Monday, June 16, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Monday, June 16, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue



Yesterday Matthis Chiroux spoke in DC.  His father, who traveled from Huntsville, Alabama, and four members of Iraq Veterans Against the War stood with him as he explained why he was not deploying to Iraq.


Sgt. Matthis Chiroux: Good afternoon. We gather here this Father's Day on a very somber note. The American occupation of Iraq -- an illegal, immoral war which is ripping this nation apart as well causing an immeasurable harm to the Iraqi people and the people of the world alike. We gather in the remembrance of the sacrifice of many whose fathers weep on this joyous day for they know their own flesh and blood has been torn and siphoned from them for what we collectively hope will be this last blunder of American military might. We gather here and hope that our fathers will forgive us for the wrongs we have perpetrated on our bodies, hearts and minds alike in this cruel decade of disaster which stems from the very city in which we stand.
This father's day, we gather here to calm the vicious and vengeful alike. The first day I came to Washington, D.C. was less than one month before I shipped out to basic training. I was so moved by this country and its history that it reinvigorated my belief in the righteousness of what I was doing: Joining the army not only in search of personal progress but to participate in the efforts to bring justice to the individuals responsible for 9-11.           
I remember standing at the base of the Washington Monument and watching the fireworks explode in the sky that Fourth of July and wondering how it was that we could have come under attack on American soil and believing firmly that I would be participatingin dealing justice for September 11th.           
I remember standing before the Lincoln Memorial and feeling the presence of not just the former president and emancipator but of Martin Luther King and his dream for a brighter and more united future for the children of this nation.         
That young me could not have known where he'd be standing almost six years later and what he would be saying this Father's Day. I am Sgt. Matthis Chiroux and tonight at midnight I may face further action from the army for refusing to reactive to participate in the Iraq occupation.           
This fact hangs heavy on my heart as I look back at my five years of service in uniform. But I understand that what I am doing is in keeping with the values I shared with my friends-in-arms while we wondered if things could really get any worse?                   
Today I stand in resistance to the occupation of Iraq because I believe in our nation, its military and her people. I resist because I swore an oath to this nation that I would not allow it to fall into decay when I may be serving on the side of right. And my country is in decay and in these times of crisis Thomas Paine once said, "The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will flee from service to our country."                  
I stand here today as a Winter Soldier. To serve our nation, its military and its people in this dark time of confusion and corruption.            
I stand here to make it known that my duty as a soldier is first to the higher ideals and guiding principles of this country which our leaders have failed to uphold.
I stand here today in defense of the US Constitution which has known no greater enemy, foreign or domestic, than those highest in this land who are sworn to be governed by its word.                
I stand here today in defense of those who have been stripped of their voices in this occupation for the warriors of this nation have been silenced to the people who need to start listening.            
We are here to honor the memory of our fathers who more than two centuries ago brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, as Abraham Lincoln once noted.
We are here to honor the struggle of our fathers and their fathers and their fathers before them to build this nation and bring it together -- through slavery and poverty, to sexism and racism, through materialism and imperialism. They built this nation and struggled to keep it alive as we've blundered and learned and blundered again. We owe it to our fathers to stand for this nation now when a dark cloud has descended upon it in the form of an administration who is stealing the lives of us all to wage an illegal war -- conceived in lies and birthed [born] of manipulation.
As a soldier I was told it was not my place to question the orders of those appointed above me. I had that lie trained into me from my first day of basic training to my last day of active duty. But I have learned the truth, the truth that the occupation of Iraq is inherently illegal and that it is my duty as a soldier to refuse illegal orders to reactivate and deploy in support of it.              
I have learned that in these times of crisis one must look deep into their own values to know the path that they must walk. I have learned that feeling and thinking and speaking and acting and keeping with courage and honesty in preservation of a righteous cause is blessed and may give a person strength to utter truths that may calm the vicious and the vengeful alike.          
I believe that this nation and this military may come to know the same truth: That the rule of law has been forsaken and we must return to it or be doomed to continue disaster. I believe in the goodness of the American people and I believe that justice is not dead because we as a people believe that it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government in our names. We know this truth to be self-evident that our nation can unite to oppose an illegal occupation which is killing and scarring and shattering the lives of our youth and the Iraqi people.   
On this Fathers Day, know, America, that your children need you. We need you to care for us and to care for our country which we will inherit when you are finished with her. We need you to end this occupation of Iraq which has destroyed a country and scattered its people to the wind like ashes in the tempest -- a tempest that has engulfed the nation of Iraq and scrubbed any sign of peace and prosperity from the surface of a civilization older than even history itself.           
Fathers, we need you to care for your children and the children of Iraq for they know not why you fight and carry no fault in the conflict.          
Fathers, your sons and daughters need you now to embrace peace for though we were attacked, we have dealt in retaliation that same suffering one-thousand times over to a people who never wronged us. The nation will know little healing until first we stem off the flow of blood and human life for justice and healing will never be done by a blade or a bullet or a bomb or a torture cell.         
By continuing to participate in the unjust occupation of Iraq, we, as service members, are contributing to that flow of human life and we cannot now -- nor could we ever -- call the Iraqi people an enemy in the fight against the use of terror. But terror is all we now know. We are terrified of the prospect that we have been lied to. We are terrified by the idea that we have killed for nothing. We are terrified to break the silence. We are terrified to do what we know is right.         
But never again will I allow terror to silence me. Nor will I allow it to govern my actions. I refuse terror as a tactic for uniting a people around an unjust cause. I refuse to allow terror to motivate me to do violence on my fellow man especially those who never wronged me in the first place. I refuse to be terrified to stand in defense of my Constitution. And I refuse to be terrified of doing so in great adversity.         
As a resister to the Iraq Occupation, I refuse to be terrified by what may come for I know those who stand against me are in terror of the truth. But I will speak my truth, and I will stand by it firmly and forever will my soul know peace. Thank you.



