Tuesday, March 3, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Iran and Iraq get cozy, some voices speak out against the continued war on Iraq, one soldier won't have to deploy to Iraq, and more.
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-North Soldier died from injuries sustained during an indirect fire attack in Mosul, Iraq, Mar. 3. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the U.S. Department of Defense." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4255.
The deaths continue to mount because the illegal war continues and that's because a War Hawk is in the White House. That last one was George W. Bush, the current one is Barack H. Obama. Jack A. Smith (Dissident Voice) observes:
In the last two weeks of February, President Barack Obama -- upon whom so many peace supporters had counted to change Washington's commitment to wars and militarism -- delivered these three blows to his antiwar constituency:
1. By ordering 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan Feb. 17, President Obama is continuing and expanding George W. Bush's war. It's Obama's war now, and it's getting much bigger.
2. By declaring Feb. 27 that up to 50,000 U.S. soldiers would remain in Iraq after "combat brigades" departed, President Obama is continuing the war in a country that remains a tragic victim of the Bush Administration's aggression and which has taken the lives of over a million Iraqi civilians and has made refugees of 4.5 million people.
3. By announcing Feb. 26 that his projected 2010 Pentagon budget was to be even higher than budgets sought by the Bush Administration, President Obama was signaling that his commitment to the U.S. bloated war machine -- even at a time of serious economic recession -- was not to be questioned.
Whether or not Obama's actions will revive the peace movement is another matter. Antiwar activism during the election year was minimal. And now that a Democrat is in the White House it may be further reduced, since most peace backers voted for Obama. The movement's strength will be tested at the demonstrations in Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities on the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war March 21.
The actions are being led by The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War. From IVAW's announcement:
IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21stAs 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: www.pentagonmarch.org or www.answercoalition.org.
In his Dissident Voice article, Jack A. Smith goes on to cite two polls which may or may not be enough to determine public sentiment but what is known is that when gatekeepers grab the rulers and slap the wrists of the people, it takes longer for the ball to get rolling. For example, in August 2001, Bully Boy Bush was a joke. Then came 9-11 and, with it, the self-appointed guardians of discousre. They're out in full force again and this time their names include Tom Hayden. They can try to slow the awakening that's coming, but that's all their cheerleading and garbage will do, slow the awakening. Smith lists multiple cowards and also notes a recent column, Justin Ramondo's "The Silence of the Liberals" (Anti-war.com; this is the column Marcia highlighted last week):
Not by a long shot. Has anyone noticed Obama's vaunted 16-month withdrawal-from-Iraq plan has already stretched into 19 months – and the "residual force" he kept talking about during the campaign, as if it were a mere afterthought, turns out to be 50,000 strong?
Originally, none of those "residuals" were supposed to be combat troops – yet now we are told "some would still be serving in combat as they conducted counterterrorism missions." You have to go all the way to the very end of this New York Times report before you discover that, according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, "A limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces."
In short: we aren't leaving.
The embarrassing, aging tool Tom Hayden showed up yesterday to tell the world he still loves Barack. And that's fine, Tom-Tom but don't confuse your love and lust with actual activism. As we noted at Third on Sunday:
So to Tom-Tom, Carl Davidson, Jeffy Cohen, Leslie Cagan, Medea and all the other wet-pantied, lovesick fools, we urge you to declare your love for Barack, to work towards bedding down with Barack and to stop pretending you are a part of -- let alone a leader of -- the peace movement.
Just walk right up to him and say, "Barack, this circus ride goes round and round with you or without you but it'd be cool if you'd hop on and give a spin.. You won't regret it." Who knows what will happen? But, lovelies, we'd caution to be sure Michelle's not in ear shot when you proposition Barack.
And we again remind you . . .
Just wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'
Plannin' and dreamin' his kisses will start
That won't get you into his heart
The sooner you start openly working on what . . . excuse us, on who you want and stop pretending to give a damn about Iraq, the better it will be for the real peace movement.
