Sunday, March 08, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

Today is International Women's Day and there's no celebrating in Iraq. IRIN notes Oxfam International's [PDF formart warning] "In Her Own Words: Iraqi women talka bout their greatest concerns and challenges," a survey of 1,700 Iraqi women -- approximately 60% of whom say that security is their first concern, the next grouping (55%) explain that they have been direct or indirect victims of violence since the US invasion began and the same percentage states "they were displaced at least once since 2003." Mike Sergeant (BBC News) zooms in on one widow, Nadia Hussein who lost her husband, three brothers, saw her home torched -- while she was pregnant and she miscarried, attempted to see help from her extended family only to be beaten and abused by a nephew and now considers home a women's center in Baghdad. Sergeant observes of these Iraqi war widows, "Almost everywhere you go in Baghdad, you can see them begging at traffic lights and outside mosques - dressed from head to toe in black." These women will not be helped by al-Maliki's Women's Ministry because he slashed the meager budget of $7,500 a month to $1,500 and that's what led to Minister Nawal al-Samarrai quitting. AFP spoke to her for International Women's Day and she states, "I have lots of will power, I'm tenacious. I was convinced that I could improve conditions for women, but I ran into a wall. . . .. The occupation, terrorism, the economy collapsing . . . all that produced an army of widows, an increase in the number of divorcees, unamarried women, women beggars. . . . Society is falling apart and me, I was a minister in a ministry without means, without power, without offices outside of Baghdad." In today's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin notes the health study by WHO and that women in Iraq were more likely than men to self-report mental disorders/problems. Rubin forgets that the percentage of self-reporting for women vs. male is fairly consistent regardless of the country. You're asking people to self-disclose. Women are traditionally -- regardless of country -- more willing to self-disclose than men when it comes to stress and related factors.n Of the Oxfam study, Rubin notes it found "more than three-quarters of all widows were not receiving pensions, and a third of the women surveyed had three hours or less electricity per day." Meanwhile Oxfam is calling the crisis an emergency and urging al-Maliki's government to start funding the social services. We should note that the US State Dept honored Suaad Allami with an International Women of Courage Awards last week and observed of Allami: "A prominent lawyer, Suaad Allami fights against the erosion of women's rights and defends the most disadvantaged. She founded the NGO Women for Progress and the Sadr City Women's Center, which offers free medical care, literacy education, vocational training, and legislative advocacy. She has accepted a Humphrey Fellowship from the State Department for academic year 2009-2010." And we should how little attention Iraqi women receive all year from the press -- did any major print outlet report on the International Women of Courage Awards? -- and how little concern is expressed for them by the White House -- regardless of which of the two major political parties occupy it -- and how all these male gas bags jawbone on and on about Iraq but never find time to note the plight of Iraqi women. Or the fact that their lives have been worsened by the illegal war.

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs notes, "One in five married Iraqi women has been a victim of physical domestic violence, while one in three has been subject to emotional violence. Of the women victims of physical domestic violence, 14% were subject to violence during pregnancy." And the UN "calls for both commitment and effective practical measures to protect and promote rights of Iraqi women. Years of violence, internal conflict and wars have slowed progress towards equality for Iraqi women, and compromised their fundamental rights to education, healthcare, work and full political participation."

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 was 4253 and tonight? 4256. Saturday the US military made the latest announcement: "A U.S. Coalition forces Soldier died from injuries sustained following an attack on a patrol in the Salah Ad Din province of northern Iraq March 7. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." Over 1.6 million Iraqis have died since the start of the illegal war.

Al Jazeera reports 28 dead in a suicide bomobing attack on a Baghdad's police academy today (at least fifty wounded) and that the male bomber "blew himself up in the middle of a crowd outside the academy on Palestine Street". AP states 30 are dead and that the bombing took place "near a side entrance" with some police officials stating the bomber was on a motorcycle. Greg Miller and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) report:

Haidar Nouri, 22, was one of the young men in line Sunday morning, waiting next to blast walls at the edge of Palestine Street, a main road adjacent to the Interior Ministry compound. Nouri, from eastern Baghdad's Baladiyat neighborhood, said he was desperate for work, tired of odd jobs and menial labor. Police divided his group into four lines, and the men thought they were about to go inside.
"While we were standing there, I heard someone scream, 'Stop! Stop!' Then I heard two shots and I felt something throw the crowd down. I felt nothing after that. [Then] I found myself in the hospital," Nouri said.Shrapnel was lodged in his neck, hand and shoulder, and his thigh was burned, he said.
"I saw some of my fellow recruits lost their hands and others their legs. The hospital halls are crowded with the wounded," he said. "I hoped to serve my country when I got this job and that God would bless me with money, but this is what I got."

They also note 12,000 US troops to leave Iraq which we'll pick up from AP in a minute. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 30 dead, sixty-one wounded and that the bomber was on a motorcycle. BBC notes it's the deadliest attack in a month and, "Reports suggest the bomber detonated a belt of explosives as he crashed his motorbike into a line of people waiting at the side entrance to the training centre. Most of the dead were police recruits, while others were serving officers and civilians." No one mentions Thursday's bomber, also male, but a young Iraqi child. That's not cause to clutch the pearls, we only pathologize gender, after all. Males, even a young boy, become suicide bombers and there's no hand wringing, no chest beating, no 'why, oh, why!' or 'how do we stop this! we must stop this!' It's only when gender be made a crime that suddenly it's an pandemic! Female suicide bombers in Iraq are a very small percentage of all bombers and it's really interesting to note a grown man today, a child on Thursday, both males, and no reason for the usual suspects to show up beating their chests and ripping out their hair. When a male becomes a bomber -- even a small child -- it's considered 'normal'. But let's all pretend not to notice how the media has pathologized gender throughout their reporting.

In other reported violence over the weekend . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left three "Awakening" Council members injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing resulted in two people being wounded (including one who works for Parliament) and a Mosul grenade attack which left two wouned. McClatchy's Sahar Issa reported yesterday 2 Baghdad roadside bombings ("simultaneously") which left two people injured, another 2 Baghdad roadside bombing which resulted in 1 person dead and eight more wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing which left four people wounded, another Mosul roadside bombing which left three wounded, a Mosul grenade attack which wounded three people and Turkey bombed north of Erbil yesterday -- as part of their continual bombings in northern Iraq.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) notes 1 person shot dead in Mosul and, dropping back to Saturday night, 2 Iraqi soldiers shot dead in Mosul. McClatchy's Sahar Issa reported yesterday a shooting in Mosul on a former Brig Gen who was in front of his house (and apparently wasn't wounded) and a Baiji house raid by US forces in which they shot dead 1 person.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 mass graves containing at least 25 corpses were discovered in Diyala Province.

Lara Jakes (AP) reports the US military is stating 12,000 US troops will leave Iraq by September. Is this the approximately 10,000 that will leave in all of 2009? Or is this 12,000 part of the constant resupply efforts in Iraq -- where some are rotated out and some are rotated in? No one's saying. The US military said 12,000 are leaving and reporters are running with that. Despite the fact that we saw brigades leave last month and we saw brigades ship to Iraq last month and there are brigades waiting to ship to and waiting to ship out of Iraq currently. If it is 12,000 being withdrawn (and not replaced) by September, that's a lot of attention the Los Angeles Times gives to an announcement of what was already known -- note the article we quoted on the bombing and you'll see the deadliest bombing in a month receives about a third of the coverage of an announcement of something already announced.

Someone who was working was Walter Pincus (Washington Post) who reports that despite Barack's assertion of no more outsourcing by the US military (when the US military could do the job itself), M-NF went ahead and listed a job for contractors "a seven-member media team to support the public affairs officer of the 25th Infantry Division". Pincus reports this was one of "more than 40 notices" by DoD last week offering jobs to contractors.

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: Ms. magazine gets punked
TV: Alessandra Stanley, far funnier than Tina Fey
The Thomas E. Ricks Dialogue
Talking Iraq
Amnesty Provincial
The Puta Janine Jackson
Al Distraction, Domestic Arts Czar
The Katrina goes to . . .
ETAN offers Power Plant Information
Friday roundtable on Iraq

This week groups such as The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War -- are taking part in an action in almost two weeks. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains:

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st
As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution,
click here.)
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.
For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

Kat's "Kat's Korner: No Life Left On The Album" went up early this morning and Isaiah's latest goes up right after this. Pru notes Great Britain's Socialist Worker's "Three generations of women celebrate the gains in the fight for liberation:"

