Sunday, February 03, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

"They [military recruiters] don't tell you that you'll get PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or your leg blown off or that you could die," said Tabitha Cadet, a 17-year-old student at Paul Robeson High School and a member of the theater troupe.
The students' performance kicked off an intergenerational counter-recruiting event organized by Prospect Lefferts Voices for Peace and Justice, a group founded in 2001 by community members in my Brooklyn neighborhood. We organize these forums to arm people in our community with firsthand stories from veterans and knowledge to help inform their perspectives on joining the military.
I got involved in the group more than a year ago because I was tired of marching in the streets without seeing any changes. I have a cousin in the military and knew that if anything happened to him and I didn’t do everything I could to stop the war I would always regret it. Now, using counter-recruitment, I try to do what I can to directly disrupt the war machine by stopping young people from joining the military.
Our group speaks in high school classrooms, PTA meetings and career fairs, talking with students and parents about the "other" military that recruiters don't tell them about. To students thinking of joining the military, we offer alternative ways to get financial aid for college, and find job training and apprenticeship programs. Whenever they can, veterans including members of Veterans for Peace or Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) accompany us to speak firsthand about their experiences of the military and war. "A two-year-old girl got shot in the leg and she didn't cry. She just looked at me like she was asking, 'Why is this happening to me?'" said IVAW member Mike Harmon during the Oct. 13 forum. "I answered out loud, 'I don't know why.'" Harmon, 25, is a native Brooklynite who served in Iraq from April 2003 to the end of April 2004.
When asked by a community member whether his experience in the Army caused emotional problems, Harmon admitted to becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol after his tour of duty and revealed that he is currently on five different medications. He said he often goes into "funks," but that the work he does speaking out against joining the military gets him out of "funks a lot quicker."

The above, noted by Micah, is from Jennifer Kline's "A Wrench in the War Machine: Local Youth Think Twice about Joining the Military" (The Indypendent). While we're on IVAW, and before I forget, IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

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.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

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'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers. That is a very important upcoming event. Let's all wait and see who makes time to cover it or (more likely) who doesn't. There's a reason the illegal war drags on.

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 3935. Tonight? 3945 announced. Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle while the Soldier was on patrol in eastern Baghdad Jan. 31." It's February 3rd. Now why do you suppose they waited until today to announce a January death? Because it might increase the January total at a time when reporters were filing their look-back-on-the-last-month pieces? Just Foreign Policy lists 1,168,058 as the number of Iraqi deaths since the start of the illegal war. Yes, that was what they listed last Sunday and the Sunday before that.

Turning to some of the reported ongoing violence over the weekend . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the latest in the attacks on officials as a BAghdad car bombing claimed the life of Lt. Col. Ahmed Ibraheem ("director of Iraqi national police affiars in the Ministry of Interior") -- the bombing also wounded two people in his car while a bombing of the Baquba office of "the head of the security committee for the Diayal provincial council" (Dr. Hussein Al Zubaidi) left him, two bodyguards and two American troops wounded, the US bombed Al Milah town and killed 7 Iraqi civilains, a Mosul car bombing left two people injured and, yesterday, an Al Anbar Province roadisde bombing claimed the life of Lat. Col. Issa Al Essawi. On Saturday, McClatchy's Laith Hammoudi reported a Baghdad bombing that wounded five people while 4 'Awakening' Council members died in a bombing outside of Tikrit that left nine more wounded and a Nineveh Province car bombing claimed the life of 1 person in the car and 2 "members of Sahwa" while six more were injured.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Iraqi civilian was wounded when "a private security company's guards" shot at the civilian and 4 guards were shot dead in Diayal Province and, yesterday, Sughan Hammed was shot dead in Mosul. Reuters reports 4 "neighbourhood patrol policemen" were shot dead in Baquba and a police officer was shot dead in Kut. On Saturday, McClatchy's Laith Hammoudi reported an armed clash in Baghdad in which 2 bystanders were killed while three more were wounded


Reuters notes 3 police officers were kidnapped in Baghdad Saturday. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the kidnappers were in "13 cars (sedan cars)" at a "check point near al Ferdous mosque".


