Monday, February 11, 2008

Bambi & Big Tony: Closer than we knew

Starting with war resisters.  Over the weekend, the Captains Of War met in Germany for the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy.  Among the attending was US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.  Also 'representing' the US were US Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman -- who no doubt made a delightful traveling couple -- with Turkey represented by its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Little Kenny Roth of Human Rights Watch among others.  We'll come back to what was stated at the conference.  But while Captains Of War gathered to plot continue war, people rose up en mass to protest. Amy Bradley (Indybay IMC) reports that Friday saw "several hundred activits" protesting and the number increased the following day as "several thousand protesters gathered in Marienplatz to continue the protests" including Iraq War veteran and war resister Chris Capps who the Minuch American Peace Committee awarded a peace medal and who is starting an IVAW chapter in Germany.  Bradley reports 14 arrests while an estimated "3,700 police monitored the marchers."  Bradley provides a number of photos of the two day protests and this one probably depicts the size of the crowd best.  Courage to Resist profiles Chris Capps here and a quote we'll note is his stating, "If the politicians refuse to listen to the people, then the people need to take action.  If we had resistance throughout the military then we could finally end this war here and now." 
Among those who have resisted, the ones in Canada need help.  The country's Supreme Court has refused to hear appeals on the issue of safe harbor status and the country's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters may have.  You can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada.  Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, 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, Clara 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'."  As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers.
Returning to the Munich Conference on Security Policy for a number of reasons including that it is news.  The protests against it are news and what was stated is news.  We'll focus on a few speeches briefly and then move to US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. 
Lindsey Graham was making his tenth trip and apologizing for being "a poor substitute for Senator [John] McCain" and, as if to make clear how poor, he made a non-funny joke about Russia that wasn't well received and his "I'll buy you a beer after" didn't smooth things over.  Even with a crowd that didn't boo his white-washing/minimizing Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, he managed to get off on the wrong foot immediately.  Graham offered this look-for-the-rainbow praise: "when NATO expands, the war is enriched." Joe Lieberman wants war with Iran very, very badly.  It was the focus of his speech and just because there is no "covert work on bomb design" going on, Lieberman's up in arms over the "overt work on enrichment" as Iran established a nuclear power industry.  Human Rights Watch's Little Kenny Roth bragged about the "expertise" his organization has allegedly developed.  "We do not deal with the nuclear question.  But we look at weapons systems that are used," explained Roth.  "Cluster munitions caused more civilian casualities," in Iraq, he declared, "than any weapons other than small arms."  He spoke of his concern with "the failure rate" of cluster munitions. Yes, that is a serious concern -- those pesky things do not go enough immediately.  So he's not opposed to the indiscriminate deaths they cause immediately, just the deaths they cause days, weeks or years later?  Someone needs to watch Human Rights Watch. Bobby Gates declared his focus was the Afghanistan War (for his speech -- before the British and Canadian governments protest, it was the focus for his speech only) and that would be the war that started in 2001 and continues today.  He offers a revisionary history -- in bulletin points -- on the 'justification' for the war (no, he doesn't mention Osama bin Laden -- which, for anyone with a memory, was why the US began bombing -- after the Tailaban asked for proof of crimes before turning over bin Laden, the US response was to begin bombing).  That war celebrated its sixth anniversary last fall so pay attention to this statement by Gates, "As many of you know, a Strategic Vision document is being drafted that will assess NATO's and our parenters' achievements in Afghanistan, and will produce a set of realistic goals and a roadmap to mee them over the next three to five years."  Three to five years?  The US Secretary of Defense is stating that the Afghanistan War could last through 2013 or even later?  He went on to bemoan "bureaucratic hurdles" that "hinder our progress in Afghanistan" and advoacted for the passage of the NATO Commander's Emergency Response Fund which "will, for NATO, require a more flexible approach to budgeting and funding."  Considering the millions, billiions and trillions being spent on both the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War presently, it's hard to see what "bureaucratic hurdles" Gates imagines side-stepping unless he means Congress itself? Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports on US House Rep John Murtha's take on the huge financial cost of the illegal war and whose being effected -- Murtha: "You can't put a trillion-dollar war on a credit card and leave the bills for our children to pay.  The same Americans suffering in Iraq today will be paying for this borrowed war for the rest of their lives."  Pincus reports, "Noting that the administration is spending $343 million every 24 hours on the Iraq war, Murtha said that 11 hours in Iraq 'could restore $156 million cut by the president's Defense Department budget for the Family Advocacy Program'."
Back in Munich, Secretary Gates insisted that "we are applying a comprehensive strategy" in Iraq and then declared the following:
