Monday, May 18, 2009

The US and Pakistan’s Aerial Bombing Will Kill Civilians and Make More Terrorists

From Voices for Creative Nonviolence

May 13, 2009

by Abdul Malik Mujahid

During the last thirty years of wars in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians have had one safe place to escape to: Pakistan.

They fled the Soviet invasion. They fled civil wars. They fled US bombing. Pakistan took care of millions of these Afghan refugees.

Now that safe haven with its lush green valleys is burning with bombs. And the hosts, the people who themselves welcomed Afghan refugees, at times literally into their homes or into campsites on their farms, are on the run. They are streaming out of Swat, Dir, and Buner, and registering as refugees in Mardan and the fertile valleys of Pakistan. The UN says about two million Pakistanis have been displaced during the last year of drone attacks, bombing and fighting.

Pakistan is bombing its own land and its own people who are caught between the Taliban and the Americans.

Whomever I talk to among Pakistanis, it seems, there is an emerging consensus. They hate both the Taliban who blast schools and the Americans who bomb Madrasahs. Both kill civilians.

The Soviets could not win by bombing Afghanistan, although even today, bomblets and mines left over by the Soviets kill and injure 60 Afghans a month.   Read article

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cost of Iraq war will surpass Vietnam's by year's end

From the Los Angeles Times

If Congress approves the latest funding request, as expected, the Iraq war will have cost about $694 billion, making it the second most expensive conflict in U.S. history behind World War II.

By Julian E. Barnes
April 11, 2009

Reporting from Washington -- The amount of U.S. money spent on the Iraq war will surpass the cost of Vietnam by the end of the year, making it the second most expensive military conflict in American history, behind World War II, according to Pentagon figures provided Friday.

If Congress approves the supplemental funding request submitted this week by the Obama administration, the cost of the war will rise by $87 billion for 2009, including a previous supplement approved during the Bush administration.

Added to the amount spent through 2008, it would mean the Iraq war will have cost taxpayers a total of about $694 billion. By comparison, the Vietnam War cost $686 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars and World War II cost $4.1 trillion, according to a Congressional Research Service study completed last year. Read story

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rage Is Good

The Nation

March 6, 2009

Hopefully, the demonstrations planned on Wall Street April 4 by United for Peace and Justice and other groups will contribute to the global uprising. Our president and Congress need the pressure.

The world has turned against American hegemony before: against the Vietnam war, against the World Trade Organization and against the invasion of Iraq. On all three occasions, the world was right and Washington was wrong.
On this occasion, the global economy is being devastated by the Wall Street crash. Hundreds of millions are are hurtling into extreme poverty, export industries are collapsing, currencies being destabilized.
As the conservative French president Nicolas Sarkozy says, "Laissez-faire, c'est fini." (Laissez-faire is finished.)
As nations blame Wall Street and move to protect their people, the protests need not be anti-American nor anti-Obama. Sarkozy cannot be accused of being anti-US. Neither are Iceland nor Ukraine. The global opposition might just may be what we need, an organized populist counterforce to the business and banking lobbies entrenched in Washington. Read article

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Patrick Cockburn: Iraq is a country no more. Like much else, that was not the plan

The death rate in Baghdad has fallen, but it is down to ethnic cleansing

Sunday, 16 March 2008

'It reminds me of Iraq under Saddam," a militant opponent of Saddam Hussein said angrily to me last week as he watched red-capped Iraqi soldiers close down part of central Baghdad so the convoy of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, might briefly venture into the city.

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, the US and the Iraqi governments claim that the country is becoming a less dangerous place, but the measures taken to protect Mr Maliki told a different story. Gun-waving soldiers first cleared all traffic from the streets. Then four black armoured cars, each with three machine-gunners on the roof, raced out of the Green Zone through a heavily fortified exit, followed by sand-coloured American Humvees and more armoured cars. Finally, in the middle of the speeding convoy, we saw six identical bullet-proof vehicles with black windows, one of which must have been carrying Mr Maliki.

Read article

Friday, March 14, 2008

Read this and weep. Amy

Open Letter to Three Iraqi Women from an Oregon Mother

Published by steve March 3rd, 2008 in Blog
From a Marine Mom (Member of MFSO - Oregon)

The steam has long since dissipated from my coffee cup as I strain to write this letter to the three of you. You don’t know me, and one of you will never have an opportunity to read this letter, but you have each left your mark upon my soul. Though I do not know your names you will recognize who you are and I speak to you woman to woman and mother to mother and mother to child.

