Sunday, March 02, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

I never want to talk to reporters who don't know what they're doing. I just got asked by someone who is covering PTSD issues to give me some examples of my daily symptoms. "For instance, do you drink more now than you used to and does that effect your life...missing meetings, getting out of control, sitting alone depressed and crying?" How f**ked up is that? I don't even drink. And I get a lot of calls from people who want to invite me to something because I'm an IVAW member and then want me to tell them my whole story as if they don't believe I'm a real Iraq vet. That on top of the phony soldier bs that messes with my head on a whole other level.

The above is from Adam Kokesh's "Love and Hate and Cell Phones" (Adam Kokesh - Revolutionary Patriot). Kokesh is the co-chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War and that's his piece I mentioned in "Roundtable" that two students on campuses brought up last week. Thank you to Marci who read the roundtable, went in search of the article and e-mailed it and the link. There's a fine line between expression and distortion and there is a difference that can be insulting. What Kokesh is describing is insulting and appears to be a reporter on a deadline that's got the story ready and just needs a quote. If you don't get how insulting it is, imagine that it wasn't Kokesh the reporter phoned but a rape survivor and launched into the same questions. (I don't think the reporter was trying to be insulting. And deadlines don't often allow for basic courtesies. That's not intended as a defense of the the phone caller.)

Lynda notes that Danny Schechter's trotting out "attack" to describe Joe Wilson's recent column. From Wilson's "Obama's Hollow "Judgment" and Empty Record" (The Huffington Post):

Barack Obama argues that he deserves the Democratic nomination and Hillary Clinton doesn't because he possesses superior "judgment," as he calls it, on the key issues we face as a nation. As definitive proof he offers one speech he made in 2002 during a reelection campaign for an Illinois senate seat in the most liberal district in the state, so liberal that no other position would have been viable. When he made that speech, Obama was not privy to the briefings by, among others, Secretary of State Colin Powell, in support of the Authorization of Use of Military Force as a diplomatic tool to push the international community to impose intrusive inspections on Saddam Hussein.
Would Obama have acted differently had he been in Washington or had he had the benefit of the arguments and the intelligence that the administration was offering to the Congress debating that resolution? During the 2002-2003 timeframe, he was a minor local official uninvolved in the national debate on the war so we can only judge from his own statements prior to the 2008 campaign. Obama repeated these points in a whole host of interviews prior to announcing his candidacy. On July 27, 2004, he told the Chicago Tribune on Iraq: "There's not much of a difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage." In his book, The Audacity of Hope, published in 2006, he wrote, "...on the merits I didn't consider the case against war to be cut-and- dried." And, in 2006, he clearly said, "I'm always careful to say that I was not in the Senate, so perhaps the reason I thought it was such a bad idea was that I didn't have the benefit of US intelligence. And for those who did, it might have led to a different set of choices."
I was involved in that debate in every step of the effort to prevent this senseless war and I profoundly resent Obama's distortion of George Bush's folly into Hillary Clinton's responsibility. I was in the middle of the debate in Washington. Obama wasn't there. I remember what was said and done. In fact, the administration lied in order to secure support for its war of choice, including cooking the intelligence and misleading Congress about the intent of the authorization. Senator Clinton's position, stated in her floor speech, was in favor of allowing the United Nations weapons inspectors to complete their mission and to build a broad international coalition. Bush rejected her path. It was his war of choice.

The truth isn't an attack. What Danny Schechter has done is an attack and he knows journalism enough to grasp that. Last week, he apparently accused Wilson of attacking or smearing and tonight explains that the person allegedly targeted by Wilson told him that Wilson was behind the charges. That's not even single-sourced. That's someone under attack saying they just know that the attacks came from ___! From what Danny's offered, the person doesn't know anything. Danny knows journalism and one of the reasons his blog, News Dissector, is so important is that he practices it online. Presenting a claim as truth, a claim he can't even single-source to one witness, isn't journalism. Danny's claim would have never gotten on the air at 20/20 (unless it was by John Stossel who can do or say whatever he wants and never has to be factual). Pointing out the truth is not "attacking."

Wilson's addressing the Iraq War and Bambi's record. He's also addressing another word Bambi likes to toss out "Afghanistan." And Wilson's pointing out that Bambi FAILED in his duties of subcommittee chair over the subcommittee that is responsible for Aghansitan (and NATO). That's not an attack, that's the truth. Bambi never held a meeting. Mike addressed that last week. Bambi finally owned up to that in last Tuesday's debate and offered the ridiculous 'excuse' that he had a presidential campaign to run. Well don't take the chair, refuse it. Say you're too busy. But don't toss out Afghanistan as important in your speeches when you couldn't even chair a committee. Wilson's not "attacking," he's not "smearing," he's not Bambi's lack of experience and distortions. At one point, Schechter would have grasped that what Wilson's done is actually the job of reporters. (It should also be noted that when the Obama campaign attacked the LGBT community by using homophobia as a tactic to scare up voters in South Carolina, Danny expressed no concerns over that. A very real attack on many and not a word to say. The truth offered on a candidate and he's screaming "Attack! Attack!" Forget debates over the many or the few -- it's now down to the many or one candidate.) Watch your back, Abbie Bakan, you'll be the next tarred and feathered for "attacking" due to offering reality. (Bakan is highlighted at the end of this entry.) The press hasn't done their job and file it under yet another example of how the Iraq War hits the 5th year mark this month.

