Sunday, November 25, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

For Corey Glass, the last straw was a video of Iraqi children talking about how they wanted to grow up to be suicide bombers so they could kill Americans.
It's the moment when Glass, who was born and raised in small-town Indiana, decided to quit the Iraq war.
The problem was, he wasn't allowed to just up and leave. Having signed up for the National Guard when he was 20, Glass, 25, was committed to service.
So there he was, several months into his Iraq tour, a sergeant working as an intelligence officer at Camp Anaconda, a U.S. base in the Sunni Triangle 110 km north of Baghdad, when he realized he couldn't live with himself for being part of the U.S. war effort.
"That was the last straw," he says of the video of the Iraqi children. "So I tried to quit the next day."

Glass was told by his superiors he couldn't do that, but that he'd be sent back home on leave for two weeks.
Glass told them bluntly -- if you send me home, I'm not coming back. You'll be back, they told him curtly. Plus, they threatened, if you desert the armed forces during wartime, it's punishable by death.

The above is from Brett Clarkson's "War resisters' last battle: Group ready to fight deportation" (Toronto Sun). Corey Glass, like other war resisters in Canada, finds himself wondering what next after the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Since the court system will not rectify the Iraqi Immigration and Refugee 'Board' (decisions are made by one person), the efforts now go towards getting Parliament to stand up. Both the War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist have launched campaigns to force the Canadian parliament to step up and do the job that the Canadian government once did: provide a haven to war resisters.

Is Julie Ann Stendahl a war resister? No one knows. We ignored her reported e-mail because there was no way to prove that it was from her. What is known is that she was supposed to deploy October 31st to Iraq and did not. What is know is that she went missing. Now, The Olympian's Joseph Rose reports, US military flack Holly Blevins has announced, "Friends and family said she told them she wasn't going back to Iraq." That is all that's known. And certainly because the US military says something is true doesn't make it so.

Robert Przbylski is another unknown (noted here and here and here and here). He is an Army captain and he went missing in early October from his base in Germany. As the military was about to move from the AWOL classification to deserter, he turned himself in. John Vandiver (Stars and Stripes) reports today that Przbylski has "retained defense counsel" and is refusing to speak to the press (something his father -- a retired military officer -- did throughout his son's disappearance). Vandiver notes that the military has not announced whether they will charage Przbylski with being AWOL (or any other charge or charges) and reminds: " Last week The Associated Press reported that soldiers are deserting at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. "

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 3871. Tonight? 3876 announced. And, FYI, the latest announcements have come not from MNF but from the Defense Department. 1,112,745 was the number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war last Sunday. Tonight? Just Foreign Policy lists 1,118,846. Today the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division-North Soldiers were killed as a result of an suicide vest attack while conducting operations in Baqubah, Diyala Province, Nov. 18."

And on the subject of the US wounded, we'll note Ruth's "Day by Day, USA Today brain injury signature wound:"

Today on NPR's Day by Day, Gregg Zoroya of USA Today spoke with Madeleine Brand about the work he has done determining injuries received by U.S. service members in Iraq and found that brain injury is the signature wound of this illegal war even though the Pentagon has undercounted this injury by one-fourth.
Those who prefer or can only utilize text can refer to Mr. Zoroya's "20,000 vets' brain injuries not listed in Pentagon tally" (USA Today):

At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY.
The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.

In addition to that article, Mr. Zoroya also looks at one individual in "Marine didn't recognize signs of brain injury:"

Marine Lance Cpl. Gene Landrus was hurt in a roadside bomb attack outside Abu Ghraib, Iraq, on May 15, 2006, and faces medical separation from the Corps. He's also up for a Purple Heart.Along with 20,000 other veterans, he's not included in the Pentagon's official count of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.That's because Landrus' wound was to his brain and hidden from view. Landrus, 24, of Clarkston, Wash., says he did not realize the nausea, dizziness, memory loss and headaches he suffered after the blast were signs of a lasting brain injury.

Despite the myth, violence continues in Baghdad one with mass casualties and fatalities.
In some of today's reported violence . . .

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 9 lives and left at least thirty-nine wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded one person, a Baghdad roadside bomb that claimed 1 life and left six Iraqi soldiers and one civilian wounded,
a Baghdad mortar attack "targeting the American base inside the former intelligence headquarters" and a Diyala roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 person and left six wounded.
Reuters notes a Kirkuk bombing (triggered by Iraqi forces firing at the "explosives-laden truck") which claimed the lives of 1 Iraqi soldier and left four others wounded and a Mosul roadside bombing that left six people injured.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Basra criminal court employee was shot dead in Basra. Reuters notes a guard ("of the Sunni Islamic Party") shot dead in Mosul
On Saturday, McClatchy's Kadhim reports, the shooting death of "a local employee who works for a foreign company in Um Qasr" in Kirkuk. Also on Saturday, Reuters notes, 10 'suspects' were killed in Samarra.

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 3 corpses were discovered in Basra.

So today's New York Times told you the 'measure' for 'success' in Iraq was being lowered -- as ABC's Martha Raddatz predicted on Washington Week. Even with a 'lowering,' it'll be difficult to spin reality. Mariam Karnouny (Reuters) reports that "a row" broke out in the Iraqi parliament today when a meassure to de-de-Baathify Baghdad was proposed: "It was the first time parliament had taken up any major bills this year that Washington believes will help heal the deep divide between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs. Objections to the bill from a key Shi'ite faction and arguments over whether it had been submitted properly prevented the draft law from being read out fully, participants at the closed-door session told Reuters.
The row underscores the discord over a law that would formally relax restrictions on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party joining the civil service and military." And supposed to believe that tensions have eased between Turkey and northern Iraq (despite the 100,000 Turkish troops on the border and the recent skirmish between the Turkish military and the PKK resulting in deaths just last week), the US is sending military general into Turkey for talks.
Reuters reports US General Bantz Craddock was in Ankara on Saturday and that he was preceded by US General David Petraeus and US General James Cartwright.

Pru gets the last highlight, "Morale in British army reaches an all time low" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are producing unease in the army.
According to a leaked top level report, morale is at an all time low.
Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt -- who commissioned the report -- claimed in an interview earlier this year that Iraq could break the army.
This report highlights the depth of anger among troops about shortages in equipment and manpower, poor food and housing. It says soldiers are deliberately taking "sickies" to avoid going on operations.
The report says, "The tank of goodwill now runs on vapour -- many experienced staff are talking of leaving. There is a lack of training area and shooting range availability, shortages of ammunition, track mileage, spares, range staff and manpower."
The document also says that the food given to troops is so bad that many resort to cooking up their own on gas burners in their rooms.
The report states: "A Pot Noodle culture is being created and soldiers are cooking rations over gas burners in their rooms."
Last week a senior officer in the parachute regiment resigned.
Lt Colonel Stuart Tootal, who served in Afghanistan, told of “shoddy” treatment of injured troops, poor pay, housing and a lack of training equipment.
Simon Basketter
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