Friday, September 16, 2011

Oh that great thinker







The immunity issue (immunity granted) also continues to present problems. At Dar Addustour's home page currently there is a poll regarding US troops and immunity. Greta Van Susteren (On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, Fox News) anticipates a White House announcement noting US troops are leaving Iraq with a small number remaining and imagines this receiving applause:
While he draws down the troops…he is, per the AP, ADDING 8000 PRIVATE SECURITY CONTRACTORS to do the job done that would be done by our leaving military.
Do you have any idea how much MORE EXPENSIVE it is to send private security contractors than to have our troops do the job? If the President thinks we need 8000 people there to provide continued security, why not use our military (cheaper) instead of hiring private contractors? You and I both know why…
When the President makes his announcement about troop withdrawal, listen very carefully to see if he tells you the whole story and that includes how many contractors doing security work (military) are already there, how much it costs, how many more we are sending with the drawdown and that cost.

While some silly fools (pro-war Matthew Ygelsias who 'turned' and now mocks the pro-war set as if he wasn't one of them) waste massive amounts of time, Peter Van Burn (Huffington Post) gets to the point:
In Iraq today, diplomats, military officials, and Washington busybodies are involved in a complex game of maneuvering into place American troops meant to remain in Iraq long past the previously 12/31/2011 negotiated deadline for full withdrawal. Iraq will eventually agree, probably in some semi-passive way, such as calling them trainers, or visiting students, or temps. There will be endless argument over numbers -- should it be 3000 soldiers or 10,000? The debate over whether troops should stay on, or how many should stay, begs the real question: What will all those soldiers do in Iraq?
Will the White House be forced to provide real answers at any point or will silly fools like continue to run interference for them allowing them to be left off the hook? Not everyone gives War Criminals and their enablers a pass. Linda Greene interviews Cindy Sheehan for the Bloomington Alternative ahead of Cindy's visit to speak, October 5th, 7 p.m., at the First United Church in Bloomington. We'll note this section:

BA: What were your politics like before you got involved in peace and justice activities?

CS: If you had asked me this before my son was killed, I would have said that I was very liberal, very left-wing, but that's just because of the community I live in, where being a Democrat is thought of as liberal and left-wing. I always voted Democrat because I believed that was the right thing to do. After my son was killed and after these Democratic politicians in Congress betrayed the antiwar movement, betrayed the working people over and over and over again, and even though I was uninformed and undereducated about these things before Casey was killed, I realized the two-party system really is just a fraud, and people invest all their time, energy and money where we the people have the least amount of effects. It's the corporations, it's the lobbyists, it's the robber class that really control politics in this country, and we can actually have a political system in this country that's responsible to the people. We have to start from the bottom up, not the top down.
On this week's Cindy Sheehan Soapbox radio program, Cindy spoke with Iraqi-American activist Dr. Dahlia Wasfi. They caught up at the start of the interview with Cindy noting Dahlia had gotten married since they'd last seen each other and Dahlia observed that "in the midst of all this madness, I found a soul mate who has the same conviction that I try to have." And Cindy noting she now had three grandkids (a fourth was born over the weekend).
Dahlia Wasfi: This is the same thing I observed with my family overseas in Iraq is that this is what -- they -they continue to live their lives. If they waited for things to get better, to move on, they would never stop waiting. And so the next generation is being born and they do the best they can for their families and they as well trying to make a better future for those kids. That's what comes to mind as you talk about sort-of rebuilding your own life.
Cindy Sheehan: Well also it is the anniversary, the tenth anniversary of 9-11, I'm like fed up to my eyebrows with how the US was attacked on 9-11 and we were attacked because the terrorists hate our freedom and our democracy and our way of life and they want to attack our way of life. Well, you know, if that was true, they did a really good job. There's very little talk about the people outside the US whose lives have been destroyed by whatever happened on 9-11and you don't hear their stories and how needlessly and tragically their lives have been effected by what happened on that day so that's why I wanted to invite you on because you're a very eloquent critic of US policy but you're also very eloquent in describing your Iraqi roots and what's happening to the people in that country so I just want you to today talk about that. Talk about the connection between 9-11 and Iraq and what the US did ostensibly there but what really happened there and what's still happening. Iraq has basically fallen off the face of the earth. It might as well not even exist because we don't talk about it at all.
Dahlia Wasfi: Right.
Cindy Sheehan: And Dick Cheney said it's better, it's a better place, you know, they have a democray now and blah, blah, blah. And you know, I wish I believed in hell so I would know that Dick Cheney was going there soon but, you know, I don't think that's happening. So Dahlia, give us the Iraqi perspective on this.
Dahlia Wasfi: Well I so appreciate, I too, I really, I promise I'm not going to forget what's happening on Sunday, I'm not going to forget the anniversary, I don't need any more reminders, but I know more are coming. But, absolutely, I can tell from my personal experience. And I was born in New York, we lived in Iraq when I was little and then we left when I was five-years-old. So except for a few years in there, I'm born and raised here, I don't even speak Arabic. I know from the few months I spent with my family what they have to endure on a daily basis which is really something that I could not consistently deal with. They're much stronger than I think I'll ever dream to be. But what happened on September 11, 2001, once it was clear sort of what was being built up and I knew no matter who was responsible that Arabs and Muslims were going to be blamed in this country because that's just par for the course. It happened after the Oklahoma City bombing and pretty much anytime. It happened recently with what happened in Norway, that the first suspect was and must be a Muslim suspect. This is -- we're the go to people. And while there still needs to be a genuine investigation [into 9-11] as far I'm concerned and many others -- we still don't know exactly what happened that day -- I knew that the next hits coming were going to be racists. And I certainly didn't face what others faced in this country. I mean a lot of people, a lot of people died in this country after 9-11 because they were seen to be, they looked Muslim, they looked Arab. And then what came afterwards was our assault on Afghanistan the people of Afghanistan had nothing to do with September 11th. And the assault on Iraq which started -- the planning for that began on September 13, 2011 --
Dahlia Wasfi: 2001! Thank you. Two days after 9-11, 2001. And this was, it's very clear. I think the number is 965 times the Bush administration lied about numerous things including supposed ties between Iraq and 9-11. And the outcome today for Iraqis is their lives will never be the same. There's over a million people dead. Over five and a half million refugees. And that's 20% of Iraq's 27 million population. From what my cousins have told me, there is no one who has been untouched. Everybody knows somebody who has been killed -- either a victim of the violence that we brought to Iraq or a victim of the destruction of the infrastructure and the health care system. And then, on top of all of that, which returning veterans are suffering the consequences from as well, is our use of depleted uranium which is -- basically it's radioactive metal that vaporizes into dust and this contaminates the air and the sand and the water supply for Iraqis and it's in the air that occupying forces are breathing in so this is a gift of cancer for the next four and a half billion years. And still with that knowledge, in spite of being keenly aware of the weapons we've used and the effects on the future generations which is most vividly being demonstrated in the city of Falluja after two major seiges in 2004, Iraqis, they continue forward. Again, like, you know trying to do day to day things, put their lives back together. But what the sense that I get to this day is that they want an end to the occupation. It's very simple.
They were discussing the radiation and Aswat al-Iraq reported September 11th, "A woman has given birth of a 'distorted' child, with one eye and no nose in a Karbala hospital coming from district, where several cancer cases were register, the Director of Women and Delivery Hospital in Karbala city said on Saturday." Reuters notes a Falluja car bombing claimed 1 life and, dropping back to last night, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of a police officer.
And while NPR can only blame the American public for the lack of Iraq War coverage, Eleanor Hall knows better and indicates so right at the top of a segment in her program (The World Today with Eleanor Hall, Australia's ABC -- link is text and audio), "But heading overseas now, as the Afghan government and the international community try to work out how to react to yesterday's brazen attack on Kabul, violence in Iraq is getting less attention. That may be because the Australian and US governments have now officially withdrawn combat troops from Iraq, but that doesn't mean the place is stable." Here's an excerpt from her conversation with Lydia Khalil.
ELEANOR HALL: Just how fragile is Iraq?

LYDIA KHALIL: Iraq is fragile right now. It's not as unstable as it was in 2006 and 2007 but its government, the Maliki coalition, is really being held by a string. The situation is very tenuous, there's opposition parties in parliament who are opposed to Maliki and right now it's very difficult to get legislation past, major legislation is needed in order to move the country forward. So the Iraqi government can't really handle a series of major attacks like we saw in August.
In 'safe' and 'improved' Iraq, life for women hasn't improved. Rebecca Murray (IPS) reports:
When a middle-aged mother took a taxi alone from Baghdad to Nasiriyah, about 300 kilometres south earlier this year, her 20-year-old driver stopped on the way, pulled her to the side of the road and raped her. And that began a telling legal struggle.
"She is not a simple case," says Hanaa Edwar, head of the Iraqi rights-based Al-Amal Association, established in Baghdad after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
"She came from an affluent family, held a professional job, and told her family about the rape. They had the police arrest the driver," Edwar says. "Then she came to us for legal help. She said, 'I want my rights back, and what he has done to me, he will do to others. I want this perpetrator punished'."
The rape victim lost her case. "The judge had a male mentality. They think you should not make a scandal, but be silent. He prompted the accused with questions like, 'You did this when you were drunk -- yes?' This is how they intimidate," Edwar said. "Now we are making an appeal."
The Al-Amal Association is one of a handful of women's advocates in Iraq fighting for female equality in marriage and divorce, and opposing a draconian penal code that favours perpetrators of domestic abuse and of honour killings within households.

And Iraq continues to face serious problems regarding government -- not that you'd know it from listening to NPR which can condemn listeners for not knowing what's happening in Iraq but can't actually provide coverage from Iraq these days (see yesterday's snapshot). Al Mada reports on the continued tensions between Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi with Nouri going on Alsumaria TV to repeat his charge that Allawi is not fit to be part of the government process. State of Law then parrots their leader (Nouri) and asserts claims that Nouri, as commander of the armed forces (that's what they cite), can determine who and who is not fit to serve in the government. It's a bit like the purges in the name of de-Ba'athification done by the Justice and Accountability Commission on Nouri's behalf in 2010 to knock out Nouri's political opponents only this time Nouri's claiming (and State of Law's agreeing) that he has the right himself to ban whomever he wants. Alsumaria TV quotes Nouri stating, "Head of Al Iraiqya list is no longer a tolerated participant in the political process." Stop for a moment and grasp that Ayad Allawi represents Iraqiya and that Iraqiya, not State of Law, came in first in the March 2010 elections, that Iraqiya (not State of Law) should have had first crack at the prime minister post. And now Nouri's saying the leader of the most popular (judging by votes in the most recent election) party's leader can't be part of the political process.

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