GI SPECIAL 3A49:
THIS IS HOW
RUMSFELD BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME:
BRING THE ALL HOME
US Army Pfc. Jesus Fonseca's wife
Marlene Zaragoza, 18, fits the Mexican flag on her husband's coffin
Feb. 1 2005, in Degollado, Mexico. Jesus Fonseca, 19, of Marietta,
Ga., died in Iraq. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)
RUMSFELD TELLS THE
February 17, 2005 By Dana Milbank,
Washington Post Staff Writer
When the ranking
Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Ike Skelton
(Mo.), asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq, the secretary
said, "I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not
my business to do intelligent work."
ONE TASK FORCE
FREEDOM SOLDIER KILLED, THREE WOUNDED DURING MOSUL ATTACK
February 17, 2005 HEADQUARTERS UNITED
STATES CENTRAL COMMAND NEWS RELEASE Number: 05-02-23C
Iraq -- One Task Force Freedom Soldier was killed and three were
wounded by a car bomb while on patrol in Mosul on Feb. 16 at
approximately 11:45 a.m.
The name of the Soldier killed is
being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Guardsmen Wounded In Blast
February 17, 2005 Alain A. de la
Villesbret, Louisiana Gannett News
Four members of the Louisiana National
Guard, three known to be from St. Landry Parish, were wounded when a
roadside bomb detonated near their Humvee in Baghdad on Monday.
Cpl. Shane Reed of Port Barre, Spc.
Randy Thibodeaux of Opelousas, Spc. Brandon Richard of Port Barre
and another unidentified soldier all were injured in the blast, but
none of the injuries were life threatening. Thibodeaux, who has
been awarded a Purple Heart, faces surgery because of his injuries.
Reed's wife, Ashley Reed, learned the
news Monday while attending a nursing class at T.H. Harris in
Opelousas. Ashley, who rarely takes her cell phone to class, said
she just had a gut feeling to not only bring it but to check it that
"When I checked the phone, I saw that
I had missed two calls, and then it lit up again, and it was him,"
she said. Her husband told her he had been hit but that he was OK.
Shane Reed is serving in Iraq with the
Louisiana National Guard 1088th Alpha Company Engineering Battalion
of the 256th Infantry Enhanced Brigade. The Reeds will celebrate
their one-year wedding anniversary in April. They have a two-year
old son, Landon.
Ashley Reed said she has always had
fears of her husband's safety since he's been gone.
"It's a dangerous place," she said,
"but when I heard his voice I knew he was OK, and I was thankful he
was alive. The National Guard notifies the families quickly, so we
don't have to hear any rumors, but Shane wanted to call me and tell
me. He sounded good. He always does."
Reed's friend, Thibodeaux, has been in
the National Guard for six years and he was deployed to Iraq in
October. He and his wife, Shelly, are parents of 16-month old twin
girls, Gracie and Madison.
Like Ashley Reed, Shelly Thibodeaux
said she faces phone calls with anxiety.
"The military notified me as soon as
it happened," she said. "I talked to him right away, and I talked
to him again (Wednesday)."
Shelly said her husband had 13
stitches in his face and six broken teeth.
"He said his face looks like he was
dragged over cement," she said, "but that's OK. We can live with a
She said she last
saw her husband around Christmas and hopes that he will be coming
home for good in October or November.
"But, like everyone
else, we really don't know when," she said.
Thibodeaux added that she and her
girls are doing fine holding down the homefront.
Ashley Reed said
she deals with being a military wife day by day.
lonesome. A lot of soldiers have come home but Shane hasn't. My
son misses him. When he hears his voice on the phone his whole face
lights up," Reed said.
Guardsmen Die In Iraq Accident:
“You Could Tell
That Night That He Was Worried.”
Feb. 17, 2005 RON HARRIST, Associated
Press, JACKSON, Miss.
Two state guardsmen died in Iraq when
their vehicle rolled over into a canal after the roadway collapsed,
the Mississippi National Guard said Thursday.
The guard identified the two killed
Wednesday as Spc. Joseph A. Rahaim, 22, of Laurel, and Sgt. Timothy
Osbey, 29, of Magnolia.
Rahaim was assigned to Detachment 1,
Company A, 155th Infantry in Mendenhall, while Osbey was assigned to
Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 155th Infantry in McComb.
Dorothy Osbey of Magnolia, the
soldier's aunt, said Thursday that Timothy Osbey had married shortly
before leaving for Iraq.
"This is hard,"
Dorothy Osbey said. "He was loved. He was the type of person that
was upbeat and happy."
She said that when
her nephew was asked about why he was willing to go to Iraq "with
all this stuff going on, he'd say, 'Don't worry about me because I'm
"He kept a smile on his face
regardless of what was going on," Dorothy Osbey said.
Authorities said Osbey also is
survived by a 9-year-old daughter who lives in Baton Rouge, La., but
had no other details.
Ed Ritchey, Rahaim's uncle, said
Thursday that his nephew had chosen the military life. He said that
after serving three years with the Army at Ft. Hood in Texas, his
nephew had returned to Mississippi and joined a National Guard unit
"The night before
they left, we all got together and you could tell that night that he
was worried. He wouldn't say so, but you could look at him and
Rahaim's older sister told the family Thursday morning she recalled
that as she drove her brother to Camp Shelby for training, "he was
trying to hide his tears. She said she was worried and scared but
he told her he was coming back.
"She said that as
she drove away, he held a hand up in a sign, you know, that means `I
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
Medical Staff Have
To Buy Clothes For The Wounded;
Civilians Have To
Go Begging For Help
Feb. 17, 2005 BY JOE RODRIGUEZ, The
When Derby resident Barbara Bulger
learned that soldiers who have been wounded in Iraq needed some
personal items after being hospitalized, she decided to help.
