This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Monday, October 3, 2022. We're being pushed to the brink of nuclear war, The October Revolution returns in Iraq, and much more.
Starting with Kevin Alexander Gray's column at COUNTERPUNCH:
Reverend Frank Watkins, a tremendous activist and a wonderful human being, died on September 16, one day shy of his 80th birthday.
Frank was one of those people whose names many don’t know but who had a profound impact on our politics. Most prominent as a political strategist and collaborator with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during the latter’s 1980s campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, Frank was a son, servant, thinker, writer, strategist, mentor, teacher, organizer, commentator, athlete, friend, educational benefactor to countless folks who needed help‑ and a teetotaler.
I could list hundreds of famous and not so famous people and those just trying to get to another day that he gave support, advice and intellectual grounding to. But I’d still leave scores out.
Frank had a quiet, deliberate, thoughtful, unassuming manner. He never came across as a know-it-all or spoke down to people. When someone asked him a question that they were uncertain about the answer or felt they needed validation, Frank would often respond, “Well, you don’t need me to answer that question, you know the answer.” Or, “You should think that through.”
He was an avid Chicago Bulls fan and lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan. If you visited his DC apartment, you were greeted by a life-sized cutout of Michael Jordan and a basketball signed by many players from the 1991 championship team. One of his favorite moments was getting his mom a Cardinals jersey with her name and the number 100 for her 100th birthday. He was disappointed that he couldn’t get Willard Scott to announce her 100th birthday on his Smucker’s Jam milestone birthday segment on the Today Show.
[. . .]
Before his death, Frank set up a fund to bolster a public education and lobby campaign to expand voter rights and push for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote, issues on which he had been working tirelessly.
Those wishing to advance these goals may send a donation to: The Trust of Frank E. Watkins,
P.O. Box 70925,
Washington, DC 20024.
We started with Kevin because if truth matters to you, Kevin matters to you. The 2008 election was one where truth went out the window repeatedly. Kevin was one of the few who never lost his core values or betrayed his beliefs. So many others cannot say the same.
And truth matters. As the editorial board of the WSWS observes:
Not since October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, has the world come so close to nuclear war as today.
It is not necessary to glorify the Stalinist leader Nikita Khrushchev, let alone the imperialist president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, to note that there is a profound difference between the reaction to that crisis and the one gripping the world today.
In a recently published book on the Cuban Missile Crisis, Nuclear Folly, historian Serhii Plokhy wrote that, despite enormous miscalculations and misjudgments on both sides, “The crisis did not develop into a shooting war because Kennedy and Khrushchev both feared nuclear weapons and dreaded the very idea of their use.”
Plokhy adds that Kennedy and Khrushchev “did not step into the traps so masterfully created by themselves because they did not believe they could win a nuclear war, nor were they prepared to pay a price for such a victory. It is hard to imagine what the outcome of the Cuban crisis might have been if the two leaders had a more cavalier attitude toward the use of nuclear arms.”
In the midst of a new global nuclear crisis, the United States/NATO and Russia seem to be proceeding in a manner aimed at demonstrating what this outcome would be.
Having launched the invasion of Ukraine with the naïve and desperate assumption that he could compel his Western “partners” to negotiate, Russian President Vladimir Putin confronts the staggering failure of his bankrupt and reactionary strategy in Ukraine. The Russian military has suffered a series of defeats in recent weeks, including the debacle in Kharkiv followed by further advances of the Ukrainian military into territory that Russia now claims as its own.
Russia was goaded by the United States into a war for which it was unprepared, underestimating the agenda of the United States and NATO. Facing internal crisis and recriminations within the Russian oligarchy, the Putin regime is responding with unmistakable threats to use nuclear weapons.
On the other hand, the United States and NATO, determined to press their advantage in pursuit of their geopolitical objectives, are making statements that they will not be “deterred” by the threat of nuclear war.
In American newspapers and on television programs, there is open discussion about the possibility of nuclear war. The New York Times, under the headline, “Putin’s threats stir growing alarm in Washington,” wrote on Sunday: “Officials in Washington are gaming out scenarios should President Vladimir V. Putin decide to use a tactical nuclear weapon to make up for the failings of Russian troops in Ukraine… A range of officials suggested that if Russia detonated a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukrainian soil, the options included … some kind of military response.”
Asked by ABC’s “Face the Nation” what the United States would do if Russia used a nuclear weapon, former CIA Director David Petraeus replied, “We would respond by leading a NATO, a collective effort, that would take out every Russian conventional force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in Ukraine and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea.”
The general seems to believe that the United States and NATO can wipe out Russian military forces, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, without retaliation. Would anyone believe that such an action would not put the populations of London, Berlin, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago in danger of nuclear annihilation?
Nuclear weapons are the most lethal weapons. If
an incontrollable nuclear war breaks out, it
will bring human society into the abyss of
destruction. A recently released study shows
that a full-scale nuclear war between the US and
Russia would lead to deaths of more than 5
billion people worldwide.
Now, a dangerous signal is emerging: Whether or not the parties are venting anger or talking big, the frequency of discussions on nuclear weapons is increasing. But nuclear weapons are by no means a grenade that can be tied up on the waist, and taken out to show off at one's whim to scare people. The spiral escalation of war is often unpredictable. On the issue of nuclear war, there is no pill for regret.
Therefore, it is imperative for relevant parties to cool down the situation as soon as possible and create conditions for promoting peace talks. It should be noted that the current "nuclear tension" stems from a strong sense of insecurity in geopolitical games. An important reason is that the possibility of conflict between major powers is on the rise, and global strategic stability is being swayed rapidly. And a simple truth is that the more peaceful and stable the environment is, the thicker the dust will be on nuclear weapons. But once the world is caught in the vicious circle of "seeking greater security - becoming less secure - wishing more for absolute security," nuclear weapons will be likely taken out and polished.
INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE offers Finian Cunnigham's interview of Helen Caldicott:
Helen Caldicott: Yes, we have never been closer to nuclear annihilation now since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. I knew Robert McNamara who was President Kennedy’s secretary of defense and was in the Oval Office at the time of the crisis, and he later said to me, “Helen, we came so close, to within three minutes of nuclear war.”
Question: What factors do you see as increasing the risk of a world war and nuclear conflagration?
Helen Caldicott: Well, for the first time since the Cuban missile crisis, the two nuclear powers, each armed with thousands of nuclear weapons, many on hair-trigger alert, are opposing each other on the battle field, and as the United States has refused to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin who asked that the Ukraine not join NATO and for the U.S. to remove the missiles placed in the NATO countries, targeted on Russia, Putin has his back to the wall, and at some point, as he has suggested, could use a small tactical nuclear bomb which would vaporize and burn hundreds and thousands of people with many more dying of acute radiation illness, and that action could well trigger a nuclear response from the U.S., which could then escalate into full-scale nuclear war.
However, I will add here that Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine and the dreadful killing that is going on makes my heart sick.
Question: Do you view the United States as having an onerous responsibility for undermining world peace given that it is the U.S. that has primarily abandoned key arms-control treaties, such as the ABM, INF, and Open Skies Treaty?
Helen Caldicott: Yes, I do. I do not understand their motivation except that if one examines the neocons who have always hated Russia even though it is now a capitalist country, including Victoria Nuland, Robert Kagan, Antony Blinken and others whom Biden has elevated to his cabinet, we are in serious trouble. These people are well funded by the ever-powerful military-industrial complex which profits enormously from all wars including of course the Ukraine.
Question: More than 30 years after the supposed end of the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union – and high promises back then of historic “peace dividends” – the world seems to be polarizing under the U.S.-led NATO military bloc. What accounts for this seeming anachronism and lack of global peace dividend?
Helen Caldicott: Well, the end of the Cold War did not suit the American military-industrial complex at all, so Norman Augustine, head of Lockheed Martin, set off on a crusade to persuade the newly liberated countries to join NATO and to become “democracies”, and in so doing they each had to spend millions of dollars equipping themselves with weapons, purchased of course from Lockheed Martin et al. So the peace dividend disappeared. And NATO, which is actually the US, has surrounded the southern border of Russia with missiles targeting Russia. No wonder Putin is deeply concerned. Guess what the U.S. would do if the Warsaw Pact had set up a similar situation on its northern border in Canada. It probably would blow up the world as it came close to doing during the Cuban missile crisis.
Question: U.S. President Joe Biden recently made his first trip to the Asia-Pacific region, or what Washington now refers to as “Indo-Pacific”. Are you reassured by Biden’s declaration of the U.S. defending the “rules-based order”?
Helen Caldicott: I don’t even know what the so-called rules-based order is. Obviously, something dreamt up by the US. Somehow America thinks in its naivety, stupidity and arrogance that it needs to control the world militarily. It now has over 800 military bases in 80 countries and has metastasized like cancer throughout the world
At ANTIWAR.COM, Walt Zlotow notes some truths:
First, the US, NATO and Ukraine have been provoking this war for 14 years, beginning with the 2008 pledge to expand NATO into Ukraine up to Russia’s borders. That provocation dramatically expanded in 2014 when the US supported the coup that toppled democratically elected, Russian leaning Ukraine president Victor Yanukovych, setting off a civil war resulting in secession by Russian speaking Ukrainians in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
Second, DePetris also ignores how the West is choosing to prolong the war funneling over $60 billion in weaponry to Ukraine rather than promote negotiations to end it. Even worse is his suppression of US and UK emissaries’ direct demands to Ukraine president Zelensky to abort the potential peace agreement in the war’s first month.
Here's another truth: There's always money for war. The United States is suffering, the people are suffering and instead of focusing resources here at home, Joe Biden keeps sending billions to Ukraine. Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports, "The Democratic-controlled Congress completed voting on a bill to authorize federal spending through December 16 and President Joe Biden signed it into law. The measure provides an additional $12.3 billion for the war against Russia in Ukraine, but nothing for public health measures against an impending fall and winter surge of the coronavirus pandemic." We're getting close to 80 billion US tax dollars sent to Ukraine since February. It's outrageous.
