Sunday, March 28, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

Sometimes it appears Chris Hill exists to ensure Republicans have a fighting chance for the White House in 2012. Chris Hill is the US Ambassador to Iraq -- appointed over Republican objection. Hill had a problem when it came to being honest in past posts -- imagine that -- which Republicans objected to. Had they paid attention to his work performance, they would have been even more disturbed. Hill showed up for his confirmation hearing bragging about the prep work he'd done only to reveal he knew nothing about the disputed, oil-rich Kirkuk and that he had no idea about basically about anything going on Iraq. Why would the US even appoint someone to Iraq if they couldn't speak the language?

It's those sort of questions, and, oh so many more, which will most likely haunt Democrats in 2012 if Hill becomes the face of Barack's foreign policy. Mohammed Jamjoom (CNN) reports that Hill has declared the election results indicate that "there is democracy in this country." This as Al Jazeera reports, "At least six people have been killed and 15 others wounded in an attack on a local politician in the town of Qaim, in Iraq's Anbar province, officials say." They're referring to Ghanim Radh who belongs to Ayad Allawi's slate, the winning slate, and he is now dead. Who killed him? State of Law? The press is running with "Sunni insurgents." They're saying that Sunni insurgents said they'd attack candidates (they did -- they'd attack them before the election, "candidates" -- the threat has now turned into those "elected" since "elected" means you're no longer a "candidate"). And maybe it is "Sunni insurgents." If so, it does seem strange that they would attack Sunni officials, doesn't it?

All things being equal, if they're wanting to attack officials, wouldn't these insurgents make going after Shi'ite officials as much of a priority? It's a strange little world we live in where accusations are hurled and then spat out by the press with no one even noting who has the most to gain?

Hannah Allem and Mohammed al-Dulaimey (McClatchy Newspapers) report:

At least four Sunni Muslim candidates who appear to have won parliamentary seats on the winning ticket of secular leader Ayad Allawi have become targets of investigation by security forces reporting to the narrowly defeated Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, according to interviews Saturday with relatives, Iraqi security forces and the U.S. military.
All four candidates ran in Diyala province, a restive mainly Sunni area north of Baghdad. One candidate who won more than 28,000 votes is being held incommunicado in a Baghdad jail, two other winners are on the run and the whereabouts of the fourth, a woman, are unknown.

Oh, so Nouri's in the midst of an attack on Allawi's slate. Hmmm. Because he would have something to gain by it. But we're not even supposed to question who's behind the violence aimed at Allawi's slate? Martin Chuolv (Guardian) reports:

Maliki still wants the top job, despite his loss. He plans to mount a rearguard campaign that positions him as the only viable option for prime minister, because Allawi's support came largely from Sunni provinces and not the Shia majority heartland that held the reins of power for the past four years. But Najafi said: "Anyone who says we do not have a claim to the prime minister's office is behaving in a clearly sectarian way. It is in the constitution that the victor has the right to form a government. Iran fears that their role will be weaker now and that is very clear. But that will not stop us talking with anyone, even Maliki, to form a government."

Andrew England (Financial Times of London) examines Allawi here and Michael Jansen (Irish Times) does so here. And then there's Ahmed. Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) reports on the immediate aftermath of the results being announced and includes the following:

In an interview Sunday, Mr. Chalabi said he is advocating an alliance between INA and Mr. Maliki's State of Law, with the aim of keeping Shiites in power. Mr. Chalabi, while acknowledging that Mr. Allawi's bloc won the election, said that allowing him to form a new government would be dangerous for Iraq because of what he claims are active elements of Saddam Hussein's Baathist party within Mr. Allawi's Sunni-heavy alliance.

Who knows who is responsible for the bombing? The press certainly doesn't know. So it's interesting to watch them advance -- as fact -- what is, at best, an opinion and one that doesn't make a great deal of sense. Not that chaos and violence ever have to make sense, but when you've got one person bellowing threats on national TV (Nouri) and then you have violence, it's probably a good idea to remember to include him and his party on the list of suspects. Iraqis are and maybe that's why there have been no attempts at 'man' on the streets interviews?

Regardless, as Allawi's slate is targeted with violence and arrests, Chris Hill can be found, as usual, floating above the earth, issuing statements that have no connection with reality. And on the other side? The markers for the 2000 election bonafides were made in policy journals in 1998 and 1999. Remember that as you read through this by E. Thomas McLanahan (Albany Times-Union):

It's far too early to conclude that things in Iraq can't come flying apart once again.
Former ambassador Ryan Crocker, who was instrumental in implementing the troop surge with Gen. David Petraeus in 2007 and 2008, shares these worries.
In a recent interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Crocker said he was concerned about plans to draw down U.S. troop strength in August from 100,000 to 50,000.
The security agreement Crocker helped negotiate with the Iraqis requires a full withdrawal by 2011. But the August drawdown isn't required, and it's a move that makes Crocker uneasy.

