Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: al-malika, assad, fallujah, George Bush, Iraq, Iraq war, islamists, jihadists, Middle East, muslim, robert fisk, roger hollander, shias, sunnis, Syria, Tony Blair
Roger’s note: I have found Robert Fisk to be the most reliable analyst of Middle East affairs. He has lived and reported from there for decades. Here he describes how all the death and destruction wreaked by the Bush/Blair gang of warmongers, not only leaves Iraq in a state of bloody chaos, but also results in a victory of the very forces of Islamic extremism that the illegal war was supposed to overcome (long after Bush and Blair have left office with their millions and declared victory).
Young men in Baghdad chant slogans against Isis outside the main army recruiting centre yesterday, where they are volunteering to fight the extremist group. (Credit: Karin Kadim/AP)
So after the grotesquerie of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 suicide killers of 9/11, meet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama.
From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles.
“Bush and Blair destroyed Saddam’s regime to make the world safe and declared that Iraq was part of a titanic battle against ‘Islamofascism.’ Well, they lost.”
Apart from Saudi Arabia’s role in this catastrophe, what other stories are to be hidden from us in the coming days and weeks?
The story of Iraq and the story of Syria are the same – politically, militarily and journalistically: two leaders, one Shia, the other Alawite, fighting for the existence of their regimes against the power of a growing Sunni Muslim international army.
While the Americans support the wretched Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his elected Shia government in Iraq, the same Americans still demand the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his regime, even though both leaders are now brothers-in-arms against the victors of Mosul and Tikrit.
The Croesus-like wealth of Qatar may soon be redirected away from the Muslim rebels of Syria and Iraq to the Assad regime, out of fear and deep hatred for its Sunni brothers in Saudi Arabia (which may invade Qatar if it becomes very angry).
We all know of the “deep concern” of Washington and London at the territorial victories of the Islamists – and the utter destruction of all that America and Britain bled and died for in Iraq. No one, however, will feel as much of this “deep concern” as Shia Iran and Assad of Syria and Maliki of Iraq, who must regard the news from Mosul and Tikrit as a political and military disaster. Just when Syrian military forces were winning the war for Assad, tens of thousands of Iraqi-based militants may now turn on the Damascus government, before or after they choose to advance on Baghdad.
No one will care now how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been slaughtered since 2003 because of the fantasies of Bush and Blair. These two men destroyed Saddam’s regime to make the world safe and declared that Iraq was part of a titanic battle against “Islamofascism.” Well, they lost. Remember that the Americans captured and recaptured Mosul to crush the power of Islamist fighters. They fought for Fallujah twice. And both cities have now been lost again to the Islamists. The armies of Bush and Blair have long gone home, declaring victory.
Under Obama, Saudi Arabia will continue to be treated as a friendly “moderate” in the Arab world, even though its royal family is founded upon the Wahhabist convictions of the Sunni Islamists in Syria and Iraq – and even though millions of its dollars are arming those same fighters. Thus does Saudi power both feed the monster in the deserts of Syria and Iraq and cosy up to the Western powers that protect it.
We should also remember that Maliki’s military attempts to retake Mosul are likely to be ferocious and bloody, just as Assad’s battles to retake cities have proved to be. The refugees fleeing Mosul are more frightened of Shia government revenge than they are of the Sunni jihadists who have captured their city.
We will all be told to regard the new armed “caliphate” as a “terror nation.” Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, the Isis spokesman, is intelligent, warning against arrogance, talking of an advance on Baghdad when he may be thinking of Damascus. Isis is largely leaving the civilians of Mosul unharmed.
Finally, we will be invited to regard the future as a sectarian war when it will be a war between Muslim sectarians and Muslim non-sectarians. The “terror” bit will be provided by the arms we send to all sides.
© 2014 The Independent
Posted by rogerhollander in Peace, War.
Tags: Afghanistan War, anti-war, Iraq war, military rape, peace, roger hollander, sexual assault, support our troops, va scandal, veteran suicide, veterans, veterans administration, veterans for peace, vfp, war, war profiteers
Roger’s note: I cringe when in Canada or the US and I see one of those “support our troops” bumper stickers. I think of the hypocrisy of the governments who send men and women to kill and be killed in illegal imperialist wars, then abandon them when they come home broken physically and mentally. As the song goes: “When will they ever learn?”
Veterans for Peace (VFP) press release, May 22, 2014
Veterans For Peace calls on the President and Congress to stop using the lives and deaths of veterans and troops for political points and gain, and to cease using military force and war as the means for solving international conflicts. Yes, we must address the incompetence, indifference and inefficiencies of the Veterans Administration. However, the primary cause for the disaster in care is more than a decade of war.
VFP Interim Executive Director Michael McPhearson said, “Veterans’ deaths and secret waiting lists uncovered by the current round of Veteran Administration scrutiny are tragic and outrageous, but come as no surprise to Veterans For Peace. This abuse is nothing new. For more than a decade, since the first service members returned from Afghanistan and Iraq,VFP has called for adequate attention, healthcare and services for returning veterans.” Presidents Bush and Obama, Congress and military leaders then and today claim they will do more, yet the problems continue to grow and more service members and veterans fall through cracks and gaping holes in the system, with many of them dying.
