Sunday, May 17, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

In today's New York Times, James Dao and Paul von Zielbauer offer "Among 5 Killed at Military Clinic, a Mender of Heartache and a Struggling Private" which looks at two of the victims of Monday's shooting at the stress clinic in Baghdad: Dr. Matthew P. Houseal who was an army Major, a psychiatrist and the father of seven children, Michael E. yates who was a 19-year-old father of one child and also provides some gossip on Sgt John M. Russell who appears to have done the shooting. Gossip? The reporters find one person who didn't like Russell. One person! Wow. He must have been the most hated man in the military! Does Michael Hannah really have a beef with Russell? Apparently Russell didn't talk with him. Or as Hannah puts it, "There was never one uplifting conversation that I ever had with that guy." Well, Hannah, maybe Russell didn't realize he was your own personal life-changing experience via a Disney film? Maybe he didn't realize you'd cast him in the role of Robert Duvall to your Tom Cruise Days of Thunder? A year in Iraq with Russell and Hannah's big beef is that he never got an "uplifting conversation" out of him? That's sad but what's sadder is that the paper runs with this bad gossip.

In the real world, Dahr Jamail takes on the myth of the 'kindly' Human Terrain Systems:

The military's benign description specifies that HTS will "improve the military's ability to understand the highly complex local social-cultural environment in the areas where they are deployed." Proponents of the program go as far as to claim that its goal is to help the military save lives.
Those who know better, like US Army Lt. Col. Gian Gentile, will
tell you, "Don't fool yourself, these Human Terrain Teams, whether they want to acknowledge it or not, in a generalized and subtle way, do at some point contribute to the collective knowledge of a commander, which allows him to target and kill the enemy in the Civil War in Iraq."
The two highest ethical principles of anthropology are protection of the interests of studied populations, and their safety. All anthropological studies consequently are premised on the consent of the subject society. Clearly, the HTS anthropologists have thrown these ethical guidelines out the window. They are to anthropology what state stenographers like Judith Miller and John Burns are to journalism.
I consulted David Price, author of "Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War" and a contributor to the Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual, a forthcoming work of the
Network of Concerned Anthropologists, of which he is a member.
According to Price, "HTS presents real ethical problems for anthropologists, because the demands of the military in situations of occupation put anthropologists in positions undermining their fundamental ethical loyalties to those they study. Moreover, it presents political problems that link anthropology to a disciplinary past where anthropologists were complicit in assisting in colonial conquests. Those selling HTS to the military have misrepresented what culture is and have downplayed the difficulties of using culture to bring about change, much less conquest. There is a certain dishonesty in pretending that anthropologists possess some sort of magic beans of culture, and that if only occupiers had better cultural knowledge, or made the right pay-offs, then occupied people would fall in line and stop resisting foreign invaders. Culture is being presented as if it were a variable in a linear equation, and if only HTS teams could collect the right data variables and present troops with the right information conquest could be entered in the equation. Life and culture doesn’t work that way; occupied people know they are occupied, and while cultural knowledge can ease an occupation, historically it has almost never led to conquest - but even if it could, anthropology would irreparably damage itself if it became nothing more than a tool of occupations and conquest."

For those who would prefer audio from Dahr on this subject or would like to hear more on it, Dahr was on KPFA's Flashpoints Wednesday as the first guest and he addressed several aspects of the Iraq War including the crime of counter-insurgency (for those who can't stream or who streaming will not benefit, some excerpts are in Friday's snapshot).

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 4287 and tonight? 4296. This morning the New York Times tried to focus on the death of five and that is important (even if they went the gossip route) but there were four more deaths announced last week. 9 US service members died, not five. At least 21 reported Iraqi deaths over the weekend and at least 37 Iraqis wounded in violence.


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad mortar attack claimed the life of 1 child and wounded his brother and his mother, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers with seven more people injured, a second Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left three people injured while a third resulted in three people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left two others injured and a Basra grenade incident claimed the life of 1 "member of the Civil Defence". Moving to Sunday, Issa and Kadhim report a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 3 lives and left twelve people injured, another which left five people injured, two "in sequence" which resulted in no deaths or injurieds, and a Mosul car bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more injured.


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul, Iraqi police state a US helicopter was shot down over Mosul (the US says they know nothing about that claim), a security guard for Japanese business people was wounded in a Ramadi shooting, the US military shot a farmer dead in Hilla for the 'crime' of driving. Sunday Issa and Kahim report 1 Iraqi prison guard shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes the US military shot an Iraqi "bystander" dead in Jalawla (the Hilla shooting is noted here, these are two different shootings).


