Monday, February 25, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Monday, February 25, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, Turkey continues it's invasion of northern Iraq, the US military death toll in Iraq is 28 away from 4,000, Oscar winning actress Julie Christie raises the issue of war resisters and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Who knew an Oscar winner and multi-nominated, internationally known actress was a news outlet?  Saturday, Lee-Anne Goodman (The Canadian Press) quoted Julie Christie explaining how Stephen Harper, right-wing prime minister of Canada, was her problem with the country, "I love Canada, I've always loved Canada, I feel proud of Canada - it's only just now that I am starting to lose my pride in Canada because of this guy who is your prime minister."  Goodman explained the "longtime peace activist, accused Harper of refusing to welcome traumatized American soldiers to Canada who are deserting the army amid amid the prolonged and bloody war in Iraq" and quoted Christie explaining, "I was in Canada in the 1960s and 1970s . . . the place was full of war resisters and they were accepted by Canada and I've loved Canada ever since then. The fact that he's turned that around, and the cruelty of that and the meanness of it, it's put a little edge on my love of Canada."  Julie Christie's commnets were covered an amplified widely including by entertainment outlets such as Canada's Jam! Showbiz and news outlets Bruce Kirkland in The Winnipeg Sun.  Long before her remarks were amplified, Christie had already said more on the topic of war resisters than Democracy Now!, The Nation or The Progressive had in an entire month (add the last two's websites to the print editions). That should disturb consumers of Panhandle Media long before they grasp how especially necessary coverage of war resisters is right now.
Not just due to the fact that the illegal war drags on, but also because war resisters in Canada were dealt a serious set-back when the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey.  Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain 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.  That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. 
Earlier this month, Michele Richiniki (The Northeastern News) reported on Justiniano Rodrigues who signed up for the Army Reserves only to discover that war conflicted with the values of his Roman Catholic religion and he was advised by a sergeant that he was a conscientious objector. No guidance was given to Rodrigues on how to be declared a CO so he "began to take steps on his own.  He met with various people to begin the process, including psychologists."  As his date to deploy to Iraq loomed closer and more convinced that he could not participate in the Iraq War, Rodrigues decided (August 2006) to self-checkout.  He explains to Richiniki, "At that point I didn't trust the war and wasn't going to leave the country with a company I didn't trust because of their misguiding.  That's when I decided to go AWOL."  Via The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Rodrigues finally began to receive the help that the military is supposed to provide CO applicants with.  He now had a lawyer and they went to an Oklahoma military base where he turned himself in where, he explains, "I spent one week at the barracks and then they out-processed and discharged me." With a less than honorable discharge and Rodrigues is now attempting to be granted CO status. Today Jeff Miranda (The Northeastern News) writes about Rodrigues and people like his own brother who is in the ROTC program.  Miranda concludes with this, "They're fighting a war so few believe in and there's no doubt to the degree of courage it takes to serve your country in a way few others have. It takes a different brand of courage to stand up for what you believe is right and speak your mind when everyone says you're wrong. My brother has proven he possesses one kind of courage. But his real strength might lie in learning to adopt both."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, 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'." 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. IVAW's co-chair Adam Kokesh will, of course, be participating and he explains why at his site, "But out of a strong sense of duty, some of us are trying to put our experiences to use for a good cause.  Some of us couldn't live with ourselves if weren't doing everything we could to bring our brothers and sisters home as soon as possible.  The environment may be unking, but that is why I will be testifying to shooting at civilians as a result of changing Rules of Engagement, abuse of detainees, and desecration of Iraqi bodies.  It won't be easy but it must be done.  Some of the stories are things that are difficult to admit that I was a part of, but if one more veteran realizes that they are not alone because of my testimony it will be worth it."
