Archive for August, 2010
Sunday August 22, the Associated Press reported, “BAGHDAD — An American solider was killed in a rocket attack in southern Iraq on Sunday, the U.S. military said, marking the first American fatality since the last combat unit in Iraq pulled out of the country.”
As the “last” combat brigade left Iraq, President Obama prepares to give a major speech this week. He probably won’t claim victory; that would be laughable. He will claim that the U.S. is taking responsible action, now that the Iraqis are ready to “step up” and run “their own” country. This is the same plan the Bush regime had, but framed and re-branded, Obama-style, to cover a thoroughly illegitimate occupation.
Jeremy Scahill said on Democracy Now earlier this month, that the combat role is shifting to the State Department which “has plans to remake some US bases into what they call ‘enduring presence posts,’ EPPs. And so, you’ll have these outposts around the country that are essentially—what is essentially unfolding here is a downsized and rebranded occupation, Obama-style, that is going to necessitate a surge in private forces. The State Department is asking for MRAP vehicles, armored vehicles, for Black Hawk helicopters and for these paramilitary forces. So, yes, you can say that officially combat has ended, but in reality you’re continuing it through the back door by bringing in these paramilitary forces and classifying them as diplomatic security, which was Bush’s game from the very beginning.”
But don’t think the military is really leaving. General Ray Odierno, who’s in charge in Iraq, says they’ll stay or come back at the discretion of the administration. More troops left Ft. Hood this morning, see below.
There are still 50,000 troops “advising” the Iraqi government which rules through US backing; the biggest embassy in the world ever; civil society in shambles, and no stability for the people. Adil E. Shamoo, a professor of ethics, writes in What You Will Not Hear About Iraq, ” Iraq has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. What a havoc the United States has wreaked in Iraq…For the past few decades, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in slums in Iraq hovered just below 20 percent. Today, that percentage has risen to 53 percent: 11 million of the 19 million total urban dwellers.”
Chris Floyd in The Peace Laureate’s Prayer: War Without End, Amen
So while the “last full U.S. combat brigade” have left Iraq, just under 50,000 soldiers from specially trained heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades will stay, as well as two combat aviation brigades …
There are seven Advise and Assist Brigades in Iraq, as well as two additional National Guard infantry brigades “for security,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Ratcliff. …
The Army selected brigade combat teams as the unit upon which to build advisory brigades partly because they would be able to retain their inherent capability to conduct offensive and defensive operations, according to the Army’s security force assistance field manual, which came out in May 2009. This way, the brigade can shift the bulk of its operational focus from security force assistance to combat operations if necessary.
Stephanie Tang from World Can’t Wait joined anti-war veterans Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord on the Lettieri & Poole show, KGO Newstalk Radio (San Francisco) Saturday August 21, for a talk about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and WikiLeaks.
Josh and Ethan were in Iraq with Bravo Company 2-16, the unit whose Apache helicopter attack on civilians is now known to the world thanks to the Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” video. Ethan is seen in that video, carrying a wounded Iraqi child to find a medic. After returning from Iraq, Josh and Ethan wrote An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People: From Current and Former Members of the US Military.
|Scott Trent answers an article, “Eight things Obama has done to make the world a more peaceful place” with The Truth About Obama’s “Accomplishments” and the Need to Build a Mass Movement|
When an activist from World Can’t Wait sent me a link to Thursday’s Pentagon press conference, and called Geoff Morell, their spokesman a “pompus ass,” I thought that wasn’t really a news flash.
But really, to get the full impact of the government’s threat to Julian Assange & Wikileaks for revealing the government’s “property,” you have to see Morell’s sneer as the Pentagon reacted to Wikileak’s posting of its huge “insurance” file, presumably designed to make sure the information is still available if their sites are shut down, or they are rounded up.
The press corps pushed Morell to answer why the Pentagon wants Wikileaks to physically turn over material that’s been viewed and downloaded by millions, and is in the possession of major world newspapers, and what would happen to Julian Assange in particular. Morell ominously repeated that Wikileaks has to “do the right thing” and comply… or else.
For his part Assange is assuredly firm in his motivations for releasing the documents detailing the every day operations of the US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan in War Diaries (wardiary.wikileaks.org). In a video interview with The Economist Assange says “true information does good.” And below, the Guardian interviews him, headlining, “Julian Assange on the Afghanistan war logs: ‘They show the true nature of this war.’”
“All of the people involved in releasing these WikiLeak documents are taking heroic actions to tell the world about the crimes U.S. imperialism is committing in Afghanistan. They are literally risking their lives. And it is up to anyone with a sense of moral responsibility to humanity-to not turn their eyes, to not change the channel- but instead to act with real resolve to put an end to such crimes.”
Some passersby walked by slowly, stopping just long enough to see what we were doing – but then as they kept going they’d start talking about it. A guy commented to his friend “Oh that’s Wikileaks, the helicopter video.” Couples would start exchanging views about the war in Iraq. A group headed into a restaurant would be chatting about wine and vacations — then suddenly they were talking about Wikileaks and what each other thought about the whistleblowers leaking war documents.