Thursday, October 25, 2007


Thursday! :D Almost the weekend. Starting late because of the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin. So let's get it going.

"Save Darfur." Is there any message heading that makes me chuckle more? Nope. I love the crazies e-mailing because it means that for at least a few seconds, the world's a best place as they place their axes down to gripe and grouse.

This e-mail was different. The guy is actually coherent for one. Since he's no longer with the organization, I'll let him have his say in full. This is from Dave Rubenstein.

Although I am the former executive director of the Save Darfur Coalition, I do not speak for them now. Still, I want to offer another perspective to your recent entry.
The entry seems to have two problematic assumptions - that the Save Darfur Coalition is calling for invasion of Sudan (it is not), and that the Save Darfur Coalition ought to be funding relief rather than advocacy.
The Save Darfur Coalition was established to protect innocent civilians in Darfur. At its founding, it told donors it would split funds (80/20, or 75/25 I think) for advocacy efforts and relief. It quickly recognized that its function was advocacy, not relief, and notified donors that all future funds would be used for advocacy. This is how donors want to use their funds, and this is how those funds are used. You should be aware that the Save Darfur Coalition's heavy advertising is believed to dramatically increase donations to relief agencies and helps encourage the US and others to provide relief funds.
In all of its advertising and other advocacy, the Save Darfur Coalition has called on the U.S., the UN, and other world governments to pressure Sudan to voluntarily accept peacekeeping forces to protect civilians. Sudan has agreed to accept these forces. None of the forces would be from "Western" nations. The Save Darfur Coalition has never promoted a nonconsensual invasion.
Best of luck with your efforts to inspire all of us to do better.

Dave, thanks for writing. About calling for an invasion -- yes, they are. Read the New York Times article that I linked to on Tuesday. Read why the aid groups were outraged. It's good to know that Save Darfur made a decision they would just do advocacy. It would be better, and this isn't Dave's problem because he's no longer director, if the group got that message out. (They haven't. Don't bother arguing with me on that point. I've been on too many campuses where they have thought the mission was to "save" Darfur.) I appreciate his e-mailing and will let him, and only him, have his say. The crazies need not begin e-mailing again. Unless they want the world to see the non-Ivy league language they use when e-mailing. :D (I do have all of those e-mails.) You'd think professors would know more than four-letter words.

Dave got to present the group's side. I disagree but there it is. Take his word, take my word, do some research (most don't have to, Save Darfur and all its off-shoots are now a joke on most campuses and the punchlines are fact based), read the New York Times article. From Stephanie Strom and Lydia Polgreen's "Advocacy Group's Publicity Campaign on Darfur Angers Relief Organizations:"

In February it began a high-profile advertising campaign that included full-page newspaper ads, television spots and billboards calling for more aggressive action in Darfur, including the imposition of a no-flight zone over the region.
Aid groups and even some activists say banning flights could do more harm than good, because it could stop aid flights. Many aid groups fly white airplanes and helicopters that may look similar to those used by the Sudanese government, putting their workers at risk in a no-flight zone.
Sam Worthington, the president and chief executive of InterAction, a coalition of aid groups, complained to Mr. Rubenstein by e-mail that Save Darfur's advertising was confusing the public and damaging the relief effort.
"I am deeply concerned by the inability of Save Darfur to be informed by the realities on the ground and to understand the consequences of your proposed actions," Mr. Worthington wrote.
He noted that contrary to assertions in its initial ads, Save Darfur did not represent any of the organizations working in Darfur, and he accused it of "misstating facts." He said its endorsement of plans that included a no-flight zone and the use of multilateral forces "could easily result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of individuals."
Another aid group, Action Against Hunger, said in a statement last week that a forced intervention by
United Nations troops without the approval of the Sudanese government "could have disastrous consequences that risk triggering a further escalation of violence while jeopardizing the provision of vital humanitarian assistance to millions of people."
Aid groups also complain that Save Darfur, whose budget last year was $15 million, does not spend that money on aid for the long-suffering citizens of the region.