But this latest scandal is really the tip of issues plaguing an abused military force. For more than eight years, Veterans For Peace has called into question military policies and culture that put both men and women in danger of sexual assault and rape. There are countless well documented cases of service members reporting abuse and facing retaliation for reporting; thus many others do not report at all. There are well documented reports of female soldiers in Iraq refusing to drink water because they were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they went to use the women’s latrine after dark. Many cases of assault have been swept aside or under-investigated. Yet today women and men continue to face growing rates of sexual assault in the face of ineffective responses by the Pentagon and political leaders.
“The suicide crisis among veterans and service members continues to grow. Veterans For Peace has called attention to this issue at least since our 2006 Veterans and Survivors March for Peace and Justice from Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans, Louisiana. Calling for an end to the wars and for the money used for war to be diverted to human needs, we highlighted the similar rates of high unemployment, PTSD and suicide among recent veterans and Hurricane Katrina survivors. Suicide was heavy on participants’ minds as we had recently lost Douglas Barber, an Iraq veteran, to suicide,” McPhearson commented.
There is a clear pattern of neglect of veterans by both Democrats and Republicans. The best evidence of the negligence is a decade of war that has failed in its objective to end or reduce terrorism as outlined in this year’s State Department’s annual report on global terrorism. The report released in April showed a worldwide increase of 43% in 2013. Yet we have service members who have undertaken multiple tours, some up to ten times, like Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg. The standing ovation and pats on the back during this year’s State Union saluting his service do little if anything to help him contend with a broken mind and body, caused by broken and immoral polices controlled by the people who celebrated him. Perhaps more debilitating to many service members is the moral injury produced by the immoral nature of the wars they execute, exemplified by indefinite detention, torture, indiscriminate killing and targeted assassinations.
As troops and veterans die, who benefits from these policies? War profiteers make out like bandits and politicians build their political careers. The primary reason for these wars are greed and pursuit of power. The war economy is not working for the vast majority of U.S. citizens. To repeat our mantra since 2003, coined with Military Families Speak Out, “Bring our troops home now and take care of them when they get here.”
Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Genocide, Iraq and Afghanistan, Rwanda, War.
Tags: claudia lefko, francis boyle, genocide, gulf war, Iraq, iraq genocide, Iraq war, madeleine albright, roger hollander, rwanda, rwanda genocide, samantha powers
Roger’s note: Once again it feels surrealistic. That the genocidal actions of the United States government, which result in literally millions of deaths, is something that can be IGNORED. I can understand the sentiment: stop the world, I want to get off. But, of course, that is defeatism, and as unequal as it sometimes appears, the struggle for a just world, free of war, must go on.
Ali Muyaid Salaheddin, 8, and his sister, Shahad, 14, rest at their home after being injured by bombing in Baghdad last year. Millions of Iraqis have been killed, injured, or sickened thanks to the U.S. war and sanctions regime waged against them over more than twenty years. (Photo: AP)
Samantha Powers, US Ambassador to the UN was in Rwanda last month marking the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Ms. Powers book, The Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, won the Pulitzer-prize in 2003. I’m trying to imagine how many years it will take before we see a UN Ambassador or anyone really, in Baghdad, apologizing for the devastation in Iraq. Some call that a genocide as well.
In explaining why it was so important to be in Kigali, Ms. Powers replied that “it matters intrinsically… it matters to those people… that we’re still with them because that’s the first taunt of the perpetrator: people will forget, they’ll never believe you…”
This, of course, is what happened to Iraq: people have forgotten. And even worse perhaps, people—especially people in power and in the corporate media—never wanted to know and ignored the extent of the devastation in the first place.
The UN imposed very stringent economic sanctions against Iraq when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. Sanctions were promoted as an alternative to war, a more acceptable, first-step strategy to convince Saddam Hussein to withdraw his troops. They didn’t “work” in Washington’s estimation and the diplomatic strategy was flawed at best. So, it was on to war—the first Gulf War, January 16 – March 3, 1991. The massive bombing campaign of that war destroyed the country, with “near apocalyptic results upon the economic mechanized society,” wrote Martti Ahtisaari UN Under-Secretary-Generalafter visiting Iraq some weeks later. “Iraq has, for some time to come, been relegated to a pre-industrial age, but with all the disabliities of post-industrial dependency.”
UN Sanctions remained in place for the most part, at the insistence of the United States, until June 2013, even though their original goal had been accomplished some thirteen years earlier. This despite years of evidence, including studies by the UN’s own agencies, documenting their devastating impact on the country and people. Some accuse the US of genocide in Iraq. Francis Boyle, a leading American expert in international law and professor at the University of Illinois in Champaign, is one of these.
