Saturday, December 15, 2012

Freddy-Boo-Boo is Glitzy







US House Rep Lynn Woolsey was one of the creators of the Out of Iraq Caucus in the House of Representatives.  Alongside other brave voices in the House like Maxine Waters, Woolsey stood firmly against the Iraq War.  She did not seek re-election this year and this week spoke on the House floor about war and peace (video here).
US House Rep Lynn Woolsey:  Mr. Speaker, throughout my career in public life and even before, nothing has motivated me more than a desire to end wars and violent conflict.  When I was a small girl saying bedtime prayers or making a birthday wish blowing out the candles, I always asked for world peace.  So no surprise that, over a decade ago, I opposed the Iraq War before it even started.  It was appalling that we would invade a nation that hadn't provoked us, that had nothing to do with 9-11 and did not have weapons of mass destruction.  It was a lonely fight at that time.  But I didn't do it to be loved. It was a matter of principle.  Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters and I formed the triad, Woolsey, Waters and Lee, to organize our opposition.  We held forums, we developed an Out Of Iraq Caucus, we traveled around the country.  And in January 2005, I offered the first amendment here on the House floor calling for our troops to be brought home.  Some of my own party thought that it was a mistake, that we wouldn't get any votes or enough votes and that we would be embarrassed.  Well I told them that even if I were the only one voting to bring our troops home, I would not be embarrassed.  Well as it happened, we got 128 bi-partisan votes that very first time.  So you see, Mr. Speaker, when you lead, people follow.  Because a handful of progressive leaders and progressives in our country that were vocal and fearless, eventually public opinion turned. It turned against the Iraq War.  It turned towards peace.  If we and other outspoken political advocates hadn't ignored conventional wisdom and hadn't pressed for peace, the war in Iraq could still be going on today.  In April, Mr. Speaker, of 2004, I began speaking on this very spot of the House floor about my very strong anti-Iraq War convictions.  Eventually, these speeches focused on Afghanistan where we've now been waging war for more than 11 years despite more than 2,000 Americans dead and nearly $600 billion wasted.  Even though, we are undermining our own interests and failing to bring security and stability to Afghanistan.   Over the last eight-plus-years, I've spoken here nearly every day that I could  to drive home what a moral disaster and strategic failure these wars have been.  When constituents and others call or come up to me and thank me, I say, "But we're still there."  I don't deserve thanks until all of our troops are home.  You know, Mr. Speaker, because you've been here for many of them, my speeches haven't been just about bringing our troops home.  They've offered a new vision for global engagement. From here, I've outlined my Smart Security Platform which calls for development in diplomacy instead of invasions and occupations, civilian surges instead of military surges.  Smart Security means helping other nations educate their children, care for their sick and strengthen their democratic institutions. Smart Security says we can make America safe by building international goodwill, by empowering people with humanitarian assistance instead of sending troops or launching drone attacks.  It's the right thing to do.  It's the smart thing to do.  And it costs pennies on the dollar compared to military force. So, Mr. Speaker, today I'm delivering that message for the 444th time and my final time on the House floor to speak on five minute special order.  This is the last of my special order speeches on war and peace and Smart Security.  I'm retiring from Congress at the end of this year and I believe part of my legacy will be that I worked diligently for peace and a safer world.  So in closing, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to acknowledge that sometimes I've been accused of wanting a perfect world but I consider that a compliment.  Our founders strove for a more perfect union.  Why shouldn't we aim for a perfect world?   You see, I'm perfectly and absolutely certain that if we don't work towards a perfect world we won't ever come close to providing a safe, healthy and secure world for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.  So I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank my wonderful staff who have helped me over the last twenty years to work for a perfect world which means peace, health and security for all.  I yield back.  Thank you all.
Lynn Woolsey is a Democrat who was first elected in the Novembe 1992 elections (a "Year of the Woman" in real time and the first time the genderquake was undeniable in the elections).  She has served California's sixth district.  Lynn Woolsey succeeded Barbara Boxer in the seat, Boxer, in the "Year of the Woman" 1992, was elected to the US Senate.  Greg Cahill (Pacific Sun) interviewed Lynn on her time in the US Congress.  Excerpt:
Now the wars are winding down, and the economy is in recovery. Why leave the job now?
[Lynn Woolsey:]  I'm a person whose timing has worked for her. Actually, I thought I'd be in Congress for 10 years. And then all of a sudden, zip, it's 20. I'm 75 years old. And I've gotten on an airplane every week that we're in session on a Monday or Tuesday morning and fly back on a Thursday or Friday afternoon. Week after week after week. And I'm tired of doing that. It doesn't work for my body and it doesn't work for my soul. During the last Congress, the 111th Congress, I toyed with the notion that that should be my last term. But Jared Huffman hadn't termed out in the state Legislature yet. And I wasn't 100 percent sure about that decision. So I ran and got re-elected knowing that would be my last term. [House minority leader Rep.] Nancy Pelosi asked me, "When did you know?" And I said I knew when I walked backed into Congress and said to myself, "I really wish I hadn't done it this time." I felt like, I don't know why I'm here--I don't want to be here. I didn't stop working--we worked our hearts out these last two years. But I just knew it was time. I was sick and tired of money and politics. I mean, it's going to ruin our democracy if we don't do something [about campaign finance reform]. And I gave lots of notice.
You're retiring from politics but it sounds as though you plan to stay quite active.
[Lynn Woolsey:] Oh, I am going to retire. If Lynn Woolsey doesn't learn to sit down and be calm in what I consider to be the last quarter of her life, she'll be in trouble. I want to enjoy my life without all the spin. I mean, I've raised four kids and was a working mom and active in my community. I get to sit down.
As a member of Congress, Lynn didn't just mouth words.  Nor did she cave when she made a stand.  Her word counted for something and she took it very seriously.  She will be missed.
And sad to say that as one of the strong left leaders leaves Congree, I find myself wondering if maybe on the left we just need to throw in the towel?  I wondered that not because of the loss of Lynn Woolsey in the Congress but because of the garbage by Gareth Porter at Truthout.  I'd seen him in his too long Real News Network interview and thought, "Maybe he just doesn't speak well on the subject."  But now his promised 'big piece' on counter-insurgency is out and the natural response to it is to string together numerous curse words.  Let's get two of his paragraphs in here.
The COIN manual ducked some central issues in the US wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan - most notably whether US troops should have been carrying out violent "cordon and search" operations, especially when they had little or no real intelligence to go on. Intent on staying within the political consensus of the military establishment, Petraeus opted not to criticize the tactic of violently invading private homes and seizing military-age males in the middle of the night in front of their families, which had become routine in Iraq.
But in one area, the manual staked out a bold new position. It called for the commander in a counterinsurgency war to influence the coverage of the war by the news media. "The media directly influence the attitude of key audiences toward counterinsurgents, their operations and the opposing insurgency," the section on "information operations" said. "This situation creates a war of perceptions between insurgents and counterinsurgents conducted continuously using the news media."
Did it duck "some central issues"?  Well Gareth did too.  Gareth's apparently opposed to searches that cart away males but that's about all he can really call out.  The very notion of counter-insurgency -- long called out on the left in past wars -- is just accepted by Porter.  As for "a bold new position," your ignorance exceeds your ethical decay.  I don't care what your damn manual told you.  I don't give a damn.  Counter-insurgency has always included the media and 'messaging.'  That you're too stupid to know that is appalling.
Here's the way this will go.  I'll get e-mails about how "Gareth is really trying hard and, gosh, it's not easy and if you want someone to call out David Petraeus . . ."  Gareth has a job to do.  Does he do his job or not?  No, he's not doing his job -- or he's doing it very poorly.  As for calling out Petraeus, it may be a media fad at present but here we've always called out Petraeus. 
If you're going to write about counter-insurgency, you need to know about it.  It's war on a native people.  The occupier tries to make a group of natives undesirable so that the rest of the population will turn on the undesirables.  To make people undesirable, you demonize them, you make it difficult for people to befriend or help them.  You do other things as well.  To do these other things, you tell yourself lies.  For example, labeling the native (non-South) Vietnamese media "propaganda" allowed counter-insurgency to target the media and to justify the lying.   Counter-insurgency includes outright murder.  People are targeted for murder to frighten the population at large.  You saw that in Iraq and you've seen it throughout the US usage of counter-insurgency.  Take the Phoenix Program during Vietnam.  As the RAND Corporation noted, while its supporters cheer the program, its "detractors condemn it as a merciless assassination campaign."  Let's go to the CIA for some whining:
The Phoenix program is arguably the most misunderstood and controversial program undertaken by the governments of the United States and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was, quite simply, a set of programs that sought to attack and destroy the political infrastructure of the Lao Dong Party (hereafter referred to as the Viet Cong infrastructure or VCI) in South Vietnam. 1
Phoenix was misunderstood because it was classified, and the information obtained by the press and others was often anecdotal, unsubstantiated, or false. The program was controversial because the antiwar movement and critical scholars in the United States and elsewhere portrayed it as an unlawful and immoral assassination program targeting civilians.