We have leanred that war in the 21st century does not have stark divisions between civilian and military components.  It is a continuous scale that slids from combat operations to economic development, governance and reconstruction -- frequently at the same time.   
The Alliance must put aside any theology that attempts clearly to divide civilian and military operations.  It is unrealistic.  We must live in the real world.  As we noted as far back as 1991, in the real world, security has economic, political, and social dimensions.  And vice versa.  In the future, the EU and NATO will have to find ways to work together better, to share certain roles -- neither excluding NATO from civilian-military operations nor barring the EU from purely military missions.  In short, I agree entirely with Secretary General [Jaap] de Hoop Scheffer and Minister [Herve] Morin's comments yesterday that there must be a "complimentarity" between the EU and NATO. 
We could go on and on regarding that push for war-more-war-always-war. Instead, we'll note that Oliver Rolofs found Gates "ostentatiously concillatory towards Germany during the conference.In his contribution on the future of Aghanistan on the Sunday morning, he said that he had not intended to point a figner at Germany at all, explaining that the request for more commitment in Afghanistan had been issued to all the members of the Alliance."   Secretary Gates next jaunted off to Iraq where, Steve Lannen (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "A few hours before he landed in Baghdad, a big suicide car bomb exploded near a local market in Yathrib, north of Baghdad in Salahuddin province, killing at least 23 and injuring 45. . . .  Another car bomb exploded near Ramadi, killing three, and further north two car bombs were reported in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city.  Both of them targeted Iraqi soldiers and four were killed in one of the explosions, police said.  To the west of Mosul, 21 people were killed in fighting between insurgents and members of the U.S.-funded local awakening council militia."   "Awakening" Councils are the US effort at Rent-An-Ally, whereby they toss coins around in an attempt to buy loyalties from those against centeral government in Baghdad, those against the illegal US occupation of Iraq, etc.  They're more like Rent-A-Thugs and Ian Fischer (New York Times) explains, "At least 100 Awakening members have been killed in the last few weeks."  Fisher goes on to detail the US government's latest attempt to control the news cycle by having the military selectively releasng two documents one allegedly portions of a diary but it's no The Diary of Anais Nin.  Maybe they tell something, maybe they don't.  Maybe a full release would.  But, to be sure, the US government thinks this is the story to inject into the news cycle.  Probably a 'happier' thought than letting people focus on the latest problems with the "Awakening" Council.  Steve Lannen (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday that the US collaborators in Diyala Province went on strike and that "A leader of the group said that brigade members, most of them Sunni Muslims, wouldnt' resume working with U.S. and Iraqi government forces until the Shiite police feisng or is indicted."  Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) picked up the story on Sunday noting that the Diyala "walkout" wasn't the only problem, there were problems in Anbar Province as well where the conflict is over the outcome of elections which the Iraqi Islamic Party won and that outcome is not pleasing the 'Awakening' Council or helping with the turfs war.  (Both the IIP and members of 'Awakening' are Sunni.)  In Diyala, Rubin notes, while the 'Awakening' Council members want the police commander gone (he's Shi'ite and they declare he's a bagman for Moqtada al-Sadr while he stated that the problem is that they are "continuing their past activies of killing and displacing Shiite families." 
We're not done with Gates.  He announced Lieapalooze 2008 today.  CNN reports that Gates has held a press conference this morning in Baghdad and declared it "makes sense" to halt the return of US troops from Iraq and "A senior U.S. military official in Baghdad told CNN recently that Petraeus feels strongly there should be a period of review before he makes any decisions about additional troop withdrawals."  BBC notes it as well but notes that Gates himself  "favours a 'pause' in troop reductions in Iraq".  Demetri Sevastopulo and Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) quotes Gates stating, "I think that the notion of a brief period of consolidation and evaluation probably does make sense" and the reporters remind, "Until recently, Mr Gates repeatedly said he hoped the military could continue to pull out troops at the same pace over the second half of 2008, which would have left about 100,000 forces in Iraq when the next US president takes office in January 2009."  Yes, he did take that position publicly . . . once.  Apparently, despite Gates quoting Alexis de Tocqueville in Munich, he actually packed Jerry Hopkins' trashy No One Here Gets Out Alive?  That seems to be US Senator John Ensign's opinion as well.  CBS and AP report that the senator "rejected calls Saturday for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of the year".
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"

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Anonymous said...

If he gets the nom you know it's gonna be a Mccain win. People need to get smart about OBama quick.

Anonymous said...

look at history. Eight years is quite enough for republicans. McCain can't win unless the two democrats quit.Obama is the man unless the Clintons swiftboat him. He will be your next president because people are sick of plastic, do nothing white men and will try a woman or black man or anything else before another bush-chaney fiasco is allowed to govern.

PS: I'm white, Veteran,and sick of the same old shit.