Friday, June 29, 2007

Patrick Cockburn

Friday at last! Just when you think the week can never end, Friday finally arrives. Leigh Ann was the first to e-mail about this (on Tuesday) but others have since. Wasn't ignoring anyone but just waiting until Friday. A number were wondering how my sister-in-law was enjoying living here. (Not "back here." This is her first time.) She said, "Ask me on Friday" so she'd have more time to think about it.

Here's what she thinks. She hates it. She hates me. She hates everyone. I'm joking! She said the pressure with the bills was huge and she didn't realize how huge until they were moved in last Saturday. She says not only has that been a huge relief but with the baby due shortly, she was going to continue working until her water broke but wasn't looking forward to it "and mainly avoided even thinking about it." Any problems? No, but she wished Ma would believe her that she's not thinking, "I wish I was in charge of the kitchen." Ma keeps saying that if she wants to cook, even for just herself, just say she needs some alone time. Maybe after the pregnancy but right now, she's really happy not to cook. (My brother cooks as well. They split that duty close to 50-50 all along and then it switched to about 70-30 with him 70 in the last few months.) Ma knows if my brother wants to cook, he'll just go in and cook. She had no comment, this was Leigh Ann, on my kid sister (her kid sister-in-law).

She also warned that I'm going to hate having her here when the baby's born and crying every night. I don't think so.

Beau e-mailed about the above and also about my kid sister. She avoids everyone. Now that she's 'working,' she brings home her own food (usually Subway) and eat in her room. That's pretty much where she is most of the time. "No one understands me" is her constant refrain. She doesn't speak to anyone so she hollers it when you walk past her open door. :D

Okay, now for Iraq. First off, one of the surprises for me in Chicago, the conference, was hearing a smart person dismiss the civil wars that are going on in Iraq. The person stated that there was not a civil war. I hope he meant, but didn't get to it, that the US created the civil wars. But they exist. And it's not just Shia and Sunni. The smaller religious minorities are even more targeted. So I saw what I'm about to highlight and wanted to go with it, one reason, because it mentions the civil war and if anyone knows about Iraq, it's Patrick Cockburn. This is from his "An Open Letter to Gordon Brown: End the Occupation" and Gordon Brown's just become the Prime Minister now that Tony Blair's stepped down:

Dear Mr Brown
Peace can only be returned to Iraq by a negotiated end to the occupation and an acceptance by Washington and London that the Shia religious parties, in alliance with the Kurds and influenced by Iran, are going to run the country.
You should take on board simple facts about Iraq that Tony Blair never seemed to grasp. The occupation is disliked by most Shia and Sunni Iraqis and is supported only by the Kurds. When the US and Britain overthrew Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated regime in 2003 they made it inevitable that the majority Shia community would rule and Iranian influence would increase. The contortions of US policy over the past four years are largely a vain attempt to avoid this outcome.
US officials and their Iraqi allies stuck in the Green Zone often take comfort in the fact that many Iraqis want a US pull-out over a period of a year or after Iraqi security forces are ready to take their place. They imagine that this means the Iraqis do not want them to go. The reality is that they do and the continuing presence of foreign forces means the government never learns to stand on its own feet and lives in a dependency culture. Sending in more troops to support a government is like giving a drunk more whisky, as one former senior US intelligence officer said.
The presence of foreign troops and a government dependent on them may delay a final explosion but it makes that final explosion all the more certain. All the talk of creating mixed Sunni-Shia government means stopping any winner emerging in the civil war that has been raging across Iraq since 2004.
The British record in Basra, for instance, has proved more dismal than the US's in Baghdad. The much-bruited British Operation Sinbad in Basra from September last year until March was talked up by British ministers at the time as an example of how to bring militias under control and strengthen local security forces. A year later it is the Shia militias who rule Basra and the battles between them are about taking over government institutions and resources - notably petrol - out of which they can make money. Racketeers rule the city. British troops are increasingly confined to their compounds and are relentlessly attacked when they leave.
Iraqi politics increasingly resembles Chicago during Prohibition in the 1920s in which criminal mafiosi and politicians are linked together and disputes are settled violently. Turf wars are endemic.

The other reason I wanted to note it was to say, "Thank you!" to all the UK community members e-mailing me. I knew some from roundtables and some from newsletters but I didn't realize there were so many. C.I. noting me in "And the war drags on" last night, really seemed to have steered most of you to the post (so thanks to C.I. too) and most of the e-mails were saying thank you because they do feel (and they're right) that there's a tendency in the US to just look at US fatalities. Unlike Iraqis, an official figure exists for British troops that have died. And Thursday's announcement that three British soldiers died should have been covered and covered seriously by the US media -- big and small. I saw that the BBC did a story on the 5 US soldiers announced dead today. Not included a paragraph or two on it, did an actual story on it. I'm sorry that the illegal war the UK got drug into when Tony Blair decided he loved Bully Boy more than England has claimed 156 deaths of citizens of the UK and that's not your loss, it's all of our loss.