We called it out because it was unethical and it was illegal and, yes, we called it out.  Today Gareth Porter can't even do that.  A ho-hum piece where this may be objectionable  . . . The ignorance and the cowardice is appalling.  At this late date, if we on the left can't call out counter-insurgency, that's on us, we're just pathetic and ineffective.   Via Z-Net, here's an excerpt of a January 10, 2005 broadcast, Katie Couric (then host of NBC's Today) discussing with retired Gen Wayne Downing  the article Newsweek published on the Salvador option possibly being brought to Iraq (Michael Hirsh and John Barry were the authors of the Newsweek article). 
"Gen. DOWNING: Well, Katie, I -- I think this term is very unfortunate because this El Salvador thing brings up the connotation of death squads, of illegal activity that took place in -- in -- by some of the El Salvadorian military 20 years ago. But I think what they're considering is to use a special -- or more special Iraqi units trained and equipped and perhaps even led by US Special Forces to conduct strike operations against this -- this insurgency, against the leaders of it, which of course is a very valid strategy, a very valid tactic. And it's actually something we've been doing since we started the war back in March of 2003.
"COURIC: But is this going to be used more, or in greater numbers? According to Newsweek, they're going to -- the -- the US Special Forces will train specially chosen Kurdish forces and Shiite militiamen.
"Gen. DOWNING: Right.
"COURIC: So does this signal a -- a -- I guess an escalation of this technique at least?
"Gen. DOWNING: I wouldn't say an escalation, Katie. I -- I think what we're looking at is -- there are already some special units formed. We have special police commandos now of the Iraqi forces which conduct these kind of strike operations. I think what we're looking at is another type of unit. In other words, they -- they've got 10 tools right now in their tool box, this is probably adding a -- an 11th or perhaps even a 12th tool. But -- but, Katie, I -- I really want to emphasize what they are going after here. These -- these insurgents leaders, these are terrorists. These are people who have been decapitating hostages. These are the people who have been planning and -- and perpetrating these suicide bombers...that has killed thousands of -- of friendly Iraqis. These are very, very legitimate targets, and actually part of the overall strategy for countering this insurgency...
"COURIC: But in El Salvador many innocent civilians were killed when these kind of tactics were employed. Are you concerned about that, or the possibility this will increase anti-American sentiment in the general Iraqi population?
"Gen. DOWNING: Katie, this has nothing to do with El Salvador. Those operations that were conducted down there were conducted by -- by renegade military leaders. This is under the control of the US forces, of the current interim Iraqi government. There -- there's no need to think that we're going to have any kind of a -- a killing campaign that's going to maim innocent civilians.
The government pretends that counter-insurgency has been proved to be effective.  That actually hasn't happened and I don't understand why a Gareth Porter or anyone else would accept the premise that counter-insurgency is 'good' but has a few aspects that may be troubling?  I don't get that at all.   Tom Hayden called out counter-insurgency during Vietnam.  He's one of the few voices who've called it out during the Iraq War.  In a column on Petraeus a few weeks ago, he included this paragraph:
As this test of wills unfolded, Petraeus, with the help of an inbred, fawning mass media, had become knwon as "the greatest soldier of his generation," the counterinsurgency strategist who staved off a dishonorable American retreat in Iraq, the guiding hand behind The U.S. Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, the man who would revive the South Vietnam "Phoenix Program" from the ashes of disgrace. The Petraeus field manual rallied a cult of true believers who have been convinced for thirty years that America's war in Vietnam would have been won if only the politicians back in the States had not pulled the plug on Phoenix because of claims of torture plus photos of emaciated Vietcong prisoners held in tiny cages. (This is all true, not a screenplay. Please see the Field Manual for more on the pacification program, pp. 73-75; see also, "Countering Global Insurgency," by Petraeus top counterinsurgency advisor, David Kllkullen, in the Small Wars Journal, November 30, 2004)
In that paragraph, Tom Hayden makes it clear how disgusting counter-insurgency is.  In one paragraph.  In his very long article, Gareth Porter never manages to do the same.  Click here for audio of Douglas Valentine on Between The Lines discussing the various assassination programs in the early days of the Iraq War.

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