GI SPECIAL 3A57:
Phil G who sent this in.}
Bush Loses More
Support On War
February 25, 2005 Associated Press
The poll found that President Bush’s
overall approval rate was 46 percent, compared with 50 percent in
Bush’s approval rate on Iraq was 40 percent, compared with 45
percent in January.
The Pew poll of 1,502 adults was taken
Feb. 16-21. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5
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.
IRAQ WAR REPORTS:
Three U.S. Soldiers
Dead, 9 Wounded By Tamiya IED
Feb 25 (AFP) & Reuters & AP &
A roadside bomb killed three American
soldiers north of Baghdad on Friday.
Nine other US
soldiers were wounded, five of them "very seriously," when the Task
Force Baghdad troops were hit by a roadside bomb while on foot
patrol near the town of Tarmiya, 12 miles north of Baghdad.
The soldiers were from Task Force
Baghdad, which is largely made up of 1st Cavalry Division troops.
Witnesses said the attack took place
around midday in Tarmiyah, 20 miles northeast of Baghdad.
Residents saw about
a dozen injured U.S. soldiers lying on blood-splattered ground after
"I was heading to
our house ... there was a group of American soldiers walking in the
road while around five Humvees were parking behind them," said
Waleed Nahed, 35, who lives in the area. "I heard a very loud
explosion and I saw bodies flying."
Nahed and Alaa Nagy, 22, who works as
a guard at a nearby factory, said helicopters landed in the area 15
minutes after the explosion and took the injured soldiers away.
According to Nahid, who said he was
about 200 metres away, "there were explosives hidden among the palm
trees overlooking the street".
KILLED IN AL ANBAR PROVINCE OFFENSIVE
February 25, 2005 HEADQUARTERS UNITED
STATES CENTRAL COMMAND NEWS RELEASE Number: 05-02-37C & (Reuters)
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq
– A Soldier assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in
action February 24 in Al Anbar Province. U.S. and
Iraqi forces began their offensive on Sunday in a bid to stamp out
resistance in Iraq's vast western desert province of Anbar.
Since the offensive
began at least three U.S. Marines have died.
TASK FORCE BAGHDAD
February 25, 2005 HEADQUARTERS UNITED
STATES CENTRAL COMMAND NEWS RELEASE Number: 05-02-39C
BAGHDAD, Iraq –
A Task Force Baghdad Soldier died today of non-battle injuries.
The incident is currently under investigation.
Fort Bragg Soldier
From Iowa Killed
February 25, 2005 NBC 17, WATERLOO,
A soldier stationed in North Carolina
died in Iraq as he worked to clear a road of land mines, his father
Steffeney, 28, died Wednesday when an undetected roadside mine north
of Baghdad exploded, Gary Steffeney of Waterloo, said Thursday. The
father said his son was checking on another nearby mine that had
been intentionally detonated when the second one exploded.
Eric Steffeney served in the Explosive
Ordinance Disposal unit based at Fort Bragg.
"He was a dedicated
kind of man,'' Gary Steffeney said. "He married his wife, who
already had two kids he adopted and they had one of their own. You
never would have known they weren't his kids.''
Steffeney is the
22nd Iowan killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Gary Steffeney last saw his son more
than a year ago when he came to Davenport on a security detail for a
visit by President Bush.
Eric Steffeney attended West High
School in Waterloo, where he played center for the football team.
His father described him as a tall, stocky man who loved to hunt,
fish, read and be with his friends.
He enlisted in the Army and became a
paratrooper after graduating from high school early in 1996. He
eventually wound up in the Army's bomb squad, his father said.
"He was a very sincere and cautious
individual who wanted to learn as much as he could,'' said his
father. "He was very concerned with his men. He had one that got
hurt a while back and he would call to check on him periodically.''
second tour in Iraq would have ended in April, when he was scheduled
to return to his family in North Carolina. He and his wife had
recently bought a home just outside of Fort Bragg.
Iraqi Bus Hits
Military Vehicle, Killing Polish Soldier And Two Iraqis
Feb 25, SPA
A Polish soldier
and two Iraqis were killed Friday when a civilian bus struck a
Polish military vehicle in central Iraq, a spokesman said.
The Polish jeep was escorting an
explosives disposal team when it was hit by the bus at around 8:30
a.m. local time (0530GMT) about 1.5 kilometers (one mile) south of
Diwaniyah, said Polish military spokesman Lt. Col. Zbigniew
In addition to the
people killed, four Polish soldiers and 15 Iraqi civilians were
injured, Staszkow said.
