Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Focusing on Iraq

Good evening. I'm interviewing Kat for tomorrow's post tonight. She's been doing her site for over a year now. We'll talk about music and politics and a lot more so be sure to check that out tomorrow. Right now, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

U.S. Sends 1500 More Troops Into Iraq; Italy to Pull Out All Troops
In Iraq it now appears the United States will be unable to reduce the number of troops it has on the ground this year due to the increasing violence and the decision by several countries to begin withdrawing troops. On Monday, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, ordered the deployment of fifteen hundred more troops from Kuwait into Iraq. Meanwhile Italy has announced it would pull out its 2600 troops by year's end and South Korea plans to bring home one thousand troops. Once Italy pulls out, Britain and South Korea will be the only nations besides the United States to have more than one thousand troops in Iraq.

"Once Italy pulls out" -- what happens next? The United States over there continuing the illegal occupation. The peace movement is growing and I can see that on my campus (even if some idiots slamming it can't). We need to continue to grow and we need to get more vocal. Getting a little coverage from the press wouldn't hurt either. I used to think things like, "In a year, the troops will be brought home." Now? I really get why people who lived through Vietnam have been saying that it's not happening anytime soon. The administration wants the occupation, Congress is either silent or backing them, with few exceptions and we still don't have the coverage that we (peace movement) needs to grow. We've got a lot of dumb asses, still claiming to be left, saying we've got to stay and usually tossing out Colin Powell's Pottery Barn nonsense (even though that's not the policy of the Pottery Barn). We can't give up hope but we really need to focus on making Iraq an issue in our daily lives.

Over 50 Die in Series of Iraq Bombings
On Tuesday a car bomb exploded near a bus stop north of Baghdad killing at least twenty-five people. In Hilla, another twelve people died in a car bombing. And a third bomb killed ten people outside a Baghdad bakery.

It's a daily feature in the lives of Iraqis. You think they're looking at news like this and thinking, "Thank God the Bully Boy has brought us freedom!"? I don't think so. They want us out, according to polls that the mainstream media doesn't want to report on, but that's not happening until Americans put the pressure on our government.

C.I. passed on two items, one to Elaine and one to me, if we wanted to use them. (Busy day for C.I.) I'm noting Matthew Rothschild's "The Horrors of Haditha:"

Dahr Jamail, writing at, says "countless atrocities continue daily, conveniently out of the awareness of the general public."
He cites a story from the Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq, a nongovernmental organization there, about an assault on May 13 south of Baghdad when "U.S. Forces, accompanied by the Iraqi National Guard," attacked families that were fleeing a shelling by U.S. helicopters. According to this account, the U.S.-led assault killed more than 25 people.
Jamail also cites this group’s estimate that “between 4,000 and 6,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during the November 2004 assault on Fallujah.”
The horrors of Haditha are just more evidence of the totally unacceptable toll that Bush’s war has taken on Iraqi civilians: between 38,000 and more than 100,000 deaths.
To the dead, it is of no meaning whether they died in a massacre or as “collateral damage” from a bombing raid.
But for Bush, the Pentagon, and U.S. war propagandists, the Haditha massacre story is of tremendous significance, for it shreds any last claim that this is a just war.
On Monday, at Arlington National Cemetery, Bush gave a Memorial Day speech in which he had the chutzpah to say, "America has always gone to war reluctantly because we know the costs of war."
But he did not go to war "reluctantly." He went to war recklessly. When even some of America's allies on the U.N. Security Council argued strenuously against the Iraq War, when the U.N. weapons inspectors themselves said they could find no weapons of mass destruction and begged for more time to look, Bush couldn't be bothered. He was in haste for war, and he was mindless of the costs.
Haditha is one of those costs.

While it's important to remember that Bully Boy started the whole thing and does bear responsibility, it's also true that those committing the acts bear responsibility as well. Elaine addressed that at length yesterday in "Mini-essay" and she's right. Bully Boy set the stage and the tone but individuals need to be held responsible for their own actions. People are dead, families. Innocent civilians and acting as those it's only the fault of the Bully Boy is a bit naive. Elsewhere, Rothschild writes about how it was only a matter of time before "Marines snapped" and there's probably a lot of truth in that but it's also true that not everyone has "snapped" and there are other factors at play. If it had been me taking part in the slaughter, I would have to be as responsible for my own actions as the Bully Boy was for creating the environement they happened in with his illegal war and disrespect for human lives.

