Thursday, June 14, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- June 14th edition

June 14, 2006: A Soldier from the 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division stands in position to offer a helping hand to an Iraqi interpreter during a patrol south of Kirkuk

June 14, 2002:

We won't deny our consciences

Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression.

The signers of this statement call on the people of the US to resist the policies and overall political direction that have emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose grave dangers to the people of the world.

We believe that peoples and nations have the right to determine their own destiny, free from military coercion by great powers. We believe that all persons detained or prosecuted by the US government should have the same rights of due process. We believe that questioning, criticism, and dissent must be valued and protected. We understand that such rights and values are always contested and must be fought for.

We believe that people of conscience must take responsibility for what their own governments do - we must first of all oppose the injustice that is done in our own name. Thus we call on all Americans to resist the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral, and illegitimate. We choose to make common cause with the people of the world.

We too watched with shock the horrific events of September 11. We too mourned the thousands of innocent dead and shook our heads at the terrible scenes of carnage - even as we recalled similar scenes in Baghdad, Panama City, and, a generation ago, Vietnam. We too joined the anguished questioning of millions of Americans who asked why such a thing could happen.

But the mourning had barely begun, when the highest leaders of the land unleashed a spirit of revenge. They put out a simplistic script of "good v evil" that was taken up by a pliant and intimidated media. They told us that asking why these terrible events had happened verged on treason. There was to be no debate. There were by definition no valid political or moral questions. The only possible answer was to be war abroad and repression at home.

In our name, the Bush administration, with near unanimity from Congress, not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the right to rain down military force anywhere and anytime. The brutal repercussions have been felt from the Philippines to Palestine, where Israeli tanks and bulldozers have left a terrible trail of death and destruction. The government now openly prepares to wage all-out war on Iraq - a country which has no connection to the horror of September 11. What kind of world will this become if the US government has a blank check to drop commandos, assassins, and bombs wherever it wants?

In our name, within the US, the government has created two classes of people: those to whom the basic rights of the US legal system are at least promised, and those who now seem to have no rights at all. The government rounded up over 1,000 immigrants and detained them in secret and indefinitely. Hundreds have been deported and hundreds of others still languish today in prison. This smacks of the infamous concentration camps for Japanese-Americans in the second world war. For the first time in decades, immigration procedures single out certain nationalities for unequal treatment.

In our name, the government has brought down a pall of repression over society. The President's spokesperson warns people to "watch what they say". Dissident artists, intellectuals, and professors find their views distorted, attacked, and suppressed. The so-called Patriot Act - along with a host of similar measures on the state level - gives police sweeping new powers of search and seizure, supervised if at all, by secret proceedings before secret courts.

In our name, the executive has steadily usurped the roles and functions of the other branches of government. Military tribunals with lax rules of evidence and no right to appeal to the regular courts are put in place by executive order. Groups are declared "terrorist" at the stroke of a presidential pen.

We must take the highest officers of the land seriously when they talk of a war that will last a generation and when they speak of a new domestic order. We are confronting a new openly imperial policy towards the world and a domestic policy that manufactures and manipulates fear to curtail rights.

There is a deadly trajectory to the events of the past months that must be seen for what it is and resisted. Too many times in history people have waited until it was too late to resist.

President Bush has declared: "You're either with us or against us." Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety. We say not in our name. We refuse to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that they are being waged in our name or for our welfare. We extend a hand to those around the world suffering from these policies; we will show our solidarity in word and deed.

We who sign this statement call on all Americans to join together to rise to this challenge. We applaud and support the questioning and protest now going on, even as we recognise the need for much, much more to actually stop this juggernaut. We draw inspiration from the Israeli reservists who, at great personal risk, declare "there is a limit" and refuse to serve in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

We also draw on the many examples of resistance and conscience from the past of the US: from those who fought slavery with rebellions and the underground railroad, to those who defied the Vietnam war by refusing orders, resisting the draft, and standing in solidarity with resisters.

Let us not allow the watching world today to despair of our silence and our failure to act. Instead, let the world hear our pledge: we will resist the machinery of war and repression and rally others to do everything possible to stop it.

Michael Albert
Laurie Anderson
Edward Asner, actor
Russell Banks, writer
Rosalyn Baxandall, historian
Jessica Blank, actor/playwright
Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange
William Blum, author
Theresa Bonpane, executive director, Office of the Americas
Blase Bonpane, director, Office of the Americas
Fr Bob Bossie, SCJ
Leslie Cagan
Henry Chalfant,author/filmmaker
Bell Chevigny, writer
Paul Chevigny, professor of law, NYU
Noam Chomsky
Stephanie Coontz, historian, Evergreen State College
Kia Corthron, playwright
Kevin Danaher, Global Exchange
Ossie Davis
Mos Def
Carol Downer, board of directors, Chico (CA) Feminist Women's Health Centre
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, professor, California State University, Hayward
Eve Ensler
Leo Estrada, UCLA professor, Urban Planning
John Gillis, writer, professor of history, Rutgers
Jeremy Matthew Glick, editor of Another World Is Possible
Suheir Hammad, writer
David Harvey, distinguished professor of anthropology, CUNY Graduate Centre
Rakaa Iriscience, hip hop artist
Erik Jensen, actor/playwright
Casey Kasem
Robin DG Kelly
Martin Luther King III, president, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Barbara Kingsolver
C Clark Kissinger, Refuse & Resist!
Jodie Kliman, psychologist
Yuri Kochiyama, activist
Annisette & Thomas Koppel, singers/composers
Tony Kushner
James Lafferty, executive director, National Lawyers Guild/LA
Ray Laforest, Haiti Support Network
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun magazine
Barbara Lubin, Middle East Childrens Alliance
Staughton Lynd
Anuradha Mittal, co-director, Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First
Malaquias Montoya, visual artist
Robert Nichols, writer
Rev E Randall Osburn, executive vice president, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Grace Paley
Jeremy Pikser, screenwriter
Jerry Quickley, poet
Juan Gumez Quiones, historian, UCLA
Michael Ratner, president, Centre for Constitutional Rights
David Riker, filmmaker
Boots Riley, hip hop artist, The Coup
Edward Said
John J Simon, writer, editor
Michael Steven Smith, National Lawyers Guild/NY
Bob Stein, publisher
Gloria Steinem
Alice Walker
Naomi Wallace, playwright
Rev George Webber, president emeritus, NY Theological Seminary
Leonard Weinglass, attorney
John Edgar Wideman
Saul Williams, spoken word artist
Howard Zinn, historian

Not In Our Name Statement at the Guardian

June 14, 2003:

Improvising Iraq

Two months after the Iraq war ended, it looks as though the US-led occupation authority is getting into serious difficulty. The "organised resistance" acknowledged this week by Paul Bremer, the chief American administrator, seems, at this stage, little more than a symptom of this.

It is true the US military has lost about 40 dead in ambushes and skirmishes, probably with remnants from Saddam Hussein's disintegrated forces (although neither the US nor its British allies seem altogether sure). To some extent that was to be expected. The US-UK invading forces swept through Iraq so quickly that large numbers of their opponents simply disappeared, taking their weapons with them. But the cause of the Coalition Provisional Authority's disarray is deeper.

The occupation so far has been characterised by the most breathtaking improvisation. Advance preparation to fill the postwar vacuum was either absent or self-deluding. Having promised so much, the Americans seem to have done perplexingly little homework. Two months in, CPA officials appear to spend most of their time locked in turf battles inside a former Saddam palace, from which they rarely venture forth to the country and populace they are presuming to govern.

The coalition has still not been able to re-establish security or restore many basic services. At the same time, Mr Bremer and his masters in Washington have angered potential political allies by postponing indefinitely any attempt to build up a representative provisional government. They say they will instead nominate a group of mainly technocratic advisers to the CPA.

It is all beginning to look like a huge gamble.

