Sunday, January 20, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

Despite many questionable awardees, Americans accept that it is a presidential prerogative and get on with life. About the only time the award was steeped in controversy was in 1977, when the family of sculptor Alexander Calder boycotted the ceremony to make a statement favouring amnesty for Vietnam War draft resisters.

From an article, highlighted by Amanda, about US presidentinal medal of freedom honors entitled "US prez's medal-some ways" (Times of India). Yes, once upon time the US actually gave a damn about war resisters. In fairness, the people still do it's just the ones in charge of independent media -- allegedly representing us -- who don't give a damn and will go anywhere on the globe to avoid ever nothing that service members are resisting, are saying "no" to the illegal war. Deacades back, there was real outrage over Richard Nixon's actions (not the faux outrage ginned up today over the Bully Boy in an attempt to influence elections in the Democrats favor) and his crimes (like the Bully Boy's today) were appalling. Back then, people could and did say, "If Nixon didn't go to prison for what he did, there's no way in hell a soldier saying no this illegal war should go to jail." It mattered back then.

And the independent media treated it like it mattered. They didn't offer remedial courses in elections over and over while ignoring that illegal war. And I don't remember all the 'set pieces' that we have today. But it certainly helps prolong the illegal war, doesn't it? And hey, only 49 reported deaths of Iraqis since we last checked in, so why worry?

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 3923. Tonight? 3927 announced. For those wondering about monthly totals, it's 23 and, yes, that was the total for all of December. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,168,058 as the number of Iraqi deaths since the start of the illegal war.

Turning to some of the reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left two police officers wounded, a Baghad mortar attack that left two people injured, a Mosul car bombing that left two people wounded, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left one person wounded and a bomber who killed him in Anbar province in an attack that took out 1 "Awakening" Council big-wig and 2 more people with another five wounded. Reuters reports that a bombing "south of Falluja" took place with the bomber killing himself and 6 more people who had been "celebrating the release of a man from U.S. military custody" and a Balad mortar attack claimed 5 lives and left twenty more wounded. Yesterday, McClatchy's Mohammed Al Dulaimy reported a Baghdad restaurant bombing that claimed 1 life and left thirteen people wounded, Kirkuk roadside bombings claimed 2 lives and left six wounded, a Kirkuck bombing claimed the lives of 2 people, a Talafar rocket attack claimed 7 lives and left at least twenty wounded, 2 Ramadi bombers blew themselves up (a third didn't) in an attack on the police that claimed the lives of 6 police officers and left thirteen wounded, a Khaniqueen roadside bombing left two police officers wounded and, in the continued attacks on officials, a Diyala Province roadside bombing targeted the governor and claimed the lives of 3 of his bodyguards with two more wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead in Muqdadiyah, an armed clash in Baquba that left a US collarobator ("Awakening" Council) dead. Reuters reports that Iraqi police shot dead a person in Mosul.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Yesterday, McClatchy's Mohammed Al Dulaimy reports 2 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses were discovered in Falluja.

Carlton has an idea: Turn independent media over to Joan Wile. Why? Read her "Anti-War Grannies Challenge that Surge is Working" (Common Dreams):

Only 11 of our military died in Iraq the past week? Break out the champagne! That's less than some of the weeks before the surge. Obviously, then, that means, as our government and our pundits are saying, that the surge is working. Therefore, let's throw another lot of GIs into Iraq. Maybe that way even less of our precious young brave ones will die. Perhaps in a year or two we’ll reduce the death rate down to 3 or 4 a week.
But, wait, here's a novel idea. What would happen if we withdrew ALL our troops? Amazingly, NONE of our kids would die in Iraq. Has anybody in Washington done the math? It seems quite elementary to us grannies.
And, what about the Iraqi casualties, which we are told have been reduced to a satisfactory number? Just today, it is reported that 80 people were killed and many more wounded in battles in Basra and Nasinya on January 19. That certainly IS progress, especially when you add to it the 8 killed by a suicide bombing Jan. 16 and at least 10 in a mosque bombing on Jan. 17.
The New York City group, Grandmothers Against the War, decided to try and counteract the lie that the surge is working and that as a consequence U.S. voters no longer put the Iraq war on the top of their agenda. We decided to do something to impress upon the public that the occupation is still the most vital issue facing us, from which all the rest of our urgent problems flow. Health care, education, poverty, and housing dilemmas cannot be solved as long as we are pouring money down the Iraq drain. But, beyond that, we still have the imperative responsibility to save our troops by getting them out of a place they have no business being in and where they can solve nothing, as so tragically evidenced by this week’s Iraqi death toll.

