Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, January 3, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announced more deaths, Dennis Kucinich -- so out he's . . . in? . . . out?,  and more.
Starting with war resistance, Ehren Watada is noted in Edwin Tanji's (Honolulu Advertiser) reflections on 2007: "Critics of the war engaged in frequent rallies as well as the appearance in April by Bob Watada, father of Lt. Ehren Watada, who is facing court-martial for refusing deployment to Iraq."  In June 2006, Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  He based his decision on fact that the Iraq War is illegal.  The Christian Sciene Monitor's Dean Paton (at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) explained in October, "When he returned to Fort Lewis, he began researching Iraq.  The expose at Abu Ghraib prison fueld his doubts about the war.  He read the report of the Iraq Survey Group, a team formed after the 2003 invasion to see if weapons of mass destruction existed.  It found they didn't.  He studied the United Nations Charter, the Nurember Principles, and the Uniform Code of military Justice. . . . Watada realized that from the moment he swore to 'protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic,' and to 'bear true faith and allegiance to the same,' his solemn oath required him to refuse orders to fight an illegal war."  Monica Guzman (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) notes that Paton's column was of "the P-I's 10 most-discussed" and it "touched off debate about the fate of Lt. Ehren Watada, the first Army officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal."
Meanwhile, in Canada where some war resisters went to seek asylum, 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. 
In other March news, Ashley Casale who took part in the March for Peace is trying to raise awareness on an event that will not schedule actions during Winter Soldier but will have actions before and after, Our Spring Break.  March 7th through the 19th, they will be in DC -- with IVAW from the 13th through the 16th.  At Common Dreams, she explains this action that young people have planned and are leading on, "This March marks 5 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq for reasons we were too young to understand at the time; as we grew older we learned it was for oil, wealth, and power and not for peace, freedom, and democracy as we were told and most naively believed.  Now many young people in America are speaking out daily and pledging to travel to D.C. for our spring break to tell Congress, Bush and Cheney that our spring break will end their war.  It may not be as warm as Daytona Beach, but Bush wants us to go there, drink, party and forget about his war.  We're not going to go where he wants us to go.  We're going to go to him instead." 
Common Dreams allow comments and they are revealing: "Hello young Americans!" types Smug & Self-Righteous, "Welcome to the anti-war effort.  We've missed you for the past six years and value your long awaited-support."  Then you've got BUTT UGLY associated with Lousiville Peace Action Community who says they "HAVE BEEN working SINCE BEFORE this illegal Iraq War" and "WE DELIGHT IN YOUR AWAKENING AND COMMITTING TO THE CHALLENGES BEFORE US." 
Let's repeat reality because Smug & Self-Righteous and BUTT UGLY have missed it: Students were active before the illegal war started, have been active since and if you didn't see them (a) that's your own blindness and/or (b) you're suffering some major media damage.  BUTT UGLY comes from an organization which, for the record, hasn't ended the illegal war but doesn't mind featuring a video entitled "Students, A Challenge for You!" which is nothing but more youth-hatred masked as "motivation" as Chunky Monkey ,who looks like he hasn't showered since he caught Ween in 1993, let's young people know he's 'f--king' disappointed with them for their inaction (THEY WERE NEVER INACTIVE) including during "the lead up to the war."  Define young people, Chunky.
In 2003, how old did they have to be qualify for "young"?  10-years-old?  Get serious.  No one needs a lazy ass 38-year-old fat, f--k screaming at students about things he knows nothing about. 
Students have been active.  BUTT UGLY, Chunky Monkey and Smug & Self-Righteous might try learning something before flapping their fat mouths.  I'm really sick of this.  February 2003, I started visiting campuses to speak about the illegal war.  I've been doing that for five years next month.  The next time one of these assholes wants to talk about what students have or haven't done, how about they first take their own lazy asses to a high school or college campus?  And, for fun, how about not one they can reach while on their 'brisk' walk?
Students have been active from the start.  There was huge passion in Feb. 2003 and students were lied to by 'leaders' who said, "This will end the war, this will stop it."  March 2003, after the illegal war started, go onto a campus to talk about Iraq then and you had to tell with students who felt outraged by the White House and LIED TO by the leaders.  They've spent the last years being active and it's only your smug ingorance that allows you to be unaware of that fact.  But they've waited for leaders to share tools and what they've received instead is 'leaders' visiting their campuses telling them "No, don't boo at that event.  It will look bad for the movement." and other similar crap.  What they've received is a peace movement that closed ranks against them and has not brought them into leadership.
Smug & Self-Righteous, Butt Ugly and Chunky Monkey, the only difference you're seeing and will be seeing is students aren't waiting for leadership to come to them.  They've become their own leaders.  And if you want to finger point at anyone, aim that middle one at yourselves for not doing a damn thing in the last five years to help the youth get active.  The '60s' had the Civil Right Movement as a model.  This generation?  What have they had?  And if you're 38-years-old, you're really in no place to hop on your Huffy bike about what students are doing today -- you're too young to have done anything to end apartheid, and you're too old to have been a "student" during the anti-globization movement. 
Your ignorance is no excuse.  The fact that you don't know Carla Gomez or Robert Zabala or any of the young people who have been standing up is no excuse.  The fact that media has ignored them is no excuse.  You decided to weigh in and promote yourselves as 'agents of change' when the reality is that you did and do nothing to further the movement.  IVAW, check the faces, is a young organization. Counter-recruiting movements across the country don't just aim to reach the young, they have young people in the ranks and in leadership. 
Like a Nation essay winner (truly, they gave a prize for this crap), you come along to tsk-tsk about things you know nothing about.  Your gall is appalling.  And it goes to the peace movement leadership as well.  At the most basic, what the comments (and video) are saying is, "I was here first!"  About as valid as Christopher Columbus making that claim.  Instead of being happy for Ashley Casale and offering encouragement, these asses want to say, "Well, I've been here from the start.  Where were you?  Welcome." 
I'm not really sure that in January 2008 any of us who were there "from the start" have earned the right to any bragging since the illegal war drags on all this time later.  wishiwasinagreenstate posted a response to some of the nonsense which opens with, "Welcome?  You've missed us?  Thanks for the welcome, but we've been here all along.  I was much more active in antiwar groups and activies before I graduated from college in 2005.  In fact, the rest of society hasn't really caught up with campus organizing."  As Elaine noted last night (and, yes, she was referring to the comments to this article), "I wonder if people realize when they toot their own horns, when they come off so smug to people who are attempting to plan something, they don't look informed, they just look like smug asses.  The thing I saw was a young woman writing about an action . . . and the response was all these older types being smug and self-righteous.  What they should have done was shut their big mouths."
Our Spring Break's schedule is here. And note, from their home page, "Message to older people: We love you too! Join us."  That those much older than Ashley couldn't offer the same kindness in return says a great deal about the sickness in the ranks of the movement, where it's more important to offer, "I did this . . . I did that . . . Welcome, but I was . . ." 
Ending the illegal war is going to take the work of many and 'oldsters' need to grasp people coming in are not 'claims jumpers'.
Vaishanavi Chandrashekhar (Christian Science Monitor) observes of yesterday and Tuesday's violence, "Two suicide attacks in Iraq, including the deadliest to hit Baghdad since August, killed at least 56 people and wounded at least 42 on Tuesday and Wednesday."
In some of the reported violence today . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a rocket attack in Baghdad that claimed 1 life (two other people were wounded), a Baghdad bombing that claimed 2 lives and left five wounded, a Baghdad bombing that wounded "4 street cleaners," a Zghaniyah bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another wounded and 6 Iraqi soldiers dead from a home rigged to explode in Dyala.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a shotting incident in Salahuddin that left one person wounded, Iraqi police state 1 civilian was shot dead by the US military in Dyala, that 2 Iraqi civilians were shot dead by the US military in Ghalbiyah, an armed clash in Mosul claimed the life of 1 Iraqi police officer with two more wounded and a home invasion "in the middle of last night" in which 4 family members were "killed and another two injured."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 2 in Dyala (they had been kidnapped yesterday).
Today the US military announced, "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed when the Soldier's dismounted patrol encountered an improvised explosive device south of Baghdad Jan 2."  And they announced: "Two Multi-National Division - North Soldiers were killed in a small-arms fire attack while conducting operations in Diyala province Jan. 3.  Additionally, one more MND-N Soldier was injured in the attack and evacuated to a Coalition Forces' hospital."  The three deaths brought the total number to 3907 US service members killed in the illegal war since it started (by the deaths the DoD tracks).
Already noted that 2007 was the deadliest for US service members (never noted is just how deadly it is for Iraqis), Reporters Without Borders notes it was also a deadly year for reporters with 86 killed around the world and "more than half those killed in 2007 died in Iraq. . . . All 47 journalists killed in Iraq were, except for a Russian reporter, Iraqis who mostly worked for the local media and were deliberately targeted.  The motive was often hard to pinpoint but was always linked to their work or the media outlet that employed them.  Armed groups targeted journalists sympathising with their religious rivals and those working for organs connected with foreign media or funded by foreigners.  The government displayed alarming inertia and has not yet found a way to stop the violence, except for allowing journalists to carry arms to defend themselves."  And of course, some are targeted by the US military.  Free Bilal. Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) notes the contrast between Bilal Hussein -- Pulitzer Prize winning AP photographer -- being held by US forces in Iraq as a prisoner while those who sold the illegal war (Karl Rove, William Kristol) find themselves with new jobs at Newsweek and the New York Times: "Hussein's case is finally being heard, but in a hastily called kangaroo court.  The Pentagon doesn't want its fingerprints on the obvious injustice, so an Iraqi judge presides over the Huessein show trial.  Hussein's attorney does not have the right to speak with him in private, or to participate in the proceedings in any way.  Witnesses against him are seen on video, denying him the opportunity to question them or their statements.  The Iraqi judge announced at the beginning of his hearing that Hussein will be convicted, making the outcome of the case a foregone conclusion."
Moving to the topic of elections, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan is running for the US House seat from the 8th Congressional District in California.  At Common Dreams, Sheehan addresses the topics of torture, real voting rights and real elections and notes, "We need to get back to the days where news was news and 'equal time' is guaranteed for all viewpoints, not just the singular viewpoints of war and supporting a dangerous imperial presidency.  If in the highly likely event that your Congress rep is failing at his/her job, run for office (requirements) against him/her or support the candidacy of someone who is running that conforms to your beatitudes, not the beatitudes of the greedy and bloodthirsty oligarchy."  On the Democrats and Republicans running for their parties' 2008 presidential nomination, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) hosted a discussion with Allan Nairn and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos (American Conservative) which offered some reality but also either found Nairn questioning Bambi's backbone or serving up a prolonged moment of potty training for Bambi, "Come on, Barack, you can make poopie, little fellow, yes, you can."  Nairn declares of Obama, "He actually doesn't need to finance his campaign, to go to the hedge funds, to go to Wall Street. But he does anyway."  Okay, (but, note, the Times story on Bambi's 'small donors') but fine so far. 
Then Nairn leaves fact as he continues, "And he does, I think, because if he doesn't, they won't trust him.  They might think that he's on the wrong team, and they might start attacking him."  A few more adjectives and Nairn might be aping Peggy Noons writing about her Bully Boy this century.  But he wasn't done yet, "He is someone who, in terms of the money he needs for his campaign, he could afford to come out for single-payer healtcare, for example, but he doesn't.  He doesn't need the money from the health insurance industry, that's wasting several percentage points of the American GDP in a way that no other industrial rich country in the world does, yet he chooses not to do that, because he doesn't want to be attacked by those corporations."
Here's the only fact to be found in that last section: Barack Obama has not supported single-payer healthcare.  Everything else is fantasy.  Which most heart & soul reading generally is.  If there was a basis for Nairn's beliefs, he should have cited it.  Instead it seemed like tea leaf reading to determine why Bambi takes money.  Why does anyone accept money? 
Here's reality via John Nichols (The Nation), in Iowa John Edwards has spent $3 million of his campaign funds, Hillary Clinton has spent $7.2 million and Obama has spent $9 million.  Why does Bambi take the money?  Probably because he wants to spend it. 
Nairn may not have pulled Obama toilet-training duty today, he may have been attempting to provide an example of something bothersome : 'So scared of attacks, Bambi takes money he doesn't want, doesn't need, doesn't believe in,  out of fear he might offend someone if he didn't take it.'  Regardless of what road you drive down, there's really no backing for either offered so we're left with:  Obama most likely takes money because he wants to spend it.  To prove anything else, you'd have to offer up something more than soul peering.  (An allusion to past experiences, a record, anything.)
