Posts Tagged war
Six anti-war activists and leaders, aged 30 through 75 were sentenced on March 19 to eight hours “community service,” and $125 court costs for a disorderly conduct conviction arising from a protest 300 people made December 1, 2009, when Obama announced, inside the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a huge expansion of US troops to Afghanistan.
Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux, Tarak Kauff, Alison Beth Levy, and Richie Marini agreed to serve the time, washing Highland Falls, NY, ambulances and police cars, and pay the fee. Beverly Rice asked that she be able to send funds instead to the National Lawyers Guild, and when that was denied, she took jail time, on the basis of conscience. Her sentence was ten days at the Orange County jail, where she was taken immediately. The sheriff says Bev, 75, will be released early.
The case had gone on for more than 3 years. After one of two disorderly conduct convictions was overturned on a pro se appeal, a new judge delayed sentencing because court records were “lost” in Hurricane Irene. He then forced the defendants to appear two more times with an attorney before sentencing. The courtroom in Highland Falls was packed with mostly young people charged with traffic and other violations, at least one in an Army uniform. Everyone listened quietly as most of the defendants made pre-sentence statements to the judge.
Elaine Brower said she had been outside the gate at West Point to “petition my government” to stop the war. “My son did ten years in the Marine Corps, two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He has done horrible things” as part of the U.S. war on those countries. She said “I am seeing that injustice in the eyes of my son who is emotionally wounded.”
Elaine went on to say that “we have no recourse” to get the government’s attention except our legally permitted right to assemble. “They keep sending young men and women to kill. We protested at West Point when Bush was president, and we had to be there when Obama expanded the war on Afghanistan. And we’ll be here when the next president invades a sovereign nation. Humanity and the planet come first. Crimes are crimes, no matter who does them.”
Richie Marini’s statement included:
The United States has an incredibly violent history as we stand here today on land acquired through Genocidal means and can claim title to the only country to ever use an atomic weapon of mass destruction against another. The United States government continues down this trajectory of violence today with it’s use of torture, extraordinary rendition and drones that murder innocent civilians every day. It commits these violent acts to sustain itself by creating new markets, obtaining resources and enslaving people into it’s system in order to prevent itself from collapsing at the expense of innocent lives abroad…
Despite the penalties imposed upon me here today I will continue to work effortlessly to organize the citizens of Highland Falls and elsewhere to put stop the crimes of this government. As an Humanitarian, this is the greatest service that I can do for the citizens of Highland Falls, the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere… Read more
Bev Rice said she would not apologize for the protest:
A total of 2177 American soldiers have been killed during the eleven years we have been fighting in Afghanistan.
1230 have been killed since we were arrested three years ago? How many more have been wounded? How many more have been sent home suffering emotional and mental illnesses? Consider, 22 veterans commit suicide each day! Consider also the sorrowful loss for the family and friends of our dead and wounded soldiers. I consider these each and every day.
I am proud to have been involved in the protest, and to have participated in the defense of the West Point Six. We need more people willing to speak the truth, and put themselves on the line to stop the crimes of our government.
Yes, I know it wasn’t all of the countries of the Americas which made war on Iraq. It was the United States of America, as Barack Obama is so fond of saying, dragging along with it the coalition of the bribed and coerced. Just as it was for the Vietnamese people an American war, while we called it the Vietnam War, this one is known in Iraq as the American War. We have to accept that.
It was the U.S. government that heaped crippling economic sanctions, and lots of missile strikes, on Iraq, through the 90′s, leading to the deaths of an estimated 500,000 children. Using the 9/11 attack as an opportunity, George W. Bush, “Dick” Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the rest of the regime concocted their “yellow-cake uranium” and “secular Saddam Hussein befriending al Qaeda” stories, with the aim of rolling through Iraq toward Iran, strengthening U.S. control of the strategic Middle East.
The 2003 war, says Larry Everest, author of Oil Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda
was not waged to eliminate “terrorism,” destroy weapons of mass destruction, or liberate the Iraqi people. Instead, it was an unjust war of aggression, conquest and greater empire.
We know this, but sometimes we forget that this war destroyed the infrastructure, cultural history and morale of an advanced, literate society with a long history, in the name of removing a despotic ruler the U.S. at one time supported heavily.
The American war on Iraq was our war to stop — had people living in this country responded as we should have, with sustained protest, making the prosecution of the war, and the legitimacy of the Bush regime itself, a fundamental question for tens of millions. Indeed, the mass protests denied Bush the coalition he wanted, and weakened the U.S. efforts globally so much that the war went very badly for the U.S. But at what a price for the people of Iraq!
Michael Otterman’s book Erasing Iraq: The Human Cost of Carnage, written with Robert Hill and Paul Wilson, is one of the few to look at what the U.S. did to Iraq. Otterman was interviewed in the Washington Report on the Middle East Affairs:
A study published in October 2006 by the prestigious medical journal Lancet provides the most reliable estimate to date. Their methodology, Otterman explained, “was the same the U.S. government uses to count the dead in conflict areas, including Kosovo.” The study’s findings were that approximately 655,000 excess Iraqi deaths had occurred, including both militants and civilians.
But much violence has occurred since then, Otterman noted, and by extrapolating the data through to the present, a rough estimate of one million deaths can be made.
“When you combine this figure with the more than five million displaced since 2003,” he said, “you begin to get a sense of the deep, permanent level of destruction the United States has unleashed.”