That's the reality. They are calling for armed aggression. One Carrie Nations disciple even wrote to justify the slogan (proudly claimed to have come up with it) "Bring the troops home and send them to Darfur!" They are a nutty, crazy bunch of war hawks. Dave seems human and that's why he got to present his view. (And I really am glad he wrote. If I wasn't, his e-mail wouldn't be noted here and I wouldn't give him the chance to present his side.)

Remember Mahmood Mamdani? This is from his essay in The London Review of Books:

A full-page advertisement has appeared several times a week in the New York Times calling for intervention in Darfur now. It wants the intervening forces to be placed under 'a chain of command allowing necessary and timely military action without approval from distant political or civilian personnel'. That intervention in Darfur should not be subject to 'political or civilian' considerations and that the intervening forces should have the right to shoot -- to kill -- without permission from distant places: these are said to be 'humanitarian' demands. In the same vein, a New Republic editorial on Darfur has called for 'force as a first-resort response'. What makes the situation even more puzzling is that some of those who are calling for an end to intervention in Iraq are demanding an intervention in Darfur; as the slogan goes, 'Out of Iraq and into Darfur.'

Here's a bit of him talking about the numbers the Carrie Nations use:

Well, let's begin with the numbers of the dead, OK? The only group in a position to estimate how many people have died in Darfur is UNICEF, because UNICEF is the only one that did a comprehensive survey in 2005 in Darfur. Everybody else only knows the piece of ground on which they work and will then extrapolate from it, like any other NGO, like Oxfam or Medecins Sans Frontieres or World Food Program. The WFP estimate was 200,000. Out of these 200,000, the WPF report tells you that roughly about 20% died of actually being killed, of violence, and 80% died mainly from starvation and from diseases. And normally in our understanding of genocide, we put both those together and look at them as a result of the violence, because the violence prevents the medicine going in, etc., except in the case of Darfur, it’s not a single-cause situation.

And here he is talking about the Carrie Nations fixating on Darfur while they ignore Iraq (a war that Carrie Nations was all for):

Well, I was struck by the fact -- because I live nine months in New York and three months in Kampala, and every morning I open the New York Times, and I read about sort of violence against civilians, atrocities against civilians, and there are two places that I read about -- one is Iraq, and the other is Darfur -- sort of constantly, day after day, and week after week. And I’m struck by the fact that the largest political movement against mass violence on US campuses is on Darfur and not on Iraq. And it puzzles me, because most of these students, almost all of these students, are American citizens, and I had always thought that they should have greater responsibility, they should feel responsibility, for mass violence which is the result of their own government's policies. And I ask myself, "Why not?" I ask myself, "How do they discuss mass violence in Iraq and options in Iraq?" And they discuss it by asking -- agonizing over what would happen if American troops withdrew from Iraq. Would there be more violence? Less violence? But there is no such agonizing over Darfur, because Darfur is a place without history, Darfur is a place without politics. Darfur is simply a dot on the map. It is simply a place, a site, where perpetrator confronts victim. And the perpetrator’s name is Arab, and the victim’s name is African. And it is easy to demonize. It is easy to hold a moral position which is emptied of its political content. This bothered me, and so I wrote about it.

Which is why it was no surprise that Carrie Nations wrote her usual dumb ass crap last month dismissing the notion of troops out of Iraq and sliming the left. Now again, where the money goes is not clear. From Mamdani's conversation with Amy Goodman:

MAHMOOD MAMDANI: So one arrives back at the question: what is the politics around it? And I’m struck by the innocence of those who are part of the Save Darfur -- of the foot soldiers in the Save Darfur Coalition, not the leadership, simply because this is not discussed.
Let me tell you, when I went to Sudan in Khartoum, I had interviews with the UN humanitarian officer, the political officer, etc., and I asked them, I said, "What assistance does the Save Darfur Coalition give?" He said, "Nothing." I said, "Nothing?" He said, "No." And I would like to know. The Save Darfur Coalition raises an enormous amount of money in this country. Where does that money go? Does it go to other organizations which are operative in Sudan, or does it go simply to fund the advertising campaign?
AMY GOODMAN: To make people aware of what's going on in Darfur.
MAHMOOD MAMDANI: To make people aware of what is going on, but people who then, out of awareness, give money not to fuel a commercial campaign, but expecting that this money will go to do something about the pain and suffering of those who are the victims in Darfur, so how much of that money is going to actually -- how much of it translates into food or medicine or shelter? And how much of it is being recycled?

