Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The big 'if' in Cucolo's Cuckoo policy

A female service member e-mailed to ask if I knew about one of the worst parts of the "100% repulsive order" coming down from General Prude Anthony Cucolo? If you're late to the party, see yesterday's snapshot and the short version is that Cucolo has issued an order where pregnancy will result in punishment for any woman -- married or unmarried -- he oversees in Iraq. The e-mailer steers us to Navy Seals Blog's post which notes: "If the pregnancy of a female soldier, however, was proven to be caused by a sexual assault, then the soldier will not be subjected to punishment."


That is so hideous. Most sexual assaults in the military do not result in punishment. Most women who make complaints are faced with a command that is either unwilling or unable to help them. They are pressured to drop it for 'the good' -- the same 'good' that allows Prude Cucolo (who apparently never got laid in his life or at least not in the right way) to issue his order.

As with the Senate over the weekend, women's rights and women's needs are always sacrificed for 'the good'. The 'greater' 'good'. Women are the majority in the US and it's hard to think of any other majority that would be so targeted but, look around, a huge number of women are enabling the targeting with their silences as well as with their actions. And to do my part not to be silent, let's note that Cucolo's poor sex life probably has nothing to do with any woman (or man) he might be with. By the way he speaks, there's a strong indication he's a one-thrust Tony. What? That's it? Really? It's over? Really? Honey, there are pills for that. Get a prescription.

Meanwhile Ray Locker, Tom Vanden Brook and Ken Dilanian (USA Today) report on the 'mentor program' (easy money for generals who retire) and how you can be pulled off the tax payer dole for objecting to official policy publicly:

In an investigation published last month, USA TODAY reported that the military employs at least 158 senior mentors, about 80% of whom also have connections to various defense contractors. The revelations prompted Defense Secretary Robert Gates to order a Pentagon review last week. The Senate Armed Services Committee also has begun an investigation, led by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Sanchez was the U.S. commander in Iraq in April 2004 when a scandal erupted over the treatment of Iraqi detainees by troops at the Abu Ghraib prison. After his Iraq service, Sanchez led the Army's V Corps, based in Germany, though Sanchez has said Abu Ghraib effectively ended his career. In an Oct. 12, 2007, speech in Washington, about a year after he began working as a military mentor, Sanchez blamed the Bush administration for what he called the "nightmare" then unfolding in Iraq.
"There has been a glaring, unfortunate display of incompetence in strategic leadership among our national leaders," Sanchez said. "They have unquestionably been derelict in the performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders would be immediately relieved or court-martialed."
Shortly thereafter, Sanchez was dismissed as a senior mentor, though the decision was never announced. USA TODAY learned of his firing from an April 29, 2008, e-mail from a Joint Forces Command official to four colleagues. The newspaper obtained the e-mail through a request under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

In other news, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has issued a new report entitled "Global Restrictions on Religion" and Iraq finds itself among the top scorers when it comes to social hostilities. [Note: Do not e-mail saying, "Iraq is number one! You should have noted that." It's not. There are outlets reporting -- one example here -- that and they haven't read the study. Iraq is the first country listed under the "Very High" category; however, this note of caution is being ignored by some outlets: "The Pew Forum has not attached numerical rankings to the countries because there are numerous tie scores and the differences between the scores of countries that are close to each other on this table are not necessarily meaningful."] While scoring with other countries as "Very High" when it comes to Social restrictions, it makes the "High" list for government restrictions.

Pamela E. Walck (Savannah Now) reports on Sgt 1st Class Erick Carlson's breakfast of hash browns and scrambled eggs ("It will be his last meal on American soil for months.") as he prepares for his third deployment in Iraq. Mike Clary (Sun-Sentinel) reports on the 1st Battallion of Florida's National Guard's 124th Infantry Regiment's preparation for deploying to Iraq. This includes Sgt Jetaune Kelly who "will miss [daughter] Kemora's second birthday" and Sgt Maj Michael Naugle who will miss "his daughter Kimberly's graduation" from high school. Anamarie Root, wife of 1st Sgt James Root, states, "Most people don't know what it's like to feel that loneliness, the anxiety of having someone deployed."

