Sunday, August 29, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

"Those who say the war in Iraq is ending are committing a mistake" said Hassan bin Hachim 62, an Iraqi day labourer.
"The war will not end unless a real partnership government is formed that includes all the parties, and doesn't marginalise any of the parties," he said.

The above is from Waleed Ibrahim's "Iraqis say war 'not ending' despite U.S. drawdown" (Reuters) and the Iraq War isn't ending despite Barack's speech later this week. Iraq is not a success despite Barack's upcoming speech. Iraq is a disaster, a US-made disaster. It is a refugee crisis spawning region, it is a region plagued by violence (and, probably, this month cholera as well), it is a region that will continue to be occupied. The Iraq War continues.

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 4417. Tonight? 4416. If someone can explain that, please do. This is the second time in the last weeks that ICCC has LOWERED their count. Again, we are seriously considering dumping ICCC and going with DoD's count. Prior to last year's online meltdown, ICCC listed -- by name -- the fallen. They no longer do that -- or at least not for Iraq.

Reuters notes a Kirkuk bombing which claimed the lives of 2 children, a Garma car bombing which claimed 2 lives, a Mosul grenade attack which injured ten people, a Mosul bombing which claimed 1 life, a Falluja roadside bombing which injured three police officers, a Baghdad sticky bombing attempt on the life of Hussein Salman (who was not harmed) and an Abu Ghraib attack on security forces which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi solider and left three people injured.

Meanwhile Anthony Shadid (New York Times) reports that the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, is stating that the political stalemate could cause harm and "I worry about that a little bit." March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 22 days. Phil Sands (National Newspaper) notes that if the stalemate continues through September 8th, it will then be a half a year since Iraqis voted.

We have a political stalemate in the US as well. Voters keep voting for an end to the wars and the politicians keep ignoring them. This is from David Swanson's "Withdraw the Last Combat Politicians from Washington" (War Is A Crime):

Of course, way back in 2005 and 2006, a lot of Democrats in Congress behaved as if they really wanted to hold war makers accountable. Had those same people been recognizable during the past four years, the world might look very different. Great Britain and other nations are investigating their bit parts in this particular illegal war, but our own country is not. Italy has convicted a couple of dozen CIA operatives of kidnapping a man to have him tortured. Spain and other nations are investigating U.S. war crimes and/or their own complicity in illegal U.S. imprisonments. Canada has apologized to a victim of U.S. crime. But in this country, the White House still claims the power to torture or rendition and has claimed the additional privilege to assassinate foreigners and U.S. citizens alike.
Pursuing local and state prosecutions of war crimes remains a viable option with no statute of limitations for those crimes that have resulted in deaths. Taking the money out of our system of government remains a sensible step toward gaining public influence over our so-called public servants, and while states will probably need to circumvent Congress to get this done, there are bills in Congress that would start the constitutional amendment process if passed, including an excellent one from Congresswoman Donna Edwards. But I want to highlight two approaches that I think might advance the agenda of permanent peace most effectively.
First, while our elections are enormously corrupted by money and media and political parties, we can still determine their outcomes sometimes, especially in House elections, and even more so in House primaries. And while it is the application of pressure in between elections that has the greatest impact, that pressure is far more effective when tied to a credible threat of unelection in the next cycle. If we can, in November, and in primaries between now and then, unelect some war funders and elect some new people who have committed to never funding aggressive wars, our voices will ring much more loudly during the following months.
On July 27, 2010, 115 congress members behaved as if they might be worthy of keeping their jobs. These include 102 Democrats and 12 Republicans who voted no on dumping $33 billion into escalating the war in Afghanistan, plus one more Democrat, Alan Grayson, who publicly lobbied his colleagues to vote No in an unprecedented manner but was unable to be there to vote. Another 317 congress members clearly indicated their worthiness for being unelected, 308 by voting for the money and 9 by not voting. Their names and background on how the vote worked and what it meant can be found, along with a list of 96 challengers committed to not funding war in Iraq or Afghanistan, at
There is absolutely no excuse for not having, and we have no right to accuse anyone else of corruption if we cannot create, a movement publicly and noisily dedicated to voting only for candidates who will stop taking our money and dumping it into wars. Of course, this principled and necessary stand depends on understanding that no candidate can be much worse than someone who funnels our money -- so badly needed for so many things -- into wars. We have to be willing, in some districts, to vote for candidates who stand little chance of winning, even if the result may be electing someone even worse than the incumbent or someone from our less preferred political party. In some districts, there's not even a decent peace candidate on the ballot, and we have to write a name in. But someone can certainly be found to write in, and maybe next time they'll run. In the absence of such a write-in prospect, I recommend writing in the name Gandhi. Of course, the point is not to unelect people for its own sake, but to influence them and those who come after them by establishing that a serious and growing block of voters will only vote for people who never fund aggressive war -- or at least not in supplemental bills of the sort 115 did the right thing on in July.

