Thursday, October 18, 2007

No, the US wasn't happy about England's pullback

AP's count of US service members killed in the illegal war stands at 3830, ICCC's at 3829.

An e-mail to the public account wants to know why we didn't highlight Robert Gates (US Secretary of Defense) and his statements about the US support for British troops pulling out of Basra? Because we're not stupid and some news outlets can't make that same claim. Kim Sengupta and Anne Penketh's "US 'delayed' British withdrawal from Basra" (Independent of London) offers no public relations spin:

British forces were prevented from pulling out of their last base in Basra City for five months because the Americans refused to move their consulate, according to senior military sources.
The US warned that a brigade of troops would be sent from Baghdad to take "appropriate action" to maintain security. The delay in withdrawal resulted in some of the fiercest fighting faced by British forces since the invasion of 2003, leading to the deaths of 25 British soldiers and injuries to 58 others, as well as dozens of Iraqi casualties. Two of the British dead were at the base, Basra Palace, while at least 10 others died in supporting operations.
Downing Street deemed it to be politically unacceptable for the Americans to replace British troops in Basra, as it would glaringly expose the growing differences between the two countries over Iraq. The British had decided that the end of March to early April would be an optimum time to hand over Basra Palace to the Iraqi authorities -- after the completion of Operation Sinbad, aimed at militant groups.

The e-mailer would better utilize his time e-mailing the outlet to ask why they ran their nonsense that Gates was tickled pink about the pullout to begin with?

Meanwhile AP reports that the US gets pot shots from the man Bully Boy once claimed to see have the soul of:

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the U.S. war in Iraq was a "pointless" battle against the Iraqi people, the latest jab at Washington from the increasingly confrontational Russian leader.

Reuters reports Putin also declared there should be an announced withdrawal date of US forces from Iraq. In this morning's New York Times, James Glanz' "Iraqi Contracts With Iran and China Concern U.S." offers:

Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants, the Iraqi electricity minister said Tuesday. Word of the project prompted serious concerns among American military officials, who fear that Iranian commercial investments can mask military activities at a time of heightened tension with Iran.
The Iraqi electricity minister, Karim Wahid, said that the Iranian project would be built in Sadr City, a Shiite enclave in Baghdad that is controlled by followers of the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr. He added that Iran had also agreed to provide cheap electricity from its own grid to southern Iraq, and to build a large power plant essentially free of charge in an area between the two southern Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.
[. . .]
The agreements between Iraq and Iran come after the American-led reconstruction effort, which relied heavily on large American contractors, has spent nearly $5 billion of United States taxpayer money on Iraq's electricity grid. Aside from a few isolated bright spots, there was little clear impact in a nation where in many places electricity is still available only for a few hours each day. Because the power plants are in largely Shiite-controlled areas, it is possible they may not face the same sectarian violence that crippled so many American rebuilding projects.

Now if all the US military whispers and public claims (offered with no evidence) of Iran arming Sunnis against the Shi'ite controlled government were true, do you really think al-Maliki's government would be making deals with Iran? Another question, which two states provide the most recruits for the US military? The answer's in Kristin Bender's "Demonstrators face off on Iraq in Berkeley" (Alameda Times-Star):

"Our message is very clear. We are peaceful people. We don't want to send our sons and daughters into this war. I think the sentiment of Berkeley is on this side of the street," said CodePINK co-founder Medea Benjamin.
Statistics show that Berkeley is sending fewer sons and daughters into the military. In fiscal year 2001, which ended three weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, 22 Berkeley residents joined the armed forces, according to Department of Defense enlistment data. By 2006, with the Iraq war in full swing, just 15 signed on, nearly one-third less.
Berkeley's drop mimics a California-wide trend. The Golden State in 2001 was the nation's largest source of new enlistees, with 23,503 residents joining the military in 2001. But in 2006, 2,400 fewer residents heeded the call, and today California ranks second behind Texas in recruitment.

Staying with California, Jessica Kwong's "Protests Follow Recruiting Center to Berkeley" (The Daily Californian)

"It's very unfortunate that they opened a recruitment office in Berkeley," said City Councilmember Linda Maio. "I don't think it's appropriate for this town. I don't think it reflects the sentiments of the citizens."
The City Council plans to voice its disapproval of the center's mission through its Peace and Justice Commission, which is spearheading a proposal to make Berkeley a sanctuary for officers who choose not to serve in the Iraq conflict, meaning the city would not assist in locating or prosecuting war resisters.
"Berkeley already had resolutions passed in the '80s and '90s that involved making it a sanctuary for conscientious objectors," said Commissioner Bob Meola. "The most patriotic thing a person in the U.S. military could do today would be to refuse to fight, because the war in Iraq violates international and U.S. laws, it’s unconstitutional."
The proposal reaffirms a year-old city resolution in support of Ehren Watada, an Army First Lieutenant who refused to deploy to Iraq may face a court martial.
"There's a growing number of the military and members of the armed forces who are seeing that the Iraq war is immoral," said Steve Freedkin, chair of the city commission. "As we saw in Vietnam, when there starts to be a strong opposition in the military, it has a huge impact on public policy."

And Medea Benjamin writes about being refused entry to Canada when she and Ann Wright tried to enter last week (Wright was also refused) in "Canada: We Come in Peace" (The Huffington Post):

Yes, it is outrageous that the FBI is placing peace activists on an international criminal database -- a blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies. But the Canadian Border Service should not be using this FBI database as its Bible. We have seen in the case of Maher Arar the tragic consequences that can result from the unquestioning use of these databases.
Fortunately, the grassroots response to our ordeal has been heartwarming. The day we posted a petition on
our website, thousands of people on both sides of the border began signing and posting comments expressing their outrage. The Canadian press took the government to task. Typical was the October 6 Toronto Star editorial calling us middle-aged activists who specialize in "chanting 'Give peace a chance' in inappropriate places." Canada should be on the lookout for "brazen criminals, not brazen peace activists," it concluded.
Members of Parliament contacted us immediately. MP Olivia Chow sent an angry letter to the Canadian Consul General in Buffalo, NY. "I am alarmed to learn that Canadian border police are enforcing rules that have been determined by the FBI and other U.S.-based agencies," she wrote. "In Canada, peaceful protest is not a criminal activity, despite how some U.S. agencies may regard it."
Another Member of Parliament, Alexa McDonough, called to apologize on behalf of Canadian citizens. Determined to change the policy, she is working on an invitation for us to speak before the Canadian Parliament.

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