Describing the level of trauma as “truly incalculable,” Otterman asked: “How do you quantify this human toll? The answer: Simply by reading and accessing the narratives of Iraqis that have lived through this very real sociocide. In Erasing Iraq, we quote dozens of refugees in Syria, Jordan, and Sweden, plus a slew of Iraqi bloggers who lived through the carnage in real time. These narratives exist in sharp contrast to the bland, misleading, or propagandistic accounts of war featured heavily in the mainstream news outlets. Only by engaging directly with Iraqi narratives can outsiders get a true sense of the human costs of war in Iraq.
See The Fallujah Project, which writes:
The U.S. occupation has had horrible effects on the Iraqi population, but Fallujah has suffered more than any other Iraqi city. Fallujah is to the Occupation of Iraq, what My Lai was to the Vietnam War, and what Hiroshima and Nagasaki were to World War II.
In the video below, which World Can’t Wait posted to YouTube in 2006, and which has been viewed more than 700,000 times since then, a scene much like that captured in the notorious Collateral Murder is seen from the gunsights of a US F-16, as a crowd of people in Fallujah is gunned down:
As we mark 10 years since the “shock and awe” beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a massive assemblage of war crimes carried out in our name, let’s fully look at what was done.
I received a large number of thoughtful responses to the message sent this past Tuesday, so I’m reprinting some now to enlarge the discussion (minus names):
From Cambridge, MA:
1. Our Pledge of Resistance didn’t work for Iraq. I sincerely and sadly conclude that a great deal more has to go wrong in this country in order to make people so unhappy that they will risk their lives and possessions in the cause of major reform here in the U.S., including our government’s commitment to endless war.
Remember our responses to the invasion of Iraq or any of the other “errors” of the Bush Administration, now being (in effect) ratified by President Obama. Compare our responses to those of protestors in the “Arab Spring.” Look at those being killed in Syria nearly every day.
The U.S. may have too many safety valves to keep it from blowing up. We have town meetings and peaceful demonstrations to vent our political displeasure; we have many, but not sufficient, safety nets for the poor; we have plenty of reformers working to correct wrongs in plenty of fields of endeavor. And we have the corporate media and the politicians who have been bought by corporations to tell us that everything is all right and to explain away any problems we discover.
Maybe the U.S. is too diverse and too large to ever have an effective and major reform movement or revolution. My own priorities are very different from those of Texans, Floridians, and the good people of the Mid West.
Can we all agree? Shouldn’t we first find out what we do agree on, then protest in an attempt to change it? The OWS protestors have done a great service for us. They have opened up the discourse and given a voice to many who haven’t had a voice until now. They have united the idealistic and given us hope.
But they have also opened a space to compare our OWS responses with those protestors in the “Arab Spring.” And I, for now, am skeptical of the possibility for meaningful change.
I pray that I am wrong.
I found only one thing ‘speaks’ to imaginations of western citizen who do not seem to be able to activate those imaginations themselves:
Turn the tables, tell the story of the US being submitted to such outrage, having it’s nuclear warehouses ‘bunker-busted’, its oil exports blocked, its crucial imports blocked, in short having its population, including women and children going into severe suffering, exactly as had happened in Iraq before the actual war.
Help them to imagine what it would mean in their daily lives, if for instance China would impose such ‘sanctions’ on them …
Iranians are no more idiots than we are ourselves and are perfectly capable of logical reasoning.
One of the oldest cultures known to mankind and still going strong. They could teach us many a lesson, in many a field, including being a peaceful nation.
If all Americans had to be judged -and attacked- on the basis of the behaviour of their presidents, the country would have been ransacked, bombed and the population decimated since a long time.
After all, the outrages of the US government may seem less than those of the Iranian one because they are familiar, but may the one who truly is without sin, throw the first stone.
- Iran so far has not dropped any nuclear bomb on anyone, and would be a complete idiot if it did so on Israel, because its fall-out would be disastrous for itself.
Both litterally through self-contamination if the winds would not cooperate and world-wide politically, including attacks by Arab neigbours of Israel who would automatically also be victims (Saudi Arabia reportedly already suggested quite some time ago to the US to attack Iran), as you cannot contain a nuclear bomb’s outreach with Hesco’s. In other words, such an attack would be utter and complete suicide.
The US have. In a far more distant country, so with less risk for self-contamination and no risk whatsoever of rnuclear etaliation. Not to mention life-endangering tests in Nevada and who knows where else.
- There is no proof that Iran has or is even seriously trying to get nuclear weapons. Remember the Iraq hoax?
As I’m typing this, another volley of those bloody army helicopters (always in couples) flies over the neighbourhood, having all my window panes rattling, that’s how low they fly …
From New Mexico:
The craziness of the Republican candidates for saying they would support any kind of illegal terrorist action against Iran, efficiently bypasses any sensible measures for ending the war in the Middle East. I was not surprised that Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and the other guy that’s not Ron Paul agreed on illegal means of sabotaging any improvements in Iran’s energy problems.
Experts have concurred that Iran is not increasing their nuclear capabilities to attack the West, still the paranoia of these political jerks will tell us anything to get us to support their desire to attack Iran. One needs to realize that Iran supplies oil to numerous countries including Russia, China and Japan to name three, and Vladimir Putin has already warned the U.S. to keep their bloody hands off Iran.
There never seems to be any end to sanctions against Iran, since the U.S. is still angry with Iran for taking the hostages from the embassy in 1979. Not only did Iran feel completely helpless when the Shah, a puppet ruler supporting U.S. interests, broke the country’s back with his cruel reign of terror. The Ayatollah Khommenie came next to push Iran further back in time, but anything was better than the Shah!
China has remained quiet so far but I can see them allying against the U.S. should they keep up this bullying of oil rich nations in the Middle East. Any lie they can come up with seems to be the applied to create more negative propaganda for future wars. These would be raged against Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Pakistan (all at once if they could pull it off). In the midst of an economic collapse, tax payers are to shoulder the costs of all these planned wars. What the hell are we to do, continue fueling their nonsensical war machine?