In September 1991, Prof. Boyle filed a legal complaint on behalf of Iraq’s 4.5 million children. He submitted the petition to the UN Secretary General and to a number of UN agencies including UNICEF. “This Indictment, Complaint and Petition for Relief from Genocide accuses the Respondents (President George Bush Sr. and the United States of America) of committing the international crime of genocide against the 4.5 million Children of Iraq in violation of the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 and in violation of the municipal legal systems of all civilized nations in the world…” He cited existing evidence for his claim including the report of the Harvard Study Team which estimated that “at least 170,000 Iraqi children under the age of five will die within the next year… if the imposition of sanctions continues.” The petition was never acted upon.
Boyle mounted another campaign before the 2003 US/UK invasion of Iraq, using his original genocide petition. This time he contacted senior Iraqi government officials, asking them to grant him the legal authority to file lawsuits against the US and UK governments in the World Court. He felt the case for genocide was even stronger in 2003, based of comments made by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during a 1996 TV interview on 60 Minutes. When asked if the reported deaths of a half million Iraqi children was “worth it” in terms of US policy in Iraq, Albright answered, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”
This statement, according to Boyle,
Is what criminal lawyers call a classic ‘Admission Against Interest.’ This Statement by the then sitting U.S. Secretary of State, acting within the scope of her official duties and speaking in the name of the United States government, could be taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague and filed to prove that the United States of America possessed the required mens rea (criminal intent) necessary to commit the international crime of genocide. Under both international law and U.S. domestic law, to be guilty of a crime a person or a state must possess the requisite mens rea at the same time that he or she or it commits the criminal act (actus reus).
Iraqi government officials also declined to involve themselves in his case. Prof. Boyle called these failures “one of the great disappointments of my life.” As he added it up, more than 3.3 million Iraqi men, women and children died as a result of US/UK actions between 1991 and 2011 when the US officially ended hostilities with Iraq: 200,000 killed in the first Gulf War; 1.7 million dead as a result of sanctions; and 1.4 million dead as a result of the illegal invasion of 2003.
In March 1998, two years after Albright’s infamous “admission against interest”, President Bill Clinton was in Rwanda where he apologized — not only for the US, but for international inaction in the face of the mass killings. As many as one million people are said to have died. “We did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name: genocide.” he said. Why wasn’t the “rightful” name applied? Because when the term is applied, action is mandated according to Article 1: The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish. (emphasis added)
This is one reason why there is so much resistance, so much posturing, hedging and hesitation about invoking a legal determination for genocide, not only in Iraq, but in other countries too numerous to list: Viet Nam, East Timor, Congo, Palestine…to name a few. Because if “the parties” to the UN convention label it a genocide, action must be taken. We can call it a genocide after- the- fact, in 1998 or in 2014. We can express our remorse, our regret and own our mistakes in Rwanda because we’re off the hook. The UN Security Council, and the government of Rwanda took action as required by the Convention, establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in November 1994 (UN) and instituting the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission as well as a modern-day version of a traditional approach to reconciliation, gacaca(Gov’t of Rwanda)
However, the US and the international community are not off the hook in Iraq and other countries where genocide is alleged. The legal structures and mechanisms are there to prosecute the crimes and in the case of Iraq, Prof. Boyle has offered to help update his case and make it available free of cost. But the political will to pursue the cases is not there. Rather, government and UN officials, including Ms. Powers, use Rwanda to argue for military intervention to prevent genocide, promoting war as necessary humanitarian intervention.
Looking at the humanitarian catastrophes created by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both launched to “help” or “save”—pick one: women, children, people living under a cruel dictator—one wonders how anyone can support these ideas.
The sad truth is Ms. Powers was right when she said: “People will forget and they’ll never believe you.” Aided by what Media Lens calls “Journalism of Amnesia,” people have already forgotten about Iraq and Afghanistan is quickly fading from our memories. And so, the pressure for military intervention continues to be applied, especially in the case of Syria.
In 1948, a world weary of war declared ‘Never again’ and passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide in one 24-hour period. We are also weary of war in 2014, dismayed and angered by the never-ending-wars perpetrated by the U.S. government.
It’s time, it’s way past time, to return our country and the international community to the rule of laws, putting down our weapons and putting aside these flawed notions. There are, according to Prof. Boyle, “more than enough international laws and international organizations to deal with major human rights atrocities and catastrophes going on around the world today without any need to recognize or condone the bogus and dangerous doctrine of ‘humanitarian intervention.’”
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Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Iraq and Afghanistan, Torture, War, Women.
Tags: al-Maliki, andrea germanos, human rights, illegal detention, Iraq, Iraq invasion, Iraq war, iraqi women, rape, roger hollander, torture, violence against women, women
Roger’s note: A US invasion of your country to bring prosperity and democracy is a gift that keeps giving. Iraqi security forces, trained by Americans, have learned to treat women the way that we do in order to earn their confidence and respect. Of course Iraq continues to be plagued by sectarian violence and the destruction of their infrastructure, which for some reason that no one can understand, has not been reconstructed despite the lucrative contracts given on a no-bid basis to American corporations. A real mystery.
Many analysts believe that Iraqi women were better off under Saddam (as brutal as his regime was in other respects). This report tends to support that conclusion.
Published on Thursday, February 6, 2014 by Common Dreams
“The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq.”
- Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Iraqi security forces are illegally detaining thousands of women, subjecting many to torture, abuse, rape, and forcing them into confessions, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch.
“The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq,” says Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch. (Photo: James Gordon/cc/flickr)
In ‘No One Is Safe’: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System, HRW reveals a pattern of systemic abuse within a failed judicial system characterized by corruption.
The report estimates that over 1,100 women are detained, often without a warrant, in Iraqi prisons or detention facilities. Frequently, the women are arrested not for their won alleged actions but for those of a male relative.
Sexual abuse during interrogations of women is so common that Um Aqil, an employee at a women’s prison facility, told HRW, “[W]e expect that they’ve been raped by police on the way to the prison.”
On top of rape, many arrested women are subjected to electric shocks, beatings, burnings, being hung upside down and foot whipping (falaqa). Following the torture the women may be forced to sign a blank confession paper or one that they are unable to read.
In the video below published by HRW, one woman reveals her story of abuse:
The report authors write that the failed criminal justice system revealed in the report shows that “Prime Minister al-Maliki’s government has so far failed to eliminate many of the abusive practices that Saddam Hussein institutionalized and United States-led Coalition Forces continued.”
“The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq,” adds Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement from the organization. “These abuses have caused a deep-seated anger and lack of trust between Iraq’s diverse communities and security forces, and all Iraqis are paying the price.”
If I recall correctly, things were better for women during Sadam’s regime because he kept the pseudo-religious predators mashed flat.
You recall correctly.
Despite all his dictatorial and excessive practices, during the regime of Saddam Hussein, many women played important roles in all facets of Iraqi society (except in the fundamentalist religious groups).
Also religious sectarianism became muted and people of different religions intermingled, lived together and inter-married frequently creating new Iraqi citizens who recognized the nation, rather than a tribe or sect as their central organizing principle.
It is ironic (and instructive) that only after it became apparent that his allies in the West were going to terminate Saddam Hussein did he revert to the worst forms of tribalism and adopted the language of religious fundamentalism.
The lesson is simple and obvious: despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, the nation of Iraq was internally strengthening as a nation and eventually the Iraqi people would have ended the dictatorship in their own ways.
Of course the West could not allow that because it would be a threat to the hegemony of Israel (the forward operations base for US/EURO governments and corporations0 and the control of Iraqi oil.
And of course Iraqi women and children pay the highest costs for the Western-created insanity.
one Big Mistake there tom. It was not the West that could not allow that, it was what your President called the “Coalition of the Willing”. It consisted of the U.S., the Brits, the Aussies, Spain and a couple of other bit players. It did not include Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Scandinavian countries and a host of others. Iraq invasion was NOT sanctioned by the U.N. or NATO. Don’t get confused with UN, NATO sanctioned mission to go after you might remember who in Afghanistan. Too many Americans forget this.
With his Iraq lies and decision, Bush brought world support for reprisal against Bin Ladden for 9-11 attacks to majority of world identifying U.S. as biggest threat there is to world peace. A distinction the U.S. still holds. Other than lining the pockets of his Corporate friends, creating the world’s biggest private run army (Blackwater), making a mockery of international law and human rights, and destroying democracy everywhere, etc. U.S. public voted him back into Office for a 2nd term and today let’s him sleep in peace making more money on the rubber chicken circuit.
The terrible dictator was one of the friends of G.H.W.Bush for 8 years until he refused an order. Bush enticed him to invade Kuwait then told him to get his butt out, ..if you remember the headlines in the paper. The reason being Bush expected Kuwait to be thankful to him, he intended to bring down the Kuwait monarcy, and have the right to put in the oil pipe line… It backfired.
The reason Bush Sr. did all he could to have his son made president, to illegally invade Iraq out of revenge.
Yes I read Riverbend’s book some years back and she said women could wear makeup and dresses, hold civil servant jobs, did not have to cover their heads, and could tell the religious fruitcakes who stopped them on the street to eff off and there wasn’t a thing they could do about it.
Now of course…not.
You must be wrong, because everywhere the US militarily intervenes, part of the rationale is to help women.
Iraq was better off than before the illegal invasion, and in fact the Middle East has become worse off. Our troops are sent not knowing they are not freeing people but giving the oil companies the freedom to contol the resourses of other countries. …and the innocent suffer.
I read the official military history of SOG…special operations group…a program designed to infiltrate spys and saboteurs into North Vietnam. The incompetent manner in which the program was run by US Special Forces resulted in 100% of the participating South Vietnamese recruits being killed or captured (and then killed). Upon hearing of the miserable performance of the program one ranking general said we might as well skip all the training, save a few bucks, take them out back and shoot them ourselves. This is what it means to be a “friend” of the US. Much better to be our enemy…at least then one has a fighting chance. Those we “care” about are on the short end of the stick. Look at what a wonderful job we have done in Iraq. I think we surpassed the number of Iraqis killed by Saddam long ago. Our own govt. kills more Americans through various policies than the 911 terrorists could ever dream of.