Bulger, a U.S. Air Force reservist,
started a collection drive at Derby VFW Post 7253. She plans to
collect donations --such as men and women's toiletries, sweats,
tennis shoes, underwear, DVDs, videotapes and money -- through
Bulger came up with the idea after her
husband, Mike, learned that soldiers often arrived at Landstuhl with
only the clothes they were wearing.
He had learned that
a friend's niece, who is a pastoral aide at Landstuhl, and other
staff members there often buy clothes and other items for the
[No change here.
This has been going on since the war started. Tens of billions for
the profiteering friends of the criminals running the government,
and not even a few lousy dollars from Washington so wounded troops
can have what they need. The enemy is in Washington DC running the
government. There is no enemy in Iraq, other than the politicians
infesting the U.S. headquarters in the Green Zone. The whole war is
a lie for Empire.]
MORE OF THE SAME:
February 17, 2005
By Amy Quesinberry, THE WEST ORANGE TIMES
At 20, Army Sgt. Jose Lopez is facing
a future drastically different than he imagined when he first went
to Iraq in March 2003. During his second tour of duty - he was
deployed last December - his Humvee was struck in a car-bomb attack
near Mosul prior to the Iraqi elections.
The Winter Garden resident was sent to
a hospital in Germany with a deep leg wound and without his right
Now his dreams of having a career in
the military are gone, and he must adapt to his altered appearance.
But for one day - this Saturday, Feb.
19 - Lopez can try to put all that aside and enjoy the welcome-home
celebration that is planned just for him.
A ceremony will take place at 7 p.m.
at the gazebo in downtown Winter Garden. The public is being invited
to this special event to show support for our military and,
especially, someone who to many exemplifies a "hometown hero."
West Orange VFW Post 4305 and American
Legion Post 63 will make presentations of awards and medals, and a
Blue Star Banner will be given to his mother, Maria Vargas. A singer
will perform a number of patriotic songs.
Afterward, Tiger's Eye Karate will
host a reception for Lopez at 139 W. Plant St.
The city's Recreation Department is
placing a "welcome home" banner downtown this week.
The mayor of Winter Garden, Jack
Quesinberry, has also proclaimed Feb. 19, 2005, Sgt. Jose Lopez Day.
In addition, the
City Commission voted last week to donate at least $3,000 to
purchase toiletries and high-energy snacks for Lopez's 82nd
Donations to buy gas for the Humvees? Collection plates for BDUs?
Thanks to D, who sent this one in.]
"Not Only Was He
Paralyzed In A Wheelchair, He Was Financially Wiped Out"
February 17, 2005 By Diane Baltozer,
At the Pvt. Charles
Shutt Marine Detachment in Watertown, civilian and military
volunteers from Watertown and surrounding communities help veterans
of all ages.
In the past year, a group of former
Marine members of the Detachment teamed up with a car dealer and
others to support a young Saugus Marine injured severely in the war
to get back on the road to greater mobility.
The Shutt Detachment Marine veterans
heard about then-Cpl. James Crosby, 19, after he was wounded by
shrapnel in a rocket attack March 18 in Iraq. Crosby had spent just
"a few days shy of a month there" in the combat zone before being
Flown out of Iraq to U.S. military
hospitals in Germany and from there to Bethesda Hospital near
Washington, Crosby eventually returned to West Roxbury Veterans
Administration Hospital for treatment near where he then lived in
Along the way, Boston Herald columnist
Jules Crittenden, "a reporter embedded with a division in Iraq, was
given my name as a contact for local former Marines in the Boston
area," said Marine veteran and Newton Police Det. William Byrne.
Byrne, a former Commandant of the Shutt Detachment, "that James
could really use some fellow Marine company and also filled me in on
his disastrous financial condition," Byrne related.
and women, Byrne explained, "typically can only get about $500 of a
credit line on a credit card (because their pay is low)."
And for the same
reason, they end up using their credit cards for some everyday
"When James left
for Iraq, he knew that his monthly pay would double (to combat pay
levels)," said Byrne.
With Crosby's pay
doubling he expected that his cards could be paid off. But only one
month later, he was wounded and undergoing major medical treatment
at various hospitals. And his pay dropped back in half to $1,200 a
month regular pay.
His credit card and
other bills piled up. In addition, injured servicemen also sometimes
have some medical treatment expenses deducted from their pay.
"Not only was he
paralyzed in a wheelchair, he was financially wiped out," Byrne
"I contacted nine other former Marine
friends of mine," said Byrne. "I asked them to meet me the next day
at the VA hospital and to each bring $100.
"We met James, shared some common talk
and gave him $1,000 to help bail out his credit cards," said Byrne.
"They helped by always visiting me
when I was in the hospital. They brought me food every day. They
took me out to go places. They really were there for me!" said
Crosby about the Marine veterans.
When Byrne and his
nine former Marine friends first visited Crosby at the VA Hospital,
it was clear that the young veteran would need more help than they
could provide financially on their own, especially once he was ready
to be released from the hospital. He would have the usual expenses,
just disability to live on, and he had no car and was in a
So Crosby returned to Massachusetts to
find Marines were ready to help him.
"On Aug. 19, we had a huge bash at The
Rack in Faneuil Hall, Boston. We raised about $40,000 with the help
of lots of people who turned out," said Byrne.
The fund-raiser helped bail out Crosby
from many pressing financial problems and a start in his new life.
Along the way, Crosby had been
improving health-wise and was eventually released from the Veterans
However, he still
needed to make several day-long visits back to the VA hospital each
week for physical therapy and other treatments, was still
recovering, without a car and expecting for the foreseeable future
to be in a wheelchair and heavily reliant on others. His father,
Kevin Crosby - a Marine veteran himself - and brother, Jarred, a
high school student, helped get him to medical visits.
