Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Counter-insurgency and other topics

David H. Price is an anthropologist.  He's spoken out against counter-insurgency and written against it.  Counter-insurgency is war on  a native people.  In the wars of the last decade, social scientists misused their training and strategized with the military on how to defeat/neutralize native populations.  They used their field of study against civilians.
In what follows, Price is interviewing Marshall Sahlins who is an anthropologist who just resigned from the National Academy of Sciences   

In 2009 I was part of a conference at the University of Chicago critically examining renewed efforts by U.S. military and intelligence agencies to use anthropological data for counterinsurgency projects.  Sahlins’ paper at the conference argued that, “in Vietnam, the famous anti-insurgency strategy was search and destroy; here it is research and destroy.  One might think it good news that the military’s appropriation of anthropological theory is incoherent, simplistic and outmoded – not to mention tedious – even as its ethnographic protocols for learning the local society and culture amount to unworkable fantasies. ”
Yesterday, Sahlins sent me an email that had been circulated to NAS Section 51 (Anthropology) members, announcing two new “consensus projects” under sponsorship of the Army Research Institute.  The first project examined “The Context of Military Environments: Social and Organizational Factors,”  the second, “Measuring Human Capabilities: Performance Potential of Individuals and Collectives.”   Reading the announcement of these projects forwarded by Sahlins, it is apparent that the military wants the help of social scientists who can streamline military operations, using social science and social engineering to enable interchangeable units of people working on military projects to smoothly interface.  This seems to be increasingly becoming the role Americans see for anthropologists and other social scientists: that of military facilitator.
Below is the exchange, I had with Sahlins yesterday discussing his resignation, Chagnon’s election to the National Academy of Sciences, and the Academy’s links to military projects.
Price:  How has Chagnon so successfully turned numerous attacks on his ethically troubling research and scientifically questionable methods and findings into what is widely seen as an attack on science itself?
Sahlins: There has been no address of the issues on Chagnon’s part, notably of the criticism of his supposed empirical results, as in the 1988 Science article, and the numerous criticisms from Amazonian anthropologists of his shallow ethnography and villainously distorted portrayal of Yanomami.  These Cro-Chagnon scientists simply refuse to discuss the facts of the ethnographic case.  Instead they issue ad hominem attacks–before it was against the Marxists, now it is the ‘fuzzy-headed humanists.’ Meanwhile they try to make it an ideological anti-science persecution–again ironically as a diversion from discussing the empirical findings.  Meanwhile the serious harm, bodily and emotionally, inflicted on the Yanomami, plus the reckless instigation of war by his field methods, are completely ignored in the name of science. Research and destroy, as I called the method. A total moral copout.
Price: Most of the publicity surrounding your resignation from the National Academy of Sciences focuses either exclusively on Napoleon Chagnon’s election to the Association, or on the supposed “science wars” in anthropology, while little media attention has focused on your statements opposing the NAS’s increasing links to military projects.   What were the reactions within NAS Section 51 to the October 2012 call to members of the Academy to conduct research aimed at improving the military’s mission effectiveness?
Sahlins: The National Association of Science would not itself do the war research. It would rather enlist recruits from its sections–as in the section 51 memos–and probably thus participate in the vetting of reports before publication.  The National Research Council organizes the actual research, obviously in collaboration with the NAS. Here is another tentacle of the militarization of anthropology and other social sciences, of which the Human Terrain Systems is a familiar example. This one as insidious as it is perfidious.
Price: Was there any internal dialogue between members of NAS Section 51 when these calls for these new Army Research Institute funded projects were issued?
Sahlins: I was not privy to any correspondence, whether to the Section officers or between the fellows, if there was any–which I don’t know.

Counter-insurgency needs to be loudly condemned.  I fully support stripping people of professional accreditation if they use their academic training to trick or deceive native populations.  The social sciences are supposed to be scientific and professional.  They are not supposed to be used to harm people.

A number of e-mails came in, I type switching the topic, about yesterday's snapshot.  Specifically about this:

(Disclosure, as Elaine's detailed at her site, there was an attempt to recruit me for the CIA.  I was offended, this was back in college, and left the meet-up.  I had not been told this was about the CIA and really hadn't been told anything by the professor who arranged the lunch.  The professor, by the way, is still a big name today and sometimes I think I'll out him here before he dies and sometimes I think I'll just wait until he dies and all the left periodicals have enshrined him to write a piece here called "When ___ Helped Try To Recruit Me For The CIA?"  For now, his image is semi-safe.) 

