Iraq Toll

September 26, 2007

Those who died in Iraq from Sep 16 to 22:

Pvt Brandon Thorsen  22  Trenton FL

Sgt Michael Townes  29  Las Vegas NV

Spc Donald Valentine III  21  Orange Park FL

Spc Nicholas Olson  22  Novato CA

Spc Joseph Landry III  23  Pensacola FL

Spc Matthew Emerason  20  Emerson WA

Spc Aaron Walker  23  Harker Heights TX

Sgt Edmund Jefferson  23  Daleville AL

Pvt Christian Neff  19  Lima OH

Cpl Graham McMahon  22  Corvallis OR

Cap Roselle Hoffmaster  32  Cleveland OH

Pvt Luigi Marciante Jr  25  Elizabeth NJ

Ltn Dumitru Grosaru  35  Romania

Spc John Young  24  Savannah GA

Sgt Mark Stansfield  32  Oxfordshire UK

Sgt Mark Lankford  42  Scottsboro AL

Spc Joshua Reeves  26  Watkinsville GA

Spc David Watson  29  Newport AR

25 were seriously wounded and maimed.

63 wounded were returned to kill fields.
3800 — Cholera spreading in Iraq. 2 million internal refugees in Iraq

301 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed


People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones

September 25, 2007

Yesterday, Iranian President Mahmouhd Ahmenajad spoke at Columbia University.  His appearance was met with controversy and intrigue around our country.  Everyone was so upset that Columbia would let a known dictator speak at their University.  None seem to respect the fact that he is a President of a country which is critical to the future of our foreign policy. 

As a Nation we condemned what were certainly archaic statements regarding the Holocaust and plainly idiotic statements about homosexuals in his country.  Without a doubt Ahmenajad is a dictator with bad ideas and a horrible human rights record.   

It bothers me that we point fingers at Iran for the human right violations there and never look to our own human rights record. 

Even if we refuse to look in our own backyard why was the same media frenzy not given to American University when we hosted the leaders from Saudi Arabia.  No doubt a country, like Saudi Arabia with well known violations of human rights would have garnered the same media attention; that is, if human rights and holocaust denial were why he was such a controversy.  But it did not.   

Now, what about his nuclear weapons?  We don’t know anything about his nuclear capabilities, because we have never actually sat down and worked with him directly.  The Bush administration continues to accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons, but we know how accurate his intelligence on WMD’s is. 

So, what did Ahmenajad come to Columbia for?  He came to provide another perspective perhaps not one we agree with – but isn’t it time we learned to listen to, debate, and confront the views of other nations with diplomacy and intelligence.  I condemn human right violations, nuclear weapons, preemptive strikes and unresponsive non-democratic governments.  I know how hard it is to live under these conditions – because I have been living that way since Bush took office.  We have documented nuclear weapons that we proudly wave in the face of other states.  We have been waging war for a little over half a decade in a country that never attacked us.  I cannot make either statement about Iran.  Before we point fingers at Ahmenajad, let’s hold Bush accountable. 


It’s Time to Bring Democracy Back Home

September 21, 2007

I have held my opinion on this blog from some months now regarding the Jena 6 but I cannot any longer.  I felt, at first, that this was not part of our mission at Peace Action.  Then I received a press release from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.  The release condemns the Islamophobic comments of Rep. Peter King (R-NY).  This got me thinking.  The media and Congress shake their fingers at the Iraqi government for not overcoming ‘ethic tension’ and not ‘moving forward with the democracy’ – how can we ‘promote democracy’ abroad while we do not uphold it here at home? 

The charges brought against these 6 teenagers for fighting at an off-campus party includes attempted murder and theft.   

The theft charge stems from one white kid bringing a gun into the house party and threatening the black kids.  The black child being charged with theft took that gun away from the fight to eliminate the threat. 

The potential murder weapon was not the gun, it was a shoe.  A black kid threatened a white kid with a shoe after taking the white kid’s gun – and now that black kid is in jail. 

None of the white children have been charged with anything.  They were never punished for hanging nooses from a tree to spark the fighting in the first place.  They have never been punished for fighting.  The town believes everyone in the country is ‘blowing this out of proportion.”  This is the most disgusting breech of our justice system since Alberto’s political firings came to light.  It’s particularly disturbing how closely these two are chronologically – tells you something about the state of our own ‘democratic’ justice system. 

Rep. King believes Muslims are “an enemy living amongst us.”  In an interview with The Politico, Rep. King said, “Unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country. There are too many people who are sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully. We should be finding out how we can infiltrate.”  Go to our website to see the full press release.

As the Bush Administration beats the war drum toward Iran telling us they hate freedom, they practice state sponsored discrimination, and we must save the innocent Iranians from their dictator I say, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. 