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad. On Saturday, McClatchy's Laith Hammoudi reported 5 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

As for the de-de-Baathifcation or allged de-de-Baathification, from Steve Lannen and Leila Fadel's "Iraqi de-Baathification law may force some key officials out" (McClatchy Newspapers):

A new law intended to reverse the firing of thousands of former Saddam Hussein-era officials during the U.S-led occupation of Iraq has taken effect, Iraq's presidency council announced Sunday in a statement.
But it was uncertain whether the law would promote reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, as the Bush administration hopes, or make matters worse.
An analysis of the legislation by the International Center for Transitional Justice, a New York-based organization that monitors countries' efforts to deal with past human rights violations, said several high-ranking Iraqi officials who held positions under Saddam Hussein would probably be forced from their jobs.
Those could include the current head of the national police, Maj. Gen. Hussein Jasim al Awadi, and the head of the Iraqi military in Baghdad, Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, both of whom were members of Saddam's Baath party.
Especially hard hit would be the country's judiciary, the analysis said. Many of Iraq's current judges also served during Saddam's time.
"This will complicate the political reception of the law," the analysis said, and may create short-term problems in filling key posts.

So no 'progress' and yet Bully Boy stated it as 'progress' in his State of the Union address last Monday. Taking on that address is Robert C. Koehler. From his "Defeat Without End" (Information Clearing House):

"Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching . ,"
There it is again, that choking lie, so smoothly administered -- with just enough fear to help America gag down all that righteousness.
President Bush told it again in his final State of the Union address the other night, of course. What choice did he have? The truth, coming from him at this point, would be . . . too weird, too offensive, impossible to comprehend.
But the truth is that we’ve already failed in Iraq, and throughout the Middle East and Central Asia -- failed with consequences beyond reckoning. God knows someone will have to take a swig of political courage and acknowledge it one of these days, simply to stop the lie -- the lies, a governmental cluster bomb of them -- from doing further harm.

Melissa noted the above and wondered where "the coverage of Iraq went? After Tuesday, will the US be less unhinged?" Probably not, Paul Roget Loeb will be still be walking around -- along with others who have an abusive relationship with the truth and an estranged one with journalism. An angry visitor has assembled a series of quotes in an e-mail proving that "you" (me) support Hillary Clinton. The Third Estate Sunday Review is a group project and roundtables -- which the quotes are taken from -- are done in transcript form. So, for instance, putting Betty's word in my mouth shows extreme stupidity.

For the record, those declared with sites are:

Betty: Hillary Clinton
Cedric: Hillary Clinton
Wally: Hillary Clinton
Mike: Hillary Clinton (for the primary, he planned to vote Cynthia McKinney but didn't realize he had a closed primary)
Ruth: Hillary Clinton
Marcia: Hillary Clinton
Jess: Green Party (hasn't decided between Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney)
Kat: Cynthia McKinney
Rebecca: Cynthia McKinney
Elaine: Mike Gravel

Jim, Dona, Ty, Ava and myself haven't declared. (Jim has stated he will vote Democrat in the general election regardless of whom the nominees are.) Had this been written last Sunday, Mike and Wally would have been voting John Edwards. In terms of community wide, the latest poll in the gina & krista round-robin found the majority of stated Dems supporting Hillary with 5% for Mike Gravel and 10% stating Cynthia McKinney, among third party voters McKinney has a 1% edge over Ralph Nader at this point but 12% are undecided between the two. Those results would be different had Edwards not dropped out and members participating in Super Duper Tuesday this week are very vocal in their anger that he did not wait one more week before announcing he was stepping out.

