Thursday, January 17, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, January 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the air war more deadly (and more illegal), X-Men's Rogue continues to provide laughter in the 2008 presidential race, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Today Dee Knight (Workers World) explores an upcoming event and notes war resister Camilo Mejia
Mejia spent nine months in military prison from May 2004 to February 2005 for refusing to return to Iraq after his first tour of duty there. He has been speaking and organizing since his release. He was chosen to chair the IVAW National Board at its conference last August. He told WW the organization is growing fast--from about 500 in August to more than 700 now, with members in 48 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and on numerous bases both here and overseas, including Iraq.
Commenting on the recent mutiny by a platoon of soldiers in Iraq, Mejia said this type of resistance is increasingly common there. "I refused a mission once," he said. "We had watched several of our comrades be killed and wounded. I said no--as squad leader--that I would not allow my guys to be used as bait for some colonel to make general."
Camilo Mejia tells his story in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, published last May by The New Press. 
War resisters have resisted in a number of ways throughout the Iraq War.  That includes the ones who went to Canada seeking asylum.   November 15th, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeals of  war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey.  Parliament is the solution.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.  The War Resisters Support Campaign has more on the action in Canada:
The War Resisters Support Campaign has called a pan-Canadian mobilization on Saturday, January 26th, 2008 to ensure :
1) that deportation proceedings against U.S. war resisters currently in Canada cease immediately; and 2) that a provision be enacted by Parliament ensuring that U.S. war resisters refusing to fight in Iraq have a means to gain status in Canada.
For listings of local actions, see our
Events page. If you are able to organize a rally in your community, contact the Campaign -- we will list events as details come in.
Join and support January 25 vigils and delegations in support of U.S. war resisters currently seeking sanctuary Canada. Actions are being planned in Washington D.C., New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Supporters will meet with officials at Canadian Consulates across the United States in order underscore that many Americans hope that the Canadian Parliament votes (possible as early as February) in favor of a provision to allow war resisters to remain. Download and distribute Jan. 25-26 action leaflet (PDF).
Supporting the war resisters in Canada is a concrete way to demonstrate your support of the troops who refuse to fight. Help end the war by supporting the growing GI resistance movement today!
Organize a delegation to a Canadian Consulate near you .
Host an event or house-party in support of war resisters.
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, Clara 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. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'."
That's in March.  Today Josh White (Washington Post) reports on the escalation of the air-war (or is that supposed to be a "'surge' in the deaths of innocents"?) that finds the US military command admitting to having conducted at least five times more air bombings in 2007 than in the previous year leading to the dropping of "1,447 bombs on Iraq last year, an average of nearly four a day, compared with 229 bombs, or about four each week, in 2006. . . . The greater reliance on air power has raised concerns from human rights groups, which say that 500-pound and 2,000-pound munitions threaten civilians, especially when dropped in residential neighborhoods where insurgents mix with the population."  Human rights groups are far from the only ones who should be complaining.  The 1899 Laws and Customs of War on Land was ratified by the US Senate in 1902 and Article XXV clearly forbids the actions described above: "The attack or bombardment of towns, villages, habitations or buildings which are not defended, is prohibited."   Apparently unaware of those basics, the US Air Force announces many bombings in Iraq yesterday including:
* Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped guided bomb unit-31s on enemy structures in the vicinity of Baghdad
* In Khan Bani Sa'd, a house-borned IED and VBIED were destroyed by F-16s using GBU-38s.
Khan Bani Sa'd was also the location for "a show of force" as was an area outside Babi and Tall Afar.  This as Reuters reports today six dead ("including two women") as a result of US forces ground and air attacks "on a building in Jalawla" which also left two women wounded. US military flack Winfield Danielson pulls spin duty today declaring, "Coalition forces deeply regrets when civilians are hurt or killed during operations to rid Iraq of terrorism."  Who are the terrorists at this point?  Iraqis in their own country or foreign fighters they want to leave?
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers' Baghdad Observer) reports on reactions to the Iraq War during a recent visit to Kuwait:
But popular support for the war next door has waned. While Saddam Hussein's capture and execution were welcomed in Kuwait the deterioration of a nation caught people off guard.   
A Kuwaiti friend explained it to me in simple terms.    
"Before they had water, now they do not. Before they had electricity now they do not, before they had security now they do not," she said. "This was not liberation or democracy."        
In some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala Province bombing that claimed 12 lives (plus the life of the bomber) and left 16 wounded, a primary school blown up in Mosul, a Mosul car bombing that killed 1 police officer and wounded one woman.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the latest (known) attack on an official as Sheik Mohammed Felek was targeted in an unsuccessful assassination attempt by unknown assailants firing from two cars, in addition 1 police officer was shot dead another left wounded in Ibn al-Jawzi while last night 1 police officer was shot dead in Salahuddin.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers)  reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
But worry ye not, Al Jazeera reports the International Monetary Fund is high on Iraq and, "Surging oil prices have recently boosted Iraq's oil revenues to $27 bn, $6bn higher than projected.  The IMF approved a $744m credit for Iraq on December 19, just a week after the country paid off an earlier $471m loan."  Interesting when you consider Richard Cowan (Reuters) reporting on how the US House has caved to Bully Boy and passed an exemption that prevents US citizens from suing the current puppet government for things done by Saddam Hussein's government.  Or maybe Bully Boy just fretted that some Americans still believe the false-link he's repeated on Iraq and 9-11 and that he might be proved a liar in court?  Meanwhile, Andy Rowell (The Price of Oil) noted Monday the objection by the Iraqi Parliament to the deals Iraq's northern Kurdish region had entered into with Big Oil companies and quoted Osama al-Nijifi speaking at a press conference, "There must be a formula for maintaining the unity of Iraq and the distribution of its wealth.  Oil and gas are a national wealth and we are concerned about those who want to go it alone when it comes to signing deals."  CBS and AP report today, "The Iraqi Oil Ministry has decided to stop cooperating with international oil companies participating in production-sharing contracts with the Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq, an official said Thursday.  The decision is concsidered a first step toward implementing the ministry's threats to blacklist and exclude these companies from any future deals with Baghdad if they refuse to abandon their oil deals with the self-ruling Kurdish government."
Public views of the situation in Iraq, which turned more positive in the fall, have again slipped.  Currently, 41% of Americans say the military effort in Iraq is going very well or fairly well, while 54% say that the situation there is not going well.   
In November, opinion was split over progress in the military effort; 48% said things were going well there, the highest percentage expressing this view in more than a year (47% in September 2006).  Both Republicans and Democrats are less likely to say the situation in Iraq is going well; currently, 66% of Republicans express a positive opinion of the situation, down from 74% in November.  This shift among Democrats has been comparable (24% now, 33% then). 
While positive perceptions of the military effort have declined in the past month, they still remain higher than they were earlier this year (30% in February).  But support for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as possible remains strong, despite the improved views of the situation.  Currently, 54% favor bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq, which is consistent with measures for the past year.
[. . . ] 
Negative views of the decision to go to take military action against Iraq are at their highest point since the war began almost five years ago.  Slightly more than a third of Americans (36%) say the decision to use military force was right while 56% see it as wrong.  In September 2007, 42% said the war was the right decision, compared with 50% who said it was wrong.      
The above is from the sections "Iraq Views Turn More Negative" and "More See Iraq as 'Wrong Decision'."  Today in DC, the US House of Representatives' House Armed Services Committee met at ten "to receive testimony on Iraqi Security Forces."  Mark Kimmitt (Deputy Assistant Secreatary of Defense for the Middle East) and Lt. General James Dubik (Commanding General of Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq in Baghdad) appeared before the committee chaired by Ike Skelton who noted, "Today the Armed Services Committee is holding the very first hearing of our new year."  William Branigin (Washington Post) reports that Dubik and Kimmitt attempt to put foward that Iraqi forces can take responsiblity for security of Iraq in early 2009 . . . or 2012 and "the officials also said that Iraq does not expect to be able to defend itself against external threats for at least another 10 to 12 years." CBS and AP report US Rep Roscoe Bartlett pressed for concrete answers noting, "I think most Americans would like to have on their refrigerator a chart they can follow that speaks to when we can get out."  Dubik responded with a non-response ("When I talk to my dad about these kind of things, my advice is to him is put no number on the refrigerator" -- ???????????) leading Bartlett to press, "Does that meanw e'll be there forever?  I don't think people have any stomach for that."
Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates,stated today in a press conference of the rotations in and out of Iraq "if you haven't been there in 30 days, you're out of date."  This as Gordon Lubold (Christian Science Monitor) reports that Bully Boy and David Petraeus (General and White House Boy Pal) are in conflict with Gates "over how much further US forces can be cut later this year."  Lubold notes: "The tug of war is illustrated by General Petraeus's recent requests for forces. He has asked for small numbers of troops to fill gaps left by departing forces to help manage operations as the broader drawdown continues, sources say. Those requests are giving Pentagon officials pause because many forces that could go have not had adequate time at home."  Asked in the press conference today about the the drawdown of the escalation, Gates replied, "Well, first of all, I -- all the evidence available to me now suggests that we will be able to complete the drawdown of the five brigade combat teams that General Petraeus recommended last September, and that that take place by the end of July.  Obviously we will wait to see General Petraues' evaluation in March, in terms of what we might be able to do after July."  Gates went on to describe it as "a dynamic process" and utilized many similar hedge phrases.
Who cares what I might be for real
Underneath my games
I'll let you chose from a thousand faces
And a thousand names
-- Carly Simon, "The Girl You Think You See" (Anticipation)
Yes, we are turning to US political news, where Barack Obama insults not just "Tom Hayden Democrats," but the majority of the country.  In a craven display, even for Bambi, he batted those long lashes at the  Renoa Gazette editorial board to gush over Ronnie Ray-Gun: "I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.  He-he put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.  I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and, you know, government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating."  Actually, Bambi, the pre-Reagan  period you're so IGNORANT of, produced the sunshine laws and open government.  You're so very good as polishing the right-wing talking points and making them sound fresh (or maybe Stay Fresh?) but what you say is blah-blah-blah-blah.   The Nation's Bambi groupies are going to have to work over time to justify their lover's latest statements or maybe they'll just -- as they so often do -- ignore it.
Bambi's launching an attack on the government --  which, for the record, was more than working at that point and actually had several waves of reform and accountability coming (such as the sex discrimination case against Sears that Reagan's head of the EEOC -- that would be Clarence Thomas -- would kill).  Is he that uninformed of times he lived through?  Or is he just eager to trash everyone?  He just slammed the feminist movement, the Civil Rights movement, the peace movement, the gay rights movement, the labor movement and . . .  it's honestly hard to think who Bambi didn't just spit on.
There will be the usual enablers to rush in say, "Don't you tsk-tsk at Bambi!  Ignore them, Bambi, hop back on your potty chair!"  But it's no longer an issue of ignorance.  Bambi knows what he's saying.  Tom Hayden laid it out in an open letter to Bambi in November:
On one side were armed segregationists, on the other peaceful black youth. On one side were the destroyers of Vietnam, on the other were those who refused to submit to orders. On the one side were those keeping women in inferior roles, on the other were those demanding an equal rights amendment. On one side were those injecting chemical poisons into our rivers, soils, air and blood streams, on the other were the defenders of the natural world. On one side were the perpetrators of big money politics, on the other were keepers of the plain democratic tradition. Does anyone believe those conflicts are behind us?
Barack Obama is the X-Men's Rogue, morphing and shape shifting from one moment to the next to become whatever is needed at present.  Ronald Ray-Gun lashed out at MLK throughout history and only signed the MLK Day proclamation due to the fact that it had a veto proof in the support.  For those remembering last week and the faux outrage ginned up, it may come as shocking that now Bambi's saying he's like Ronald Reagan. 
But that is Barack Obama.
I'm not necessarily
The girl you think you see
Whoever you want is exactly who
I'm more than willing to be
I'll be a queen
A foul-mouthed marine
Your Mary Magdalene
To please you
-- Carly Simon, "The Girl You Think You See"

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