We have systemic racism that wasn’t discussed until Katrina hit and with the Jena 6 is still a controversial issue.  In an interview with USA Today one local resident called the protest a “knee jerk reaction.”  We have justice system that is far form blind – more like politically motivated.  We have a dictator who shuns the democratic system by ‘staying HIS course.’  More than ever, I am dedicated to eliminating our military presence around the world and focused on cleaning our own house.  I demand justice in Jena, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Columbia, Venezuela, Washington, all over the U.S. and the world.  I am reminded of a bumper sticker that speaks closely to my heart:  “Know Justice, Know Peace.  No Justice, No Peace.”


Creating a Digital Movement

September 19, 2007

“As technology advances, it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again. The age of automation is going to be the age of ‘do it yourself.”
Marshall McLuhan

In The Medium is the Massage McLuhan suggests that our world is moving into a digital age.  Written in 1967 he made predictions of a ‘global village’ a place where people can come together, across geographical & cultural borders, to share ideas and experience media simultaneously.  He believed this would bring our world closer together and prelude a more harmonious existence on this earth.  Forty years later we are still embroiled in wars which, at their core, speak to the inability of the global village to overcome greed and hate.

We who believe in peace are the global majority.  And yet, our President is unresponsive and mainstream media  continue to trumpet his call to war.  How, without satellites and TV stations, can we make our voices heard above the gatekeepers?  The lessons from Media still apply:  we are in the age of automation, we must ‘do it ourselves’. 

The genius of the internet is the decentralization of power and information.  In other words, YOU have the power to share the information.  Every time you pass on an action alert to your network, every time you research a subject, every time you publish your opinion – you are unseating the status quo.  You are saying NO to watered down information ‘from the ground’ in Iraq.  You are saying NO to the lies perpetrated by the Bush administration. 

Instead, you are saying YES to the peace movement.  We will never have a satellite (or the money to rent one) so we depend on you to broadcast our message of peace to the global village.  I urge you to take on this challenge.  Go to our website, do your research and remember that every moment is a teaching moment.  Take action, online or otherwise, and tell people what you did encouraging them to join the movement.

You are frustrated by the lack of movement in a progressive direction – I understand.  We long for peace and justice while our world seems to become less and less oriented towards those goals.  There is no alternative than to ‘sound my (our) barbaric YAWP over the rooftops of the world.’ (Walt Whitman) demanding we be heard.  The Internet is the best way to unite our voices so they cannot ignore us. We have the power share our goals with the world and expand our knowledge of that world – use it.


Iraq Toll

September 19, 2007

Those who died in Iraq from Sep 9 to 15:

Cpl Javier Paredes  24  San Antonio TX

Cpl Lance Clark  21  Cookeville TN

Sgt Courtney Hollinsworth  26  Yonkers NY

Sgt Alexander Gagalac  28  Wahiawa HI

Pvt Sammie Phillips  19  Cecilia KY

Sgt Omar Mora  28  Texas City TX

Sgt Yance Gray  26  Ismay MT

Spc Steven Elrod  20  Hope Mills NC

Spc Ari Brown-Weeks  23  Abingdon MD

Sgt Nicholas Patterson  24  Rochester IN

Sgt Michael Hardegree  21  Villa Rica GA

Sgt Gregory Rivera-Santiago  26  StCroix VI

Cpl Carlos Gil Orozko  23  San Jose CA

Cpl Jon Hicks Jr  20  Atco NJ

Pvt Christopher McCloud  24  Malakoff TX

Spc Jonathan Rivadeneira  22  Jackson Hts NY

Spc Todd Motley  23  Clare MI

Sgt Terry Wagoner  28  Piedmont SC

Sgt John Mele  25  Bunnell FL

Cpl Terrence Allen  21  Pennsauken NJ

36 were seriously wounded and maimed.

45 were returned to occupation.

287+ Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.

Cf:   www.icasualties.org


Debunking RRW

September 17, 2007

The U.S. and Russia spent decades and billions of dollars building arsenals and fighting proxy wars to become THE hegemonic power of the world during the “Cold War”.   Finding Russia’s old and in many cases missing nuclear material is a top priority for our Representatives but it seems some in the Senate are still unsure what to do with our nuclear weapons.

If you read this blog you’ve heard of the reliable replacement warhead (RRW).  You know that Congress zeroed out funding.  That the Senate still needs to vote and there are some shaky suckers on the Senate who need a reality check.  Bush is touting RRW as a ‘security measure’ (like his friend Regan) saying we cannot have old nuclear weapons sitting around our country.  Bennett Ramberg, who served in the State Dept under George H. W. Bush, disagrees. 

In an article in the Baltimore Sin Bennett deconstructs Bush’s argument while outlining the hazardous consequences of this program.  Here’s a sampling.

