Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, oil motives back in the news, the Sadr militia regrouping, and more.
We'll open with a segment from today's Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC):
Senator John Kerry [in a clip]: We're more dependent upon foreign oil today than we were before 9-11 we make America more energy independnet we strengthen our national security.
Andrea Mitchell: Senator John Kerry on Morning Joe today.  He and Joe Lieberman now at this hour unveiling their new energy reform bill to combat climate change. But energy independence is also a matter of national security.  Retired US Army General Paul Eaton a senior adviser at the National Security Network pushing for climate change, pushing for this legislation. Thanks so much, general, for joining us. Tell us why it is such an important issue for national security for anyone who doesn't-doesn't get it?
Gen Paul Eaton: Andrea, thanks for having me on. When you take a look at the defense budget we're pushing north of a three-quarter trillion dollars and a significant amount of that goes towards protecting our lines of communication, protecting our oil based sources, and we're spending uh-uh our -- our children's future here just to sustain our logistics.  And it's -- it is a military issue, it is a budgetary issue and it's a -- it's a future economic issue for the United States.
Andrea Mitchell: But of course this is a terrible climate -- no pun intended -- to be doing this, presenting this bill now.  You've lost the support of the one Republican co-sponsor, Senator Lindsay Graham, over side issues, but lost the support over all of the months.  At the same time, the oil spill. How do you say to Americans, "This is the time for an energy bill which includes offshore drilling" -- when, in fact, we have no answers from BP after all these weeks as to how to even begin this fix?
Gen Paul Eaton: Well the real argument is because of energy dependence on oil because we're really reliant upon a 19th century fuel source, we are going after more and more dangerous locations and more and more problematic countries to sustain our -- our billion dollar a day habit. And when we spend a hundred million dollars a day and send it to Iran, a primary potential enemy, that is a national security issue. It's a military issue. So we've got to sell that too America. And what happened in the Gulf and this horrific oil spill that's going on, we developed the technology to get after it and as we do so, as our needs grow and we're pushing wellheads down 5000 feet under the water, we're on the edge of our technological capacity to get it and we're beyond, apparently, our technological capacity to -- to right a wrong when disaster strikes.  So we're we're going into dangerous regions.
Andrea Mitchell: What about the carbon tax piece of this -- you've got  the economy just coming out of a recession and especially in areas of the country where people are so resistant to the  carbon tax, how do you sell this very tough political piece to the American people?
Gen Paul Eaton: It's frequently difficult to sell the idea of spendingg money to save greater money in the future. Spending a little bit of money today -- most of which will come back to the  consumer in price supports for energy bills that are going to go up and eventually 100% will come back to energy consumers. But it drives us to reliable energy, to sustainable energy to -- to non-oil energy options. It's a job provider.  It will ultimately reduce the requirements imposed upon the military as I mentioned earlier to sustain the lines of communication we've got to do.
Andrea Mitchell: General Paul Eaton, thank you so much. We appreciate it. The case for national security on climate change.
We do not support building nuclear plants in this community and we avoid various groups because of it (and various 'activism').  Our noting the above is not an endorsement or a slap about the above.  Our focus is on what Eaton's saying.  (If you're curious about the legislation, you can click here for an overview page John Kerry's office has prepared that will provide you with -- PDF format warning -- endorsements -- corporations love it!, the bill itself, and various other options.) Eaton was a war cheerleader (and serving at the time, in training aspect).  He's 'anti-war' in that if-you're-stupid-you-believe-it kind of way.  Meaning, only those with comprehension issues think he's against the Iraq War.  He loves the illegal war, he'd go down on it if he could.  But what he didn't like was some of the ways Bully Boy Bush conducted it after it started.  He's debating tactics and not condemning the illegal war.  He's a War Hawk.  He's a War Monger.  That's reality.  Reality can also be found in his statements.  The US government sees energy and access to it as a "national security" issue. 
