Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, 2 US soldiers are announced dead, Moqtada al-Sadr says that his militia's reforming (says so today -- who knows about tomorrow), the two largest Shi'ite blocs in Iraq say they are partnering (ibid), and more. 
Today the US military announced: "Two U.S. Soldiers died of non-combat-related in Iraq yesterday in unrelated incidents. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.  The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/.  The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin.  The incidents are under investigation." The announcements bring the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4397.

News Provider reports, "May 4th, students from Kent State held their annual commemoration of the martyrs of the anti-war movement, but was also present the new Vietnam: Iraq. Hundreds of students who oppose the American occupation of Iraq began to go off campus, but were immediately repressed by the police who made dozens of arrests, claiming that the demonstration was 'not authorized'. The University outlawed the protest because he believed that 'induced violence,' while the students said that 'the only violence that was expected from the police'."  They were among many students across the US today protesting the continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the 40th anniversary of the Kent State massacre in which two students protesting the US assault on Vietnam -- Allison B. Krause and Jeffrey G. Miller -- were killed on the campus of Kent State by the Tricky Dick deployed National Guard as were two student bystanders: Sandra L. Scheuer and William K. Schroder.  The massacre was immortalized in Neil Young's "Ohio."
Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?
Fred Mazelis and Patrick Martin (WSWS) attempt to provide context on those events and the events since:
As part of this process, a decades-long effort to rehabilitate the war in Vietnam was carried out. The question of Vietnam was posed not as one of imperialist aggression, but rather one of "mistaken" policies. More than a quarter century after the humiliating defeat of US troops in Vietnam, the administration of George W. Bush, with the full backing of the Democratic Party, launched new colonial wars, first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq, wars that continue uninterrupted under Democrat Barack Obama.               
Once again, as in the 1960s, the conditions are developing for the reemergence of mass struggles of working people and youth against imperialist war, austerity and repression. The great difference, however, is that the struggles now unfolding take place under conditions of a protracted historical decline of American capitalism.
Mazelis and Martin have written a must-read.  The context of Kent State was the growing peace movement in this country, LBJ's war on Vietnam (Bill Moyers is pissing his pants right now), Nixon's campaigning on a 'secret plan' (trust him!) to end the war and then nothing.  Nothing.  Sworn in back in January of 1969 and he doesn't end the war in '69 and he doesn't end it in 1970.  He expands the war. Cambodia becomes a target, all of Southeast Asia.  And the peace movement is protesting across the country.  In Kent State, 4 students get killed and nine are wounded on this day, forty years ago.
Today Bush's wars haven't been ended (Iraq and Afghanistan), Barack campaigned on his own little 'secret plan' (in that, as Samantha Power told BBC News in 2008, Barack was lying about pulling out one brigade a month).  Barack was sworn in back in January 2009.  The wars haven't ended and he's expanded them to Pakistan.  Some compare him to Bullly Boy Bush.  But Barack's apparently aiming for greater infamy: Tricky Dick.  And taking down a large number of 'activists' with him.  Who knew, for example, that Joan Baez would decide to make the final act of her life about being the new Wayne Newton?  Celebrity cover for a War Hawk. Danke schoen, Joan, danke schoen. 
It's walking to the battleground that always makes me cry
I've met so few folks in my time who weren't afraid to die
But dwan bleeds with the people here and morning skies are red
As young girls load up bicycles with flowers for the dead
An aging woman picks along the craters and the rubble
A piece of cloth, a bit of shoe, a whole lifetime of trouble
A sobbing chant comes from her throat and splits the morning air
The single son she had last night is buried under her
They say that the war is done
Where are you now, my son?
Once upon a time Joan Baez wrote and sang songs like that, remembering the ones personally harmed by the wars.  By 2008?  Joan just wanted to whore.  Doubt it?  Check that endorsement she gave and find in it where she mentions ending wars.  She doesn't.  The so-called Peace Queen checked out a long time ago. Just as well, the last 7 years saw a lot of tired old faces try to use the peace movement for fame, to sell a bad book or a bad movie. They road the movement and ruined the movement.  The students will rebuild it and they won't listen to Joan Baez or any of the others who whored themselves for a presidency but did nothing for the Iraqi people.  They decided they'd rather suck up to power than speak out for the voiceless.  And students have no use for them, nor should they.
Calling for an end to the Iraq War is Ron Fisher who is running for Congress in the 8th Congressional District in Virginia.  Fisher is a Green.  Who will he be running against?  "Ron's Likely Opponent" sketches out Fisher's take on US House Rep Jim Moran (Democrat) which includes, "Jim Moran, like many in Congress, blames the Iraq War on President Bush. Bush could not have started the Iraq war without Congress authorizing him to use force and then providing the funds for the war. Moran could have helped stop the war by simply stopping the funding and/or by helping to impeach Cheney and Bush."
Allan Abramson (Huffington Post) notes of the Iraq War (and other 'changes' that apparently were shipped COD because they still haven't arrived):
Why then did Mr. Bush stay in Iraq? Instead of fighting terrorists, we were fighting the Iraqi people, mostly Sunni groups which had lost power with our invasion. The mission had changed, to become one of nation-building. We wanted to create a Western-leaning ally. This is why our continued military action in Iraq was wrong and dumb. Without a threat to the U.S., we had no right to intervene in the governance of Iraq: this was wrong. Without a threat to the U.S., we were wasting American and Iraqi lives, and billions of dollars, rather than dealing with terrorism elsewhere: this was dumb.         