First, I haven't disclosed the professor.  Second, I have written of this topic multiple times here.  Search for it if you want to read about it.

I'll write about it from a different tactic tonight.  I was talking to C.I. about what Sunny told me about the e-mails here and saying I would write about it if I felt I had something to add.  To add?  Something different.  Then we were talking and it hit me.

I was taking psych courses in college, of course, and always needing people to let me do various tests -- personality tests, behavioral tests, etc. -- on them.

I triggered the interest in C.I. (CIA interest) by giving a right-brain, left-brain test.

This has nothing to do with politics.  Some people are right-brain and tend to be more artistic and some people are left-brain and tend to be more methodical.  C.I. ended up something different, something rare.

My professor thought I had botched the test when I had results of right and left brain on C.I.  So he gave C.I. an in depth test -- that she only agreed to take because my professor was questioning the results of the one I did.  So for nearly two hours, she took that test and the results emerged that she was neither right nor left brained but switched from one to the other.

That happens.  To all of us.

We tend to be either right or left brained but that's not 100%.  A left-brained person, for example, will utilize the right-brain for say 15% of tasks.  But C.I. was right down the middle, accessing one and then the other repeatedly.

That is not the norm.  Most people are either right or left. (There are those, I should note, in the psych field who do not believe in the right and left-brain theories.)

When you combine that with C.I.'s analytical abilities which would pop up on another test and result in my professor asking C.I. to agree to another in depth test, it was only natural the CIA would show strong interest in her . . .

if the CIA was monitoring campuses.  They were then, I would guess that they are now.

C.I. didn't take psych classes.  My professor couldn't have set up a meet-up because C.I. would have blown him off.  But he worked with one of C.I.'s professors to set it up. 

So there's a heads up for you.

Speaking of professors, the last time I wrote about this topic, another old psych professor ended up weighing in.  C.I. was not in the top 7% on analytical, she scored, that year, in the top 3%.  I asked C.I. if that was true and she said she didn't remember.  Which most likely means it's true because she never forgets anything.  If it was false, she would say, "No, Elaine, ___'s remembering wrong." 

So consider that my correction.

Also, when you read the snapshot below, pay attention during the Tony Blair part.  She's refuting Tony and critiquing him.  If I do that -- you may be the same -- I need to sit and think about it.  C.I. doesn't.  The snapshots are dictated.  That's off the top of her head.  That's what you can do when you are gifted with tremendous analytical abilities.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, February 26, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, it must be spring with all the War Hawks fluttering through the air, Moqtada a-Sadr's supporters protest outside the Green Zone, War Criminal Tony Blair lies again, and more.

John Bolton is a form of War Hawk that's known as a Chicken Hawk.  He's called that because he preys upon the young, he feeds off the young.  He was all for sending young Americans to die in Iraq in 2003 and after but when he was young, and the war in Vietnam was going on, Bolton hid in college, law school and the National Guard to avoid serving in Vietnam -- and he infamously declared in 1995, "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy."  Chicken Hawk.  He preys on the young.

Today, he shows up at the Guardian with a column insisting that loss of US life was minimal and worth it for the Iraq War.  And not content with sounding as crazy as he looks, Bolton goes further 'taking on' five 'myths.'  Here's how this works.  Bolton finds a belief among the people -- such as that Bully Boy Bush lied the country into war -- and he states that belief and then says "WRONG!" and moves on.  He can't prove anything's wrong because he's a nit-wit who never learned how to debate, let alone back up an opinion.  He ends his soggy, weak-minded column insisting, "You heard it here first" but the reality is that you heard, or read, nothing there first because Bolton is incapable of defending his stand.  How did a weak, uniformed individual like John Bolton ever survive moot court?

The Iraq War is illegal.  It was illegal as a whole to begin with because just war theory allows you to defend yourself, it does not allow you to initiate a war of aggression.  Iraq did not attack the United States and, despite all the attempts by the Bush administration to falsely link Iraq with 9-11, there was no connection between Iraq and the people who plotted the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Iraq was not a threat to the United States.  The war was illegal and that's why United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared it illegal.  From the United Nations News Centre, September 16, 2004:

Responding to media questions about the Secretary-General's comments in a BBC interview, spokesman Fred Eckhard told a press briefing in New York that in his remarks the Secretary-General had reiterated his well-known position that the military action against Iraq was not in conformity with the UN Charter.
In the interview, Mr. Annan was repeatedly asked whether the war was "illegal." "Yes," he finally said, "I have indicated it is not in conformity with the UN Charter, from our point of view, and from the Charter point of view it was illegal."

Launching a war of aggression, initiating an attack on a country that has not attacked you but that you (at least publicly say) might at some point in the future, is not a legal war.  That was at the heart of Pope John Paul II's strong objection to the Iraq War.  Just war theory does not allow for wars of 'prevention' -- you're not allowed to declare war because a week from now or two or months or years a country might go to war with you.  Just war doesn't accept psychic visions as grounds for war. 

In addition to the illegality of the war itself by every historical and legal concept in existence, there is the fact that many individual War Crimes took place throughout the Iraq War -- whether the pompous John Bolton wants to admit to it or not.  Some of these realities are discussed on this week's Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox when Cindy spoke with Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi and with Dr. Dahlia Wasfi.  Wasfi and Caputi are with The Justice for Fallujah Project.  Excerpt.

Cindy Sheehan:  And you were in the Marines and your unit was involved in that second siege.

Ross Caputi:  Yeah, I was in the Marine Corps.  I was in the 1st Battalion 8th Marines.  It was a regular infantry unit and we were one of the five battalions who were part of the second siege of Falluja.  And what our command told us was that, you know, all the civilians had left the city, the only people who remained in the city were 2,000 hardcore terrorists.

Cindy Sheehan:  Mhh-hmm.

Ross Caputi:  You know, and I accepted that.  I didn't really know otherwise.  I hadn't been paying attention to the media at all.  I was completely uninformed about the context that set the stage for the second siege of Falluja.  So I kind of just accepted that and rolled along with it.  In being trucked into the city, you know, I remember seeing civilians wandering out in the desert -- women and children with sacks on their backs heading for safety.  You know, I kind of at that moment said, "Okay, you know that's what they meant when they said all the civilians left.  They fled for their life out into an inhospitable desert.  And there were moments during the siege where we were kicking in doors and going into people's houses.  And I'd see family photos up on the walls next to bullet marks and bomb blasts in the wall and stuff like that.  And we destroyed an entire city -- a city of 300,000 people.  We destroyed their homes. We bulldozed entire neighborhoods.  We bombed the city into rubble.  The entire city was destroyed after.  So it really -- It really drove the message home for me.  It was just incredible how many lives we ruined because of what we did.  And this was all in the name of "liberation."

 Cindy:  Right.

Ross Caputi:  Our command said that we were liberating the city of Falluja.  It was absolutely absurd.

Cindy Sheehan:   Dahlia, Ross and yourself met and you're married, you're partners, you're partners in the anti-war movement, you're partners in life When Ross was talking about his experience in Falluja, and he said that he hadn't really been paying attention to the media, well I was back in the states and I was paying attention to the media and I didn't really hear anything about civilians being left over in Falluja.  Of course, we all were hearing what Ross was being told and his fellow Marines were being told.  Do you have a comment on the media and the reports that were happening at the time of the second siege of Falluja?

Dahlia Wasfi:  What I remember was it was very comparable to the images that were coming out of shock and awe -- where we just watched the bombardment and the fireballs and pillars of smoke in the city of Baghdad.  I remember -- I remember there was an image on CNN of just basically -- I won't know the correct military term -- I don't know what was flying through the air -- I'll call it missiles but it was the lights of all these missiles that were -- that were aimed at the city of Falluja.  It lit up the sky.  That was the -- That was the mainstream, corporate media in America but I believe that by that time I was following the dispatches of Dahr Jamail.  And I had actually -- I was wanting to go to Iraq at that.  I had been to visit my family in February and March of 2004 and I was -- I was planning to go back as soon as I could because I had such limited time with my family in Basra so I was planning on going back to Iraq in November 2004 but I could only get as far as Jordan because the Marines had closed the main road between Amman, Jordan and Baghdad.  So I was actually sitting in Jordan in November 2004 reading Dahr Jamail's reports of what might be going on in the city because he was not -- he was in the city in the April 2004 siege but not in November.  And it was a very bizarre contrast between sitting in an internet cafe, people drinking coffee and tea and we had electricity and water and reading about just the decimation of a city that was really within miles of where I was so.  And you're absolutely right.  To this day, they'll recall Falluja as an epic battle when this is really --  to get the terminology means so much -- it was really a massacre that took place, that we were responsible for.  It was led by the United States and Great Britain.

Cindy Sheehan: Ross, I was reading at your website and I was reading your report on what happened in Falluja.  And you talk about seeing the White Phosphorus being used.  I think that was the first time I had ever heard of white phosphorus.  And we saw images of people who had unfortunately gotten in the way of that in Falluja.  So can you tell my listeners about this and about what you saw?

Ross Caputi: Yes, this was on the day before they inserted us into the city and they were kind of finishing the air campaign against the city and we were supposed to be trucked into the city on the tail end of that.  And it was an incredible amount of air power that they were dropping on the city.  Everything from like 500 pound bombs to 2,000 pound bombs.  I think I saw cluster bombs because I saw these bombs that kind of -- they looked like fireworks with lots of tiny little flashes and really rapid -- like one after the other.  And I saw the White Phosphorus which is like a giant, white fireball shot out of the sky that kind of drifts down on winds.  It's incredibly inaccurate.  It must have covered a radius like 50 meters and there's no way to aim it.  The wind can take it any which way.

Cindy Sheehan: Uh-huh.

Ross Caputi: And I didn't know this at the time but there were still up to 50,000 civilians living in the city and there were civilians taking refuge all around the outskirts.  So where ever it landed, there was a high probability that it could have -- it could have hurt civilians.  Any kind of indiscriminate means of warfare is a war crime and that's absolutely indiscriminate.

That's reality.  Sadly reality gets bracketed by spin today.  We had John Bolton already but another War Hawk spoke out today.  He had to because he's under assault and desperate to maintain whatever is left of his tawdry image.  Yes, we're referring to Tony Blair who was Prime Minister of England and was ridiculed as Bully Boy Bush's lapdog and poodle in 2003. That was ten years ago so some may have forgotten or never seen George Michael's "Shoot The Dog" -- which features an animated Bully Boy Bush tossing a ball and Tony Blair fetching it while George sings  "good puppy, good puppy, roll on over."

Cherie baby, spliff up
I want to kick back mama
And watch the World Cup with ya baby
Yeah, that's right!
We're getting freaky tonight
Let's have some fun while Tony's stateside
It's gonna be alright
It's gonna be alright
See Tony dancing with Dubya
Don't you want to know why?

-- "Shoot The Dog," written by George Michael, Philip Oakey and Ian Burden, first appears on George's Patience

The song was a hit, charting in over 13 countries.  MTV reported on the song in July 2002 when it was released:

"People are looking at the song in context of an attack on America, as opposed to an attack on Tony Blair," Michael said from his vacation home in France. "And really, my attack is that Tony Blair is not involving the British in this issue. He's perfectly happy staying up to watch the World Cup and enjoying the Jubilee, all things I'm perfectly guilty of, but there's a serious discussion about Iraq which hasn't taken place. We don't know what Saddam Hussein is capable of, the British public has no idea."

And that criticism of Blair is still apt criticism all these years later as Tony Blair demonstrated in his interview with BBC's Kirsty Wark for Newsnight broadcast today.  Excerpt.

Kirsty Wark: Is daily life in Iraq today what you hoped it would be ten years ago?

War Criminal Tony Blair:  No, because for some people, at least in Iraq, it's immensely difficult -- particularly if you're living in Baghdad and around the center of the country.  There are still terrorist activities that are killing people -- killing innocent people for no good reason.  But the country as a whole, obviously, it's economy is growing strongly, it's got huge amounts of oil revenue but, no, there are still big problems.

Kirsty Wark:  A conservative estimate, since 2003, 100,000 civilians have been killed, 179 British soldiers died.  Don't you think that was too high a price?