  • Myth:  stockpiles from the Cold War are aging and hazardous.
    • Both are true, nuclear weapons are hazardous and these particular weapons are aged but still deadly.  In 1993 the Clinton administration put forth the stockpile stewardship program to “ensure the preservation of the core intellectual competencies of the U.S. in nuclear weapons, including weapons design, system integration, manufacturing, security, use control reliability assessment in certification.”  Part of this program includes a lab that virtually replicates tests on the current stockpile and suggests fixes in the event problems emerge.
  • Myth:  These weapons are ‘unreliable’
    • “In 2006, government scientists concluded that the stockpile’s plutonium cores will last at least 100 years.”  Those found to be deteriorating were found and replaced.
  • Myth:  These RRW is based on weapons from the 1980’s so will not need to be tested.  The U.S. will remain in compliance with the Test Ban Treaty.
    • The RRW is not an exact replica of this older weapon therefore it WILL need to be tested somewhere.  We discovered back in the 1950’s how hazardous nuclear testing is to our planet.  Ask anyone from the Marshall Islands how they feel about nuclear testing and you’ll get a full idea of the human cost.

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced S.1914, a bill which stops funding the RRW until a new nuclear policy and posture review are completed.  This is the more sensible way to proceed than RRW.   Tell your Senator TODAY!


There Is No Light at the End of This Tunnel Either

September 12, 2007

From Our Affiliate:
The Rev. Robert Moore
Executive Director
Coalition for Peace Action

 

The recent testimony of General David Patreaus has strong parallels to the deceptions used to justify continued US troop deployments 40 years ago in Vietnam. The mantra then was “There is light at the end of this tunnel.”

 

History showed that there was no possibility of a democratic, pro-US government standing on its own in Vietnam, as is the case currently in Iraq. This is because the Vietnamese people themselves didn’t support the puppet governments in South Vietnam, as the current Iraqi government is also not supported by a huge majority of citizens there.

 

Yet, throughout the tragic history of the Vietnam War, the American people were urged to keep supporting massive US troop deployments. We now know, through the Pentagon Papers and other documents, that this amounted to intentional deception at the highest levels of government, which knew that military escalation was failing.

 

US public opinion turned against the Vietnam War by 1969. As in today’s Congress, there were efforts starting with the bipartisan Hatfield-McGovern bill in 1970 to stop the war and force withdrawal of US troops. Tragically, that effort failed, and more than half of the total 58,000 US soldiers and 2 million Southeast Asians who died in that war were killed subsequently.

 

By June 1974, Congress finally passed a binding cut-off of funding for the war that mandated a complete US withdrawal by August 1975. The last US personnel were actually withdrawn by April. The war advocates said there would be a blood bath and that the other nations in the region would fall to communism in a domino effect. While there was inevitable turmoil after the US withdrew, these apocalyptic predictions didn’t come true.

 

Given that General Patreaus wrote an op-ed six weeks before the 2004 elections saying that the Iraqi military and police were making “good progress” toward standing up on their own, I wonder if the deceptions are intentional or just myopic. It’s hard to say if it’s intentional, or simply the stubborn denial of facts.

 

What is clear to everyone by now is that the American people were neo-conned into the Iraq war in the first place, through deception and manipulation. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no connection between Iraq’s government and the attacks of September 11, 2001, no cakewalk to a stable and democratic post-invasion Iraq.

 

The Bush Administration is now trying to neo-con us into continuing to tolerate and support continuing US troop deployment to another civil war and quagmire. Much of the deception, as before, uses two means: cherry picking and manipulating the facts, and moving the goal posts.

 

An example of the first is the assertion that Iraqi casualties from sectarian violence are declining. That is only the case if large numbers of casualties are not counted, which the Bush Administration does by excluding victims shot in the front of the head instead of the back; and by excluding people killed in car bombings not considered to have sectarian motives. The most reliable independent count, by the Associated Press, shows the number of Iraqi casualties this summer to be the highest since the US invaded over four years ago.

 

In terms of moving the goal posts, Congress and the Bush Administration agreed that the “surge” (which should have truthfully been called the escalation) would be evaluated in mid-September by mutually agreed objective benchmarks. Independent analyses show that almost none of those benchmarks have been met, especially in terms of creating a viable unified national government or Iraqi troops and police replacing US troops to provide basic security.

 

So the Bush Administration has simply changed the goal to “local security,” which it “achieves” by making Faustian alliances with local insurgents against Al Qaida in Iraq. The only thing that is certain about this temporary “success” is that these militias will eventually use the weapons the US is supplying to them against our troops and the Iraqi government forces.

 

The truth is that there is no light at the end of the Iraq tunnel, as there was none at the end of Vietnam. The only moral and sensible steps to take are to withdraw US troops, renounce permanent US military bases in Iraq, and undertake a surge of diplomacy and Iraqi-controlled, internationally supervised rebuilding.


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