Who knew that in 2009, the tired and deceitful 'leaders' would attempt to pass drooling off as 'action'? ("Wishin' And Hopin'" written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach, most famously sung by Dusty Springfield.) While Tom Hayden rushes around with his tongue out and his hands down his pants, Alan Bjerga (Bloomberg News) reports not everyone's thinking with their loins, George McGovern's actually speaking out:
McGovern, 86, said he supports Obama's plan to increase spending to stimulate the U.S. economy, while faulting the president for his willingness to keep troops in Iraq.
Obama's plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 makes him "exactly the same" as former President George W. Bush in his conduct of the war and continues to spend money needed for economic recovery.
"What's the change?" McGovern said. "Guys are still dying over there. Guys are coming home with mental and emotional problems that will linger on for years."
As Ruth observed last night, "Poor Tom Hayden. George McGovern could not have chosen a worse time to speak out for Tom Hayden. Mr. Hayden is spit polishing Barack's knob today as per usual. (My grandson Jayson will love that I have included that phrase in the previous sentence.) And along comes George McGovern who is everything Mr. Hayden wanted to be but never managed to pull off. Poor Tom Hayden. Believe your daddy just sent you to your room without dinner." Or as Rebecca put it, "tom hayden, what an embarrassment. and he looks all the more childish when mcgovern can do what hayden won't. mcgovern endorsed barack. he didn't just endorse barack, he took back his endorsement of hillary to endorse barack. and here mcgovern is calling out barack while tom hayden wonders whether to let barack go balls deep or not."
The country's got more than a bunch of aging bobby soxers like Leslie Cagan, Tom Hayden, et al getting all wet-pantied for Barack. In the real world Barack's draw down has resulted in some showing a spine. John Yaukey (Gannet via Honlulu Advertiser) reports that US House Rep Neil Abercrombie told CNN that US forces on the ground in Iraq need to "be leaving faster than President Obama has ordered" and the quote is, "I think it can be done faster." Yaukey observes, "Abercrombie's comments signal what could become a growing rift between some Democrats and Obama on policy in Iraq." Abercrombie also questioned Barack's claim that the 'surge' was a success stating, "we Bribed people. We paid people not to kill us." Abercrombie is not lying. He is not being inflamatory. He is repeating what US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and General David Petreaus repeatedly told Congress in the days of testimony back at the start of April. (Here, we called Petreaus and Crocker's 'logic' the fork-over-the-lunch-money-so-no-one-gets-beat-up policy.) On the same topic, Mark Johnson, Ryan Beckwith and Steven Thomma (McClatchy Newspapers) report on some of the Democrats speaking out including US House Rep Lynn Woolsey ("I am deeply troubled by the suggestion that a force of 50,000 troops could remain in Iraq. This is unacceptable.") and US House Rep Dennis Kucinich ("You cannot leave combat troops in a foreign country to conduct combat operations and call it the end of the war. You can't be in and out at the same time. We must bring a conclusion to this sorry chapter in American history."). Senator Russ Feingold is also quoted but that's the statment we quoted three times last week. With another perspective on the Iraq War, Endy M. Bayuni (Washington Post's Post Global) offers:
It took years for Americans to realize that it was a war they could not win. Nixon and Kissinger agonized over whether to cut the country's losses and leave Vietnam, or stay and maintain America's integrity, pride and international standing.
In the end, it was public opinion in America that forced the United States government to swallow the bitter pill of defeat. It was not so much the thought of the Vietnamese death toll as the rising death toll of young Americans drafted into the military that turned the public opinion against its own government.
Americans suffered the humiliation of a war defeat as it never had before. One would expect that that trauma and scar would have been enough to prevent the United States from launching another war in a foreign land. Bush and Cheney did not read history well, and they took America to another war some 40 years later, which is where we are today: a war America cannot win, and an ethnic war just waiting to erupt as soon as American troops pull out.
The real question to ask is not whether the United States should send the soldiers back if ethnic strife returns in Iraq. The problem of Iraq is for the Iraqis to solve, and for its immediate neighbors to help. Unless Americans are still thinking of controlling Iraq's oil, they really have no business meddling in Iraqi politics.