If you're thanking, you need to thank Kat because she's the one who noticed how hard C.I. was hitting on the British deaths Thursday. She's the one who called me and asked me to call Wally. (Wally was speaking with C.I., Ava and Jess this week.) So thank Kat for pointing it out (and C.I. for making an issue out of it to begin with). Those losses are real and it shouldn't be the attitude of US media (big and small), "Oh, well, we're busy and that's not even Americans." And thank your own Polly too because when I called her she was really up front about how disgusted she was with the US media's non-coverage of the 3 deaths.

I really loved the e-mails and check your inboxes because I asked all of you if I could quote something. Everyone had great e-mails and I'd like to include a line or two of each in the column I'm doing for Polly's Brew. I'll be working on that at 5:00 pm EST tomorrow. I'll be done with it in about an hour (less if I can sweet talk Elaine into typing it up for me! :D). So if I have your permission by then, I'll be including you in the column.

A lot of e-mails also mentioned "Editorial: Iraq silences" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). That credit goes to C.I. We were working on it and C.I. said, "There's an issue that might work well here." Then we all learned about James in Brighton's complaint about the Moonbat. We were all on board with writing about that. (And it's the focus for Polly's roundtable in Polly's Brew this weekend, by the way.) We, in the US, pretty much go with Pru. She's done a great job explaining what's what in London in her columns for the gina & krista round-robin and Polly's Brew. So we know not to expect much from the New Labour publication called The Guardian which exists solely to prop up New Labour. So we miss Moonbat's stuff on purpose and really only look at something that gets highlighted. But what Patrick Cockburn's writing about above is the sort of thing New Labour can't get behind. They're too busy applauding Brown to demand anything.

I thought C.I. did a really great job in "And the war drags on." I didn't even think about the photos being public domain since they were property of the Ministry of Defence (with a "c," thanks to Gareth for pointing that out). I thought that really did put a face out there and make it more than numbers. Jenny e-mailed me wondering if I was going to highlight The Nation's fundraising appeal? Nope. I'm one of the members nodding my head with the "Reasons not to list" C.I. did. I know some members have donated already and some more probably will and that's fine. I'm not ragging on any members if that's their choice. (And I think C.I. laid it out in such a way that the point about it being your choice is clear.)

5 US soldiers were announced dead today. C.I. covers that in the snapshot but time was limited (they were on a crazy speaking schedule today -- adding a lot of high school groups at the last minute and since they aren't in school, the start times were odd and they were rushing like crazy from here to there). C.I. told me I could note this AP article if I was looking for something and explained why it couldn't go into the snapshot: "The toll for the past three months — 329 — made it the deadliest quarter for U.S. troops in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. That surpasses the 316 soldiers killed during November 2004 to January 2005." That's right and it's wrong. It is the deadliest quarter. But it's 330 because they're missing one death in the AP count thus far. So that's what the Bully Boy's given us with his escalation -- an escalation Americans opposed and expected Congress to stand up against but Congress only passed a 'symbolic' measure. 330 dead thus far in the worst quarter since the illegal war began and I guess Dems in Congress should see those deaths, like their crappy measure, as 'symbolic'?

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, June 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Liam Madden gets some news, tensions continue between Turkey and northern Iraq, Bully Boy's lips are flapping so you know what that means and more.

Starting with
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Liam Madden. Madden and two other members of IVAW, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh, have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to silence and cow them. They have been threatened with the loss of benefits (Cloy Richards is classified as 80% disabled), loss of their honorable discharges and more. Kokesh participated in street theater in DC and then found himself facing the theatrics of a kangaroo court -- proving there is no bigger drama queensthan those commanders in the marines. Kokesh recevied a general discharge from the IRR -- meaning he's twice discharged: honorably from the marines, general from the IRR -- and Richards reached an agreement where he would not wear any part of his fatigues in public (his mother, Tina Richards, now usually wears his Marine Corp boonie cover at rallies and marches). Madden was being tarred with the usual trumped up charge that fatigues are the equivalent of dress uniforms and the added bonus that his speech was "disloyal" (which may echo the questioning in Kokesh's kangaroo hearing where he was asked if he was "a card carrying member of Iraq Veterans Against the War"). Now comes the news via the AP's own Ethel Mertz (Heather Hollingsworth) that although "[a]n investigating officer had recommended in May that Liam Madden, 22, of Boston receive an other-than-honorable discharge, the worst discharge possible under non-court martial conditions" the Marines issued a press release stating "that they were dropping the case because they had 'received sufficient indictation' from Madden . . ." of something. Of what? Madden has been very clear that he'll come to terms with them provided they put in writing that he made no disloyal statements about the US. He tells Hollingsworth that he's received nothing in writing but, "I think it's a total victory. The country is on our side and it really puts the Marine Corps in a bad light if they try to intimdate".

Madden and other members of
Iraq Veterans Against the War are currently conducting a summer base tour that takes them next to the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.

And in news of resistance within the military (IRR is a way station -- Richard, Madden and Kokesh were all discharged and the brass had no reason to screw with them), we'll turn to Eli Israel. Eleonai "Eli" Israel is stationed and Iraq and has announced he can no longer take part in the illegal war. He is also a supporter of
2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel having noted, "I am taken away by the truth and clarity that is spoken by Sen. Gravel. He has my vote. The National Initiative that he proposes is what this country needs." And: "My paychecks currently comes from the Army. I have worked with and trained with Blackwater in the past, among others. I have seen this war (and it's orchestrators) from the inside out, and I'm telling anyone who has 'ears to hear', that Mike Gravel is the only voice of reason that is speaking." Those were both noted in May. In April, he posted, "My name is Eli Israel, and yes, you probably guessed it, I'm very much Jewish. I'm also a soldier in Iraq, and I'm also a HARD CORE Mike Gravel supporter." In an update at Iraq Veterans Against the War, Eli notes, "I have been in Iraq for over a year. I have served in combat. I have been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, for my actions in Combat. I have been recommended for other medals, that I will now probably never see (nor do I want) . .. It would have been a lot 'easier' for me to simply keep doing combat missions for a couple more week, and be done with things. Moral convictions are not based on timing or convenience". Courage to Resist has more information here.

Eli Israel is part of a movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In Iraq, where all business seems to stop anytime Moqtada al-Sadr deliberates . . .
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that Nouri al-Maliki is all but on his hands and knees regarding a planned al-Sadr march for next week (July 5th). Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) judged that "the march poses a test of his [al-Sadr's] popularity. A peaceful demonstration could arm him with broad political clout, which has eluded other Iraqi leaders so far, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. A low turnout could underscore the limites of Sadr's ability to marshal ordinary citizens." AP reported this morning that al-Sadr had called off the march and cited Sheik Asad al-Nassiri's statement: "Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inablity to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement."

When not begging al-Sadr,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports, the puppet was attempting to sideline him via an attempted partnership with alleged moderate bloc in Parliament who would make it their business to take up the "oil revenue-sharing law". However Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.' With Iraq's Culture Minister out and about, better hide those copies of Ram in the Thicket. Worse for al-Maliki, as he's attempting to realign himself, BBC reports that the Iraqi Accord Front and its six minister "will boycott government meetings because of legal steps being taken against one of its ministers." That would be al-Hashimi who, this week, suddenly became the main suspect in a 2005 assassination (he is now said to be in Jordan). Waleed Ibrahim and Alister Bull (Reuters) observe "the move is a blow to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a time when he is under U.S. pressure to push through laws" and that this is the second time the bloc has gone on strike this month -- last week they objected to the removal of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani who held the post of Speaker in the Parliament. In terms al-Hashimi, they further note that "there has been some confusion about the warrant. Police and court officials have not been able to confirm such a warrant has been issued for Hashemi."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 mortar attacks in Baghdad. CBS and AP report that "the British military issued a statement saying all of its bases came under attack from mortars or rockets in the past 24 hours". Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing that left three wounded and a Kut roadside bombing that left a woman wounded. CBS and AP report a bombing on an oil pipeline in Haswa "spilling crude oil and sparking a huge fire".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 women ("one of them pregnant") and 1 man were shot dead in Baghdad, two police officers were wounded in Kirkuk and "A U.S. military convoy killed an Iraqi man in Al Rashad neighborhood, Iraq police said."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discoved in Baghdad today. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Balad and the corpse "of a university lecturer" found in Kut.

US military announced today, "Five Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a combat patrol in a southern section of Baghdad June 28. Small arms and rocket-propelled attacks followed shortly after the blast. Seven other Soldiers were wounded in the attack." The deaths bring to 3577 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and to 100 fatalties for the month of June. June is the third deadliest month for US service members so far this year. June 2007 is also the deadliest June for service members stationed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The attack was one of the combination attacks that isn't new and has been going on for over a year. BBC notes their "Baghdad correspondent Andrew North says that incidents like Thursday's, in which insurgents first use roadside bombs to attack US troops, then exploit the confusion afterwards to fire on them, have become more common. . . . Our correspondent says this is a sign yet again of how the conflict here keeps changing, with insurgents often one step ahead."