Scott Fontaine, of McClatchy's News Tribune, is back in Iraq. He reports (here for McClatchy, here for News Tribune):

The man sat crossed-legged on a floor cushion, sipped tea and explained his woes to the soldiers from Fort Lewis. As an Iraqi policeman on the American payroll, he has killed plenty of enemy fighters – and now his enemies are taking revenge.
Al-Qaida in Iraq killed his mother, brother and uncle. The man started the habit of checking under his car each morning. One day last month, he discovered a magnetically attached bomb.
"They are targeting me," he told members of a Fort Lewis Stryker platoon. "The bomb was meant for me and my kids."
Lt. Chris Fradin, a platoon leader with the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, asked the policeman for specific details and took notes. A local sheikh earlier had given Fradin names of men who might have planted the bomb. The policeman provided his own list of possible suspects.

Courage to Resist announces:

Cliff Cornell to be relased early


Successful clemency effort funded by Courage to Resist supporters.

By Courage to Resist. December 21, 2009

Iraq War resister Cliff Cornell was granted a 30 day reduction to his one year jail sentence this week. The Commanding General of Fort Stewart, Georgia knocked off the month in response to a clemency request filed by Cliff’s civilian attorney James Branum of Oklahoma. Cliff is now expected to be released on or about January 16, 2010.

Yesterday's snapshot noted an excerpt from Ron Jacobs' "From Just Cause to Just War" (Dissident Voice) and we'll do so again:

It's now December 2009. US forces forcibly occupy two nations -- Iraq and Afghanistan. While the US casualty figures in the former are relatively minimal nowadays, it was only a year or two ago that US military men and women were dying at the rate of one hundred a month. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the casualty figures are double what they were a year ago and tens of thousands more US soldiers and Marines are getting ready to deploy there (along with untold numbers of mercenaries). They have been told by their commander-in-chief that their cause is just. Once again, the protest is muted. The government in Afghanistan is a creation of Washington and would not exist without the foreign military presence there. It is also one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Women in Afghanistan suffer some of the worst human rights abuses in the world. Many of those abuses derive from the male supremacist interpretation of the Muslim religion by forces on all sides of the conflict. Many more of the abuses are the result of the ongoing conflict in that country. From displacement and hunger to death and maiming caused by US and resistance forces, the military conflict is probably the greatest violator of women's rights. Yet, the people of the United States have been told over and over again that one of the reasons for the US military presence in Afghanistan is to free the Afghan women.
So, why is there so little protest? Is it because many liberals and progressives who opposed the war in Iraq somehow see this misadventure in Afghanistan as righteous? Or do they believe that Barack Obama really does have a plan that will guarantee peace through the waging of war? If the latter is true, than these folks have truly succumbed to the wiles of imperial thought. There is no promise to end the war in any particular year, much less a specific date. If history tells us anything, the only way to stop a war is to make it difficult for the government waging it to continue to do so. This scenario will not occur within the walls of Congress. Nor will it take place inside the White House or the Pentagon. It can only occur in the streets of the United States. As long as the US government is convinced it has at least tacit support for its adventures overseas, it will continue them. As the recent escalation proves, it will not only continue them but will expand them.
Now, there are many folks who say they oppose the war but will argue that there is no point in mounting any protest against it. Their arguments will include the caveat that protests make no difference or that they will never reach the so-called regular people. I disagree. It seems to me that if the connection between the increasing failure of the government to fund essential services like schools, health care, infrastructure and even job creation can be connected to the ridiculously high cost of the wars and occupations, then the antiwar movement can reach the American people. Currently, it seems that there is a disconnect in most people's minds between the cutting of services and the ongoing wars and occupations. That disconnect must be terminated and the connections between the expanding price of imperial war and the decreasing quality of our services must be made. In addition, the profits of war must be exposed for what they are–theft of taxpayer's money by a small number of citizens. It is a theft on a scale so huge very few can even imagine it. It is also a theft that does not benefit the majority of the American people and certainly not most of the people of Iraq or Afghanistan in any meaningful way. Although they claim to be protecting us, the only thing these corporations and their uniformed cohorts are protecting is their bank accounts.
That does not have to continue. In fact, there is already an effort being organized by the National Assembly to End the Wars and Occupations to hold a massive antiwar protest on March 20, 2010 in Washington, DC and San Francisco.

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ron jacobs

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends