Sunday, February 24, 2008

And the war drags on . . . (talking entry)

THE US occupying army in Iraq (euphemistically called the Multi-National Force-Iraq) carries out extensive studies of popular attitudes. Its December 2007 report of a study of focus groups was uncharacteristically upbeat.
The report concluded that the survey "provides very strong evidence" to refute the common view that "national reconciliation is neither anticipated nor possible". On the contrary, the survey found that a sense of "optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups ... and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis."
This discovery of "shared beliefs" among Iraqis throughout the country is "good news, according to a military analysis of the results", Karen deYoung reports in The Washington Post.
The "shared beliefs" were identified in the report. To quote deYoung, "Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of 'occupying forces' as the key to national reconciliation."
So, according to Iraqis, there is hope of national reconciliation if the invaders, responsible for the internal violence, withdraw and leave Iraq to Iraqis.
The report did not mention other good news: Iraqis appear to accept the highest values of Americans, as established at the Nuremberg Tribunal -- specifically, that aggression -- "invasion by its armed forces" by one state "of the territory of another state" -- is "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole". The chief US prosecutor at Nuremberg, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, forcefully insisted that the Tribunal would be mere farce if we do not apply its principles to ourselves.
Unlike Iraqis, the United States, indeed the West generally, rejects the lofty values professed at Nuremberg, an interesting indication of the substance of the famous "clash of civilisations".

That's from Noam Chomsky's "Where's The Iraqi Voice?" (Information Clearing House). You've got Elaine and Mike with you tonight. The gang's at the Oscars and we volunteered to do a joint-piece that will be more of a "Talking And The War Drags On . . ." instead of the usual "And the war drags on . . ." We thought it would be fun and easy and were we wrong.

Three hours ago we started reading e-mails. We never finished that. Ava and C.I. are texting us with their comments about the awards and that's the only thing that's reminded us how much time has been passing. We turned on when they were doing Best Actress because we were both pulling for Julie Christie (she didn't win). Otherwise we missed it but think Ava and C.I. could write a wonderful commentary on it (they won't) which, we assume, would start by noting the writers strike is over so why is Jon Stewart recycling Will & Grace circa season one? We were laughing so hard when they were both texting on that. He did a bit on "stripper names" and made the "joke" that it's your childhood pet's name plus the street you lived on. As Ava and C.I. explained, that's your "drag name" from season one of Will & Grace, when Jack and Karen go out on Halloween. We would love to quote them (and me Mike is dying too -- I'm typing by the way so blame mistakes on me) but we know those comments (incredibly funny including noting how a strike breaker like Stewart . . .) were private. So we'll just allude to them.

So we're in the e-mails (for the first time we get to go into the private accounts and the public account for this site) and we knew from C.I.'s comments that members were just sick of sites but we had no idea how much. We don't go to CounterPunch ourselves other than to pull it up and then quickly hit the "back" button because there's so much demonizing of Hillary. And of course, Common Dreams will not post a pro-Hillary piece (1 out of 50 doesn't count). We knew Stephen Zunes was a professional liar and avoided him. But after the surprise that so many of you can dissect various sites in great detail, the second surprise was realizing that this includes European members, Australians members, Canadian members and two members in Japan. This includes Democrats and Greens and registered independents and third parties and swing-voters and . . .
The demonization of Hillary Clinton is about hatred towards women and that message has been picked up around the world.

Various members, too many to name, are noting features at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
Editorial: Reality on Iraq votes
TV: The strong and the weak
Radio: Panhandle Media
How Little Media Operated
Bash the Bitch
Rubbing the feet of the powerful
Dumb Ass of the week

That is not in order of popularity. (Ava and C.I.'s pieces are the most popular. Then it's the three-parter beginning with "Trashing.") We think Olive, a community member in Australia, summed up The Cult of Bambi best by noting, "A smooth talker got you into the illegal war and only a fool would believe another smooth talker would get you out. Neither man had experience and I have to wonder if the American public at large is capable of learning from mistakes?" We wonder that too, Olive.

And that's the biggest surprise, how this election, for members, is never not about Iraq. To follow Panhandle Media, if you care about the illegal war, you're for Bambi Obama. But maybe "care" needs to be redefined? If you're against the illegal war and wanting it to end, you're not taken in by his pretty talk. Apparently the world is as smart as Tom Hayden is dumb. From Ireland, Dominick wrote a great e-mail ripping Hayden apart as a fraud and we did e-mail him back and tell him to please consider letting that run in Polly's Brew or the gina & krista round-robin. Dominick points out that Hayden has to have lost his mind or is willfully lying to people. We'll say it's the latter.

Mike: And a number of you are pointing out that Elaine long ago compared Bambi to Jimmy Carter and now that's a talking point in the media. Remember, a vote for Bambi is vote for "Malaise, not fear."