The best way towards religious fundamentalism is to suppress and destroy all the more advanced and complex ideologies by force. This is a direct result of Western persecution of every even remotely left-wing movement and unifying ideology, especially Communism. It is possible – and even easy – to destroy the more complex stuff. It is almost impossible to destroy religion.
good comments below. the only thing to add is an action plan.
the reasons are obvious. only the plan remains to be implemented.
the longer the status quo has to improve their machinery of suppression and their technology of spying the more difficult the change will be. talk is cheap. time for everybody, all at once,
to work together to “throw the bums out”. no more 2 party system.
vote 3rd / 4th parties if possible or don’t vote and tell anyone who will listen why.
There were international interests, notably in energy and banking. Britain holds a large share of the blame as well.
“The Iraq war provides a good example. Until November 2000, no OPEC country had dared to violate the US dollar-pricing rule, and while the US dollar remained the strongest currency in the world there was also little reason to challenge the system. But in late 2000, France and a few other EU members convinced Saddam Hussein to defy the petrodollar process and sell Iraq’s oil for food in euros, not dollars.”
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Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: alexander arredondo, anti-war, carlos arredondo, collateral damage, general odierno, Iraq war, mike prysner, obama sotu, roger hollander, sotu, veterans
Roger’s note: Here is a soldier’s eye’s view of what war is all about. I cannot say how much this represents the feelings and beliefs of other soldiers. But I do belief that this soldier has hit upon a truth of who benefits and who pays the price for the kinds of imperial wars that are being conducted by the American government and its allies in the Middle East and elsewhere.
An Iraq war veteran’s reflection
January 29, 2014, By Mike Prysner
The author is a former U.S. Army Corporal who spent 12 months in Iraq, starting with the invasion in March 2003. He is a co-founder of March Forward! and a member of the Board of Directors of Veterans For Peace.
Post-war life is good for Odierno, along with the other generals, politicians and CEOs in his circles.
Before President Obama even began the State of the Union address, two people I knew in the audience, from two defining points in my life, were much more significant to me. I thought their presence reflected the “State of the Union” better than anything the President could have said.
The first guest was General Ray Odierno, now the Chief of Staff of the Army. One of my most invasive memories is of my time on an outpost with his 4th Infantry Division, relentlessly attacked, in a rural farming area called Hawija. I would see him from time to time—in much safer places, of course. Long nights huddled in a smoke-filled bunker, feeling like nothing but target practice, was no place for a general.
I remember him as the happiest (and highest-ranking) person I encountered in country, always jovial and excited. I remember thinking then, at age 19, that he was so happy because he knew that deployment could make his career. And he was right; commanding an armored division during the biggest invasion and occupation of a country since Vietnam would certainly do that; especially when your soldiers end up capturing Saddam Hussein. The future was looking bright for Odierno in 2003.
Odierno even slept in Saddam Hussein’s main palace in Tikrit. Far away, his soldiers bled all over his outposts and drove over IEDs, earning him his “glory.” Iraqi civilians in his area of operations experienced what would lead to major criticism of the “belligerence” of his tactics as a commander.
Carlos took this striking memorial to his son all over the country, for years, trying to end the war by sharing his pain.
The other guest was Carlos Arredondo, the “cowboy hat wearing hero” of the Boston bombing, famously photographed rushing a victim with severed legs to safety.
The first time I ever spoke publicly at an anti-war event, back in 2006, it was sharing a panel with Carlos. His first of two sons, Alexander Arredondo, was killed in Iraq in 2004, in a different part of the country from Odierno and me. He was just 20 years old. I didn’t say much that day, but just sitting there with him and his partner, Melida, was a source of strength and inspiration that would never leave me.
Carlos—at the time an undocumented immigrant—reacted to the death of Alexander by dedicating his entire life to anti-war activism, touring the country with a striking visual memorial to his son, talking to everybody he encountered along the way about opposing the war. He became a definitive icon of the Iraq war—a shattered, mourning father, pulling a flag-draped coffin with his son’s photo in front of the White House.
Odierno’s career had been made. He shot up to Four-Star General by 2008. Like all general officers, especially of his privileged West Point-graduate variety, very lucrative post-retirement “advisor” positions in the defense industry have opened up. He got the top staff position in the Army under Obama in 2011.
Carlos’s only surviving son, Brian, committed suicide that same year. It was just days before Christmas. He was only 24 years old. Suicide—another hallmark of the misery caused by that war for both veterans and families—became another cause Carlos would dedicate his life to.
Millions of lives were torn apart by the Iraq war. But not equally.
It was working-class and immigrant families who had to bear the hair-pulling horror of seeing their children come home in coffins. It was idealistic, college- and career-aspiring youth who were sent to be blown apart in those flimsy Humvees. It was Iraqi teachers, nurses, farmers, hotel workers—and their children, babies and grandparents—who were the so-called “collateral damage.”
It wasn’t the general officers who built their careers on having the most aggressive strategy, which they watched from computer screens in palaces while their soldiers were blown to pieces. It wasn’t the families of the CEOs of the defense and energy industry giants, bursting with profits from Pentagon contracts, or the families of the politicians they take to dinner.
Some got promotions and career boosts. Some got bonus checks and fat dividends. But most are shredded, in body and mind. Most will spend the rest of their lives overwhelmed with trying to recover; many on crutches and canes, many with pills. Most will forever struggle to choke back tears whenever a reminder of those years enters their minds.
Carlos and Odierno may have been guests at the same speech, but they live in two very different worlds.
Whatever Obama said in his address, from employment and immigration to foreign policy, it was all about fixing things within a world like that—where only one class (which constitutes the majority of us) is made to make the biggest, hardest sacrifices, and another class—a much smaller one—is the supreme leader and benefactor.
A system set up like this can only replicate the same heart-wrenching tragedies for people like us.
No need to watch the State of the Union—we need a revolution.
This article was originally published by MarchForward.org
Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Afghanistan War, civilian casualties, civilian deaths, collateral damage, drone, drone missiles, heather linebaugh, hellfire missile, ied, Iraq war, roger hollander, uav, War Crimes
The Elbit Systems Hermes 450 is an Israeli medium size multi-payload unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for tactical long endurance missions.
Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them some questions. I’d start with: “How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?” And: “How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?” Or even more pointedly: “How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicle] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?”
Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.
I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from mosque.
The US and British militaries insist that this is such an expert program, but it’s curious that they feel the need to deliver faulty information, few or no statistics about civilian deaths and twisted technology reports on the capabilities of our UAVs. These specific incidents are not isolated, and the civilian casualty rate has not changed, despite what our defense representatives might like to tell us.
What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is a far cry from clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited clouds and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: “The feed is so pixelated, what if it’s a shovel, and not a weapon?” I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.
It’s also important for the public to grasp that there are human beings operating and analyzing intelligence these UAVs. I know because I was one of them, and nothing can prepare you for an almost daily routine of flying combat aerial surveillance missions over a war zone. UAV proponents claim that troops who do this kind of work are not affected by observing this combat because they are never directly in danger physically.
But here’s the thing: I may not have been on the ground in Afghanistan, but I watched parts of the conflict in great detail on a screen for days on end. I know the feeling you experience when you see someone die. Horrifying barely covers it. And when you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience. UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were.
Of course, we are trained to not experience these feelings, and we fight it, and become bitter. Some troops seek help in mental health clinics provided by the military, but we are limited on who we can talk to and where, because of the secrecy of our missions. I find it interesting that the suicide statistics in this career field aren’t reported, nor are the data on how many troops working in UAV positions are heavily medicated for depression, sleep disorders and anxiety.
Recently, the Guardian ran a commentary by Britain’s secretary of state for defence Philip Hammond. I wish I could talk to him about the two friends and colleagues I lost, within one year leaving the military, to suicide. I am sure he has not been notified of that little bit of the secret UAV program, or he would surely take a closer look at the full scope of the program before defending it again.
The UAV’s in the Middle East are used as a weapon, not as protection, and as long as our public remains ignorant to this, this serious threat to the sanctity of human life – at home and abroad – will continue.
© 2013 The Guardian/UK
Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Criminal Justice, Peace, Women.
Tags: anti-war, Iraq war, Kimberly Rivera, peace, prisoner of conscience, roger hollander, veterans for peace, war resister
495 supporters from around the world write letters in support of clemency application
From the Center for Conscience in Action
November 4, 2013 http://www.opednews.com
Fort Carson, Colorado — Imprisoned war resister PFC Kimberly Rivera has submitted a clemency application seeking a reduction by 45 days in the 10 month prison sentence she received for seeking asylum in Canada rather return to her unit in Iraq.
The request for clemency was based on humanitarian reasons due to pregnancy. Unless clemency is granted, Private First Class Kimberly Rivera will be forced to give birth in prison and then immediately relinquish custody of her son while she continues to serve the remainder of her sentence.
Unfortunately military regulations provide no provisions for her to be able to breastfeed her infant son while she is in prison.
Fort Carson Senior Commander Brigadier General Michael A. Bills will be making a decision on PFC Rivera’s clemency request in the coming weeks.
PFC Rivera’s case made international news when she was the first female US soldier in the current era to flee to Canada for reasons of conscience. After a protracted struggle through the Canadian legal system, she was deported back to the United States in September 2012. She was then immediately arrested and sent back to the Army to stand trial.
In an interview conducted on the eve of her court-martial, Rivera said, ” When I saw the little girl [in Iraq] shaking in fear, in fear of me, because of my uniform, I couldn’t fathom what she had been through and all I saw was my little girl and I just wanted to hold her and comfort her. But I knew I couldn’t. It broke my heart. I am against hurting anyone” I would harm myself first. I felt this also made me a liability to my unit and I could not let me be a reason for anyone to be harmed—so I left” Even though I did not fill out the official application to obtain conscientious objector status, I consider myself a conscientious objector to all war.”
On April 29, 2013, PFC Rivera pled to charges of desertion. She was sentenced by the military judge to fourt een months in prison, loss of rank and pay, and a dishonorable discharge; thanks to a pre-trial agreement her sentence was reduced to an actual sentence to ten months of co nfinement and a bad-conduct discharge.
Kimberly Rivera has been recognized by Amnesty International as a “prisoner of conscience.” She is the mother of four children, ages 11, 9, 4 and 2.
Kimberly Rivera’s request for clemency was accompanied by 495 letters of support, written by family members, friends, as well as members of Amn esty International from 19 countries.
” We have many organizations to thank for the outpouring of support for Kimberly Rivera, including Amnesty International, Courage to Resist, the War Resisters Support Campaign of Canada, Veterans for Peace and Coffee Strong,” said James M. Branum, civilian defense attorney for PFC Rivera. “We also want to recognize the tireless efforts of local supporters in Colorado Springs and San Diego who have taken the time to visit Kim in prison as well as to provide important support to Kim’s family in her absence.”
While the official clemency request is now complete, supporters of PFC Rivera are still encouraged to continue to speak out on her behalf. Letters in support of PFC Rivera’s clemency request can be sent directly to:
Brigadier General Michael A. Bills
c/o Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
1626 Ellis Street
Suite 200, Building 1118
Fort Carson, CO 80913
(fax: 1- 719-526-1021)
Supporters are also encouraged to sign an online petition posted at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/752/756/678/free-a-pregnant-war-resister-from-us-military-prison/
Donations to assist the Rivera family can be made online at: https://co.clickandpledge.com/sp/d1/default.aspx?wid=58528
Posted by rogerhollander in Chemical Biological Weapons, Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
Tags: chemical weapons, depleted uranium, fallujah, iraq birth defects, Iraq war, mark rivage-seul, roger hollander, Syria, white phosphorous
Roger’s note: These photos are pretty gruesome, and the accusation against the U.S. for using chemical weapons in Fallujah is serious. I cannot veryify the legitimacy of the photos, you can check the source yourself, but it is historical fact the the U.S. used nuclear weapons against Japan in 1945 and supported the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s war against Iran. We also know the the U.S. has enormous stockpiles of chemical weapons and is not in compliance with its treaty obligations to destroy them. All this, of course, to demonstrate the hypocrisy of its accusations against Syria.
http://www.opednews.com, September 27, 2013
By Mike Rivage-Seul (about the author)
Fallujah White Phosphorous Victim by www.uruknet.de
It is extremely interesting to compare the U.S. response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria and its suppression of evidence of similar weapons use by the U.S. and U.K. in Fallujah in March and November of 2004.
We all know about the U.S. reaction to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
In the face of denials by the Syrian government, and on evidence that remains secret and other indications provided by photographs, testimonies of eye-witnesses, accusations of the al-Qaeda-affiliated rebels, and deductions derived from consideration of the delivery mechanisms necessary to launch such weapons, the U.S. government was determined to “punish” the al-Assad government for the heinous crime of using chemical weapons.
Such circumstantial evidence was considered more than sufficient for president Obama and secretary of state Kerry.
In his speech to the nation on Tuesday, September 10th president Obama paid particular attention to the photographic evidence of chemical weapons use by the al-Assad government. Specifically he reminded us of the child victims involved.
The pictures Mr. Obama was referring to included this one:
Syria Chemical Weapons Victims by www.behance.net
And this one:
Syria Chemical Weapons Victims by www.demotix.com
But what about the U.S.-inflicted atrocities behind photos like this one?:
Fallujah Weapons Victim by www.uruknet.de
Or this one?:
Fallujah Aborted Fetuses by www.m0ri.com
According to a study published in 2010,” Beyond Hiroshima — The Non-Reporting Of Fallujah’s Cancer Catastrophe ,” those are pictures of the deaths and birth defects directly resulting from “American” use of depleted uranium and chemical weapons including white phosphorous in Fallujah in 2004.
And it’s not simply a question of birth defects.
According to the same study infant mortality, cancer, and leukemia rates in Fallujah have surpassed the rates recorded among survivors of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Following the Fallujah offensives, the rates in question rose by 60%. Dr Mushin Sabbak of the Basra Maternity Hospital explained the rises as resulting from weapons used by the U.S. and U.K. “We have no other explanation than this,” he said.
And the problem extends far beyond Fallujah. Increased cancer rates and astronomical rises in birth defects have been recorded in Mosul, Najaf, Basra, Hawijah, Nineveh, and Baghdad. As documented by Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan, there is “an epidemic of birth defects in Iraq.” She writes,
“Sterility, repeated miscarriages, stillbirths and severe birth defects — some never described in any medical books — are weighing heavily on Iraqi families.”