Of course they do.  Wars are fought -- especially among empires -- over goods.  Over access to and control of resources.   That's a historical truth.  But any who have dared suggested that the Iraq War was in any way, shape or form about oil have been ridiculed.   Andrea Mitchell's husband is Alan Greenspan.  Promoting his book, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, the former chair of the Federal Reserve (1987 through the start of 2006) appeared on Democracy Now! (link has text, video and audio) in September of 2007:
Amy Goodman: Alan Greenspan, let's talk about the war in Iraq. You said what for many in your circles is the unspeakable, that the war in Iraq was for oil.  Can you explain?
Alan Greenspan: Yes. The point I was making was that if there were no oil under the sands of Iraq, Saddam Hussein would have never been able to accumulate the resources which enabled him to threaten his neighbors, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. And having watched him for thirty years, I was very fearful that he, if he ever achieved -- and I thought he might very well be able to buy one -- an atomic device, he would have essentially endeavored and perhaps succeeded in controlling the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz, which is the channel through which eighteen or ninetten million barrels a day of the world eight-five million barrel crude oil production flows. Had he decided to shut down,s ay, seven million barrels a day, which eh could have done if he controlled, he could have essentially also shut down a significant part of economic activity throughout the world. The size of the threat that he posed, as I saw it emerging, I thought was scary. And so, getting him out of office or getting him out of the control position he was in, I thought, was essential.  And whether that be done by one means or another was not as important, but it's clear to me that were there not the oil resources in Iraq, the whole picture of how that part of the Middle East developed would have been different.
In his 2007 book, Greenspan wrote, "Whatever their publicized angst over Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of mass destruction,' American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in an area that harbors a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy. I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."
Note that not one damn thing when the White House flipped.  Not one damn thing.  And all the little pieces of trash who used the peace movement as a get-out-the-vote organization, you know the Obama Drama Queens who whored it big time for Barry and then fell silent even though all the conditions for the illegal war -- like the Iraq War itself -- still exist.  You know who I'm talking about, the faux activists, who did their little I-Can-Blog-No-More pieces, usually while insulting efforts at peace because they don't want anyone to call out there War Hawk (file it under ' I found the peace movement not very peaceful' -- as so many Liars and Whores did -- usuallyshowing up later to blog again but, you understand, they're focusing on the personal and not the political).  Nothing changed.  Eaton is a War Hawk.  Eaton gets to say on Andrea Mitchell's program what Mitchell's husband wrote and (briefly) discussed. 
In England, the Iraq War never stopped mattering.  Danny Schechter writes the ridiculous paragraph below:
My muse, the news, seems to be in hyper-drive these days, with "breaking news" dominating all news. As I write, word has to the Dissector come that Gordon Brown has lost the election after the election as the Lib Dems, Britain's third party, opted to make a deal with the Conservatives, i. e., Tories, pre-empting all future maneuvers. David Cameron will be Prime Minister. Personally I credit Tony Blair, poodle-in-chief, for so trashing/betraying Labor's legacy that it lost its mission and millions of supporters. Brown finished what he started, hardly helped by a devastating economic collapse.
It is ridiculous.  He obviously doesn't know enough about the situation to comment.  Where is Iraq in that 'analysis.'  No where.  But then, hey, Danny didn't cover the Iraq Inquiry did he?  Apparently unaware of how Gordo went over with Brits over that. Rebecca knew the mood the first time she looked at the raw data.  Want to know reality about the elections in England, read Rebecca's "thank you and goodbye" and "gordo killed the labour streak" -- she may write more, she's got a lot more she can tell. Whether she will or not is her business but she did a lot of work for Labour including spending four to six weeks in England.  The election was lost (as we pointed out here) if Brown didn't step down.  He never did.  He was too tied to Iraq, he was too tied to too many things.  He was supposed to provide some fresh air and he never did.  All he did -- and there are lessons for the US here -- is degrade the Labour brand.  He destroyed it.  People have expectations because they are led to believe certain things.  You might fool the voters once but they'll come back and show you who really is in charge -- a thought that should frighten Democratic politicians in the US.