In northern Iraq over the weekend, the invasion launched by Turkey into the Kurdish region of Iraq continued.  As noted in Friday's snapshot, the US State Dept was acknowledging that they had advance knowledge of the attack and that they shared intelligence with the government of Turkey.  On Saturday, Tina Susman and Yesim Comert (Los Angeles Times) would report that "five bridges" were destroyed on Friday by the Turkish military "in violation of its pledge to target only rebel bases".  Alissa J. Rubin and Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) would quote Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister of Iraq, condemning the invasion and calling for "Turkish troops" to withdraw "from Iraqi territory."  The reporters would not noe that Zebari has condemned every action by the Turkish military in Iraq or that he was a Kurd. McClatchy Newspapers Yassen Taha and Leila Fadel would not only stick to the facts, they'd share them explaining that it was still unknown how many soldiers Turkey had sent into Iraq but the estimate offered by the puppet government in Baghdad was 1,000 while the PKK (labled as a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union) stated that there were 10,000.  They would note that it appeared "that Kurdish Regional President Massoud Barzani probably approved" Kurdish militia to move close to the battle and noted that "Barzani has been a frequent critic of the United States and Iraq's central government for their cooperation with Turkey in targeting the PKK, which is widely popular in Iraq's Kurdish region, but which the United States considers a terrorist organization. A confrontation between Turkish forces and the Kurdish militia would be a major escalation in the standoff over PKK attacks in Turkey, which have killed hundreds of Turkish civilians and soldiers in recent years."  As the invasion continued Fadel would explore the prison system in the Kurdish region noting that this area that the White House has long touted as one of the "success stories" of the illegal war was also a region where "advocates and family charge" there "is a growing human rights crisis" in the Kurdish jail system and Fadel would cite Dana Ahmed Abdul Rhaman's mother who would share that after the year and a half her son has spent in a Kurdish jail, not only do they not know whey he's been held but they also do not "when he'll be released" and she will explain that in her only visit with her son, she saw that he had been tortured ("His face was as black as my dress").  It was a reality that went unaddressed on Democracy Now! today but then they booked a lobbyist for the Kurdish region as a guest.  Today, McClatchy Newspapers reports that the the Union of Muslim Clerics in Kurdistan had issued a statement calling for Iraqis to engage in the battle against Turkey) while the New York Times notes acall from outside the region issued by Moqtada al-Sadr demanding Turkish troops withdraw from northern Iraq. Paul de Bendern (Reuters) reports that the invasion continues for the fifth day today and quotes White House flack Dana Perino declaring, "We hope that this is a short-term incursion so that they can help deal with the threat."  Not quoted is the reply Perino gave today when asked if the Bully Boy knows "what percentage of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces to leave?"  Perino replied, "Look, what we do know is that the -- there might be polls telling -- saying different things about who wants us where. What we know is that the Iraqi government wants us there, neighboring countries want us there. And we also know that if we were to leave too quickly that the possibility for chaos and mass violence is too great, and the President won't risk that."  In other words, Perino is saying the White House just doesn't care what the Iraqi people want and that the focus of the press should be not on the will of the Iraqi people but on the puppet government the US installed in Baghdad.  At the US State Department today, deputy spokesperson Tom Casey was asked about Turkey invading Iraq and stuck to the usual talking points, "The PKK is a threat to the United States, to Turkey, and to Iraq as well. We continue to urge cooperation between Turkish and Iraqi authorities on this. We are conducting diplomacy towards that end. We certainly want to see and make sure that the Turks continue with their stated policy, which is to make sure that any of these military actions minimize the impact and take very serious account of the concerns of civilian populations in the area."  Casey was then pressed on US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates remarks on Sunday which asked for political and economic offers from Turkey to quell the violence of the PKK and Casey responded, "The PKK is a common enemy and I think all Secretary Gates is doing is stating the obvious, which is that a – this is a problem that requires more than just a military solution and I think all sides recognize it and that's why we'll be continuing our diplomacy on it."  At the Pentagon today, Lt. General Carter Ham declared, "We continue to provide intelligence and appropriate information to the Turkish government as directed, and as part of that agreement, the Turkish military forces informed us and have now undertaken a limited ground operation against the KGK terrorist elements in northern Iraq.  Central Command, European Command and Multinational Force-Iraq are clearly monitoring these operations very carefully."  He also refuted the notion that the Turkish invasion might be "winding down".