Matthis Chiroux announced May 15th that he would not deploy to Iraq and yesterday was the day of deployment.  At the start of this month, Matthis Chiroux appeared on The Scott Horton Show (audio link) and pointed out that recalling people in IRR back into the service really isn't allowed outside of declared wars and the US Congress never declared war on Iraq.  He explained that encountering members of IVAW was when he began to see that service members have a right and duty to speak out.  He also discussed how, following his discharge, he moved to NYC and had let his hair grow out ("about five inches") when he was informed that, discharge or not, he was being pulled back on.  With Courage to Resist (audio link), Matthis discussed going into a deep depression when he first learned his discharge meant nothing and he was being deployed to Iraq.  But "in mid-Marth I went to a peace event in Brooklyn" and encountered members of IVAW.  He singeled out IVAW's Selena Coppa as someone who especially stood out.  Matthis was not the only one to recently refuse to deploy.  Courage to Resist notes that 5:00 a.m. last Friday was when Jose Crespo was due to report to be deployed to Iraq but that Jose informed the military this was a "could not" do that due to family obligations ("serious health crisis").


In Canada, war resisters are pressuring the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote.  We're at a maximum on "K" (size of the e-mail) so this topic is being pulled and will be picked up tomorrow.  In the meantime, to keep the pressure on, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at "").