Again, the roundtables are in transcript form. We'll stay on the topic of Tuesday to note Mia's highlight, John V. Walsh's "The Invisible Green Primary" (CounterPunch):

Massachusetts has three primaries on Super Tuesday--a Republican, a Democrat and a Green. (In MA, the Greens have made common cause with the Rainbow Coalition to form the Green Rainbow Party, GRP). But you would never know it from the declarations of Democrat Secretary of State William Galvin who in his public service announcements speaks only of the Republican and Democrat contests. This is especially damaging to the GRP, because in MA those who are not registered with any party, the so-called "unenrolled" voters are eligible to vote in the GRP primary. These are the most disillusioned and most likely to go Green. But such voters must ask for the Green ballot at the polling place. The people staffing the polling places are supposed to inform the unenrolled voters of all three options, but right now it is unclear if Galvin has so instructed them in a way that will guarantee it happens. Given Galvin's public service announcements, that seems doubtful.
This is an outrage since the GRP had to work very hard to win ballot access after the "safe states" debacle of 2004 in which the GP suffered mightily at the hands of the DemoGreens who gained control and sought above all to protect the prowar John Kerry. So in 2006 the hard working Greens set about gathering signatures once again for a series of statewide offices, Governor, Secretary of State and Treasurer. The GRP candidates for Secretary of State, Jill Stein, and for Treasurer, Jamie O'Keefe, both won close to 20% of the vote, giving the GRP back its ballot status. And so the GRP is entitled to have a presidential primary this coming Tuesday. The ballots are printed and available at the polling places.
Not only that but both Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney, along with a number of lesser known candidates, will be on the GRP ballot. Ralph and Cynthia are certain to attract votes if the people know about the primaruy. But so far not a whimper out of Galvin, who is considered a "liberal" Democrat, or the mass media despite a steady stream of letters to the editor and op-ed submissions. So tell your friends in MA that there are three primaries afoot on Tuesday--and in two of them there are genuine antiwar candidates, Ron Paul in the Republican primary and all the candidates in the GRP primary. There should be enough variety there for everyone to cast a genuine antiwar vote, no matter your other beliefs.

And Zach notes Ron Jacobs' "Symbolic Reassurance: What Elections Mean (Even the 2008 One)" (Dissident Voice):

It's happening all over again. The so-called presidential election campaign season in the US is narrowing down a lame group of candidates to the three or four lamest of the bunch.
Meanwhile, the so-called left in the United States argues amongst itself whether or not it should support Hilary or Obama who, despite the fact that one's gender and the other's skin tone make them appear to be proof of our enlightened age, are essentially representing the same old war and capitalist globalization crowd that has been running the country since at least the 1980s. There are some on the left who think a Ron Paul presidency is the way to go, given his complete opposition to the wars of the empire. This bunch of folks dismiss his incredibly anti-immigrant stance by pointing out that neither Clinton nor McCain are very progressive in that regard either. Of course, they are right but that is not the point. The point is that the immigrants have no true champion among any of the presidential contenders.

I thought we were done. We're not. Like Elaine, Sondra will be voting Tuesday for Mike Gravel. She just decided and asked if that Joseph Raglione 's "You are cordially invited to fight like hell for Senator Mike Gravel!" (American Chronicles) be noted:

February 03, 2008
Gentle Readers of the American Chronicles,

allow me to introduce Jonathan Kraus, Deputy Campaign Manager for Senator Mike Gravel who is and remains a 2008 Presidential candidate, with or without permission from the corporate Media.
I Quote "Dear Joseph,I'm on the road working for Mike Gravel's presidential campaign, and I got word of your extremely generous offer to help raise awareness for Gravel on the web before Super Tuesday. Emphasizing the National Initiative and how it is the only true way to "empower the people" is the most vital part of his candidacy. But it also needs to be connected with more immediate issues that people can connect with; healthcare, ending the war, removing the income tax, and so on.If you have any questions of what to feature, please write back to this email address, or give me a call (203-209-7736)
As for Gravel's emphasis on the environment, here are a few points to put in context. He would cut the defense budget by 60%, and give us a stronger, more efficient military. He would institute a carbon tax right at the source (the lump of coal and barrel of oil), which would filter through the system and shift our infrastructure to carbon-free, zero-emissions technology very rapidly. He has said "we can get off of gasoline in 5 years, and off of carbon in 10." He has accurately pointed out that in 1940, the United States had no military capacity, and within 3 years, they were producing a Liberty Ship every day. This was over 60 years ago.