Danny says Gordon lost the "election after the election" which is apparently an attempt at "word cute."  It's not cute.  They elected their Parliament members.  The minute the votes were counted Gordon Brown was over.  He even went through the motions of announcing his withdrawal (saying it would be effective in September).  It was already over and no one -- Labour, Tory or Liberal Democrat -- was going to let that ass save face.  Though Danny never covered them, there were huge protests when Gordon Brown and Tony Blair testified in London to the Iraq Inquiry earlier this year.  Gordon could have broken with Blair publicly in his testimony -- as he was advised to do.  He didn't.  He sealed his own fate.  Again, there are lessons for Democrats if they care to pay attention.
The Iraq War didn't go away just because the coverage did.  It didn't vanish just because a lot of people who used to note it every day or made a film or two on it or wrote a book about it decided more money could be made and attention garnered elsewhere.  Amy Goodman is many things  but she at least knows how to give lip service to the idea that the Iraq War has lasting effects in the political system and in the media system.  England saw the effects of the Iraq War.  The US will be seeing it soon.  It will play out very much as the effects of Vietnam did.  "A Human Rights President will save us! Will wash all our sins away!  Yea!" And by 1980, the liar class and their human rights president had ensured Republican domination.  History does repeat mainly because so many fools refuse to learn lessons from it.
(If the ones who ran away from Iraq to make money and get attention on something else especially piss you off, take comfort in the fact that they're idiots at commerce.  In fact, they should be using the Iraq War to sell their new products.  They only have one song and when a recording artist only is capable of one hit, you repackage and remix that thing  over and over.  Their efforts to beat a hasty retreat are a bit like Donna Summer's efforts to disown her Queen of Disco label -- a career killing move.)
Nothing's changed.  That was obvious today sitting through one House Armed Services Committee hearing and two Subcommittee hearings.  Take the Strategic Forces Subcommittee which met to markup the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscaly Year 2011.  US House Rep James Langevin is the Chair of the Subcommittee.
Subcommittee Chair James R. Langevin: The mark before the subcomittee this morning includes: $15 billion for the Department of Energy's Atomic Energy Defense Activities, not including defense nuclear nonproliferation programs, $10.3 billion for ballistic missile defense programs -- $361.6 million above the President's request, and approximately $9.7 billion for unclassified national security space programs.  These three important initiatives will enhance our national security. First, reflecting the President's request to provide a strong and unprecedented investment in our nuclear deterrent, the mark includes a significant increase for the activites of the National Nuclear Security Administration to sustain a safe, secure and reliable arsenal without nuclear testing.  Second, the mark includes a significant increase above the President's request for ballistic missile defense systems that counter the most pressing and likely threats to the United States, our deployed troops and our allies and friends.  Third, the mark provides for important military space programs that are in critical phases of development or sustainment, including the Operation Responsive Space program and Military Satellite Communications.
And on and on he went.  Endlessly bragging about how they were handing over more (tax payer) money than the White House was asking for.  In the midst of the Great Recession. When Barack says "everything" is on the table.  Everything but military spending.  There, they don't even scale back.  Instead they rush forward to strut and proclaim they gave more than asked for. And no one rushes forward to obejct to the militarization of space -- something we all found so offensive under Bully Boy Bush.  Now Dems and Republicans can -- and on the Subcommittee did -- agree.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Turner: The mark makes sound adjuments in the areas of national security space and intelligence. The mark continues to provide funding for important space aquisition programs in the areas of: satellite communications, GPS, missile warning, space situational awareness, launch and Operationally Responsive Space. The mark recommends a signficant reduction to the NPOESS [National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System] program. Given the recent decision to restructure the program, authorizing full funding of the legacy NPOESS program by DoD seemed premautre absent a clear way ahead.