In the campaign, Mr. Obama said he wanted to end the war and remove American troops. In office, Mr. Obama set an extended deadline (2011) for ending U.S. military action, but also announced that he would retain some 50,000 troops (and perhaps as many contract employees) to provide training and assistance to the Iraqi government. Whatever you call them, 50,000 troops does not qualify as ending a "war." Mr. Obama has continued the Bush-Cheney mission of nation-building in Iraq.               
The choice he could have made was to set a shorter deadline, and truly remove all U.S. troops from Iraq. He could have announced that the Iraqi people would have to resolve their internal political issues on their own, and that once resolved, we would provide aid in reconstruction of the country. This he did not do, and the question arises, did he mean his campaign pledge?
No, he did not.  He never meant it and that's why some of us were sounding the alarms on March 7, 2008 when Barack's tutor and chief foreign advisor Samantha Power was in the news for, among other things, the BBC interview she'd given.  
Stephen Sackur: You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House.  So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?
Samantha Power: You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009.  We can'te ven tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth.  He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator.
"So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?"  No, it sure as hell wasn't.  But if the Joan Baezes and Tom-Tom Haydens hadn't been whoring, people would have caught on.  The clues were always there, From the November 2, 2007 snapshot
Though Obama says he wants "to be clear," he refuses to answer that yes or no question and the interview is over."      
So let's be clear that the 'anti-war' Obama told the paper he would send troops back into Iraq. Furthermore, when asked if he would be willing to do that unilaterally, he attempts to beg off with, "We're talking too speculatively right now for me to answer." But this is his heavily pimped September (non)plan, dusted off again, with a shiny new binder. The story is that Barack Obama will NOT bring all US troops home. Even if the illegal war ended, Obama would still keep troops stationed in Iraq (although he'd really, really love it US forces could be stationed in Kuwait exclusively), he would still use them to train (the police0 and still use them to protect the US fortress/embassy and still use them to conduct counter-terrorism actions.  
For more on that 2007 news, refer to  Third's article and the actual transcript of the interview. 
In US occupied Iraq today, the recounting of ballots in Baghdad continues.  As it does, Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports that State of Law (Nouri al-Maliki's political party) is floating a new name for prime minister: Jaafar Sadr.  And, if you're wondering, yes, he is related to Moqtada al-Sadr (second cousins).  Sly observes, "His youth and inexperience [he's 40-years-old] count against him, but at the same time he has had no chance yet to make enemies, unlike most other politicians. Opposition to Maliki is the main obstacle to the creation of a grand Shiite coalition that could nix Allawi's ambitions."  Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) notes, "A student his whole adult life, Jaafar is now nearing his bachelor's degrees in Sociology and Anthropology."  Apparently, instead of the four-year-plan, he was on the twenty-two-year degree plan.  Not noted by either (though Sly may be hinting) is that among those floating Jaafar Sadr as a potential prime minister are elements of the US government.  Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that State of Law is having talks with the Iraqi National Alliance about forming a Shi'ite alliance which would put "them just four parliamentary seats shy of a ruling majority." Al Jazeera reports that the news was broken by, "Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a former PM, and Abdul Razzaq al-Kadhimi, an INA advisor, flanked by officials from al-Maliki's State of Law bloc made the announcement in a press conference on Tuesday." The Telegraph of London observes, "Incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, however, appeared likely to be the main casualty of the deal between the Shiite parties, as it is widely believed the price of a coalition between his State of Law bloc and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) was an agreement that he would not continue in his post."  Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) notes that Ayad Allawi and his Iraqiya political slate has been sidelined which "could intensify sentiments among Sunnis that despite voting in force in the election in March, they remain disenfranchised". The Wall St. Journal cautions, "Despite the pact, in Iraq's volatile political atmosphere, any deal could easily evaporate before a new government is formed."
The other Sadr is in the news as well.  Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) report that Moqtada al-Sadr's spokesperson Salah al-Obeidi announced today that the Mahdi Army is being regrouped and that it is going to "launch qualitative attacks against the occupiers (U.S. forces) if they stay beyond 2011. It will have a big role to play to drive them out of Iraq." Last month, it was announced that Mahdi Army was regrouping.  Within 24 hours, it was then announced that they weren't.  But that Moqtada al-Sadr was willing to reform it.  There may be a walk back on today's announcement as well.  Nouri al-Maliki targeted al-Sadr's militia in Basra and Baghdad in 2008.  Some, largely Shi'ites, saw the Mahdi Army as a protective force.  Sunnis and many Shi'ites tended to see it as a death squad deployed at Moqtada's wishes. 
If the announcement is not walked back, among the most upset will most likely be the Sunnis and the Sahwa subgroup of Sunnis.  Tim Arango (New York Times) reports that Nouri's refusal to bring the Sahwa into the process is frustrating many Sunnis. Sahwa aka "Awakenings" aka "Sons Of Iraq" are Sunnis who were paid by the US military not to attack the US military or the US military equipment. These payments are credited by many -- including Gen David Petreaus and former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker -- for diminishing the number of attacks on US forces. Nouri was supposed to absorb the Sahwa but despite the press repeatedly announcing he had or he was going to, that never really happened. Arango reports Sahwa was not able to promote a united front in the March 7th elections and are feeling further unmoored: 

Now, under threat from insurgents they once battled and facing a government they say has not kept its promise to give jobs to the fighters, the Awakening seems to be a force whose strength is waning, as it looks for a way to cling to any rung of power it can. Some wonder if this is the beginning of the end of the Awakening.
The ramifications could be stark. Most worrisome would be an increase in violence, should disenchanted Awakening fighters become insurgents again. Whether Mr. Aiffan and others accept their electoral defeat and go quietly is a question that could determine how peacefully power changes hands here.
Occupied Iraq, ruled over by a US puppet whose fighting like crazy to hold on to the position.  If US service members leave the Green Zone, Nouri falls.  He knows that.  The US military knows it, the US government knows it. So he's proposed madcap schemes to ensure his reign since he became prime minister in April of 2006.  Two Circles Net reports,  "Iraqi authorities have started the construction of a security wall around the capital Baghdad, reports the country's Al-Iraqiya TV citing a Baghdad security spokesperson. The concrete wall with eight checkpoints is to be completed in mid-2011." Once upon a time, Nouri proposed building a moat around Baghdad.  A moat.  Stagnant water.  Just what Baghdad needs more of.  Especially with all the cholera outbreaks.  Nouri never got his moat but he will apparently get his walled-in-city.
Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki and his Whores among the press corps are trumpeting the claim that the 'network' behind the April 4th bombings has been 'captured' while tossing in as an aside that a supposed suspect "was later reported to have died in detention." Of the Ebola Virus? Nouri runs torture cells and forces fake confessions and his pay off is that a number of Press Whores repeatedly pimp his claims as facts -- despite the fact that his abusive relationship with the truth is well known.
Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing injured thirteen people, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 official with the police and another Baghdad sticky bombing injured three people.
Reuters notes 1 police woman was shot dead in Mosul.  DPA reports 1 pharmacist was shot dead in Mosul.
Turning to veterans issues, first in DC:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (EST), Wednesday, May 5, 2010, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, is scheduled to attend the White House bill signing of S. 1963, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act.  This landmark bill, authored by Akaka, will establish an unprecedented permanent program to support the caregivers of wounded warriors, improve health care for veterans in rural areas, help VA adapt to the needs of women veterans, and expand supportive services for homeless veterans.                                           


A summary of the bill, as passed by Congress, is available here: LINK 

Now across the US, Hike for our Heroes is a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who is hiking across the country to raise awareness and money for veterans issues. Soldiers' Angels notes:

Troy is headed to Indiana!                         