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 3972. And tonight? 3973 is the number. Last Sunday, Elaine and Mike were kind enough to fill in for me (thank you both) and they noted that Just Foreign Policy lists 1,173,743 AGAIN --implying that the counter is broken? As noted here on Thursday, that has been JFP's total since at least February 10th. In the current issue of Extra!, JFP's co-coordiantor Patrick McElwee writes (pp. 22 through 23) of how important the numbers are and offers "If Americans are to make informed judgements not only about the invasion of Iraq and whether the occupation should continue, but also about future wars our government may wish to start, then we need to have good information about the war's impact on Iraqis." Yes, we do. And going over 20 days without updating a counter doesn't provide that.

Turning to some of the reported violence (deaths that JFP will apparently not be acknowledging any time soon) . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad bombings left three people owunded, a Baghdad mortar attack left eight wounded, a bombing outside Baquba claimed the life of 1 police officer and a bus bombing outside of Baquba claimed 5 lives and left four more wounded. Reuters notes a Samarra car bombing that claimed 4 lives and left nine people wounded and, falling back to Saturday, a Baghdad bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier with two more injured.


Reuters notes an armed clash outside Tal Afar that resulted in the deaths of 13 people (reportedly unknown assailants) and 2 police officers.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad today. Reuters notes two corpses were discovered in Baghdad on Saturday.

Pru writes that she can't understand the lies put out by Panhandle Media about Bambi. No one can understand over here that pays attention either, Pru. She notes Tony Blair New Labor types support Bambi but "no real leftist does, no radical, no Socialist, no one. It certainly is amazing to grasp how truly weak the US's left media is." It certainly is. Pru highlights Abbie Bakan's "US elections: Barack Obama's vision won't see a new America" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The remarkable momentum of Barack Obama's campaign to be the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party is raising the hopes of millions of Americans who have felt marginalised by mainstream politics.
No one who opposes racism and oppression can ignore this reality. But if Obama makes it to the White House, what can we expect from the office of the president?
Even if all the barriers to electoral victory -- and there are still many -- are overcome by Obama’s team, the 2008 US election will not point to an end to US imperialism, racism and war.
Exit polls from Democratic Party primaries and caucuses across the US indicate Obama’s support is coming largely from poor, young, black, immigrant and/or women voters, many of who have never taken part in electoral politics on this scale.
But the momentum Obama’s candidacy is generating is not matched by the politics he stands for or that of the Democratic Party he seeks to lead. Obama and his campaign organisers are brilliantly adapting to a perceived potential voting base, calling upon every supporter to become actively involved in the presidential race.
More tech-savy than any of his competitors within or beyond the Democrats, Obama has relied on email and YouTube videos to reach a wider, younger audience.
The style is as important as the message -- which is almost devoid of content, but is optimistic and captures the mood.
He repeats in clear and passionate language that altering the course of US politics set by George Bush and company is urgent and possible.
Just go to some of the videos on the various websites to get a sense of this.
Obama has claimed the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King. He has been compared to former president John F Kennedy.
He points to his mixed-race and multicultural background as a symbol of a new and different "America" in his speeches and autogiography.
But Barack Obama is not a candidate for peace.
Take the issue of the Iraq war, which Obama opposes. Notably, so has the other Democratic Party presidential candidate contender Hillary Clinton. John Edwards, who has now dropped out of the race, also opposes the war.
This reflects the depth of opposition to the war among the US public, and increasingly, among a section of the US ruling class.
Obama has pointed to the fact that he opposed the initial US-led attack in 2003, unlike Clinton and Edwards.
But Obama is not against the war on the grounds that it is imperialist, racist and illegal. Instead, he sees it as unwinnable.
Once elected to the US senate in 2004, Obama supported Bush’s calls for unconditional funding for the war in Iraq in 2005 and 2006.
He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as US secretary of state, despite evidence that she had presented false testimonies to congress and the fact that she was a central part of the Bush’s team that pushed through the Iraq war.
In June 2006, Obama voted against an amendment demanding a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq, despite having previously called for such a timetable in the senate.
And during the 2006 Democratic Party congressional primaries Obama backed pro-war candidates such as Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont.
Obama is also in favour of maintaining a US occupation in Iraq. He has directly linked US troop withdrawal from Iraq to redeployment in Afghanistan.
In November 2006, Obama stated, "Drawing down our troops in Iraq will allow us to redeploy additional troops to northern Iraq and elsewhere in the region as an over-the-horizon force.
"Perhaps most importantly, some of these troops could be redeployed to Afghanistan.
"By redeploying from Iraq to Afghanistan, we will answer Nato's call for more troops and provide a much-needed boost to this critical fight against terrorism."
It is for all these reasons that Ralph Nader has announced a left wing challenge for the presidential elections.
The Democrats will attack him for splitting the "progressive" vote and attempt to stop him from standing. But socialists back both his right to stand and his criticisms of US corporate power and the two main parties.
The promise of a new, progressive US, domestically and internationally, is something very different from the politics offered by Obama and the Democrats. Historically, the Democrats and the Republicans have had very similar policies. They are both parties of big business.
But today, in the curious structures of the US’s institutional party politics, the social base of a new movement is finding some expression in the hopeful anticipation of a new type of leadership of the Democratic Party.
Reliance on these structures will inevitably prove painfully disappointing. If a better world is indeed possible, it will be mass movements from below that make it a reality.
Abbie Bakan is a professor of political studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, in Canada. She is a member of the Canadian International Socialists and author of a number of books including Ideology and Class Conflict in Jamaica
» 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.

The e-mail address for this site is