Reality comes via the latest issue of The Progressive (January 2008) -- and maybe it's past damn time all outlets explored this topic -- which offers Kevin Alexander Gray and Marshall Derks "Obama's Haymaker" (page 14) which addresses Obama's courting of homophobes in South Carolina and bringing them up on stage, "having four of the most abrasively anti-gay gospel singers represent his campaign".  The Progressive becomes the first print magazine to examine the topic.  What broadcast independent media will probe it or should we just see it as "2008: Gays to the back of the bus."  The authors conclude that "the most important question for us to resolve is what will candidates do or say to win office.  Are they consistent in their messae and actions?  Do they pander from group to group?  Do they pit one group of people against another group?  At this point, the answers for Obama appear to be no, yes, and yes."  Meanwhile, Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) observes, "Barack Obama's corporate-made and -financed presidential campaign is the product of three distinct factors, all mitigating agaisnt Black self-determination and political cohesion: 1) corporate decisions made a decade ago, to provide media and financial support to pliant Black Democrats that can be trusted to carry Wall Street's water; 2) a widespread desire among whites to prove through the safe and simple act of voting that they are not personally racist, and/or to dismiss Black claims of pervasive racism in society, once and for all; 3) a huge reservoir of Jim Crow era, atavistic Black thinking that refuses to evaluate Black candidates' actual political stances, but instead revels in the prospect of Black faces in high places.  A President Obama would, of course, be the zenith of such narrow, non-substantive, objectively self-defeating visions."
Staying with US politics, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, that "consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader has 'expressed his strong support for John Edwards. Nader has 'expressed his strong support' for John Edwards.  Nader says he supports Edwards' promise to challenge corporate interests.  On Wednesday, Edwards said he would withdraw virtually all U.S. troops from Iraq within ten months of being elected."
Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) observes that the corporate press is openly hostile to Edwards  and offers that "we're now in the midst of a classic conflict between corporate media sensibilities and grassroots left-leaning populism" and then goes on to note Dennis Kucinich's endorsement of Barack Obama with Solomon weighing in, "It's hard to think of a single major issue -- including 'the war,' 'health care' and 'trade' -- for which Obama has a more progression position than Edwards.  But there are many issues, including those three, for which Edwards has a decidely more progressive position than Obama.  But the most disturbing part of Dennis' statement was this: 'Sen. Obama and I have one thing in common: Change.' This doesn't seem like a reasoned argument for Obama.  It seems like an excercise in smoke-blowing'."  Or in killing your own campaign.  (That's me.  Solomon concludes: "And now, I can't think of reasons good enough to support Kucinich rather than Edwards in the weeks ahead.")  Last night, Rebecca, Elaine (and she speaks for Trina in her post) and Kat came to conclusions similar to Solomon in that they're not going to support a candidate who doesn't fight.  To be clear, Iowa does not 'vote,' they caucus.  That is an all night thing and Kat, rightly, compares it to a jury reaching a verdict.  Kucinich is saying if there's no chance he'll win, vote for Bambi.  No chance he'll win?  Hasn't Kucinich's entire campaign been an uphill battle?  When you're that cowardly (some say petty), then your campaign is over.  Not because the media ignored you (which -- big and small -- they did), not because you failed to use your own power (which you did) but because you shot yourself in the foot and seem to think you can issue an Iowa-only statement that's embargoed from the rest of the country. Also yesterday, Tom Hayden (Common Dreams) concluded, "One day before the Iowa caucuses, John Edwards has become the first major presidential candidate to favor withdrawing all American troops, including advisers, from Iraq . . . The positions taken by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, while favoring de-escalation, would leave tens of thousands of American advisers, special forces and substantial back-up troops in Iraq for five years, at least until 2013."  Nader's endorsement may or may not mean he's not running for president in 2008.  He will, however, be participating January 13th in the Green Party presidnetial debate in San Francisco (moderated by Cindy Sheehan) along with Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay and Jard Bell.  The Green Party notes, "The first, and only, live debate between candidates on the Green Party's California ballot for President of the United States - featuring a former Democratic Party member of Congress, consumer protection icon, professor and environmental engineer - is scheduled here January 13, said John Morton of the Green Party Presidential Debate Committee."  The debate starts at two p.m., Herbst Theater in the Veterans Memorial Building on 401 Van Ness Avenue.

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