"After 9-11, it's now become quite clear that whatever emphasis there was on the al Qaeda apparatus, there was a superior emphasis on removing Saddam Hussein from Iraq. What's interesting about this is the following. It illustrated -- in ways perhaps never before illustrated in our country -- the fragility of our democratic institutiatons. Here is a nation run by a tottering dictator presiding over a diplated army, with troops not willing to fight for him, surrounded by hostile Kurds to the north, hostile Shiites to the south, surrounded by three very powerful countries compared to his military ability: Iran, Turkey and Israel. And had he directed one aggressive threat toward any of them, they would have obliterated his regime. And yet Iraq under Hussein was viewed as a threat to the United States? But what was most troubling was the lack of any deliberative process by the US Congress which was stampeded into this situation, lack of any deliberative or investigative process by the mass media which clicked their heels and loved the graphics that they were given, and without a deliberative attentiveness to the perceived concerns of the American people. Before the invasion of Iraq, we tried to have Bush meet with one or more distinct groups in our country who had knowledge and were concerned about the invasion of Iraq. Thirteen of these groups, with very little press attention, wrote open letters to President Bush in February and early March, asking for a meeting. They included letters signed by the National Council of Churches, former military officers, former intelligence officials, student groups, women's peace advocates, a business group, labor group. I don't know of any other impending hostility that had such an ecumentical coming-together, expressing doubt and opposition to the pending move. None of these letters were answered by the White House. There were no meetings. President Bush, being the messianic militarist that we've come to know so well, was not interested in meeting with anyone who was critical of his proposed Iraq policies. That was a severe scar on our democratic fabric."
That is a 2008 presidential candidate making sense on the illegal war. Can you guess who it is? I will tell you who later in the post.
So good news for Corey Glass and, if you did not see the previous post, he is discharged from the military. He can stay in Canada if he wants, he can come to the United States. I would get it in writing before going anywhere, but that is good news for Mr. Glass.
In bad news for Barack Obama, the comments by his surrogate General Wesley Clark remain in the news. This is from Liz Halloran's "Memo to Democrats: McCain's War Service Is Off Limits" (U.S. News & World Reports):
Memo to surrogates and supporters of presumed Democratic nominee Barack Obama, including and especially retired Gen. Wesley Clark: Going after John McCain's military record in any way, shape, or form is a loser.
And that, my friends (as McCain might say), comes straight from top Democratic strategists. They say that Clark's assertion that the expected Republican nominee's military experience doesn't translate into executive capabilities--whether one agrees or not--was political folly.
"I was flabbergasted by General Clark's comments," says William Galston, who advised President Bill Clinton on domestic policy during his first term. "They seem to me to represent about the least plausible line of attack on Senator McCain that I could imagine."
Particularly wrong-headed? Vietnam vet Clark's assessment that "riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down" doesn't qualify Vietnam vet McCain for the presidency. McCain was held as a prisoner of war for 5½ years after that fighter plane was shot down in Vietnam. (Clark left Vietnam on a stretcher after being shot four times in a battle with the Viet Cong while he was a company commander.)
"That comment crossed the line," says Tad Devine, who was chief political consultant to Al Gore during his 2000 White House run. Devine says he's "not criticizing Wes Clark for standing up and saying what he believes--but it's a distraction."
So it was not only petty for the Obama campaign, it also drove up the sympathy for Senator John McCain, and reminded the country of the senator's war record.
Again, I am not voting for Senator McCain. If you are and you are comfortable with that, then that is who you should vote for. But I am not comfortable with another presidential election where anyone's war record is mocked or distorted. I would not have fought in Vietnam. Being a woman, I was not eligible for the draft. But if I had been born a man, I would not have fought. I was opposed and remain opposed to what the U.S. did in Vietnam. I am opposed to what the U.S. is doing in Iraq. Whether you are serving now and loving the war or hating it, I would not want to see what you did distorted or mocked. If they find a medical breakthrough that allows me to live forty or so more years, I will object to it being done to anyone who fought in Iraq or who refused to fight in Iraq. The criminals -- and I see both wars as criminal -- were the occupants of the White House. I would further add that if General Clark is going to make light of someone's P.O.W. experiences -- anyone's -- he needs to do some time thinking about why that is? I do not dislike General Clark. But I do think we have to say, "No!" And that we have to say it loudly. No torture victim should be mocked for enduring torture.
So who was I quoting at the top of this post? Ralph Nader. Mr. Nader speaks clearly on the Iraq War. He is very clear that the illegal war needs to end, that it is damaging to Iraqis and to the United States. With Ralph Nader as commander-in-chief, the illegal war ends. It ends immediately. If you are against the Iraq War, I hope you are exploring the Nader-Gonzalez campaign. There are many issues and stands that should resonate with you. For instance, this is from the Nader-Gonzalez' campaign's website, "Opposition to Media Bias and Media Concentration:"
The mass media in the United States is extremely concentrated, and the messages that they send are too broadly uniform. Six global corporations control more than half of all mass media in our country: newspapers, magazines, books, radio and television. Our democracy is being swamped by the confluence of money, politics and concentrated media. We must reclaim our democracy from the accelerating grip of big-money politics and concentrated corporate media. This requires real campaign finance reform, which means public financing of public elections; some free access to ballot qualified candidates on television and radio; vigorous antitrust regulation and enforcement; ending broadcasters' free licensed use of the public airwaves; and the reversion of some organized time on our publicly owned airwaves to establish audience-controlled radio and TV networks to ensure the diversity of voices and solutions necessary for a really free press and a true civic democracy.
We need real media in this country, we need free media. As long as the media is controlled, we will never have the democracy we want or the democracy we deserve. If we had that media now, any candidate running for president would be able to participate in the debates. Instead, the debates are run by the Democratic and Republican Parties and are paid with corporate sponsorship.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Wednesday, July 2, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Corey Glass gets big news, 'discussions' in Iraq (at the direction of DC), attacks on Iraqi judges continue, and more.
Starting with war resistance. In a dramatic development for US war resister Corey Glass, currently residing in Canada, there are no charges against him. May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. This morning Russell Goldman (ABC News) reported: "Unbeknownst to him and his legion of supporters, Glass, 25, was actually discharged from the U.S. Army shortly after he went AWOL in 2006. . . . According to U.S. Army documents and officials Glass was discharged from the California National Guard on Dec. 1, 2006, four months after he arrived in Canada and six months after he failed to show up to a required muster." Goldman quotes Corey stating, "I had absolutely no idea that I had been discharged. This is insane. This is so weird. There are no warrants? No one is looking for me?" According to Major Nathan Banks, the US military does not consider Glass AWOL or a deserter, there are no charges against Glass and Glass is out of the military.
Events planned are still being held. Corey Glass is not the only US war resister in Canada and he is also not necessarily in the clear. In the US, Courage to Resist is planning "July 9th actions at Canadian Consulates nationwide:"Join a vigil and delegation to a Canadian consulate near you on Wednesday, July 9th to support war resisters! On the eve of Corey Glass' possible deportation, we will demand, "Dear Canada: Abide by the June 3rd resolution - Let U.S. war resisters stay!" More details and cities to be confirmed soon!