War Criminal Tony Blair:  Of course the price is very, very high!

Kirsty Wark:  Is it too high?

War Criminal Tony Blair:  But -- Well, think of the price that people paid before Saddam [Hussein] was removed.  Think of -- Think of the Iran-Iraq War in which there were a million casualties [which ended in 1988; 15 years before the US and UK invaded Iraq in 2003], hundreds of thousands of young conscript Iranians were killed, many of them by the use of chemical weapons [chemical weapons provided by the US government].  Chemical weapons attacks on his own people, the Kurds [again, 1988, over 15 years before the start of the Iraq War], people oppressed, deprived of their rights [like Bradley Manning in the US, a prisoner for 1003 days without trial and counting], tortured and killed on a daily basis [like the victims of Barack Obama's Drone War] --

Kirsty Wark: But there are sectarian killings now.

War Criminal Tony Blair:  Exactly.  So what is the answer?  That's what I'm saying to you.  The answer is not to say to people, I'm afraid we should have left Saddam in charge because otherwise these sectarians will come in and try and destabilize the country.  The answer is you get rid of the oppressive dictatorship and then you have a long hard struggle to push these sectarian elements out too.  Look, Iraq --

Kirsty Wark:  Wait -- But getting rid of the oppressive dictatorship was not why you went in.  You only went in for one single reason.

War Criminal Tony Blair:  Of course!  And-uh-umph-uh the reason that we regarded Saddam as a threat has been set out for many, many -- you know -- many, many reports many, many times and we've gone over this a huge amount -- but if you're asking me [. . .]

Really?  The liar thinks he'll get away with that?  He doesn't need to go over his lie that Saddam Hussein was a threat to England?  Because he's done so "many, many -- you know -- many, many" times before?  Well he's used the 1988 examples "many, many -- you know -- many, many" times before as well.  He's happy to trot that crap out yet again but he doesn't like being confronted with his lies.  And he trots that crap out again in the same interview where he insists, "I have long since given up trying to persuade people it was the right decision."

Kirsty Wark:  You wrote in your memoirs that you think of those who died in Iraq every day of your life.  What do you think about?

War Criminal Tony Blair:  Well, of course, you think about them and the loss of life and the -- and the terrible consequence for the families. But in the end, you're elected as a prime minister to take these decisions and the question is supposing I'd taken the opposite decision.  I mean sometimes what happens in politics and uh-uh-uh unfortunately these things get mixed up with allegations of deceit and lying and so on.  But, in the end, some times you come to a decision where whichever choice you take the consequence is difficult and the choice is ugly.  This was one such case.  If we hadn't removed Saddam from power, just think for example what would be happening with these Arab revolutions were continuing now and Saddam who's probably 20 times as bad as [President Bashir] Assad in Syria was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq.  Think of the consequence of leaving that regime in power.  So when you say, do you think of the loss of life and the trouble there's been since 2003, of course, I do and you'd have to be inhumane not to but think of what would happen if he'd been left there.

First, Nouri al-Maliki is currently oppressing the Iraqi Spring.  His forces shot and killed 11 peaceful protesters.  They have arrested many more on false charges.  The military is used to keep the press away from the protests.  The military is used to spy on the Iraqi people.

At the US State Dept today, the issue of the protests was raised to spokesperson Patrick Ventrell.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on Iraq.
QUESTION: Iraq is experiencing a lot of volatility. There were demonstrations all across the country. There are pamphlets in Baghdad for cleansing Baghdad of all Sunnis, and there are bellicose statements by the Prime Minister, who is your ally, actually against the United States and against certain groups in Iraq. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, the United States remains deeply committed, Said, to supporting the Government of Iraq’s efforts to bring greater stability and prosperity to its people. Our engagement in Iraq remains focused on supporting Iraq’s constitutional system and strengthening institutions. Obviously, we support the rights of those to protest and make their voices heard. We’re also working with them on their institutions. We do, Said, have some concerns about some rising sectarian tensions, and we condemn that. And we’ll continue to work with our Iraqi counterparts to help them as they continue to develop their institutions.
QUESTION: Well, there are certain groups who are collecting names and signatures and so on to have actually the constitution repealed and call for a new constitution. If that is the will of the public, will you support that?
MR. VENTRELL: I mean, look, our broader policy’s always been that we want the Iraqis to work things out through the political process. It’s not for us to determine what it is for them, to determine how their democracy’s going to function, how their constitution works. So we’ll provide support to them, broadly speaking, as they do that.