And this is from Democracy Now!'s 'Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil':"

AMY GOODMAN: John, we just have thirty seconds, but do you think oil is a secret motive with US relations with Sudan?
JOHN GHAZVINIAN: Possibly. I mean, yes and no. I mean, look, I think China is much more transparent about oil in Sudan. The US relationship with Sudan is a complex one, and for the last few years it’s had a lot to do with cooperation on counterterrorism and intelligence gathering, as well. The Sudan conflict is a lot more complicated than it tends to get presented out as in the media, to be honest, especially the Darfur conflict. And oil kind of plays a part, but it’s not the main driving factor.

Mia Farrow is really sincere. I think Dave probably is too. I don't doubt Farrow's motives and I'll extend the same courtesy to Dave. But I won't extend that to the Carrie Nations. And their raising money for ads and not assistance is not clear. Maybe Dave cleared it up for some? If so, good. But it hasn't been clear. By the way, I'm calling him "Dave" for two reasons. 1) I don't want to mispell his last name and I'm a really bad typist. 2) He sounds like a humane person so I think calling him Dave gets that across. (Trust me, most of the people who e-mail are wack jobs. Whether they have teaching positions or not.) So I appreciate him writing. Again, Farrow's sincere and not a crazy. I know a lot of ex (or "recovering" is the term a lot of students on my campus use) Carrie Nations and know they aren't crazy. So the good news is that at least one person behind it isn't a crazy either. Just a normal human being Dave who cares. That's not a bad thing and, again, thanks to him for writing.

Funniest e-mail I ever got? From a professor who wrote as a student but must have been confused because she sent it from her own account. :D

I was going to write about Iraq some but checked the e-mails and saw that and also just got something in my left eye that's making it itch and tear up. I stopped to go to the bathroom and look in the mmirror, but I don't see anything, not even an eyelash. I keep rubbing it and look like I've got pink eye now.

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

October 25, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the price of oil per barrel skyrockets again, conflict continues between Turkey and northern Iraq, CODEPINK represents the people, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Ted Rall ( offers his reflections on resistance during Vietnam and resistance today: "Soldiers who want antiwar Americans to march to demand that they be brought home should take a cue from Vietnam veterans. They marched with peace protesters and threw their medals at the Capitol. Soldiers serving on the front refused orders. Some fragged their officers. Vietnam Veterans Against the War claimed more than 50,000 members by 1971. That year saw numerous dramatic acts of dissent by U.S. troops, including 50 veterans who marched to the Pentagon and demanded that they be arrested as war criminals. Fifteen vets took over and barricaded the Statue of Liberty for two days. These acts swayed opinions and helped convince lawmakers it was time to withdraw. Some soldiers in Iraq have offered resistance. After being denied conscientious objector status, Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes went AWOL in 2004. He was sentenced to two months in the brig and three months hard labor. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada refused to be sent to Iraq in 2006, telling the media that the war's illegality would make him a party to war crimes. Army Specialist Darrell Anderson, faced with a second tour of duty after being wounded by a roadside bomb deserted and fled to Canada. 'I went to Iraq willingly,' said Anderson. 'I wanted to die for my country. I thought I was going to go there and protect my family back home. All I was doing was killing other families there.' The Army decided not to prosecute him. Several other deserters have applied for political asylum in Canada, but they're only a fraction of the thousands who went there during the 1960s and 1970s."

In the
October 18th snapshot, we noted someone considered AWOL (and noted he "may or may not be a war resister"): "Robert Przybyski" -- the last name is missing an "l" (my fault) Przybylski. John Vandiver (Stars and Stripes) provides an update, "Capt. Robert Przbylski, the Baumholder-based officer who has been absent without leave since Oct. 10, remains missing but does not appear to be in any danger, authorities reported Wednesday. . . . Army officials remain tight-lipped about the circumstances involving the captain's disappearance."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

Turning to the US where there is an opposition party in Congress:
CODEPINK. The only voice of sanity in the halls of Congress attended the House Foreign Relations Committe hearing yesterday as Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice prepared to deliver her usual non-performance as Congress delivered their own. The Let's All Pretend It's Still A Democracy road show was interrupted by CODEPINK's Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz who, with red pain on her hands, spoke the truth no one elected can or will, "You've got the blood of millions of Iraqis on your hands." (See As Cedric and Wally's joint-post yesterday.) "Stylish" Condi pretended not to notice. White House flack Dana Perino pronounced it "despicable. And unfortunately, it seems that increasingly Congress is being run by CODEPINK." Oh, if only. Instead War Hawk Tom Lantos had all of CODEPINK kicked out of the hearing and Congress returned to its usual ineffective posture. CODEPINK's Desiree Fairooz, Lis Hourican, Lori Purdue, Medea Benjamin and Zool Zulkowitz were arrested but "The Deputy Chief of Staff of the House Foreign Relations Committee contacted the Capitol Police later in the day to again relay that their is a policy of that committee to not arrest Citizen protesters but to instead escort them out of the room." The arrest of Benjamim effected a planned action today.

Staying with CODEPINK, Tuesday
Karen Miller (Free Speech Radio News) reported, "The original purpose of the database was to share information about dangerous criminals, sex offenders, fugitives and members of terrorist organizations among different levels of law enforcement. It has since become apparent that peace activists have been added to the watch list. Medea Benjamin of the anti-war group, Code Pink, was recently refused entry into Canada when she was on her way to attend a peace rally. That's why Code Pink members decided to protest today in front of the Canadian embassy in Washington DC. Benjamin has been arrested a number of times for anti-war actions, but she says Canada's decision to bar entrance to some activists is troubling: 'One, the FBI should never be putting non-violent misdemeanor offenses on a criminal database. Second, Canada should not be using a US database to say who can come into a country.' At today's protest, Code Pink delivered over 20,000 petitions from US and Canadian citizens collected over the last 2 weeks urging Canada to change its policy." From the October 4th snapshot:

Wright and CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin attempted to enter Canada "crossing near Buffalo to attend a conference sponsored by a Canadian peace coalition in Toronto." As CODEPINK notes, "At the Buaffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they were detained, questioned and denied entry. . . . The women were questioned at Canadian customs about their participation in anti-war efforts and informed that they had an FBI file indicating they had been arrested in acts of non-violent civil disobedience." Benjamin explains, "In my case, the border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women's Day, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by 152,000 women around the world. For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country." Wright declares, "The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies. The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country."

AP reported yesterday that Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin "plan to fly to Ottowa on Thursday at the invitation of several members of Parliament." Due to the arrest, Medea Benjamin was not able to fly to Ottawa. Ann Wright did. The Canadian Press reports that Wright "is being detained at Ottawa airport" and that "while other passengers passed through Customs, Wright was held back." AP quotes CODEPINK's Dana Balicki stating, "She's being turned away from the border and she's being banned from Canada for the next year."

Turning to some of the reported violence in Iraq . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three Baghdad roadside bombings in the afternoon as US troops attempted to defuse them (no reported casualties or fatalities). Reuters notes a Khalis mortar attack that claimed the lives of 2 women and 2 children while a Mahaweel roadside bombing claimed 1 life.


Reuters notes Iraqi police shot dead a child in Kufa. An alleged terrorist, to be sure. Kim Gamel (AP) reports a Sunni school teacher Ahmed al-Janabi was kidnapped today and later discovered "with three gunshots to his eyes."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 8 corpses in Baquba and 1 was discovered in Mahaweel.

In a press conference yesterday Joint Chiefs of Staff Major and Director of Operational Planning General Richard Sherlock repeatedly stressed the hope of a diplomatic solution to the issue of the continued strain between Turkey and northern Iraq due to the "issue for several decades in that area in that area" and also stated that "there are a number of US forces staioned in the northwest portion of Iraq. As far as where specifically they're stationed or in what strengths, I don't want to go into -- at this point in time, again, this is a bilateral issue that we are working with both nations to try to produce what's an acceptable solution to both."
Evren Mesci (Reuters) notes Turkis president Abdullah Gul has stated an attack by the PKK was "repelled . . . near the Iraqi border" today. CBS and AP note Gul declared patience was running thin and that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, declared "that U.S. objections would not stop Turkey from crossing into Iraq to eliminate Kurdish rebels."