The government still wants to imprison and torture its own citizens for not supporting more illegal wars. Obama passed the NADAA on 31 December 2011 to make the world a ‘battleground’ and put more people in FEMA camps. That’s the National Assisted Defense (&) Detention Act, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) completely botched Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. We are in worlds of trouble now!
*Get petitions going, maybe both from WorldCantWait and other
centers, against any war, assassinations, support of anti-Iran
terrorist organizations, against Iran. The petition
is a good example, but has much too limited a number of
signers. 10,000 academics would make a real impression.
Another petition containing 100,000′s of thousands of
people from the WEB would make an impression.
*Conduct a pole of what the real attitudes of Americans
are as regards Iran, by a recognized poling company, e.g., Zogby.
Funds could be sought from philanthropists or your
lists of people. How much would this cost. Would
Zogby himself give a good deal?
Follow up with information correcting erroneous
propaganda. Involve Bill Moyer, and various
*Make the connection with OWS, the aims of the 1%,
and impending Iran War. The 99% are the cannon fodder,
and pay for the war, to boot. [Bush pushed the Iraq war
for the 1%, also for Israel and Neocons [all related]. The
99% were lulled into sleep by the housing/financials bubble.
A free war! And in the end, the people bailed out the banks.]
*Simple anti-War demonstrations are good. Focus solely
on the Iran issue.
*Wonder what the differences are of WorldCantWait and
*Sorry if you have gone over the above ideas many times.
There are already a lot of people who are against this war. We have to
remind those going to war that we the people can see exactly what they are
doing and we say NO. Also make it clear that we are not taking sides. Iran
also has problems that need to be addressed and that have to be solved. We
are at a cross roads where nobody will gain from this war if nuclear weapons
are to be involved thus necessitating the continued lying about the peaceful
use of uranium. There is no one on this planet that can safely deal with
mining uranium and handling nuclear waste. If the war posturing continues so
does the slow contamination of our planet through nuclear waste released by
nuclear reactors and nuclear accidents. The seriousness of this is being
ignored as nuclear weapons and who has them is a power tool. Those using it
have deluded themselves into thinking that what they are doing is OK. The
whole peaceful atom myth is a huge terrible lie that is harming people all
over the Globe as we speak. What has happened in Fukushima is being covered
up. Somehow we must continue to let people know the truth about the dangers
of using uranium and the myth of the peaceful atom. The countries using
uranium now are causing huge harm and must stop using uranium. The use of
procuring nuclear weapons as a just reason to go to war must be revealed for
what it is a big lie. I am Canadian and writing a blitz of letters to the
leaders of nuclear countries letting them know we know the truth about the
nuclear game. If there is a war with Iran they will never get away with
saying it is just this time. The people of the world will rise up together.
As well if they continue they will end up making themselves sick.
Controlling the world through money and oil is one thing – the contamination
is quite severe but nuclear contamination there is no coming back from that.
This is a difficult situation that we find ourselves in but we the people
have to let the powers be know that we will accept nothing less than the
truth and world peace!
Its time to write to the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.N. To let
them know we can see that they are pushing the war. We see through the War
on Terror but against we are not taking sides we are calling for Peace. All
nuclear energy countries let them know we will not accept nuclear energy and
nuclear weapons as a just reason to go to war and the powers that be will
now not have any peace because they will have to go to overt dictatorships
to hold their power. The people will rise up and not endorse anyone who says
this war is just. It is going to take all the people who love our planet
Earth and desire peace in every country and every part of the war to say NO
in one voice. A peace petition to every part of the World would be
wonderful. I don’t know how to set up a world wide partition but that would
be powerful. The time is now. There has to be a way to also get people not
on the Internet to participate. Perhaps get volunteers from every town and
city to get real signatures and mail in letters.
I think if you want to challenge the American people to mobilize to stop imperial wars, one thing which should be done — which a group of my friends and myself discussed over this past weekend — is to present the American people with the total cost of perpetual imperial war at every level of their daily lives, and to demonstrate to them that they are paying an extremely high price for imperial wars, and just how this state of perpetual warfare is taking a heavy toll on them in ways they don’t even realize.
Americans are vaguely aware of the economic cost of perpetual imperial wars, but the other costs of perpetual war — on the social, psychological, moral, cultural and spiritual levels — remain hidden from them, and when these costs of war remain hidden from the people, they will continue to silently sanction imperial wars, especially when a particular religious institution wants these imperial wars to prove that their belief is “superior” to all others.
So, presenting the hidden costs of perpetual war on our society, spirituality, culture, morality and our overall psychological health and well-being in a powerful, tangible, undeniable way to the American people will be necessary if you’re going to out and challenge Americans to stop perpetual imperial wars.
I think you should use whatever media and social activist groups are at hand to spread the word and encourage people to contact their congresspeople, senators and the President immediately before people are killed and retaliation by Iran is made possible.
Points which I think would be good to emphasize in order to influence people to act are…
“Pre-emptive” invasion is WRONG – it is immoral, illegal & insane
No matter how you look at it – it makes the US the bad guy!
WHY SHOULD WE MAKE WAR ON INNOCENT PEOPLE TO ENRICH SOCIOPATHS?
It is high time we took a path to peace and freedom at home and
overseas. We cannot dictate or force another country to step
away from nuclear weaponry until we do! Also, in these times
war wreaks long-term environmental damage on its victims which
eventually affect everyone worldwide.
Iran has powerful allies and their is more risk of retaliation
than with Iraq and Afghanistan. WE HAVE MORE TO FEAR IF WE
INVADE THAN IF WE DON’T.
We CANNOT afford another aggressive mistake – haven’t we learned
from Iraq & Afghanistan that we cannot win and will only
further weaken our country by impoverishing the people more.
Congress needs to focus on taking care of business at home and
quit meddling in the affairs of far distant countries.
Congress must listen to WE, the people instead of making
arbitrary & thoughtless blunders which serve only a few.
What about the BUDGET, the BUDGET, the BUDGET!!! Congress,
especially Republicans have been crying there is no $$ for
infrastructure and social programs – so how is there $$ for
another war especially when the very rich and corporations do
not pay taxes!!
Making war in Iran would be the greatest outrage committed by
the American government yet!!! I, for one am so tied of being
ruled by hateful megalomaniacs.
Thanks for all you do!
War is not the answer. It always loses. So we must discourage all talk of war, and actions which escalate tensions that lead to war. For Christians this means “Love thine enemies, do good to those who despise you…” For non-Christians it means to treasure and protect the lives of fellow human beings.
The people in the USA who hate war will stand up to protest any war. But the many who seem to love war, who feel so much more “American” when the country is sending young people to kill and to die….those people will only be challenged to NOT want war with Iran if we can convince them that any more wars will only Hurt their Wallets and pocket books. If we can show them with financial statistics how war is making them have less money, possessions, power, etc. then maybe they will stop waving their American Flags and beating their chests and calling for war – while they sit in their very rich homes far from the killing fields!!
Of course, this will not convince those folks who financially profit greatly from war (so we need to convince them by some other method, not sure how).
Thank you for all you do for all of us,
Debra thanks for asking for input. Bottom line is that the US must withdraw military funding for Israel. Its not enough for Obama to not want to go to war with Netanyahu. If Israel attacks Iran with or without Obama’s approval, it is a US funded war, hence a US war. It is not only wrong. It will be a war crime and constitute crimes against humanity. It seems to me that all other arguments are superfluous. If we fund it, its ours. Look forward to your report back from the meeting. Hope all is well for you. Will you be in California anytime soon?
From Washington state:
One message needs to get out: YOU CANNOT MAKE PEACE BY WAGING WAR. No matter how we differ from others, no matter how eggregious their actions may seem to be, WAR IS A LIE and it will NEVER solve even one problem. That is the simple truth. If sufficient people were to realize how important it is for the US to ACT ON THOSE WORDS, we could solve many problems in our country and in the world.
From West Virginia:
Tell them the biggest victims of both sanctions and war against Iran are the very young, the very old, the sick and the infirm. Tell them the winners of both sanctions and war are the ruling Mullahs, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, the military and the weapons makers. Tell them Iran is more than five times as big as Iraq and 100 times more powerful. Tell them we will be there for 50 years. And finally, tell them the instant we attack Iran the price of gasoline will more than triple, shortly after that the price of food will triple.
Wow! doesn’t this seem like deja vu from 10 years ago! Since the
ruling class wants to dehumanize Iran, ti is on us to humanize them.
Like the article mentions, it is not to sanitize the oppressive
Iranian regime, but recognize the humanity of the people of Iran.
Promote cultural exchanges ASAP, let Iranian students address OWS
gatherings to show solidarity with our struggle, as the Egyptians did,
Films by and about Iranian society would help. Media access for
politically aware Iranian activists. Maybe a joint music festival.
Maybe a joint delegation of US citizens and Iranians going to Congress
to let them see faces of real people who are not anti-American, but
only anti-war policies that threaten all of us. Some in Congress are
beyond hope, of course, but we don’t need them all. We need to
pre-empt the war, which we were not able to do in 2002, despite huge
numbers. Then of course there is the Israeli factor. I guess the
logical thing would be to convince influential Jewish people here that
an aggressive war against Iran would be counter-productive for
Israel’s security. A tough sell, but doable. Rabbi Michael Lerner is a
good place to start.
PS meanwhile, all hands on deck vs NDAA. In Maine, the two Rep.
Senators voted for, while the two Dem representatives voted against.
If allowed to stand, it flushed Bill of Rights down the toilet.
An irony acutely felt this week:
Tens of thousands of people in the U.S., taking the lead from millions in the Middle East, are “occupying” public spaces, seeking change in the the world as it is, standing up to authority, power, and blowing the ceiling off expectations that the vast disparity in global income “has to” be as it is. We’ve got to spread these occupations!
Hundreds of thousands of U.S. military, support staff and private contractors are “occupying” two countries in the Middle East, in a mission to enforce, with a vengeance, U.S. domination over the region, employing night raids, torture, and terror towards the civilian population. We’ve got to end those occupations!
We marked the 10th anniversary of the Bush regime’s bombing and invasion of Afghanistan last week, with protests across the U.S. which were in many cases intermingled with the Occupy Wall Street protests, and in all cases influenced by the outpouring of public anger at the system.
Significantly, a protest in Kabul by Afghans demanded the occupiers leave.
paints a devastating picture of abuse, citing evidence of “systematic torture” during interrogations by Afghan intelligence and police officials even as American and other Western backers provide training and pay for nearly the entire budget of the Afghan ministries running the detention centers.
Detainees — and we’ve known this since November 2001, when the U.S. first set up operations at an old Afghan prison in Bagram — are hung by their hands and beaten with cables, their genitals twisted until they lose consciousness. Because of the Obama administration’s successful argument that the prisoners are not entitled to habeas corpus rights, they have no way out.
This is in no way a departure from all the rest of the Bush war crimes begun 10 years ago. The NY Times, which editorially opposes torture, while supporting the wars in which the U.S. uses it, said today
such widespread use of torture in a detention system supported by American mentors and money raises serious questions about potential complicity of American officials and whether they benefited from information obtained from suspects who had been tortured….There have been a number of instances that raise similar questions in other places, including Uzbekistan, Pakistan and El Salvador, according to a RAND Corporation report in 2006.
This systematic abuse must be working for the United States government. According to Glenn Greenwald, the Obama administration
unveiled plans for “the construction of Detention Facility in Parwan (DFIP), Bagram, Afghanistan” which includes “detainee housing capability for approximately 2000 detainees.” It will also feature “guard towers, administrative facility and Vehicle/Personnel Access Control Gates, security surveillance and restricted access systems.” The announcement provided: ”the estimated cost of the project is between $25,000,000 to $100,000,000.”
This occupation won’t be ended by Obama, or any presidents to follow him, unless people in this country demand it.
Raise your voice! January 11, 2012, we’ll be back in Washington on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, marking it with a protest/human chain of 2,200 people. We’ll stand for the 171 prisoners in Guantanamo, with no way out, and the 2,000 some at Bagram, with no legal standing. Join in!
Over the last few years, people have looked around at the movement for social justice and said, often, “Where are the youth?” This past week, in NYC they have been out on the streets, crackling with frustration, outrage, energy, and some hope and joy at just standing against what they can’t bear to be a part of.
Monday through Thursday evenings last week in NYC, they turned out for rallies, vigils, and marches at Union Square, Columbia University, NYU, in Harlem, and down to Wall Street, against the “legal lynching” of Troy Davis.
Beginning last Saturday, hundreds of mostly young people, including students, have been occupying Zuccotti Park (Broadway & Liberty) as part of the Occupy Wall Street action.
Though they don’t have an organization, or a set of demands, they are organizing themselves into a structured effort to wake up the population to the vast disparity between wealth and poverty, saying that they speak for the “99%” who have no power in the society. People are arriving to join in from around the U.S., and from around the globe.
Today, hundreds of mostly young people marched from lower Broadway to Union Square as part of Occupy Wall Street. It was a loud, energetic, even boisterous, but peaceful crowd chanting “we are the 99% — and so are you!” and “join us!”
Thousands of shoppers in SOHO and tourists and New Yorkers were snapping photos and waving thumbs up. Cab drivers were honking in rhythm with the drummers. Troy Davis was present via signs, as people refused to resign ourselves to his execution.
After we made it to Union Square with only about 6 arrests, the NYPD pulled out the orange plastic nets and pepper spray, and arrested upwards of 80 people, for nothing but being in the street, and in some cases, on the sidewalk. They staged a mass arrest reminiscent of the police state atmosphere they created in 2004 at the Republican National Convention where George W. was crowned again. It appears from video that people with cameras were specifically targeted for arrest, as they were in 2004.
The New York Times blog reports
Protest organizers estimated that about 85 people had been arrested and that about five were struck with pepper spray. Among those was Chelsea Elliott, 25, who said that she was sprayed after shouting “Why are you doing that?” as an officer arrested a protester at East 12th Street.
“I was on the ground sobbing and couldn’t breathe,” she said. The ongoing protests, against a financial system that participants say favors the rich and powerful over ordinary citizens, started last Saturday, and were coordinated by a New York group called the General Assembly.
The mass arrests are outrageous! You can see more here, including live feed from Zuccotti Park, where people are feeding themselves and the homeless, playing music, talking to tourists, and working to free their arrested friends, with the help of the National Lawyers Guild.
As of this evening, up to 100 people remain in police custody.
The occupation of Wall Street will soon be joined by an occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. on October 6.
In 10 days, it will be 10 years since the Bush regime began its bombing and invasion of Afghanistan; an illegitimate, unjust, immoral targeting of one of the poorest countries on earth.
Sign up to be part of World Can’t Wait’s dramatic visual antiwar presence at the Thursday, October 6 encampment October2011.org at Freedom Plaza, Washington DC. See more at TenYearsandCounting and worldcantwait.net.
Since hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. marched against the Iraq war in 2002/2003, I’ve been part of hundreds of conversations with people who wonder: what happened? Those mass mobilizations (which happened because the Democrats were so paralyzed they could neither get out in front of them nor offer a peep of resistance to the oncoming war themselves) were not futile. Worldwide, that was the largest, quickest mobilization against a war in history. Our combined action deprived the Bush regime from having the coalition it wished for, when the “willing” nations dwindled in the face of world public opinion.
But yes, Bush & Cheney, surely the most unpopular leaders in generations, held on, wreaking havoc abroad and here. We failed to mount to level of protest necessary to drive them from office in disgrace; instead, Bush was succeeded by an unlikely Democrat, elected largely to overcome the outrage at the Bush regime. Two occupations, and a couple of secret wars, continue – in the longest-running active military campaign by the largest-ever military (I know “combat” troops have left Iraq; yet 17 U.S. bases remain, along with 50,000 troops and uncounted private contractors).
All sorts of protest, from weekly vigils, to large street protests, civil disobedience, active duty military resistance, droves of soldiers going awol, high school walk-outs, protests inside Congress, dramatic die-ins, involving tens of thousands of arrests have not stopped them. I know people are agonized, and wonder which tactics will work. If we avoid Saturday protests and focus on weekdays, will that get their attention? If we put all our energies into one great Saturday march, will that be enough to get national media attention? If we throw our bodies across arbitrary lines to get arrested? Will they who make the wars ever be made to stop?
All those actions – and more – are part of what it would take to force the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan, and to abandon the ground war and drones in Pakistan. It’s not a matter of protest tactics. We need controversy dividing every institution in society, from religious to educational, over whether these wars, and those who advocate them, are legitimate. We must find a way to bring in those under 18, who may not even remember the evil Bush regime, but who will be pressed into service for Obama’s successor.
