was standing up against the illegal war and all the victims of it. His thanks for that was to be put before Judge Toilet (aka John Head) in a February court-martial where Toilet refused to allow Watada to explain the reasons why he took the stand he did. The term for that is "kangaroo court." Even with that, even with eliminating the defense argument and many witnesses willing to testify about international law, the prosecution was still losing it before the military jury (Watada had elected to go with a jury). After the opening statements on Monday, after the prosecution presented their entire case on Tuesday, just when the defense was about to present their case, Judge Toilet was suddenly interested in a stipulation that the prosecution and the defense had agreed to -- with Toilet's oversight. This was the same stipulation that Toilet had explained to the jury. Suddenly, on Wednesday, the stipulation was a 'problem' for Toilet. The reality was Toilet saw that case against Watada was going into the toilet. He floated the mistrial option and, at first, the prosecution didn't pick up on the gift they were being offered. They wanted to go foward. He offered it again and they grasped they were being handed a do-over by the judge. Over the objections of the defense, Judge Toilet ruled a mistrial.

But the Constitution forbids do-overs. The Constitution does not allow double-jeopardy. Because the prosecution was losing the case doesn't mean Toilet can call the court-martial off. He apparently didn't understand what double-jeopardy was. Toilet set a date weeks ahead for the court-martial. It didn't take place. It was supposed to have started this month. That didn't happen either because a civilian court issued a stay (through at least October 26th) and is reviewing the issue of double-jeopardy.

In February, Judge Toilet got away with refusing to allow Watada to present a defense. That's happened repeatedly. Camilo Mejia is only one example of another war resister who was not allowed to to explain why he was resisting. But though Judge Toilet could and did get away with a great deal, he may not get away with trashing the Constitution.

Just as Watada stood up for himself and others, tomorrow many will be standing up for Watada.

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 Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3821. Tonight? 3830. Just Foreign Policy's total for the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war stood at 1,084,379. Tonight? 1,087,731.

Today the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed in Salah ad Din province Wednesday when an explosion occurred near the vehicle."

From reality to fantasy. Mother Jones magazine decided it was time to get silly about the illegal war. They introduce a feature with "U.S. Out Now! How?: Introduction :"

"You break it, you own it." So goes the "Pottery Barn rule" that Colin Powell invoked in his last-ditch attempts to dissuade President Bush from invading Iraq. "You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You'll own it all."
In the end, of course, Powell caved to Bush's geopolitical whims, played the good soldier, and did as much as anyone to lie to the world and sell the case for invasion—an invasion driven by blind ideology, wishful thinking, and a feckless refusal to consider the consequences. Stupefyingly, the administration maintains that attitude to this day—refusing, for example, to address the plight of 2 million refugees because, you see, they'll all go home soon to a pacified Iraq.
Yet it's not just the administration

To make sure no one misses their (misguided) point, the webpage includes the headline "Bush broke it. We own it. A hard look at what it really means to pull out of Iraq."

The US does not "own" Iraq. We covered this point in today's snapshot but some visitors seem confused. Iraq was not for sale. Iraq was not an empty land. Iraq is the seat of modern civilization and despite over one million Iraqis dying as a result of the illegal war, there are still millions of Iraqis in Iraq. Iraqis own Iraq.

No member had a question about the statements in the snapshot because we've covered this terrain repeatedly. It's just those late to the party who are confused. Iraqis are not children. Iraqis do not need the Almighty United States to rush in rescue them. It was turning Iraqis into the "other" and "children" that allowed some in the US to get behind Bully Boy's illegal war to begin with. We were 'helping' War Supporters would say. As if we were invited in? (Exiles who left the country years ago were not Iraqis. They were on the US payroll, however.)

If you speak to Iraqis, they will often voice the hope that in a decade or two decades (or longer) that their country can clean up the mess and the destruction the US has imposed upon it. They do not believe the US can fix it. It isn't the United States' to fix. Iraqis have the right to self-determination. The illegal war includes the illegal occupation where the US has imposed a number of things (mainly privatization and theft of resources -- the oil would be the crown jewel and it hasn't been stolen yet though the US continues to attemp to to push through the privatization law). But that's not the US' right.

Iraqis will still be in Iraq (even with the huge refugee crisis) long after the US has left. Just as Vietnamese were still in their country long after the US left. Iraqis will steer their country, not the US and not puppets installed by the US to do the bidding of a foreign government.

Iraq is owed. The US owes Iraq and it goes back before the start of the illegal war -- the debt includes the destruction from sanctions and from bombings under Clinton. But a debt is not a deed of ownership and it is the same ego-centric, xenophobic attitude that allowed the illegal war to start that is evident in Mother Jones' nonsense that the US "owns" Iraq. (And, again, Pottery Barn does not have a "you broke it, you bought it" rule.) It is a sanctamonious attitude that says, "We know best." It leads to wars, it does not lead to democracies and that Mother Jones -- in all it's centrist non-wisdom -- wants to get on the board the "Iraq is our's" bandwagon really calls into question their belief systems.

As does offering interviews on the issue -- interviews where military brass makes up over a fourth of the total. Where's Jeremy Scahill, Amy Goodman, Marjorie Cohn, Francis Boyle, Howard Zinn, Anthony Arnove, Antonia Juhasz, etc? No where to be found. We can't have independence and we can't have legal experts. But we can get officials and right-wingers from right wing think tanks. The interviews are packed with people who applauded the illegal war and a few stray voices (Medea Benjamin, Leslie Cagan, Michael Lerner, etc.). They manage to include the 'academic' that Steve Rendall rightly pointed out (though the academic denied it) was against withdrawal. The wind blows a little differently today and the academic insists that never happened. It did happen, Steve Rendall was correct.

The military brass is all male (of course, Janice Karpinski and Ann Wright are apparently unreachable by Mother Jones) and when you start to notice how 'tokenized' they've made women (count up the numbers), you grasp how it's not only xenophobic, it's sexist. They include current members of Congress but -- surprise, surprise -- they don't think to include Barbara Lee. Congress is apparently all male in the eyes of Mother Jones, or at least the Congress that they feel matters. That a magazine entitled Mother Jones wants to be so damn sexist is offensive.

There's nothing 'good' about the nonsense they've offered. They've written the sort of pieces that would have been considered 'brave' in 2004. It's 2007. They're not standing still, they've been left on the side of the road. How many Iraqis were invited to the discsussion? That's even worse.

As a conversation between males -- largely White -- who were for the illegal war, it may meet someone's thrill factor. As a honest discussion about the illegal war, it's a riches of embarrassment.

Our allegedly independent Mother Jones comes along to prove how center-right and offensive they can be and on that and only that can it be hailed as a 'success.'

Though the brass saw very little (the brass isn't out in the 'field'), there were apparently no slots left over for members of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

This alleged open discussion has so many closed doors before it even starts that it manages to triangulate better than the Clinton White House.

In 2004 "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" raised more issues than Mother Jones is willing to all this time later. Though not "Colin Powell endorsed," the abusive relationship is a far better metaphor than a non-existant Pottery Barn policy. The US did not go into a store to browse or purchase. The US went into an inhabited country. There are two parties involved, the US and Iraq. Reducing one to the status of invisible or a child is no breakthrough and Mother Jones should be embarrassed.

This nonsense doesn't help end an illegal war because it doesn't address true responsibilities. That would be debts. Instead, their series glorifies "ownership" -- slavery still alive in the minds of some 'do-gooders,' apparently.

Iraq was an independent nation and nothing will move forward until it is again recognized as an independent nation. The same 'ownership' that Mother Jones' pushes allows Bully Boy to impose an illegal occupation on Iraq. Had they included legal scholars or historians in the dialogue, that point might have been made. Instead it's the usual "We were all wrong" set rounded out with a few (very few) voices that should have been invited to the table (the chat & chews) long ago but at this late date just read like sop thrown out to appease.

Another voice uninvited (there are many) worth noting is Ralph Nader. Apparently, Mother Jones is so rushing to be embraced by the mainstream that they don't care about xenophobia, they don't care about sexism and they don't care about betraying their historical roots.

From Nader to the Green Party. This is a press release and Kimberly Wilder's site is On the Wilder Side.

PRESS RELEASE. For immediate release.

Press Contact:

Roger Snyder, Chair, Green Party of Suffolk
(631) 351-5763

Kimberly Wilder, Press Secretary, Green Party of Suffolk
(631) 422-4702

Ahmad Ali Mitchel-El, Green Party member, and write-in candidate for Suffolk County Executive, has released his vision for addressing immigration issues in Suffolk County.

"Both President Bush's guest worker program, and Governor Spitzer's driver's license issue, show more progressive leadership than the current attitude of our county administration," notes Mitchel-El.
Mitchel-El states, "Hiring Centers should be part of an overall plan to make the immigration process work. You don't have to maintain a hostile, illegal status for undocumented people. We can work towards a naturalization process that can really make sense, by registering day laborers, paying them fair wages, and letting them pay taxes, in order to pay for all this."
Mitchel-El is a lifelong resident of Suffolk County, a professional musician, and a producer on progressive radio station WBAI 99.5 FM. Mitchel-El is also a peace and justice activist, who has performed at the PeaceSmiths Coffeehouse in Amityville. Mitchel-El's campaign has already received coverage in the media, including: the opinion page of Newsday; "Noticias" newspaper; "Wake Up Call with Jim Krivo" and "In The Moment" on WBAI radio; and "'Tis Treason" on WUSB radio.
The Green Party is an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. The Green Party has 10 key values, which include "social and economic justice" and "diversity." Greens at the local, state and national level have supported tolerance and justice for undocumented people.
Election day is Tuesday, November 6, 2007. In order to show support for Ahmad Mitchel-El and the Green Party, you may write Mitchel-El's name in the slot at the top of the voting machine. A pencil should be provided, and a poll worker can help direct you.
Green Party of Suffolk -
Ahmad Mitchel-El's reflections on immigration and race:
I find it so hypocritical that the people who control politics and thus government are predominantly descendants of Europeans who did not have to face the racist bureaucracy that Latinos face today. We do not hear complaints about the Canadian border or about Russian and Irish undocumented immigrants--only these Latinos, who can't seem to physically just assimilate and disappear into the work force.
When is America going to wake up and recognize its own evil history? Here on Long Island, we can't even allow the Shinnecock the sovereignty over their own land. Can we still be in denial about crimes committed against the native population? As an African American, I believe that we are fools to continue supporting political parties that are only interested in power not progress. How can it be that we still face nooses in 2007?
All of us need to stop and fight the policies of exclusion and preservation of privilege, level the playing field, make it fair for all humans.
When a company sponsors an immigrant, he actually becomes indentured to that company for the term of his process at a rate of pay inferior to his domestic equivalent. He can't leave to compete for a higher paying job. And, the companies get away with hiring employees off of the street, who are non-union workers, who they can pay less than scale, give no benefits and no fair compensation. Yet, the company is not penalized.

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