Friday, November 30, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, November 30, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, a mass kidnapping is reported, the peace movement is not election central (get the message out), and more.
Last Saturday, Lawrence Hill (Ottawa Citizen) reminded (1) "the Anglo-American attack on Iraq in 2003 was an offensive -- not a retaliatory -- strike.  The war had no approval from the UN Security Council, and for this reason Canada's prime minister of the day, Jean Chretien, refused to support it.  In 2004, then-UN secretary general Kofi Annan declared explicilty that the U.S.-led war on Iraq was illegal" and (2) "according to official UN policy, soldiers who are likely to be punished for having deserted military action 'condemned by the international legal community as contrary to rules of human conduct' should be eligible for refugee status."  Hill is co-author with Joshua Key of the book The Deserter's Tale and the refusal of Canada's Supreme Court to hear the appeals of US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey makes it necessary to review those basics. Nikolai Lanine (Rabble News) observes, "We did betray them, after all.  As a veteran of an illegal war, I feared Canada would do this.  But I'd hoped otherwise."  Lanine goes on to note that it wasn't just US war resisters during Vietnam being granted asylum, "November 26, 1986, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario welcomed five Soviet war objectors from Afghanistan.  The Assembly described them as 'heroic individuals' and 'conscientious objectors in refusing to be partners in crime.'"

Cindy Sheehan (OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters:
Support actual war resisters in Canada by sending them expense money. From my friend Ryan (I gave him and his wife money to get to Canada over two years ago):
In light of the recent Supreme Court denial in Canada, I (Ryan Johnson), My wife (Jen Johnson) and Brandon Hughey need help raising funds to travel to Ottawa to attend hearings before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where War Resisters will be giving Testimony to the committee. At these hearings the committee will be deciding on whether or not to make a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. This is one of our last chances to be able to continue living in Canada. We will be leaving December 7th because the hearings are December 11th, 2007 so we need to act fast. They may try to send guys back soon and we need to have a strong War Resister Presence. We appreciate all of the support and Want to thank all of you who can help.
Checks/money orders can be sent for Ryan, Jen and Brandon to:312 Tower Rd  Nelson, BC V1L3K6
If you are in Canada, you can utilize the contact info at War Resisters Support Campaign to let members of the Canadian Parliament know you support legislation allowing war resisters to stay in Canada.  If you are in the United States (or elsewhere), you can utilize the contact info and/or forum at  Courage to Resist.  Public outcry didn't stop the illegal war from starting and public opposition has yet to end it.  War resisters in Canada who have gone public are putting a great deal on the line.  Use the links to show your support for them.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.  In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at Culture Project and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers. 
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.  
March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
"The war in Iraq is not covered to its potential because of how dangerous it is for reporters to cover it.  That's left a lot of misconceptions in the minds of the American public about what the true nature of military occupation looks like," declares IVAW's Liam Madden to Aaron Glantz in Glantz' report on the upcoming Winter Soldiers Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation (OneWorld).  Madden is correct and only more so this week as a result of Project for Excellence in Journalism's report (PDF format here, our summary Wendesday here).  This survey of 111 US journalists (mainstream media) who have covered Iraq found that "they do not believe the coverage of Iraq over time has been too negative.  If anything, many believe the sitatuion over the course of the war has been worse than the American public has perceived, according to a new survey of journalists covering the war from Iraq."  The report also found that 63% of the respondents stated "that Iraqi staffers do all or most of the street reporting outside the Green Zone."  Madden tells Glantz, "This is our generation getting to tell history to ensure that the actual history gets told -- that it's not a sugar-coated, diluted version of what actually happened."
Turning to Iraq.  Yesterday's snapshot included this: "Reuters reports 2 car bombs were found ('and detonated') 'in the Baghdad office complex of the leader of the country's main Sunni Arab bloc' -- Adnan al-Dulaimi."  Waleed Ibrahim and Alaa Shahine (Reuters) reported this morning on the arrests of "dozens of people, including the son of a leading Sunni Arab politicians" with 7 arrested at al-Dulaimi's office Thursday and 29 arrested at Dualaimi's home Friday morning (Mekki Adnan al-Dulaimi was arrested at his father's home with the twenty-eight others).  Robert H. Reid (AP) reports that, in the house arrests,  "Iraqi security forces surrounded the house, a move the U.S. said was for the elder al-Dulaimi's personal safety.  Al-Dulaimi complained that he was under virtual house arrest" and quotes the Sunni politician declaring, "I will wait until Saturday morning and if the ban of my family continues, then I will consider the government's measure as a house arrest."  BBC notes that Adnan al-Dulaimi states that car with the bomb "was not in the compound" and quotes Crispin Thorold who contributes that the incident will likely "increase tensions between the main Sunni Arab political bloc and supporters of the Shia Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki."  Gee, you think? And al-Dulaimi is thought to have organized the minister walk out in August (walking out of al-Maliki's cabinet).  Think that doesn't matter?  Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports today that there have been "17 ministries vacant for months."  Rubin also notes the Thursday boycott in the Iraq Parliament over al-Maliki attempting to appoint ministers without input and to alter the Constitutional rules regarding the need for a quorum as well as the puzzler re: the arrests: "It is hard to understand why Mr. Dulaimi's guards might want to kill fellow Sunnis in the Awakening Council" and quotes an unnamed military official who declares "that it was impossible to rule out that an enemy of Mr. Dulaimi might have been trying to frame him."  CNN reports "Slowing death rate in Iraq encourages Pentagon."  Maybe that's why the Pentagon's been doing Multi-National Force's job.  In the last few days, MNF has announced only one death.  MNF's job is to announce the dead.  The Defense Department puts names to them publicly after the families have been informed.  Allen C. Roberts and John J. Tobiason deaths received no announcement from MNF.
Something that received lots of announcements was the mythic "Great Return."  Michael Gordon and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report: "As if to underscore Mr. Maliki's point, 375 Iraqi refugees arrived Thursday in a convoy of buses from Damascus, Syria, escorted by heavily armed policemen. After the lengthy journey, the tired Iraqis were ushered into the white marble affluence of the Mansour Melia Hotel in Baghdad to receive a promised government payout to people returning to the capital."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack left two people wounded and Hibhib mortar attack claimed 3 lives and left two people wounded while yesterday a car bombing in Al Shirqat claimed the lives of 4 police officer. Reuters notes a bomber in Dhuluwiya killed himself and 1 Iraqi police captin while wounded two more police officers and a mortar attack outside Kirkuk that left two children injured.

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 people dead in an Al Khalis attack on five vehicles containing "members of Iraqi military and police" with thirty then kidnapped. Reuters notes that "a restaurant owner" was shot dead in Kirkuk.
Okay, we're throwing in programming here.  RadioNation with Laura Flanders is a new broadcast and features US House Rep and 2008 Democratic presidential contender Dennis Kucinch.  Kucinich and not, as I wrongly stated earlier in the week, the legal panel.  (Those wanting to hear the legal panel can go to the Flanders archives.)  In addition, Australia's election will be covered (John Howard out, Kevin Rudd in), Sue Dinsdale and Ari Berman will talk about the Iowa primaries in terms of the illegal war, Parvez Sharma (director of the documentary film A Jihad for Love) and Rev. Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping explaining the "Christmas Shopocalypse." Laura Flanders' program airs Sundays from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST over the airwaves on Air America Radio, on XM satellite radio and streams online.  That's radio on Sunday.  Tonight (Friday), PBS' Bill Moyers Journal begins airing their latest installment which will explore the Middle East and featuring Ron Sider and M.J. Rosenberg as guests with a report about Christians United for Israel.  Remember that the program's website includes a blog and you can leave comments and questions there.  In most markets, Bill Moyers Journal will be airing tonight; however, some markets have started their pledge drive and the show may be interrupted or rescheduled.  In addition to checking your local TV listings, you can remember that Bill Moyers Journal shares with Democracy Now! the fact that it is online and it is watch, listen or read.  Welcoming to all.  And with the number of wounded returning from Iraq, you'd think more programs would elect to go with that option.  That has happened but the Journal and DN! are accessible to all. Lastly, David Bacon's "What a Vote for Free Trade Means" (San Francisco Chronicle) details the realities that it's not just Iraq on which the shift in power in Congress (from Republican to Democratic control) hasn't produced the needed results.  Bacon's not just one of the last reporters in the country covering the labor beat, he also takes news photographs that are actually art and you can see some of his photos addressing immigration by clicking here.