Before I begin, if you don’t already know it, the US military can train a man to kill but cannot train that man how to handle it when he does. For this reason amongst many others my Marine son, John, who touched your lives in Iraq, (and through him, so did I), is in treatment along with other veterans of this and earlier wars. They are ten wounded warriors, five from the Iraq war and five from that earlier American fiasco, Vietnam.

John has bonded most closely with one of these older Vietnam vets, “Old Man”, he calls him. Like my son, Old Man is a first timer in the program. The reason I am telling you about Old Man is that it took him thousands of bottles of alcohol, dozens of jobs, seven marriages and forty years to accept that he had never recovered from his war time experiences. They never recover really I want you to know that.

So I am reaching out to you three Iraqi women because, while we didn’t realize it at the time, our paths have crossed, tragically and we are connected now. This connection has provided me with certain details about your lives that I feel I have to share if only that some small light may be shed on dark places.

There was a firefight in Baghdad, a 360 degree battle with the Marines taking fire from all around and overhead. You were there, not as a participant, just a civilian, and you are my first connection though I learned of you last because my son couldn’t tell me about you until recently.

Training had the Marines firing back reflexively at anything that moved, vehicles, stray dogs a blur of a shirtsleeve. The Marine who fired upon your husband and two children was almost 100 yards away and he jerked his weapon up in horror at the end of the burst and watched your family fall.

You didn’t know it at the time but he watched you run out to your family. He saw you in your light blue wrap as you went from one body to the other. He tried to avert his eyes as you picked up your dead child and then the other and wailed in your grief. He tried to look away but that light blue color was always in his peripheral vision, pulling at him drawing him back.
It might have been five, seven even ten minutes when, in what John described as the coldest thing he’d ever seen, that young Marine could bear your grief no more and killed you. So you see, we are connected because my son saw you die.

Does it matter to you about this man who killed you and your family? Perhaps not, but he hailed from what we call the Deep South. At 6’5” healthy and solid muscle he looked the perfect Marine. Though he returned from Iraq in one piece, he has not fared well since that day in Baghdad. Within months of returning stateside, he amassed multiple alcohol related assault charges and engaged in all the self destructive behavior typical of combat veterans.

Finally, in what John calls Karma, he plunged over a beachside cliff and lay in a coma for months. If not Karma, perhaps self imposed penance but he is only now relearning how to speak.

To the mother in Fallujah who also lost her family. Not long ago I met a Lance Corporal who had determined during the siege on your city that he and his men must enter your home in search of combatants. He prepared and set a timed charge to blow a new doorway in the side of your building. He gathered intelligence assessing the situation and finally gave the order to blow the charge, and his men darted through the newly opened breach and he followed closely behind.

You will remember him because when he entered to find your husband and children dead from the blast, you were standing there crying out, “lemad’a, lemad’a” (why, why?). You will remember him because when he saw what he had done his knees buckled and the blood drained from his twenty-two year old face. You will remember him because he fell back against the wall and clutched at his chest and gasped for breath.

You saw his reaction. You watched him try and shoulder the enormity of the order he had given and when his eyes finally met yours you placed your hand on his cheek and said, “masha, Allah” (God’s will). You should know that your compassion, your understanding and yes, your forgiveness that day destroyed him.

Please know that he would give his life to undo what he did. Please know that he works hard to end our occupation of your country. Please know that I have thought of you every day since he told me your story.

Now to you little girl of Ramadi, you cannot be more than six now, if that. With luck you do not remember that October day in 2004 when your parents died. With luck you are far away from Iraq now. To you I feel the closest connection, the greatest responsibility and the deepest agony. You see your father wanted only to rescue you. He wanted only to grab you from your dead mother’s arms, and he gave his life trying because he loved you so much.

My son and his sergeant did not understand. They mistook your father’s actions as a threat to their comrades and fired upon and killed your father. So you see we are connected because my son killed your father.
Please know that when the men of weapons platoon found you, scared and crying, that many of them including John fell apart. You undid them. You and your scared wide brown eyes and dark curls brought many of them to their knees.

They took your picture that day. You are a tiny bundle of pink and blue flowers and puffy sleeves set against the digital camouflage jacket of John’s sergeant who did not set you down for hours. Please know that John keeps your picture though he looks at it rarely because it hurts so much to remember.

What can I say to you? That I am sorry goes without saying. Does it help that my son suffers because of that day? Does it matter to your life that he will carry your image with him forever? Probably not, I don’t see how it can, but I will tell you that I love you.

As one American woman to you three Iraqi women, I am sure you cannot welcome this connection but I feel it nonetheless. Taking your families from each of you has also lost my son to me, for he will never be the same. In this way we are forever deeply connected. To each of you, Assalamu alaikum, peace be upon you.

A Marine mom