Friday, January 18, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, January 17, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the illegal war keeps going (and gets extended?), John Edwards addresses the realities of Ronald Reagan, and more.
Starting with war resisters, Courage to Resist has posted a number of interviews with war resisters.  Today we'll focus on their interview with Brandon Hughey who spoke of how he turned against the illegal war, advised his superior of it and finally took matters into his own hands by checking out from Fort Hood for 28 days (starting in January 2004) "to see if maybe they would boot me out.  Once I go AWOL and once I show that I'm not a 'good soldier' maybe they'd just boot me out.  So I came back in 28 days, instead of kicking me out of the army they said, 'We're glad to have you back. We're going to give you extra duty and dock your pay. But I suggest you pack your backs and start getting ready to go to Iraq.'  So basically that idea I had backfired.  I had tried to get myself booted out and even that didn't work.  So at that point, I began to feel like I was trapped.  There was no way out."
Courage to Resist: And none of your superiors ever informed you of Conscientious Objector status?
Brandon Hughey: No, I had never even heard of that.  I didn't even know that existed until I after I came to Canada.
Courage to Resist: So you were told to get ready to ship out to Iraq after being AWOL for 28 days?  What did you do then?
Brandon Hughey: Basically, I began to think of what other options I had to get out of the military.  You know, I couldn't really think of anything.  I tried going AWOL and coming back, at that point I just felt trapped.  I had remembered that tens of thousands of people had come up -- during Vietnam -- had come up to Canada and I thought at the time, 'Maybe as a last resort option I could leave the country?" And so I kept that in the back of my mind and when I realized that, you know, there didn't seem like any other way I could get out I began to feel like, "Okay, leaving the country is an option." So, at that point, I began to make plans to go to Canada.
Courage to Resist:  How did you prepare yourself to make this huge decision?
Brandon Hughey:  I was just going to pack my bags and drive myself there -- try to set aside whatever money I could and hopefully have enough to get myself started in a new life and a new country.  I really didn't have much a plan because I didn't know what I was getting myself into.   And that was pretty much it.
Courage to Resist: And when did you actually make the move?
Brandon Hughey: I came up in March of 2004, when I arrived. 
Courage to Resist: Did you make contact right away with anybody with the War Resisters Support Campaign or any other resisters.
Brandon Hughey: Well the War Resisters Support Campaign hadn't been formed yet when I arrived.  But I was staying with a Quaker family for a few months when I first arrived.  So the Quaker community did a lot and they, you know, they did a lot to support me.  That was really my first support network when I came to Canada. 
Courage to Resist's audio interviews are part of their ongoing Audio Project.
A number of war resisters have gone to Canada and attempted to be granted 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'."
And the war drags on and on.  Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) pieces together several press conferences to explain, "Gates and top uniformed officers sketched out a plan that runs counter to pledges by Democratic presidential contenders to bring about a rapid drawdown of the U.S. military presence in Iraq" and cites Lt. General Raymond Odierno (the number two) declaring that it "could be five to 10 years" that the US forces remain in Iraq.  Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) observes, "Senior U.S. military officials projected yesterday that the Iraqi army and police will grow to an estimated 580,000 members by the end of the year but that shortages of key personnel, equipment, weaponry and logistical capabilities mean that Iraq's security forces will probably require U.S. military support for as long as a decade."  Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reminds, "Iraq's defense minister, Abdul-Qader Mohammed Jassim Mifarji, has said Iraqi forces will not be able to assume responsibility for internal security until 2012 or be able to defend the country's borders before 2019."
In the face of that, the alleged 'anti-war groups' cave again.  They aren't anti-war groups, they aren't peace groups.  They are Win Without War and all the other useless groups that do nothing to end the illegal war. Nothing the reports of the cave, PR Watch explains that "Ryan Grim reports that the biggest and best-funded organizations in the liberal peace movement, primarily MoveOn and the groups in its Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI) coalition, are no longer advocating that Congress end the war. This year "the groups instead will lower their sights and push for legislation to prevent President Bush from entering into a long-term agreement with the Iraqi government that could keep significant numbers of troops in Iraq for years to come. ... The groups believe this switch in strategy can draw contrasts with Republicans that will help Democrats gain ground in November." AAEI's PR spokesperson, Moira Mack of Hildebrand Tewes Consulting, called it "the perfect legislative opportunity." In other words, as Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber pointed out last March, for MoveOn and other Democrat-aligned peace groups it's not about ending the war, it's about electing Democrats. Most of the tens of millions of dollars that MoveOn and AAEI have spent lobbying and organizing for "peace" has been directed at pressuring and embarrassing pro-war Republicans, while the Democratic Congress has continued to fund the war and pro-war Democrats have generally been given a pass."  All those 'groups' have to offer is silent vigils and online petitions.  And we've seen serveral years before.