Read the rest at the Financial Times

June 14, 2004:

Stretching The Troops In Iraq

The army has spent much of the past several months, in the words of a senior Army officer, "looking under rocks for every spare soldier" to send to Iraq. It took formal action last week to stretch its troop strength as far as possible. According to the so-called stop-loss order, soldiers will be kept in uniform for an extra three months before and after their units' one-year stint in Iraq or Afghanistan. By unilaterally extending their enlistments by as much as 18 months, the policy will force tens of thousands of soldiers to put personal plans on hold. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry calls it a "back-door draft."

The Army has already taken several steps to stretch the strapped forces. It has kept units in Iraq beyond the one year that the Army originally pledged that they would be there and has tapped into the ranks of reservists and retirees to bulk up the overall Army force from 480,000 to 640,000. Now it wants to send crack units from California's National Training Center and Louisiana's Joint Readiness Training Center to Iraq, which some fear could hurt prewar training at home.

But will these measures be enough to avoid sending still more troops to Iraq?

Read the rest at Time

June 14, 2005:

U.S., Iraq Negotiate Amnesty for Insurgents

BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. and Iraqi officials are considering difficult-to-swallow ideas — including amnesties for their enemies — as they look for ways to end the country's rampant insurgency and isolate extremists wanting to start a civil war.

Negotiations have just begun between U.S. and Iraqi officials on drafting an amnesty policy, which would reach out to Iraqi militants fighting U.S. forces, say officials in both the Iraqi and American governments.

But foreign extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search), responsible for Iraq's (search) bloodiest attacks, would not be offered any amnesty, the Iraqi and U.S. authorities told The Associated Press in recent days.

The amnesty proposal is seen as a key weapon to split the insurgency between Iraqi and non-Iraqi lines and further alienate foreign fighters like al-Zarqawi.

Iraq's minister for national security said Sunday an amnesty policy is being drawn up, but he said insurgent groups first must do more to convince authorities they are serious about making peace.

"Those who had committed homicides and caused blood shedding for the innocents will be excluded from this amnesty," said the minister, Abdul Karim al-Inizi. "Talking about issuing an amnesty soon is premature as this depends on whether the insurgents want to take a step forward."

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Venable said the Iraqi government has raised the amnesty issue and "we look forward to working closely with the Iraqi government as this idea develops."

"Any successful counterinsurgency strategy requires the U.S. and Iraqi authorities to do everything possible to split the insurgency and persuade as many Sunni elements as possible to join the peaceful political process," said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who says he has been involved in informal talks.

"This does not mean blanket amnesty," he said. It could, however, mean negotiations that lead to "pardoning or ignoring the actions of movements and opposition elements that supported the insurgency when this was done out of nationalism, fear," Cordesman said.

Read the rest at Fox News

June 14, 2006:

Bush: We Will Succeed in Iraq

WASHINGTON — Emphasizing the successes in Iraq a day after returning from a surprise visit there, President Bush said Wednesday that the United States will help Iraq succeed as it heads toward a stable democracy.

"My trip over there gave me confidence that we have a partner that is capable of setting priority and developing a plan to make those priorities, and then following through to see that those priorities are met," Bush told reporters in a Rose Garden press conference.

"I made it very clear to the Iraqis — and I'm going to make it clear to them again right here — that we'll stay with them and help them succeed," he said.

Despite all the good news out of Iraq lately, the president said the threat from Al Qaeda is real, and it must be stopped not just in Iraq but everywhere.

"Iraq is not the only part of this war. It's an essential part. But it's not the only part of the war on terror. And so the decisions I make are all aimed at protecting the American people and understanding the vast stakes involved," he said...

The president said the biggest threat to Iraq now comes from insurgents and Iraqi civilians who would like to prevent the country from achieving the goal of a democratically elected government with a stable infrastructure that allows Iraqis to have confidence in their leaders.

Militarily, among the new efforts being undertaken to build confidence, is Operation Together Forward, which got under way on Wednesday morning in Iraq. The operation, created by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is being carried out by 26,000 Iraqi soldiers, 23,000 Iraqi police and 7,200 coalition forces.

It's purpose is to restore order to Baghdad, a city of 6.5 million people. Iraqi troops will increase the number of checkpoints, enforce a curfew and implement a strict weapons ban across the Iraqi capital. A separate mission will be to restore security in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.

Read the rest at Fox News