Turning to world leaders do the craziest things . . .

As an election looms in Australia and (Australia's)
ABC News reports Labour's Kevin Rudd has declared John Howard (prime minister) will reduce the number of Australians stationed in Iraq "as an election ploy, but his overall strategy is to keep them there indefinitely." Last week, Bill Taylor's remarks, such as "The majority of Australians across the country would very much like to see us come out of that mess as soon as possible," caused a stirbecause it was seen as coming from within Howard's own party (Liberal). Ed Johnson (Bloomberg News) reports today that Alexander Downer, the country's Foreign Minister, has announced, "I made it clear that Australian troops would stay" in Iraq and dismissing Rudd's observations that any of the country's approximately 1,500 troops would be leaving Iraq.
That would be the same Alexander Downer who was in Iraq yesterday meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister to discuss trade.
Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which must be the country's equivalent of Liz Smith, announces, "Mr. Downer thanked Mister Zebari for the briefing he gave concerning the latest developments, and assured his country's obligations in supporting the new Iraq, and to develop relations between Canberra and Baghdad."

Moving from the satellite of Howard to the Bully of them all, Bully Boy gave more of the same yesterday at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.
Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) report: "Mr. Bush in effect pleaded for more time on Thursday, saying that the deployments in Iraq he ordered in his so-called troop surge have only recently been completed and were already producing positive results. . . .Even at this pre-screened location, Mr. Bush faced some skepticism from questioners in the audience, including a woman who asked him pointedly if he was indeed listening to the advice of his commanders (yes, he said) and a professor who asked if the Iraq campaign was stretching United States forces too think to cope with other challenges elsewhere (no, he said)." Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) noted that Bully Boy wants the US to support death globally and focus locally as evidenced by Bully Boy's claim that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups" in Baghdad is a sign of encouragement. Ricks notes, "It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces."
Flashback to almost exactly this time last year (July 2006) when al-Maliki was claiming his 'plan' would create just that -- only, they were all created. Bully Boy's seeing 'progress' in a questionable development and one that existed before the June 2006 'crackdown' began on Baghdad.
Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that Bully Boy did his usual stunt: "Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida 'the main enemy' in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analaysts. The reference, in a major speech at the Naval War College that referred to al Qaida at least 27 times, seemed calculated to use lingering outrage over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster support for the current buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, despite evidence that sending more troops hasn't reduced the violence or sped Iraqi government action on key issues." And despite the fact that Iraq had no connection to 9-11. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed, "The President went on to say he views Israel as a model for what Iraq should become. Bush says Israel is able to carry out its democratic functions despite the constant threat of attacks." Along with the massive insult such statements are to the region (maybe Bully Boy feels at this late date, there are no hearts and minds left to win?), it's also true that the Israeli government is in the news today for actions/behaviors that hardly deserve copying. Donald Macintyre (Independent of London) reports how Moshe Katsav (Israel's president) "yesterday escaped jail by agreeing a plea bargain under which rape charges against him will be dropped. In return he is admitting charges of lesser sexual offences against former employees."

And turning to England, we find Blair-lite.
Kim Sengupta and Colin Brown (Independent of London) observe, "Yesterday should have been a day of political triumph for Gordon Brown. Instead events in Basra provided a brutal and intimate reminder of the scale of the challenge he faces in Iraq." Scott Kennedy, James "Jamie" Kerr and Paul Joszko, three British soldiers, were all announced dead. Andrew Pierce and David Blair (Telegraph of London) note that Jamie Kerr was "from Mr Brown's Cowdenbeath constituency" and that "Mr Brown, as a local MP, will now face the dilemma of whether to be present when the body of his constituent is flown home." Richard Beeston, Michael Evans and Melanie Reid (Times of London) quote John Paul Ward, Jamie Kerr's step-father, on the soldier's last phone call to his mother, "Jamie said being out there was not what he thought it would be. He didn't want to be there. He was more scared than anything else. He said he wanted to come home and I think being out there was a reality check for him."

For those who have forgotten, the 156 British troops who have died and the 3577 US troops who have died, the nearly one million Iraqis who have died, and others, all died because Tony Blair and Bully Boy insisted that Iraq had WMD and that we couldn't wait for a "mushroom cloud."
CBS and AP report: "The Security Council voted Friday to immediately shut down the U.N. bodies key to monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs under Saddam Hussein, a decision an Iraqi diplomat said would close 'an appalling chapter' in his country's history."

Meanwhile, tensions between Turkey and the northern section of Iraq continue with
Reuters reporting that Masoud Barzani ("head of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq") has declared there will be a "catastrophe" should Turkey enter into the region.