Tony Blair is a War Criminal and a liar.  He can't face the reality of Iraq today because he has blood on his hands.  Also because he's motivated by greed only which is why he makes the ridiculous argument about Iraq's growing business -- as if the Iraqi people are seeing one sliver of the monies the government sits on.

Second, he makes the decision, he makes the decision, he makes the decision -- Listen to the parrot repeating his phrase.  No, he's elected to serve the public and, in fact, George Michael's criticism of Blair in 2002 remains accurate today:

People are looking at the song in context of an attack on America, as opposed to an attack on Tony Blair.  And really, my attack is that Tony Blair is not involving the British in this issue. He's perfectly happy staying up to watch the World Cup and enjoying the Jubilee, all things I'm perfectly guilty of, but there's a serious discussion about Iraq which hasn't taken place. We don't know what Saddam Hussein is capable of, the British public has no idea.

Blair didn't get honest with the citizens.  Blair didn't respect their input.  He lied and tried to manipulate them.

Third, Wark specifically asked him what he thought about when he thought about those who died in Iraq?  He had no answer because he doesn't think about them.  He tosses off an idiotic one sentence piece of crap and turns the question back to himself.  Point being, all Tony Blair ever thinks about is himself.  Look at how he went on and on about himself and how tough it was.  Someone needs to tell the War Criminal to suck it the hell up.  He's alive, others are dead, climb down from the cross, Tones.

Iraq is a land of widows and orphans, that's the reality Tony Blair doesn't want to deal with.  So many deaths that the median age in Iraq is 21-years.  In Tony Blair's United Kingdom, by contrast, the median age is 40.2 years-old.  Nearly twice that of Iraq.

As Ramzy Baroud (Gulf News) notes in "Ten years on, Iraq continues to bleed:"

For America, it was a strategy merely aimed at lessening the pressure placed on its own and other allied soldiers as they faced stiff resistance the moment they stepped foot in Iraq. For the Iraqis, however, it was a petrifying nightmare that can neither be expressed by words or numbers. According to UN estimates cited by BBC, between May and June 2006 “an average of more than 100 civilians per day [were] killed in violence in Iraq”. The UN estimates also placed the death toll of civilians in 2006 at 34,000. That was the year the US strategy of divide-and-conquer proved most successful.
The fact remains that the US and Britain had jointly destroyed modern Iraq and no amount of remorse or apology — not that any was offered, to begin with — will alter this fact. Iraq’s former colonial masters and its new ones lacked any legal or moral ground for invading the sanctions-devastated country. They also lacked any sense of mercy as they destroyed a generation and set the stage for a future conflict that promises to be as bloody as the past.
When the last US combat brigade had reportedly left Iraq in December 2011, this was meant to be an end of an era. Historians know well that conflicts do not end with a presidential decree or troop deployment. Iraq merely entered a new phase of conflict and the US, Britain and others remain integral to that conflict.

Al Mada notes a CNN special on Iraq and describes a small child digging through a pile of waste in an attempt to collect anything that might bring a profit -- bottles, cans.  The child is 12-years-old and the provider for the family.  UNICEF estimates 23% of Iraqis live beneath the poverty line.  This as All Iraq News notes that the US Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement announcing that the US Agency of International Development (USAID) had spent a billion dollars on various projects in Iraq.  They're bragging about five years of 'economic development' but the Iraqi people don't see a damn thing.

Or maybe they do.  Maybe they visit the US Embassy in Baghdad's website and see the news that the White House is granting $155 million "in additional humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people."

USAID proclaims, "USAID investments in Iraq focus on: strengthening Iraqi provincial governance; increasing community and civil society participation; bolstering economic reforms to expand the private sector; strengthening rule of law and human rights; improving delivery of key services; preparing for the 2013 provincial elections; and continuing to assist with the return and resettlement of displaced persons."  They brag about $261.1. million they spent in 2011.  They have nothing to brag about.  $189.3 million went to "Democracy and Governance."

Iraq can't pass a budget.  It's so bad that Alsumaria reports supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr have launched a sit-in outside the Green Zone.  Why?  To get the budget passed.  This follows yesterday's announcement that the vote on the 2013 budget was again postponedMohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "In response to the demonstrations, security forces blocked all bridges between two main sections of Baghdad, and sealed entrances into the city proper, police officials said."  AFP notes, "It was not immediately clear if the additional security measures, which the ministry official said have caused heavy traffic jams across the city, were aimed at preventing people from joining the protests, or guarding them against attack."

Of the $261.1 million USAID brags of spending in Iraq in 2011, $71.8 million was for economic development.  Really?  Because many Iraqis don't feel the US grasps what is needed in Iraq.  Omar al-Shaher (Al-Monitor) reports today, "Civil activists in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province believe that the US-funded livelihood-skills training programs were either overly selective or riddled with corruption."

Alsumaria reports that the Iraqi military headquarters in Falluja was targeted with three rockets today at noon local time.  The National Iraqi News Agency quotes an Anbar police source who states the explosions were loud and that its not known if anyone was injured or killed.  In addition, All Iraq News reports that a Baghdad home invasion left 1 teacher and his son dead.  NINA quotes a Baghdad police source stating that the unknown assailants wore Iraqi military uniforms and forced the teacher and his son out of their home and shot them in the yard.  Alsumaria notes that a 31-year-old male was stabbed to death in Wasit Province (police suspect his older brother). NINA adds that 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul.  As the month winds down, Iraq Body Count counts 304 violent deaths in Iraq this month through yesterday.

The Drone War is a war many try to ignore.  Rev Anthony Evans of the National Black Church Initiative spoke this week with Glen Ford  on Black Agenda Radio (here for that broadcast) which airs on Progressive Radio Network each Monday from 11:00 am to noon EST.

Glen Ford:  [. . .] the National Black Church Initiative says President Obama needs to face public condemnation for his drone assassinations program.  Rev Anthony Evans is executive director of the Initiative which he calls a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches, comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans.  Rev Evans says Obama's drone policies are evil

Rev Anthony Evans: The Black Church is very clear -- and the Christian church in particular.  Anything -- any government or individual take into his hands the authority to take a life without justification, any justification, then the church has to speak to that.  And what we are saying is the President does not have the authority -- even as President of the United States -- to take anyone's life on a legal level.  So we reject capital punishment and we certainly reject the drone policy  when he said he had the right, as President of the United States, to take anybody's life  who he deemed as a terrorist.   He can deem anybody a terrorist.  So which means to say, it's evil and it's murder.  So I can't describe it any other way and it defies rationality. 

Glen Ford: And you invoke Jesus Christ, Mahtma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. who famously described the United States as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" -- that was more than 40 years ago.

Rev Anthony Evans: It just goes to show you that Martin was accurate and he was right about this.  We are prepared in this country to kill you if you do not conform.  We just demonstrated it to the world: If you bomb the United States, we will spend $1 trillion to get you back.  And that's exactly how much it took to get bin Laden. So, I mean, if that   is the case, then we're not better than the local thug who is just killing and do not have any respect for life.  So our country has taken on a policy that violates all of our Biblical teachings, our philosophical teachings, the teachings of even the UN.  And Martin and Jesus said that violence can only beget violence.  So we can never expect justice and righteousness in this country because we have a policy that we will kill you if we disagree with you.


Glen Ford:  The National Black Church Initiative draws upon organizations, churches that comprise about 16 million Black people.  You asked the question "Where are you,  Al Sharpton, Rev Jesse Jacskon, [NAACP president] Ben Jealous?"  Well these are folks who claim to be Black leadership.

Rev Anthony Edwards:  Well they are no leader at all and we're beginning, every day, to see that. They have replaced their loyalty for God and serving African-American people to serving President Obama.  Somehow President Obama has rose to mystical -- and I hate to say -- to some divine level in their eyes that he can do no wrong, he can say no wrong, he can do no wrong and everything against him is racism.  It's not true.  It's that the policy in and of itself is evil.  How can the church support him killing?  We don't support anybody killing -- no less the President of the United States.  So the whole question is we have no leadership.  We haven't heard from Jesse on this issue.  We certainly will never hear from Al Sharpton because Al Sharpton is Obama's tight brother.  Al decides who gets to the White House and who does not.  He's the gatekeeper these days.  And so as long as he's never going to say anything wrong  about this president --  largely because of the fact  that Al has had a problem with every major president there ever was other than Obama.  That makes Al a hypocrite.  So there's the NAACP.  Well you can buy the NAACP these days. 

Three Congressional things.  First, we attended a hearing today I'll try to cover tomorrow.  I didn't know Tony Blair was going to weigh in on Iraq.  Second, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee notes two joint-hearings next month:

There will be a joint hearing between the United States House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs on the following dates:
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 10:00 a.m. SD-G50
Joint Hearing on the legislative presentation of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 10:00 a.m. 345 Cannon HOB (House Side)
Joint Hearing on the legislative presentations of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, Fleet Reserve Association, Gold Star Wives, Air Force Sergeants Association, and AMVETS
Jeff Johnson
Deputy Clerk/Systems Administrator
U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
412 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510 | 202.224.6478

Third, Senator Patty Murray is now the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  She's introduced a timely bill to address what's become a too frequent reality for children in the US:

February 26, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834

Murray Introduces Children's Recovery from Trauma Act

In wake of recent tragedies, bill provides support for children and families affected by trauma

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Children’s Recovery from Trauma Act to provide increased support for children and families affected by trauma and all those involved with their care. This bill includes a reauthorization and updates to the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI), which works with children and families who are exposed to a wide range of traumatic experiences including physical and sexual abuse; domestic, school, and community violence; natural disasters, terrorism, or military family challenges; severe bereavement and loss; and life-threatening injury and illness.
“As we have unfortunately witnessed too often in recent years, trauma involving children can happen at any time and in all parts of our country. The Children’s Trauma Recovery Act ensures our child trauma centers have the proper tools available to not only serve their day-to-day needs in treating child trauma, but also maintain absolute preparedness in the event of a national tragedy,” said Senator Murray. “By increasing support and raising the bar for the standard of care in our nation’s child trauma systems, we can all work to ease the burden on our children and their families as they face very difficult times.”
"APA commends Senator Murray on the introduction of the Children's Trauma Recovery Act to reauthorize SAMHSA's National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative," said Norman B. Anderson, PhD., American Psychological Association CEO. "This critical initiative has significantly raised the standard of care for our nation's children and families who have experienced traumatic stress. APA urges Congress to promptly enact this important legislation."
NCTSI currently supports a national network of child trauma centers in forty-four states, including seventy-nine university, hospital, and community-based funded centers and ninety affiliate members. In addition to supporting everyday child trauma work, this network also mobilizes in response to national crises such as the shooting in Newtown, CT and Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina.
Specifically, the Children’s Recovery from Trauma Act authorizes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to:
· Support a national collaborative network of child trauma centers, including: grants for university and hospital child trauma centers which are involved with intervention development and dissemination of evidence-based practices; grants for diverse community-based organizations which are involved with providing services to children and families affected by trauma; and a grant for the NCTSI coordinating center to organize the collaboration, training, and dissemination activities of all funded and Affiliate NCTSI members to maintain the NCTSI network and outreach infrastructure;
· Include representatives of consumers and families on the NCTSI Advisory Board and as participants at all levels of NCTSI collaborative activities;
· Support the analysis and reporting of the child outcome and other data collected by the NCTSI coordinating center to establish the effectiveness, implementation, and clinical utility of evidence-based treatment and services;
· Support the continuum of interprofessional training initiatives in evidence-based and trauma-informed treatments, interventions, and practices offered to providers in all child-serving systems;
· Support the collaboration of NCTSI, HHS, and other federal agencies in the dissemination of NCTSI evidence-based and trauma-informed interventions, treatments, products, and other resources to all child-serving systems and policymakers.
In addition to APA, the following groups have endorsed the Children's Trauma Recovery Act of 2013: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychological Association, Futures Without Violence, National Children's Alliance, National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, Prevent Child Abuse America, Mental Health America and uFOSTERsuccess.
The reauthorization would increase the authorization from $50 million to $100 million annually through FY24.

Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
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