But Crosby needed adapted living
quarters and was eager to be independent. Eventually, he moved into
a Saugus wheelchair-accessible apartment open to veterans and
others. Since then, Crosby's regular hospital visits have decreased
to two or three days a week and additional healing and pain
treatments as needed.
Recently, he tried out leg braces and
Among other severe injuries caused by
the rocket attack, Byrne explained, Crosby's spinal cord was
severely damaged, but not severed. Although it's not clear if that
damage will improve with more treatments, he is learning to slowly
maneuver his legs while most of his weight relies on the arm
However, for now Crosby needs his
wheelchair and has been navigating, with the help of his new
mentors, some other major hurdles on the road to becoming more
independent and mobile.
wasn't just eagerly awaiting his car. He was in Washington, D.C.
for Veterans Day, honoring other veterans and working to help others
severely wounded, like himself, avoid the financial problems he had
"My father and I
and Congressman (Ed) Markey put together a bill to change the way
wounded veterans are paid," explained Crosby. "When your quality of
life is worse than when you went over. It (the pay cut he suffered)
just seemed wrong."
If OK'd by
Congress, the Crosby-Puller Combat Wounds Compensation Act
(co-named after the most decorated Marine of all time, the late
Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller) would keep the pay level of seriously
injured military at the same rate they received while in combat,
until they are healed, discharged and receive VA benefits, or die,
"James and his
father," said Byrne. "Put a great deal of time into this bill,
knowing that James was not going to benefit from it because he had
already been discharged. They did it to help future wounded service
was introduced to Congress this week.
And today, Crosby said, with his new
car, "I can go anywhere I want to go."
One place he goes
is to the Veterans Services office in Boston - not to get help, but
to give it. He works there two days a week helping do whatever I
can to make the transition from active duty to veteran easier for
other guys coming home.
“It kind of gets me
going again with life. And sometime in the near future I'm thinking
of going to college," he said.
DIA Chief Says
Resistance Growing Stronger
February 17, 2005 By Dana Priest and
Josh White, The Washington Post
Vice Adm. Lowell E.
Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate
panel the Iraq insurgency has grown "in size and complexity over the
past year" and is now mounting an average of 60 attacks per day, up
from 25 last year.
Attacks on Iraq's
election day last month reached 300, he said, double the previous
one-day high of 150, even though transportation was virtually locked
Calls 60+ Strikes Daily “A Limited Capacity.”
Feb 17, 2005 By Vicki Allen,
The Pentagon has
found that Iraqi insurgents can conduct up to 60 strikes a day and
occasionally more, the chairman of the U.S. Joint
Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said on Thursday.
testified with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, characterized the
insurgency fighting some 150,000 U.S. forces in Iraq as "a limited
[What the fuck is
that supposed to mean? Every capacity is “limited.” Technically,
5,000 strikes a day is also limited, to 5,000 strikes a day. If
this weasel is trying to imply that the resistance isn’t really
doing that much, tell that to the families of the dead and maimed
troops. And while asshole Myers is at it, maybe he can explain his
limited capacity to get from the Green Zone to the Airport alive.
The “limited capacity” of the resistance means that the only ground
George Bush holds in Iraq is whatever piece of ground the troops are
standing on at any given moment. Everybody else in the world knows
that. Is Myers that stupid, or is Congress that stupid, or are they
both playing a big game of “let’s pretend?” Fun for the politicians
in Generals’ uniforms and the politicians in Congress; deadly for
the troops. Bring them all home now!]
NEED SOME TRUTH? CHECK
OUT THE NEW TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth
- about the occupation or the criminals running the government in
Washington - is the first reason for Traveling Soldier. But we
want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the
resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or
inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to
become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed
services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help
you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what
you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a
network of active duty organizers.
And join with Iraq War
vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home
Fault US Command For “Failure To Surprise” In Iraq:
“We Just Wait For
Them To Come And Blow Us Up"
February 7, 2005 World Tribune.com
BAGHDAD, February 7,
2005 -- U.S. military sources said combat units have failed to
develop effective tactics required to defeat the insurgency in Iraq.
The Abu Dhabi-based
Gulf News reported that senior officers from the 82nd Airborne
Division have criticized leading military planners for their force
"The result has been a lack of
mobility and failure to surprise," a military source said.
"By the time, we arrive at an
insurgency stronghold, half the city knows about it."
The failed U.S.
military tactics are based on a strategy for force protection that
require the use of armored fortresses, heavy vehicles, heavy weapons
and large forces to withstand insurgency attacks, Middle East
The sources said U.S. commanders have
overruled junior and mid-level officers who advocate the development
of streamlined light combat units to initiate stealthy attacks on
insurgents. They said the commanders have also refused to allow
troops to enter Iraqi communities without heavy vehicles and
"The problem is
that we all sit around in our bases and just wait for them to come
and blow us up," another officer said. "It didn't used to be like
that. We used to go out and take the fight to them. I can only
think that someone in the Pentagon is scared of what will happen if
we start taking casualties."
In many cases, the sources said, U.S.
commanders have ordered the withdrawal of troops when confronted by
insurgents in an effort to reduce casualties. They said such orders
have encouraged insurgency attacks.
The officers cited by the Gulf News
said the U.S. military must demonstrate its ability to patrol
anywhere in Iraq to ensure that the insurgents remain off balance.
The sources said that despite nearly two years in Iraq, U.S.
military commanders still fall back on tactics that surrender the
initiative to insurgents..
