Saturday, January 13, 2007

E-mails, peace, moments, Iraq

I have certainly complained about the Cindy Brady of the faux left's e-mailing but I want to take a moment to note that I also get some of the best e-mails. Friday at work (it's now past midnight, so officially Saturday), Sunny told me I really needed to check my e-mail account today. She prints up various e-mails for me. (That's not part of her job duties but she swears she really enjoys reading the e-mails.) So I usually read her prints outs during lunch but there were seven she didn't print up that she said I really needed to read.

I only just did, starting an hour ago. I have replied to each of the seven and just want to note here that they really meant something to me and were a pleasure to read. There are people who take the war very seriously and have paid various costs for trying to end it. I salute and applaud them.

To note other news, Sunny asked that I pass on that she's got a summer wedding coming up. I told her she should do a guest-blog here to discuss that because I know readers enjoyed her guest stint here. But let me note that she's very excited about her wedding. They've been seeing each other eight months and living together for the bulk of that so they've got a strong sense of one another and I wish them all the best. (Sunny's not planning on leaving. I'm wishing them the best because they're announcing their plan to marry to their parents tonight. Last night. It's after midnight, so they've already told their families.)

On the topic of e-mails, I should also note that a number have come in on "How The Nation isn't cutting it." I'm glad it was so postively received but there was a concern expressed in several that I feel like I should address. A number of e-mails wondered, while agreeing with the commentary about The Nation, whether C.I. and I were in strong disagreement over this topic? I don't think we have any disagreement about it. C.I. would prefer not to criticize Katrina vanden Heuvel in a negative manner due to having known and liked her grandfather. On that, I was under the impression it had been discussed at the site. I knew it had been in a roundtable but didn't realize that was at a roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin. Rebecca pointed that out and I was mortified. I included that information thinking (a) I do, fair of unfairly, base my expectations on something beyond the woman herself. Her grandfather was an amazing man. Since I was criticizing her leadership of the magazine, I felt it was important to disclose that. C.I. knew him as well. So for disclosure reasons, it seemed the time to note that he was always interested in (and donating to) causes. If I'd realized that C.I. had kept that 'in the community' by addressing it at the round-robin, I wouldn't have noted that C.I. also knew the man.

C.I. wasn't upset about that. I was in a session when Rebecca passed that on, about it being in the round-robin, to Sunny. When I came out, Sunny mentioned it to me and my first comment was, "Get C.I. on the phone." When we spoke, I was apologizing because I wouldn't want someone posting details about my life that I hadn't shared myself. C.I. just laughed and said not to worry about.

Other than that, I had no worries about the post because that didn't just pop into my head. It was based on what's been on going for some time. I'm sure nothing in it was a surprise to C.I. because we've discussed those topics quite often. I don't know that C.I. read it (and didn't ask) because it was expecting Katrina vanden Heuvel to be accountable and was naming her. C.I. would prefer to name her only if it's something positive. But for those who worried that it might cause some problem, it didn't. C.I. linked to it. (Twice, I believe.) When Rebecca had a serious problem with something vanden Heuvel had written, C.I. cross-posted it at The Common Ills. C.I.'s not interested in being gatekeeper but is also not interested in personally writing anything that's negative about vanden Heuvel. Mike's noted at his site that last Sunday's editorial ("Editorial: Ehren Watada stands and independent media heads for the bathrooms") took forever to write and noted that one of the problems was that a post criticized at the end was written by Katrina vanden Heuvel. C.I.'s attitude was "The Nation" covered it. There was no need to name her, she is the magazine.

My comments about her not getting a pass because she's a woman is also a topic I've long discussed with C.I. who really has to feel someone's gone beyond the point of no return to start criticizing them at The Common Ills. For instance, "Truth" was boring the hell out of the community for some time and also ticking many members off. It was only when she voiced support for curbs on reproductive rights that C.I. weighed in. C.I. is loathe to crticize a woman and that's wonderful and I have so much respect for that. I share it to a degree. But, like C.I., I have my point where someone's crossed the line far enough that I will speak out and speak up.
So for the ones who wondered if there was some problem resulting from my post (the ones who didn't write in, Sunny responded for me to everyone who wrote in Thursday), there wasn't.

I do support that attitude but, and this is true of C.I. and I would assume everyone who feels the same, at some point it needs calling out. For all of us, the point will be different. But it's there and when it's reached, you either continue to bite your tongue or you speak out.

(I did however wonder, when C.I. noted the stomach pains on Friday morning, if I'd caused stress.)

