Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, January 2, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, John Edwards speaks to Gordo (who goes after Elizabeth Edwards), the femicide in Iraq continues, and the well to do partied in Baghdad.
Starting with war resistance. Little Artie Weinreb (of the right-wing Canada Free Press) blows a gasket over war resisters in a post entitled, "Canada readies to give U.S. deserters refuge." The foam from Artie's mouth makes it hard to understand him or maybe it's Artie who doesn't understand?  That would explain why he can argue that  Jeremy Hinzman served in Afhganistan, so he can't be a CO! Actually he can be . . . even if he served in Afghanistan. But, for the record, Hinzman served in a non-combat role and that was due to his beliefs about war.  It's not strange that Artie doesn't know US policies -- he is Canadian -- but he appears to feel it's just him and the US' Peggy Noons standing up for the red, white and blue.  Maple left, Artie, remember the maple leaf.

The fact that Artie's launching a pre-emptive strike on a potential vote in Canada's Parliament (he says this month but most say the earliest a vote could come would be February) can be seen as good thing in that it demonstrates Artie thinks there's a good chance it will pass. But that's only if people make their voices heard. The Canadian Parliament has the power to let war resisters stay in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. Both War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist are calling for actions from January 24-26.
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).

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 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. 
Recapping since Monday's snapshot.  Tuesday was January 1st and Solomon Moore and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) covered the glitterati of Baghdad, where, at the capital's two biggest hotels, "scores of perfumed and bare-headed Iraqi women" turned out for New Year's Eve.  Robin Leach in the Green Zone.  Baghdad Country Club, in fact, bills itself thusly: "In the world of chaos which is Baghdad there is an oasis of calm.  If James Bond were to walk of the pages of a book; if Hemingway was again reporting on the world's troubles, they could probably both be found relaxing over a drink at the Baghdad Country Club.  So if you happen to be in central Baghdad and know a person . . . "  But remember: "No weapons are allowed in the club.  The management is happy to secure any firearms, grenades, flash bangs or knives in the club armory."  Maybe you're in the mood for Salmon with White Wine Caper Sauce?  Or Chicken Crepe Riviera?  Their wine list, sadly, is effected by "political and meterological climate" so the oldest vintage they offer on the list is a 1982 Chateau Lafitte Rothschild, 1er Grand Cru Classe.  But if you're in the mood for port, they go back to 1955 with that.  And just because the US is occupying the country doesn't mean that they can't offer Cuban cigars (Cohiba, Montecristo, Partagas and more).  (The country club is inside the Green Zone, for any who didn't already get that.)  Brian Bennett (Time magazine) reported on it last April and noted it opened in October of 2006.  It was left to an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy to explain the 'joys' weren't all that and what it's like to take away a balloon from a child for fear that it may contain poisonous gas.
On Tuesday, the US military announced: "A U.S. Soldier died as a result of a non-combat related injury in the vicinity of Qayyarah Airfield West Dec. 31. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation."  Among the Tuesday violence, Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reported a Baghdad bombing at "a funeral" that claimed 30 lives and left thrity-eight wounded.  And, in political news, Reuter's Andy Sullivan explained the 20008 GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney declared "the Bush administration mismanged the Iraq war, distancing himself from his party's unpopular president two days before Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential contest."  Sadly, among the GOP, that does count as 'brave.'  Future distancing may include GOP candidates noting that education is actually good for people and that a person's health improves when they have a roof over their head.  Bit by bit, they may make it up to the 20th century before the 21st ends.
Back to Tuesday's Baghdad bombing at the funeral, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Qais Mizher (New York Times) call it "the most brazen and deadly attack in the capital in months.  The force of the blast scattered severed arms and legs about the site of the attack, a house where scores of friends and relatives had gathered to pay tribute to a man killed three days earlier by a car bomb in Tayaran Square in central Baghdad."  Joshua Partlow and Zaid Sabah (Washington Post) report on Adil Ahmed (chemistry professor) responding to the fire as "mourner were screaming with grief and rage, and many others were scattered on the ground, dead or dying.  The chemistry professore recalled bending down to one man who had saliva running down his ching.  He pumped his chest and breathed into his mouth, again and again, in a vain attempt to save him.  He ran to other, less seriously injured men, and helped drag or carry them to cars waiting to rush them to the hospital. He noticed that some of the dead were still sitting upright in the burning tent on their plastic chairs. After an hour of this, his clothes were messy with blood."  BBC notes the dead at 30 and the wounded at thirty-two.  Reuters notes today the death toll is now 34 from the funeral bombing.
And the violence continued today . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad explosion that injured five people and a woman exploded herself (via a bomb filled vest) in Baquba resulting in dead and wounded. Reuters notes the death toll from the Baquba bombing has climbed to 10 and that "The attack came a day after a bomber detonated his explosive vest in a tent crowded with mourners at a Baghdad funeral."  Peter Graff (Reuters) reports it is "the latest in a string of suicide bombings that has seen a major strike nearly every day of the past week despite an overall decline in violence. The woman blew herself up with an explosive vest at a checkpoint of neighborhood patrol volunteers in Baquba, capital of the restive Diyala province. Twenty-eight people were wounded including some women, police said."  BBC notes, "Most of the casualties are said to be members of a local volunteer force opposed to al-Qaeda.  Another 15 people were wounded in the explosion."  The "Awakening" councils which, Reuters reminds, are "paid by U.S. forces . . . and are now springing up throughout Sunni Arab areas with U.S. funding and support."  And the US military has issued a statement declaring that "the suicide bomber was in fact a male".
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 civilians wounded by unknown assailants firing in Basra.  Reuters notes a home invasion outside Kut in which two brothers were shot dead.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Reuters also notes, "U.S. forces said they had accidentally killed a woman when they fired a missile from a helicopter at a group planting a bomb on Tuesday evening in the northern city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. The missile missed its target and struck a nearby building, the U.S. military said." 
Meanwhile, IRIN reports 133 "women were killed last year in Basra . . . either by religious vigilantes or as a result of so-called 'honor' killings" according to the Basra Security Committee which said 79 were assassinated for "violating Islamic teachings," while 47 were assassinated via "'honor' killings".  Assassinated? Yes, I'm using that term.  This is the feminicide that's been ongoing in Iraq.  There women were assassinated as part of a war against women.  For more on the topic, you can see Bay Fang's "The Talibanization of Iraq" (Ms. magazine, spring 2007 issue) and MADRE.
"And I said, 'Look, maybe something good will come from this Vietnam tragedy.  It's such an obvious blunder, we'll never go down that road again.  So maybe it will save us from repeating this on an even more costly scale.'  And of course, now I don't know what to tell my daughters," so explains George McGovern to Laura S. Washington (In These Times).  It's a point that escapes many including War Pornographer Michael Gordon who shows up in this morning's New York Times with a write up of an interview with John Edwards.  The article's 'value' includes: (a) noting that Sunday in Iowa, Edwards hadn't planned to speak about Iraq but people attending the events brought it up and (b) revealing just how much Gordo hates women.  On the front page of the paper, he takes a paragraph to paint Elizabeth Edwards as 'intruding' at the end of the interview to note he didn't ask John Edwards about one point and, because she's such a brazen hussy in his mind, he uses another paragraph on A12 to return to the same point.  The Times has posted the transcript (with Gordo edited for 'clarity' and 'brevity') online and, anyone reading it will quickly see, Elizabeth Edwards spoke twice (one sentence the first time to raise the point Gordo had ignored -- Iraqi forces could be trained outside of Iraq under John Edwards' plan; two sentences to remind Gordo, who was gaping at her as John Edwards discussed this part of his plan, that her husband was one the speaking).  The transcript is always a must with Gordo who is a very 'creative' type of reporter.  John Edwards tells Gordo, "My own judgment is, let's assume for a minute that come January 2009 we still have a significant troop presence in Iraq, which I think is likely. If that is the case then I think another nine to ten months of American troop involvement and expenditure of taxpayer money with an intense effort to resolve the political conflict and intense diplomacy, then at that point America has done what it can do."  What Edwards proposes in the interview is troops start coming home and trainers are not keep in Iraq because he feels it fuels dependency on those being trained and keeping them there requires keeping more US forces there.  That's why Elizabeth Edwards was correct to note that Gordo had gone through the entire (long) interview without asking about that point.  Gordo misses that point and misses most of the points.  He has no concept of the remarks or experience George McGovern speaks of when he's relating the horror of Vietnam to the horror of today.  He does attempt to play concerned about Iraqis -- he uses them to hide behind his desire for the illegal war to continue.  The obvious response to Gordo's "What if?" is that no one knows and Edwards does get into that noting he's not going to respond to a hypothetical.  As John Edwards explains his plan to Gordo, the bulk of troops would begin moving out of Iraq within nine months of Edwards being sworn in.  Gordo doesn't ask many questions at all (read the transcript, he's more interested in attempting to badger and browbeat) so the issue of the US Embassy in Iraq is not touched on.  (However, all US embassies around the world have military support stationed with them.) 
On the issue of citizens bringing up Iraq to Edwards on Sunday, The MoJo Blog notes this Des Moines Register poll of "likely Democratic caucus participants" on issues (scroll down almost mid-way and it's on the left) which finds "War in Iraq" the number one issue (28%) with health care the next largest issue (22%).  For all the media-created drama since last week, "terrorism" was cited by only two-percent. December 23rd, Ava and I reviewed PBS' Washington Weak's year-end wrap up and noted of one gas bag: "Gloria Borger is just a dope period. After we got over the shock of her face (and a new hairstyle and color), we were left with the same old Gloria, pushing water cooler spin off as fact. We watched in wonder as she lied and proclaimed (prefaced with the weasel words 'I think') 'the big issue on both sides is immigration.' 'We think' she's got too many miles on her to think anyone sees her as young and fresh despite all the work done." and "immigration." For the record, the poll lists "immigration" as a concern to only 2% of likely Democratic cacus participants.
Edwards, in the interview with Gordo (transcript) notes that there is no progress in the political situation in Iraq.  As an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers observes at Inside Iraq, why should there be:
We have 275 members who suppose to represent the Iraqi people in their demands and suffering. On the contrary, they have the highest salaries in Iraq or in the world with the incredible privilege they have from houses and mansions, cars, body guards, real states, free tickets to go abroad and above all their space of freedom to go wherever they want to go without taking any kind of permission or telling the government that they go to this place or that one. They are really careless of the Iraqi people's demands and needs. If we came back to 2006 and 2007 to find out what achievements did the parliament do , we would find nothing. I tried to call some prominent members to have a bit of information of their achievements during the last 20 months of their work in the parliament within Al-Maliki government. I got none of them …really none of them. They suppose to represent Iraqis, but they are not even trouble themselves to answer the phones as they are either switched off or out of the coverage area. Yes, they are because most of them are not in Iraq spending their time with their families who settle in London, Amman, Dubai, Cairo and Doha or they want to enjoy their time away of their families in Beirut, Paris , Damascus or Rome
The correspondent goes on to note Ayad Allawi resides in London, Adnan Al-Duleimi wasn't reachable and is apparently in Jordan.  Ibrahim Al-Jafrai is in London and Rose Shawis is traveling "abroad".  All four men (Rose is a man) are apparently out of the country.  Summering? 

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