"Children cry, women scream at you; we were tormenting these people," Key told Al-Ahram Weekly. "We never found anything -- no potential terrorists, no cache of weapons, nothing. After a while, you start to ask yourself: 'Why are we continuing to do this?'"
Key says he witnessed civilians being beaten, maimed or shot with little or no provocation. Among the haunting memories of the short period he spent in Iraq are watching his comrades kicking around the severed heads of dead Iraqis "like a soccer ball" and witnessing the killing of a seven-year-old girl whom he used to give leftovers of army rations. "She was coming across the street as she used to and, suddenly, her head exploded like a mushroom," he says. "I had a feeling someone in my platoon did that."
Key says he was shocked by the extent of lack of accountability for what the soldiers did. "You could make up any excuse you wanted to kill an Iraqi and no one would questions," he says.
Key says he reported to his superiors some of the incidents that he found outrageous. "I was told it was none of my business," he says. "You're not supposed to have sympathy; you're not supposed to have a conscience. You're supposed to be the 'perfect' American soldier -- a killing machine who does as he is told. But I realised that it was my concern and it was my business, that I did have my conscience."
When he came home on leave in late 2003, Key knew he did not want to return to Iraq. He sought legal advice and was told that he had two options: go back to Iraq or go to jail. He decided to go underground and, after 14 months of hiding in the US, crossed the border into Canada with his wife and children.
During the Vietnam War, many Americans dodging the draft or deserting the army to escape a bloody and unnecessary war found refuge in Canada. It should only make sense for this tradition to continue for another bloody and unnecessary war, this one in Iraq. However, the Conservative government doesn't think so. It seems that making George W. Bush happy is more important.
Democracy Now! is a never-ending crap-fest of lies. It's not journalism. Ava and I covered a number of things last week here. Pru was hoping we'd note Naomi Klein's idiotic statement that Barack's good on foreign policy. So, for Pru, here's Mike Gonzalez' "Obama's 'backyard' politics for Latin America are very much like George Bush's" (Great Britian's Socialist Worker) here's the reality that too many are scared to speak (and Klein should worry because -- barring an earlier death -- she's going to be an important voice for the next five decades, nonsense about Barack will haunt her, especially if he were to become president):
A few weeks ago US presidential hopeful Barack Obama travelled to Miami to speak to the Cuban American Foundation, a right wing organisation much loved by George Bush.
Obama promised to maintain the 50 year old embargo on Cuba. He also used the speech to let the world know that he was not going to go soft on Latin America.
He delighted his audience by calling Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez a "demagogue" and supporting the Merida Initative, a plan launched last year by Bush to fund Central America’s police and military in a "new war on drugs".
It is all too familiar. When former US president Bill Clinton signed the Plan Colombia agreement in 2000, it delivered billions of dollars of financial and military assistance to help Colombia’s “war on drugs”.
That became a "war on terror" after 9/11 and today has reverted to its original title. But in reality it is the same continuous policy. Then as now, Colombia is the launching pad for US strategy in Latin America.
A highly militarised state, it borders on Venezuela, Ecuador, Central America and Brazil and overlooks the Caribbean. Its president, Alvaro Uribe, has long worked hand in glove with the drug barons and has been complicit in the systematic murder and repression of political opponents, peasant leaders and trade unionists.
Obama, like others across the spectrum of US politics, has complained that the war on Iraq has not only consumed resources, but has also distracted the US from its own backyard.
Over the last ten years, new governments have come to power across Latin America with mass support and at least a language of change and reform.
Despite the constant demonising of Chavez, the reality is that his arguments for Latin American integration and unity have found allies across the political spectrum.
Late last year, a majority of Latin American states voted against the creation of a Latin American Free Trade Area which would have locked the region into the global arrangements proposed by Bush.
The US right began to shout that the US had "lost Latin America". Their strategy for getting it back would soon become clear.
Very broadly, Latin America is divided. On the one hand, the governments of Michelle Bachelet in Chile, Cristina Kirchner in Argentina and President Lula in Brazil work within the global system as it is, combining social reform with neoliberal economic policies.
On the other hand, Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador have argued for a more radical vision -- seeking alliances and trade relations with China and the Middle East and breaking the dependence on the US.
In Ecuador, Correa has already announced the closure of the US military base at Manta when its lease runs out.
US tactics are reasonably clear. Brazil, the most powerful member of the “reformist” bloc, is happy to work with the US. The presence of Brazilian troops in Haiti supporting a US-backed state against a mass protest movement is hugely symbolic.