Sunday saw mass fatalities from an Iskandariyah bombing during a Shi'ite pilgrimage.  Leila Fadel and Yasseen Taha (McClatchy Newspapers) report, "As pilgrims stopped for water and food at a tent set up to serve them along their journey, a suicide bomber walked into the crowd and detonated, killing and wounding many of the pilgrims, said Muthanna Ahmed, spokesman for the police in Babil province."  Amit R. Paley and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) report that 12-year-old Ahmed Ali had been "serving tea to pilgrims" when the bombing took place, that his left leg has now been amputated "below the knee" as a result of the wounds he received and they quote his mother asking, "What is his guilt?  He is just a little kid who should have been in school."  They also reported that the death toll from the bombing had risen to 60.  Solomon Moore and Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) explained that the region's three hospitals were "overwhelmed" and quoted 28-year-old Ahmed Yassin who was taken to Hilla General Hospital explaining, "I saw a woman rush into the tent.  Then there was an explosion and I went unconscious" and 23-year-old Fadel Khadhim explaining, "The smell of burned flesh is still stuck in my nose."
Violence continued in Iraq today and among the reported incidents . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 4 pilgrims and left twelve more injured, two Baghdad roadside bombings that left two civilians wounded, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that left 2 people dead, a Salahuddin wheelchair bombing that killed the wheelchair victim as well as Brig. General Abdul Jabar Rabiaa Salih ("assistant commander of Samarra operations") and a Mosul mortar attack that claimed 3 lives and left four more wounded
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 people shot dead in Baquba, unknown assialants dressed as Iraqi soldiers shot dead a woman in Diyala Province, an attack in Diyala Province that left 8 members of the Iraqi military dead and an attack on "oil company guards" outside Basra that claimed 1 life and left two other guards wounded.  Reuters notes a young boy shot dead in Mosul and, in a separate incident, 4 police officers shot dead in Mosul.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 8 corpses discovered (all women) in Diyala Province and the corpse of Ali Mahmoud at Hamdan was discovered in Basra (the engineer was kidnapped last month "by gunmen who were wearing police uniforms").

Yesterday, the US military announced: "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." The deaths brought ICCC's total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3972 with 28 deaths announced for the month of February thus far and 28 away from the 4,000 mark.  [Thank you to got Elaine and Mike for filling in here last night.]
At the Pentagon today, Army Lieutenant General Carter F. Ham, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared that maybe, possibly there might be a drawdown over the summer of US troops in Iraq from the current total of approximately 156,000 to 140,000 which would still be about 8,000 more than were in Iraq prior to Bully Boy's escalation popularly known as "the surge". "Yes, it is bigger" than the pre-escalation level, Ham boasted.  But "it" (the summer prediction of a drawdown) isn't in concrete at this point and, as Ashford and Simpson once wrote in a different context, "Ain't nothing but a maybe."  Ham tossed out the morsel but then declared speculation was "premature at this point" and that actually applies to both the return to the pre-escalation level and the possible drawdown over the summer.  The most 'concrete' statement Ham could make on the possible summer drawdown (which, no doubt, will lead to headlines without any qualifiers "Pentagon says draw-down this summer!") was, "Well, we hope it would be made before July, but I'm not sure how much more before July."
The issue continues in what can be termed "When Media Hookers Collide."  Exactly that happened on Democracy Now! today when Amy Goodman and Sammy Power shared face time as they each attempted to pimp their candidate of choice Barack Obama.  Juan Gonzales offered actual worth noting, "About this issue of the Iraq war, as I know there's been much discussion about it and certainly on this show, we early on raised many of the questions in terms of the justifications for the war. But it does seem to me that it's a little bit different being a state legislator in Illinois from a district that's probably very much antiwar and having him being in the US Senate. If he had been in the US Senate and taken the same position at the time, I think that would have been a much firmer stand, that he could say, 'I was against the war from the beginning.' But when you're in a district in Illinois, you're along with about one-third to 40 percent of the American people who at that time were questioning of the war to a large degree, and I think that it was a tougher situation for those who were in the Senate. It still doesn't mean that Hillary Clinton was right in her judgment, but I find it hard to equate the two positions because of the relative differences in where they were at the time."  From the broadcast:
JUAN GONZALEZ: Yeah, I have one last question, having watched many of these debates, as, on one hand, he argues that the arrogance of old of the United States around the world needs to change; on the other hand, he has argued to sharply increase the size of the US military, I think, by 90,000 troops, when this country already has a military budget that is equal to the rest of the world combined. Why does the United States need more military troops?