As Iraq veteran Troy Yocum hikes his way to Indiana on his 7,000-mile trek across the country, he will be joined by fellow veterans of the legendary Indiana National Guard "War Hawks" of the 151st Infantry. Sponsored by Soldiers' Angels, the goal of Troy's Drum Hike is to draw attention to and raise money to assist struggling veterans and their families.                  

The 151st Infantry is the unit with whom Troy deployed to Iraq in 2007, and the unit of Vietnam veteran and Drum Hike participant, "Purple Heart Parachutist" Dallas Wittgenfeld. Company D of the 151st Infantry War Hawks trained and deployed as Special Operations Airborne Rangers in Vietnam during 1968-69, becoming one of the conflict's most combat-decorated companies in the Army. The unit's history stretches all the way back to the Pioneer Era and the Battle of Tippecanoe.           

Honoring their shared legacy, Dallas will be parachuting into locations along with route with a giant American flag as Troy stands by to welcome him. Together they also plan to spend time at the Camp Atterbury Museum on May 6, 2010 to honor the 151st's heroes of their fight in Vietnam, and Dallas is looking forward to sharing stories and showing Troy the pictures of his brothers who did not make it back. They also plan to welcome and spend some time with as many of their fellow 151st veterans as can join them that day.             

An Airborne Ranger with four decades of experience, Dallas served in Company D, 151st and is a native of Decatur, IN. He has jumped out of planes, helicopters and hot-air balloons, and was the poster-featured parachutist in Normandy, France during D-day commemorations. He will jump in Indiana in honor of all members of the 151st, past and present. "As I pack my giant flag parachute in support of Soldiers' Angels and the 151st, I will think of all the Purple Heart veterans who are not here today," Dallas says.                 

As part of the events, a small number of "Drum Hiker Collector Flags" that are for sale along the Drum Hike route will be parachuted down with Dallas, and both he and Troy will be available to autograph them. The flags are can also be purchased online through the Soldiers' Angels Store.                 

For more information about the Drum Hike and parachute events in and throughout Indiana, DrumHike.com.                        

Staying with US news, at Peace of the Action, Jon has a post that we're including here in full to help get the word out.

For the first week: July 5th to July 9th we will be concentrating on the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle issue around the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and drone manufacturers. Obama has dramatically escalated the use of these weapons since he has been president.            

July 12th-16th we will be focusing on counter-recruitment efforts.            

July 19th-23rd we will focus our energies on Congress before it recesses for summer break and going back to their home districts to campaign for November elections.                          

We do have some good POTA news to report. We have a fundraiser on board: Teri Perticone from Berkeley, who is fundraising for no compensation to herself, but for "love," so let's give Teri lots of love! Teri can be reached at                  TeriPerticone@noliesradio.org 

We are also wading through many offers from activists who want to volunteer to be our Webmaster.                

POTA will continue whether we have Summer Camp OUT NOW, or not. Peace of the Action is an organization dedicated to ending the empire through direct action. We are not interested in symbolic actions or Federal electoral politics.

Even though we are encouraging activist to do actions locally, we must have a strong presence in Washington, DC, too.                 

We are organizing for Summer Camp, but we need to have a certain number of people signed up to be able to go ahead with Camp.    

If you are planning on coming to Summer Camp, please send an email to Cindy Sheehan: Cindy@PeaceoftheAction.org with the dates that you are planning on attending.                   

If you are planning on scheduling actions in your community, please also email Cindy.                                

If you would like to donate to help us work for peace, please click on the link.

Please RSVP for Summer Camp by May 10th.                       






Love & Peace               
Cindy Sheehan and POTA Team