"Of course it's more dangerous for us,
but there's no alternative," a paratrooper from the U.S. Army's 82nd
Airborne Division said. "You can't catch an insurgent with a tank
or helicopter, and you certainly can't if you're hiding behind a
"All too often we see Americans riding
around in armored vehicles or running away when they get shot at,"
the paratrooper said. "It sends the wrong message and makes the
insurgents think we're scared of them."
by junior and mid-level officers was the reliance on military
fortresses to house and protect U.S. troops. The sources said this
has fostered a siege mentality and enable insurgents to operate
freely around U.S. facilities.
do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans,
are especially welcome. Send to email@example.com.
Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
307 Sex Assaults On
Military Members In War zone Reported
February 17, 2005 Washington (AP)
A victims support
group said members of the military have reported 307 sexual assaults
that took place while they were stationed in Iraq, Kuwait,
Afghanistan or Bahrain.
A statement from the Connecticut-based
Miles Foundation, which first raised concerns about assaults on
women serving in Iraq and Kuwait last year, said the alleged
assailants included other members of the military, allies and
foreigners. Most of the victims were women.
About one-third of the cases reported
to the Miles Foundation also have been reported to military
officials, the statement said.
have reported being assaulted while preparing to go overseas, the
17 February 2005 (AFP) SAMARRA, Iraq
Armed men captured
an official of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s party.
Seif Abu Meshaal Hassan, in charge of
the Iraqi National Accord in Salaheddin, was kidnapped from his
house in Dijla near Samarra.
Armed and masked men in four cars
snatched Hassan late Wednesday.
17 February 2005 (AFP) & (AP)
A bomb targeting a
police patrol in Samarra killed a policeman and wounded four others
Thursday, a police officer said.
And three policemen
and an insurgent were killed in an assassination bid on a police
captain late Wednesday near Samarra.
“The unknown man opened fire on my
convoy, police returned fire and three of them were killed in the
ensuing firefight, as well as the attacker,” said Captain Muder
wounded seven Iraqi soldiers by detonating a bomb as a convoy of
U.S. troops and Iraqi National Guardsmen passed by.
unidentified gunmen attacked two trucks carrying food supplies in a
town south of Baghdad, killing six men.
Vs. Collaborator Women
al-Jazirah village near ar-Ramadi encouraged fighters 11 January
2005. Women in al-Mushahadah in Baghdad area threw stones at US
troops in Humvees 9 January 2005. Around the same period, women
in ar-Ramadi were seen on rooftops with weapons when it was
anticipated that the Americans were coming.
These are the
REAL changes, the REAL liberation of the real local women, not
wealthy ones who fly to London for manicures, or fly to Washington
to meet Bush.
7 February 2005 By Nada Al-Rubaiee,
Member of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance
(IPA), The Plough 2:23
During Bush's campaign to invade Iraq,
issues concerning Iraqi women were raised on several occasions.
Part of this "feminist" hoopla was carried out by a few Iraqi women
who promoted the invasion as a means of "liberating" Iraqi women
from male and state repression.
After the desired
"liberation" of Iraq was accomplished, some of these same women were
appointed to 'prestigious' positions in different occupation
institutions of the "New Iraq" like the Iraqi Governing Council
(IGC) and the Interim Iraqi Government of Iyad Allawi (Prime
Minster). Others started operating openly inside Iraq under the
banner of foreign-financed so-called NGO's, as well as human rights
and women's organisations.
In November 2003, a
delegation of Iraqi women visited the White House to personally
thank Bush for "helping" Iraq and to ask him not to withdraw his
troops allegedly because "Iraq still needs them".
Several months later, on the very
special occasion of International Women's Day on the 8th of March
2004, Colin Powell unleashed two initiatives: Iraqi Women's
Democracy Initiative, and the U.S.-Iraq Women's Network. Powell,
henceforth, allocated $10 million to cover the first initiative, and
$27 million dollars more to cover the second!
Many fundamental questions arise here
by default: why is the US administration shedding millions to
promote women's democracy in occupied Iraq, while other basic and
essential human needs, like water and electricity, are not being
minimally satisfied yet?
Why is the issue of women so important
for the occupiers? And how can we understand spending money in the
name of democracy for the sake of women, while humiliating,
torturing, and killing thousands of men and women also in the name
of democracy? Finally, what role do those newly-established Iraqi
women's organisations play in this scheme?
Many of these
organizations if not all of them - have started to raise very
controversial issues in a country still reeling under occupation.
Their slogans are not limited to calls for more "private and sexual
freedom of Iraqi women", but are strongly directed against the Iraqi
It is true these
organisations say the Iraqi people should be rid of the occupation.
However, they only do so while calling at the same time for the
rejection of "the current terrorist resistance"! Moreover, they
have taken upon themselves the additional responsibility of
"resisting Islamic terrorism...".
But, aren't these the same lines
pushed by Rumsfeld and Bush? There is no doubt the rhetoric of
these women's organisations borrows heavily from the terminology of
Thus, it is only
rational to ask ourselves whether there is a link between such calls
'to liberate Iraqi women', on one hand, and the concomitant
anti-resistance slogans, on the other hand? What is the common
denominator between the occupation and these women organisations?
Many dishonest and
cheap accusations were directed both by the occupation and those
organisations against the heroic Iraqi resistance in cities like
Fallujah for example. Both accused the resistance of committing
heinous crimes, such as kidnapping and killing Iraqi women 'for
wearing jeans or walking without a scarf', and even raping girls
'before the occupiers rape them'?
This latest accusation was openly made
by the Organisation for Women Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) against the
Fallujah's Shura Council, a religious council that served as
spokesperson for the heroic resistance against the brutal aggressors
during the siege of Fallujah.
