Saturday, July 28, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Source: From the "Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine" by Folke Bernadotte. 16 September 1948. United Nations General Assembly Doc. A/648. Part one, section V, paragraph 6.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Yes, I know I'm a veteran for peace but I object to the 'patriotic correctness' that drives so much of the pandering to US military veterans and I think that any time a veteran speaks at an anti-war event s/he ought to acknowledge the fact that s/he is a former killer, former would-be killer, or former enabler of killers. The US military is not a social welfare organization, it is an imperial killing machine and "the troops" keep the killing going and, if nothing else, anti-war veterans have a duty to be honest to themselves and others about this reality. My experience is that lots of anti-war vets and others are in denial about this basic fact.
Don't get me wrong I think veterans deserve all the help they need, even the vets who don't have the integrity, knowledge, or moral courage to turn against the machine--they are victims but our suffering can never equated to or elevated above that of the victims of US aggression killed, maimed, or dispossessed in their own homelands. I also think there is a place for vets in the peace movement, perhaps even a prominent one, but that ought to be conditioned on honesty and candor about the US military. End lecture, here's the excerpt:
Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.See also:
Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished....The Iraq War is a vast and complicated enterprise. ... Fighting in densely populated urban areas has led to the indiscriminate use of force and the deaths at the hands of occupation troops of thousands of innocents.
Many of these veterans returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the US government and American media. The war the vets described is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
"I'll tell you the point where I really turned," said Spc. Michael Harmon, 24, a medic from Brooklyn. He served a thirteen-month tour beginning in April 2003 with the 167th Armor Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, in Al-Rashidiya, a small town near Baghdad. "I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg.... An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me, wasn't crying, wasn't anything, it just looked at me like--I know she couldn't speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg?... I was just like, This is--this is it. This is ridiculous."
Much of the resentment toward Iraqis described to The Nation by veterans was confirmed in a report released May 4 by the Pentagon. According to the survey, conducted by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command, just 47 percent of soldiers and 38 percent of marines agreed that civilians should be treated with dignity and respect. Only 55 percent of soldiers and 40 percent of marines said they would report a unit member who had killed or injured "an innocent noncombatant."
These attitudes reflect the limited contact occupation troops said they had with Iraqis. They rarely saw their enemy. They lived bottled up in heavily fortified compounds that often came under mortar attack. They only ventured outside their compounds ready for combat. The mounting frustration of fighting an elusive enemy and the devastating effect of roadside bombs, with their steady toll of American dead and wounded, led many troops to declare an open war on all Iraqis.
Veterans described reckless firing once they left their compounds. Some shot holes into cans of gasoline being sold along the roadside and then tossed grenades into the pools of gas to set them ablaze. Others opened fire on children. These shootings often enraged Iraqi witnesses.
See also:“You cannot win the peace unless you know the enemy at home and abroad”Just prior to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003 over one million US citizens demonstrated against the war. Since then there have been few and smaller protests even as the slaughter of Iraqis escalates, US casualties mount and a new war with Iran looms on the horizon. The demise of the peace movement is largely the result of the major peace organizations’ decision to shift from independent social mobilizations to electoral politics, namely channeling activists into working for the election of Democratic candidates – most of whom have supported the war. The rationale offered by these 'peace leaders' was that once elected the Democrats would respond to the anti-war voters who put them in office. Of course practical experience and history should have taught the peace movement otherwise: The Democrats in Congress voted every military budget since the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. The total capitulation of the newly elected Democratic majority has had a major demoralizing effect on the disoriented peace activists and has discredited many of its leaders.
US Marine Colonel from Tennessee.
Everywhere I visit from Copenhagen to Istanbul, Patagonia to Mexico City, journalists and academics, trade unionists and businesspeople, as well as ordinary citizens, inevitably ask me why the US public tolerates the killing of over a million Iraqis over the last two decades, and thousands of Afghans since 2001? Why, they ask, is a public, which opinion polls reveal as over sixty percent in favor of withdrawing US troops from Iraq, so politically impotent? A journalist from a leading business journal in India asked me what is preventing the US government from ending its aggression against Iran, if almost all of the world’s major oil companies, including US multinationals are eager to strike oil deals with Teheran? Anti-war advocates in Europe, Asia and Latin America ask me at large public forums what has happened to the US peace movement in the face of the consensus between the Republican White House and the Democratic Party-dominated Congress to continue funding the slaughter of Iraqis, supporting Israeli starvation, killing and occupation of Palestine and destruction of Lebanon?
Absence of a Peace Movement?
Absence of a National Movement
As David Brooks (La Jornada July 2, 2007) correctly reported at the US Social forum there is no coherent national social movement in the US. Instead we have a collection of fragmented ‘identity groups’ each embedded in narrow sets of (identity) interests, and totally incapable of building a national movement against the war. The proliferation of these sectarian ‘non-governmental’ ‘identity’ ‘groups’ is based on their structure, financing and leadership. Many depend on private foundations and public agencies for their financing, which precludes them from taking political positions. At best they operate as ‘lobbies’ simply pressuring the elite politicians of both parties. Their leaders depend on maintaining a separate existence in order to justify their salaries and secure future advances in government agencies.
The US trade unions are virtually non-existent in more than half of the United States: They represent less than 9% of the private sector and 12% of the total labor force. Most national, regional and city-wide trade union officials receive salaries comparable to senior business executives: between $300,000 to $500,000 dollars a year. Almost 90% of the top trade union bureaucrats finance and support pro-war Democrats and have supported Bush and the Congressional war budgets, bought Israel Bonds ($25 billion dollars) and the slaughter of Palestinians and the Israeli bombing of Lebanon.
The Unopposed War Lobby
The US is the only country in the world where the peace movement is unwilling to recognize, publically condemn or oppose the major influential political and social institutions consistently supporting and promoting the US wars in the Middle East. The political power of the pro-Israel power configuration, led by the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), supported within the government by highly placed pro-Israel Congressional leaders and White House and Pentagon officials has been well documented in books and articles by leading journalists, scholars and former President Jimmy Carter. The Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) has over two thousand full-time functionaries, more than 250,000 activists, over a thousand billionaire and multi-millionaire political donors who contribute funds both political parties. The ZPC secures 20% of the US foreign military aid budget for Israel, over 95% congressional support for Israel’s boycott and armed incursions in Gaza, invasion of Lebanon and preemptive military option against Iran.
The US invasion and occupation policy in Iraq, including the fabricated evidence justifying the invasion, was deeply influenced by top officials with long-standing loyalties and ties to Israel. Wolfowitz and Feith, numbers 2 and 3 in the Pentagon, are life-long Zionists, who lost security clearance early in their careers for handing over documents to Israel. Vice President Cheney’s chief foreign policy adviser in the planning of the Iraq invasion is Irving Lewis Liebowitz (‘Scooter Libby’). He is a protégé and long-time collaborator of Wolfowitz and a convicted felon.
Libby-Liebowitz committed perjury, defending the White House’s complicity in punishing officials critical of its Iraq war propaganda. Libby-Liebowitz received powerful political and financial support from the pro-Israel lobby during his trial. No sooner did he lose his appeal on his conviction on five counts of perjury, obstructing justice and lying, than the ZPC convinced President Bush to ‘commute’ his prison sentence, in effect freeing him from a 30 month prison sentence before he had served a day. While Democratic politicians and some peace leaders criticized President Bush, none dared hold responsible the pro-Israel lobby which pressured the White House.
The Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO) – numbering 52 – and their regional and local affiliates are the leading force transmitting Israel’s war agenda against Iran. The PMAJO, working closely with US-Israeli Congressman Rahm Emmanuel and leading Zionist Senators Charles Schumer and Joseph Lieberman, succeeded in eliminating a clause in the budget appropriation setting a date for the withdrawal for US troops from Iraq.
