Fox Leading the Attacking on Iran – Just like they did Iraq

August 30, 2007

I write to honor the service of those humans lost to war.

August 29, 2007

JJ,

I am so glad you brought up my ongoing attention to the human toll we pay for this unjust war.  I thank you for your service and respectfully ask that you not assume you know my feelings.  I am appalled that these women and men have died and no one is giving them proper dedication for their service.  In Viet Nam the remains of soldiers were brought back with the respect and mourning.  Their flag draped coffins reminded us daily of how much we lose to war.  Bush, in a disrespectful shun of their service, chooses to hide their remains from our eyes so we do not know how many people have been lost.  This was a decision he and Cheney made long before the war even began.

If you asked me, each soldier who dies on foreign soil should have a quarter page memorial dedicated to them in the Washington Post, New York Times, and USA Today.  I don’t understand how the lives of the 30 people killed at Virginia Tech, who did receive such dedications, are more important that of our soldiers. So, if you see naming the dead as disrespectful because of our political affiliation, I am sorry but I will not stop.  I have too much respect for their sacrifice not to name them.  I am almost brought to tears when I think of the families of these people; of the thoughts and feelings that went through their heads before they left this earth; of the futures they will never have because they made the ultimate sacrifice for my future under false pretenses. 

I talk to Vets who share my feelings about the war on a daily basis.  Some are upset about the Stop-loss program that forces enlisted people to re-enlist for cash, be sent back to war under duress, or go to the brig.  They describe it as a backdoor draft.  One solider whom I am very close to broke into tears when he told me how sad he has been since returning.  He said he went to war and lost friends because he was told it was necessary.  He trusted in the system of the military and in the wisdom of his commander and chief.  Having returned and heard that commander and chief manipulating the truth and abandoning the original mission of the war (this soldier believed he was going to stop the spread of WMD’s) – he became much disenfranchised.  He is still a successful officer but suffers greatly with emotional issues and alcoholism.  I only wish I could list the number of our soldiers who return from war and we leave alone to self destruct.  They will be the true test of our VA system.

I know I cannot convince many of you the total and raw pain I feel writing about this war.  Not just the loss of soldiers but the loss of Iraqi’s, the loss of a peaceful future for the next generation, the loss of our international reputation that will, for generations, have a negative affect on our stability and prosperity.  But JJ, I feel it.  I feel raw pain because I know there are millions upon millions of people in so much more pain than me resultant of this war.  I cannot have this venue and not use it to expose that pain in its most raw form:  names.

I am sorry I have not abbreviated the ranks correctly — please be kind enough to correct my mistake.  Below is the latest Iraq toll:

Those who died in Iraq from Aug 19 to 25:

Cap Michael Fielder  35  Holly Springs NC

Pvt Donovan Witham  20  Malvern AR

Sgt Sandy Britt  30  Apopka FL

Cpl Nathan Hubbard  21  Clovis CA

Cpl Joshua Harmon  20  Mentor OH

Spc Michael Hook  25  Altona PA

Cpl Philip Brodnick  25  New Lenox IL

Spc Jessy Pollard  22  Springfield MO

Sgt Garrett McLead  23  Rockport TX

Sgt Jason Paton  25  Poway CA

Cap Derek Dobogal  26  Fond du Lac WI

Spc Tyler Seideman  20  Lincoln AR

Cpl Jeremy Bouffard  21  Middlefield MA

Spc Rickey Bell  21  Caruthersville MO

Cap Corry Tyler  29  Georgia

CWO Paul Flynn  28  Whitsett NC

Sgt Matthew Tallman  30  Groveland CA

Pvt Omar Torre  20  Chicago IL

Pvt Edgar Cardenas  34  Lilburn GA

Sgt Adrian Elizalde  30  North Bend IN

Sgt Michael Tully  33  Falls Creek PA

Sgt Henry Heringes  36  Tampa FL

Cpl Matthew Medlicott  21  Houston TX

 

43 were seriously wounded and maimed.

54 wounded were returned to occupation.

360 Iraqis brothers and sisters were killed.


Iraq Toll

August 22, 2007

Those who died in Iraq from Aug 12 to 18:

Sgt Alicia Birchett  29  Mashpee MA

Sgt Andrew Lancaster  23  Stocton IL

Sgt Scot Kirkpatrick  26  Reston VA

Sgt William Scates  31  Oklahoma City OK

Spc Alun Howells  20  Parlin CO

Pvt Paulomarko Pacificador  24  Shirley NY

Pvt Juan Lopez Jr  23  San Antonio TX

Sgt Eric Cottrell  39  Pittsview AL

Pvt Shawn Henzel  20  Logansport IN

Spc Stephen Jewell  26  Bridgeton NC

Sgt Stanley Reynolds  37  Rock WV

Sgt Sean Fisher  29  Santee CA

CWO Jackie McFarlane Jr  30  Virginia Beach VA

CW Christopher Johnson  31  Grand Rapids MI

Spc Zandra Walker  28  Greenville SC

Sgt Princess Samuels  22  Mitchellville MD

Sgt Robert Pirelli  29  Franklin MA

Spc Kamisha Block  20  Vidor TX

Sgt Paul Norris  30  Cullman TX

Pvt Willard Kerchief III  21  Evansville IN

Ltn Jonathan Edds  24  White Pigeon MI

30 were seriously wounded and maimed.

100 were retuned to kill fields.

626 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.


Saving the Intellectual Capital in Iraq

August 21, 2007

Financial Times recently reported the Gates Foundation is diverging from its primary missions, to irradiate AIDS and Malaria world-wide, and focusing $5 million “for a project granting fellowships to Iraqi scholars seeking to continue their work at institutions in other countries.” The U.S. Congress has approved an additional $5 million to further fund this project.

I am a champion of preserving intellectual capital, especially in countries like Iraq where the infrastructure is so broken investment in academia is a low priority. It is vital that we protect the present and future knowledge of this ancient civilization. However, this effort is, like so many before, short sighted.

Investing in intellectual capital is a multi faceted process. You must protect the intellectual elite from persecution and allow them to do their research; but, that is a short term solution to a long term problem. You must also provide for the future academics by through proper educational facilities at refugee camps and psychological care to address student’s substantial emotional needs during a war. So many children, forced to leave their homes, interrupt their education, and basically live in transience desperately need the stability of school and the support of adult mentors. Additionally, there must be a way to ensure intellectual capital sent abroad can return home. An Iraqi scientist working out of Sweden does very little to help rebuild their country of origin. Nothing I read about the Gates effort addresses these needs.

The Gates Foundation has founded itself on attacking a problem from all sides to make the most positive impact possible. Indeed, in the case AIDS and Malaria it has done just that. I hope, in the oversight process for this program, they will maintain the same strategy and look at investing in the future of Iraqi intellectual capital by investing in the children they are leaving behind.


The Shift – a trailer that gave me chills

August 16, 2007

Iraq toll

August 15, 2007

Those who died in Iraq from Aug 5 to 11:

Spc Daniel Reyes 25 SanDiego CA

Sgt Bradley Marshall 37 Little Rock AR

Spc Charles Leonard Jr 29 Monroe LA

Sgt Joey Link 29 Portland TN

Spc Justin Blackwell 27 Paris TN

Pvt Jeremy Bohannon 18 Bon Aqua TN

Spc Kareem Khan 20 Manahawkin NJ

Cpl Juan Alcantara 22 New York

Sgt Nicholas Gummersall 23 Chubbuck ID

Sgt Jacob Thompson 26 No Mankato MN

Spc Christopher Neiberger 22 Gainesville FL

Pvt Craig Barber 20 Ogmore Vale UK

Sgt Jon Bonnell Jr 22 Fort Dodge IA

Air Martin Beard 20 Rainworth UK

Cpl Reynold Armand 21 Rochester NY

Spc Donald Young Helena MT

Sgt Michael Tayaotao 27 Sunnyvale CA

Cpl Chris Casey 27 London UK

Cpl Kirk Redbath 22 Romford UK

Sgt Joan Duran 24 Roxbury MA

Pvt William Edwards 23 Houston TX

Spc Justin Penrod 24 Danville IL

87 were seriously wounded and maimed.

88 wounded were returned to killing fields.

420 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.

Cf: www.icasualties.org


Room for Diplomacy in Iran – from the Washington Post

August 15, 2007

The Washington Post printed a Peace Action West letter in response to last week’s article about the “failure” of diplomacy with Iran:

Room for Diplomacy on Iran

Regarding the Aug. 9 news story “In the Debate Over Iran, More Calls for a Tougher U.S. Stance”:

The article’s reference to the “failure of carrot-and-stick diplomacy to block Tehran’s nuclear and regional ambitions” falsely implied that the Bush administration has pursued and exhausted constructive diplomatic options with Iran. A serious diplomatic effort would involve talking directly with the Iranian government without preconditions, which this administration has refused to do. The administration also undermines the ability to engage in productive dialogue through hostile rhetoric and saber-rattling.

It is clear that military action against Iran would be disastrous and that it would probably accelerate any attempts by the Iranian government to pursue nuclear technology. It should also be clear that pragmatic, sustained diplomatic efforts have succeeded in the past and are our only hope for resolving tensions with Iran.

REBECCA GRIFFIN

Political Director

Peace Action West


Misleading the American Public on Nukes

August 15, 2007

Earlier on this blog I commented on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s attack on Sen. Barrak Obama and his stance on nuclear weapons. Frankly, I believe (like many of you) that neither candidate has fully accepted a progressive platform. What strikes me though is the inconsistency with which they (all politicians) conduct their campaigns.

A recent article by the Boston Globe elaborates on Clinton’s stance on nuclear weapons – just a year ago she said nukes were ‘off the table’ for dealing with Iran. Not only are these candidates inconsistent but their constant threats of military action on states like Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan only reinforce the Bush administration’s assessment that they are part of a falsely constructed ‘axis of evil’. I am almost hesitant to criticize the top Democratic candidates because I would rather be condemning candidates like Giuliani, McCain, Romney, and Brownback whose platforms are so far from my ideals. But, if I cannot look to either party to find my values I must keep pressure on those candidates who most closely reflect them.

Related to this is a recent paper published in the Atlantic Monthly. The paper presented a cogent argument that China was a more significant threat to the U.S. than any Arab nation. That if we were to use nuclear weapons, unlike most politicians would like you to believe, they would be used on China. This was not a political paper – it was written by a professor and a former DOD official. It lays out the tactical plan, the devastation, and the potential fallout (political and securities focused fallout) of a nuclear strike. As an activist, for me, the underling issue is clear. Nothing good can come from any nuclear attack from the U.S. or any other state in this world. It only brings destruction.

Senator Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican, and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agrees. He has been a vocal advocate for the collection and destruction of fissile materials throughout his terms in office; passing the Nunn-Lugar bill to focus this work in the Former Soviet Union. He recently wrote a commentary on the success of this program. We can achieve nuclear abolition if we continue to understand and communicate the devastating implications of nuclear war.

Do you agree? Is there ever a reason to use nuclear weapons? Vote in Parade Magazine’s poll on this subject, here.


Wrestling with Modern Imperialism

August 9, 2007

“All I know is that you have participated directly or indirectly in the crime.”
Why is Half of Iraq in Absolute Poverty? By: Layla Anwar

This is a line from an article written by an Iraqi woman named Layla Anwar. The crime she is referring to is, of course, the U.S. occupation of Iraq. She talks about the crimes of apathy and arrogance on the part of Westerners who want to ‘save’ the ‘those people’. This is arrogance is a part of all of our foreign policy – especially in international aid to the supposed ‘third world’, or the global south including the Americas, Africa, and Southern Asia.  She talks about the lack of direct action on the part U.S. citizens to stop war before it began. Of course, she talks about the ramifications of our ‘democracy building’ in Iraq – of how many are starving, are displace, are scarred for life. I found myself torn between my occupation advancing peace ideologies and my education in international development. My life is focused on all the things she condemns and yet I feel my work is important.

Then I remember what drove me to be a part of the peace movement in the first place. I was in Kosovo (Kosova for those in the know) and I worked with a local group, the Kosova Womens Network, deeply entrenched in the feminist movement during the Serbian occupation and today. In my work there I came into contact with the Women in Black from Serbia. They told me their stories of standing in front the Belgrade government buildings asking “how can we talk about democracy in our country while we squash it abroad.” These stories affected me in so many ways. Regardless of the imminent danger they were in; regardless of the stigma and harassment they faced – they stood in solidarity against violence meted out in their names. That is why I joined the peace movement.

And yet, in my inbox today was a recently released study on the ‘progress’ we’ve made in Iraq. According to this study by the University of Michigan, Iraqis are becoming more nationalistic and secular in their government. Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? Is it my place to say one way or another? Certainly it is not my place to make judgments on what is good or bad for Iraq.

It is only my place to emphatically say it is our job as U.S. citizens to expose the crimes of our government. It is my duty to be uncomfortable in acknowledging that the lifestyle I lead is directly related to this war. The same is true for you who are reading this. Every time we turn on our AC, drive the children to work, eat fresh citrus from Mexico, and drink water out of bottles we contribute to the deaths of millions across the world through our modern imperialism.

We live in a system, a globalized system, created hundreds of years ago when the first colonialists boarded their ships to explore and dominate for gold, God, and glory. We perpetuate this system with ‘development programs’, ‘international aid’, and ‘democracy building’. War is not the only way we destroy the culture and infrastructure of other states. The only way to uproot this system is to challenge our idea of what is ‘progress’, ‘democracy’, ‘wealth’, ‘education’, and ‘power’. I challenge you, as peacemongers, to do so in your daily lives. I promise you to take that challenge with you. I bid you peace to do the good work I know you want to do.


Presidential Canidates Callus on Nuclear Question

August 8, 2007

Barack Obama’s statement, last Thursday, that he would not use nuclear weapons “in any circumstance” to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and drew criticism from chief rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and accolades from anti-nuclear activists.
It appears Sen. Obama is the only leading Presidential candidate who is willing to consider the multifaceted implications of a foreign policy where ‘all options’ are on the table.

During the Cold War the U.S. public was intimately aware of the threat nuclear war posed to the country and the world. While the bombs have become more powerful the country has become more complacent about our leaders threatening their use. It is a shame that in all the rhetoric condemning or applauding Obama’s statement no one has questioned the destructive position of Clinton and the other candidates.

Nuclear weapons are never an acceptable form of force, but especially in this circumstance would be devastating to our world and to our national security – moreover, they would be ineffectual in their purpose.

Nuclear weapons cannot weed terrorists out of the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nuclear weapons are designed to decimate a region or country – they have no purpose but to kill civilians for years after the initial explosion with cancer and birth defects. By definition, their use is in itself is a terrorist act because they so specifically target civilians. Our threats of a ‘nuclear option’ only further inflame a difficult diplomatic situation in the Middle East and radicalize new terrorist recruits.

Those candidates who would not take the nuclear option off the table are callus and arrogant – preferring to placate to the minority of the country who support the Bush administration than to stand up for a new direction in U.S. foreign policy. They are
naïve for believing the nuclear option should ever be on the table.


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