Washington DC - Time TBA - 501 Pennsylvania Ave NW (map). Sponsored by Veterans for Peace. Info: TBA San Francisco - Noon to 1pm - 580 California St (map). Sponsored by Courage to Resist. Info: 510-488-3559; courage(at)riseup.net Seattle - Time TBA - 1501 4th Ave (map). Sponsored by Project Safe Haven. Info: 206-499-1220; projectsafehaven(at)hotmail.com Dallas - Time TBA - 750 North St Paul St (map). Sponsored by North Texas for Justice and Peace. Info: 214-718-6362; hftomlinson(at)riseup.net New York City - Noon to 1pm - 1251 Avenue of the Americas (map). Sponsored by War Resisters' League. Info: 212-228-0450; wrl(at)warresisters.org Philadelphia - Time TBA - 1650 Market St (map). Sponsored by Payday Network. Info: 215-848-1120; payday(at)paydaynet.org Minneapolis - Time TBA - 701 Fourth Ave S (map). Info: TBA Los Angeles - Noon to 1pm - 550 South Hope St (map). Sponsored by Progressive Democrats LA. Info: pdlavote(at)aol.com Help organize a vigil at one of these other Canadian Consulates: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Anchorage, Houston, Raleigh, Phoenix, or San Diego. Please contact Courage to Resist at 510-488-3559. Veterans for Peace issued a joint call with Courage to Resist and Project Safe Haven for July 9th vigils at Canadian Consulates: "Dear Canada: Do Not Deport U.S. War Resisters!" Contact us if you can help organize a vigil, or can otherwise get involved. Locations of the 22 Canadian Consulates in the United States.Recently on June 3rd the Canadian Parliament passed an historic motion to officially welcome war resisters! It now appears, however, that the Conservative government may disregard the motion. Iraq combat veteran turned courageous war resister, 25-year-old Sgt. Corey Glass of the Indiana National Guard is still scheduled to be deported July 10th.We will ask that the Canadian government respect the democratic decision of Parliament, the demonstrated opinion of the Canadian citizenry, the view of the United Nations, and millions of Americans by immediately implementing the motion and cease deportation proceedings against Corey Glass and other current and future war resisters. Join Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, and Project Safe Haven at Canadian Consulates across the United States (Washington DC, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles confirmed--more to be announced).We mailed and delivered over 10,000 of the original letters to Canadian officials. Please sign the new letter, "Dear Canada: Abide by resolution - Let U.S. war resisters stay!" http://www.couragetoresist.org/canada
Canada's War Resisters Support Campaign will hold a "Rally to Stop the Deportation of Parkdale Resident Corey Glass" July 3rd, begins at 7:00 p.m. (with doors opening at six p.m.) at the May Robinson Building, 20 West Lodge, Toronto: "In 2002, Corey joined the Indiana National Guard. He was told he would not have to fight on foreign shores. But in 2005 he was sent to Iraq. What he saw there caused him to become a conscientious objector and he came to Canada. On May 21, 2008, he got his final order to leave Canada by July 10, 2008. Then on June 3 Parliament passed a motion for all the war resisters to stay in Canada. However the Harper government says it will ignore this motion." They are also asking for a July 2nd call-in. Diane Finley is the Immigration and Citizenship Minister and her phone numbers are (613) 996-4974 and (519) 426-3400 -- they also provide her e-mail addresses firstname.lastname@example.org ("minister" at "cic.gc.ca") and email@example.com ("finled1" at "parl.gc.ca").