Much more significant is Lula's close relationship with Brazilian commercial agricultural interests, particularly in the development of bioethanol as an alternative fuel. This has brought him into direct confrontation with the MST -- the landless workers’ movement that enthusiastically supported his presidential campaign six years ago.
Lula, the radical workers’ leader of yesterday, is today forging a powerful capitalist state that works closely with multinational capital to win dominance in the region.
On the other hand, Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador are under a permanent and increasing assault veiled as the "war on drugs". In Bolivia, the US government has been actively supporting the so-called Half Moon, the group of wealthy provinces claiming autonomy from central government.
This is not, of course, about regional government -- but about winning control over Bolivia's gas and oil, nationalised under Morales and the key to his government’s social programme. Today, and for the last two years, Morales has been effectively paralysed.
Three months ago, Colombian troops crossed the border with Ecuador and attacked a camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), murdering their second in command in his tent.
It was a serious blow for an organisation that has been fighting successive governments since the 1950s, especially when its historic leader, Tirofijo (meaning "Sureshot"), died a few weeks later.
The current campaign against the Farc -- the claim that they are "narcoterrorists" for example -- goes beyond Colombia.
Uribe claims that the Farc has been financed by Venezuela. Clearly this is a justification for crossing frontiers and attacking the enemies of empire.
The new “war on drugs” in Central America is obviously part of a strategy that attempts to isolate Venezuela and its radical allies.
One of the issues behind all this, as ever, is oil. Venezuela’s actual and potential oil reserves give it real power in the world economy, especially when it develops joint strategies with Bolivia and Ecuador, also important oil-producing countries.
The US-led attempt to isolate Venezuela, attack Ecuador and dismember Bolivia are objectives which Barack Obama obviously shares. Oil talks!
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If you found this article useful please help us maintain SW by » making a donation.That's reality. It may be unpleasant, but reality can be unpleasant. Ask War Hawk Sammy Power what it's like to wake up next to a man with a chili bowl haircut despite the fact that his hairline is in 'retreat' by many, many inches. You can catch him making nice with Trashy Goodman today. You will not catch Goody correcting her lie that McKinney-Clemente are the first woman of color ticket. See Cedric's "Goodman can't stop pimping 'dat man" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! AND SHE PIMPS AGAIN!" joint-post.
The AT&T Convention in Denver
Well, you did it.
We needed to raise $60,000 by midnight yesterday.
And you blew by that early in the weekend and almost hit $70,000 by last night.
Your generous support helped fund stage two of our ballot access drive – fifteen states by July 20.
As promised, we have now collected enough signatures to put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in 15 states. Click here to see our current ballot access map.
Last month, we laid out our ambitious ballot access timetable:
Ten states by July 6.
Fifteen states by July 20.
Thirty states by August 8.
Forty states by September 1.
Forty-five states by September 15.
Thanks to you, we have met the goals of stage one and stage two on time.
In Arkasas, our road trip team along with many volunteers collected more than 2,000 signatures, more than double what was needed.
In New Jersey, a dedicated group of volunteers helped us collect more than 2,000 signatures, more than double what was needed.
And in Massachusetts, we’ve collected more than 19,000 signatures--10,000 valid are required--and are now in the midst of turning in our petitions to hundreds of towns across the state to get them verified.
We are now entering our most difficult phase--the third phase, where we are facing deadlines in an additional 15 states by August 10.
If you have been thinking of dropping what you’re doing this summer and hitting the road for Nader/Gonzalez, the next three weeks are when we need you most.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org today to find out what states you can help in now.
And click here to see our day-by-day live interactive map of how our road teams are doing.
Tomorrow we will be launching a contest to build our e-mail list.
There will be a whole lot of prizes -- including the grand prize of dinner with Ralph Nader.
Keep an eye on tomorrow’s e-mail for all the details.
And finally, when people ask you -- why is Ralph Nader running for President?
Here’s one way to answer:
Just show them the new Democratic Party Convention bag.
And Glenn Greenwald’s most recent article -- The AT&T Convention in Denver – here.
The two parties have been taken over by the corporations.
And the people need a candidacy to counter that of the two corporate parties.
That candidacy is Nader/Gonzalez.
Once again, thank you for your generous donations this week.
You helped power us over the finish line for stage two.
Onward to stage three.
The Nader Team
PS: Last week, we offered the DVD An Unreasonable Man--autographed by Ralph Nader--to anyone who donated $100 or more by yesterday midnight. Well, 242 of you came through. That offer is now closed. We will be shipping those DVDs out later this week.
tamam ahmed jama
the socialist worker