New content at Third:

Isaiah has the night off. Pru notes Charlie Kimber's "Slaughter in Iraq is no US victory" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

A very revealing exchange took place on Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday of last week.

Presenter Evan Davies, sitting in London, asked veteran reporter Hugh Sykes in Iraq what the mood was like as the US “combat mission” was allegedly ending.

Davies speculated that the departing US troops were “a sort of victorious army but perhaps not quite feeling like leaving liberated France at the end of the Second World War.”

Sykes, a consummate broadcaster, was for a moment speechless. When he could find the words, they were damning: “Oh no, absolutely no comparison whatsoever with the liberation of France.”

He added that the words of a US soldier who had screamed “We’ve won, we’ve won” as he crossed into Kuwait would return to haunt him, if not the entire US administration.

The truth is that the US has achieved only the sordid destruction of an entire society. Over a million Iraqis are dead because of the war, as are thousands of US, British and other troops.

Some four million Iraqis have been driven from their homes, and the vast majority are too terrified to return. Basic services are in short supply and the reality for the majority of the Iraqi population is poverty and fear.

July saw the highest number of violent deaths in Iraq for two years: August will be worse.

Sectarianism has been created and entrenched. Al Qaida did not exist in Iraq before the war—but it does now. The lie that the US has made Iraq a better place is on a scale of the lies about weapons of mass destruction.

And of course the US is not withdrawing from Iraq. “Combat troops” are meant to be out, but 50,000 “trainers and advisers” will remain until the end of 2011, and 10,000 even longer. The US is in the process of recruiting 7,000 security contractors (mercenaries) to back up their power.

US planes and helicopters will continue to deliver death from the air for years to come. But there is another point to make which most analysts have missed. The US has already lost in Iraq.

Turning Iraq into a slaughterhouse has not brought victory. When George Bush (flanked by Tony Blair) launched the war in Iraq seven and a half years ago he had clear aims. He wanted to deter any other state from seeking to challenge the US’ military superiority and economic dominance.

The US hoped to control oil supplies, install a pro-Western regime in Iraq and trigger a series of “democratic” revolutions across the Middle East that would isolate and weaken Iran.

Such hopes lie in ashes. The US has shown it can spill blood and tear flesh. It has not demonstrated that it can hang on and mould societies to its will. Iran is stronger, not weaker now than in 2003. Part of its confidence to defy the US over nuclear development is because at any moment it can deepen the crisis in Iraq.

The US has not just failed to secure a pro-Western government in Iraq—there is no government at all. Almost six months after the 7 March elections, there is utter deadlock.

Prime ministers from Blair to Spain’s José María Aznar have been brought down by the opposition to the war.

Even the oil supplies have not gone to plan. A consortium made up of BP and China National Petroleum Corporation won a contract to develop southern Iraq’s giant Rumaila oil field. For China’s national oil company, it was the second major deal after a $3 billion contract to develop the Ahdab field in Wasit province in south-eastern Iraq, making it the biggest foreign player in the country.

As the Financial Times editorial said on Monday, “Humiliated in Iraq, the US is less feared by enemies and less loved by friends.”

The battle against the US goes on in Iraq—and in Afghanistan where the US and its allies are in the process of repeating the same bloody pattern.

But the courageous resistance to imperialism in Iraq, and the anti-war movement here and elsewhere, means that in many important ways the US has already lost.

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