Monday August 22, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, confirmation in the words of Nouri's spokesperson that Leon Panetta told the truth last Friday, Turkish warplanes continue bombing northern Iraq and terrorizing and killing civilians in the region, Camp Ashraf, and more.
The things that I have done that I regret
The things I seen, I won't forget
For this life and so many more
And I'm trying to find my way home
Child inside me is long dead and gone
Somewhere between lost and alone
Trying to find my way home
-- "Trying To Find My Way Home," written by Jason Moon, from Moon's latest album Trying To Find My Way Home
Over the weekend, Robert Burns (Associated Press) noted the 2003 death in Iraq of 20-year-old Spc Justin W.Hebert and how almost "one-third of U.S. troops killed in Iraq were age 18 to 21. Well over half were in the lowest enlisted ranks." DoD currently lists the number of US military personnel killed in the Iraq War at [PDF format warning] 4478. That would mean that over 2,200 of the deaths were from the lowest enlisted ranks and about 1490 were 21-years-old or younger.
And those numbers have not stopped growing because the Iraq War is not over.
That's what Leon Panetta's remarks Friday were about. His remarks? Oh, sorry. Readers of the allegedly left publications The Progressive and The Nation don't know about that because those trashy magazines walked away from the war when Bush left office. It was all about hating Bush, not about ending wars. Both publications did have time for valentines to Russ Feingold (John Nichols writes one, Matthew Rothschild writes the other) for Russ' cowardly refusal to run (I know Russ and it was a coward's decision, no matter how much his fan club tries to dress it up). (And for those who gag at the immature ravings of Rothschild and Nichols, Hugh at Corrente provides a more clear eyed appraisal.) From Friday's snapshot:
Kevin Baron (Stars & Stripes) notes that the Iraqi response is that they have not agreed to trainers but US Secretary of Defense "Leon Panetta said Friday that Iraq has already said yet to extending noncombat U.S. forces there beyond 2011, and that the Pentagon is negotiating that presence [. . . that] there is unanimous consent among key Iraqi leaders to address U.S. demands. Those demands include that Iraqis begin negotiating internally what type of U.S. training force they would like, begin a process to select a defense minister, craft a new Status of Forces Agreement and increase operations against Iranian-backed militants." Reid J. Epstein (POLITICO) refers to a transcript and quotes Panetta stating, "My view is that they finally did say yes, which is that as a result of a meeting that Talabani had last week, that all of the, it was unanimous consent among the key leaders of the country to go ahead and request that we negotiate on some kind of training, what a training presence would look like, they did at least put in place a process to try and get a Minister of Defence decided and we think they're making some progress on that front."
To her credit, Amy Goodman did include the news in headlines today. She didn't mention Iraqi official reaction. And possibly that's because Iraqi reaction really wasn't what the English-language press was saying it was Friday. As we noted Saturday, Al Mada reports on Panetta's remarks and on Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh denying an agreement has already been made. But while denying it, Ali al-Dabbagh also stated that when "the polical blocs met, they approved the need to train security forces and the Iraqi military" which would be Panetta's point that it was now a done deal. So despite his denial, Ali al-Dabbagh's actual remarks back up what Panetta said. Dar Addustour also offers Ali al-Dabbagh's quote and, in addition, they report that the only perplexing issue in the negotiations is how many US troops remain. As we noted in Third's "Editorial: US will be in Iraq beyond 2011, Panetta and Iraqi government explain," Ali al-Dabbagh may claim he's refuting Panetta, but his remarks are backing up everything Panetta said Friday. Both agree that a deal's been agreed to in order to extend the US presence in Iraq beyond 2011 and both agree that the number of US service members that will remain in Iraq has yet to be determined.
Before Iraq issued their 'denial' on Friday (which appears to have been willfully misinterpreted by the press) and before the White House asked the press to clamp down on the story, Panetta's remarks were getting coverage and that's because they are news.
But what you're seeing, if you look closely, is that The Nation, The Progressive, In These Times, et al are nothing but protest pens. They're not about action, they're not about activism, they're not about news and they are not about information. But they will encourage you to rage away . . . within the white lines they've drawn, within the area they have designated for protest. And then they will feed you scary tells of the other and convince you that Republicans are the enemies and bring the gospel of trust and obey the Democratic Party.
i walked into your dream
and now i've forgotten
how to dream my own dream
you are the CLEVER one aren't you
brides in veils for you
we told you all of our secrets
all but one
so don't you even try
the phone has been disconnected
dripping with blood and with time
and with your advice
poison me against the moon
-- "Mother," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her Little Earthquakes
Enter the world of the faux left, little Veal Cutlet, where they will educate you on hating Republicans and insist that you have no where else to go but the Democratic Party so learn to fume in vain and never do anything. Learn to hate the other and learn to vote straight ticket. Learn or, honestly, be conditioned. Give up independent thought and grasp that wars are only bad when Republicans occupy the White House. The same wars -- be they the Iraq War or the Afghanistan War or what have you -- become unworthy of dicussion -- let alone protest -- when an anointed Democrat, a blessed Dem, is sworn in as president. That's the magical reactionary way of the faux left.