To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail http://firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail http://email@example.com -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca"). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Turning to Iraq, Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that, unlike the US Congress, the Iraqi Parliament is postponing the summer vaction. Zavis reports that this is said to be in response to the allegedly upcoming provinical elections and the failure to pass the legislation that the US White House wants. For those remember last summer, the Iraqi Parliament was under criticism last year for taking a summer break. They ended up taking one resulting in some harsh criticism from inside the US. Meanwhile Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) paints a portrait (intentionally or not) of Iraqis being conned: Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister) declares that immunity for contractors has been lifted and Iraq might have control of their own air space and . . . . Who is advising Iraqis on these contracts? Attorneys for the White House? The US State Department? Doubt it? James Hider (Times of London) speaks with a contractor who explains what the 'law' says and the 'reality': "But bringing to book any Western security guards accused of shooting civilians would be difficult, the contractor noted. 'If it's someone like Blackwater, nine times out of ten the individual is spirited out of the country'." Zebari was talking it up in Baghdad again today. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports that Zebari declared at a Baghdad press conference today, "We have reached a comfortable stage of negotiations and the differences have been narrowed." As Raghavan and the Los Angeles Times' Doug Smith and Raheem Salman all note, Zebari is talking 'concessions' already (on both sides!). That would put the US client-state in an even weaker position. And is anyone else starting to note that 'progress' always 'happens' when Jalal Talabani is absent? Fresh from having the Mayo Clinic unplog his arteries, the ever-expanding Jalal Talabani is back in the news. BBC reports that yesterday, in Athens, Jalal (attending a conference, he wasn't there for sunbathing) shooks hands with Irsrael's Defense Minister Ehud Barak. And that Talabani's office quickly issued a "statement [which] said he was responsding to a request from Mr Abbas and was acting as leader of his Kurcihs party and deputy president of the Sociliast International, not as Iraq's president." Finishing the Talabani portion, Turkish Daily News reports he "was elected to a vice-chairmanship in the Socialist International over the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, who avoided attending the summit in Greece and therefore was not nominated". On the issue of the treaty, Watching America has translated Palestinian Writer's piece (written for al Jazeera):
The first step in getting Iraq out from underneath its catastrophe is the withdrawal of American troops. . . . The most stunning of those who fear for an Iraq in which the Americans leave are those who want to sign a security agreement with the Bush administration, or an American-Iraqi treaty which is now on the agenda and of which some items have already been leaked. It gives the right for the occupation to stay in Iraq for an indefinite amount of time of up to several years, or even a permanent occupation. And with a permanent occupation would come a permanent catastrophe that would be renewed and everlasting. Signing a security agreement or a militay/political/security treaty alongside the crime that is the proposed oil agreement would require a hand in treachery to Iraq, to Arabs and to Muslims, under any and all circumstances.
Meanwhile the United Arab Emirates' The National sees talk that the Sunni bloc -- (Tawafaq Front) boycotting for a year now -- might return to the Iraqi Parliament as a sign of optimism. Remember that in a few weeks. (False hopes always die hard.) Closer to reality, Sabrina Tavernise reported today: "Another judge was the target of an intimidation campaign on Tuesday, at least the sixth in two days, in a trend that has alarmed Iraq's judiciary. A bomb was placed near the house of Judge Qusay al-Bayati, of the Court of Appeals in eastern Baghdad. The judges previously attacked were on the same court. The bomb was defused and did not explode."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a US military camp in Baghdad was the target of an attack early this morning which started with exchanges of gunfire and then had "two 107mm rockets" fired at it (according to the US military) and 2 civilians were killed when the US returned fire, three Baghdad roadside bombings resulting in 2 deaths and nine people wounded
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Azad Argoshi was kidnapped Wednesday morning and later "found in very bad shape".
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Turning to the US presidential race. Barack Obama continues to attempt to prove he is patriotic. Meanwhile this is how Ralph Nader described the country to Jim Lehrer (PBS' NewsHour) in 2000, "Well there are ups and downs. Obviously the slavery period was counteracted by the antislavery movement, women got the right to vote, workers got the right to form trade unions. They built the middle class. As they say, they gave us our weekend, they gave us benefits. The farmers' popular progressive movement against the banks and railroads companies that leavened power more; it gave people a chance to have more voice. So I think we have to look back at our history and say why is it every time concentrated power got too much and social justice movements opposed them, and the dominant business community opposed a social justice movement and finally lost, America was better as a result. Everybody benefited, including the businesses because democracy tends to expand markets." In 2000 at this time, Nader was coming in at four-percent in most polls. The most recent CNN-Opinion Research Poll found him to be holding at 6%.