This is an e-mail from Declaration of Peace that Mike and I are both posting:

Defund the War and Declare Peace!
Nationwide Nonviolent Civil DisobedienceTo End the Deepening U.S. Quagmire in Iraq
"There is nothing wrong with a traffic law which says you have to stop for a red light. But when a fire is raging, the fire truck goes right through that red light ... Massive civil disobedience is a strategy for social change which is at least as forceful as an ambulance with its siren on full." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As the violence in Iraq escalates,
The Declaration of Peace is organizing nonviolent civil disobedience -- and other forms of powerful and dramatic peacemaking -- to urge the nation and its leaders to end the U.S. quagmire there. We invite people everywhere to respond to this growing emergency by participating in this campaign of conscience and nonviolent action to defund the war, to support the troops by bringing them home, and to launch a comprehensive Peace process. (See the full text of the Declaration of Peace Call for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience at: )
Between now and mid-March -- the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq --
The Declaration of Peace will organize visits to Congressional offices, phone and email campaigns, rallies and vigils, town hall meetings, and media outreach to call on all U.S. policymakers to take these steps for Peace. If the Bush Administration and the new Congress fail to carry out its clear mandate for peace, we will be led by conscience to respond to this growing emergency with dramatic and creative forms of peaceful resistance -- including nonviolent civil disobedience -- across the country, March 16-19, 2007.
We invite you and your organization to organize a peaceful and powerful civil disobedience witness in mid-March.
Please let us know what you are planning by emailing:
Next Steps
In preparing for the March 16-19 Actions, The Declaration of Peace is organizing:
• A National Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Organizing Conference Call on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Please join us to learn more, to share plans, and to offer one another support.

If you want to join the conference call, contact us at:
• A National Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Organizing Meeting onSunday, January 28, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, for those attending United for Peace and Justice's March on Washington and Lobby Day (January 27-29). Location: Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School 4301 East-West Highway, Bethesda, Maryland Let us know if you will be attending:
• A National Week of Nonviolent Action Training: February 17-25, 2007. Contact us to organize a Nonviolence Training session:
For more information about this Campaign, visit:

Okay, earlier this week, I noted the protests at Congressional offices. If that wasn't your thing, there's something above that you can do. If that's not your thing, then you need figure out what is because you need to be making your voice heard. The war will keep dragging on until the leaders grasp that the American people will not stand for it.

That's true of any issue and one of the few positives about the Vietnam era is that we were active as a people on the issue of the war, to be sure, but on others as well. That's how Nixon was forced to resign, that's why we ended up with a more open government.

If I can share anything to anyone younger it would be: That time, that post-period when the war ends, you'll be encouraged to go home and live in a daze. You'll be lulled into a false sense of security, a feeling that "We did it, we ended the war, Congress knows they have to listen to the people." They don't "know" that. They have to be reminded of it constantly. Kat and I have talked about this and how, on a smaller scale, you can see it in the early half of the 90s, another moment for change. Those moments are precious and people need to seize them.

I do think we are encouraged by the media and by society at large not to be involved, not to care. Kat's got a theory about how grunge was co-opted into psuedo grunge and how it was co-opted into meaninglessness. I agree with her points, but it's her theory, so I give her credit for it. But that moment, when change seemed so possible -- healthcare, gay rights, etc. -- passed very quickly. I think my generation saw Nixon resign, the war finally end (after he was out of office), Congressional investigations and all these signs that the system was alive and well and motivated to speak to the general welfare. Then, at the end of 1980, Ronald Reagan would be elected and a wholesale assault on everything that had been accomplished would begin -- would begin openly.

If the period after we end the war echoes earlier periods, we'll see 'jokes' about people who were involved. Songs, movies, standup, where that's mocked and we're all encouraged to return to being consumers. Passive consumers, at that. I don't know that you can fight that response or overcome it. It may just be the natural swing of the pendulum. However, the time after will be wide open and since a backlash is entirely positive, people should be making brave demands. Not asking for band aids, but asking for real progress. It's a moment and you can make the most of it or you can do nothing with it. So just keep that in mind.

When you read the snapshot below, keep in mind that Anthony Arnove is beginning a book tour (the dates are listed). That's a voice you should be embracing. Howard Zinn is one of my favorites (he's quoted in the snapshot) and I think that's true of many people my age on the left. Anthony Arnove, whose age I don't know, is a voice that I've discovered during this war. Like Naomi Klein, his is a name to answer when people wonder where the brave truth tellers of today are? If there are more than the usual number of typos in my post, forgive me. The hour is late. I hope everyone already read "Kat's Korner: Carly Simon, Into the Real," by the way. That and Lizzie West's I Pledge Allegiance To Myself are the two CDs I'm listening to the most these days. (Carly Simon's Into White, being the other one.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, January 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; after the Bully Boy's Wednesday speech offering no 'benchmarks,' US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reveleals the 'plan' also offers no timetable;
Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn talk the importance of withdrawal and combat the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk; US war resister Ehren Watada prepares for a public speech this weekend; and Antoni Juhasz addresses what an escalation means for US troops.
Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis spoke with Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn about Iraq and comparisons to Bully Boy's dreamed of escalation in Iraq to Vietnam. Zinn felt it was very important to note that the Iraqi people do not want US forces in their country. On the 'new' 'plan' and it's talk up as well as the way Iraq is addressed, Howard Zinn pointed out:

When they talk about making a difference, they keep using the words 'victory' and 'success' and how do we 'win'? It seems to me this is missing a very, very critical point, Iraq is not our country to 'win' -- to be successful in, to be victorious in. We simply don't belong there. And Bush's 'surge' is exactly the opposite of what we need to do. Well Anthony's book Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal lays out the argument for the simple statement that I'm making now, that instead of surging in Iraq, we should be withdrawing as fast as we can from Iraq. And not only that, we should be questioning the larger principle involved and that is should the United States be sending troops anywhere in the world -- whether it's Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else -- should we think we could solve any problems with military solutions? And, in fact, is this the motive of the administration to solve problems for the people of these other countries? Iraqis don't want us in Iraq, that's clear. The American people don't want us in Iraq. Even the Iraqi government, which was really put in in a kind of fake election with American control excercise, even the Iraqi government is very embarrassed by the idea of having more American troops in Iraq. So what Bush is proposing is a violation not only of self-determination of Iraqis and the will of the American people and world opinion, it's a continution of the whole idea of US military dominace in the world which we should do everything we can to bring to an end.

Andrea Lewis asked about the statements that if the US pulls out it will lead to chaos in Iraq.

Anthony Arnove: I think we have to acknowledge that people who raise that point raise it two different ways. The cynical group of people who make that argument, pundits, politicans, to say we can never pull out, to justify the US remaining as an occupying power in Iraq for years to come, to justify setting up military bases, permanent bases, in Iraq, to justify the role that the United States wants to play in Iraq projecting its power in the entire Middle East and globally, as Howard mentioned. But then there's also decent people who have a concern for the consequences of the Iraqi people. And I think we have to acknowledge their fears and their concerns for what would happen to Iraq? And we're not saying abandon the Iraqi people -- "This is some kind of isolationist position, we don't care what happens to them." We're saying the opposite. Our point is that every day that the United States continues in Iraq as an unwanted, foreign, occupying power, it makes the situation worse for ordinary Iraqis. It's not ending sectarian conflict in Iraq, it's actually fueling sectarian conflict. It's not ending violence, it's actually fueling violence. The United States occupation is the greatest source of instability in the country. And after every benchmark that we've been told would change the situation there --elections, the constitution, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the execution of Saddam Hussein -- things just get worse. Iraq right now is the world's largest refugee crises in the world. Inflation has skyrocketed, unemployment has skyrocketed, there's less electricty, less safe drinking water, less security for Iraqis which is why poll after poll shows that that they say their life is getting worse and they want the United States to leave and so if we claim that we're bringing democracy well democracy would dictate that we let the Iraqi people determine their own future. But we should support them. We should pay reperations. We owe them a tremends debt, not just for the harm caused by the occupation, but all of the years before that the United States imposed sanctions on the country and, before that, supported Saddam Hussein as he carried out his worst crimes.

Zinn discussed how the same arguments for the US remaining in Iraq were the ones his book Vietnam: The Logic for Withdrawal were "greeted with the same claims that are made today" -- e.g. chaos, violence, civil war in Vietnam. "The truth is that we were creating the chaos," observed Zinn. Anthony Arnove's book, Iraq: The Logic for Withdrawal, has just been released in paperback and he will be appearing on the following dates:

January 17, 7 pm,
New York, NY (with Michael Schwartz)
16 Beaver
January 20, 7 pm,
Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt)
University of Illinois-Chicago
Contact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,
January 27, 5 pm,
Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty)
Busboys and Poets
February 1, 7:30 pm,
Pasadena, CA
Voices of a People's History of the United States
with Mark Ruffalo, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Benjamin Bratt, Marisa Tomei, Josh Brolin, and Alfre Woodard.
All Saints Episcopal Church

Appearing as part of a panel discussion yesterday on Kris Welch's program,
KPFA's Living Room , Antonia Juhasz (author of The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) noted two points regarding the US troops in Iraq. First, she noted, "On this issue of the troops increase . . . Bush wanted significantly more troops but the military said we don't have anywhere to get them for you, there aren't anymore troops. So the troops that are the addition of the 20,000 is simply going to be extending the tours of troops that are there speeding up the redeployment of troops that have already served. We have to be really clear about who the soldiers are that are part of this increase."
She then spoke of what their role would be and what is wanted from Iraq.

Antonia Juhasz: This is . . . the critical moment to make our demands very, very clear to the Democrats and one of those demands has to explicity be that this is a war for oil that cannot be allowed to continue and that what the administration is hoping for is that it will suceed in its economic transformation of Iraq which at this point has nearly reached fruition -- which is a new law developed way before the war in the US State Department, then pushed by US corporations, pushed by the successive appointed governments of Iraq by the US government following the invasion -- for a new law that is now, the al-Maliki govenrmenet has now said that it will put this new law forward to the Iraqi parliament that creates an unprecedented oil victory in Iraq. So what it does is give the government of Iraq nominal control and ownership of their oil but every function of the oil industry would then be privatized and turned over to foreign companies and the foreign companies would get a form of contract called a Production Sharing Agreement which is not used anywhere in the Middle East not used anywhere in oil rich countries in fact that gives first 30 years, 30 year contract, and then according to the UK Independent, that the intial contract would give 75% of initial profits to the private companies leaving only 25% for the Iraqis. [. . .] Iraq can best be understood as a pimple of oil that has yet to be plucked. It has certainly the second largest oil reserves in the world possibly larger. It has 80 known oil fields but only 17 have even begun to be developed. It is those undeveloped oil fields which are all completely within the realm of the new law and then the debate, that the president mentioned in his speech, is over a constitutional amendment to address the existing fields, which are now divided between the Shia and the Kurds in the north and the south, and to bring the control of the existing fields back into the central gover of al-Maliki. And what I believe is that the Bush administration is going to hold onto the occupation and make it larger and make it as big as he can until the law passes and US companies sign contracts and then they have to get work. And they need a security force to do that and that is our troops.

While Juhasz addressed the realities of US troops in Iraq, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, testifying before the US Senate Armed Service Committee, revealed a reality of his own.
BBC reports that Gates, speaking of Bully Boy's new 'plan' for Iraq, stated that there was no timetable for the puppet government to achieve any of the non-defined benchmarks. Susan Cornwell and Kristin Roberts (Reuters) observe that Gates threw out the usual sop of troop withdrawal on the conditional 'if' (always the same 'if' -- if a corner is turned and it never is) and they write that "Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who heads a House panel overseeing defense spending, said he would try to attach restrictions to a $100 billion 'emergency' request for new war money that Bush will request in February. Those restrictions could include a prohibition on spending money for the additional troops, Murtha said. They could also include immediately closing Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and the Guantanamo Bay detention center at a U.S. base in Cuba."
Yesterday, US military forces stormed an Iranian diplomatic consulate and arrested six diplomatic staff. The Kurdish government in northern Iraq responded by insisting that diplomatic staff be released immediately (Iran has long had a consulate in Iraq's Kurdish territory). KUNA reports that the US, via White House flack Tony Snow, continues to dismiss concerns and attempt to downgrade a recognized diplomatic headquarters while the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, continues to state that it was a consulate and that, in addition, "U.S. forces tried to seize more people at the airport in Irbil, 220 miles north of Baghdad, prompting a confrontation with Kurdish troops guarding the facility that was resolved without casualties. " The BBC notes that the consulate has been "operating for years" and the Mikhail Kamyin ("Russing foreign ministry spokesman") declared, "It is absolutely unacceptable for troops to storm the consular offices of a foreign state on the territory of another state . . . It is also not clear how this fits in with American statements that Washington respects the sovereignty of Iraq."
In other Iraq news . . .
Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, near Baquba, a mortar attack killed "one primary school teacher and one student," while a child was killed in Muqdadiyah by an IED and, in Baquba, an Iraqi soldier was killed by a bomb and three more wounded.
Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that in the Diyala Province, "American forces killed a woman and a child and injured another woman with another child (all from the same family)" while 4 Shi'ites were shot dead "near ARAB SHOKA area near hibhib area in khalis town" as well as their driver.
Reuters notes that 10 corpses were discovered in Baghdad, seven in Mosul, three in Basmaia.
Turning to news of war resistance,
Ehren Watada became the first officer (June 2006) to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and now faces a February 5th court-martial. He is scheduled to speak tomorrow at the Coupeville Recreation Hall, 901 NW Alexander ST., Whidbey Island in Coupeville, Washington at 1:00 pm. Also tomorrow, there will be a benefit performance for him Corvallis, OR when Crooked Kate and the Childers-Carson Duo take the stage of the Sunnyside-Up (116 N.W. Third St.) at six pm. In addition, later this month A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College to address the illegality of the war. In addition, Iraq Veterans Against the War are staging Camp Resistance in support of Watada. Writing at the blog they've set up for Camp Resistance, dockyne reports: The oldest public radio station in the states hosted IVAW Deployed and had Darrell [Anderson] and Dennis [Kyne] on Friday morning for one hour and a half. Discussing Darrell's experience in this illegal war and his 18 months in exile to Canada, as well as the fact that thousands of other soldiers are refusing to deploy to this illegal war. Hosted by Ani and Melody on their weekly progam (7:30-9 am) Absolutly revolting.
This interview was in covered the draft, the anti war movement, depleted uranium and allowed multiple callers to learn about the Gulf War, which the VA handbook of benefits states began on 2 Aug 1990 and will end on a date to be determined by congress. When will they end it? We discussed the court martials of
Suzanne Swift and Ehren Watada...and the support from Portland, Oregon is massive. Darrell stated, "this is the most radical community I have been too."

Dennis Kyne, writing at U.N. Observer, gives the details on Camp Resistance:

Please support this troops are gathering to support Ehren Watada in his stand against the lies that have gained our nation nothing more than death and despise. Purple Heart, 'Winner' Darrell Anderson returned from 18 months in hiding when he heard that Lt. Watada had refused to deploy. Darrell Anderson would have deployed to his third tour had he not gone north. Anderson asked me to get on the ( ) with him and get to Fort Lewis to open up Camp RESISTANCE!!!
We are here, in the mud. It is not warm here
...nor dry
.....however, you should stand with us support of a man who stands up against the military mahine and a nation of millions who don't have the foggiest notion that our troops do not want to serve in this war. Lt. Watada is speaking for thousands of enlisted soldiers like Darrell Anderson and myself, a fifteen year veteran of the Army. Watada is a true leader.....leading and doing
....he knows he should never ask enlisted soldiers to do things he would never do ....that is part of the requirement. NEVER ask nor order your troops to do things that you wouldn't do. There are more violators of this rule in the military now, than ever (or at least in my 15 years.) Lt. Watada is not one of them
...and with that, the soldiers, who have always followed good leaders
....will follow Lt. Watada.. Mike, Damon, Ethan and I, slept on the rig last night was night one of Camp RESISTANCE!!!There is a RESISTANCE!!! going on. Thousands of troops are refusing to deploy
....please let everyone know we are here
.....working from the wi fi hot spot, let them know they should stand here too. If not for a month as we will, than for a day or even an hour. We are at off ramp 119, gates of Fort Lewis.
We are meeting up at the gates of Fort lewis to support the Lt. Why? We have had enough
...we want the war to stop....we want the government to stop using the troops as pawns in their game. If you know of a veteran who is opposed to this war, please help them get here....if you are ok with the weather, please get here also.
I, personally, will always think it an honor and a privilege to have served the United States people
...I know Ehren does too. It is with that same pride and honor that I, personally, ask you to do something for this man
....who has, without question stood, with more integrity in his little pinky, than most of these Generals have in their entire skin. I am honored to know his family, they are a wonderful display of family values
...something we don't see a lot of.
To support him
.... ( ) you will find the news to follow the days up to the trial......

John Powell writes to the Capital Times to weigh in on the argument that Watada signed a contract and any responsibilities he had for war ended right there: "Perhaps Piek has never served in the military, but I remember the oath I took when I was inducted into the Army as a lowly buck private in 1968. The oath for soldiers is virtually the same as the oath taken by the president of the United States and every other official of every level of government in the country: an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. There is nothing in that oath about obeying orders. In fact, the Geneva Convention and the Uniform Code of Military Justice make it clear that a soldier's duty is to disobey illegal orders. Watada alleges that the Iraq war is unconstitutional and therefore illegal, and that he is duty-bound to refuse to serve in it. This should be the issue - not whether he refused to obey orders (clearly he did), but whether those orders were legal."
Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson (noted abovein the Camp Resistance post), Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Finally, on yesterday's
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein provided military families with the opportunity to weigh in on Bully Boy's announced intent to escalate. This included a couple with five children and grandchildren serving in the military who ask that people write Congress and say "no" to the escalation. In addition to utilizing either previous link for an archived broadcast, Rebecca wrote about the broadcast yesterday.

ehren watada

living room