We can’t rely on mainstream media to relate our demands; we can’t fail to challenge them to do so. We’ve got to use every outrage as a way of educating people to understand that these wars are fundamentally against the interests of the people living in this country, and of those who are occupied… and that your government is lying to you.
All that said, World Can’t Wait will continue to be in the streets with visible protest, weekdays, weekends, and when it can make a difference. We’re determined to expand the We Are Not Your Soldiers program, bringing veterans of Iraq & Afghanistan into high school classrooms.
There is nothing like coming face to face with someone who has “been there” to burst illusions about what being an occupier is like. There’s an 85% chance that someone joining the military now will be sent to a combat zone. They will be trained to follow orders that involve the commission of war crimes and violations of civilians’ rights, and not to question those orders. Someone who has seen what that training does to themselves and those they occupy can stop kids from going into the military.
That’s a worthwhile effort to stop the wars. I hope you’ll donate to the World Can’t Wait end of year fund-raising drive. Designate your donation for “We Are Not Your Soldiers” if you wish.
Can you imagine the conversation in the Obama administration since the cables have been released by Wikileaks.org? Attorney General Eric Holder, who can’t find a reason to prosecute anyone for actual torture, says ominously, referring to the legal difficulties in possible U.S. prosecution of Julian Assange,
“To the extent there are gaps in our laws, we will move to close those gaps, which is not to say that anybody at this point, because of their citizenship or their residence, is not a target or a subject of an investigation.”
But Robert Gates, whose Pentagon has been threatening Wikileaks openly since the Afghan War Diaries release in July, said on November 30:
“I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought… Many governments — some governments — deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation…Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.’’
The refrain from the government goes: Wikileaks is guilty of terrible crimes which “endanger national security;” they have blood on their hands…but, for damage control purposes, it’s not such a big deal when what they revealed. Yet pressure was placed on Amazon.com this week to remove Wikileaks from its servers. The site is up now, after being removed from Amazon.com’s servers Wednesday December 1.
The Department of Justice no doubt exerted pressure on Interpol to put out a warrant for Julian Assange on sexual misconduct charges from a prosecutor in Sweden that have been off and on again. Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange’s British attorneys, said the warrant from Sweden was highly unusual for the charges, and that Assange is not in hiding, but is taking care of his personal safety, given threats by people in power against him. See more today on Democracy Now.
Glenn Greenwald, on Salon.com writes about the kinds of attacks on Assange and takes them on:
“The group demanding that Julian Assange be murdered without any charges, trial or due process. There was Sarah Palin on on Twitter illiterately accusing WikiLeaks — a stateless group run by an Australian citizen — of “treason”; she thereafter took to her Facebook page to object that Julian Assange was “not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders” (she also lied by stating that he has “blood on his hands”: a claim which even the Pentagon admits is untrue). Townhall’s John Hawkins has a column this morning entitled ”5 Reasons The CIA Should Have Already Killed Julian Assange.” That Assange should be treated as a “traitor” and murdered with no due process has been strongly suggested if not outright urged by the likes of Marc Thiessen, Seth Lipsky (with Jeffrey Goldberg posting Lipsky’s column and also illiterately accusing Assange of “treason”), Jonah Goldberg, Rep. Pete King, and, today, The Wall Street Journal.
Those who demand that the U.S. Government take people’s lives with no oversight or due process as though they’re advocating changes in tax policy or mid-level personnel moves — eradicate him!, they bellow from their seats in the Colosseum — are just morally deranged barbarians. There’s just no other accurate way to put it. These are usually the same people, of course, who brand themselves “pro-life” and Crusaders for the Sanctity of Human Life and/or who deride Islamic extremists for their disregard for human life.”
In addition to the New York Times and other US mainstream media who are spinning the story of the cables in support of US domination of other countries, there are journalists analyzing the content of the cable leaks from the standpoint of justice. Scott Horton, on Democracy Now December 1, talked about what was revealed over the last years, when the U.S. strongly pressured Spain not to prosecute Bush regime officials over rendition and indefinite detention. Democracy Now summarizes:
U.S. officials were especially alarmed when prosecutors in Spain and Germany began comparing notes on their investigations into CIA extraordinary rendition flights. U.S. officials said, quote, ‘This co-ordination among independent investigators will complicate our efforts to manage this case at a discreet government-to-government level.’ The investigation in Germany was in regard to the CIA abduction and rendition of German citizen Khaled El-Masri. He was wrongly abducted and flown to Afghanistan, where he was held for months without charge. When it looked like 13 CIA agents might be charged in the case, the U.S. embassy in Berlin stepped in and, according to one leaked cable, threatened, quote, that ‘issuance of international arrest warrants would have a negative impact on our bilateral relationship.’
Gareth Porter dug into the disinformation U.S. diplomats put out on Iran in Russians Refuted U.S. Claim of Iranian Missile Threat to Europe. Glen Ford takes apart US policy towards Iran in American Racism on Display in WikiLeaks Iran Cable:
Jeremy Scahill, this morning on Democracy Now, spoke to the open lies of the United States, specifically the Obama administration, in denying that the U.S. has military operations going on now in Pakistan. The cables show otherwise. Democracy Now. Scahill exposes the Pakistani government’s blatant lies to its own people, while the U.S. behind the scenes, orchestrates two drone programs in Pakistan, allegedly a sovereign country.
Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and Brad Manning – whose execution is now being demanded by Mike Huckabee — must be defended, as a really key part of our movement to end the wars and war crimes. This is just the beginning, on both sides of this battle over truth and empire.
We — all of us– need to keep digging into those cables and exposing the real crimes they cover.
I signed this statement, New Evidence Demands End to Wars, and urge you to come out to The White House on Thursday, December 16.
It’s election time, and our problem, as people who care about humanity, is not that the Democratic Party is likely to lose big at the polls. Our problem is that the crimes of our government continue under the Democrats, and far too few of the millions in this country who know this are acting to stop these crimes by independent, mass action.
Case: October 2nd. As thousands of people streamed towards the One Nation Working Together rally at the Lincoln Memorial, they saw a bright orange banner with the words “War Crimes Must Be Stopped – No Matter Who Does Them!” In the crowd of union workers, teachers, and progressive minded people brought to Washington by the NAACP and unions, they might have just nodded agreement, or shaken their heads at the mugshot of George Bush on the banner.
But next to the image of Bush on that banner is a mugshot of Barack Obama. This stopped many hundreds of people to take photos and gather around. The World Can’t Wait supporters, some wearing orange jumpsuits to symbolize the indefinite detention and torture still going on at Guantanamo, distributed thousands of flyers detailing a few of the war crimes in 2010, and struggled ably and with persistence, over what the facts are. Some who stopped agreed that the image was truthful, shaking their heads over how disappointed they are with the Democrats. But, of those who stopped, more disagreed, and some were disbelieving or angry at the comparison. “You can’t say that about Obama! Obama wouldn’t do any of those things! You should have been out here when Bush started it! You’re just helping the Tea Party!”
Case: October 7th: On the ninth anniversary of the day the Bush regime sent US forces to invade Afghanistan, World Can’t Wait ran an ad in The New York Times. “Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them!” it said, “End the silence of complicity,” with three examples from 2010 of how the Obama administration is “in some respects, worse than Bush:”
“Obama has claimed the right to assassinate American citizens whom he suspects of “terrorism,” merely on the grounds of his own suspicion or that of the CIA, something Bush never claimed publicly. Second, Obama says that the government can detain you indefinitely, even if you have been exonerated in a trial, and he has publicly floated the idea of “preventive detention.” Third, the Obama administration, in expanding the use of unmanned drone attacks, argues that the U.S. has the authority under international law to use such lethal force and extrajudicial killing in sovereign countries with which it is not at war.” The ad was signed by an impressive list including Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Cindy Sheehan, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, and Roseanne Barr.
When World Can’t Wait ran seven full page ads in The New York Times and USA Today during the Bush years, calling for a mass movement to “Drive Out the Bush Regime,” the response was strong and immediate, with hundreds calling, donating and volunteering. Then, the campaign and election of Barack Obama sucked in much of the leadership and base of the mass anti-war movement. The effect of that has been to demobilize, confuse, and silence many. We knew this ad would get a different response, but also, we know that a minority of that movement is really deeply angry to the point of feeling betrayed by Obama. So we expected that the appearance of such a message in The New York Times would polarize and challenge readers, drawing a strong response.
We did this statement, and continue to push out with its content because:
People have been lied to, and are not paying attention. Many people don’t get the truth from mainstream media. World Can’t Wait puts priority on going out to people way beyond the “movement,” so we know that huge numbers of people are bombarded in the media with everything but the truth about the crimes of our government. From National Public Radio to every commercial network, magazine and blog, people get a version of the “official story” which leaves out what the US is really doing in the world. The destruction of Iraqi and Afghani society is systematically portrayed as “bringing democracy.” The photos from Abu Ghraib, which many people vaguely remember from 2004, were never fully released, nor was the story followed. The Obama administration refused to release the rest of those photos in 2009, because they had such a devastating effect on people’s opinion of the legitimacy of the US occupation of Iraq. So, people who don’t seek out the reality tell us things like, “Obama’s for peace. He ended the war, and closed Guantánamo.”
Willful “ignore-ance.” A donor to the ad wrote that she has “very few friends left” because of her criticism of Obama as not bringing change for the better. “I can’t tell you how much it means to mean to know there is a group espousing what I have been saying to my 250 people email list since right after Obama was elected and I noted who he was putting in his administration. Your ‘Crimes are Crimes…’ is the sad reality that so many do not want to face which I see as the reason for the lack of a real movement at the moment.”
I am reminded of what Bob Avakian, the revolutionary communist leader, writes about the problem of people “living in the house of Tony Soprano,” not wanting to know how all the “goodies” in the house were acquired. In that case, Avakian says, we have a responsibility to challenge them:
“There is a place where epistemology and morality meet. There is a place where you have to stand and say: It is not acceptable to refuse to look at something—or to refuse to believe something—because it makes you uncomfortable. And: It is not acceptable to believe something just because it makes you feel comfortable.”
Noam Chomsky, in a video on why he signed the Crimes are Crimes statement, referenced Judge Robert Jackson’s writing in the Nuremberg principles on war crimes, and put the challenge this way: “The principle of universality holds whatever the scale of the crimes, those who rightly condemned the crimes of George W. Bush should be judged by history and by their own consciences by how well they apply the same principles to his successors.”
The “politics of the possible” preclude any criticism of Obama, because he’s being attacked from the right. Even people who are very critical of the Obama administration and the Democrats repeat the mantra that if the Democrats “lose” Congress, things will be “worse.” This is not a “spontaneous” response, by the way. In the last 24 hours, the Obama campaign has sent out mass emails urging people to “get into the game” to “fight as hard as we ever have” against “special interests who want to put their conservative allies in control of Congress.”