Bayuni is the chief editor of The Jakarta Post. And in this age of Barack the War Hawk, the US military breathlessly announces: "A team of Soldiers from Alpha Troop, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, made history Feb. 23 when the unmanned aerial vehicle they were operating became the first armed Warrior Alpha unmanned aerial system to fire missiles in combat." Staff Sgt. Jerry Rhoades is quoted stating, "We neutralized both targets" and those targets included "insurgents." What a proud moment for Barack. Some presidents can just hope for creating long lasting global tensions like a cold war but Barack can take pride in the fact that more ways of death destruction are being discovered on his watch.
While War Hawk Barack can take pride in additional destruction abilities, ties increase between Iraq and one of its neighbors. "We hope occupation of Iraq will end as soon as possible and the Iraqi people will build a unified and independent state without presence of aliens and successfully achieve development," the Tehran Times quotes Iranian Chair of Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani declaring Monday in a Baghdad press conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Alsumaria explains: "Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki who welcomed the Iranian guest emphasized the importance of exchanging visits between both countries on high levels. Al Maliki asserted that Iranian-Iraqi relations have overcome the effects of the former regime polices noting that Iraq is keen on establishing optimal relations with neighboring countries." The Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO aka People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran) was raised by Talabani, according to Xinhau which reports he declared he wants them out of Iraq. Xinhau also notes that the two met at Talabani's "residence at the edge of the heavily fortified Green Zone in Central Baghdad" as Rafasnjani began his "first visit to Iraq since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979." UPI notes the increased ties between the two countries: "Both countries reached a series of agreements during the visit, which brought a series of top officials to Iran. For his part, Fawzi Hariri, the Iraqi minister of industry, signed a memorandum of understanding with his Iranian counterpart, Ali-Akbar Mehrabian, to expand ties in the mining industry.
Iran's judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, also welcomed renewed ties between the neighboring countries, adding that Iraq's progress promises "a brilliant prospect" for improved relations." This in addition, Hurriyet reminds, to the "four-way electricity network" between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey that was announced on Saturday. Prensa Latina notes that this is a reciprocal visit following Talabani's "three-day visit to Teheran". On the ground among the Iraqi people, the visit was less well received. An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy explains:
Today was one of the worst days in the life of the western side of Baghdad. An Iranian official who started his visit to Baghdad yesterday decided to visit the holy shrine of Imam Mousa al Kadhim in Kadhemiyah neighborhood. For the sake of the guest, all the roads were blocked and hundreds of different security forces spread everywhere. And for his sake also, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis couldn't go to their schools, offices and stores. For the sake of the guest, the taxi drivers could [not] earn a penny to their families. For the sake of the guest, my uncle who suffers a heart failure and came from another province to go to a hospital in Baghdad had to make a long trip to reach the hospital and I don't know whether he caught his turn or not and for the sake of the guest,I had to pay extra money to the taxi driver to get me to the office because my driver couldn't leave his house.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with her Iraqi counterpart yesterday. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zerbani and Hillary spoke in Egypt at the International Confrence for the reconstruction of Gaza, Iraq's Foreign Ministry notes and: "During the meetng they discussed bilateral relations and President Barack Obama's plan for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, as well as Iraq's regional relations in addition to discussing Iraq's welcome to host the
Ministerial Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan and the United States in Baghdad in the coming period." They note that Clinton offered thanks for the Iraqi support of Chris Hill's nomination as the US Ambassador to Iraq.
Meanwhile the independent Kurdistan Regional Government announces an influx of British companies conducting business in the region as expalined by "Ms. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan Regional Government's High Representative to the UK, at a business seminar in London" Saturday. Ms. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman is quoted explaining, "Already many people from the Middle East, Europe and North America are doing business in the Kurdistan Region. We would like to see more British companies making the most of the opportunities in Kurdistan and the whole of Iraq. Stronger trade and investment ties can only add to the richness of relations between our two countries." The KRG notes that Sterling Energy's Andrew Grosse and Middle East Minerals Bob Haddow spoke at the conference and shared their experiences of conducting business in the Kurdistan region.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing left two people wounded and a Baquba roadside bombing which left seven people wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one person shot dead in Mosul and "Werya Fattah Agha al Kalkai, brother to Adnan Agha al Kakai, prominent notable of al Kakai clan in Kirkuk" was shot dead in Kirkuk.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad (and twelve discovered last month according to Iraqi police).
Dropping back to the January 26th snapshot to note a new development:
This morning the US military announced: "TIKRIT, Iraq -- Four Coalition Soldiers died Jan. 26, when their aircraft crashed in Northern Iraq. The cause is unclear at this time and does not appear to be by enemy action. An investigation is ongoing. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4236 with 15 for the month thus far. Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) cited an unnamed Iraqi police source who states the aircraft was a helicopter and they note, "Initial reports from the U.S. military said two aircraft were involved, but later reports said it was only one aircaft that went down in the incident, which occured around 2:15 a.m." In a later update (1:23 p.m. EST), they note that it was two helicopters. Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reminds, "The crash was the first since Nov. 15, when an OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter landed with difficulty after hitting wires in the northern city of Mosul. Two US pilots were killed. The worst crash of the conflict was in January 2005, when a U.S. Marine CH53E Super Stallion helicopter went down in western Iraq, killing 30 Marines and a Navy sailor." Sam Dagher (New York Times) adds, "At least 70 American helicopters have gone down since the war started in March 2003, according to military figures. Of those, 36 were confirmed to have been shot down." Jordan's Al Bawaba notes the US military refuses to say where the crash took place but it appears to have been outside Kirkuk based on unnamed sources: "One observer indicated that the crash report was very unusual, because if two Blackhawk helicopters were involved as the U.S. Military claims then they would have carried at the least eight crewmembers in both machines, but only four were reported . He suggested several possible explanations, including that the aircraft involved were actually attack helicopters, which carry only two crew each, that only one helicopter had crashed (which makes the claim of a mid-air collision highly unlikely), or that there was a far higher casualty list from the incident, which the Americans were deliberately hiding." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) locates the crash similiary, "An Iraqi police general responsible for Salahuddin province said two small helicopters had collided near the city of Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad."
Over the weekend, Duluth News Tribune and AP reported that despite claims to the contrary by the military last month, the two helicopters that crashed in January crashed due to "enemy fire" according to Fort Drum military authorities. The crashes took the lives of four US service members: Philip E. Windorski, Matthew Kelley, Joshua Tillery and Benjamin Todd: "All were warrant officers in the 10th Mountain Division's 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, married and had children. Windorski had three children. A funeral for Windorski was held in Grand Rapids on Feb. 7. During the ceremony two military helicopters flew over."
In news of war resistance, 28-year-old Kristoffer Walker is an Iraq War veteran who has stated he is not returning to Iraq. His decision has led so-called professionals to make fools out of themselves as two Wisconsin papers' editorial boards flaunted how loose their grasp of the basic facts were. (A right-wing, student newspaper also disagreed with Walker's decision; however, they got their facts right putting them way ahead their allegedly professional counterparts.) By contrast, the Shepherd Express picked Kristoffer Walker as a Hero of the Week:
This couldn't have been an easy decision. But Spc. Kristoffer Walker of Green Bay isn't returning to Iraq. Walker enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and served one year in Iraq. He later joined the Army Reserve; his unit was called up in July and deployed in October. Now home on leave, Walker said he won't return to the battlefield. "I signed up to defend the Constitution and defend the country against foreign enemies. But I'm not going to do something immoral and contrary to the contract I signed up for," he told a reporter.
Meanwhile a parent has been informed they don't have to deploy to Iraq. Monday Tom Foreman Jr. (AP) reported on Lisa Pagan who was discharged (honorably) four years ago and has been recalled to duty despite attempting to receive a hardship waiver. Pagan arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia yesterday with son Eric and daughter Elizabeth. Eric Marrapodi and Chris Lawrence (CNN) reported last night that Pagan will be discharged -- no word on what sort of discharge she will be receiving. And that's a good segue for noting another person who was discharged and now the military wants to recall. Matthis Chiroux who wrote last month:
March 12, I'll attend a board hearing in St. Louis, Missouri, to determine what the nature of my discharge from the Individual Ready Reserve will be. The Army has alleged "misconduct" and they're shooting for a "general discharge," but I'm pushing for "honorable," as my refusal to deploy was not an act of misconduct.
I will attend this hearing in uniform as ordered, but only for the purpose of these administrative proceedings. I'm not contesting the fact that I did not report as ordered to deploy to Iraq. However, I intend to paint a clear picture of my convictions to the military, and I seek to corroborate them with first hand accounts of occupation.
No person is bound to act against the dictates of conscience, let alone their understanding of the law. I know the occupation of Iraq and further the Global War on Terror to be an illegitimate and ultimately murderous campaign waged for economic gain, fueled by misinformation and greed. I know it to be in violation of not only international law, but the U.S. Constitution. Far more importantly, it is against the dictates of my own conscience, and never again will I compromise my humanity to support or ignore the crimes of my government.
As noted yesterday, Wikileaks has posted a RAND study.. The November 2008 study is over 300 pages and [PDF format warning] entitled "Intelligence Operations and Metrics in Iraq and Afghanistan, Fourth in a Series of Joint Urban Operations and Counterinsurgency Studies" Russell W. Glenn and S. Jamie Gayton are the authors. We covered the text yesterday. The appendixes are filled with interesting and often illuminating quotes (usually from unnamed people) such as this one:
Part of the problem was that [the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad] never spoke to the common Iraqi. They ignored all those people. And even in Baghdad, they ignored the common Iraqi. . . . When we left in June 2004, it was yet another group of hand-picked Iraqi exiles who were put in charge. . . . . I[f] you speak to people in Baghdad, the educated middle class says, "Why didn't anyone come to us? Why didn't anyone try to get us involved in the process?"
That quote and the way the authors of the report address is demonstrate how counter-insurgency is not a tool of peace, it is war on an indigenous people. The response to that quote should be that obviously the local actors, the inhabitants of the region need to have the right of self-deterimination. However, the authors assert that the lesson is: "Determine which groups are fundamental to recognizing and granting the coalition legitimacy." No, that is not the same thing as self-determination. It's not even the same thing as listening to the Iraqi people. It is recommending that you find key actors to hide behind, key actors who can give US plans the appearance of legitimacy. They continue, "Thereafter, ascertain how to convince key influencers in those groups that it is the coalition cause that is legitimate and not that of opposing entities and that it is in their best interests to support the coalition in both the immediate and longer terms." Because, the authors indicate (knowingly or otherwise), it's not about democracy, it's not about self-rule. It is about tricking a people, it is about controlling them. Counter-insurgency is war on a native people. It is disgusting and it is appalling. And it is supported by the current administration in the US. Barack had Monty McFate, Sarah Sewall and Samantha Power (among others) all on board his campaign and they are ass deep in the counter-insurgency. When they carry it over to Africa (as they hope to), some so-called 'independent' voices may finally find it in them to raise an objection.
Lasly, Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) wonders if the US is a complete rogue state at this point:
A colleague noted that it sounded like we lived in a rogue nation. Recently, it seemed as if President Obama was saying that he, the elected "Commander in Chief", was having to negotiate with the military about when to leave Iraq. Now, through Janet Napolitano, Obama's Homeland Security Secretary, Obama and Napolitano are claiming that the federal immigration raid in Washington State was done without their knowledge.
I believe that if President Obama is telling the truth, it is a frightening time for Americans, when our military and our law enforcement are so powerful and out of control OR equally as disturbing, President Obama is lying and posturing in monstrous proportions.