There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean,  Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
In Iraq, confuse continued over the weekend regarding the treaty the White House wants.  Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported on Saturday that Moqtada al-Sadr's call for protests every Friday against the treaty were met in Karbala (and the photo run with the article demonstrated the protests continued in Baghdad as well) and that US officials were stating that the impasse was not a problem.  Leila Fadel and Mike Tharp (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, was making his displeasure well known and they quoted him stating: "Iraq has another option that it may use.  The Iraqi government, if it wants, has the right to demand that the U.N. terminate the presence of international forces on Iraqi sovereign soil."  CNN reported Bully Boy blustering in Paris Saturday that, "If I were a betting man, we'll reach an agreement with the Iraqis."  Alissa J. Rubin and Suadad al-Salhy (New York Times) report today that members of the Iraqi Parliament are stating that it "will be very difficult" for a treaty to be finalized prior to July 31st and the reporters note: "The overarching question is how much control Iraq will have over the activities of the American military on Iraqi soil."
Returning to al-Sadr.  Mike Tharp (McClatchy Newspapers) noted the possible October elections and that al-Sadr's "latest approach appears to be an effort to ensure that he gets some representation in provincial governments.  But by not running candidates directly under the Sadr banner, he may hope to avoid blame for a poor showing."  Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) offers today, "Aides to anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said Sunday that although his movment will not field an official slate of Sadrist candidates in upcoming elections, it could support individual Sadrists running for office."  It could also be that with threats to ban anyone from the list that's connected to a militia, al-Sadr could be creating a division within his movement (a clear one, those carrying firearms are supposed to have his written permission) that would allow his bloc to run for office. A point Dean Yates (Reuters) makes as well: "That could allow the Sadrist bloc to skirt a draft election law that bans any party with a militia from competing and possibly avoid a row with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki over the issue. Maliki, himself a Shi'ite, has threatened to bar the movement from political life unless it disbanded the Mehdi Army."  No one knows al-Sadr's reasonsings.  "[A] day after Mr. Sadr announced that he was reorganizing his movement," Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) pointed out, al-Maliki ordered troops into Amara -- "a power base of" al-Sadr's. Ned Parker and Raheen Salman (Los Angeles Times) offer the backstory -- no participation in the 2005 elections, the assault on Basra "widely interpreted as a move against Sadr".  Aref Mohammed (Reuters) reports al-Maliki is telling Amara residents that have until Wednesday to surrender all firearms and weapons (or?) and that al-Sadr's has order the Medhi Army to stand-down. 
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad bombings within 15 minutes of each other with the first claimeing the life of 1 Iraqi service member and leaving three more wounded as well as wounding five college students while the second explosion resulted in four college students being wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack that left four people wounded, a Baghdad car bombing that wounded one person, a Mosul home bombing that claimed the life of 1 child and left two people wounded -- this was one in a series of bombings in Mosul, four in all, aimed at various houses in Mosul today, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded one person and a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 3 "Awakening" Council members and left another wounded.
Reuters notes 2 college students were shot dead at Mosul University by "Iraqi security forces" for the 'crime' of resisting arrest.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Turning to US political races.  First up, LeftTurn is delinked.  Repeating a LIE isn't journalism.  Repeating a debunked LIE goes beyond shoddy.  We're not in the mood for it.   When it's June and you're repeating a lie debunked at the start of March, you're just pathetic.  So is attacking someone because of your own shoddy system for comments but that's what happened to LavenderLiberal.  No link to the trash attack, but here's LavenderlLiberal explaining why Obama is a "no" vote: "Really, to hell with it. Vote for the senior-disdaining, homophobic, DLC-beholden global corporatist with no experience, and lose the next three or four terms to the GOP. I just don't care anymore. As the Obamaniacs themselves keep telling me, there's no room for me in their mythical 'big tent.' I believe them."
In the real world, as opposed to Panhandle Media's Pravda for Obama, Naomi Klein (link goes to ICH) points out, "Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBNC, 'Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy.  I love the market'."  Klein goes on to point out that show-boating Barack who stated he wouldn't shop at Wal-Mart has Jason Furman heading his economic team.  Meanwhile, John Pilger (New Statesman) observes, "The nomination of Barack Obama, which, according to one breathless commentator, 'marks a truly exciting and historic moment in US history', is a product of the new delusion. . . It is time the wishful-thinkers grew up politically and debated the world of great power as it is, not as they hope it will be.  Like all serious presidential candidates, past and present, Obama is a hawk and an expansionsit.  He comes from an unbroken Democratic tradition, as the war-making of presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton demonstrates.  Obama's difference may be that he feels an even greater need to show how tough he is.  However much the colour of his skin draws out both racists and supporters, it is otherwise irrelevant to the great power game.  The 'truly exciting and historic moment in US history' will only occur when the game itself is challenged."  Pilger's article can also be found at Dissident Voice
Ralph Nader is running for president as an independent candidate.  West Virginia's Charleston Daily Mail includes this observation: "If you are as angry as I am that our vote did not count and the delegates chose our presidential candidat, vote independent.  Vote for Ralph Nader.  He makes more sense than Obama."  Joel S. Hirschhorn (Swans Commentary) outlines reasons to support Nader: "In so many ways Ralph Nader deserves to be president of the U.S. more than any Republican or Democratic candidate.  For anyone that understands the need to overturn the two-party plutocracy and the corporate money that supports both major parties, Nader is the only credible candidate.  He is also the most honest one and the only one that has the best interests of ordinary Americans as his highest priority."  Meanwhile Dave G. (Digital Journal) reports that anti-Iraq War candidate Ron Paul dropping out of the GOP race for the presidential nomination -- no, the media didn't rip into him to drop out the way they did Hillary but note the "him" -- has Nader and Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr competing for Paul's supporters.  Paul Bedard (US News & World Reports) speaks with Chris Driscoll of the Nader campaign who explains that they're hoping to be included in the presidential debates this fall and Bedard notes Jesse Ventura's victory in Minnesota last decade, "He startd with little support in the polls, got invited to the Minnesota gubernatorial debates, and eventually won after people got a chance to compare him with his foes."  Noting Nader's ballot access in Colorado, Joe Hanel (Cortez Journal Online) speaks with Jenny Przekwas whos is spearheading the campaign's Colorado work and explains, "We're concerned with voting our conscience and voting for a candidate that best represents our views."

Obama and the Democrats are raking it in from the big corporations.  

Big corporate executives, for some reason, like Obama and the Democrats, but do not like Nader/Gonzalez. 

Therefore, we must rely on you - our loyal supporters.  

After securing the nomination, Obama immediately ripped into absentee black fathers, while kowtowing to the right-wing AIPAC lobby.  

What's wrong with this picture? 

What's wrong is that Obama is moving right.  

He's got the corporate money, the powerful lobbies, and big business in his corner.

And he's not looking back. 

But we have to make sure Obama knows that we are organizing. 

And will be relentless in pursuit of justice throughout the year. 

Obama might have the corporate executives and big law firms in his corner. 

But we have you. 

And with your help, Nader/Gonzalez will be on ten state ballots by the end of the month. 

And forty by the end of the summer. 

So once again, thank you for your generous and ongoing donations to our campaign.  

Together, we are making a difference.   


 Sunday, Ava and I noted the attacks, 'confusion' and silences regarding Katie Couric's commentary calling out sexism in the media.  And we linked to Betty's astute critique of how Ms. magazine might want to try thinking before leaping just became Barack wants them to.  Betty did a wonderful job explaining how the slang terminology had changed in the last two years.  But Delilah Boyd (A Scriverner's Lament) catches another point: Michelle Obama on video calling Barack her "baby's daddy."  Will Ms. rush to call out Michelle?  Will they insist that Michelle's implying she and her husband are not married?  Ms. has been pretty pathetic of late so anything they might do next would not be a surprise.


 scott horton

 the washington post
 amit r. paley
 the los angeles times
 ned parker
 raheem salman
 the new york times
 alissa j. rubin
 suadad al-salhy

mcclatchy newspapers
leila fadel
mike tharp

thomas friedman is a great man