Thus, OWFI made the absurd charge that the Shura Council had issued
a fatwa (religious decree) stipulating "Mujahideen fighters should
rape girls starting at the age of 10 before they are raped by
accusations are completely baseless, but they do unveil the real
face of organisations that were created merely to blackmail the
resistance and lengthen the occupation. While distracting
attention away from the real criminals, those organisations do not
miss a chance to conjure up hatred for the resistance.
Naturally, we cannot ignore that there
are crimes and injustices perpetrated against women in Iraq. But
who is behind those crimes?
For example, in
the southern provinces of Iraq, whole families have been
threatened after their men and women attended pro-resistance
solidarity meetings, or what the occupying forces call
'anti-occupation, anti-coalition, or anti-government meetings'.
Many families are hence forced to leave their homes to avoid the
jailing or killing of mothers and daughters.
But rather than
accusing British occupation forces of giving cover to these threats,
or accusing the collaborationist Badr Brigades of terrorizing
families, 'Iraqi women's organizations' accuse resistance fighters
of committing atrocious acts against women! To them, the resistance
is always guilty of "killing any creature moving on the ground!"
Iraqi women, furthermore, have taken an active part in the
resistance on many occasions.
To cite examples
from the early part of January 2005 alone, women fighters were
reported in Mosul in northern Iraq on 2 and 3 January 2005. One
week later, a religious leader issued a fatwa urging women in the
city to carry weapons and fight. And there was a funeral there of a
female martyr who was killed in the fighting. Her husband and sons
attended (also fighters).
Women in al-Jazirah
village near ar-Ramadi encouraged fighters 11 January 2005. Women in
al-Mushahadah in Baghdad area threw stones at US troops in Humvees 9
January 2005. Around the same period, women in ar-Ramadi were seen
on rooftops with weapons when it was anticipated that the Americans
These are the REAL
changes, the REAL liberation of the real local women, not wealthy
ones who fly to London for manicures, or fly to Washington to meet
“It Gets A Little
Bit Worse Every Day”
February 17, 2005 By Tom Engelhardt
Right now, as before the election,
American forces find themselves on the horns of a dilemma that our
top officer corps, post-Vietnam, never thought we would experience
Our troops are
mired in a seemingly endless guerrilla war in which, if you
withdraw to your reasonably impregnable bases, you instantly
surrender significant swathes of territory to your enemy; while,
if you venture out armed and en masse to take the offensive, you
not only suffer continual casualties but, operating relatively
blindly in a strange land, create by your every act yet more
enemies out of ordinary citizens.
As Robert H. Reid of the Associated
Press reports, "violence is once
again on the rise just as some of the most experienced U.S. military
units prepare to leave. Their replacements, some of them part-time
soldiers from the National Guard, will need time to learn the
situation on the ground."
As for those
National Guard troops, Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National
Guard Bureau, just told the House Armed Services Committee: "As it
pertains to the National Guard, the Army National Guard in
particular, we were woefully underequipped before the war started -
It's getting -- gets a little bit worse every day."
do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans,
are especially welcome. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
Noam Chomsky Leaves
That Draftees Can’t Be Used In Imperial Wars
February 4, 2005 By JACOB LEVICH
Noam Chomsky is so rarely wrong about
anything that it feels impertinent to correct him. But his recent
remarks on the draft (Feb. 2), are in need of scrutiny, especially
since they might give false comfort to people who rightly worry that
a revival of conscription is in the cards.
Chomsky says the US is unlikely to
reinstate the draft because of "the Vietnam experience," which was
"the first time in the history of European imperialism (sic; he must
have meant to include North America) that an imperial power tried to
fight a colonial war with a citizens' army." He continues:
"I mean the British didn't do it, and
the French had the Foreign Legion in colonial wars, civilians are
just no good at it. Colonial wars are too brutal and vicious and
murderous. You just can't take kids off the street and have them
fight that kind of war. You need trained killers, like the French
Chomsky has been
saying this a lot lately, and consequently the notion that
conscripts can't fight dirty wars has taken its place among the Top
Ten left-of-center myths about the draft, right alongside "the draft
is fairer to the poor and minorities" and (don't laugh) "the
Establishment wouldn't support wars of aggression if they thought
their children might get drafted."
Because Chomsky is
usually so reliable, a lot of good people seem to be swallowing his
argument uncritically, which is why it calls for correction.
I won't dwell on
Chomsky's use of the term "citizens' army," a pleasant-sounding
euphemism for forced military service that is gaining popularity
among apologists for the draft.
But it's worth
noting that the US force now in Iraq is already a citizens' army,
consisting mostly of Guardsmen and Reservists who have been wrenched
away from their families to spend 24 months in hell. It's probably
true that some draftees would shrink from the brutal realities of
war against the people of Iraq, but no more than the thoroughly
demoralized civilians who are there now. From Washington's point of
view, a draft could hardly make things worse.
puzzles me is Chomsky's bald assertion that the Vietnam War was
the first time a European power tried to fight a colonial war
using draftees. That's just not so.
To begin with, it's
mysterious why Chomsky limits himself to European powers.
Surely his argument should apply
equally to imperialists on other continents, unless he thinks
Europeans are especially sensitive about colonial slaughter -- and
he can't possibly think that.
[Why not? He thought Imperial warrior John Kerry should be elected
At any rate, he's mistaken even in the
case of Europe. Just to name one counterexample, the Italian
conquest of Ethiopia in 1935-36, a murderous colonial war by any
standard, was fought with conscripted troops.
here is that fascist Italy introduced universal conscription
precisely for the purpose of facilitating colonial expansion. So
did imperial Japan. And once you let Asia into the equation,
Chomsky's argument truly collapses.