OH NO! Like, the war in Afghanistan might be expanded; Guantánamo won’t be closed; the government’s powers to spy on the people via the Patriot Act and FBI raids would increase? Threats to Iran, support for the deadly siege on Gaza, subsidies to major banks would flow while 15 million people are out of work? There might be NO progress on stopping global warming? “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will stay in effect? The Supreme Court would find corporations are people entitled to give election money, but not people who can be held liable for human rights atrocities? All that might happen if Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are replaced with Republicans?
The situation is so much worse than that. The Democrats have firmly united behind the illegitimate so-called “War on Terror,” and have done terrible crimes based on the conferred “legitimacy” of the first African American president. And the right-wing threat is not from “special interests” but from a hard core of the ruling class who challenge even the legitimacy of Obama as president, and are seeking to remake the cohering norms of US society with a program of aggressive war on the world, racist attacks on immigrants, suppression of the rights of the people to unfettered capitalism, Christian theocracy, and suppression of science, all of which the Democratic Party capitulates and will not fight because they basically agree. The right has a mobilized, armed, racist base, in the form of the Tea Party movement, which is scary. And they have the political initiative. The problem isn’t that people don’t want to stand up against the Tea Party – it’s that they are being told to seek common ground and terrible compromises with that reactionary agenda.
Many people, in that crowd of people who attended the “One Nation” rally are deeply shaken and frustrated that the change they worked for in 2008 not only didn’t happen, but things are worse. What they got at the rally was speaker after speaker telling them that the “protest march” they came to make against the Tea Party – and also against the Obama policies that haven’t brought they change they hoped for – will only happen on November 2 when they “march” to the polls. Clearly, the Democrats didn’t want that rally to happen, as almost no politicians participated, but still, people were led to come begging from a party that wants them only to shut up and get out the vote.
Expecting change through the framework of elections when the game is rigged is delusional. It’s the same old trap every two years. Get in the game?? When the Democrats are out of power, it’s “get us back so we can deliver change”, and when they are in power, it’s the threat of how much worse it will be if they lose. This is not the game we need to be in.
“Worse” than under Bush? Many people still active against the wars and torture point out that, if McCain had ordered an expansion of the war in Afghanistan, there would have been much more visible protest. As the Crimes are Crimes statement puts it, “Such measures by Bush were widely considered by liberals and progressives to be outrages and were roundly, and correctly, protested. But those acts which may have been construed (wishfully or not) as anomalies under the Bush regime, have now been consecrated into “standard operating procedure” by Obama, who claims, as did Bush, executive privilege and state secrecy in defending the crime of aggressive war.
A woman wrote to thank World Can’t Wait for getting the Crimes are Crimes message “past the gatekeepers of the mainstream press.” In describing why she donated to the ad, she explained that, as a progressive, she had voted for Obama, even though she knew he wouldn’t bring change. But, it’s worse than she expected. “Instead of surrounding himself with progressives, he surrounded himself with reactionaries. Instead of looking for creative ways to disengage our country from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he relied on good old-fashioned ways to keep those wars going with American troops as “advisers” and mercenaries as contract killers. Worst of all, perhaps, as you point out, is his refusal (and that of Nancy Pelosi) to bring to justice those who lied to us about WMDs and who finalized the unleashing of greedy corporate monsters on the world, an unleashing begun under Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush and his accomplices are murderers but instead of the harsh punishments dealt out to street thugs, they have been richly rewarded for their criminal acts.”
One ad does not make a movement, nor does one voice, nor a series of protests. But the importance and achievement of hundreds donating, and thousands signing this statement appearing in the “paper of record” has to be appreciated for the strong statement of principle that it is – and then we need to go out and amplify this message. This is the time for fearless truth-telling, on a bigger stage, and more visibly.
If people don’t know what their government is doing – or think the problem is that Obama’s a socialist, the immigrants are taking “our jobs” or such nonsense — we need to tell them, and not get quiet if they disagree. We need to show them Collateral Murder, important because it shows the US military killing Iraqi civilians and because soldiers have come forward to condemn those acts. We need energy and effort behind speaking the truth and mobilizing people to act on it, despite its popularity at any given moment. “History is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious.” Write to me with your thoughts and ideas for spreading this challenging message boldly – in the spirit of not silencing ourselves when people disagree.
World Can’t Wait is unique in saying in what we’re saying and in going out very widely to people with that message. We know there are people that agree and thank us for being willing to speak the unpopular truths that need to be said and to organize the protests, educational forums, and public statements like The New York Times ad, but there needs to be more of this. Those of you that do get it, those of you that were moved by the ad, who agonize over these continuing crimes, have a disproportionate responsibility to go out and change people’s minds.
There is much more to do. Funds are needed to print the Crimes are Crimes ad more widely, produce more DVD copies of Collateral Murder, and to webcast World Can’t Wait’s national broadcast of October 20: Stop the Crimes of Our Government: Collateral Murder & Targeted Assassination with Ethan McCord and Pardiss Kebriaei, and to bring veterans and activists with the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour to high schools.
Friday, October 8, 2010 the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights filed a response to the Obama administration on behalf of Nasser al-Aulaqi, the father of Anwar al-Aulaqi, targeted for assassination by Barack Obama. The administration argues for the dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds of “national security:”
“The government’s brief seeking the dismissal of this case runs to nearly sixty pages but can be summed up in a single sentence: No court should have any role in establishing or enforcing legal limitations on the executive’s authority to use lethal force against U.S. citizens whom the executive has unilaterally determined to pose a threat to the nation. The government has clothed its bid for unchecked authority in the doctrinal language of standing, justiciability, equity, and secrecy, but the upshot of its arguments is that the executive, which must obtain judicial approval to monitor a U.S. citizen’s communications or search his briefcase, may execute that citizen without any obligation to justify its actions to a court or to the public.”
History will judge our actions – or silence – in the face of this.
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|