Australian anti-war activist, Donna Mulhearn, who has travelled repeatedly to Fallujah, talking with Iraqi doctors as well as affected families, added to the list:
“babies born with parts of their skulls missing, various tumors, missing genitalia, limbs and eyes, severe brain damage, unusual rates of paralyzing spina bifida (marked by the gruesome holes found in the tiny infants’ backs), Encephalocele (a neural tube defect marked by swollen sac-like protrusions from the head), and more.”
Several highly remarkable aspects of the situation just described immediately present themselves. For one there is the almost total silence of the media about the crimes of the U.S. and U.K. Then there is the lack of outrage by president Obama and secretary of state Kerry. And what about those members of Congress so concerned about damage and pain to unborn fetuses? (I mean, what we have here in effect is a massive abortion campaign by the United States in an entirely illegal war which has already claimed more than a million mostly civilian casualties.)
However, what is most remarkable about the contrast between responses to Syria and Iraq is the continued surprise of “Americans” by reprisal attacks by Muslims, which continue to be identified by our media as irrational and evil “terrorist attacks.”
That is, on the one hand, the U.S. feels free to self-righteously rush to judgment and “punish” the suspected perpetrators of the Syrian attacks. But on the other, it hides, classifies, and otherwise suppresses photographs and scientific reports testifying to its own much worse crimes. Once again, those outrages are carried out against unborn fetuses, living children, women, the elderly and male adults — the very same population cohorts that so concern our “leaders” when they are attacked by designated enemies.
The logic is inescapable. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If the U.S. is outraged by the killing of innocents and feels the need to “punish” the suspected perpetrators, someone else has the right to treat the United States in the same way. (We might not know of the crimes of our government and military, but the whole Arab world knows!)
So we shouldn’t be surprised by a Boston Marathon “massacre,” or by militants seizing hotels or malls and killing randomly.
That’s the cost of hypocrisy, double standards, wars of aggression, and the use of outlawed weapons of mass destruction. In war ghastly offensives elicit ghastly counter-offensives.
Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Recently retired, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 36 years where he directed Berea’s Peace and Social Justice Studies Program.Mike blogs (more…)
Posted by rogerhollander in Education, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Afghanistan War, cia director, cuny, cuny 6, davi petraeus, General Petraeus, Iraq war, march forward, roger hollander, usc, veterans, war criminal
ROGER’S NOTE: IT IS HEARTWARMING TO SEE THAT EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE THESE SCUMBAGS GET THEIR COMEUPPANCE.
University cancels event day after protest announced
September 26, 2013
Reprinted from the website of March Forward!
The University of Southern California Veterans’ Association recently announced in an internal email that General David Petraeus, former commander of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and CIA director, would be holding a private luncheon with student veterans on October 10—coincidentally marking the 12th anniversary of the U.S. war on Afghanistan.
Iraq war veterans in March Forward!, who are also members of the USC Veterans Association and received the internal email, quickly called for a picket outside the event. Momentum grew rapidly, as dozens of individuals and organizations—including ANSWER LA, the Worker Student Alliance and more—endorsed and began organizing for the action.
Within one day of the announcement of the picket, the USC Veterans Association cancelled the event with Petraeus.
Petraeus was recently hired by the City University of New York as a lecturer, and by USC as a veterans’ advisor.
Petraeus is a war criminal according to international law—from ordering and facilitating illegal torture, to intentionally creating civil war in Afghan villages, to covering up the murder of Iraqis by U.S. defense contractors, to utilizing the “double-tap” method where drones conduct second strikes on rescue workers and victims’ funerals. Petraeus’s “leadership” (i.e., trying to advance his own career off the backs of enlisted personnel) also yielded the highest casualty rates for U.S. troops under his command in both Iraq and Afghansitan while he lived a rock star lifestyle.
Despite his known war crimes, Petraeus is raking in the cash from his post-retirement jobs.
In protest of his hiring by CUNY, students and activists held a rally outside one of his classes. Six students who confronted him were violently and unconstitutionally arrested. Now known as the CUNY 6, they were outrageously hit with several charges, including “rioting.”
That protest put Petraeus and CUNY in the public spotlight, highlighting the role of militarism in our schools and the lavish lifestyles of known war criminals. The protest against Petraeus at USC was announced amidst public outcry at his appointment at CUNY and the unconstitutional arrests of peaceful protesters. The second protest at USC, initiated and led by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, was not the type of publicity USC and Petraeus were looking for. So the brave General ran away scared.
The event’s cancellation is an acknowledgment of the public pressure on Petraeus, and on universities who see fit to have a war criminal teach their students. It is essential to always confront the generals and politicians who sent us to wars based on lies wherever they show their faces.
Despite the event’s cancellation, March Forward! will still be taking action against USC for the outrageous appointment of Petraeus as a “veterans’ advisor.” (Details will be announced soon)
- JAIL for war criminals!
- U.S. OUT of Afghanistan now!
- DROP all charges against the CUNY 6!
- Militarism OUT of our schools!