The 1930s and 1940s
saw several of the most brutal colonial wars in history, including
the Rape of Nanking and comparably horrific episodes during Japanese
invasions of Southeast Asia and Korea. Throughout WWII numerous
sideshow conflicts were conducted across the globe as the big powers
vied to pick off colonial assets. All this was accomplished with
the modern era, the draft has not hindered but aided imperialist
designs. Universal conscription originated in
Europe with the French Revolution, but it was Napoleon who first saw
how a "citizen's army" could be exploited as an overwhelming
military asset -- one which he put to use in conquering most of the
European continent. His colonial war in Spain -- the original
guerilla war -- was fought, with relentless brutality, by
Although Napoleon lost his empire to
the Russian winter, the advantages of conscription were not lost on
the other European powers, which followed suit during the late 19th
Century as they sparred over colonial prizes in Africa and Asia.
The sole exception was Britain, which didn't need the draft, since
it enjoyed use of the Indian Army as a virtually limitless reserve
Following WWII, the great powers
variously used proxies, mercenaries, volunteers, UN "peacekeepers,"
and conscripts to fight their colonial wars. Results were mixed. In
general, all categories of soldier proved capable of producing the
kinds of atrocities required by their masters -- the My Lai
massacre, for instance, was perpetrated by draftees.
On the other hand, Chomsky's
exemplary "trained killers" -- the French Foreign Legion -- botched
both the Algerian and Vietnam Wars, and their supposedly exceptional
morale is a myth. (See Bernard Fall on the deserters and defeatists
at Dien Bien Phu.)
In the end, "volunteers vs. draftees"
is the wrong way of looking at the problem.
What history actually shows is that
imperialist powers will eventually use whatever type and size of
force they believe to be necessary from a military point of view,
regardless of morale issues and political cost. LBJ was well aware
that expanding the draft would be a risky proposition; he did it
anyway because he saw no other way of winning the war. There's a
good chance Bush will do the same.
If any further
example is needed, remember that the most vicious, brutal,
murderous, and protracted colonial war in the world today is being
fought -- at tremendous cost to military and domestic morale -- by
draftees. I'm talking, of course, about Israel's war on the
Palestinian people. Given Chomsky's tireless truth-telling about
Palestine, it's an inexplicable oversight. Even Homer nods.
Used Against Strikers:
Chair Of The
Southern Oil Company Trade Union Speaks
Neil, an American
who is head of Khurafi, told them that if they did not go back to
work US forces would be used to break the strike.
Khurafi strike tanks came and put themselves between the company
management and strikers.
2005 Talk by Hassan Juma'a: Iraqi trade unionist
at the University of London Union. Transcript by Loukas Tsoulakis,
Corporate Watch: I missed half an hour. The transcript begins at
The meeting, organised by Iraq
Occupation Focus, took place at the University of London Union on
Tuesday February 8th and was attended by around 50 people.
public meeting is in Glasgow on Wednesday February 16th where he
will be sharing a platform with Rose Gentle, who lost her soldier
son in Iraq. Both know profoundly the meaning of blood for oil.
Hassan Juma'a is
the Chair of the Southern Oil Company trade union, based in Basra.
Here he talks about
the position of the various union federations, including the
state-sponsored IFTU, and the prospects for non-party-political
trade unionism in Iraq.
NOTE THAT: this is a transcript of a
translated talk and therefore most nuances have been lost. This
cannot be taken as a definitive account of what Hassan Juma'a or
Iraq occupation Focus believe.
NOTE WELL; WHEN THE MATERIAL BELOW REFERS TO “HJ SAYS” THIS OR THAT,
IT IS REFERRING TO THE SPEAKER, Hassan Juma’a
Chair: Ewa Jasiewicz
Translator: Samir Ramadani
Due to struggle by the Southern Oil Company Union (SOCU) the
Iraqi Ministry of Finance has cancelled the two lowest grades of the
11 wage scales.
HJ met UK MPs today (08/02/05), they
said they had informed Tony Blair of the SOCU strike on the 10th of
August, 2004. I am pleased that there are people in the UK who are
informed about our situation.
Dick Cheney is
involved in the KPR company. They are involved in running the SOC
pumping stations. This is part of the US strategy of economic
occupation and privitisation. UK experts agree that this is so, and
HJ has also read documents about Alawi's preparations for
privatisation. The ministry of Oil has attempted to keep these
plans secret from the appointed National Assembly. KPR run most
pumping stations, including the biggest, but not all.
Al-Khurafi (Kuwaiti) and Meer (Indian)
are two companies brought in by KPR, who then brought in 1,200 Asian
workers, who were then protected by US forces. After SOC union
negotiation with Khurafi 1,000 Iraqi workers were brought in to work
and 1,000 Asians were sent home. Pressure on KPR forced them to
give work to Iraqis, but within a few days KPR made needed items
(like eye-glasses) very hard to get hold of.
The US plan was for no oil to be
exported until four years after the (beginning of the?) occupation,
but Iraqi workers have managed to bring the stations on-line within
four months to raise money for humanitarian ends; 900,000 barrels
sent on a Swedish tanker. The US has therefore revised its policy
towards oil. HJ has had four meetings with the SOC head, but they
showed no desire to help Iraqis and wanted to obstruct
Employees' rights continue to be
violated. The US, via Paul Bremmer, etc obstructs the work of the
Iraqi national oil companies. The Oil Ministry's role is to aid the
two companies involved in oil prospecting and transportation, since
the South region is intended to be a flagship for beginning oil
exports. However these companies' activities have been frozen and
hence sabotaged by the USA.
Let me make it very
clear: the SOCU is opposed to privatisation. The reasons are clear.
The servants of the former regime took much money with them. If the
oil institutions are sold, these people will be the buyers.
To conclude: we
know you have stood by us and we stand by you.