Women from three different generations spoke to Siân Ruddick about their lives and what liberation means to them.
Women around the world will be celebrating the gains that they have fought for and won on International Women’s Day this Sunday 8 March.
Yet many will be well aware that the fight for liberation continues.
The lives of women in Britain have changed dramatically over the past few decades.
The beginning of the Second World War in 1939 brought thousands of women into the workplace to replace the men who were called up to the army.
This transformed the way that women working outside the home were viewed.
Following the war, women entered the workplace and the education system in increasing numbers, and raised demands for equal opportunities and sexual liberation.
The rise of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s saw feminists, socialists, students and workers organise campaigns for things like equal pay and abortion rights.
These fights continue today. And women have been a vital part of other campaigns that go beyond the issues of women’s rights.
The anti-war movement brought thousands of women from all backgrounds onto the streets to say no to imperialism and war.
Tony Blair and George Bush used the rhetoric of women’s liberation as a reason to wage war on Afghanistan.
But the anti-war movement has argued against this justification for slaughter. Women know that the same people who decry women’s oppression abroad have attacked women’s rights at home.
To mark International Women’s Day, women from three different generations spoke to Siân Ruddick about their lives and what liberation means to them.
‘In lots of homes the husband had control’
Beatrice Johnstone is 80 years old. She migrated from Coatbridge in Scotland to Corby, Northamptonshire at the age of eight
‘In working class families in Scotland, it was the done thing that women worked. My mother worked in the steel works after she left school.
There was a lot of discrimination against Catholics by employers at the time. She found that the main barrier to work, not her gender.
I lived at home until I was married at 20. That’s something that has only changed quite recently.
I worked in an office before and after I was married and my sister was the same. When you left school you got a job and enjoyed life.
There wasn’t much talk of going into further education, but it was the same for the lads too. We had to work.
When I was married I think the way we organised finances in our home was an exception. We made joint decisions, my husband and me. That was the way my mother was too.
But in lots of homes the husband had total control.
Even when women worked, the day-to-day running of the house was left to them. My mother didn’t work once she was married – she ran the house.
When we moved to England in 1936 my gran and aunt came with us, and we lived together. Women in my family worked or had worked throughout their lives.
In 1939 war was declared. I think this changed women’s lives quite dramatically. As the men were called up and sent off to fight, women had to fill in for them.
My aunt became a crane driver. Women did heavy industrial work and operated machines.
When the men returned, women didn’t just go back to the usual jobs, they continued to work in factories.
I can see the ways our lives have changed. From my mother’s generation to mine the changes were significant. We had more freedom and choice. We would dance and go out before and after we got married.
Women now are doing well I think. They have access to all sorts of jobs and can go to university. But there are still pressures, such as juggling work and family.
I still think it’s nice for children if mothers stay at home, but I know lots of people don’t agree with me.
But at least the choice is there. At one time if women were teachers before they got married they couldn’t return to those jobs afterwards.
Its good that things like that don’t happen so much anymore.’
‘It’s encouraging to see so many people protesting’
Helen Blair is a secondary school teacher in Glasgow and has three daughters. Helen was active in the women’s liberation movement and is an active socialist and anti-war activist
‘I do think lots of progress has been made in terms of women’s lives, but we’re not all the way there yet.
I look at my daughters and in some ways I do have more hopes for them than my parents had for me. They’ve been pushed to achieve in education, which wasn’t common when I was younger.
But when I was a student in the 1970s, you didn’t leave with all the debt. My middle daughter will be leaving university about £20,000 in debt to the student loan company.
Now with the recession they’ll find it harder to get jobs and clear their debts.
I was involved in women’s liberation activity and its interesting to see how the achievements of that movement are being reclaimed by the establishment to try and tell us women have it all now.
Legislation, like the Equal Pay Act, came about because of pressure from our movement. This legislation gives the impression of equality but it is a false impression.
At Glasgow council, women are still fighting for equal pay. In August last year there was a strike by council workers. At our school this meant some of the lowest paid women workers going on strike – office staff, dinner ladies and cleaners all going out together.
And yet the headteacher at our school is one of the highest paid women in the council.
In the 1970s there were arguments about gender and class between socialists and feminists.
As socialists we saw class as being the biggest divide. We had to fight for an analysis that said that all women don’t share the same interests.
Some women have benefited from changes in society. But the majority are still fighting their corner.
But it’s really encouraging to see so many young people, men and women, fighting and protesting.
My daughters have been involved in campaigns for Gaza, against military recruitment in schools, and are confident about expressing their point of view.
Seeing the anti-war demos full of young and angry Muslim women is impressive. It mirrors the process that I and lots of other women went through in breaking through the male-dominated nature of politics.
Figures of authority can’t stop people from trying to understand the world.’
‘We don’t need fake, airbrushed media images’
Estelle Cooch is a student at the London School of Economics (LSE) and has been involved in pro-choice campaigns and the recent protests at Miss University beauty contests. She was central to the LSE occupation for Gaza
‘I think the women’s liberation movement has meant that people take it for granted that women and men should have equal pay and equal opportunities, but often the reality is very different.
This is particularly obvious around things like welfare issues and abortion rights.
The Miss University beauty contests, that held competitions in each college, were part of the rebirth of the objectification of women.
Our campaign against Miss University brought together feminists, socialists and anti-war activists.
We had Afghan women involved who linked imperialism and women’s oppression. It is a common argument now that women can’t reach liberation when they’re being bombed.
Palestinian women were a leading part of the resistance against Zionism and war. We have many more inspiring and powerful images of women to aspire to, we don’t need the fake, airbrushed images fed to us by the media.
There is an argument that says that if both men and women are objectified then it makes it equal.
People who disagree with us try to say we’re prudes because we don’t find it liberating to have women depicted as sex objects and pole dancers being leered at by men, so there’s still a fight on.
The recession is going to have a big impact on women. The business society at LSE has started to claim that men have always held high-powered jobs, and in times of plenty women could have these jobs but now men should have priority again.
Employers will use excuses such as childcare and maternity leave to exclude women from the workplace as the recession starts to bite.
At LSE, the nursery was one of the first things that came under attack. They wanted to close it down to save money.
A campaign beat them back but it’s a sign of things to come. The erosion of crucial services will have a massive impact on working class women, particularly single mothers.
We have to widen our resistance. It has to include both men and women and continue to raise questions about equality and class.’
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.
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