Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Hate The War

Kelly Dougherty, the former sergeant who is the executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), announced the start today of the Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan investigation into the US conduct of its wars, featuring testimony of IVAW soldiers. Dougherty promised that "Winter Soldier is the first event in an ongoing public awareness and outreach effort by IVAW. No longer will public debate on the Global War on Terror be framed solely by politicians and pundits. IVAW will use the ongoing Winter Soldier project to spread awareness of G.I. resistance among veterans and active duty troops and build strategic alliances ... to broaden and strengthen our strategy to end the Iraq occupation." The Winter Soldiers at IVAW are not relying on the mainstream media; "every minute of testimony, will be broadcast live and will be available to watch in an online on-demand library," said Dougherty. In addition, "There are hundreds of viewing events planned around the world where people will gather to watch testimony." Pro-war groups, including the Gathering of Eagles and Move America Forward, are protesting IVAW's Winter Soldier hearings.

The above is from John Stauber's "Iraq Veterans Against the War Conduct and Cover the 'Winter Soldier' Investigation" (PR Watch). Today on Uprising Radio, they broadcast excerpts from the original Winter Soldiers Investigation during Vietnam. And, as we noted in the snapshot today, Mark Benjamin wrote about IVAW's Winter Soldiers Investigation for Salon.
Raw Story covered it. KPFA's The Morning Show offered a preview of the hearings. Free Speech Radio News reported on it.

So those are your all stars, let's turn now to the Hall of Shame that is the bulk of Panhandle Media. The Nation offered up four blog posts written today and how many were about IVAW? Answer: None. (Peter Rothberg did an alert -- the same way he does when Katrina manages to get booked on TV -- Wednesday. Good for Rothberg -- and apparently Katrina had no bookings that day -- but, no, that doesn't cut it.) In addition, they're putting their latest edition to press and, like The Children of Karl, they offer up: "It's the War Economy, Stupid!" (who knew they were Jimmy Carville fans?), "War and the Working Class" and "The Wages of Peace." Yes, the money wasted is the GREAT TRAGEDY. If you're an out of touch, deranged idiot. Otherwise, you'd put the deaths of Iraqis, the rape of Iraqi women, the wounded Iraqis, the dead and wounded non-Iraqi 'security forces' who were sent into that illegal war by the leaders of their country far, far ahead of the looming economic nightmare. They like to use terms like "moral" at The Nation so one wonders whether "immoral" applies to doing three stories on the financial cost of the illegal war . . . for the United States only of course. Katrina, check your slip, your xenophobia's showing again or else it's a very low premium being placed on human lives.

Of coures, if they really cared about ending the illegal war, they would have told their readers about Samantha Power's revelation to the BBC last week that Bambi's 'pledge' to withdraw combat troops within 16 months of being sworn in as president wasn't really a pledge or at all binding. But they avoided that, didn't they? Tom Hayden finally writes again about the counter-insurgency and it's a curious little article that ends with:

Now in his 80s, Sheinbaum shakes his head about such analogies. As he wrote in 1966 in Ramparts, "Where is the source of serious intellectual criticism that would help us avoid future Vietnams?... Our failure in Vietnam was not one of technical expertise, but of historical wisdom."

Where is the source of serious intellectual criticism? That kind of begs that the Carr Center be noted, that Sarah Sewall (aka Sarah Sewer) be noted as well as who she's supporting (Obama) and how she was over the current counter-insurgnecy manual. It probably requires noting that Samantha Power (until last Friday Bambi's senior foreign policy advisor) gushed over the manual in blurb-form. But lie to the people, they'll never know better if they utilize The Nation as their only outlet. Ava and I pointed out in December that Sarah Sewer was bragging about getting her wish-list into a Bambi speech (and pouting that the media ignored the speech).

Democracy Now! ignored the hearings today. Couldn't even note it in a headline. Maybe Amy Goodman's smarting over the fact that some stations will be carrying Winter Soldiers Investigation live and that means her program will only air once a day on those stations? Why the WBAI originated program has to be aired twice on other stations when even WBAI doesn't carve out two hours each day for it is a question listeners of KPFA, KPFK and KPFT should be asking. That's an hour of local programming being lost just so that Goody's program can be both broadcasted and repeated.

The Progressive posted one new article today. It was Ruth Conniff gushing over an upcoming event! IVAW? Get real. She's writing about the lousy Take Back America conference (which demonstrated last year that it doesn't give a damn about the illegal war). It starts Monday so Ruthie had to hurry to get the word out on it. Strangely, next week is the anniversary of the illegal war but Ruthie's not overly interested or concerned except to note that John McCain has huge support in polls from 'anti-war' voters. Thanks for playing, Ruth, at journalism. (Once upon a time, Ruth could rock it out to the Replacements and refine any political argument down to the most penetrating observation. Those days seem so far away now.)