That was the last one.  The first one was the full committee. Chair Ike Skelton made statements that appeared 'new' or 'novel' only if you were just emerging from the womb or coma.  Skelton on the surge: "I endorsed this strategy then and I do so now. As I have said many times, while this new strategy cannot guarantee success in Afghanistan, it is the most likely to end with an Afghanistan that can prevent the return of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. Six months into the new policy, it is appropriate for Congress to consider how things are going."  It all echoes Iraq.  But it's supposed to seem fresh and news, as if the Afghanistan War didn't, in fact, start before the Iraq War. "Things may get harder before they get better," testified DoD's Michele Flournoy with a straight face apparently thinking she'd made a novel statement.
Nothing changes.  Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports, "The White House is likely to delay the withdrawal of the first large phase of combat troops from Iraq for at least a month after escalating bloodshed and political instability in the country. [. . .] American officials had been prepared for delays in negotiations to form a government, but now appear to have balked after Maliki's coalition aligned itself with the theocratic Shia bloc to the exclusion of Allawi, who attracted the bulk of the minority Suni vote. There is also concern over interference from Iraq's neighbours, Iran, Turkey and Syria."  Meanwhile the Palm Beach Post continues to fancy itself for a peace advocate and maybe that passes for it today?  Their latest editorial insists US troops leave and notes the Iraq War was based on lies. If peace activists believe that the deaths of Iraqis and US service members are dismissed so quickly or that the US has 'repaired' Iraq (the country that was torn apart by the ongoing Iraq War) then, by all means, let the Palm Beach Post cut ahead all the rest of us on the next march.
In Iraq, Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) interviews US Maj Gen Vincent Brooks who states that Moqtada al-Sadr's militia is regrouping and does not dismiss the possibility that they may have been involved in Monday's bombings.  Monday's violence, which claimed at least 119 lives, continues to be questioned. Anne Barker (Australia's ABC) reports that "the eputy interior minister admits the government's own security regime was at fault."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Reuters notes a Baghdad car bombing claimed 7 lives and left twenty-two people injured, a Baghdad bombing in which the assailants killed the shop owner, used his body to draw a cloud and then exploded the bomb claiming 3 lives and leaving 23 wounded.
Reuters notes 1 TV station employee was shot dead in Mosul and, dropping back to yesterday, 1 person shot dead.
Last night, Trina blogged on Iraqi children and noted that the Iraq War "has destroyed their understanding of the world and themselves. They are strong, if they weren't, they couldn't cope. But the war has destroyed their lives and that can't be prettied up."  Today on NHPR's Word of Mouth, Virginia Prescott spoke with Mary Ann Cappiello (professor at Lesley University) about a new group of children's books which cover the Iraq War -- many of which cover it from the view of a parent serving in the Iraq War and some covering it from an Iraqi child's experiences of the Iraq War.
In Peter Pan news, Laura Rozen (Politico) reports Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq, is in the race for Dean "of the Josef Korbel School of International Affairs at the University of Denver."  Whatever it takes to get him out of Iraq.
In the US, Lyda Longa (Daytona Beach News-Journal)  reports, "Iraq veteran Joshua Gerard was discharged from the Army last year, but the fighting never stopped within him, his family said Tuesday. That inner struggle -- fueled by post-traumatic stress disorder and bouts of heavy drinking -- came to a head Sunday night when sheriff's officials said Gerard, 29, pointed a shotgun at Sgt. Vidal Mejias." This is an update to Longa's article noted in yesterday's snapshot. Iraq War veteran Joshua Gerard is in "critical but stable condition" and his father Jim Gerard states that service members should be receiving "mandatory" treatment when they are discharged. As Long notes in another article, Joshua Gerard suffers from PTSD. He was shot by law enforcement Sunday following deputies responding to a 9-11 call placed by his wife. Gary Taylor (Orlando Sentinel) speaks to the veteran's family as well:

Help may have been available for Joshua James Gerard, but he never got it, his family said Tuesday. That's because the counseling the soldiers need is not mandatory, they said. "It's not just Josh," said his sister, Rachael Sippel. "There's a ton of these scenarios all across the country." People like her brother need long-term counseling and group therapy, she said. "I'm not talking two weeks.

Sarah Gerad is his wife and Stephanie Coueignoux (Central Florida News 13 -- link has text and video) reports:

In a letter only given to News 13, Sarah Gerard wrote about her husband Josh. She described how his tour in Iraq changed him. "It was because he's not a mindless killer that the things he's been through, haunt him every day," she wrote.

Meanwhile John McChesney (NPR's All Things Considered -- link has audio and text) reports on the large influx into the VA system -- a non-surprise and something that should have been addressed some time ago. You can't continue two ongoing wars and not expect the number of veterans to increase.

David Bacon is an independent journalist who covers the labor and immigration beat -- one of a tiny number of actual labor reporters remaining in the US -- and his work is always impressive whether it's his writing or his photography. His photography is, in fact, art and he has an exhibit coming up.

Farm Workers     
Photographs by David Bacon                              

Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography            
University of La Verne                        
La Verne, California                  
through May 21, 2010                        
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday                          
Gallery Statement:

While American Agriculture's dependence on migrant farm labor is evident, when placed in contrast with the dire circumstances these essential workers experience while helping make food available for the world market, it is hard to imagine a larger disparity between necessity and compensation.

For nearly two decades, David Bacon has documented the struggles experienced by immigrant workers and their families, detailing the challenges and conditions faced by these often overlooked members of society in a number of highly acclaimed books, articles and photo series, all providing the public a glimpse of a community that otherwise often goes unseen.

"Farm Workers" shows the hard working conditions faced by these communities. The images highlight the issue of immigration and show the consequences of economic dislocation in Mexico. The exhibit - a partnership between Bacon and California Rural Legal Assistance and its Indigenous Farm Worker Project - is supported by the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB), a network of Mexican indigenous communities in the U.S. and Mexico. The communities documented include Mixtecos, Triquis, Zapotecos, Chatinos, and Purepechas living in San Diego, Coachella, Arvin, Oxnard and Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Fresno and Selma, Salinas and Greenfield, Santa Rosa, Fairfield and Corning.

Bacon is sharing his work with an ongoing photo exhibition at the University of La Verne. The exhibit, "Farm Workers," is on display through May 21, 2010, at the University of La Verne's Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography. This event is also intended to bring attention to the university's photography major.

Admission to the gallery, located on the ground floor of Miller Hall on the university's main campus, is free.

Bacon is the author of several books, including "Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants," "Communities Without Borders: Images and Voices from the World of Migration," and "The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border." His work has been exhibited in the U.S., Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The Carlson Gallery is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by special appointment. For information on the exhibit, the artist reception or the Carlson Gallery, contact Gary Colby at (909) 593-3511, ext. 4281.

from: "Photo exhibit focuses on laborers"
La Verne University Campus Times, April 30, 2010
Rachel Smith, Staff Writer

David Bacon's photography exhibit "Farm Workers" at the Irene Carlson Gallery exposed the difficult conditions faced by most immigrant farm workers. "The photos are a reality check," Bacon said. "Food doesn't automatically appear on the Safeway shelves."

The ULV students that filled the exhibit were affected by the extraordinary images. The ULV staff and students provided great behind the scenes support to help make sure the event was a success. Gary Colby, professor of photography, and Kevin Bowman, photography department manager, were the key staff members that brought the exhibit to life. Colby selected the artist, while Bowman focused on printing the images that Colby and Bacon picked for the exhibit.

They capture men and women working side-by-side doing the same very physically demanding jobs. "Some of these images break the stereotype of a farm worker," Bowman said. The images not only focus on male Mexican farm workers, but also touch on immigrants from India and women farm workers.

Bacon emotionally reached the students at ULV. He stirred inside them a desire to learn and become aware of the difficult life situations. "It makes me feel like there is a lot going on that I'm not aware of," said Grady Thomas, junior communications major. "I need to be more aware of what's happening." Thomas and fellow communications major Pui Lok Choi helped promote Bacon's exhibit as a school project.

As an adult, Bacon was a union leader and began to see the injustices that immigrants were facing in the labor world. His passion and desire to document the hardships eventually became full-time work for the union organizer turned artist. "We are all here to work," Bacon said. "That's what we have in common no matter the race or work you do."

For more articles and images, see

See also Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008

See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).