And by refusing to ever stand for principals or beliefs, they not only encourage illegal wars, they encourage the trashing of the safety net and so much more. They are the reason for the current state of the United States. (Read Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class.)
Alexander Higgins notes the extension needs to be added to Barack Obama's "long list of lies and broken campaign promises" and highlights Madison Ruppert (Activist Post) who states," "For those not aware, in the politically correct military parlance parroted by the media, 'training forces' is a nice way of saying Special Forces troops who instruct and train the Iraq military to bring about the brutal death and destruction they specialize in." Press TV speaks (link has text and video) with Michael Maloof (who used to be with the Pentagon's Technology Security Operations).
Press TV: You've touched upon this a bit, but I'd like you to expand on this - Obama has never really stood by the reasons the US went to war against Iraq - Why is he so motivated to stay in Iraq now?
Michael Maloof: I think it's because of the changing circumstances; and you're only talking 10,000 troops; it's supposed to be a token amount, or they might agree to the extension of the 40,000 that are there. But it's not going to really matter in terms of what effectiveness they can accomplish. I think the US is also under increasing pressure from the Saudis. It's my understanding that the Saudis have decided to go on their own - they no longer trust the US -- to basically create their own army; a rapid reaction force if you will and they're very much concerned about the plight of the Sunnis in Iraq. And so they're going to put pressure on the US to at least maintain some kind of presence there in order to in effect try to disrupt the forward motion of Iranian influence in what is an Arab world in that region and also because of the concern the Saudis have over the plight of the Sunnis there. Iraq has gone relatively unnoticed in the press in recent months. The war in Afghanistan and the killing of Osama bin Laden had replaced the focus on Iraq. But while the fighting and bloodletting in Iraq may have dissipated in recent months, it never ended.
AKE's John Drake Tweets:
johnfdrakeEveryone is looking at #Libya, but at least 90 people were killed and 355 injured in violence in #Iraq last week.
Iraq, meanwhile, has become the forgotten war -- yet an astonishing 47,000 US troops remain stationed there. Earlier this month, Obama told a group of supporters: "If somebody asks about the war [in Iraq] … you have a pretty simple answer, which is all our folks are going to be out of there by the end of the year." Not quite. US military leaders expect to keep up to 10,000 "folks" in Iraq beyond the 31 December 2011 deadline, agreed by the Bush administration, for a full US withdrawal. Obama's hawkish new defence secretary, Leon Panetta, used his Senate confirmation hearings in June to announce that he had "every confidence" that the Iraqi government would "request" US troops to stay on in the country beyond the end of the year. However the anti-US Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared this month that any foreign soldier remaining in Iraq in 2012 would "be treated as an unjust invader and should be opposed with military resistance". So we can expect further bloodshed in that benighted nation: America's Mesopotamian misadventure is far from over.
The violence has also included, since Wednesday, Turkish military planes bombing northern Iraq. AFP notes today was the sixth day of the latest bombing campaign allegedly aimed at the PKK. The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."
Yesterday Michael S. Schmidt and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) reported that one of the Sunday Turkish bombings killed 2 children and 5 adult civilians in the area. Shamal Aqrawi (Reuters) noted that the Turkish government has yet to confirm that they carried out the daytime bombing but "A Reuters witness said he saw six Turkish warplanes take off from a base in southeastern Turkey on Sunday morning but it was not immediately clear where the planes were headed." Al Jazeera noted, "Turkey's military has said the jets are targeting PKK sites only -- including shelters, anti-aircraft gun positions and ammunition depots -- showing 'the necessary' care not to harm civilians." CNN reported that the 7 killed by the Turkish bombing today were 2 parents and their five children. CNN also notes:
In a phone call to CNN on Sunday from Northern Iraq, a PKK spokesman placed the blame for the latest round of hostilities squarely on the Turkish government and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Erdogan has decided for an all-out war," said Roj Welat. "We will use our right to defend ourselves and our people. ... There will be new things probably, new developments will occur, but in what way I cannot say. But all I can say is Kurds will defend themselves. And we are calling on all the European countries, especially the United States, not to support state terror."
