Monday, December 29, 2008
"an honor roll of would-be conquerors from Alexander the Great in the third century BCE to the British in the nineteenth century defeat the hardy, fiercely independent Afghan tribesmen."
"...Soviet troops peaking at over 100,000 in 1987, with the advantage of supply lines from the immediately neighboring USSR, and including numerous ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks who could speak local languages and had some understanding of local culture, could not repress the rag-tag CIA-supplied guerrillas and secure control of the country."
"...Louis Dupree, the premier historian of Afghanistan, attributed the 'British disaster' of 1878-81 to four 'mistakes': the occupation of Afghan territory by foreign troops, the placing of an unpopular ruler in power, harsh acts committed against local enemies, and paltry subsidies paid to local allies. 'The United States would be wise to consider them today,' he concluded."
"...Does Obama, often described as lacking knowledge of foreign affairs, and praised (by all the wrong people) for reaching out to (all the wrong) "experienced" foreign policy wonks, really believe that he can succeed in Afghanistan where so many others have failed?"
"...the blood and treasure spilt in Afghanistan was a key factor in the collapse of the once-mighty Soviet Union. As Obama orders his troops into that graveyard, how will the (US)empire, reeling from crises unprecedented in many decades, respond? As the candidate of change and hope becomes the commander in chief of an escalating expanding war, how will his antiwar supporters rethink their politics?"
My question to the American people is do you want this? We certainly enjoy the benefits of imperialism, and need to reflect on what those benefits are for us and what the costs are for the rest of the world. But I don't think our government has ever asked the public (outside the CEOs of major corporations who benefit the most) if this is what we actually want our Nation to be doing. It has become a hard choice after 100 years or so of the benefits piling up, but is it really worth it when we look at the moral disabilities versus the material benefits?
Monday, December 22, 2008
"On my last trip to Iraq this year, the population was holding its breath, waiting to see if the internecine strife had finished or simply stalled while all sides rearm."
"There is a grave danger that the elections could be undermined, either by increased violence or by widespread electoral fraud. At present, the United Nations is set to play a minor role in the elections. By December, the US, already redeployed to remote bases, will also have little ability to oversee the vote. However, Obama could use the Iraqi national elections as a vehicle for greatly increasing the international community's involvement in Iraq.
An appeal by him at the UN for assistance would be hard to reject. This could act as the trigger for much greater international participation in the country, reducing the potential for Iraq to descend into civil war and help the United States to withdraw without leaving a political vacuum in Baghdad. The alternative was on display in Baghdad last week, the unrealistic and deeply opportunistic optimism of Bush and Brown. That approach offers little help to Iraq beyond wishful thinking."
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
" War as spectacle easily combines with the culture of fear to divert public attention away from domestic social problems, define patriotism as consensus, enable the emergence of a deeply antidemocratic state and promote what Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald has called the "war on the constitution." The political implications of the expanded and inverted use of war as a metaphor can also be seen in the war against "big government," which is really a war against the welfare state and the social contract itself - this is a war against the notion that everyone should have access to decent education, health care, employment, and other public services. One of the most serious issues to be addressed in the debate about Bush's concept of permanent war is the effect it is having on one of our most vulnerable populations, children, and the political opportunity this issue holds for articulating a language of both opposition and possibility."
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 14:05:22 PM EST
(NION = Not In Our Name)
"They may not have meant to do it, but the Senate Armed Services' Committee released a report by Senators Carl Levin and John McCain that gives us the best timeline to date on administration decisions to begin torturing detainees. The report, an Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody, also describes the means by which both the Pentagon and the CIA approached agencies within government, leading to the very top of the Bush Administration, and how the latter rushed in a series of presidential orders, and memos by the Office of Legal Counsel, to redefine torture law in order to provide legal cover for their blatant violation of the laws of war and those against torture."
Here's the key paragraphs in the narrative of the report, at least when it comes to the most vulnerable part of their defense against prosecution. Keep in mind that Levin/McCain begin their narrative with the "Presidential Order [that] Opens the Door to Considering Aggressive Techniques."
On February 7, 2002, President Bush signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention did not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda and concluding that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or the legal protections afforded by the Third Geneva Convention. The President's order closed off application of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees.
So, now they think they are covered against violations of the Geneva Convention. But they didn't think, or they forgot that they were seeking to break, or already breaking the Geneva Convention, and a host of other treaties and laws, at least as early as December 2001.
Again, from the report (emphasis added):
In December 2001, more than a month before the President signed his memorandum, the Department of Defense (DoD) General Counsel's Office had already solicited information on detainee "exploitation" from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), an agency whose expertise was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions.
JPRA runs the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, or SERE program, under which military personnel considered at risk of capture are "tortured" under controlled circumstances, with the aim of inoculating them against confessing or revealing secrets under pressure. The SERE program specialized in exposing its recruits to waterboarding, nudity, stress positions, degrading behavior, and sensory overload and sensory deprivation. It was slam everything but the kitchen sink against a person to make them break. During training there are doctors and psychologists around to keep these things from getting out of control. But some of these doctors or psychologists evidently thought they could use their knowledge of the program to "reverse-engineer" it and provide interrogation expertise to the military when asked.
And they were asked first in December 2001:
Given JPRA's role and expertise, the request from the DoD General Counsel's office was unusual. In fact, the Committee is not aware of any similar request prior to December 2001. But while it may have been the first, that was not the last time that a senior government official contacted JPRA for advice on using SERE methods offensively. In fact, the call from the DoD General Counsel's office marked just the beginning of JPRA's support of U.S. government interrogation efforts.
The subsequent contact between JPRA, SERE, SERE psychologists, the CIA, and Guantanamo personnel make up the bulk of the rest of the report, and is definitely worth pursuing, and very important in its own right. (In fact, I've written much on this previously during the Senate Committee hearings.) But right now I'm concentrating on the critical first approach.
After discussing the December 2001 contact between the Department of Defense and JPRA, the narrative jumps ahead to Spring 2002. The reason for the jump will soon be clear (emphasis added):
Beginning in the spring of 2002 and extending for the next two years, JPRA supported U.S. government efforts to interrogate detainees. During that same period, senior government officials solicited JPRA's knowledge and its direct support for interrogations. While much of the information relating to JPRA's offensive activities and the influence of SERE techniques on interrogation policies remains classified, unclassified information provides a window into the extent of those activities.
(U) JPRA's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Baumgartner testified that in late 2001 or early 2002, JPRA conducted briefings of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel on detainee resistance, techniques, and information on detainee exploitation.
(U) On April 16, 2002, Dr. Bruce Jessen, the senior SERE psychologist at JPRA, circulated a draft exploitation plan to JPRA Commander Colonel Randy Moulton and other senior officials at the agency. The contents of that plan remain classified but Dr. Jessen's initiative is indicative of the interest of JPRA's senior leadership in expanding the agency's role.
We can quite clearly see the use of classification as a cover-up of culpability and probable war crimes. This is doubly true for the classification of any materials between December 2001 and February 7, 2002, the date of Bush's presidential order suspending Geneva rights, because ALL abuse and torture before that date has no cover that even the worst right-wing and pro-military wingnut could find a fig-leaf of bogus legal cover. And that's important because we don't want to win a formal argument about how international law covers Bush, Rumsfeld, et al.'s crimes, we want prosecutions, here, now, in this country.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
"There is no doubt in my mind that General Shinseki spent that time with me because I was a friend of a veteran he knew and loved. It was a favor to Rudy. Otherwise, he would have continued his practice of avoiding the media.
Rick Shinseki showed that love he had for the men and women he led when he stood up to Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and told Congress that more troops would be needed to secure Iraq than to overthrow Saddam. He spoke truth to political power at a time when others at the Pentagon sought to curry favor. He went into retirement rather than abdicate his responsibility to those he led. And Rummy didn't even attend his Hail and Farewell.
Eric Shinseki fought and bled for his country. He lost part of his foot, and was healed in an Army Hospital, and went on to serve his country at West Point and at the Pentagon. He is an authentic American hero, and is beloved by those who know him."
Saturday, December 6, 2008
"...as several analysts have pointed out, the presence of Western forces in Afghanistan, along with the
karzai government's rampant corruption and inefficiency, are what now drives Taliban militancy in Afghanistan. Western forces have become more a part of the problem than a solution. Saunders concludes:
Al-Qaeda is gone, and not likely to return. To the extent that it is still around, it's because we're attracting it.
If both those statements are true, then no matter how ugly it looks, the war's over."
Thursday, December 4, 2008
These wars are criminal wars of aggression. They have left hundreds of thousands of people, who never took up arms against us, dead and seen millions driven from their homes. We have no right as a nation to debate the terms of these occupations. And an Afghan villager, burying members of his family’s wedding party after an American airstrike, understands in a way we often do not that terrorist attacks can also be unleashed from the arsenals of an imperial power.
Barack Obama’s decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and leave behind tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines in Iraq—he promises only to withdraw combat brigades—is a failure to rescue us from the status of a rogue nation. It codifies Bush’s “war on terror.” And the continuation of these wars will corrupt and degrade our nation just as the long and brutal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has corrupted and degraded Israel. George W. Bush has handed Barack Obama a poisoned apple. Obama has bitten it.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Remember, this agreement is what Bush is leaving for Obama to deal with:
A landmark agreement: What it means
* The Status of Forces Agreement between Iraq and the US is a plan for the US withdrawal and the rules under which US forces would operate until final withdrawal in three years' time.
* The agreement is very specific about the dates for the US pullout. It says that all US combat forces are to pull out from cities, towns and villages "on a date no later than 30 June 2009". Most important of all it says that "all US forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, water and airspace no later than 31 December 2011".
* The US side wanted to make the withdrawal timeline conditional on the development of Iraqi security forces, but the final agreement drops this.
* It will be impossible for US forces to arrest an Iraqi "unless it is in accordance with an Iraqi decision". US forces will not be able to search premises without "an Iraqi judicial order".
* Some senior Iraqi politicians say Iraqi forces may carry out searches and arrests with a sectarian agenda. Sunni in Baghdad are afraid of being arrested by chiefly Shia Interior Ministry troops and look to US forces to protect them.
* In a reversal of attitudes in the first four years after the occupation it is the Sunni Arabs who now frequently want US troops to stay and the Shia, formerly allied to the US, who want them to go. Fear of a return to Sunni-Shia sectarian warfare which led to mass slaughter in 2006-07 is slow to dissipate.
* US contractors lose their legal immunity. It is possible that Iraq might bring retroactive charges against contractors who killed Iraqis in past incidents. Despite wrangles about the immunity of US troops during the negotiations, it is unlikely they will be prosecuted. Other important concerns include the protection of Iraqi assets abroad, notably state funds in the Federal Bank of New York, from legal action.
Friday, November 28, 2008
What do you receive form our government after four years or incarceration and toture in Guantanamo?
Here it is:
"“An Administrative Review Board has reviewed the information about you that was talked about at the meeting on 02 December 2005 and the deciding official in the United States has made a decision about what will happen to you. You will be sent to the country of Afghanistan. Your departure will occur as soon as possible.”
That’s it, the one and only record on paper of protracted U.S. incarceration: three sentences for four years of a young Afghan’s life, written in language Orwell would have recognized.
We have “the deciding official,” not an officer, general or judge. We have “the information about you,” not allegations, or accusations, let alone charges. We have “a decision about what will happen to you,” not a judgment, ruling or verdict. This is the lexicon of totalitarianism. It is acutely embarrassing to the United States.
That is why I am thankful above all that the next U.S. commander in chief is a constitutional lawyer. Nothing has been more damaging to the United States than the violation of the legal principals"
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
British journalist Tim Hetherington was on the frontline with soldiers when they came under attack by the Taleban. The attack resulted in the death of three soldiers."
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The present film takes, to say the least, a different view of popular movements of the left. Morales is not mentioned in the film, but his movement was in the headlines while "Casino Royale" was being shot, as he challenged the old "white" elite and was denounced by the US ambassador as an "Andean Bin Laden" and his peasant followers (many of them of largely native stock) as "Taliban." Morales's nationalization of Bolivia's petroleum and natural gas and his redistribution of wealth from the wealthy elite to villagers were among the policies drawing the ire of George W. Bush and his cronies.
If Morales is not mentioned, Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti is. The villain, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) remarks that while Aristide was president 2001-2004, he raised the minimum wage from 25 cents an hour to a dollar an hour. It was, he said, little enough, but caused the corporations that benefited from cheap Haitian labor to mobilize to have Aristide removed. (Aristide himself maintained that US and Canadian intelligence connived with officers at the coup against him and kidnapped him, taking him to southern Africa.) The Left analysis of American imperialism in the Western hemisphere is put in the mouth, not of a worker or ideologue, but rather of the collaborator in capitalist exploitation of America's poor neighbors. Aristide's story is a clear parallelism for the fate the CIA and Quantum are depicted as plotting for Morales.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (November 11, 2008) - Face Of The Day: "British World War One veteran Henry Allingham, 112, (L) reacts after placing a wreath, during an Armistice Day commemmoration ceremony in Whitehall in London on November 11, 2008. Europe on Tuesday marked the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I, with the handful of surviving veterans at the vanguard of commemmorations for the fallen of the 'War to End All Wars'. By Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty."
We had 10 veterans picketing against the war today in Gainesville. They included a mix of Iraq War vets, Vietnam Vets and their supporters. We had a marine on every corner!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
In response to the announced deployment, I wrote about the long-standing legal prohibitions against the use of the U.S. military for law enforcement purposes inside the U.S., and asked: 'Why is a U.S. Army brigade being assigned to the 'Homeland?'"
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Last Wednesday, while presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain debated domestic policy issues in front of a live television audience at the Long Island campus of Hofstra University, Nassau county police faced off with a few hundred spirited but peaceful demonstrators. And using excessive force, police -- on horses and in full riot gear -- trampled several people including Iraq vet Nick Morgan. I-Witness Video member Emily Forman captured the ensuing bedlam, police violence, and injuries on tape.
Earlier that night, a group of protesters from Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) had, in accordance with a pre-announced plan, assembled on the streets outside the Hofstra University venue where the debate was being held. IVAW had informed the police in advance that several of their members would be participating in a symbolic, non-violent, civil-disobedience action: attempting to deliver two questions for the candidates. The group has engaged in similar actions before, at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Last week, at the presidential debate, the veterans hoped to ask Barack Obama if he would support soldiers who do not want to be deployed to an illegally occupied Iraq, and to ask McCain why he has voted against funding for the Veterans Administration since the beginning of the war in Iraq.
But the veterans' efforts to stage a peaceful protest last week were countered by violent police actions. After a small group of veterans was calmly taken into custody in a choreographed arrest, the police became very aggressive. The police commander on the scene ordered the horses and lines of riot police to push the crowd from the street onto the sidewalk. Mounted police officers charged into the assembled vets and other protesters, pushing the frightened people backwards and up onto the sidewalk. Riot police then forced some demonstrators to the ground, where police horses rode over them.
Former Army Reserve Sergeant Nick Morgan was caught under the hooves of a horse ridden by Nassau County police officer Quagliano. The horse stepped on Morgan's face, breaking his lower orbital (cheekbone) in three places. Bleeding heavily from his face, Morgan drifted in and out of consciousness until another police officer appeared and dragged him away from the scene. After a delay in which Nassau County police refused to take Morgan to the hospital, he was finally taken to Nassau County Medical Center, handcuffed to a gurney, given Motrin and a prescription for antibiotics, and sent on to jail.
Besides Morgan, several others were injured in the crush of horses and police, including Nadine Lubka, whose nose was broken. Fifteen people in total were arrested; they all received disorderly conduct charges.
Except for a brief Associated Press story and some video and photos uploaded to CNN's iReport website by citizen journalists, there has been almost no corporate media coverage of this story.
Friday, October 24, 2008
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 24, 2008) - Face Of The Day
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The US needs to spend more on the military! I mean it's spending half the world's military budget and in return has a military which can't even win against rabble whose entire budget isn't even a rounding error of the US military*. So imagine if the US spent only 25% of the world's military budget, the horrible danger it would be in. Those dangerous Canadians and Mexicans would invade immediately.. It's called the Department of Defense because the US is surrounded by enemies ready and able to invade the US.
In fact, since the US is losing in Afghanistan, I suggest the US add another 92K troops. It's really the best use of America's money. Expand the US military, because the one you've got now can't do the job with only half the world's military budget"
Saturday, October 18, 2008
This adds a little context to our present day difficulties. Paralleles include the non interventionist freemarket approach which actually aids the rich with its tax structure. Unions and social services are gutted. Wealth becomes more and more concentrated with the top 1 percent.
Differences: A greater middle class presence, more immediate government intervention (or is it just another Bush Co raid on our treasury).
You also get a perspective on the opposition to Roosevelt's policies which might recur in an Obama administration, included lawsuits and an attempt by bankers at armed rebellion which was foiled by our own Smedley Butler.
* During World War I, federal spending grows three times larger than tax collections. When the government cuts back spending to balance the budget in 1920, a severe recession results. However, the war economy invested heavily in the manufacturing sector, and the next decade will see an explosion of productivity... although only for certain sectors of the economy.
* An average of 600 banks fail each year.
* Organized labor declines throughout the decade. The United Mine Workers Union will see its membership fall from 500,000 in 1920 to 75,000 in 1928. The American Federation of Labor would fall from 5.1 million in 1920 to 3.4 million in 1929.
* Over the decade, about 1,200 mergers will swallow up more than 6,000 previously independent companies; by 1929, only 200 corporations will control over half of all American industry.
* By the end of the decade, the bottom 80 percent of all income-earners will be removed from the tax rolls completely. Taxes on the rich will fall throughout the decade.
* By 1929, the richest 1 percent will own 40 percent of the nation's wealth. The bottom 93 percent will have experienced a 4 percent drop in real disposable per-capita income between 1923 and 1929."
* The conservative Supreme Court strikes down federal child labor legislation.
* President Warren Harding dies in office. Calvin Coolidge, becomes president. Coolidge is no less committed to laissez-faire and a non-interventionist government.
* Supreme Court nullifies minimum wage for women in District of Columbia.
* The stock market begins its spectacular rise. Bears little relation to the rest of the economy.
* The top tax rate is lowered to 25 percent - the lowest top rate in the eight decades since World War I.
* Between May 1928 and September 1929, the average prices of stocks will rise 40 percent. The boom is largely artificial.
* Herbert Hoover becomes President.
* Annual per-capita income is $750. More than half of all Americans are living below a minimum subsistence level.
* Backlog of business inventories grows three times larger than the year before.
* Recession begins in August, two months before the stock market crash. During this two month period, production will decline at an annual rate of 20 percent, wholesale prices at 7.5 percent, and personal income at 5 percent.
* Stock market crash begins October 24. Investors call October 29 Black Tuesday. Losses for the month will total $16 billion, an astronomical sum in those days.
* By February, the Federal Reserve has cut the prime interest rate from 6 to 4 percent. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon announces that the Fed will stand by as the market works itself out: 'Liquidate labor, liquidate real estate... values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wreck from less-competent people'.
* No major legislation is passed addressing the Depression.
* The GNP falls another 8.5 percent; unemployment rises to 15.9 percent.
* This and the next year are the worst years of the Great Depression. For 1932, GNP falls a record 13.4 percent; unemployment rises to 23.6 percent.
* Industrial stocks have lost 80 percent of their value since 1930.
* 10,000 banks have failed since 1929, or 40 percent of the 1929 total.
* GNP has also fallen 31 percent since 1929.
* Over 13 million Americans have lost their jobs since 1929.
* International trade has fallen by two-thirds since 1929.
Congress passes the Federal Home Loan Bank Act and the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932.
* Top tax rate is raised from 25 to 63 percent.
* Popular opinion considers Hoover's measures too little too late. Franklin Roosevelt easily defeats Hoover in the fall election. Democrats win control of Congress
* Roosevelt inaugurated; begins 'First 100 Days'; of intensive legislative activity.
* A third banking panic occurs in March. Roosevelt declares a Bank Holiday; closes financial institutions to stop a run on banks.
* Alarmed by Roosevelt's plan to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, a group of millionaire businessmen, led by the Du Pont and J.P. Morgan empires, plans to overthrow Roosevelt with a military coup and install a fascist government modelled after Mussolini's regime in Italy. The businessmen try to recruit General Smedley Butler, promising him an army of 500,000, unlimited financial backing and generous media spin control. The plot is foiled when Butler reports it to Congress.
* Congress authorizes creation of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the National Recovery Administration, the Public Works Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
* Congress passes the Emergency Banking Bill, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, the Farm Credit Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Truth-in-Securities Act.
* Roosevelt does much to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, but is concerned with a balanced budget. He later rejects Keynes' advice to begin heavy deficit spending.
* The free fall of the GNP is significantly slowed; it dips only 2.1 percent this year. Unemployment rises slightly, to 24.9 percent.
* Congress authorizes creation of the Federal Communications Commission, the National Mediation Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
* The economy turns around: GNP rises 7.7 percent, and unemployment falls to 21.7 percent. A long road to recovery begins.
* Sweden becomes the first nation to recover fully from the Great Depression. It has followed a policy of Keynesian deficit spending.
* The Supreme Court declares the National Recovery Administration to be unconstitutional.
* Congress authorizes creation of the Works Progress Administration, the National Labor Relations Board and the Rural Electrification Administration.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Retired U.S. Ambassador Charles Dunbar, speaking recently at Kent State University about the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, observed that "bombing civilians saves (our) soldiers' lives."
Just so: Bombing is cheaper than boots on the ground. Fairly small, safe crews can quickly dispatch numbers that it could take hundreds of ground troops days and casualties to kill.
Indeed, the Global War On Terror (GWOT) itself has been cheaper than diplomacy and treating our neighbors fairly and humanely. It's cheaper in terms of money, not least because the rich, smart and powerful can profit by financing and selling high-tech ordnance and equipment (not only to the United States and friends, but to enemies) The rich and powerful make money by brokering oil, services and mercenaries, and by selling consumer goods with infotainment of war, bombings mayhem, and torture.
The costs of the GWOT and most wars are borne by the poor, ignorant and powerless -- by poor people living in "enemy" territory who pay with their lives, by non-rich Americans, whose children serve in the Armed Forces and who pay with inadequate medical care, underfunded education, crumbling infrastructure and deregulation and privatization of basic community services.
The costs of this war are borne heavily by poor people and ecosystems in South America, Africa and Asia. Residents of our Gulf Coast have suffered "collateral damage" from storms of a planet overheating dangerously for the profit of international corporations.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Al-Maliki, who wants a timetable for US withdrawal by the end of 2010, ended the interview with a clever appeal over Bush's head to the American public:
' "If I had enough funds to assist the American economy, I would do all that I can. But unfortunately Iraq cannot solve America's economic problems.
"But what Iraq can do is take up more responsibility security-wise here inside Iraq. And I have told the Americans repeatedly that we are ready to take up responsibility here in Iraq so there are less losses, a decreased number of American lives lost, and I am prepared to present this case before the American people. ...'
Maybe al-Maliki has been reading John Gray, who writes, "The global financial crisis will see the US falter in the same way the Soviet Union did when the Berlin Wall came down. The era of American dominance is over . . ."
Al-Maliki is reminding an economically prostrate America that it cannot afford to buck him on the troop withdrawal timetable. Literally cannot afford! As in, best you go home now and let us take care of security, and save what little money you have left.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Let's start with the money the Bush administration has already thrown at the war in Iraq. According to the June congressional testimony of William Beach, director of the Center for Data Analysis, the war has cost $646 billion so far. The new defense budget for 2009 tacks on another $68.6 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming year. However, military expert Bill Hartung of the New America Foundation puts a conservative estimate of the costs of a single week of the Iraq War at approximately $3.5 billion (or about $180 billion a year).
In other words, the war in Iraq will cost far more in the next year than the Iraq portion of that $68.6 billion Congress is about to pony up in the defense budget, and so will be funded, as has long been true, through supplemental war bills submitted by the Bush administration (and then whatever administration follows). In other words, sometime in 2009 the direct costs of the war the Bush administration once predicted would cost perhaps $50-60 billion in total will stand at more than $800 billion, or $100 billion above the cost (if all goes well, which it won't) of the bailout of the financial system now being proposed in Washington.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
"by Mr. Fish
September 10, 2008 11:52 PM"
I discovered Mr Fish's cartoons in a mix of political cartoons this week and they just kept jumping out at me as being very powerful images and messages. Some of them are profane and political but many are like this image: a powerful message that resonates with the peace community.
Friday, September 19, 2008
one of the men arrested for breaking into the Democrats’ offices was James McCord, head of security for Nixon’s reelection committee. McCord testified to a Congressional committee and at his trial that he had received reports that Democratic staffers were plotting with violent radical groups, specifically VVAW. McCord cited the indictment of the Gainesville 8 as proof. “VVAW was thus the government’s alibi” for sending a midnight crew of CIA operatives to plant telephone bugs in the Democrats’ campaign offices, according to "Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans’ Movement."
“These veterans were a unique group. Never in United States history had US combat veterans, most of them volunteers, massed together in opposition to the war in which they had fought as the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) were doing …"
“As our evidence will show VVAW, being among the most vocal and effective critics of the Nixon administration’s continuing escalation of the Indo-China war, was targeted for heavy infiltration throughout the country. Our evidence will show, this infiltration was not for the purpose of gathering information, but rather an elaborate attempt to provoke us into some acts of violence or crime, in order to discredit our non-violent activities,” Patterson, a former Army helicopter door gunner in Vietnam, said during the Gainesville 8 trial. The jury, which unanimously voted for acquittal on all counts, was clearly more impressed by the vets than by the prosecutors’ case. "
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Rachel is my favorite commentator. Make sure you listen to her "support the troops" story at the end.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
You can watch the war crimes trials against the Bush administration officials on line from this site.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
As part of my research for a new book on World War Two, I’ve been learning a lot about the travels of the two leaders of the Western Alliance, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
Cramped into a wheelchair by his polio, Roosevelt was understandably the less mobile of the pair, but he did — under immense discomfort and stress — make three incredibly important journeys abroad as the war against the Axis was intensifying, both to negotiate with Britain and Russia as well as to consult with commanders like Eisenhower.Between January 9 and 30, 1943, he travelled to join Churchill and the Combined Chiefs at the vital strategic conference at Casablanca; between November 13 and December 11, 1943, he made the even more difficult journey to Cairo and Teheran, where he and Churchill were joined by Stalin; and between January 22 and February 27, 1945, he travelled to the Yalta Conference, where, his exhausted condition showing plainly in photographs, he played a critical role.
A photographic essay of his war years would tell it all: Churchill amidst the smoldering ruins of London houses in the 1940 “Blitz”, Churchill with Montgomery and his troops in Egypt, Churchill in Sicily, Churchill with Eisenhower on the Normandy beaches.It was often difficult to keep him away from the front-lines. One remarkable photograph of July 1944 shows him standing, cigar in mouth, at a British Army observation post, watching shells burst on German positions along the road below in the midst of the Normandy fighting.
To most members of the present Bush administration — and to American neoconservatives more broadly — Churchill himself is an icon, the historic embodiment of what they in their turn have been pursuing in their own global war.
It is, therefore, instructive — and to me, rather disturbing — to list the number and the duration of the visits that President Bush has paid to the actual theatres of war since our invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq, beginning in 2001, nearly seven years ago (remember, Churchill was prime minister a lesser time).
For Iraq, the tally reads:
Nov. 27, 2003, for two and a half hours , at a Thanksgiving dinner with American troops, exclusively in the large U.S. base at Baghdad International Airport
June 3, 2006, for five to six hours , in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone Sept. 3, 2007, for six to seven hours , visiting Al-Asad Air Base, the American fortress in western Anbar Province.
That’s not even a full day in Iraq in more than five years of fighting. Wow! Those who doubt presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s experience of, and familiarity with, the world outside the United States may have forgotten that during his January 2006 visit to Iraq, he actually spent two days (according to ABC News) “flying to areas outside the safety of the green zone to meet with American and military commanders on the ground.”
The president has visited Afghanistan only once, where he spent five hours in Kabul, on March 1, 2006, when conditions were fairly stable. What, one wonders, was the point?
How can we explain this? In the case of Iraq above all, how can a leader instigate a long, messy war, keep demanding hundreds of billions of dollars for it, appeal to the American people to stay the course, and not actually spend some time there to see what is going on?
Saturday, September 6, 2008
By what right, the former interrogator asks, does one derive the authority to question prisoners as part of a military occupation?
It's an important question to ask and timely too given the steady growth in the number of Iraqi prisoners in US custody over the course of its occupation of Iraq. Pentagon statistics show the US military now holds over 24,000 "security detainees" in Iraq – more than double the number incarcerated by Coalition at the time of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal four and a half years ago.
US forces are holding nearly all of these persons indefinitely, without an arrest warrant, without charge, and with no right to any type of open legal proceedings. It's perhaps a mark of the failure of the United States' political and religious establishments that it falls to a US Army Specialist like Joshua Casteel to wrestle with the moral difficulties of these massive imprisonments. "Letters from Abu Ghraib" shows how the ethical failures of their leaders affect soldiers on the ground.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
"In her book 'The End of America', Naomi Wolf lists 10 steps commonly taken by would-be dictators to close an open society:
#4 Surveil ordinary citizens
#5 Infiltrate citizen's groups
#6 Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
#7 Target key individuals
#9 Cast criticism as 'espionage' and dissent as 'treason'
#10 subvert the rule of law
These abuses are part of the reason people will be marching in St Paul on Sept. 1st. It's time to stand up for our existing freedoms, before they are taken away by would-be dictators."
Sunday, August 10, 2008
"Under The Hood is a cafe and coffee shop planned to open in September 2008. In the spirit of the Oleo Strut coffee shop from the late '60s, Under The Hood will be a place for soldiers to meet and unwind. Under The Hood is a much needed venue in Ft. Hood of Killeen, Texas. Under The Hood is in the planning phase now and is looking for donations!"
"During Vietnam, the GI antiwar movement got off the ground when civilians started establishing a string of coffeehouses around military installations. Since moving to Fort Hood, and especially since establishing a Fort Hood Chapter of IVAW, I've heard of many "movements" to open a coffeehouse, but for the first time (in a long time) I'm genuinely excited because it's really happening. Your donations are greatly appreciated and will go a long way toward giving us what we need in order to take care of our brothers and sisters as well as organize a viable movement to help end these destructive, pointless wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank you very much. "
-- Ronn Cantu President of Iraq Veterans Against the War Chapter 38 at Fort Hood
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Check out the Nader quote in the link above about government bail outs. You will find it towards the end of this article where the focus changes to our present economic woes . The predictions about Iran are quoted below:
"An attack on Iran, which Israeli and Bush administration officials appear set to carry out if Iranian uranium enrichment is not halted, would ignite a regional war in the Middle East and lead to economic collapse and political upheaval in the United States.
“In short and simple terms, we would be plunged into a depression that would make the Great Depression of the 1930s in which I spent my childhood look like boom times,” said William R. Polk, former professor of history at the University of Chicago and a member of the Policy Planning Council under President Kennedy. “Industries would fail, banks would collapse, government revenues would dry up, universities would have to close, health care, even as limited as it now is for roughly 75 million Americans, would virtually cease. In short, something like [what] the South suffered at the end of the Civil War would plague the country.”
The passage of vast amounts of oil and liquefied gas through the Persian Gulf would be disrupted. Iranian attacks, carried out with rocket- and bomb-equipped speedboats and submarines, would be deadly and effective. A classified Pentagon war game in 2002 simulated these swarming attacks by Iranian speedboats packed with explosives in the gulf; the Navy lost 16 major warships, according to a report in The New York Times. Iranian oil, which makes up 8 percent of the world’s energy supply, would instantly be taken off the market. And oil would jump to over $500 a barrel and perhaps, as the conflict dragged on, to over $750 a barrel. Our petroleum-based economy would come to a halt.
Israel would be hit by Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missiles. Hezbollah, with its new store of Iranian-supplied rockets that allegedly can reach any part of Israel, including Israel’s nuclear plant at Dimona, would enter the conflict. Israel would lash back. Terrorist attacks on U.S. targets would become frequent. U.S. casualties in Iraq would mount as the Iranians rained missiles down on U.S. bases and installations, including our imperial city, the Green Zone. Chaos and mayhem would grip the Middle East. The world financial markets would go haywire."
Sunday, July 27, 2008
The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to provide full disability payments for Lou Gehrig's disease, tacitly acknowledging for the first time a generalized link between the fatal neurological disorder and military service.
Veterans and patient advocates have advocated the change for years, citing studies showing that former soldiers are more likely than the general population to contract the disease, formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
The VA already extends full compensation to ALS-stricken veterans of the first Persian Gulf war, who, according to a study earlier this decade, are twice as likely as other service members to contract the disease.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
"if I go over to Baghdad instead, I will have the entire Combined Press Information Center in the Green Zone all to myself. Plus if I went over to Iraq right now, I could send some more accurate dispatches back to poor sweet be-nighted John McCain, who needs all the help he can get.
Dear John, I would write, you ve got it all wrong. That s happening over here in Iraq right now isn t just an old-school type of war that American troops can win or lose. We already won that kind of war here, back in 2003. But in case you haven t noticed, things have changed a lot in Iraq since 2003 and we can no longer call it a war any more because there are just too many other factors involved"
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons: the estimated annual oil expenditure for U.S. combat operations in Southwest Asia. That's greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million -- and yet it's a gross underestimate of the Pentagon's wartime consumption.
Such numbers cannot do full justice to the extraordinary gas-guzzling expense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, for every soldier stationed 'in theater,' there are two more in transit, in training, or otherwise in line for eventual deployment to the war zone -- soldiers who also consume enormous amounts of oil, even if less than their compatriots overseas. Moreover, to sustain an 'expeditionary' army located halfway around the world, the Department of Defense must move millions of tons of arms, ammunition, food, fuel, and equipment every year by plane or ship, consuming additional tanker-loads of petroleum. Add this to the tally and the Pentagon's war-related oil budget jumps appreciably, though exactly how much we have no real way of knowing.
And foreign wars, sad to say, account for but a small fraction of the Pentagon's total petroleum consumption. Possessing the world's largest fleet of modern aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles, and support systems -- virtually all powered by oil -- the Department of Defense (DoD) is, in fact, the world's leading consumer of petroleum. It can be difficult to obtain precise details on the DoD's daily oil hit, but an April 2007 report by a defense contractor, LMI Government Consulting, suggests that the Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland."
Here is an excellent analysis of the progress on agreements on what happens after the UN mandate for US troops runs out this year in Iraq. It appears to boil down to the US demanding occupation (no constraints on troop actions and full immunity from the law for US troops and contractors) versus sovereignty for Iraq with a timetable for US withdrawal. It also appears the agreement will be "just between two guys" ie Bush and Maliki because the congresses in both countries will refuse to approve the agreement. And how legal is that (not!) and do they really care?
Friday, July 18, 2008
See it if you get a chance!
In the spirit of Smedley Butler it satirizes the connection between war and profit. After seeing it in Minneapolis, We decided that it is bound to be a cult classic because of the abundance of puns and details such as tanks with billboards and a corporate logo that could be mistaken for a crusader flag.
The quote below refers to both torture and FISA:
"Bush officials faced serious danger of criminal liability in the wake of the 2006 Hamdan ruling that the Geneva Conventions applied to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees. But the Military Commissions Act, passed several months after the Hamdan ruling, took care of that problem by immunizing the lawbreakers. Jay Rockefeller was right there supporting that retroactive immunity, too — thereby helping to block investigations and prosecutions for illegal torture programs about which Rockefeller knew and in which he was complicit.
This is exactly the dynamic which Law Professor, Fourth Amendment expert, and Simple-Minded, Confused Leftist Hysteric Jonathan Turley was describing on MSNBC on June 19:
I mean, the Democrats never really were engaged in this. In fact, they repeatedly tried to cave in to the White House, only to be stopped by civil libertarians and bloggers. And each time they would put it on the shelf, wait a few months, they did this before, reintroduced it with Jay Rockefeller’s support, and then there was another great, you know, dustup and they pulled it back. . . .
I think they’re simply waiting to see if the public’s interest will wane and we’ll see that tomorrow, because this bill has, quite literally, no public value for citizens or civil liberties. It is reverse engineering, though the type of thing that the Bush administration is famous for, and now the Democrats are doing — that is to change the law to conform to past conduct.
It’s what any criminal would love to do. You rob a bank, go to the legislature, and change the law to say that robbing banks is lawful. . . .
This is a very frightening bill. What people have to understand is that FISA itself is controversial. This court issued tens of thousands of warrants granted applications for surveillance without turning down any. Only recently did they turn down two. . . .
What you’re seeing in this bill is an evisceration of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. It is something that allows the president and the government to go in to law-abiding homes on their word alone, their suspicion alone, and to engage in warrantless surveillance. That’s what the framers that drafted the Fourth Amendment wanted to prevent. . . ."
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Jeremy Scahill, an investigative journalist and author of the award-winning book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, spoke at Socialism 2008 on the spread of privatized war corporations and the struggle against them.
July 9, 2008
"I GAVE a talk the other day in San Francisco in front of an audience primarily of military people. I was invited by the Marines' Memorial Association of San Francisco, and I was actually introduced by Major Gen. Mike Myatt, who was one of the commanders of the 1991 Gulf War."
"WHAT HAPPENED after this shooting in Nisour Square--which became known in some circles as Baghdad's Bloody Sunday--was that the Iraqi government was under the mistaken impression that Nuri al-Maliki was actually the prime minister of Iraq. What they did is say that Blackwater needs to leave this country, and the men who did this shooting would be prosecuted in Iraqi courts as criminals.
Of course, things are not as simple as that. Nuri al-Maliki is not the prime minister of Iraq; Condoleezza Rice apparently is. Jalal Talabani is not the president of Iraq; George Bush apparently is...
...For three days after this shooting, Blackwater's operations were halted, as Washington and its puppet regime in Baghdad discussed this diplomatic crisis. And for those three days, no U.S. officials could go anywhere outside the Green Zone. They were trapped with the Cinnabons and the Burger Kings and the Pizza Huts. One Iraqi friend said it was as though the Green Zone had been turned into the Green Zoo--because they were all trapped inside of it.Many of you are probably already aware of this, but a lot of people in this country aren't--the United States spends more than $2.3 billion every week occupying Iraq. Forty cents of every dollar spent on the occupation of Iraq goes directly to a for-profit war corporation. There are 630 corporations on the U.S. government payroll in Iraq, with 180,000 personnel. That's more than there are U.S. troops in Iraq--there are 150,000 U.S. troops...
...This is the internationalization of war, and using the poor of the world as cannon fodder to occupy a country that has been systematically targeted by the United States and whose economy has been destabilized.
Right now, this remains a virtual non-issue in Congress. But it represents a very, very dangerous trend. The United Nations is now investigating this--they have a working group on mercenaries that has been traveling the globe investigating this. Because if you look at the fact that there are 177 mercenary companies in Iraq alone right now, and you realize that's almost as many nations as there are registered at the UN, it raises very serious questions about global order--about monopoly on the use of force....
...Whenever we think that grassroots activism or grassroots struggle isn't central to changing this country, the moment we start to think that there's a politician who's somehow capable of overhauling the system and bringing justice to the heart of America, when they try to marginalize those who believe in justice, those who stand for what's right, those who soar above the Democratic Party with others to struggle for meaningful change and meaningful justice, we must remember that we are part of a vast majority in this world....
...We need an internationalized perspective--getting away from false nationalism--of solidarity with others who live on the other side of the barrel of the gun that is foreign policy, and those who live under it here at home in prisons and poor communities across this country, with the victims of police brutality, the death penalty, the almost $5 a gallon gasoline prices, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the health care crisis.
It's all one struggle, and we need to remember any moment we feel down that we are part of a global movement that is strong and growing every day."
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Another prediction of disaster to follow an attack on Iran:
"The Iraqi government may be militarily dependent on the 140,000 US troops in the country, but its Shia and Kurdish leaders have long been allied to Iran. Iraqi leaders have to continually perform a balancing act in which they seek to avoid alienating either country.
The balancing act has become more difficult for Iraq since George Bush successfully requested $400m (£200m) from Congress last year to fund covert operations aimed at destabilising the Iranian leadership. Some of these operations are likely to be launched from Iraqi territory with the help of Iranian militants opposed to Tehran. The most effective of these opponent groups is the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), which enraged the Iraqi government by staging a conference last month at Camp Ashraf, north-east of Baghdad. It demanded the closure of the Iranian embassy and the expulsion of all Iranian agents in Iraq. "It was a huge meeting" said Dr Othman. "All the tribes and political leaders who are against Iran, but are also against the Iraqi government, were there." He said the anti-Iranian meeting could not have taken place without US permission.
The Americans disarmed the 3,700 MEK militants, who had long been allied to Saddam Hussein, at Camp Ashraf in 2003, but they remain well-organised and well-financed. The extent of their support within Iran remains unknown, but they are extremely effective as an intelligence and propaganda organisation.
Though the MEK is on the State Department's list of terrorist groups, the Pentagon and other US institutions have been periodically friendly to it. The US task force charged by Mr Bush with destabilising the Iranian government is likely to co-operate with it."
30 June 2008
Dear Sheriff Shoar,
As citizens of St. Johns County and members of St. Augustine People for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, and Grandparents for Peace, numbering over 500 strong, we are very concerned and dismayed about the "sniper" t-shirts that you recently distributed at a veterans' meeting. The shirts have a silhouette of a sniper on the front, and on the back the following script: "If you can't stand behind o ur troops, do us all a favor and stand in front of them." These shirts appear to advocate violence (i.e., sniper fire) on anyone who disagrees with the Bush administration's policies in the Middle East (currently about 70% of the US population).
We understand that you were previously contacted about these shirts on Wednesday, June 18th, by Mr. Ed Slavin. He asked you a number of questions in his e-mail, none of which were actually answered in your response to him on June 19th.
In your reply to Mr. Slavin you stated that you "chuckled" when you read the script on the shirts and also that you found the shirts "amusing." The fact that you, the County's top law enforcement officer who took an oath "to serve and protect", found the prospect of sniper fire on civilians who disagree with the war in Iraq to be "amusing" and worthy of a "chuckle" is, frankly, appalling, particularly for a person in your position. The phrase "do us all a favor" (emphasis added) in particular implies that you support the killing/maiming of anyone who disagrees with the war in Iraq.
The following is a list of the options we are considering in response to your distribution of the shirt:
1) We would like to receive a written, public apology and an explanation for the shirts and why you found them to be worthy of distribution
2) An immediate recall of all shirts distributed by you and an injunction against any further distribution of the shirts
3) We would also like to have a full accounting of the cost of these shirts, and the name and position of the person who gave them to you
We look forward to your response.
Members of St. Augustine People for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, and Grandparents for PeaceThe issue in St Johns County is a perfect example of the clash between constructive patriotism and Symbolic patriotism referred to in the article posted below this one. But this exchange between the peace groups and the sheriff's office illuminates another dimension of the differences between these two groups. The threat of violence by some but not all symbolic patriots towards their opponents is an additional dark aspect of this conflict. For another examples look at the history of the Gathering of Eagles, Symbolic Patriots, who the day after they beat the antiwar father of a dead Marine in the streets of Washington DC were feted on the lawn of the White House with barbecue and photos with the president.
"Michael D. Martinez, associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, said there are several types of patriotism, some which work together and depend upon each other, others which are in direct conflict with each other.
Symbolic patriotism will be on display in parades and backyards throughout the country today as Americans fly the flag, buy red, white and blue balloons and eat blueberry pie over flag-themed tablecloths.
There's also national identity, or the kind of patriotism that comes with defining oneself by one's American citizenship.
Though these two forms of patriotism run the risk of being shallow, Martinez said flying the flag and feeling proud to be an American can actually lead to deeper forms of patriotism.
"There is evidence that the patriotism that's related to national identity is actually correlated with things like public involvement," Martinez said.
Then, Martinez said, there's constructive patriotism and uncritical patriotism, which by definition are at odds.
Constructive patriots are those who cast a critical eye toward the government by voicing their dissent with an aim to make the country better.
Scott Camil, a Vietnam veteran and head of the Alachua County chapter of Veterans for Peace, falls into this group. He said the truest form of patriotism is the defense of the Constitution, whether that's as a service member in a time of war or on a street corner protesting government policy.
"I'm willing to bet all of those Nazis who ran concentration camps were patriotic," Camil said. "And the Japanese who bombed us in Pearl Harbor, I'm sure they were patriotic, too. To me, patriotism has to stand for something more than just loving your country. The Constitution is what makes us different and special, and gives us a really good reason to love our country. That's where my loyalty lies."
Camil said symbolic patriotism can be dangerous, depending on what's behind it.
"The flag is used to sell cars and to sell politicians," Camil said. "It is made into clothes. I don't think generally the flag is treated with the respect it should be. And I personally think that the government uses both the symbol of the troops and the symbol of the flag to wrap its policies in, which makes questioning those policies harder."
Scott has an excellent analysis here of the view many in VFP have about patriotism and Dr Martinez throws a clearer light on the semantics of what can be a loaded term.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
"though he found for the defendants, the judge laid out in an 82-page decision many problems he identified within VA from three weeks of testimony. Veterans for Common Sense complained that VA needs better oversight to ensure programs are in place and well-run, and that delays and gaps in mental-health care have led to problems for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, including lost jobs, ruined relationships, homelessness, accidental overdoses in VA facilities and suicide while under VA care."
I heard about a Iraq vet on the streets of Gainesville before I left for Minnesota. A friend reported giving him a ride. He still had his buzz cut and marks on his head from brain surgery . He was incoherent and on the streets. Thanks for the support!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The Missing “Analysis”
While Gordon’s “analysis” tells us that the Basra and Sadr City operations “curtailed the powers of the militia,” for anyone with a little knowledge of guerrilla warfare it appears to be just the opposite. I have no idea if the “chief military correspondent” of the New York Times is familiar with the concept of guerrilla warfare. I’d be shocked if he were not. Yet, in his “analysis” of what is going on in Iraq, he failed to mention the concept, thereby missing a really great opportunity to help United Statesians to understand the nature of the conflict in Iraq.
The Iraqi resistance to the U.S. occupation is complex, and only part of it has taken the form of a guerrilla war. (For a great discussion of this, see Michael Schwartz, “Contradictions of the Iraqi Resistance: Guerilla War vs. Terrorism.”) Still, understanding just a tiny bit about the principles of guerrilla warfare can help us understand what is going on in Iraq. For that purpose, let’s hear from three well-known theorists of guerrilla warfare: Mao Tse Tung, Ché Guevara, and Carlos Marighella.
Mao, in his classic 1937 work “On Guerrilla Warfare,” explains that “When guerrillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws.”
In 1961, Ernesto “Ché” Guevara wrote “Guerrilla Warfare,” in which he said, “The great desperation of the enemy army . . . will be to find something to receive his blows. Instead he will find a gelatinous mass, in movement, impenetrable, that retreats and never presents a solid front, though it inflicts wounds from every side.”
Both Mao and Ché were operating in a largely rural environment, but in 1969 the Brazilian guerrilla fighter Carlos Marighella wrote his famous “Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla,” which may apply more directly to the situation in Iraq today. Here’s what he said: “With the arrogance typical of the police and the military authorities, the enemy will come to fight us equipped with heavy guns and equipment, and with elaborate maneuvers by men armed to the teeth. The urban guerrilla must respond to this with light weapons that can be easily transported, so he can always escape with maximum speed without ever accepting open fighting. The urban guerrilla has no mission other than to attack and quickly withdraw.”
As we can see, in a guerrilla war the weaker guerrilla force will never stand to face the stronger enemy. So it is entirely predictable that the Iraqi army would meet little or no resistance when they drive into Basra or Sadr City. Gordon even reported in his article that “leaders of Mr. Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army . . . told one reporter [before the attack] that the militia was convinced that military operations were imminent.” So, as expected, they “melted away.”