Saturday, March 01, 2008

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During the 1950s I grew up in a family who rooted for the success of African Americans in their just struggle for civil rights and full legal equality. Then in 1962 it was the terror of my own personal imminent nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis that first sparked my interest in studying international relations and U.S. foreign policy as a young boy of 12: “I can do a better job than this!”
With the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964 and the military draft staring me right in the face, I undertook a detailed examination of it. Eventually I concluded that unlike World War II when my Father had fought and defeated the Japanese Imperial Army as a young Marine in the Pacific, this new war was illegal, immoral, unethical, and the United States was bound to lose it. America was just picking up where France had left off at Dien Bien Phu . So I resolved to do what little I could to oppose the Vietnam War.
In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson gratuitously invaded the Dominican Republic , which prompted me to commence a detailed examination of U.S. military interventions into Latin America from the Spanish-American War of 1898 up to President Franklin Roosevelt’s so-called “good neighbor” policy. At the end of this study, I concluded that the Vietnam War was not episodic, but rather systemic: Aggression, warfare, bloodshed, and violence were just the way the United States Power Elite had historically conducted their business around the world. Hence, as I saw it as a young man of 17, there would be more Vietnams in the future and perhaps someday I could do something about it as well as about promoting civil rights for African Americans. These twins concerns of my youth would gradually ripen into a career devoted to international law and human rights.
So I commenced my formal study of International Relations with the late, great Hans Morgenthau in the first week of January 1970 as a 19 year old college sophomore at the University of Chicago by taking his basic introductory course on that subject. At the time, Morgenthau was leading the academic forces of opposition to the detested Vietnam War, which is precisely why I chose to study with him. During ten years of higher education at the University of Chicago and Harvard, I refused to study with openly pro-Vietnam-War professors as a matter of principle and also on the quite pragmatic ground that they had nothing to teach me.

That's the opening to international law expert Francis A. Boyle's "Principle Confronting Power:
In Memory of Hans Morgenthau
" (Global Research). Boyle is the author of many books and his new one is entitled Protesting Power -- War, Resistance and Law (available in hardcover for $75.00 and in softcover for $24.95).

In the New York Times today, Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributes this:

The top American military commander in Iraq will recommend that President Bush order a brief pause in troop reductions from Iraq this summer, but the White House expects that the withdrawals will resume before Mr. Bush leaves office, a senior administration official said Friday.

It was the topic in hearing after hearing -- House and Senate -- last week. Was there going to be a "pause" and, if so, what did that mean? The fact that Stolberg is now quoting an "unnamed official" makes it feel more like a trial balloon, as though the White House is wondering how much damage it could bring to the GOP candidate in 2008?

Certainly, John McCain is married to the illegal war and the escalation in the popular narrative. A public outcry over a "pause" (one that the article explains -- carefully -- may or may not end before Bully Boy finally leaves the White House) could prevent it from taking place. But there's really not (at present) the groundwork for such outrage. While some notable organizations have continued to keep Iraq front and center the media hasn't. This week, Jeremy Scahill rightly noted that Iraq should be the central issue. He noted that on a program that hasn't made Iraq the central issue since spring 2006. And find the outlet (print) that does? The Nation? We'll get back to that joke in a moment. In the latest issue of The Progressive, Matthew Rothschild shows up with an editor's note to praise Howard Zinn's "Election Madness" and to note that Zinn argues "we should focus most of our energies in organizing mass movements at the grassroots" and not on electoral politics. "This," Rothschild maintains, "has long been the philosophy of The Progressive, and remains so today." Oh really? I must be confused because I thought the current motto was "No round of Bash The Bitch left unplayed." Where is Iraq on the magazine's website? We get Rothschild's non-stop gushing over Obama, his Obama-session non-stop. Even writing of Raph Nader's entry into the presidential race, he has to put it into the Obama equation. It's as though Obama's his boyfriend and he's obsessed with his boyfriend. No matter what the topic is, it's "Obama did the sweetest thing last night . . ." Or, "Did I tell you what Obama said this morning . . ." When they leave the campaign trail, the magazine only embarrasses itself more since they can travel around the world but apparently Iraq fell off the globe. Not an article or column on Iraq in the March issue. Way to "focus".

We'll get to the laughable Nation magazine in a moment. First, IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC action:

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. 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."

The Progressive will not put out another issue before that action takes place and, apparently, it was too much to expect that they could alert readers to an important action. It was more important that they cover sports, that they cover "a progressive state legislator," "Ghandi on the West Bank," Stab stringing words together to say very little (a hallmark of Stab's writing) and oh, so much less.

From Margaret Kimberley's "Progressives Cave to Obama" (Black Agenda Report):

The end of movement politics has infected nearly everyone, like a mysterious illness in a science fiction film. If a movement still existed, MoveOn would not have made an Obama endorsement via popularity contest. They never bothered to make demands of him, to ask questions before giving him their support. Their endorsement is worthless because it gives Obama cover and asks nothing in return.
MoveOn spreads the conventional wisdom that super delegates are more likely to be pro-Clinton and are willing to subvert the popular will on her behalf. They have even circulated a petition to prevent super delegates from choosing the nominee. What MoveOn doesn't say is that both Clinton and Obama have used their political action committees to
make contributions to super delegate campaign funds. They also fail to mention that Obama leads in making these contributions.
His PAC has given $698,200 to super delegates. Hillary Clinton has made $205,500 in contributions to super delegate coffers. In other words, Obama is more adept at buying votes than Clinton. "Yes we can" indeed.

MoveOn is not alone. It is incomprehensible that The Nation magazine endorsed Obama after making the following statement. "This magazine has been critical of the senator from Illinois for his closeness to Wall Street; his unwillingness to lay out an ambitious progressive agenda on healthcare, housing and other domestic policy issues; and for post-partisan rhetoric that seems to ignore the manifest failure of conservatism over these past seven years."
If The Nation has so many qualms about Obama, why endorse him at all? The editors could have simply made a statement of non-support for Obama or Clinton. The sad plight of progressives is all too obvious. "While his rhetoric about ‘unity' can be troubling, it also embodies a savvy strategy to redefine the center of American politics and build a coalition by reaching out to independent and Republican voters disgruntled and disgusted with what the Bush era has wrought." The Nation should explain to readers why Democrats ought to "redefine the center" with independents and Republicans instead of having their own agenda and fighting to make it a reality.
If even The Nation bows down in thrall of the over hyped "center," then all hope for true change is gone. In other words, capitulation is the order of the day, and Obama makes it more palatable than Hillary Clinton does.

Anyone still wonder why the illegal war drags on?

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;