A rude comment on IVAW comes from a surprising online source.  We're not linking to it.  We're not linking to that site while it's up.  (The same way all the ones lying about Gloria Steinem aren't being linked to.  See The Third Estate Sunday Review for a piece tentatively titled "Hey Little Girl Are You All Alone, Did You Go and Leave Your Brain at Home" dedicated to the Mud Flap Gals and all the other useless play-feminists online who never thought they needed to educated themselves on any topic before weighing in.)   IVAW is being slammed for not allowing an event that marks the anniversary of the illegal war.  Buy a clue, idiots, IVAW's Winter Soldier Investigation ends before the anniversary.  But apparently, the 5th anniversary of the illegal war can't be marked if it can't be done on a weekend.  Apparently, we're supposed to have "5th Anniversary of the Illegal War" observed and then, during the week, the actual date?
It's too damn bad that there are some hurt feelings and people whining and carping about IVAW.  IVAW isn't preventing anyone from doing anything.  They have planned the Winter Soldiers' Investigation and the dates are March 13th through March 16th.  You have to be really STUPID not to grasp that the 5th anniversay of the illegal war is AFTER the Winter Soldiers' Investigation.  IVAW's Kelly Dougherty observes:
As we enter 2008, please stop for a moment and consider where we are now, and where we are going. In just over a year, America will have a new President. We will have endured a year of campaign commercials and attack ads. We'll have watched debates devoid of any real discussion of the withdrawal from Iraq that a growing number of Americans now call for. We'll have waited, for yet another year, for our leaders to find a way to say what we know in our hearts: we must leave Iraq.        
But what will have changed in the next year that will make that happen?
We must face this fact: we run the serious risk that one year from today we'll be right where we are now, but with another year's worth of casualties, a year's worth of grieving families, a year's worth of Iraqi anger and suffering built on our  occupation of a country we now know was no threat to us. Ending this war in a year is different than ending it now, just as ending it now is different than ending it a year ago, or a year before that. There is a price to pay for every day that we wait. 
She's exactly right.  And in 2004, we saw the peace movement shut down shop because the most important thing wasn't ending the illegal war, it was 'elections!'  The peace movement can't make the same mistake in 2008.  If people have hurt little feelings, too damn bad.  Too much time has been wasted with the peace movement wasting their energies on the John Kerry presidential bid or the Democrats 2006 Congressional races.  People in the peace movement will most likely favor a candidate on their own.  That's to be expected.  But the peace movement is not a get-out-the-vote movement nor should it be hijacked (willingly or not) by political parties.        
IVAW is not the only thing happening in DC.  March for Peace exists around it and blocks out the 13th through the 16th for IVAW.  Possibly, those whining online about IVAW don't believe students matter and that's why they flaunt their ignorance of March for Peace?  You can find their schedule here.     
CBS and AP report that Turkey is declaring that they "bombed nearly 60 Kurdish rebel targets in an attack this week in northern Iraq."  Christian Peacemaker Teams have protested noting that the bombings -- as with all ariel bombings including the ones the US is doing in Iraq -- are indiscriminate and targeting civilians.
In other reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed 2 lives and left four wounded, a Baquba home bombing left 2 police officers dead and two more wounded while another Baquba home bombing claimed the lives of 2 children and four adults wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Basra that left at least two soldiers injured, three Iraqi police officers injured and an unknown number of civilians injured while Dr. Luma Salih was shot dead in a seperate incident as she left the hospital, a Wajihiyah armed clash left 2 police officers dead and three more wounded, 8 people were shot dead in Kirkuk and  a Nasriyah Province clash in which 9 people were killed and at least forty wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 3 in Diyala Province.  Reuters reports 7 corpses "were found after one" US "air strike in the town of Riyadh".
In US political news, the Green Party has scheduled another presidential candidate forum for February 2nd at Busboys & Poets in DC (14th and V Streets) at ten in the morning -- Jesse Johnson and Kent Mesplay are confirmed to appear others may or may not.  More info click here.  They've also created a new webpage for videos with the San Francisco forum held Sunday already on it and plans for more videos to be added.  The Green Party's official blog can be found here and certainly if it's happening and known Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) is probably posting about it. In Democratic presidential politics, Shailagh Murraqy (Washington Post) quotes John Edwards response to Barack Obama's praise of Ronald Reagan (see yesterday's snapshot): "When you think about what Ronald Reagan did to the American people, to the middle class to the working people.  He was openly -- openly -- intolerant of unions and the right to organize.  He openly fought against the union and the organized labor movement in this country . . . He openly did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day.  The destruction of the environment, you know, eliminating regulation of companies that were polluting and doing extraordinary damage to the environment.  I can promise you this: thie president will never use Ronald Reagan as an example of change."
This MLK weekend, PBS'  Bill Moyers Journal includes an essay by Moyers (who served in the Johnson White House) reflecting on history and present day -- in addition, he speaks with the New York Times David Cay Johnston about the truths regarding taxation and spending. In most markets, that airs tonight.  It will stream online and provide transcripts and audio.

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