Meanwhile the
Turkish Daily News reports, "Turkish televsion channels and journalist organizations harshly criticized a broadcasting ban implemented late Tuesday by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) on stories about the recent attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). While the anchorman of popular national channel Kanal D, Mehmet Ali Birand, criticized the blackout during Tuesday evening news, SKYTurk reported only on interesting stories from daily life, with a banner on the bottom of the screen that read "Mandatory reports off the agenda." Vincent Boland (Financial Times of London) notes that Erdogan is set to meet with the Bully Boy in DC November 5th. AFP notes an Iraq delegation has arrived in Turkey "led by Defence Minister Abdel Qader Mohammed Jassim" and including "Iraq's intelligence chief and senior officials from the Iraqi interior and foreign ministries". BBC notes, "The Turkish army said on Thursday that it had killed more than 30 Kurdish rebels while fending off an attack on the Iraqi border two days earlier." Nico Hines (Times of London) quotes the Turkish prime minister declaring, "(The United States) may not want us to carry out a cross-border operation. But it is we who will decide whether to do one or not." Suna Erdem (Times of London) states the meet up between the Iraqi delegation with Turkish officials is being called the "final chance". Desperate to grab a few more minutes of almost-fame, John Howard attempts to insert himself into the conflict. The Herald Sun of Australia reports the bully boy down under has declared that "the tensions on the Turkey-Iraq border will not help the west's battle for democracy in Iraq." That 'battle' was lost long ago but Howard's days in office may be numbered and he needed to play lapdog one more time in public.

Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki declared earlier this week that the PKK centers in northern Iraq would be closed.
Bobby Caina Calvan and Yaseen Taha (McClatchy Newspapers) report that Jamal Abdullah, flack for the Kurdish government in northern Iraq, declared, "We believe that the statements of Mr. Maliki about closing the centers of the PKK don't apply to us because we do not have any centers. If Mr. Maliki knows about any centers of the PKK in areas under the control of the central government, let him close these centers and we will encourage and support him. But in areas under our control, there is not a single center." Asso Ahmed and Yesim Borg (Los Angeles Times) report, "Prime Minister Nouri Maliki promised on a visit to Turkey in November that he would shut down the PKK offices. However, they were never formally closed, and Maliki renewed the pledge this week, as Turkey threatened to send its military across the border to attack PKK sites in northern Iraq". Christine Spolar (Chicago Tribune) reports: "The PKK, known formally as the Kurdistan Workers' Party, is considered a terrorist group by the U.S., but the rebels have not been constricted since U.S. forces entered Iraq in March, 2003." Meanwhile, as did Deborah Haynes (Times of London) earlier this week, Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) goes looking for the PKK camps, "For a guerrilla movement awaiting assault, the PKK's leaders are surprisingly easy to find. We drove east from Arbil for two-and-a-half hours and hired a four-wheel drive car in the village of Sangassar. Iraqi police wearing camouflage uniform were at work building a new outpost out of cement blocks beside the road leading into the mountains but only took our names. In fact the four-wheel drive was hardly necessary because there is a military road constructed by Saddam Hussein's army in the 1980s which zig-zags along the side of a steep valley until it reaches the first PKK checkpoint. The PKK soldiers with Kalashnikovs and two grenades pinned to the front of their uniform were relaxed and efficient. In case anybody should have any doubt about who was in control there was an enormous picture of the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan picked out in yellow, black, white and red painted stones on a hill half a mile away and visible over a wide area."

Economic factors are also at play.
Joshua Partlow and Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) note that "Turkey is a leading trade partner with northern Iraq . . . Turkish construction firms are reponsible for 90 percent of rebuilding projects in Iraq's Kurdish north, officials there estimate, and Turkish companies are taking part in many private projects as well in a post-invasion building boom in the north." Mark Bentley (Bloomberg News) explains that the Turkish National Security Council is calling for "'immediate' ecnomic sanctions against northern Iraq, including closing border crossings and halting exports of electricity." Earlier today, BBC noted that oil prices were again rising and headed towards $90 a barrel. Steve Hargreaves (CNNMoney) reports that they hit ninety dollars and kept going "breaking the previous record" to hit $90.60 a barrel.