Joan Wile's Grandmothers Against the War: Getting off Our Fannies and Standing up for Peace comes out later this year.

Pru gets the last highlight and it's from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.

This article should be read after: » Democracy? George Bush doesn't know the meaning of the word
"Iraqis pay price for George Bush's 'surge' lies"
Bush's claims that the US 'surge' in Iraq has been a success misses some bitter truths about the reality of life in Iraq today, writes Simon Assaf
During his current tour of the Middle East, US president George Bush announced, "Iraq is now a different place from one year ago. We must do all we can to ensure that 2008 will bring even greater progress."
He said that the "surge" of 38,000 US troops has succeeded in bringing stability and peace to Iraq.
Supporters of Bush and Gordon Brown's "war on terror" claim that refugees in Iraq are returning to their homes and the resistance is petering out.
Yet the facts on the ground reveal a country teetering on the edge of an abyss, with rocketing levels of disease, murder and repression.
An extensive survey of Iraqi refugees in Syria by Harvard University found that 78 percent of the 1.5 million refugees were forced to flee Baghdad as US troops stormed through their neighbourhoods during the surge.
Since the invasion in 2003, Baghdad has been the centre of resistance to the occupation.
But now sectarian cleansing of the city is almost complete.
The city is criss-crossed by "security walls" trapping those who remain behind in walled compounds guarded by watchtowers.
The refugees describe 2007 as a year marked by new levels of terror and repression.
One in five said they had been tortured or suffered from violence. Over half of those surveyed said they lost a member of their family in 2007. Only 2 percent blamed "Al Qaida" for these deaths.
These figures are backed up by a secret "body count" leaked to the US military newspaper, Stars And Stripes. These show that occupation troops killed 18,832 "insurgents" in the first half of 2007 -- the highest figure since the occupation began.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been seized in mass round-ups.
According to the Brookings Institution, the US holds over 26,000 Iraqi prisoners -- double the number in January 2007. A further 24,000 are being held in Iraqi-run camps.
Meanwhile Iraqis face new levels of desperation and insecurity.
Iraq once boasted the most advanced national health system in the region, but now cholera and other waterborne diseases are rife.
One hospital in Baghdad is treating up to 70 new cholera cases a month, while the United Nations reports that there was a 30 percent increase in waterborne diseases over the summer.
The level of pollution has reached critical levels. Religious leaders issued orders banning fishing after the discovery of hundreds of corpses in the rivers. The water system is contaminated with sewage, while rubbish piles up in the streets.
Two thirds of Iraqi children have no school place and unemployment remains at 40 percent.
Electricity supplies are a fraction of levels before the invasion. Although the capital is now receiving more power -- up to nine hours a day -- this has come at the expense of the rest of the country.
No wonder that a recent survey found that the occupation is less popular in Iraq than at any time since 2003.
Bush has listed a number of policy "benchmarks" to track the progress of the surge. Most of these have failed.
The proposed "oil revenue sharing agreement" and a new electoral law have stalled, as have plans for local elections. The much heralded "national reconciliation" of Sunni and Shia has been replaced with plans for the "soft partition" of the country.
Bush points to the decline in the number of daily attacks on US troops as a sign the "surge" has worked.
Some areas that have been hotbeds of resistance are indeed quieter. In the Sunni city of Ramadi there were 25 attacks a day in 2006 – this has now dropped to four a day.
In other areas attacks on the US have risen. For example in the province of Diyala attacks on US troops have risen by 70 percent.
In areas where occupation forces have withdrawn, it is hardly surprising attacks have fallen. A British army spokesman recently stated that attacks on British and Iraqi troops in Basra have dropped 90 percent -- since the troops withdrew from the area!
This is a sign not of success, but that the British have effectively handed control of the south to Shia resistance.
This has undermined the central aim of the surge -- which was to crush the Mehdi Army of rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The US was unable to provoke a showdown with the Sadr’s Mehdi Army. The military reports that Sadr's 60,000 fighters are rearming and retraining for a battle against the US-backed forces.
As the US begin to transfer troops for a "mini surge" in Afghanistan, its occupation of Iraq continues to bring misery to thousands.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
Democracy? George Bush doesn't know the meaning of the word» Charlie Wilson's war in Afghanistan and ours
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