Question and Answer
Q: In the recent
Iraqi elections, did any political party stand on an
A: None have; all
should. Oil is the only remaining national resource; all
infrastructure has been destroyed (agriculture, etc).
Q: How do you see the future of Iraq
after two years of violence? Will the situation continue?
A: Firstly let me make it clear that I
am neither for or against the elections. From the start of the
occupation to today we still have the same laws as the old regime.
Hopefully a new government, though not fully legitimate, will take
us from one condition to another.
The new government does not have a
magic wand to stop the violence. However, there will be some change
and we hope the new government will provide protection for the
citizens. There is a confusion between the resistance and those
whose actions, such as suicide bombings, hurt Iraqis more than the
hurt the Americans. We know of the recent broadcast in which Bin
Laden appointed Zarkawi the 'Prince of Iraq'; these people and their
agents do not want to see a stable Iraq.
Q: Even if the oil industry is not
privatised, the profits can still be used to service Iraq' debt. Is
the Trade union movement strong enough to resist privatisation?
A: There are
various meanings of 'privatisation'. What is under the ground
cannot be privatised, but the US does not recognise this -- they
may give concessions to extract oil to US companies. HJ met with
representatives of political parties before the election; they all
stated their opposition to privatisation -- only god knows what
they will do when they get into power! As trade unionists live in
the situation themselves we shall -- with god willing -- stop
privatisation, even if we must give blood in the process.
Q: You said that workers were brought
in from outside. Was there any attempt to organise with these Asian
workers, in order to resist the bosses at an international level?
A: When Khurafi came to Iraq they
renamed themselves 'Iraq National Company', but they were never an
Iraqi company (not registered with the Ministry of Planning). In
Basra and the surrounding area unemployment is very high.
The Asian workers were in a special
situation, under strict control and unable to organise. Maybe the
mechanical workers could affect their situation, but in general
not. This is a new situation, previous laws have not allowed
workers to be brought in except high-level experts. The Khurafi
employees also left for security reasons -- a manager and (doctor?)
Q: What kind of links do you have with
other Iraqi workers?
A: The aim is for one oil union. We
are currently the biggest, in terms of numbers and in terms of
production. We have links with workers in Nasarea, Kirkuk (and many
other areas I did not get).
Q: How much agreement is there between
the Iraqi unions on, for example, the question of independence from
A: Let me be frank. There are three
trade union federations in Iraq.
The first is
officially recognised by the state and therefore illegitimate by
international rules (ILO regulations?). This is the Iraqi
Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU). It is formed by the principle
of coalition -- 5 representatives from Alawi's party, 5 from the
Communist Party, 5 from the Arab Socialist Movement. Rasim
Alawadi is the president -- he is a deputy for Alawi's party.
The second claims to be independent
and has representatives from the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution and the Dawa party (both major Shi'a religious parties).
The third is led by Falah Awan and the
Worker-Communist Party owns it.
Therefore the SOC union wants to
remain independent and get to the beach of safety.
For 35 years we have lived under
one-party rule and these were the political groups that organised.
Old labels should be left outside the union, we should serve the
union independent of party politics. Unfortunately this approach is
not followed. HJ knows and deals with individuals from all
parties. The Arab Labour organisation invites delegates from all
three federations. We are co-ordinating on common purposes -- to
gain workers' rights and to plan how to expel the occupation.
Q: Ba'athist trade unions were part of
the state. Are their old leadership still around/are they
A: At the last Arab Labour meeting in
Aman with representatives from the three federations, HJ did not go
himself but sent the General Secretary of the SOC union.
He reported that three men and a woman
came to the meeting, people who had been part of the Saddam Hussein
regime, and they claimed that they also were 'representing
workers'. The Arab Labour League leader is an Algerian, and the
Arab Labour league's headquarters is in Damascus. He tried to expel
the Ba'athists from the meeting, asking them 'Do you want to have
your cake and eat it?' These people change their colour according
to circumstances. If the water is blue, they go blue. If the water
is green, they go green.
Q: If the trade unions are independent
from politics, do they still have an impact on the process. For
example I have heard about a strike that was organised during the US
attack on Najaf.
A: Our work ranges
from Shipping in Basra to operations north of Baghdad, and it was
the workers at the BS3 plant within the Najaf area who stopped
work. Trade unions are also represented on the Oil Council within
the Ministry of Oil. This council has sole responsibility for
increasing and decreasing oil production within the Cabinet. As a
union, we have the power and the muscle to make the government
listen by halting work.
Q: Your region is occupied mainly by
British forces. Have British forces intervened in favour of the
private companies? And what actions are legitimate for trade unions
in order to end the occupation?
A: (In fact the
area of the SOC union is also occupied by US and Danish forces).
There was a strike by Khurafi welders (traditionally highly paid)
who had not got their wages.
Neil, an American
who is head of Khurafi, told them that if they did not go back to
work US forces would be used to break the strike.
Khurafi strike tanks came and put themselves between the company
management and strikers.
These incidents are
not reported due to the Occupation's clamp-down.
With regard to
trade unions acting against the occupation, HJ says all forces
that want and end to the occupation must unite. Trade unions are
like any other who wants an end to the occupation -- by all
We back all
Iraqis, because we want to be inside the arena of struggle, we do
not want to be outside. We represent 50% of industrial workers;
23,000 in the Southern oil sector alone. Port workers, rail
workers, engineers and health workers need to unite.
Q: What is the current level of oil
production, and what levels are possible in the future?
A: Once levels were very high, but
with no gains for the Iraqi people; 4,530,000 barrels per day at $36
This adds up to enough money to build
a very advanced society, but unfortunately this was used to prop up
the failing military-industrial complex.