We also loved KeShawn's e-mail where he wondered why the liars in Panhandle Media were so eager to get people to vote for the "never end the war Barackaloney?" He wondered "who's paying for this crap?" He knows the sad truth is that we are. Although we're doing so in smaller and smaller numbers. And we're also catching on that Iraq doesn't matter to Panhandle Media. They don't cover it. They don't cover war resisters. They don't cover the peace movement. Over at The Nation, you've got John Nichols and the non-star Airs blathering on and on about how Obama gives them nightly wet dreams but they've got nothing to say about the illegal war. Amy Goodman, meanwhile, is making herself the "joke heard round the world" to quote Gareth.
As we read through as many e-mails as we could, we realized that we too had "hope" for "change" and that "hope" is that Panhandle Media will "change" by dying -- it's been killing its audience for the last two years and now it's killing itself. We wondered if there was an assisted suicide fund for it that we could contribute to?

While they lay dying, the US military announces: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device struck the Soldier’s vehicle during a combat patrol in northern Baghdad Feb. 24." And they announced: " A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed by small-arms fire during combat operations in southern Baghdad Feb. 24."

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 3963. And tonight? 3972 announced. That's 28 deaths announced for the month so far and we're on day 24. But Panhandle Media doesn't care, do they? They've got a Dream Date to pimp.
Just Foreign Policy lists 1,173,743 as the number of Iraqi deaths since the start of the illegal war last week and the week before. That's still their total. We guess no Iraqis have died in three weeks? Or maybe they too are too busy pimping for War Hawk Bambi? Wasn't the whole point of the counter to track an estimate? Wasn't it to raise awareness?

We all have the counter on our sites, the whole community. Except Marcia! We just realized that. She's just started her site and isn't sure how to do a lot with her template. But the point is that Just Foreign Policy started that counter and supposedly started it to raise awareness on the number of Iraqis dying. What awareness is being raised when three Sundays roll around without them updating it?

We're serious. (And these our opinions, we're not speaking for C.I.) Isn't that honestly pathetic? "We're starting this counter that will raise awareness on deaths in Iraq!" But if you checked in the last three weeks, the only thing you would have "learned" is that there have been NO deaths in Iraq for the last three weeks. Wooh-hooh, the war is over!

If you're not updating it, you aren't helping. In fact, not updating it in three weeks is HURTING.

Recent Polk Award winner (announced last week) Leila Fadel explores northern Iraq in "Families: Loved ones abused, forgotten in Kurdish prisons" (McClatchy Newspapers):

A picture of a young bearded man hangs in Rabia Fatah's living room, and when she looks at it, she shakes with sobs.
Her son, Dana Ahmed Abdul Rahman, has been in prison for a year and a half. She doesn't know why. She doesn't know when he'll be released. All she has is the photo -- and memories of her first visit with him, 50 days after he was hauled away in the middle of the night by the Asayish, the U.S.-backed Kurdish government's security intelligence agency.
"They'd tortured him," Fatah, 60, said, fingering her black dress spotted with blue and white flowers. "His face was as black as my dress."
Dana Ahmed Abdul Rahman is one of hundreds of men who've been tossed into Kurdish jails in what advocates and families charge is a growing human rights crisis. It's in a region that the Bush administration touts as one of Iraq's success stories, where violence is rare and Western investment is rising.

The region has been very lucky to have a large amount of cash to pay off lobbyists to schill for them. As realities about the region continue to emerge, the fairytale will not end happily. The "Once upon a time . . ." is over for the whole thing. Reuters reports:

A suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with metal ball bearings in a refreshment tent full of Iraqi pilgrims heading to a Shi'ite festival on Sunday, killing 40 people and wounding 60, police said.
The U.S. military said it was trying to confirm reports 60 people had been killed and 100 wounded in the bombing in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad. Women and children were among the victims, police said.

Pru notes "Figures on the Iraq occupation" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

4.4% – The portion of Iraq's national budget that is being spent on reconstruction
12,000 – The number of Iraq's 34,000 doctors that have now fled into exile
54% – The proportion of Iraq's population living on less than 50p a day. Some 15 percent of the country lives in "extreme poverty"
75% – The proportion of Iraqi children that have no school place
4 million – The number of Iraqi refugees – the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since the fall of Palestine in 1948
40% – The unemployment rate in Iraq. Inflation is running at 50 percent
77% – The proportion of Iraqis who have been affected by air bombardments, shelling or rocket attacks
60,000 – The average number of Iraqis displaced each month during 2007
75% – The proportion of Iraqis who know someone close to them who has been killed or murdered
26,000 – The number of Iraqi prisoners held in US custody – more than the 24,000 held by the Iraqi governmnent
100 – The number of "suspected insurgents" seized by US troops each day
80% – The proportion of Iraqis who have witnessed a shooting. Some 72 percent have witnessed a car bomb.
$500 billion – The amount of money spent by the US government on the Iraq war and occuption so far
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And that's it for us. Again, it was a talking entry.

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