The actions need to be called out (on the Bully Boy and on those participating) or else we're saying it's okay and we're giving a pass to every scandal that emerges -- "It's all because of the Bully Boy." Whether we intend to do that, or not, that's what we're doing. If you're okay with shurgging and saying, "These things happen" then you better get ready for a lot worse because a lot worse is already going on, has been going on, and as long as we fail to express our outrage, it will continue to go on. Maybe that's okay with you because it happens to "them" (Iraqis)? It's not okay with me.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue while Bully Boy strikes a pose appearing to be "troubled" by the Haditha slaughter. This as the Brookings Institute and the American Enterprise Institute find common ground as both present spokespersons who say the Bully Boy walks away from the scandal with no harm, no foul to his own image. Ann Clwyd, who both lives in a dream world and holds the post of the UK's human rights envoy to Iraq (a comical title in and of itself), falls back on the 'few bad apples' defense as she likens Haditha to Abu Ghraib.
While some fall back on mimimizing via denial and yet another wave of Operation Happy Talk, The Financial Times of London comments on both the revelations and the original cover up to address why comparisons are being made to the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Also raising questions is The Christian Science Monitor which wonders whether or not the military can investigate itself and notes: "There is no position in the Department of Defense akin to an attorney general - someone whose job it is solely to follow up on credible allegations. Under the current system, investigations are convened by local commanders, who have many other duties - and perhaps conflicts of interest."
Meanwhile, Reuters reports, "A preliminary military inquiry found evidence that US Marines killed two dozen Iraqi civilians in an unprovoked attack in November, contradicting the troops' account." Reuters also notes a "defense official," Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrzas, stating that "Forensic data from corpses showed victims with bullet wounds, despite earlier statements by Marines that civilians were killed by a roadside bomb that also claimed the life of a Marine from El Paso, Texas."
The apparent lack of accountability at the top may be why Nuri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, bandies around terms like "iron fist" as he declares a month long "state of emergency" in Basra.
With another view, Iraq's former foreign minister and current member of parliment Adnan Pachachi declared, "There must be a level of discipline imposed on the American troops and change of mentality which seems to think that Iraqi lives are expendable." Also dissenting from the group think is Iraq's ambassador to the United States, Samir Shakir al-Sumaidaie, who said of the June 25th killing of a cousin in Haditha by American forces, "I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe he was killed unnecessarily. The marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them. His mother, his siblings were there. He let them into the bedroom of his father, and there he was shot."
Interviewed today by C.S. Soong on KPFA's Against The Grain, author Anthony Arnove (IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) stated of the allegations of the November slaughter in Haditha, "In fact they just underscore the fact that the longer the United States stays, the more harm it causes to the people of Iraq. The situation in Haditha is a symptom of an occupation. Just as the torture we saw exposed in the Abu Ghraib detention facilities is a sympton of a much deeper problem."
This as the Associated Press reports that American forces shot and killed two women, one of them pregnant, at a checkpoint today in Baghdad. Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, thirty-five-years-old, was being rushed to the hospital by her brother, Khalid Nisaif Jassim, with her cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, also in the car. Both women were killed. The brother, who was driving, denies the US accounts that the area was a clearly marked check point. A US spokesperson e-mailed a weasel word statement to the Associated Press where they note that the woman "may have been pregnant." Naibha Nisaif Jassim was rushed to the maternity hospital (her intended destination) but both she and the child she was carrying died. A US spokesperson, emailing Reuters, called the deaths "a mistake."
AFP notes that "Over the past two days alone more than 100 people have been killed in a wave of bombings and shootings in Iraq." Noting another sadly common feature of the occupation, Reuters reports that forty-two corpses have been found dumped in the last twenty-four hours. Australia's ABC reports an attack in southern Iraq on an Australian military vehichle. The AFP notes an attack, in Baghdad, on a police station that lasted over an hour and led to the death of four civilians and the wounding of three police officers. Reuters reports a mortar attack in Baghdad that led to the death of nine people. In Muqdadiya, the mayor, his cousin and brother were all killed when the mayor's office was bombed today.
Though the heads of the ministries of defense and interior have still not been filled, the Turkish Press reports that three ministers will be replaced "because they do not have the proper qualifications or had not been cleared by the de-Baathification commission."
Reuters notes that CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier has had shrapnel removed from her head and remains in intensive care. Meanwhile the AFP reports that another journalist has been killed while he was leaving his home in Baghdad. Reporters Without Borders notes that sports reporter Jaafar Ali became "the third journalist to be killed in Iraq in the space of 48 hours and the 11th employee of the national TV station Al-Iraqiya to be killed since the start of the war in March 2003." This as UAE diplomat Naji al-Nuaimi left Iraq and returned home following his rescue from his two-week kidnapping that began May 16th. Finally, the AFP notes that "the latest indication that US hopes for a major troop drawdown this year were fading fast."

Check out Cedric's "The backstory" and my apologies to Ma for her being unable to wake me and to C.I. and Dona for their getting stuck doing most of the work. Check out Elaine's writing by visiting Like Maria Said Paz -- now! :D