Reuters reports, "Police arrested three suspects in the kidnapping of a relative of Essam Ayid, an Arab member of the Nineveh provincial council. Ayid's relative was kidnapped on Thursday in western Mosul." That is the fourth time in the last six days that kidnappings have made the news out of Iraq.


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 corpse discovered Sunday in Mosul ("shot several times"), 1 in the Tigris River near Samarra ("shot several times in the head and chest") and 4 discovered in Baquba.

In other crimes, Iraq once had medical care considered advanced for the region. Those days are gone. Corinne Reilly's "Iraq's once-envied health care system lost to war, corruption" (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:

The Teaching Hospital's emergency room is cleaner than most in Baghdad. In fact, it's widely considered the best in the Iraqi capital. Still, flies buzz overhead, and on busy days there aren't enough beds or oxygen tanks. Across the room, a crude sign made with binder paper and tape marks the department's two-bed cardiac unit, which lacks a reliable defibrillator.
Jawad, a second-year medical resident, turns to the sick man's wife, who's perched anxiously on a ripped chair at his bedside. "We suspect meningitis," she says.
If Jawad is correct, the man probably will die long before she can confirm her diagnosis. Her chances of getting antibiotics to treat him are even slimmer.
The hospital can't perform the lab test she needs. Its stock of drugs and basic supplies is so unreliable that doctors routinely dispatch patients' relatives to fetch medicines, IV fluids and syringes from private merchants or the black market.
Jawad can't explain the shortages. Her department is always careful in placing its orders with the national health ministry, which supplies all of Iraq's public hospitals. Often, though, the medicines never show up.

Turning to the US, Steven D. Green was convicted two Thursdays ago in the gang-rape of 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, her murder, the murder of her five-year-old sister and the murders of both of her parents. His sentence hearing continues Monday. Sean Pavey's "Ex-U.S. soldier convicted of rape and murder" (Party for Socialism and Liberation) notes the case:

On May 7, former Army Private Steven Dale Green was convicted of the rape and murder of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, and the massacre of three of the girl’s family members. In March 2006, Green and five other U.S. soldiers committed the crime in Madmuhiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.
In the U.S. District Court in Paducah, Ky., Green was found guilty of 17 counts, including four counts of premeditated murder. Green could face the death penalty.

Today, Dave Alsup (CNN) filed "A day in the trial of ex-soldier convicted of murder in Iraq:"

The Al-Janabis' relatives do not speak of details of the crime. The questions come only from the prosecution, and the defense does not cross-examine. They speak of an orchard worker, Kassem, and his wife, Fakhriya. They speak of a simple family who did not own either their home or the furniture. They speak of a funny 6-year-old girl, Hadeel, being chased through the orchard trees by siblings. They speak of a 14-year-old girl, Abeer, with dreams of living in the city and wearing nice clothes.

That's it on Abeer. The report is actually focused on Steven D. Green and contains many interesting details, such as, "There is a casual manner to Steven Green's daily entrance into the courtroom. It defies the circumstances of the moment and the imagination without proper context. This is the sentencing phase of his death penalty trial and he is the defendant." You can also check Evan Bright's site for more on the case. He is the 18-year-old high school senior who has reported on the trial and the sentencing and he reports on his Twitter feed and on his website. New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: The Cult of St. Barack
TV: Pull the plug and rejoice
TV: Bill Moyers Locker Room
The Political Whoring of Naomi Wolf
Steven D. Green roundtable
The Shirely goes to . . .
Where is the love?
Network news coverage of the shooting

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Lastly Pru notes Gwyneth Jones' "Journal for Plague Lovers - The Manic Street Preachers" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The Manic Street Preachers have returned with their ninth album.
Its songs are shaped around previously unused lyrics by Richey Edwards.
He was the band’s driving force, leading the charge in the early years of success in politics and style.
Edwards vanished in 1995, and after his disappearance the band’s direction changed.
This new album will be disappointing for fans who were hoping for a return to the days of “Yes” and “You Love Us”.
But a new Manics’ album is always a treat, and, despite a decline in their politics, they remain as lively and engaged with the world around them.
Journal for Plague LoversThe Manic Street PreachersCD out 18 May
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