So Crocker told that to Froeign Policy? It'll be interesting to see what other Bush era officials say to and write in policy journals over the next few months.

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 4386. Tonight? The count remains 4386. In some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded one person, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded two Sahwa, an Anbar Province bombing that wounded one person, a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded one person and, dropping back to Saturday for all that follows, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured five people, a second Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded two people, two Khalis bombings Saturday resulted in 80 deaths and ninety-five people injured, and a Falluja motorcycle bombing which wounded one person.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sahwa leader Khaleel Ibraheem al Ubaidi was shot dead in Baghdad yesterday. Reuters notes an armed clash in Mosul today in which 1 civilian was killed and another bystander was injured.

At Third, Jim's note included a thing about just not being into Iraq for an article and that's resulted in some e-mails here. First, there is an Iraq article at Third. Second, there are times when I just don't want to cover it again. I do it seven days a week here. I said no to a violence piece because (a) I wasn't in the mood and (b) we didn't do one during March which would mean we had to go through four weeks of violence so pull up each day and tabulate the number of dead and wounded and then do it for the week. That's something needs to be done each week. (Why didn't we? McClatchy was moving headquarters and other things and had ceased their daily round up. So the violence count was largely a Reuters count.) I also wasn't in the mood for the 'apology' nonsense. We highlighted Matthis Chiroux last week and it was no problem. Yeah, there were some angry, ranting e-mails but those things come in from the pro-war crowd all the time and are nothing to take seriously. We'll never expect that we'll have the stamp of approval of A Gathering of Eagles -- nor we would ever want it. But some apparently feel they need to work harder at pleasing their enemies (and that includes the cancer from within who stated she would leave if ___ ended up president of the organization, which he did, but she did not leave). And I thought it was b.s. then and I think it's b.s. now.

Also Ava and I had to spend hours on that piece we wrote. We don't normally use Dallas to locate our links. He works hard enough on the other pieces and we generally get our own links. There were a number of stories from 2006 (about the detention camps) that we wanted to highlight but they've been disappeared. Margaret Kimberley, for example, now writes for Black Agenda Report. She didn't at that point in 2006 and we could find her article and we could click on the link to it and pull up . . . a page with nothing. With her article, we were able to go to ZNet but we spent a large amount of time looking up articles by two men -- written in 2006 and quoted here in 2006 and linked to -- who apparently felt the need to erase their past because they no longer exist online.

The piece Ava and I wrote? There were several other avenues we could have pursued and maybe they should have been included but, in the end, we said "Done!" when we couldn't stand to look at it for another second. So we were wiped out when we rejoined everyone and I just wasn't in the mood. (Ava and I both worked on the Iraq piece that did get published.)

If Cindy Sheehan had published her evening post hours earlier, she would have gotten a truest. She tackles -- and tackles it very well -- one of the issues that just made me want to scream. Matthis Chiroux is under attack (Elaine Brower to a lesser degree) for their actions in political protest at the DC rally where they burned a flag. Cindy Sheehan (Cindy's Soap Box) writes:

Mathis is a war resister and Elaine's own son had three tours in Iraq. Now, both Mathis and Elaine, spend their lives trying to right the wrongs this nation has perpetrated against others in the name of imperial greed and power.
To me, the American flag represents the flag draped coffin that was my son, Casey's, last container home from Iraq when he was killed on April 04, 2004 in a war that has been proven to have been based on lies and one which has killed over one-million people in the seven years it has been immorally and illegally waged.
After burning the flag, Elaine and Mathis took their desire for peace even further and lay on the sidewalk of the White House and were arrested and spent two nights in DC jail.
Anyone who has a problem with burning an American flag has no concept of the human and civil rights that flag is supposed to represent.

Elaine Brower is a sweet and smart lady and I don't want to minimize any pain she may be experiencing at present. I wasn't even aware she was under attack until I read Cindy's column. I was aware about Mathis and I'm very aware that the cancer within IVAW spent forever stirring up right-wing sites last week. She sent out e-mails -- including one that was forwarded to me by a right-wing site that thinks TCI is nuts (they've said so at their site) but occassionally highlights us for whatever reasons or reasons unknown. He wanted my take on it? I wrote back, "She's a cancer on the organization and trying to stir up s**t yet again. Usually she launches these attacks publicly but after she did so on Camilo Mejia, she knows she better watch herself."