Mother Jones catisgates the MSM for what they don't report in a current story online but what Mother Jones doesn't report is IVAW's action.

In These Times can't find it (though they're picking up their "We Love Bambi!" coverage and also smearing Ralph Nader).

At the cesspool that is BuzzFlash descended to sometime ago, they've got half-trues and flat-out lies to promote Bambi but IVAW? Oh, please, they don't give a damn about the illegal war unless they can work it into a pro-Bambi story. What do they have up right now, 120 links, 130? Not one of them to IVAW or anything on the Winter Soldiers Investigation. Guess it's not important to them or else there were 129 must-reads on other things.

That's your pathetic 'left.' That's your idiotic, prolong the illegal war 'left.' Quit fooling yourself, quit wasting your money keeping deadbeats in Panhandle Media employed. Let them get real jobs.

I didn't realize it was going to be a problem (as noted at other community sites) for people to listen online to this evening's opening of the hearings. I wasn't there, I was listening with a group and Camilo Mejia (IVAW chair) spoke about the need to speak out and stand up, shared the way the Geneva Conventions were violated in Iraq with prisoners of war (sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation) and spoke of the growth of dissent. We (Kat, Ava and myself) were with a group of veterans and I honestly wasn't listening as I normally would because there was one veteran who couldn't hear due to a bombing in Iraq and I was signing for him. When I'm doing that, I'm not actively listening, I'm focused on the translation.

We're going to stay with that aspect for a moment. I believe Elaine's blogged about why I learned to sign. It was during Vietnam and there was a veteran present at a rap session (that's what it was called then) and I couldn't figure out why he wasn't speaking and why he was staring so intently. He was lip reading (attempting to because you can't always see lips). So when I found out what was going on, I learned to sign.

There's an organization that advocates for disabled soldiers. There are many, but I got complaints on one today. (We were meeting with a group of disabled veterans.) The organization in question has a website. The text at the website is the same text that's always up and that notes the basics of "about us," et al. The only new content is videos. The videos have no closed-caption option and there are no transcripts. Ava and I have gone over and over this point in our TV commentaries but let's try it one more time. Audio serves anyone can hear. Video anyone can hear and see if there's closed caption. Text serves those who can see (or is read to them by a reader -- a person or a device). If you're an organization that's sole purpose is to advocate for disabled soldiers, you need to be welcoming to them and when you just post one video after another, you're sending a message that you don't intend to but one that is being received.

This is not a minor issue and it's one that Congress needs to remember it as well.

And it's apparently one of the many lessons of Vietnam that needs to be re-learned.

If it's still not clear, on Saturday, AP reported: "U.S. soldiers and Marines caught in roadside bombings and firefights in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home in epidemic numbers with permanent hearing loss and ringing in their ears, prompting the military to redouble its efforts to protect the troops from noise. Hearing damage is the No. 1 disability in the fight against terror, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and some experts say the true toll could take decades to become clear. Nearly 70,000 of the more than 1.3 million troops who have served in the two war zones are collecting disability for tinnitus, a potentially debilitating ringing in the ears, and more than 58,000 are on disability for hearing loss, the VA said."

It may not be as 'sexy' or as 'new' as PTSD or other signature wounds of the Iraq War but it is a huge problem -- as it has been in every war -- and it's being ignored. (Including by PBS which should have the brains to grasp that if they're reporting on the war in any program, that program is required to have a transcript as well as the streaming option or they don't come off as concerned as they appear to think they are.)

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3974. Tonight? 3987. 26 away from the 4,000 mark. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,185,800. But remember The Nation saves its outrage for the dollars and not for the human cost.

As someone who remembers the original Winter Soldiers Investigation (and, note to Mark Benjamin, it was in Detroit because of the fact that the hope was to provide a link up for war resisters in Canada to testify via closed-circuit TV), I'd love to say I expected more from independent and 'independent' media. However, we've all lost our cherry on that one, right? We've all grasped how little the Iraq War matters to so many brave 'voices' who show up once or twice a year to tell us how they feel just awful about the illegal war. Just awful. But they don't do a damn thing and they never will. Currently, they're not covering Winter Soldiers Investigation and, if nothing else has revealed to you how little 'independent' media cares about ending the war so far, that should demonstrate to you that how few outlets really can qualify as independent media.

Tomorrow, the hearings will be broadcast at the Iraq Veterans Against the War home page an on KPFA with Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz hosting and the KPFA live stream will also be available at Glantz' War Comes Home as well as on KPFK, WBAI and at the Pacifica Radio homepage which notes its live coverage will be from (EST times) 10 in the morning to seven at night on Friday, nine in the morning until seven at night on Saturday and ten in the morning until four in the afternoon on Sunday. Viewing options and meet ups can be found at Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The e-mail address for this site is

aaron glantz