GI SPECIAL 3A56:
A local woman asks
US soldiers “is this your liberation?”
as they conduct a house to house weapons search in Baghdad. (AP
59% Want Troops Out
In A Year, “Stable” Or Not
Feb 24 Katherine Stapp (IPS)
While polls show a
fairly even split on whether the war was a good idea to begin with,
more than a third of U.S.
citizens say that the relative success of the recent elections in
Iraq does not mean Bush's policy is working, and
three-quarters believe that ''most of the challenges in Iraq remain
ahead'', according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted
Fifty-nine percent believe the U.S. should pull its troops out in
the next year, compared to 39 percent who want to wait for a stable
government in Iraq.
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.
SOLDIER KILLED, TWO
WOUNDED BY IEDS NEAR SAMARRA
February 24, 2005 HEADQUARTERS UNITED
STATES CENTRAL COMMAND NEWS RELEASE Number: 05-02-36C
TIKRIT, Iraq – A
Task Force Liberty Soldier was killed and two wounded by improvised
explosive devices north of Samarra about 9 a.m., Feb. 24.
The wounded Soldiers were taken to a
Coalition Forces medical treatment facility.
Qaryat IED Kills
February 24, 2005 Associated Press
The first Task
Force Liberty Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive
device, or homemade bomb, went off early Thursday near Qaryat in
Diyala province, the U.S. command said in a statement.
Diyala stretches northeast of the capital to the border
142 From Texas Dead
February 24, 2005 Austin
AUSTIN, Texas Jewel Aston says her
32-year-old son was upbeat the last time he called her from Iraq --
just hours before he died in a vehicle accident.
The Pentagon says Marine Corporal
Trevor D. Aston of Austin died Tuesday in Al Anbar Province
His mother says her
only child moved to Austin from El Paso about nine years ago. Trevor
Aston became a reservist after the September Eleventh terrorist
attacks in 2001. He'd been in Iraq since August 2004.
He'll be buried in El Paso at Fort
Bliss National Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Department says at least 142 Texas service members have died in Iraq
since the war began.
El Paso Soldier
A local Marine,
just about two weeks away from returning home from Iraq, was
ambushed and seriously injured.
Twenty-two-year-old Luis Aranda, a
Franklin High School graduate and sergeant in the Marine Corps, is
in serious but stable condition after he was ambushed on Tuesday.
His family feels helpless as they wait
for updates on their son’s condition.
Margie Aranda, Luis’ mother, said,
“Can you tell him that we love him?”
Margie just got word that her
22-year-old son would be coming home sooner than she expected.
She said, “The call came in that my
son had been in a hostile situation and he was severely burned.”
So she cries for her Marine, who is
wounded thousands of miles away.
She says, “It’s a call that no parent
ever wants to receive. No parent, whether it’s for this reason or
any reason, wants to hear that his or her child’s been hurt.”
Luis' father, said, “You know you can’t do nothing. They’re over
there, and you’re over here.”
Sergeant Aranda and four others were
ambushed on Tuesday while driving through the Anbar Province, in
Gilbert said, “You
get that call and everything just rushes through your head, you
don’t know what to think. You’re devastated.”
suffered second and third degree burns over forty percent of his
Hit ---- Or Miss?
"I Guarantee You
They'll Be Back In Here When We Leave"
2.24.05 Dan Murphy, Christian Science
After five hours of shivering quietly
in the desert outside Hit, where sulphur seeps from the ground and
almost nothing grows, Bravo Company marines got the word - "good to
go" - and began to creep into the sleeping city.
They were primed for strong
But the marines of
the First Battalion of the 23rd Regiment entered Hit (pronounced
Heat) almost unopposed and filtered toward the neighborhood around
the Mubarak mosque at 2 a.m., kicking down doors of homes in search
of weapons and setting up a command post to coordinate operations to
clear out the city's fighters.
Targeting hardscrabble cities like
Hit, Ramadi, and Baghdadi, they are looking for foreign insurgent
fighters and known insurgent hotbeds. But resistance has been
light, far different from the November assault on Fallujah where
dug-in mujahideen fought pitched battles with marines and died in
While that has been welcome news to
the grunts of Bravo, a group of reservists primarily from Texas and
Louisiana who have fought their way up and down the Euphrates since
August, it appears to represent a shift in insurgent tactics.
standing and fighting, insurgents are melting away when troops move
in. And they are focusing more intently on the
emerging Iraqi government and its security forces. The hope, it
seems, is that US forces won't stay long enough to develop the
intelligence to root out insurgents systematically.
"There are some
hard-core fighters in Hit but we can hold it easily for as long as
we are here," says Maj. Mike Miller, the company commander and a
policeman from San Antonio, Tex. "But we can't make any promises
beyond when we leave. So I can understand that locals are
reluctant to get involved."
"I guarantee you
they'll be back in here when we leave," says
Sgt. Shawn Hudman, who lives in Austin, Texas.
[And that’s exactly why the war
is lost. The Iraqis are fighting to be free of occupation. And
the Iraqis sure will still be there, in Iraq, after the Imperial
occupation is gone. They won’t stop fighting for their liberation
from foreign control until that day comes. They’re right to do
"Maybe at least as we go on, there'll
be fewer and fewer places for them to go."
[News flash: They don’t have to “go”
anywhere. They live there. It’s their town and their country.]
One of the first
things the marines did was to round up and detain police officers.
Hit's police force, as in most of the province's
towns, appears to be completely compromised by the insurgents.
The last time Bravo company was here,
in October, the "muj" had taken over the town council and the local
police station without resistance. They killed locals whom they
accused of supporting the new government and the US.
After the marines fought for two days
around a key bridge and nearby palm groves, the town was secured.
Some fighters were found in stolen police uniforms. The marines
stayed four days more and then headed for Fallujah.
They felt they'd
accomplished something with the "six days of Hit," as they call it.
But when they left, despite repeated assurances from local sheikhs
that there would be no more problems, the insurgents reasserted
In Hit, marines are planning to fight
all three blocks of what military doctrine calls the three-block
war. The third block is the straight-out fighting of Fallujah. The
second is security operations, like those carried out in Hit so
far. And the third is humanitarian assistance and community
That means that in addition to their
regular complement of tanks, mortars, and grenades, the marines have
headed in with a marine lawyer, $20,000 to pay for any damage, and
dozens of soccer balls. [Would
you betray your country for $20,000 and “dozens of soccer balls”?
Who dreams up this silly bullshit?]
Flee City After Latest US Attacks;
Marine Lt. Col.
Babbles Incoherent Bullshit
"They want to
destroy the whole area and build a New York City there, and for
that they are tearing down everything.
24 Feb 2005 RAMADI, 24 February (IRIN)
Residents of Ramadi, the capital of
Anbar province some 100 km east of Baghdad, have started to flee the
city following the latest offensive launched by US Marines and the
A number of checkpoints have been set
up around the city of 400,000 and a curfew has been established. It
runs from 2000 to 0600. Vehicles are being inspecting carefully and
any suspect is being taken for further interrogation, Marines'
spokesman Lt-Col Paul Brathen told IRIN.
have escaped Fallujah to this area but they won't have time to take
the city and our early operation will prevent that. People have
started to flee the city but it's too early for that," Brathen
added. [Whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean. “Won’t have
time to take the city is” is pure lunacy. They “took” Ramadi long
ago, confining occupation troops to a few isolated outposts. So
there is nothing left to prevent: the “early operation” is about a
year late for “preventing.” And what kind of nonsense is a
statement that it’s “too early” to “flee the city?” What, he has a
timetable with a day and hour set up for the Iraqis to start
“fleeing the city?” And he’s whining because they won’t wait?]
But citizens, exhausted by ongoing
violence, are afraid and are choosing to leave before the situation
"They want to
destroy the whole area and build a New York City there, and for that
they are tearing down everything. We want to live
in peace. We are tired of fighting and bombs. God, please protect
us," Muhammad Farhan, a father of five, who was fleeing the city
with his family, told IRIN.
Firdous al-Abadi, a spokeswoman for
the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS), told IRIN that many people
had been trapped in the university and inside mosques for over 48
hours as fighting raged outside.
"The government should take
responsibility and provide those people with everything that is
required for their survival," al-Abadi added. "People are tired of
running from place to place."
Al-Abadi also said
that the IRCS had sent a supply convoy last weekend to Fallujah, as
nearly 100 families were still homeless inside the city after their
homes were destroyed.
should stop to prevent more displaced people in our country. If
those already displaced are not receiving any help from the
government, what will happen if more people become homeless?"
Hard At Work:
Silly Lt. Col.
Thinks The War Is About The Size Of His Dick
Feb 24 By Alister Bull, HAQLANIYA,
"If there are no Mujahideen here, then
who the hell is shooting at us?" asked Marine Major Richard
Seagrist, referring to insurgents.
U.S. marines punched into this town in
restive Anbar province on Wednesday and have stayed on, aiming to
confront the guerrillas they think use it to smuggle weapons and
fighters in from Syria, 60 miles to the west.
Haqlaniya townsfolk plead innocence as
troops search houses for suspected militants,
either because they are afraid or
because they actively support the insurgency against the U.S.-backed
Iraqi government. [Three guesses which, first two don’t count.]
"They said they were going to use them
for fishing," said Staff Sergeant Larry Long, after a search yielded
four blasting caps wired together to form a makeshift bomb like the
one that killed four marines near here last month.
Straddling the Euphrates River,
Haqlaniya and the larger city of Haditha, 3 miles to its north, are
key targets in the U.S. push to
root out foreign militants they think went to ground here
after escaping an assault on Falluja in November.
[Nobody - including the CIA and the
Pentagon - has been pushing that line of crap for months. Has this
reporter been in a coma?]
The river, blue and pale green in the
sun, flows besides the town and forms an attractive, sandy island of
palm groves and dwellings in this town, 149 miles west of Baghdad.
Marines now call it Muj Island since
someone used the palm groves to launch a barrage of mortars at them
on Wednesday. Muj is U.S. military slang for mujahideen, or holy
An F-18 jet dropped two 500 lb bombs
on Muj Island in response, but the marines bedded down on Wednesday
expecting a counter-attack on their temporary base, in a school on
the edge of town.
In the end they slept in peace,
although the night was not without incident.
"They've cut the
water off. That really isn't playing fair," said
First Sergeant Erl Fortson, inspecting the school's by now very
clogged toilet. [OK. Next time
it’s their turn to drop a few 500 lb bombs. Would you prefer that?]
Four Abrams tanks
lurk on the town's outskirts, a powerful deterrent as the troops
round up suspected militants.
[Bad Hollywood script writing. The
Iraqis will just wait for the tanks to leave and take their town
back, of course. That’s what a guerrilla war against foreign
occupation is all about.]
Blindfolded, bound with their hands
behind their backs, the young men are interrogated in a small school
room by bilingual officers from the marines' Human Exploitation
Most are quickly freed but a few look
like more promising catches. They are detained longer in the hope
of weeding out the militants the marines believe have got the free
run of the town.
The process is long and difficult,
partly because of the nature of Anbar province itself.
"This is an old smugglers pipeline and
they're independent people. But
they are also susceptible to the appeal of the powerful. Right now
they think the Muj are the most powerful and we're fixing to set
them a lesson," said Lt Col Greg Stevens.
[This is truly grotesque ignorance.
He thinks the Iraqis are some kind of primitive savages who care
nothing for their country, only about Who Got Biggest Dick. Me
powerful Bush man from across water, me make you scared. Ugh. The
Lt Col is the primitive in this little scene. He underestimates
what the other side is determined to win, or the intelligence of the
Iraqis, who certainly know that the only way you get rid of foreign
invaders is to fight them. A lesson is going to be “set” all
right. Col., do you know what V-I-E-T-N-A-M spells? Fools back
then babbled the same kind of nonsense. Guess who got “set the
DRIVE FOR RESISTANCE UNDER WAY IN HAKLANYAH.)
A raid in
Haklanyah. (AFP/Jaime Razuri)
Ft. Bragg Rally
Plans Moving Ahead:
Gearing Up Major Protest On War Anniversary
rally is being conceived and planned by veterans and relatives of
soldiers, with delegations coming from as far away as the Pacific
island state of Hawaii.
Feb 24 Katherine Stapp (IPS)
At Fort Bragg, the
largest U.S. army installation in the world and home to the famed
82nd Airborne Division, the mood is not exactly buoyant.
''There are people
here who are being deployed for the third time,'' said Lou Plummer,
a veteran with a son on active duty. ''At least 50 people from the
base have been killed in Iraq.'' In a sign of mounting discontent,
the military also concedes that about 5,500 servicemen have
deserted, although Plummer believes the real number is probably much
This picture is
somewhat bleaker than the one painted a year ago by Army Maj. Gen.
Charles H. Swannack, Jr., commander of the 82nd Airborne -- also
known as ''America's Guard of Honour'' -- who brightly told
reporters in Baghdad that ''we're on a glide-path toward success.''
''We have turned the corner, and now we can accelerate down the
straightaway,'' he said in a Jan. 6, 2004 briefing.
''There's still a long way to go before the finish line, but
the final outcome is known.''
Not so fast, say
anti-war activists like Plummer, who is helping to organize a mass
protest rally near the base in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Mar.
19 to coincide with the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion.
''The message is
not 'bring them home after they fix stuff', it's 'bring them home
now','' said Plummer, an active member of the
national peace group Military Families Speak Out.
''Organizing in Fayetteville requires
sensitivity that you wouldn't need to have in a non-military town,''
he added. ''You have to respect
people who oppose the war but are afraid to go public because they
have a spouse in the military and could lose their benefits.''
Even so, he says
that interest in his group -- which represents 2,000 military
families -- and in the March anti-war events has been
rally is being conceived and planned by veterans and relatives of
soldiers, with delegations coming from as far away as the Pacific
island state of Hawaii.
Speakers will include Daniel Berg, the
father of Nick Berg, a U.S. civilian beheaded in Iraq; Lila
Lipscomb, the grief-stricken mother of a U.S. soldier featured in
the Michael Moore film ''Fahrenheit 9/11''; and David Potorti, a
peace activist whose brother died in the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on
the World Trade Centre in New York.
One novel initiative, already
started in the state of Vermont, would campaign against the use of
the National Guard in Iraq.
Do you have a
friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or
send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly.
Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra
important for your service friend, too often cut off from access
to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and
inside the armed services.
Send requests to address up top.
"Before He Left, He
Loved The Army"
"After He Came
Back, He Hated It."
02/22/2005 By Ron Harris, St. Louis
PARIS, Ill. - It was a day for high
school bands and red, white and blue balloons, for cheers and tears
and a sea of jubilant family and friends in every imaginable form of
"The 1544th" finally had come home.
For 14 months while stationed in Iraq,
the battered Illinois National Guard 1544th Transportation Company
had endured more than 100 mortar attacks and had driven more than
580,000 hostile miles transporting supplies and ammunition.
During that time,
the unit of about 160 members had suffered more deaths and injuries
than any other National Guard company in the nation, military
But while the 1544th's battles in Iraq
are done, the war is still not over for them and this community.
Over the next few weeks and even months, in scores of individual
homes here and in neighboring towns, returning veterans and their
families will be quietly struggling try to deal with the hidden
scars of the war.
Lisset Greene of Spring Hill, Fla.,
believes it was post-traumatic stress disorder that took her husband
from her. Greene said when her husband, Sgt. Curtis Greene,
returned from Iraq in 2003, he was a changed man.
"Before he left, he
loved the Army," said Greene, 31. "After he came back, he hated it."
Greene had nightmares, his wife said.
He would awake covered in sweat. He was irritable and
The Curtis Greene she knew before Iraq
was mild-mannered. This one was violent. "There were times that I
felt unsafe in the house with him," she said.
Twice the police had to be called to
the couple's home. Once, he was taken away in handcuffs.
He was seeing a psychiatrist, but Lisset said it didn't seem to
help. On Dec. 6, soldiers found Greene hanging in his barracks. He
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
Hell No, We Won't
February 2005 Feature Article by
Andrew Stone and Simon Assaf, Socialist Review
Carl Webb from the US and George Solomou from Britain explain to
Andrew Stone and Simon Assaf why they refuse to go and fight in
Why are you accusing the US army of drafting you?
Carl Webb: I'm
refusing to go to war because I do not believe the US is on the
right track. I think this war is not about liberating people, it's
about oppressing them. It's a war that's being fought for profit.
So what's your history with the army?
That goes way back. In 1982 I was 16
when I dropped out of high school and my mother said, 'Well, you
have to find a job.' But it was very difficult to find one in those
days. During that time I had been contacted by an army recruiter,
who convinced me to join the army reserves.
In 2001 you
re-enlisted in the National Guard. What was the reason for that?
Well, the situation in 2001 was
similar to that in 1982. I didn't have a job, I was facing eviction
from my home and I needed some extra cash. This was in August 2001
and I thought, 'We've invaded everyone we possibly can invade,' and
it was relatively peaceful for the US. And there was a local
medical unit close to my neighbourhood.
So with the agreement that I would get
an enlistment bonus - which wasn't much - I signed on for three
years. The very next month 9/11 happened.
In July 2004 my
draft came through. I was getting ready to get out, because I only
had one more month left to serve on my contract. That's when I got
a phone call from my sergeant. She said she had bad news - I had
been one of the soldiers selected to serve in Iraq. I was stunned
and shocked. I had missed so many wars and I was thinking, 'Wow,
I've done it again.' I thought I'd made it through a three-year
contract without seeing any action.
So you're 38 years
old. Isn't that a little bit old to be sent into combat?
I think when the US started to run out
of regular army troops and started to use more of its reserves and
National Guard the average age jumped up - particularly in Iraq. In
the regular army most of the soldiers are around 21 or 22. In the
reserves and the National Guard the force is a bit older because
most of us are army veterans in our late twenties and early
Can you explain
what the stop-loss programme is? It seems quite a lot of the
reserves and National Guard are unhappy about it?
The stop-loss programme has been
around since the year before the First Persian Gulf War. But this
is the first time they've implemented it to such an extent across
the services. It prevents any serviceman from leaving the service,
even once their contract has finished. So it automatically extends
your service beyond the contract which you enlisted for.
So they're getting
you under this rule?
Yes. When they
called me I only had one month left in the service, and they handed
me some orders saying I'm going to Iraq for approximately 18 to 24
I'm a licensed
practical nurse, I'm in a medical unit - now they're telling me my
time is extended and I'm going to be assigned to a combat unit.
They're running out
of combat soldiers in Iraq so they're forcing soldiers who have
support jobs - such as cooks, medics and mechanics - into combat
definitely unhappy about it. Last time I heard there were
approximately 5,000 soldiers who have deserted the army. This isn't
a whole lot considering we have 750,000 soldiers. But even those
who are complying with these orders aren't happy.
What did you say
when you received your orders?
The first day I was
still in shock and denial. I said to myself, 'This is a mistake.
I'll go into drill with my unit this weekend and I'll go to the
administrative clerk and clear up this mistake.'
But even before then I had sent an email message out to an email
list that I belonged to in my home town of Austin, Texas.
There's an organisation called
Austin Against War that has a discussion online about protesting
against the war. So I sent an email to the list, which has a few
hundred people on it - and immediately I got a call from one of my
friends who happens to be one of the most active anti-war protesters
in Texas, and we had a long discussion as to what my options would
There were basically three options. I
could just comply, which was what some people thought I should do,
since I was a medic. Another option was to flee the country. Since
Mexico is so close to Texas, it was the most likely option. But
neither of those appealed to me. My friend asked if I'd thought
about obtaining conscientious objector status, but I'd ruled it out
because I'm an atheist.
I spoke to one of my sergeants and
asked her about getting this status. She said that you could be an
atheist. So I decided to explore that option.
I surfed around on the internet and
called organisations that I found online. There was one in my home
town that I found called Non-Military Options For You. Some of the
members were Quakers, who have a long history of being anti-war. So
I went and got some material from them.
According to the rules you don't have
to be religious. It specifically says that any objection you have
cannot be political. But you don't necessarily have to be a
pacifist. The rules just say that you have to have a strong
conviction against organised violence.
The way they define 'organised
violence' is that if someone is threatening you or your family you
can defend yourself. You don't have to be a strict pacifist. But
if you join a group and organise some sort of dissent or aggression
then they call that 'organised violence'. Previously my friend had
suggested that I talk to other people who applied for such status,
to see what kind of questions they would ask. They would give
examples like, 'If you were living during the Second World War would
you fight with the Jewish underground?' or, 'If you were a slave
during slavery, would you have run away and fought with the Union
army against the Confederacy?' Most people would say, 'Yes - if I
was a slave I would fight against slavery. If I was persecuted by
the Nazis I would join the Jewish underground.' And in that case
they would say that you were denied CO status because that's
As soon as that option evaporated I
began to think again about fleeing the country.
threatening you now about being a deserter, is that right?
Yes. Once you leave your unit, after
24 hours you are listed as AWOL - absent without leave. Then after
a certain amount of time (with me it was a week) the National Guard
personnel would assume that you had no intention of coming back and
they would list you as a deserter.
If you were to
hand yourself in what would the result be? Would you be imprisoned?
I spoke to a lawyer
and she said that as of now they really weren't cracking down too
hard on soldiers who went AWOL. I speculate that they fear the
backlash that it would cause. They would have to spend resources in
rounding up these 5,000 - either forcing them to go to Iraq or
throwing them in prison - which I would assume would cause bad
publicity for the military. So I can only assume that this is what
they are trying to avoid.
I know normally
they shoot deserters. I assume they're not going to shoot you. But
if they were to put you in prison, what kind of sentence could you
Believe it or not, the US military
still has the death penalty on the books, for what they call
'desertion in time of war'. I think Jeremy Hinzman, who is in
Canada, has filed his case for asylum and has used that as part of
his argument. But as you say, even though they still have that law
on their books, it hasn't been used since the Second World War. I
think the war is so unpopular that if they were to take some extreme
measure like that it would only make people protest all the more.
So what next for
decided that fleeing is not my best option. I don't think they're
going to stand me up against a wall and shoot me. The case that has
got the most publicity recently was that of Sergeant Mejia. He'd
done one tour in Iraq, was home on leave, refused to go back and
decided to go public. He went on 60 Minutes, one of the most
popular shows on television here. He got 12 months in jail. So I
think that at worst I'm looking at a similar sentence, if and when I
do turn myself in - which to me is better than one and a half or two
years in a combat zone and better than permanent exile.
As you pointed out, I'm much older
than the average soldier. And my mother's 75 years old. If I
decided to go in exile, it might be ten or 15 years that I was
gone. That's how long it was for the generation that fled to Canada
in the 1960s. They weren't granted amnesty until 1978. That was
more than a decade for some of them.
From your general
military experience how do you feel about the torture at Abu Ghraib
and that recently exposed involving British troops? Is this really,
as the US and British governments insist, the work of a few bad
Definitely it was the result of more than a few bad apples. They are
using these young enlisted people as scapegoats to hide a policy
that was part and parcel of their military strategy. They tried to
do the same thing during the Vietnam War, when they tried Lieutenant
Calley for the Mai Lai massacre. Such violence against civilians
was commonplace. It was unspoken, undeclared policy. Unfortunately
for them, with this new technology that we have, this got out to the
Is the stand
you're taking a political stand, or is it more specifically about
the way the army is treating reservists and veterans like yourself?
For me it is very
much political. My case is different from some of the other
soldiers who have deserted, either because they just don't want to
go, or because they think these 'stop-loss' orders are illegal. I
tell people that even if there was no stop-loss policy, even if
the government wasn't illegally using the reserves and National
Guard and retirees as they are, I would still be opposed to this
war. I don't think it matters what category of service you're in
- whether you're in the reserves, National Guard or the regular
army - I think all military personnel should oppose fighting in
this war of imperialism.
Tell us about yourself.
I come from an émigré family. My father left Cyprus due to the
conflict there. This was early in the 1960s when ethnic tension
between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots was very high. He was a
Greek Cypriot, and he had a very good friend - a Turkish Cypriot -
who got murdered. So he came to England and started a business, and
I was born here. I grew up in a very Cypriot family, but with a
broad outlook on life. I was educated here and went to hotel
management school, then I travelled the world.
I've always supported the Labour
Party. I come from a family where all five of us voted for the
Labour Party - but not now. We feel we've been disenfranchised by
Blair's attitude to everything.
How did you come
to join the Territorial Army?
I joined in 1999. When I was at
school we had a very enlightened history teacher - Mrs Williams -
who taught us Irish history. I learnt about the Black and Tans and
the Battle of the Boyne. I didn't want to join the British army
when I was younger because of the belief that we were wrong in what
we were doing in Northern Ireland. Five years ago that came to an
end, and I thought, 'Here's an opportunity to join the British
In the first two years I had a nagging
doubt that maybe I would get called up one day, and actually have to
take part in a conflict that maybe I didn't believe in. But I was
aware of history, because history's been my first love all my life.
I was inspired by the great medical personnel of the First World War
who exposed the genocide against the Armenian people.
I told my muckers
in the army that I went on the march of 2 million against the war. I
never hid my political views from them. And they just got on with
it, and I got on with my life.
On 15 February 2003
I marched with five other soldiers in the total belief that there
was no possibility that Blair could have ever taken us to war.
It was the biggest
march ever - even bigger than the Chartists' march. And we all felt
there was no way that they were going to take us to war. Being a
member of the Labour Party all my life, I could never contemplate
that they would take us to a war like this because so many of us
within the party were adamant that we didn't believe in this war.
And we had vocally sent that message up to Blair.
We've had a history of not being
involved in Vietnam and most of the other idiotic conflicts that
America enjoys getting itself into. So we thought this would be
another scenario where the US gets in there and does its thing, and
we just stand on the sidelines thinking, 'What a bunch of...
unscrupulous individuals.' But no, Blair took us in, and we were
From that moment on I kept thinking
about the reality. Should I get out, or should I remain in to act
as a witness to the barbarity of the war itself? If I had to go to
the war at least I could tell the truth, I could document it.
I think that this war is a turning
point - as much if not more than the Vietnam War was - for the
history of the world. Because this war is the final crutch of the
US philosophy that it can go anywhere and take over another nation
to secure resources - primarily petroleum. Everything in the US is
petroleum based. It being 4 percent of the world's population and
controlling 45 percent of the world's energy and resources, it is
certain within itself that it has to control anything that has
Did you know a lot
of people who went to Iraq?
Yes. They talk about endless queues
of petroleum tankers going out of the country, and them having to
guard every single one of them. They say their greatest fear is
coming across American soldiers, because they have no restriction on
what they will do with their firepower. If you drive too close to
them at night and they do not recognise you they'll fire on you.
They say they are like a bunch of trigger-happy lunatics.
I've met other soldiers from medical
units who were quite traumatised by it. The Americans dropped an
astronomical tonnage of bombs during the war. Robert McNamara was
one of the pioneering forces in US military strategy. He reckoned
that if you dropped a certain amount of tonnage on a town or village
you could estimate the amount of damage, injury and death. It's an
old science. The Americans knew what the result would be of
dropping so much tonnage of napalm, cluster bombs, etc on Iraq.
I've met soldiers who were in the
field hospitals and were turning away people who were dying. The
effect on them was quite horrific. The Americans, in a way, did
this on purpose. They allowed hundreds of thousands to die. It's
genocidal, in my opinion.
So were the army
medics under orders to turn people away?
The supplies had to be kept for the
troops, and there was a shortage of supplies, so they kept them for
the troops. A lot of the medical units - 50 to 70 percent - are NHS
employees who are in the reserve forces. Their instinct is to care
regardless. But they're under orders not to care. They found it very
difficult not to be able to care for the thousands of wounded who
were turning up, queuing to be looked after.
So when did you make your decision
that you needed to make the break?
About nine months ago two of my
colleagues came back maimed. One of them had been blown up by a
roadside bomb. The other had an accident that crippled him for
life. I was thinking, 'This is getting insane. What do I do? Leave
within any army unit is so intense that your political views,
however strong, can be put aside. When you're cold, hungry and
tired, at the lowest ebb you can possibly be, if your mate cracks a
joke and you can both smile - you can very rarely find that kind of
comradeship in civilian life. It's unique and something to be
treasured. Napoleon used to call it esprit de corps. He understood
that whole concept. Caesar did as well. He marched with his men.
He didn't ride a horse like most of the generals at the time. But
politically I was dying within the army, and I had to make a break.
It took a lot of soul searching. But
finally, a couple of months ago, I went to another anti-war demo.
I'd been thinking about leaving - maybe resign the easy way, just
leave. Being at university had given me some leeway, but I was
coming to the end of my course. I stood up at an anti-war movement
meeting and said, 'What can I do? I'm a soldier and I don't believe
in what I'm doing.' They gave me some information and some people
There's a lot of
soldiers in the TA at the moment - I'd say 25 percent - who don't
believe in the war. Another 25 percent probably are not really
sure, hoping they don't get called up.
I discussed it with
the movement, with Military Families Against the War, and we decided
to go public. The main reason I did so was so other people would
know that you can do it.
The army works on
an atmosphere of fear, and implied fear. There's an order for
everything, a way of doing everything, and you do things as you're
told. There's no room for personal reflection - you just have to do
it. It's very hard for soldiers to break out of that yoke, to
develop any individuality.
That's what will
destroy this war in the end. Soldiers are pumped up to see the
war in this homogenous way - they go out to Iraq and see that it's
not how they've been told, and they'll come back and reflect. In
the peace movement we can bridge that gap between what the
military say it will be and what their actual experience is, and
make the links. Maybe we can't convert the first soldier we see,
but we can put the first grain of doubt in his mind that his
experience will show him is true.
How has the TA
responded to your public resignation?
auspicious in their absolute silence.
You'd have thought
they would have contacted me, but they haven't. I think they're
hoping that it'll blow over - that I'll be just one individual who's
stuck his head above the parapet, said something and went away.
They're weighing up
how many people with their own doubts may try to emulate me. That's
where we in the anti-war movement come in. The fact that an
individual soldier stands up and says he has the right to free
speech, to voice these opinions, is important. I have the duty as a
soldier to question the legitimacy of a war. If this war must take
place it must be democratic - legally, morally and ethically right.
When the Labour Party came in they promised an 'ethical foreign
policy'. This was soon thrown out through the back door, never to
be seen again.
Against the War (MFAW) is an organisation of people directly
affected by the war in Iraq. If you would like to contact MFAW, or
if you know someone in the armed services who would like to contact
them, go to www.mfaw.org.uk.)
BRING ALL THE
TROOPS HOME NOW!
Recovering After Injury In Iraq
Feb. 23, 2005 Associated Press, DAZEY,
An Army soldier from this Barnes
County town who was injured in Iraq after a homemade bomb blew up in
his face is recovering in Fort Carson, Colo.
Billy Quick was on
patrol when he was hit in the face last November. He said his head
was turned away, but he still lost the vision in his right eye.
"My flack vest was
solid shrapnel," he said. He is still finding pieces of shrapnel
under his skin months later.
Quick has a year left to serve in the
Army, though he will not be going back to Iraq. Later, he plans to
return to North Dakota and attend Bismarck State College and the
University of North Dakota.
"He's a pretty brave kid," said his
mother, Ruth Quick. "But he's gone through a lot."
Billy Quick is scheduled to receive a
Purple Heart on March 9.
Rumsfeld: The Union
Buster Gets Sued
(Philadelphia Inquirer, February 24,
Ten labor unions
representing 300,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department
filed a federal lawsuit against Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying
the department violated the law by refusing to negotiate changes in
its labor-management system. The suit comes after
months of protests by the unions over proposals for a new National
Security Personnel System.
Kicking Out Gays
Cost Military $200 Million
(New York Times, February 24, 2005)
The military has
spent more than $200 million to recruit and train personnel to
replace troops discharged in the last decade for being openly gay, a
new Congressional study has found.
Gays' Ouster Seen
Leaving Gap In Military
(Boston Globe, February 24, 2005, Pg.
More than 300
foreign language specialists considered critical in the war on
terrorism have been forced out of the military in the past decade
because of their sexual orientation, according to the first
government study to assess both the warfighting and financial impact
of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibits openly gay
February 22nd, 2005 by David Axe,
DIYALA PROVINCE, IRAQ
Flying east over Iraq from Saddam
Hussein's birthplace, Tikrit, toward the Jabal Hamrin, a mountain
range that bisects the country like a shoulder sash draped southeast
from Turkey, the landscape changes dramatically.
Tikrit's flat, green riversides—and
the towering palaces Hussein built there—give way, first, to squat,
smoky villages where women in full hijab and children in sweatshirts
huddle behind earthen walls and packs of snarling dogs roam the
muddy streets, then to geometric fields dotted with young men
driving sheep. It's typical Sunni Iraq until the land begins to
ripple and rise and shed its green, climbing and jutting into the
Jabal Hamrin, then dropping and smoothing out just as quickly into
parched orange desert.
This is eastern Diyala Province, a
sandbox the size of Connecticut that's currently patrolled by
Tennessee National Guard soldiers. They're boxed in by Kurds on the
north, Shiites on the south, minefields and Iranian soldiers on the
east, and mountains on the west.
A chopper swoops down in a blast of
dust and lands in the gravel fringe of the U.S. Army's Forward
Operating Base Caldwell, near the town of Mandali, population 25,000
(120,000 before the Iran-Iraq War). Out hop a handful of soldiers
and a reporter.
The base—or "fob," as soldiers call
it—is bustling. There are soldiers in Kevlar helmets and body armor
carrying tricked-out rifles, walking to chow or gathering for
briefings. Rows of Humvees bristle with radio antennae and machine
guns. There are helicopters, a few tanks, artillery pieces.
And there's a small army of
Halliburton contractors—Bangladeshis and Iraqis, mostly—who cook,
clean, and build everything. From Caldwell, just 3,500 soldiers of
the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment patrol
the sandy wastes of eastern Diyala—fewer than one soldier per square
about half of the troops here patrol anything.
They're a grab bag
of old-school National Guard types—white, male, middle-aged, and
Southern, like Sergeant First Class William Rader,
44, of Tennessee—with some tough-as-nails active-duty soldiers like
Californian second lieutenant Rick Ferrell, 33, thrown in to bring
the unit up to full strength.
The rest of the
soldiers at Caldwell are what the combat types call "fobbits."
"If they take one
step further off the fob, it's the furthest they've ever gone,"
Ferrell says. For fobbits, deployment is a lot like life in the
States, only they wear uniforms and occasionally carry weapons—and
the food, courtesy of Halliburton, is actually better.
But even for the combat types, duty in
eastern Diyala is long on driving and short on actual fighting.
Just across the mountains, active-duty soldiers of the First
Infantry Division endure daily firefights and roadside bombings and
die at a rate of a dozen per month. But here, bombings are rare and
gunfights even rarer, and not a single 278th soldier has died. Some
of the Tennessee guardsmen estimate that, for them, being on
deployment is actually safer than being at home. Statistically
speaking, they may be right.
That's not to say
there's no action. On February 6, soldiers from the 278th's Deacon
Battery—Rader and Ferrell's unit—arrest three men in the town of As
Shuriya after the men lobbed three mortar rounds at a local
government building, where the battery keeps a contingent of
soldiers and a three-legged guard dog named Tripod. Bombers have
targeted the same building. Parked outside is a mangled Iraqi
police cruiser—evidence of a recent attack that wounded three local
On February 10,
Deacon passes out pencils and candy in As Shuriya to make amends for
the arrests—"hearts and minds" stuff.
[Gee, why didn’t they think of that
in Vietnam. Pencils and candy! That’s the way to make people love
a foreign Imperial government that invades their country to steal
their oil and kill them wholesale. Right, pencils and candy! Shit,
if King George had thought of that, Jefferson, Franklin and George
Washington wouldn’t have had a chance!]
The tension in the
town is palpable, and the mother of two of the suspects hobbles out
to curse at the soldiers.
On a February 9 nighttime patrol,
Deacon stops and searches several cars and trucks. One soldier holds
an Iraqi trucker at gunpoint while another sniffs the metal drums
he's hauling. "Gasoline!" the soldier reports.
"The question is whether he's
bootlegging," Ferrell says. "But how can you tell?"
The gasoline black market is a major
source of income for many in Diyala, where a handful of brick
factories passes as "industry."
Ferrell lets the Iraqi go, and says
later, "I don't care about some guy trying to make a buck. I'm
looking for anything dangerous."