In contrast to the successful vast propaganda, congressional and media campaigns, organized and funded by the pro-Israel lobbies for the war policies, there is no public record of the big oil companies supporting the Iraq war, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon or the military threats of preemptive attacks on Iran. Interviews with investment bankers, oil company executives and a thorough review of the major Petroleum Institute publications over the past seven years provide conclusive evidence that ‘Big Oil’ was deeply interested in negotiating oil agreements with Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Islamic government. ‘Big Oil’ perceives US Middle East wars as a threat to their long-standing profitable relations with all the conservative Arab oil states in the Gulf. Despite the strategic position in the US economy and their great wealth '‘Big Oil' was totally incapable of countering their political power and organized influence of the pro-Israel lobby. In fact Big Oil was totally marginalized by the White House National Security Advisor for the Middle East, Elliot Abrams, a fanatical Zionist and militarist.
Despite the massive and sustained pro-war activity of the leading Zionist organizations inside and outside of the government and despite the absence of any overt or covert pro-war campaign by ‘Big Oil’, the leaders of the US peace movement have refused to attack the pro-Israel war lobby and continue to mouth unfounded clichés about the role of ‘Big Oil’ in the Middle East conflicts.
The apparently ‘radical’ slogans against the oil industry by some leading intellectual critics of the war has served as a ‘cover’ to avoid the much more challenging task of taking on the powerful, Zionist lobby. There are several reasons for the failure of the leaders of the peace movement to confront the militant Zionist lobby. One is fear of the powerful propaganda and smear campaign which the pro-Israel lobby is expert at mounting, with its aggressive accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ and its capacity to blacklist critics, leading to job loss, career destruction, public abuse and death threats.
The second reason that peace leaders fail to criticize the leading pro-war lobby is because of the influence of pro-Israel ‘progressives’ in the movement. These progressives condition their support of ‘peace in Iraq’ only if the movement does not criticize the pro-war Israel lobby in and outside the US government, the role of Israel as a belligerent partner to the US in Lebanon, Palestine and Kurdish Northern Iraq. A movement claiming to be in favor of peace, which refuses to attack the main proponents of war, is pursuing irrelevance: it deflects attention from the pro-Israel high officials in the government and the lobbyists in Congress who back the war and set the White House’s Middle East agenda. By focusing attention exclusively on President Bush, the peace leaders failed to confront the majority pro-Israel Democratic congress people who fund Bush’s war, back his escalation of troops and give unconditional support to Israel’s military option for Iran.
The collapse of the US peace movement, the lack of credibility of most of its leaders and the demoralization of many activists can be traced to strategic political failures: the unwillingness to identify and confront the real pro-war movements and the inability to create a political alternative to the bellicose Democratic Party. The political failure of the leaders of the peace movement is all the more dramatic in the face of the large majority of passive Americans who oppose the war, most of whom did not display their flags this Fourth of July and are not led in tow by either the pro-Israel lobby or their intellectual apologists within progressive circles.
The word to anti-war critics of the world is that over sixty percent of the US public opposes the war but our streets are empty because our peace movement leaders are spineless and politically impotent.
- UFPJ's LeBlanc Waffles on Iraq Withdrawal
- Iraq War Will Worsen
- On the Iraqi Resistance--Take II
- Zionists Out of the Peace Movement
Sunday, July 08, 2007
- Medea Benjamin Gets Pied At US Social Forum (SF Bay Area IMC)
- Communique on USSF Pieing by Agents aNGie O'tool and Cherry Karim (SF Bay Area IMC)
- To Those Who Threw a Pie in My Face, Let’s Swap Recipes (CommonDreams.org)
- Medea Benjamin Pied At US Social Forum! (NYC IMC)
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Louis has some ideas about what explains this attachment to the very military that, years before, was used to kill and dispossess so many Indians. While watching the PBS documentary Last Stand at Little Big Horn (co-written by James Welch and narrated by N. Scott Momaday) last night it was driven home to me that the poor and immigrant soldiers, including the "Buffalo soldiers," who drove the Lakota from their lands in the late 1800s were not much different from the Lakotas who fought for the US in Vietnam or, for that matter, the Lakotas who took control of what became Lakota territory in the 1700s. Here's a quote from Black Hawk--a Lakota veteran of the 1876 battle of the Little Big Horn--from the film: "These lands once belonged to the Kiowas and the Crows but we whipped those nations out of them and in this, we did what the White men do when they want the lands of Indians." Indeed, as a result the US Army was assisted by Crow scouts in their campaign against the Lakota. And so it goes.