Instead of examining Matthis behavior, IVAW would do well to realize they need to remove the cancer on the organization, the woman who goes right-wing sites and posts comments where she presents herself as above it all and patriotic and then goes on to trash everyone in IVAW as not being that. A long time ago, she should have been asked to leave. Instead of questioning Matthis' right to protest in a Constitutionally protected manner, they should have ejected the loser who's always leaving comments on right wing military blogs about how she's so close to leaving IVAW and she's so disgusted by them and she's so . . . She's the cancer. It's past time she was cut out of the organization.

I wasn't in the mood to say that at Third. Why? The cancer writes nasty e-mails to Ty, homophobic attacks on Ty. I wasn't going to put Ty through that. Let Cowardly Cancer e-mail me. I'll laugh at her tired ass. She's a coward, she's always been a coward. And she's a cancer on the organization. If IVAW can't take care of her, maybe I need to speak to some friends in military brass about how she spends her work hours -- writing nasty, little, homophobic e-mails and leaving comments all over right-wing blogs. While being paid by US tax payers? One day alone, she sent a series of homophobic e-mails to Ty over a period of three and a half hours -- while at her job and, so sorry, you're not paid to spew your homophobia nor are you paid by US tax payers to play around online.

In terms of what Matthis did, it's legally, it's Constitutionally protected speech. He didn't do it on behalf of IVAW so it's really not any of the organization's business. No one mistakes Adam Kokesh's campaign for representing IVAW and he's using his free speech (in different ways) to run for elected office.

Dahr Jamail
has a series of upcoming events:


Dartmouth, MA
March 30, 2010– 5:00 pm
Empire, Occupation, and Resistance
An independent journalists first hand account

UMass Dartmouth
Library Browsing area

Food and refreshments served sponsored by: Social Change Society and Students for Justice in the Middle East


Santa Fe, NM
April 9, 2010– 6:30 pm

Life Under Siege in Gaza

Award-winning independent journalist from the Gaza Strip, and author of the Rafah Today blog

Followed by a conversation with
Journalist,author and co-recipient with Mohammed of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism

Unitarian Congregation
107 West Barcelona Rd
Santa Fe, NM

Suggested Donation $5

Sponsored by Another Jewish Voice Santa Fe and the Middle East Peace and Justice Alliance
Endorsed by Veterans for Peace Santa Fe Chapter, Santa Fe Women in Black


Portland, Oregon
April 10, 2010– 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility Annual Awards Dinner 2010

with Keynote Speaker, Dahr Jamail
Independent Journalist, author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq and The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan

Honoring the High School Student Winners of the Greenfield Peace Writing Contest

Music by Retta and the Smart Fellas

The Oregon Zoo
4001 SW Canyon Road
Portland, Oregon

Please RSVP by March 26th

To purchase by check, or for more information including how to place a congratulatory message or ad in the keepsake book, become a table captain or sponsor of the event, contact Kelly Campbell at 503-274-2720.


Moscow, Idaho
April 29, 2010– 7:00 pmto9:00 pm

Kenworthy Performing Arts Center
508 S. Main St., Moscow, Idaho

Empire, Occupation, Resistance, and Independent Media:
A Fund Raiser for Radio Free Moscow with Dahr Jamail

Snacks and drinks served.

** Dahr Jamail's MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit Dahr Jamail's website **

Dahr Jamail's new book, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now available.

Order the book here

As one of the first and few unembedded Western journalists to report the truth about how the United States has destroyed, not liberated, Iraqi society in his book Beyond the Green Zone, Jamail now investigates the under-reported but growing antiwar resistance of American GIs. Gathering the stories of these courageous men and women, Jamail shows us that far from "supporting our troops," politicians have betrayed them at every turn. Finally, Jamail shows us that the true heroes of the criminal tragedy of the Iraq War are those brave enough to say no.

Order Beyond the Green Zone

"International journalism at its best." --Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author All the Shah's Men

Winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes this from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

US needs more than Obama’s health changes

Barack Obama’s health bill is the biggest welfare reform in the US since the 1960s. Another 32 million people will have health insurance.

This is a step forward – and it’s good to see the Republicans defeated – but what is really shocking is how modest the changes are.

The Medicare scheme which offers health care to retired people was introduced in 1965 on the back of a wave of social discontent. But Obama’s reforms are a compromise designed to avoid upsetting the medical insurance companies.

About 23 million Americans will still have no health cover. Ordinary people will continue to pay crippling insurance premiums.

Insurers will no longer be allowed to exclude people for pre-existing medical conditions, but care will depend on what you can afford.

The scheme will subsidise insurance premiums for people who can’t pay. When they come in during 2014 the reforms will cost $940 billion (£624 billion).

So the government will fund the profits of the profiteering insurance companies, and the Republicans will blame reform for the increased costs.

The reforms will not set up any publicly run health scheme – even one that competes with the private companies. Any talk of change that would make the system efficient is dismissed as extremism.

Its frightening that the political consensus in Britain is to make our system ever more like the US.

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

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