Turning to US politics.  Tom Hayden has an article [Warning] at The Nation.  What's the point of it?  527s aren't independent and let's not lie and pretend they are.  Although he's realized that Barack Obama's New York Times chat was more revealing in transcript than write up, he's still creating false lines between Hillary Clinton and Obama that portray Obama in a flattering light.  (For reality in the comparison, see Paul Krugman in this morning's New York Times via Truthout.)  He places a lot of faith in MoveOn.  We usually call them "WalkOn" here but, to their credit, they didn't back down even when condemned by some in the Senate.  Maybe MoveOn has a spine?  It's more than possible and, if so, good for them.  But MoveOn appears in this sentence explaining where the peace movement can focus in the fall of 2008: "House and Senate races.  It is perhaps here that groups like MoveOn and Progressive Democrats of America can have the greatest effect, by bolstering the numbers of antiwar senators and representatives who favor terminating the war in 2009.  Think: Senator Al Franken."
Now Greens will be offended by the article and many Dems and many others and if that needs to be addressed, I'll carry it over to a column in a community newsletter.  Let's instead focus (and this will go to a larger point) on one aspect of that.  "Senator Al Franken" who apparently favors "terminating the war in 2009."  Franken was pro-illegal war before it started, pro-illegal war while hosting his hideous radio show on Air America Radio and only recently came out against the illegal war.  In that kind-of manner he's famous for (give five minutes in a speech to sobs over veterans care and then, having hidden behind that, do a quick line about how you oppose the illegal war, then move quickly on).  What the hell is Al Franken doing in that column?
Al Franken DOES NOT CALL for an end to the illegal war in 2009.  That's from his campaign staff who steered me to this page at Al Franken's website.  "Immediately beginning the process of bringing the troops home.  Our withdrawal should not be precipitous . . ."  Click on the link to read in full (that link provided only because I'm friends with the person who steered me to it.)  So that's wrong.  Al Franken's remarks are no different than Hillary Clinton's -- whom Tom Hayden calls out (while glossing over Obama's flaws).  So that's wrong.  How wrong is it for Tom Hayden to ignore an ongoing race?    Al Franken is not the nominee for the US Senate by the Democratic Party.  He is someone running for the nomination.  Jack Nelson-Pallymeyer is whom students on campuses are excited about in that state -- students wanting to end the illegal war.  Nelson-Pallmeyer is calling for an end to the illegal war.  The sort of end that Hayden himself favors.  So the question here is if we don't support the candidates who believe as we do, what kind of people are we?  I'm not calling Tom a hypocrite.  I am saying he doesn't know the Minnesota race and, as someone who struggled in his original races (both the losing one and the first victory), I am surprised that he's calling a "win" in a primary that won't be 'closed' (short of other candidates dropping out*) until "The Tuesday of Destiny" (February 5, 2008).  That same sort of declaration/awarding can be found in: "Voting for Kucinich, Richardson or Gravel is a legitimate choice but not a nominee."  Your choice is legitimate, Kucinich, Richardson or Gravel supporters; however, get with the program.  I remember damn well the negative circulars put out by Tunney's campaign.  I'm guessing someone has forgotten those days.  But in 1976, Hayden's opponent didn't think Hayden made for "a nominee."  So it's really surprising to see someone who's been through it himself attempt to call an ongoing race. *Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer is not the only other person running for the nomination.  I'm mentioning him because Minneapolis students are passionate on the need to elect him.  Repeated trips to that state have revealed an enthusiasm for him that is not in place for Franken.  He may or may not win the race.  But there's really no reason for The Nation to be promoting an open race as if there's only one candidate.
And that's the problem with the article.  It's most obvious with regards to the Senate race.  But it's there in terms of the presidency.  Here's a thought for the peace movement (Hayden is a part of the peace movement), how about we stop wasting our time on elections?  How about we start using that time to instead talk about ending the illegal war?  (There's a second aspect to that but it's a piece  this Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review.)  Tom Hayden honestly wants to end the illegal war.  That's not a pose with him, it's not a con, he truly wants to end the illegal war and wants that deeper in his soul than many other people.  But here's why all this election talk is seen as nonsense by many students in today's peace movement: It starts with "Vote for whomever but we're only covering the front runners."  Then it becomes "Use your voice however you want but that's not really a worthy nominee."  And now it's to the point that a state race, not a national one, is being called when the state won't be holding its primary until February 5, 2008.  At what point does it end?  Will it filter down to municipal races?  And if state candidates who support everything that is in Hayden's latest book (Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer does) aren't even noted while their opponent is not only noted but is misrepresented in the article (in a favorable light), what does that really say about the state of the peace movement? 
I'm not endorsing Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer or anyone (other than Cindy Sheehan) but it is troublesome that the author of 2001's School of Assassins: Guns, Greed and Globalization can't get a 'shout out' or a 'hey-hey' from the very people who believe in the same global issues.  And, here's the thing to pay attention to, young people in that state are working very hard on his campaign.  The same way Hayden worked on the campaigns of others long before he ran for office.  They believe in Nelson-Pallmeyer and I'd love to hear the explanation from Hayden to them on how their candidate -- who truly wants to end the illegal war -- isn't worth noting in a magazine article?  If older members of the peace movement want to be helpful, there are ways to be helpful.  Telling people how to vote or ignoring their candidates isn't a way to be helpful and Tom Hayden knows many 'olders' hit the dirt in his day over this very issue.  Hayden's 1976 run did make a difference.  The same way, regardless of outcomes, other runs today will.  Students don't need or want "voters' guides."  They did want leadership and it hasn't been provided repeatedly which is why they've become their own leaders.  In terms of others running in races right now . . . Hayden was a wonderful state assembly person and would have been a wonderful US senator (would still be a wonderful one).  As a former candidate, he should grasp how harmful it is when you are the candidate speaking to the issues and others are actively working to highlight another candidate who is not addressing the issues.
In Yes! magazine, Aimee Allison and David Solnit address the things needed to build a stronger movement and shoring up Barack Obama doesn't take place once nor do they feel the need to predict primary winners.  In an amazing article, the authors conclude, "The courage of young people in the military, on campuses and in the streets is showing us how to assert our people power.  It's clear that more and more folks in the United States and around the world have the courage to resist.  Can we find what lies at the root of the word courage-le coeur, or heart-to assert our power as communities, as movements, and as people to reverse the policies of empire and build a better world?"  That really gets to the heart of what's needed in the peace movement today -- what's already there but needs to be amplified.  Allison and Solnit are the authors of Army Of None -- a practical and inspiring book that addresses what's being done, what can be done and where we can all dream a little further.
Finally, returning to the topic of Dia al-Kawwaz (noted yesterday).  Mohammed al Dulaimy, Jenan Hussein and Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) report, "Kawazz charged Friday that he'd been misled by Sadiq -- who first debunked his story -- in order to discredit him as a journalist."  Sadiq is his brother-in-law Haider Sadiq. Someone lied to him -- that's not sarcasm.  The Association to Defend Iraqi Journalist's rights' Ibrahim Saraj stated "Relatives confirmed the incident to me; Dhia confirmed it to me."  He is conducting an investigation.

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