Sondra wanted it noted that she's supporting Gravel and she hopes "no one thinks I'm just wasting a vote." Your vote it your vote. It's your vote not to cast as well. No one else owns your vote. It is your choice how you use it and for whom (or not for anyone). Vote the way you want. No Paul Roget Loeb's in this community stacking the deck to argue for a candidate. Hopefully, if nothing else, Tuesday will mean that 'independent' media can stop pimping for Bambi and remember that there is an illegal war going on -- but don't count on it. Regardless of who wins the Democratic Party (they're not interested in any other party, they've made that clear), they'll probably find a way to waste even more air time and print space on an election that won't be held until November while ignoring the daily death and destruction.

Pru gets the last highlight. This is Saleh Mamon's "US airstrikes on Iraq rise 500 percent" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Though George Bush claims the ‘surge’ brings peace in 2007 warplanes made 1,447 bombing runs
The US has unleashed a ferocious bombing campaign on Iraq and Afghanistan, with devastating effects on the population. This surge in the "air war" is largely hidden behind talk of "recent successes" for the occupations.
According to figures released by the US military -- known as "airpower summary of close air support missions" -- in 2006 there were 229 US bombing missions. But last year this rose to 1,447 -- more than a 500 percent increase.
The most frequently used munition in this campaign of air bombardment is the Guided Bomb Unit 12, a laser guided bomb with a 500 pound "general purpose warhead". This warhead is capable of reducing houses to rubble.
In 2006 over 111,000 pounds of bombs were dropped on targets in Iraq. Extrapolating for 2007, it can be estimated that 500,000 pounds have been dropped.
This month there were massive airstrikes in the region south of Baghdad involving 38 bombers dropping 40,000 pounds of bombs in 10 minutes. This is a portent of the kind of high-tech destruction Iraqis face. These figures do not include guided missiles, unguided rockets and cannon rounds fired by helicopter gunships and warplanes. One weapon left out is the Hydra-70 rocket which is a widely used helicopter launched weapon system.
US special forces often use aircraft which wield a Gatling gun that fires up to 1,800 rounds a minute. The damage caused by these munitions is unimaginable.
Within a matter of minutes aerial bombardment can destroy homes, infrastructure and workplaces. Historical evidence attests that the US air war during the 1960s and 1970s displaced 25 percent of the population in Laos, 33 percent of Vietnamese and almost a million people in Cambodia.
Although the number of Iraqi casualties is contested, the highly credible survey published in the Lancet medical journal estimated that from March 2003 to June 2006 over 13 percent of the "excess" 601,000 violent deaths in Iraq were caused by airstrikes.
The authors of the report have also attributed half the deaths of Iraqi children under 15 to these airstrikes. With a fivefold increase in bombings, Iraqi fatalities can be expected to increase proportionately.
The vast increase in the numbers of refugees -- two million internally displaced people and an equal number fleeing abroad -- bears witness to this devastation.
Although there are no maps to track the damage to populated urban areas and villages throughout Iraq, there have been vivid eyewitness accounts of the destruction in Fallujah and Baghdad where residential and commercial buildings have been reduced to rubble.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
15 March - next stop for the anti-war movement» Iraq occupation leads to health crisis» Pakistan spirals out of control» Division over Afghanistan exposes lies» World Against War events
Saleh Mamon is a peace campaigner and a retired teacher
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