Sunday, December 20, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

So the US Admiral Mike Mullens visited Iraq. Gordon Lubold (Christian Science Monitor) reports of the visit, "The security detail for Mullen’s marketplace walk – provided by the American division in Baghdad – was also a reminder of how nascent stability is here. It included 160 soldiers, a pair of F-16 fighter jets, two Apache attack helicopters, and a drone flying overhead." Meanwhile from the known to the still processing, Kadhim Ajrash and Zahraa Alkhalisi (Bloomberg News) report Iraq's Deputy Minister of Oil, Abdul Kareemal-Luaibi, has declared that, following "an armed confrontation," the Iranians who allegedly took over an Iraqi oil field have left. Just when you can almost make sense of the latest claims, along comes Timothy Williams and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) explaining that Iraq's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs is stating the Iranian troops left the oil field but not Iraq while reports out of Iran claim "that the soldiers had never crossed into Iraq." And if you're confused, grasp that you're supposed to be. On such a serious issue, no government sends out "deputy ministers" to speak. You only send out someone that low level -- on an issue of territorial integrity -- if you want to be able to reserve the right to deny any statements made. What really happened? Who knows? About the only thing that is known is that all the rumors did wonders for the price of oil.

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 4371. Tonight it remains 4371. Turning to some of the violence reported today . . .


Reuters reports a Falluja roadside bombing left four college students injured and a Kirkuk sticky bombing injured one person.


Reuters reports 2 ("off duty") police officers shot dead in Mosul yesterday and one unidentified civilian injured in a Mosul shooting. DPA reports 2 police officers were shot dead in Mosul today.

In other violence, Michael Hastings (Washington Post) reports that Iraqi officials have turned elections workers into veal, restricting their movements and confining "some" to the Green Zone because, officials say, they are being targeted. As evidence they point to the death of 1 election worker in the past week and the kidnapping of another and his family in the last two weeks. With all the violence in Iraq, how they've determined the two incidents are related or part of an organized system of targeting is left unstated.

What is known is that the US military brass has run amok. On the decision to court-martial female service members who become pregnant, Paula Brooks (Lez Get Real) reports:

A well place Pentagon source told LGR yesterday, that for Cucolo it is a pretty "black and white" issue... but added the Pentagon is also "watching this one pretty carefully," since this prohibition is "mine field" of legal, ethical and policy issues....
"Personally... Even though the JAG people have said this is legal... I think this one is probably going to come back to bite us in the ass at some point, if not legally, then in the form of some really terrible PR," said our source.
"Here you really have issues that go to the core of personal integrity: reproductive rights," said Eugene Fidell, a professor of military law at Yale Law School in a Star and Stripes Article.
There are also issues of enforcement, Fidell said. The woman is immediately suspect once the pregnancy comes to light, but unless she identifies her partner, the male could go unpunished despite bearing the same culpability under the order.
It is the first time the US Army has made pregnancy a punishable offense and so far there are no reported cases where a pregnant woman or a baby's father has been disciplined for disobeying the order that went into effect Nov. 4, 2009.

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru again notes Sian Ruddick's "Put Blair on trial for his war crimes" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Tony Blair finally admitted last week what millions of people in the anti-war movement have known for years – that he was intent on going to war in Iraq whether the country posed a threat or not.

Fern Britton asked Blair in a BBC TV interview last week, “If you had known then that there were no WMDs [weapons of mass destruction], would you still have gone on?”

Blair replied, “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”.

He added, “I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat.”

Blair’s confession that he wanted “regime change” has provoked outrage.

Even Sir Ken MacDonald, the former director of public prosecutions, wrote after seeing the interview, “The degree of deceit involved in our decision to go to war on Iraq becomes steadily clearer.

“This was a foreign policy disgrace of epic proportions, and playing footsie on Sunday morning television does nothing to repair the damage.

“It is now very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Tony Blair engaged in an alarming subterfuge with his partner, George Bush.

“He went on to mislead and cajole the British people into a deadly war they had made perfectly clear they didn’t want, and on a basis that it’s increasingly hard to believe even he found truly credible.”

The interview came before Blair was due to appear at the official inquiry into the Iraq war.

Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry’s chair, has said that Blair will give evidence in public, except when national security matters are being discussed or if appearing would present a danger to his health or security.

But this offers Blair an opportunity to ensure the bulk of his evidence will be heard in private.

We will not be told what questions the inquiry asks and whether it challenges Blair on the question of war crimes. It is against international law to attack a country on the basis of regime change.

Millions of people took to the streets of London and other cities across the world in 2003 against Bush and Blair’s plans. Protesters argued that there was no truth to the claims about Iraq’s WMD, and that it was a war for US power and control of oil.

But Bush and Blair did not care about the truth. Now Blair has admitted that different arguments should have been used but the outcome would have been the same – regime change and the deaths of over one million Iraqis.

For the millions who opposed the war, Blair’s words offer no satisfaction – only more anger at the lies we were told.

The car and suicide bomb attacks that rocked Baghdad last week, killing 123 people and injuring 500, are the bloody legacy of the war and occupation.

The Stop the War Coalition is calling for the Iraq inquiry to declare Tony Blair guilty of war crimes and send him to The Hague for trial.

Lindsey German, the convenor of Stop the War, said, “If Tony Blair repeats his confession of war crimes to the Iraq inquiry, it will have no alternative but to recommend that legal proceedings be taken against him.

“Not to do so will confirm what many people suspect – that Sir John Chilcot’s committee was handpicked by Gordon Brown with the clear intention of whitewashing war crimes.”

The following should be read alongside this article:
» Vigils after 100th British death in Afghanistan
» Drop the charges against soldier Joe Glenton

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Ruddick's piece was worth noting twice and, if you doubt it, look at The Progressive or The Nation and try to find their story on Tony Blair's remarks. You won't. The e-mail address for this site is