Today Alsumaria TV quotes the mayor of Zar Kali village, Ismail Abdullah, stating, "The final death toll of the Turkish shelling targeting a car in a village of Qandil mountains reached 8 dead including two children and two women." The network also notes that farmers and shepherds are being forced to flee their homes due to the constant bombings.
Hurriyet noted that the Turkish goverment states that they intend to continue the "cross-border military operations until Kurdish militants in northern Iraq are totally eliminated" while the "the Kurdish Regional Administration says the issue can only be solved through dialogue as it condemns the military attacks. 'It is no longer the time for violence or war. It is the time for peace and dialogue,' the administration says in expressing its discomfort." Aswat al-Iraq adds, "The chairman of the NGOs in Kurdistan called on global governments and authorities to work towards a termination of the continued bombardments against Kurdistan territories. Adnan Anwar Bey said in press conference, attended by Aswat al-Iraq, that the NGOs 'call on the UN Security Council, the European Union, and the U.S. to stop Turkish atrocities.' He demanded the federal government bear its responsibilities in regards to these violations, not to be shy and take necessary measures to stop these attacks." The US is, of course, in no position to end the bombings. Not only are they supplying the Turkish government with intelligence used for the bombings, the US government has justified the Turkish attacks with their own actions.
Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The President of northern Iraq's Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, has expressed anger and condemnation for the Turkish air raids on border areas in Kurdistan Region, that killed  Kurdish citizens on Sunday." AndAswat al-Iraq reports that Kamal Karkuki, Speaker of the KRG Parliament, held a press conference today in which he declared, "In the name of the parliament, we denounce these bombings and call upon the Turkish government to immediately stop them." Al Sabaah reports that a delegation from the Iraqi Parliament's Commission on Security and Defense will be visiting the areas shelled to determine the damage being inflicted which they will report back to Parliament. Aswat al-Iraq notes a demostration against the bombings took place in Sulaimaniya Province with the protesters demanding "the local government adopt a stern attitude against Turkey and pressure it to cease and desist these operations that led to some killings and material losses." Shamal Aqraqi (Reuters) adds, "At least 2,000 people demonstrated late on Sunday in the northern town of Rania as the victims were buried, and 300 more marched silently from a bus station to a mosque in mourning on Monday, the town's mayor said." Hayman Raheem (Azzaman) offers, "The Iraqi government is too week to respond – not in kind but even verbally. The two neighboring states give themselves a free hand to attack the country, killing scores of Iraqis, wounding hundreds and forcing tens of thousands to flee their villages. One would have thought U.S. troops -- more than 50,000 of them still remain in Iraq -- had the task of safeguarding the country against external aggression. But these troops -- which legally are bound to defend Iraq – have not removed a finger against the neighboring aggressors. What is then the use of the U.S. occupation troops in the country?"
In other reported violence, Wang Guanqun (Xinhua) reports, "Three Iraqi soldiers were killed and six people wounded in bomb and gunfire attacks in Baghdad and Iraq's northern city of Mosul, the police said on Monday." Reuters notes 1 suspect was shot dead and two police officer were left injured in an armed clash in Kirkuk and a Baquba home invasion resulted in the deaths of 1 "man and his three-year-old daughter."
Meanwhile Al Mada reports the Parliament's Human Rights Commission is calling for the issue of "confidential informants" to be addressed due to the fact that many people are behind bars who may be innocent but were accused by "confidential informants." Parliament has been attempting to craft an amnesty law and many MPs state that any general policy must also address those imprisoned due to "confidential informants." Last year, Parliament voted into law a policy that would lead to maximum sentences for "confidential informants" who provided false information but that hoped for deterrent has had little impact.
UPI notes that US Army Gen Jeffrey Buchanan has stated that Iraq's Prime Minister and puppet Nouri al-Maliki's inability to fill "the Interior and Defense ministries" have led to huge political delays. Nouri was supposed to have appointed the ministers of both ministries and the National Security Ministry by December 25th or a new prime minister-designate was supposed to be picked. When you're named prime minister-designate, you have 30 days to propose your cabinet and get Parliament to vote to approve each minister. That's in the Constitution but no one really seems to care whether or not it's followed. Nouri didn't fill the posts and the expectation was that he would do so quickly. He didn't. He assumed the posts as his own. More recently he's appointed two "acting" ministers. But they have no power, were not approved by the Parliament and can be fired at any time by Nouri without approval of the Parliament. In other words, the puppet now has two of his own.
