Monday, December 24, 2007

Turkey & Iraq

Stephen Farrall has the only story filed from Iraq in this morning's New York Times, "Turkey Bombs Kurdish Rebels in Iraq for 2nd Day, Kurds Say" which runs on A4 and opens with:

Turkish jets bombed separatist Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq for the second day in a row, Kurdish security officials said Sunday, althrough there was no immediate confirmation from the Turkish military.

Farrell notes that no statement on any Sunday attacks has come from the Turkish military or Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of the country; however, they do claim to have killed people on Saturday ("contradicting Kurdish assertions that no one had died").

Farrell quotes Massou Barzani (billed as "the political leader of Iraqi Kurdistan" a regiong that already has several regional goverment posts and the president of Iraq as 'political leaders,' but whatever) declaring of Turkey's targets, "Their goal is not only the P.K.K. but the whole idea of autonomous Kurdish region." US ambassador to Iraq spent Sunday defending the concept of raids and bombings (and how he could he not without looking like a hypocrite since the US is doing the exact same thing in Iraq and a very warped and twisted logic was what led to the start of the Afghanistan War). Farrell quotes him stating, "I think we have been clear on this: the P.K.K. is a terrorist organization, it has carried out a number of lethal actions inside Turkey from bases in Iraq, and the Turks clearly have the right to defend their country and their people."

Lynda notes Nina Rothschild Utne's "I Won't Pay My Taxes If You Won't Pay Yours" (The Utne Reader via Common Dreams):

War tax resistance is far from a new idea. But there is a bold initiative brewing that has an elegantly simple new angle: There is safety in numbers. The idea is to get people to sign a pledge that they will engage in civil disobedience by withholding a percentage of their taxes, but only if a critical mass of 100,000 signers is reached by April 15, 2008.
Activists have spent long hours pushing for election reform, marching in the streets, and engaging in other forms of civil disobedience against the Iraq war with seemingly no effect, so clearly a different tack is needed. The "I'll jump if you will" approach to war tax resistance just might work.
My friend Jodie Evans, cofounder of
Code Pink, is one of those people who live on the barricades, sleep little, and dedicate most every waking moment to social change. Her material desires take a backseat to her convictions, and the ragged pink mules she has worn for years as part of her Code Pink identity are the laughingstock of her friends. She has been arrested more times than she can count and has been at the epicenter of many of the most effective and mediagenic progressive campaigns of the past several decades.

Lynda wondered what I thought?

(A) I think Nina Rothschild Utne writes about the topic much more clearly than ____ and that's because she knows what she's talking about.

(B) Other measures are needed. What has been done thus far is not working.

(C) People have already been engaging in tax resistance over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the difference is the call for it is now being amplified.

(D) "Safety in numbers" is correct; however, it needs to be noted there is one strong difference between today and Vietnam (when a huge number participated) and Paul Krugman and (I believe) Bob Herbert have written of this over the last three years: Under Bully Boy, the IRS now targets those with smaller incomes at a much higher rate than ever before. Therefore the chance of audit is higher if you become a tax resister so the "safety in numbers" point needs to be stressed (as she stresses it).

(E) I'm not following this issue. It bubbled up with the "OH NO! WE'RE GOING TO WAR WITH IRAN!" cries and I'm dealing with reality and don't have time to go off on fantasy trip. If a war with Iran starts, I'll give it some (personal) attention then -- unlike the people who've made it their primary focus and spent three years claiming, "It's starting! It's starting!" for the last three years. It's also true that until the Iraq War is ended, war with Iran is a greater possibility so all the chicken littles who've made their entire writing careers about Iran have done nothing to help stop a potential war by ignoring an ongoing, very real war. (During Vietnam, the fact that the US was stationed in Vietnam allowed the war to be expanded into neighboring countries. Clearly, those wanting to stop a potential war with Iran should be spending the bulk of their time focused on Iraq because history demonstrates that expanding a war to neighboring countries is rather easy.) So I've read the piece Lynda's highlighting, which is well written, the piece by ____ which was as badly written and I glanced at Chris Hedges piece (and thought, "That's your breaking point? With everything's that gone on already, potential war with Iran is your breaking point? You co-wrote a bad piece of 'journalism' in October 2001 for the New York Times falsely linking 9-11 with Iraq and you feel your obligations only kick in if the US goes to war with Iran?" -- at which point, I had no more time or energy for that nonsense column). So I'm not an expert on this topic. If people want to know about it, Nina Rothschild Utne has written the best of the three pieces. But what's missing in it is what is being withheld? During Vietnam, many public tax resisters against the war, such as Joan Baez, withheld a portion of their income and that was based on the portion the government used to fund the war. Is that what's being proposed today? I don't know. Nina Rothschild Utne cites that it was 10% and that may be correct but I also remember that there was a witholding of percentage to Ma Bell (which was the only phone company in the country and hadn't yet been deregulated -- or 'deregulated') so I'm not sure what percentage was what then and I'm not seeing whether a percentage is being proposed today or just complete resistance. National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is the organization she recommends for further information.

(F) It's against the law. Civil disobedience is something I have and will take part in but my own circumstances are more fortunate than some so I'm not going to be advocating that others jump in. I also remember that those of us who were active back then were regularly targeted by all branches of the government including the IRS. Yes, the FBI and others spied on American citizens (military intelligence, the CIA, etc.), but it's also true that Nixon used all government agencies to go after those speaking out. During that period, it appeared that someone had to like you at the IRS for whatever reason if you weren't audited non-stop. (For example, an actress wasn't thought to be targeted by the IRS and it was assumed, since she was targeted
by every other agency, someone at the IRS must have been a fan of her work and ignored the orders -- which did exist -- to audit. Some clergy was targeted repeatedly by the IRS while others weren't and, with no knowledge of why that happened -- even FOI requests have never made that clear -- it was assumed that someone at the IRS either thought highly of a speech they made or else was a member of that religion and called them off. With the other agencies, there seemed to be a more consistent pattern. With the IRS it appeared hit or miss back then.)
Nina Rothschild Utne is pointing out the strength in numbers aspect and that's the most logical way to go because the greater the number, the harder it would be for the IRS to go after everyone. (The IRS has also changed. Once upon a time, they did write off debts in some circumstances. Now they seize property -- in violation of the law -- and a host of other issues, Gore Vidal has written about that throughout the nineties and those essays are collected in various books. So there are differences and people should be aware of all the potential aspects -- positive and negative -- before making their decisions.)

(G) ___ was going blah-blah-blah, I believe in taxation. (Causing much hilarity.) If you are paying full taxes, you are paying for the illegal war. US tax dollars are being used to fund and train death squads in Iraq. They are being used to keep a puppet government in power at great harm to the Iraqi people in the right-now and at a greater harm in the long range. Those are things to be aware of and tax resistance is an option. We've noted it here before, go back to 2005 when we regularly highlighted it. But a member wrote in and said, "If you're asking me to do it, I'll do it." I don't want that responsibility. If you do it, you have to do it because it's your decision and you can only make the decision if you are fully informed of all the possible outcomes, positive and negative. We stopped noting it as a result.

(H) When something's well written (as the piece Lynda wanted highlighted is), we'll note it. But I'm not endorsing it for anyone. Everyone will have to make up their own minds. I'm not saying "Do it!" and I'm not saying "Don't do it!" because that is a big decision these days and people need to know the benefits and the risks.

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