Sunday, July 20, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

It was one of those bar conversations I'll probably remember for a lifetime.
We were sitting around talking about work, when my always articulate friend Robert waxed poetic about how Canada has taken an abrupt turn that we may never be able to recover from. That turn came when, this week, we deported war resister Robin Long.
We should all be hanging our heads in shame. Here was someone willing to stand up for what he believed in and leave his country rather than fight in a war he believed was illegal. In other words--he is a conscientious objector. He has a right to say "no," and if he needs to leave his country so he can avoid taking part in a war that Canadians too refused to take part in, then we should support him in that.
During the Vietnam War thousands of American soldiers fled the country, many of them landing in B.C. One of the more famous ones--Corky Evans--ended up in politics. This year he’s retiring, and the B.C. legislature won’t be the same without his colourful comments.
And there are many more who have given to this country in ways we may never even realize. Don Gayton, a local ecologist and author, is another member of that select crowd. Over the years he's offered up a perspective on our land that we are only now in our “greening” period truly coming to appreciate.

The above is from Karin Wilson's "Canada: She ain’t what she used to be" (Kelowna Capital News) and Vic noted and asked that we give "the half-assed helper a history lesson." He's referring to the next paragraph after the excerpt when helper Karin decides knowledge and facts don't really matter. That's when she repeats the LIE that the only ones going to Canada during Vietnam were "draft dodgers." Everybody sing, "Karin, Karin, Karin, does it hurt to be so stupid, Karin, Karin, Karin, does it hurt to be so dumb, Karin, Karin, Karin . . ."

We noted several articles two Thursdays ago, but we'll again note Robert Trumbull's "Evaders In Canada Call Action A Sham: Exclusion of Deserters Is a Source of Bitterness to Exiles Who Say Pardon Will Affect Only 2,000" (New York Times, January 22, 1977):

Jack Colhoun, co-editor of a magazine for the self-exiled Americans in Canada who is a deserter from the Army, branded Mr. Carter's plan "a real sham, sinsiter, almost Nixonesque."
[. . .]
There is no official figure, since the Canadian Government omits reference to military status in its immigration procedures, but Mr. Colhoun's group estimates that the number is from 20,000 to 25,000 of whom 6,000 to 7,500 are believed to hae become Canadian citizens.
After counting out the deserters and those who have taken Canadian citizenship, only about 2,000 of the exiles in Canada, or one of every 10 or 17, will benefit by Mr. Carter's pardon, Mr. Colhoun declared.

Oh my! Yes, Canada took in draft evaders and deserters during Vietnam. Note the "and." And guess what? The deserters? Some of them were never drafted, they enlisted. Real time studies in the seventies showed that deserters tended to come from poorer backgrounds and they tended to include a higher percentage of non-Whites. The reason for that? Draft evaders tended to be college students, from middle class families, and they already knew about alternatives. Deserters were more likely to be the working class and they were the soldiers who saw what was really happening on the ground in Vietnam. The war itself turned them against that illegal war. And Canada welcomed them all. There was no issue of, "Okay, you are a deserter so we need to first make sure that you were drafted because if you enlisted, you're on your own!" To the contrary, those who enlisted and turned against the war were seen as more effective to tell the story by the press at that time. They'd believed in the war believed Johnson or Nixon's spin and lies, enlisted, gone over to Vietnam and seen reality. Their awakening (and this is true of the press and of the peace movement) was seen as something big. (By the press because they love stories where a person starts off one way and completely transforms. By the peace movement because they thought such stories really drove home the illegal and brutal nature of that war.)

But someone wanted to help and didn't think to do her homework. "Karin, Karin, Karin, do you have to be so stupid, Karin, Karin, Karin, do you have to be so dumb?" I'm reminded of the drama student back in college, who was suddenly 'awakened' to the horror of Vietnam and went around screaming "Bananas!" That's all she could handle. She quickly became the joke of the campus and did far more damage than anyone would have thought. A peace activist (who was the head of the campus' College Democrats) decided to explain the truth about Vietnam to her (let's be honest, he was hot for her) so he started explaining US imperialism to her one day in the liberal arts building. Everything was over her head except "bananas." That she latched onto and went around repeating, over and over. With no other context. She helped no one. A lot like Karin Bananas. Hopefully Karin won't also decide that the way to really get the message across is to show up at the student union topless and with smashed bananas covering her chest and face while screaming, "End the war on bananas!" (f she should, don't worry. You may grimace while it's happening, but months later you will be able to laugh at it -- along with everyone else. For years and years to come.)

Jim Fox' "In Canada, high gas prices help economy" includes this (St. Petersburg Times):

A U.S. Army deserter who fled to Canada three years ago was ordered deported from British Columbia by the Federal Court of Canada. He was returned to his unit in Fort Knox, Ky., where the company commander will decide his punishment. He is the first Iraq war resister to be deported. Fifty other deserters are seeking refugee status to remain in Canada.

He is also Robin Long and it's strange that a brief would forget to mention that.

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 hit the 4,118 mark. And tonight? It's down. I've waited and waited for it to come back up, finished this entry, worked on other things and it's still down. Thursday's number was 4122 and Friday one more death was reported for a total of 4123. Looking at MNF announcements, I'm not seeing any announcements so, unless DoD got stuck announcing deaths (they're only supposed to identify the dead), the number should be 4123. Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war to be 1,245,538 up from 1,236,604.

In some of the reported violence by McClatchy (starting with Sunday) . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing ("adhesive IED stuck to a civilian car") claimed 1 life (driver), a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life (three more wounded), a second Baghdad roadside bombing resulted in five police officers being wounded, another Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left "seven people including one policeman and one baby girl" wounded, a grenade wounded four people in Baghdad, a roadside bombing just outside of Baghdad left three injured ("including a little girl), a Diyala roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers, a Nineveh Province car bombing claimed the life of 1 driver, and 2 "foreign private security contractors" and a Kirkuk roadside bombing wounded one police officer. Dropping back to Saturday, Hussein Kadhim reported 2 Baghdad roadside bombings with four people wounded and Salahuddin Province roadside bombing on Friday that wounded four people.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 people were shot dead in a Mosul drive-by, 1 person was shot dead outside his home in Mosul, 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul and "An American Special Force raided the residence of Khalaf Issa Turk in al-Asri neighbourhood, Baiji at dawn, Sunday and opened fire upon Husam Hamed Hmoud al-Qaissi, son of the Governor of Salahuddin Province while he was asleep in the guest room and also opened fire upon Auday Khalaf Issa al-Qaissi, his cousin killing them both, and detained two others without giving any explanation, said a security source in Salahuddin Province. The American military said its forces shot two armed men during a raid because they felt they had 'hostile intent'. The statement added that the forces also injured and captured an al-Qaida financer during the operation. " On Saturday Hussein Kadhim reported 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 1 female corpse was discovered in Basra. Saturday Hussein Kadhim reported 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad, 2 corpses (mother and daughter) discovered in Sulaimanlyah Province, and, in Diyala Province, "two heads for two shephers who were kidnapped last Wednesday" were discovered.

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: Faux outrage drowns out actual news
TV: Gossip Girls and Barack's Bitches
Extradition passed off as 'deportation'
Punishing the wounded whistle-blower
No, you're not safe
Robin Long and James Burmeister coverage
Nader-Gonzalez goes for 15 states

Pru notes that most people have already seen "Barack Obama is already moving to the right" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) but that with "all the apologists for Obama in the States, it might be wise to run it." Here it is:

US presidential candidate Barack Obama arrives in London to meet Gordon Brown next week. It’s part of his tour of key US allies, including France, Germany, Israel and Jordan.
This comes amid growing concern among his supporters that he is moving closer to the neoconservative agenda.
Obama has made great play of the fact he opposed the Iraq war. He had promised to pull US troops out of Iraq. But after meeting military commanders Obama now says he would retain a “residual” US presence there and “redeploy” any spare troops to Afghanistan.
After the Republicans attacked his pledge to negotiate with Iran he said that the country represents a “grave threat” and called for “aggressive diplomacy”.
Veteran black Democrat Jessie Jackson has also criticised Obama for blaming black fathers for not taking “personal responsibility” for their children. Jackson pointed to the high levels of unemployment and poverty among black people as the main problem that Obama is ignoring.
Across the globe there are hopes that if Obama is elected he might halt the endless war agenda of George Bush’s years. Now these hopes seem set to be dashed even before the presidential election gets seriously underway.
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