Saturday, Dar Addustour noted that things are currently moving forward on the creation of the national council (agreed to in November's Erbil Agreement) and that Ayad Allawi is expected to head the council and Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is publicly supporting the creation of the council and Allawi as head of it. Today, Aswat al-Iraq reports, Iraqi President Jalal "Talabani and his two vice-presidents confirmed necessity to develop the political process through implementing Arbil agreement and abide by the resolutions reached during the last meeting of the leaders of the political blocs."
In Iraq there are 3400 residents of Camp Ashraf. For years they stayed in Iraq at the invitation of Saddam Hussein. When the US military invaded Iraq in 2003, they made a deal with these Iranian dissidents promising them protection if they would disarm. In "Tell the whore likability is not legality," earlier this month we took on the lies of Elizabeth Rubin (altering figures from the RAND Corporation to 'improve' her argument, for example) and I really thought that piece would be it on the subject. Specifically this:
The residents of Camp Ashraf are protected persons and needed to be recognized as such. The massacre last April was the second big attack. Both attacks are in violation of the agreement that the US government and Iraq signed. The US is obviously not going to enforce the agreement. Therefore, it is up to the US State Dept to begin working overtime on finding countries that the residents of Camp Ashraf can be resetteld to. If the residents say "no" to resettlement? My opinion -- disagree if you want -- then the US government states, "We are not able or willing to keep agreement we made with you, we are sorry. But what we can do is resettle you. We will do that for six months/three months and then we're done. You're remaining in Iraq puts you at risk. Your refusal to resettle will be seen as an acknowledgment of that risk and an admission that you are choosing to stay while knowing that the US cannot protect you." My opinion -- feel free to disagree. Do I think that's honorable? No. But it's very clear the US government will no longer live up to the promise it made to the residents of Camp Ashraf and that reality needs to be conveyed so that anyone thinking, "Oh, I'll stay, the US will still protect me, they're just saying that to appease Nouri," gets the message that there is no more protection.
I also feel like every time someone writes about the residents of Camp Ashraf and Scott Horton (Antiwar.com) sees it, he decides the world needs to suffer through five 'reports' by him on the MEK which means that the ongoing wars don't get addressed because Scott's got a beef he wants to air, a petty personal war that he allows to overtake his show and the purporse of it. So I'm really not into the subject to put it mildly. But a friend called earlier today about Howard Dean's piece at Huffington Post and asked if I was going to leave Howard hanging? No. I'll walk out on the limb with him. In his piece, Howard goes over various legal issues involving the MEK (as stated before, the MEK as a group or movement is not our concern here, the MEK who are inside Iraq -- residents of Camp Ashraf -- are our concern) and he covers the residents of Camp Ashraf. We'll note this:
America gave its word to the MEK that we would protect them. We believe that allowing 3,400 people to be murdered in cold blood and breaking that promise is wrong. We believe that in the end this debate is about America, not the people in Ashraf. America is a country that values freedom and the rule of law. We must keep our word and help the people of Ashraf get out of Iraq. We must support those who peacefully and through democratic means fight for their freedom. If we fail and again stand by as 3,400 unarmed men, women and children, in Ashraf are murdered by the Iranian Government or its Iraqi proxies, we diminish ourselves as a great nation. Its time for America to keep its word to the people in Ashraf.
Because the New York Times printed a smear against Wesley Clark (and failed to carry Clark's full response to the smear -- Wesley's comments were reduced to a half a sentence -- I know Wesley Clark and I know Howard Dean) and against others who have spoken out in favor of the residents of Camp Ashraf (which would also include former US Senator Evan Bayh, whom I also know) we'll also note Howard's paragraph responding to those smears which means we include the paragraph above a second time:
Some are suggesting that a distinguished group of bipartisan and knowledgeable counter-terrorism American experts, including former Directors of the CIA, NSA, NSC, FBI, an Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security, Chiefs of the Joint Staff, Marine Corps Commandant, NATO Commander, CENTCOM Commander, DOS Asst Sec for Counter-Terrorism, governors, ambassadors, generals, and many others, are being paid for their support of the residents of Ashraf.
This is simply not true. America gave its word to the MEK that we would protect them. We believe that allowing 3,400 people to be murdered in cold blood and breaking that promise is wrong. We believe that in the end this debate is about America, not the people in Ashraf. America is a country that values freedom and the rule of law. We must keep our word and help the people of Ashraf get out of Iraq. We must support those who peacefully and through democratic means fight for their freedom. If we fail and again stand by as 3,400 unarmed men, women and children, in Ashraf are murdered by the Iranian Government or its Iraqi proxies, we diminish ourselves as a great nation. Its time for America to keep its word to the people in Ashraf.
My opinion, I've never known the three (Wesley, Howard, Evan) to do anything just for money or to take a position -- especially a controversial one -- that they didn't believe in. People can disagree with them (and with me -- disagree with me absolutely, I'm frequently wrong), but I do find the smear that they've taken the position that they have because someone tossed a few coins their way. All three of have healthy egos and wouldn't risk their reputations on an issue just because someone gave him a few bits and pieces of currency.
"All of these songs that I had written are about what it feels like to come home," he said. "Each song is like a little demon, a little monster that had been haunting me." Moon began playing and performing in his hometown of Eagle River and at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He hosted weekly open mic sessions, wrote dozens of songs and played hundreds of shows from 1995 until he was deployed in 2003. Being in Iraq at the beginning of the war was traumatic and confusing, he said, and performing for the troops was a way of coping. After returning home, Moon said, he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Although songwriting is one of his greatest joys, he found himself unable to complete a single song.
Staying with the topic of healing, if you can express it, you don't necessarily cure it, but you can recognize it and you can name it and that in of itself can be a huge help. Iraq Veterans Against the War announces the Veterans and Community Conference: Coming Home Through Art and Dialogue to be held by Warrior Writers on September 9th through 11th in Chicago:
Warrior Writers hosts this powerful gathering of veterans, artists, supporters and healers focused on art-making and wellness. The conference will feature writing and art-making workshops, seminars on how to build healthy relationships between veterans and allies, and discussion panels exploring local support for veterans. Holistic Healing sessions will be offered free of charge to veterans throughout the conference. Veterans will be building a creative community around their shared experiences. Our overall goal is to create space and community for veterans and their supporters to engage in healing and the re-integration process together. Visual artists are especially encouraged to attend.
Working with Veterans 101- an arts-based workshop for civilian allies This workshop is centered around building beneficial veteran-civilian relationships. We will explore participant's perceptions about and relationships with veterans. We'll utilize creative writing/art-making, dialogue, participatory learning and active listening processes, as well as, the artwork of Veteran artists to guide our discussions. Some areas of learning & investigation will include: veterans' issues and experiences, PTSD, challenges/benefits of working with veterans, and specific information about healthy ways of engaging veterans. This workshop will provide a foundation from which civilian allies can build healthy and sustainable relationships with veterans and move toward creative collaboration. We also require any volunteers interested in facilitation or arts collaboration through Warrior Writers to attend a training with us. Art/reflections from this workshop will be collected as possible content for the Veterans' Mural; however, there is no obligation to submit work for the mural.
Veterans Writing Workshop Our workshops are designed to assist veterans to share stories, opinions, and ideas, using prompts to enable participants to do productive writing/reflecting/story-telling/art-making on the spot where they learn by doing. Prompts and discussions cover a variety of military issues and experiences such as joining the military, homecoming, deployment, relationships, healing, growth, anger, etc. A crucial aspect of the workshop is that the discussions and writings are guided by participation. Veterans' support for each other is a key aspect of collaboration. A highlight for many veterans is having a space to air pent-up thoughts with others who understand and a sense of empowerment in the ability to tell their own stories. The workshop is for any military veteran regardless of their experiences with writing, combat, art, deployment, etc. Writing from this workshop will be collected as possible content for the Veterans' Mural; however, there is no obligation to submit work for the mural.
Visual Arts Collaboration Session/Community Creativity Session Veterans and civilians come together to explore writing done by veterans in earlier workshops. Writing will be shared with the group as a whole before dividing into smaller sections to focus on particular artistic areas. Some groups will work to create visual representations of the writing, while others will focus on editing the work, or preparing it to be performed on stage. The visual creations and performances will be utilized for the Veterans' Mural and related activities,however, there is no obligation to submit work for the mural. Community members must have attended an allies training.
Writers Workshop/Facilitator's Training Interested in possibly running a writing workshop in your area? Maybe looking to do closer work with veterans in the future? Warrior Writers founder Lovella Calica will lead a training for veterans and allies interested in facilitating workshops. Having attended a Warrior Writers allies training is a MUST for civilians interested in attending this workshop. The format is the same as a regular WW workshop, but with added tips, conversations and a DIY guide; essentially, you see it in action. Attendance to this workshop does not authorize one to lead workshops using the WW name, but is a stepping stone in the process. Art/reflections from this workshop will be collected as possible content for the Veterans' Mural; however, there is no obligation to submit work for the mural.
HOLISTIC HEALING SESSIONS
Healing practitioners in the skills of acupuncture, yoga, reiki, massage therapy, and other areas will be offering free sessions to veterans throughout both days. If you are a healer, contact us to help: firstname.lastname@example.org