On the Iraq War, while Barack wants credit for a speech he 'gave' in 2002 (online recording is a 're-creation'), what has he done since? While Barack was supporting Bully Boy's illegal war throughout 2004 and stating repeatedly that he didn't know how he would have voted if he had been in the Senate, Ralph Nader knew where he stood in 2004: "Every day our exposed military remains in war-torm Iraq, we impreil U.S. security, drain our economy, ignore urgent domestic needs, and prevent Iraqi demonstratic self-rule. We need to announace a withdrawal of our troops, not increase them." In May of 2004, speaking to the Council of/for/from Foreign Relations, he would explain (in the belly of the beast): "After 9-11, it's now become quite clear that whatever emphasis there was on the al Qaeda apparatus, there was a superior emphasis on removing Saddam Hussein from Iraq. What's interesting about this is the following. It illustrated -- in ways perhaps never before illustrated in our country -- the fragility of our democratic institutiatons. Here is a nation run by a tottering dictator presiding over a diplated army, with troops not willing to fight for him, surrounded by hostile Kurds to the north, hostile Shiites to the south, surrounded by three very powerful countries compared to his military ability: Iran, Turkey and Israel. And had he directed one aggressive threat toward any of them, they would have obliterated his regime. And yet Iraq under Hussein was viewed as a threat to the United States? But what was most troubling was the lack of any deliberative process by the US Congress which was stampeded into this situation, lack of any deliberative or investigative process by the mass media which clicked their heels and loved the graphics that they were given, and without a deliberative attentiveness to the perceived concerns of the American people. Before the invasion of Iraq, we tried to have Bush meet with one or more distinct groups in our country who had knowledge and were concerned about the invasion of Iraq. Thirteen of these groups, with very little press attention, wrote open letters to President Bush in February and early March, asking for a meeting. They included letters signed by the National Council of Churches, former military officers, former intelligence officials, student groups, women's peace advocates, a business group, labor group. I don't know of any other impending hostility that had such an ecumentical coming-together, expressing doubt and opposition to the pending move. None of these letters were answered by the White House. There were no meetings. President Bush, being the messianic militarist that we've come to know so well, was not interested in meeting with anyone who was critical of his proposed Iraq policies. That was a severe scar on our democratic fabric."
Meanwhile Steve Holland (Reuters) notes Barack's "flexibility" and "nuance on Iraq". Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report), endorsing Cynthia McKinney (presumed Green Party nominee), observes, " The true voices of peace speak clearly, in simple language. 'The U.S. should withdraw all troops and mercenaries from Iraq in as orderly a fashion as possible,' says former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, candidate for the Green Party's presidential nomination. 'This withdrawal should be quickly accomplished, since the troops and the equipment were all pre-positioned in the area to start with, at the start of the invasion'."
And Team Nader notes:
Here's something you can do right now for Nader/ Gonzalez.
Donate six dollars now.
Why six dollars, you may ask?
Because yesterday, CNN reported that Ralph Nader is at six percent in its most recent national poll.
And while the flip-floppers Obama and McCain might look down on six percent, we are excited.
Our goal of course is much higher.
Right now, our goal is ten percent in the national polls.
Why ten percent?
Because ten percent gets us into the Google sponsored debates in New Orleans on September 18.
If we get on the Google sponsored debates, we're convinced Nader/Gonzalez will move toward 20 percent.
At twenty percent, people see a three way race.
When people see a three way race, everything is possible.
And we believe that in this momentous election year, everything is possible.
But right now our motto is as follows:
Get it done.
Now, what exactly do we mean by get it done?
We mean get Ralph Nader on the ballot in at least 45 states (Ralph was on only 34 in 2004)
Here's our ambitious ballot access timetable:
Ten states by July 6.
Fifteen states by July 20.
Thirty states by August 8.
Forty states by September 1.
Forty five states by September 15.
Right now, we're in stage one: ten states by July 6.
And we're in the middle of the stage one fundraising campaign.
Right now, we need to raise $40,000 by July 6, 2008.
Thanks to your generous donations, we're at $27,672.
But we want to get to ten states as soon as possible.
So, help us blow by our $40,000 goal early.
If we can get stage one done early, then we can move onto stage two ahead of schedule.
So, please, drop a six spot here now.
There's nowhere to go but up.
Together, we are making a difference.
iraqcorey glassabcrussell goldman
alexandra zavisthe los angeles timesthe new york timessabrina tavernise
sudarsan raghavanthe washington post