SAMANTHA POWER: I think because, much more than I, anyway, he has spent the better part of the last decade spending time with military families and has some sense of just how broken the military is right now, at its bending or its breaking point, from the standpoint of overstretch, from the--and this, I'm talking really specifically about soldiers,
We're cutting the War Hawk Sammy Power off there.  Bring the troops home from Iraq -- end the illegal war -- and there's no "breakage" of the standing (and overstaffed) US military.  Power, as Amy Goodman has panted and gushed Friday and again today, might be the Secretary of State in an Obama administration.  The War Hawk Power is stating very clearly that Obama intends to increase the military.  An increase is needed why?  Some of his left and 'left' supporters need to get real real damn quick.  Power's use of "responsible withdrawal from Iraq" should alarm the hell out of all who remember Vietnam, remember that it didn't end even after the publication of the Pentagon Papers.  Obama is not an "anti-war" candidate and people need to quit deluding themselves.  "Responsible withdrawal" is the same garbage tossed to the people during Vietnam in an attempt to take the pressure off the call to end that illegal war.  It's 'pretty words' that make it seem as though something is being done but it's just an illegal war being prolonged.
Also of alarm should have been A Problem From Hell Power declaring that "as you get out of Iraq . . you could actually get to that moment where, you know, the United States could actually be supportive of peacekeeping missions, could transport soldiers to Darfur --"  Power is calling for US soldiers to be sent to Darfur.  It's a stance Our Modern Day Carrie Nations has long held because she's nothing but a cheap War Hawk propped up by a lot of fools (add Amy Goodman to that list).  In the current issue of FAIR's Extra! Julie Hollar addresses exactly how much damage the US military would do to the situation in Darfur in "The Humanitarian Tempataion" (pp. 17 through 21).  Having allowed her program to be used to call for more imperial war, Goodman would do well to invite on Hollar to discuss her article.  Here's Goody stumbling and fumbling around:
AMY GOODMAN: But as you say, you know, he's looking at a broken military now because it is so overstretched. The idea is that if he were president, I think he's putting forward that--if he's saying he would pull out of Iraq--

AMY GOODMAN: --well, there are your soldiers. Why would he call for vastly expanding the US military?
SAMANTHA POWER: Well, this is what I'm trying to suggest is that there are going to be functions for US soldiers to perform. . . . So, I mean, there are national security and humanitarian challenges out there that are going to require American attention, and sometimes that's going to require military attention.
"National security and humanitarian challenges out there."  For those who missed it and still can't grasp it a number of left and 'left' voices got on board with the illegal Iraq War due to the 'humanitarian' nature of the mission.  Humanitarism is a pose for War Hawks today, it's what they hide behind to sell their illegal wars. While Tom Hayden made a perfect fool of himself last week declaring that Obama had just said that he would end the illegal war by 2009 (if elected), the reality is that Obama was speaking off the cuff and only refers to "combat" troops which leaves thousands and thousands of US service members in Iraq.  More importantly, Obama advisor Sammy Power declared to Goodman and Gonzales that "Obama's aim is to get those soldiers out within sixteen to eighteen months, a brigade or two a month."  She's an advisor to the campaign.  Maybe Tom Hayden and The Nation could stop being so damn stupid and stop pimping a candidate by lying to the public that he's "anti-war" and will end the illegal war in 2009? 
In other US political news, Ralph Nader declared he is running for president and spoke with Tim Russert on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday.  We'll close with "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 
» email article » comment on article » printable version
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.
If you found this article useful please help us maintain SW by »
making a donation.


Looking for last minute shopping deals? Find them fast with Yahoo! Search.