The government of the United States is great at starting wars, it just doesn't seem to know how to put an end to a war. Look at Iraq.
Iraq, there, as Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) notes:
During September at least 179 people were killed, and two bodies were found in an old mass grave. Another 294 people were wounded. At least 168 were killed, and 788 more were wounded across the country during August; much of that violence was due to protests.
Militant-related violence left at least 19 civilians, seven security personnel, and 62 militants dead. Another 36 civilians and 49 security personnel were wounded. Two people were found in an old mass grave.
Saturday, The October Revolution returned to Tahrir Square.
This was the return of The October Revolution. Some wrongly tried to attribute the protest to Moqtada al-Sadr. That happened back then too, remember? No, this was not Moqtada's protest. But in a sign of his ever weaking hold on his cult, some of his supporters did participate.
That was against Moqtada's orders. For those who have forgotten, Moqtada does not believe women should protest with men. He had a big hissy fit over that in 2020 as he tried to lecture The October Revolution and order them around. Their response was to ridicule him at the next protest.
In October 2019, the October Revolution began their protesting and they toppled a sitting prime minister, forced his resignation. They did so with most of the world ignoring them. It doesn't matter, they don't require the world's approval to act or to make change.
The latest protests in Baghdad come as Iraq has been mired in political paralysis since elections in October last year that have failed to bring in a new president, prime minister or government.
Protesters were heard chanting "the people demand the fall of the regime" as thousands gathered on Saturday in Baghdad’s iconic Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the protest movement, an AFP correspondent said.
They quote activist Ali al-Habib stating, "Today, it is essential to confront power. All the bridges and roads are blocked because the authorities are afraid of the protesters." We'll note this Tweet.
It was a real protest which means it didn't have anything to do with Moqtada al-Sadr or his cult so it will get far less press. Or worse, it'll be credited to him -- like an idiot did not long ago did claiming Moqtada led the 2019 protests. He didn't. The October Revolution was initially by Moqtada, then he saw it was popular not just with young Shi'ites but with middle-aged and older Shi'ites. Then he tried to jump on the bandwagon but the protesters made clear to him that he was not running anything. He demanded that women not be allowed at the marches and they then carried signs mocking him. Then he started his verbal attacks on the protesters.
And that's the other way you know it was a real protest: the attacks on them carried out by Iraqi security forces.
Remember when Moqtada's cult broke into the Green Zone and weren't stopped. Remember how they then broke into the Parliament and weren't stopped. Remember how they occupied for days and got away with it?
Yeah, that's because Mustafa al-Kahmini is a puppet for Moqtada. When Moqtada's cult 'protests,' he orders a stand down so that Iraq's security forces won't harm a hair on the head of the zealots and let those men dry hump one another in the Parliament all night.
Medical and security sources told the Reuters news agency that the scuffles left some 64 people wounded, 26 of whom belonging to the security forces. Thirty-eight of the hundreds of protesters who took to the streets were hit by rubber bullets.
Some protests were also reported in the provinces of Basra and Nasiriyah. This year's protest anniversary comes at a turbulent time in Iraq, with tension between its rival Shiite blocs bringing the state to the brink of a civil war on more than one occasion.
I don't have time for too much on this, I'm trying to finish the snapshot, but THE NEW YORK TIMES is stating BROS failed at the box office.
I believe the theaters failed BROS. That's what I was saying -- and warning about -- before the film was released.
No City, USA has 7 theaters. All carry SMILE and BROS for opening weekend. But they show SMILES repeatedly -- eight to nine times -- a day while only showing BROS three times. Due to the lack of showings, BROS is, in fact, in what is known as limited release.
I wrote about this in the gina & krista round-robin and Stan posted about our conversation on this topic in "BROS will get screwed due to poor metrics" which went up Thursday.
I'm not at all surprised that it came in fourth. I also don't see that as a failure. The predictions were way off for a number of reasons including that it's not a 'youth' picture.
It'll be interesting to see what the box office on BROS is during this week.
It's a great film. One you should see. But homophobia -- on the part of theater chains -- was apparent before it opened. There's other homophobia at play as well.
For example? Let's take the tale of some walking out on one scene.
Billy and Luke Macfarlane have finally talked and spent time together. Both have commitment issues. But Billy wants Luke to come up to his place. Luke's been seeing two guys -- he's in a thruple -- and wants Billy to go with him there. They bicker. Then we cut to the two of them seated. We see them from the neck up. Billy, looking strained, says he's going to go ahead and leave. The camera goes wide and we see two guys in front of Luke's lower body. They're servicing him. Despite the fact that no peen or balls are shown, some were grossed out by that.
I seem to remember a much bigger oral scene involving dozens in THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. Does no one else remember that? Nobody walked out on that.
The difference was that in MARY, those gay men were an object of ridicule.
So if it's ridicule, some ticket buyers are happy to stay seated and laugh at the gay men.
BROS is a great movie.
New content at THIRD:
- Truest statement of the week
- Truest statement of the week II
- A note to our readers
- TV: Crucifying Marilyn Monroe
- BEFIT (Dona)
- As usual, Cher was there first
- Tweet of the week
- This edition's playlist
The following sites updated: