Sunday, January 06, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

No nation that claims to value democracy for the world's people can maintain a military occupation against the will of the occupied population. Yet despite what seems like a fundamental moral truism-the notion that a military occupation of one country by another can only be justified if the occupied population supports it-mainstream commentators in this country rarely broach the subject of Iraqi attitudes toward the US-led occupation. Iraqi public opinion polls, when they even make it into the newspapers, are accorded astoundingly little weight. Instead, most US politicians and analysts repeat vague slogans about how "Iraqis need us" and how "we'll leave when they ask us to."
A brief look at Iraqi attitudes toward the occupation reveals why mainstream commentators in this country opt for such ambiguity rather than dealing with the polls themselves: Iraqis have consistently stated that the occupation is a destabilizing force in their country, that the situation would improve after a US withdrawal, and that the US has ulterior motives for staying in Iraq.

Over the last four years, and in polls from a wide range of sources, Iraqis have been especially unequivocal on one point: that the US military occupation of their country produces more violence than it prevents. A May 2004 poll sponsored by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority found that roughly 80 percent of Iraqis had "no confidence" in US-led forces to improve security and that most "would feel safer if Coalition forces left immediately."

The above, noted by Mia, is from Kevin Young's "The US Occupation and Popular Opinion in Iraq" (CounterPunch). Staying with what doesn't get reported, Florida's NBC2 (text and video) informs that Yesenia Marengo-Angelino is in jail having been arrested Friday by the police for desertion of the military. How was she arrested? As per usual, the report leaves that out. You do learn that Matthew Fewox was also "arrested for leaving the service without permision" in November. Did they get pulled over at traffic stops or did the arrests result from 'military tips' (as a few stories that have bothered to tell the how of the arrests have noted)? They note that desertion is at the highest rate since 1980 and Bonnie Dewar and others from the mental health field attempt to paint those checking-out as "damaged." That may be good for sympathy when it's time for the court-martial but it's equally true that refusing to go back to Iraq is one of the sanest thing many can do.

How many times are the same groups going to be rotated in and out? How long is this illegal war going to last? At what point does "progress" stop being a buzz-word to hide behind? There's no "progress" and there never will be. Bremer walls can be put up and moats dug around cities and this may 'reduce' the violence (or not) but it doesn't change the fact that for the US to continue to remain in Iraq requires more and more tricks. And here's the thing about "tricks," people adapt to them, learn to get around them. If you're one of the ones crying "Violence has dropped!" you better be prepared for the fact that roadblocks are always overcome. In Iraq, US forces are the enemy. Those who were grateful Saddam Hussein was taken out (some Iraqis were, probably over half) were not grateful to see US forces remain and remain and remain.

Sarah Sewer wants the Iraq War as is. Sewer (Obama advisor Sarah Sewell) frets that the Iraq War will be considered a failure. If it's considered a failure (it is a failure, wake up, idiot), she frets, the US will just launch (illegal) wars where they take out a leader and then leave. Sewer wants the occupation aspect of the illegal war. And when you're seeing all the fools standing around the potty chair and applauding Bambi's every grunt, remember that they're not telling you the truth about who is on his team. Remember that Sewer hasn't made her goals secret. Ava and I noted her angry ramble on The Charlie Rose Show where she was snarling about nation-states failing and the need for a new body of force and all her other War Hawk ravings. The woman's a crack-pot, a mongerer. She was selling illegal war and she was selling Obama because they two go hand in hand (and noting his speech that her co-horts worked on).

America should be very alarmed by the lies and spin passing for 'coverage' and 'discussion' of Bambi in independent media. That campaign is insane. Service members who say, "I'm not going back" (whether they are opposed to the Iraq War or not) are taking care of their own needs -- something the military brass on through the White House have refused to do for them.

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 3902. Tonight? 3910. announced. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,163,944 as the number of Iraqi deaths since the start of the illegal war (they're back from holiday).

Let's stay with the violence.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing in which a bomber killed his or herself outside the Iraqu Unity Association and also killed 3 Iraqi soldiers and 1 civilian, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives (fifteen wounded), a Baghdad bombing claimed 1 life (four wounded) and a Mosul truck bombing that wounded five people. On Saturday, Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported a Baghdad mini-bus bombing wounded seven people, a Diyala Province bombing that claimed 6 lives ("3 men, 2 women and a child") and left three more people wounded, two Baquba bombings (one right after the other when assistance arrived) that claimed 1 life and left four people wounded, a Jalawla bombing that wounded eighteen people


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that US collaborators have had another loss with the Baghdad assassasination of Sheik Ismael Abass who wanted to start an "Awakening" council.


Hussein Kadhmi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses discovered in Baghdad and the heads of 4 in Muqdadiya. On Saturday, Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported 12 corpses discovered in Baghdad and the corpses "of a young man . . . Mohammed Ali" discovered in Kirkuk.

In addition Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the death of a US soldier in Baghdad from a bombing (already noted in this entry) and he reports, "Salahuddin - At 12 p.m., a roadside bomb targeted an American convoy in downtown Tikrit ( 175 km north of Baghdad) .Clashes took place between gunmen who were hiding near the panda ice cream shop and the American patrol having two American soldiers killed in that incident , police said.Also the Iraqi forces defused another IED which was planted in a place of 100 meter distance of the first place. While the US army said two American soldiers were wounded in a grenade attack in the same area having one soldier returned to duty." The second sentence, citing Iraqi police, mentions two deaths of US soldiers that M-NF hasn't announced (which may mean the Iraqi police are mistaken or may mean M-NF is lagging again).

Lloyd notes this from Karen DeYoung's "A Darker Shade Of Green Zone: In Baghdad, Low Expectations Have Supplanted High Ideals" (Washington Post) on the Green Zone:

[. . .] U.S. forces arrived in Baghdad in April 2003, they took over Hussein's Presidential Palace along the Tigris River, enclosed the surrounding 5.9 square miles with concrete walls and concertina wire, and declared it the seat of their occupation government. In those days, soldiers thought they would return home within months. Many U.S. civilian staff members who arrived in the military's wake were young conservatives working up the Republican Party ladder. They saw Iraq as a place to transfer their ideals to a grateful nation, fight terrorism and have an exciting time.
They set up no fewer than six bars, a disco, a cafe, two Chinese restaurants and an outdoor shopping arcade. Personnel stationed inside the zone would jog on the sidewalks and relax in the garden behind the Republican Palace.
But before the first year ended, violence exploded in the Red Zone -- the 437,000 square miles that make up the rest of Iraq -- and the soldiers settled in for a long fight against a growing insurgency. As the attacks against U.S. forces escalated, Iraqis proved resistant to American ideas of how to organize their government and lives, and they began to fight among themselves.
Inside the Green Zone, fear replaced enthusiasm as mortar shells rained from the sky during 2006 and 2007, and many hours were spent inside concrete bunkers. Over the past several months, the attacks have largely stopped, except for a burst of two dozen shells on Thanksgiving, but the walls grew higher and civilian trips outside the wire became infrequent.
"When I got here, it was just getting to the end of the time when you could go out in the city. You could hop into a cab or walk across the bridge," said Houghton. "The watershed was the bombing of Samarra" in February 2006, when the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq destroyed the historic Askariya Shiite shrine in that city north of Baghdad, sparking all-out sectarian war.

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

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.Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

Pru notes that the Socialist Worker hasn't updated re: Iraq (holiday) and instead reminds that Ruth's latest Ruth's Report went up on Saturday and I'll remind that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Vulture Rudy G." went up today.

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karen deyoung