[Looking in the wrong place. If you want some really dangerous
terrorists, check out the White House, Congress and the Pentagon.
They’re crawling with enemy combatants.]
"Dangerous" means illegal weapons or
bomb components. But Ferrell admits that his unit's real mission
isn't catching insurgents, gunrunners, or bootleggers—it's keeping
the Kurds and the Iranians from moving in.
"Without us, the
Kurds would have their own country by now," Rick Ferrell says,
making him one of only a handful of U.S. Army officers to
acknowledge the Kurds' true aim: independence.
An Iraqi civilian looks at a destroyed
police car after a bomb exploded in Kirkuk. (AFP/Marwan Ibrahim)
2.24.05 AFP & Focus l News & By
SAMEER N. YACOUB BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP)
In Iskandariyah, a bomber blew himself
up in front of an office that serves as the local headquarters of
the Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Two policemen and civilians were
killed and another eight civilians were injured.
a police patrol in the northern city of Kirkuk with a roadside bomb,
killing two policemen and injuring three.
Two roadside bombs
in Qaim, near the Syrian border, also killed four Iraqi National
Guardsmen, Iraqi Lt. Col. Abid Ajab Al-Salmani
Tikrit Car Bomb
Attack Kills 15 Occupation Cops;
February 24, 2005 By SAMEER N. YACOUB
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP)
A man wearing a
police uniform drove a car bomb inside the main police compound in
Tikrit north of Baghdad on Thursday, setting off a massive explosion
that killed 15 police and wounded 22, officials and witnesses said.
The blast occurred
at one of the station's busiest times, when dozens of policemen were
arriving to relieve colleagues who'd been working all night, police
Col. Saad Daham said.
``He waited until the shift change,
then he exploded the car,'' Daham said, adding the aim was ``to kill
as many as possible.''
Daham said the
attacker was able to slip into the station undetected because he was
wearing a police lieutenant's uniform. He blamed
guards at the station's gates for allowing the bomber to enter
without checking his papers or searching his vehicle.
Twenty cars were set ablaze after the
massive blast, sending clouds of smoke into the sky. An Associated
Press photographer on the scene saw at least 10 charred bodies
laying on the ground, which was splattered with pools of blood and
bits of human flesh.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE
February 24, 2005 Associated Press
look on at an oil pipeline fire they say was caused by an early
morning bomb blast, which injured six people, in Yousifiya south of
Baghdad in Iraq, Wednesday.
We Do Resurrect
2.12.05 From: Ahmed
At-Habbabi, Anti-Allawi Group
Photos from Iraqpatrol.com
Despite all the carnage, destruction
and insecurity that were unleashed by the illegal occupation of
Iraq, we throb with life.
"Amid the sand barriers, the cement
fronts and the barbed wire that surround the Iraqi capital Baghdad,
a new spectrum of bright colors are springing.
In front of every government building
or foreign news agency headquarters, four meters (12 feet) high
cement barriers are erected in an attempt to protect the building
from bomb attacks.
These gray cement
surfaces have become the drawing boards for Iraqi artists.
Outside the French Embassy, wild
horses, flying carpets and fancy castles next to an Iraqi farmer
returning home to his family adorn the cement surfaces.
Flowers and the Iraqi flag adorn
Reuters head office, next to an attempt at Picasso’s style.
The BBC’s cement painting mural
deserves special mention. It is claimed that a teacher at the Iraqi
Art Academy was asked, and spent, several weeks to paint that mural
which exults Iraq’s ancient history.
These murals, a testimony to our
indefectible spirit, are scattered around Baghdad."
Below are just three such murals.
The Lie Girls
[Back by popular demand for a second
To Look At Bush
February 21 2005 22:28 Financial Times
of London, By Bertrand Benoit in Berlin, George Parker in Brussels
and Robert Anderson in Prague
For residents of Mainz, George W.
Bush's seven-hour visit to Germany on Wednesday and his short
meeting with Gerhard Schrِder, chancellor, will mean one of two
things: a headache or a holiday.
Between the US president's 9.45am
landing at Frankfurt airport and his afternoon departure, the sleepy
Rhineland town and birthplace of Gutenberg will turn into a steel
In a contemporary
echo of the Lady Godiva legend, anyone living on the route of the
presidential motorcade is being discouraged from taking a peek at
the 60- to 80-strong column of vehicles conveying the US president.
In police leaflets, residents have been asked to keep their windows
shut and stay clear of balconies "to avoid misunderstandings".
Stores and restaurants in the "red
zone", the high-security area centred on Mainz's electoral palace,
have been advised to close for the day as part of the biggest
security operation in the country's postwar history.
"They told us we could stay open if
we liked but that nobody would be allowed in the area.
It did not seem to make much business sense," said Bozo Vukoja,
owner of the Am-Fischtor Croatian restaurant in the red zone.
Neither driving nor parking will be
allowed in the zone, where garages have been emptied,
mailboxes unbolted and 1,300 manhole
To keep all travel options open for
the president, four highway sections east of the city will be
blocked to traffic. Schools will be shut and many workers will be
taking a "Bush day". The nearby Opel and Nescafé plants decided to
move their shifts or suspend production.
"Up to 3m commuters
in the Rhine-Main triangle will be affected," Hartmut Mehdorn, head
of Deutsche Bahn, the railway group, told Financial Times
Deutschland, the FT's sister newspaper in Germany. "This is not the
best way to make friends in Germany."
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