Right now 1.8 million barrels are
being exported -- 2.5 would be possible, as some is used
domestically. Since we eliminated the two bottom grades of the wage
scale the relative economic situation has improved -- not enough,
but it has improved. Sanctions once caused workers to sell all
their possessions. If it was 800 dinars for a kilo of flour, then a
teacher's salary would buy five kilos. I think Saddam had an inner
hatred towards educated people. He said once that someone with a
PhD, if they were jobless they should go and sell cigarettes in the
Q: I heard that the
SOC union was once within the IFTU -- what happened? And also, can
trade unions help the unemployed?
A: We were never
part of the IFTU, because we questioned their legitimacy.
Abdullah Masen (UK
representative of the IFTU) often tells people here that we are part
of the IFTU. I say now, let him know that I have been nominated to
the board of co-ordination between Iraqi and Iranian oil trade
unions by the Arab Labour league.
So how can we be
affiliated to the IFTU if the ALL deals with us separately. In fact
I have a document issued to the ALL by the president of the IFTU
declaring that the IFTU will dissolve itself after the election of a
new Iraqi government. I can send you a copy of this document
through Munir (an Iraqi member of Iraq Occupation Focus).
On the other question, we do not
organise with the unemployed but we try to find them work! Now my
frankness in answering such questions often puts me in trouble in
Iraq, -- the unemployed union belongs to the Worker-Communist Party
and I do not wish to tread on them.
Q: Are there any Asian workers still
in Iraq? And the oil exporting that is currently happening, how
big a part does smuggling play in this?
A: The US forces and the terrorists
work to keep foreigners out of Iraq to sabotage the economy.
Therefore there are none in Iraq due to security.
The oil that is
smuggled – this is processed oil products; paraffin and petrol. The
US cannot stop it because it has a clear outlet through the southern
Q: Who organises the smuggling?
A: There are more mafia in Iraq than
in Italy! It is not a threat to the USA so they do not stop it.
When suicide bombers tried to blow up the export area itself the US
forces acted very fast to occupy it.
finished the meeting with a few words:
is to bolster the SOC trade union struggle.
They are under
threat of death; they have said that privatisation will happen over
their dead bodies – and I worry that this will be the case!
ERINYS are the company that control
the security of the Southern Oil Company, and they have killed in
the past, killed in South Africa (and other places I didn't get
down). They have offices in London and we can target them if they
hurt Iraqi trade unionists.
Initially the trade
unionists' struggle has been to raise their own living standards –
however this path will soon bring them into a collision with the
nature of the occupation itself.
BRING ALL THE
TROOPS HOME NOW!
Bush Says U.S.
Treasury Bonds Are Worthless Trash
2.17.05 By Joe Conason,
The bogus threat conjured by Mr. Bush
and his conservative supporters is the U.S. government's abandonment
of its commitment to generations of workers who paid taxes into the
Social Security system.
They tell us that
the system is going bankrupt, that the system is "flat broke"-by
which they mean that the bonds held by the Social Security trust
fund are worthless.
The catch phrase
they use is "worthless I.O.U.'s."
This is an argument that can be
convincing only to someone who has no idea how government is
financed every day-which is to say, someone who doesn't know that
governments subsist on borrowing, just like corporations and
families, and they always have.
The scale is
different, but the principle remains the same. If Treasury bonds
are indeed "worthless," then the government itself must be on the
verge of collapse.
administration came to power and emptied the cookie jar, U.S.
Treasury bonds were universally regarded as the most reliable
investment on earth. Now, as the dollar sinks and the deficits
explode, nobody is quite so certain about that traditional
repository of value.
Actually, all the
blather about "worthless" Treasury bonds sounds particularly
juvenile and irresponsible at a time when, thanks to the
President's tax cuts, we are increasingly dependent on foreign
lenders in places like China and Japan. Why would anybody buy a
bond from him?
Support For Global Warming
February 16, 2005 The Borowitz Report
On the day that the U.N. Kyoto
Protocol finally went into effect, President George W. Bush
reaffirmed his strong support for global warming, arguing that the
phenomenon helps to make the world a "toastier, homier" place.
"Right now, Hawaii has a climate that
is the envy of the world," Mr. Bush said at a White House briefing.
"If global warming continues at its current pace, by 2050 the whole
world will be as hot as Hawaii, if not hotter."
President Bush added that global
warming - far from being the threat to the world's eco-system that
many experts say it is -- may actually be the best long-term
solution to the world's energy problems.
"If the world got a few degrees warmer
every year, we wouldn't have to turn up the darned thermostat so
much," Mr. Bush said. "Thanks to global warming, the world will be a
toastier, homier place."
Mr. Bush said that each and every
American can do his or her part to help increase global warming,
adding, "Instead of walking to the corner, drive your SUV."
"A lot of folks think they can't do
much to produce greenhouse gasses, but that's just not true," Mr.
Bush said. "Every little bit helps."
departed from his remarks on global warming to comment on the
current situation in Syria, calling for "the immediate withdrawal of
all foreign troops in the Middle East except for the ones I put
CLASS WAR NEWS
A company, feeling it was time for a
shakeup, hires a new CEO.
This new boss is determined to rid the
company of all slackers. On a tour of the facilities, the CEO
notices a guy leaning on a wall.
The room is full of workers and he
wants to let them know he means business!
The CEO walks up to the guy and asks,
"And how much money do you make a week?"
A little surprised, the young fellow
looks at him and replies, "I make $300.00 a week. Why?"
The CEO then hands the guy $1,200 in
cash and screams, "Here's four weeks' pay, now GET OUT and don't
Feeling pretty good about his first
firing, the CEO looks around the room and asks, "Does anyone want to
tell me what that goof-off did here?"
With a sheepish grin, one of the other
workers mutters, "That was the Pizza delivery guy from Domino's."
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