The Polish soldier killed was
identified as Pfc. Roman Goralczyk
Rebels Block Road
Connecting Baghdad To South;
25 February 2005 Focus 1 News
Armed rebels have
blocked the main road, connecting Baghdad to the Southern regions of
Iraq with predominant Shia population, RIA Novosti reported.
information of the radio station Sava, the situation in the Southern
regions has obviously worsened.
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
Too Many Operations Too Fast
Feb. 25, 2005 NewsMax
The suicide rate
for U.S. Marines rose a dramatic 29 percent in the past year, most
likely because military operations are coming at too fast a pace,
says the Corps' top dog.
Gen. Michael W. Hagee, the Marine
Corps commandant, told The Washington Post that
31 Marines, all enlisted men, killed
themselves in 2004, the highest percentage of suicides in 10 years.
He attributed the
deaths to "not only Iraq" but also "the (operational tempo) in
general, that's what I think."
Of those who committed suicide, most
were under 25 and took their lives by shooting themselves.
Eighty-three other Marines
attempted suicide, said the Post.
In 2003 there were only 24 suicides,
but, said the paper, no more than 29 in any given year dating back
Hagee's comments to the Post reflected
similar thoughts he had laid out in a memo in December, urging all
commands to pay more attention to suicide prevention.
"This problem is pervasive and is
impacting Marines throughout the Corps, not just those who have been
deployed in support of the global war on terrorism. The
increased operational tempo that our Corps is experiencing may be
affecting the ability of our Marines to deal with perceived
overwhelming stresses associated with relationship, financial, and
disciplinary problems," the memo said.
The Post said 70 percent of Marine
suicides in the past four years have been blamed on personal
problems – problems that were only made worse by a multitude of
overseas deployments. "That is the biggest single stressor," Navy
behavioral specialist Cmdr. Thomas Gaskin told the paper.
Marines In Iraq Cuts Recruiting:
He Says Infantry
Are Used “On The Ground”
Katherine G, PG and PB who sent this in.]
February 25, 2005 By ERIC SCHMITT, New
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 - The Iraq war's
dampening effect on recruiting has led to a plan by the Marine Corps
to put hundreds of additional recruiters on the streets over the
next several months and offer new re-enlistment bonuses of up to
$35,000, military officials said Thursday.
other military officials say the "Falluja effect" - a steady
drumbeat of military casualties from Iraq, punctuated by graphic
televised images of urban combat - is searing an image into the
public eye that Marine officers say is difficult to overcome.
The Marines make
up about 21 percent of the 150,000 military personnel in Iraq now
but have suffered 31 percent of the military deaths there,
according to Pentagon statistics.
For the Marines,
steps of this magnitude, including the largest one-time increase in
recruiters in recent memory, are unheard of in a service whose macho
image has historically been a magnet for young people seeking
adventure and danger in a military career.
At issue is the Marines' decision to
rebuild its recruiting ranks, which had fallen recently to 2,410
full-time recruiters from 2,650 before the Iraq war, as
commanders siphoned off marines who
had been scheduled for recruiting duty to perform combat duty in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
What is unusual about these incentives
is that the Marines Corps for the first time is offering
re-enlistment bonuses, averaging $20,000, to its most junior
infantrymen, rather than relying mainly on inexperienced troops
fresh from boot camp to replenish the infantry.
About 75 percent
of enlisted marines leave the service after their first tour,
requiring a steady stream of recruits moving through training
centers in San Diego and Parris Island, S.C.
infantrymen," General Hagee said, explaining the shift in bonus
priorities. "That's what we're using over there on the ground."
SCSU Antiwar Kicks
Recruiters Off Campus!!
February 25, 2005, UIC Group
This is a report from a friend in New
In less than 90 minutes, students at
Southern CT. State Univ. successfully chased the recruiters from the
Army National Guard from the student center on wed. Feb. 23, 2005.
There were about twenty students
that took part in making sure that the recruiters had no chance in
signing anyone up for an unjust war that has devastated soldiers by
the thousands in this country while destroying the people of Iraq by
the hundreds of thousands.
The Army National Guard was scheduled
to be on campus from 11am to 4pm on the 23rd via an "invitation from
career services at Southern" according to a spokesperson in the
student center office. The SCSU Antiwar Coalition decided to arrive
early (pre-emptively) and set up our message of antiwar at around
10:30 am at their reserved table.
We made certain to
have a ton of literature and information, such as, numerous CAN
pamphlets like "The Growing Soldiers Discontent" and "Occupation is
Not Liberation", as well as the Pablo Peredes Petition, and plenty
of Traveling Soldier issues. Also the recent
Socialist Worker issue was extremely effective due to the fact that
three of the most outspoken resisters are front and center: Peredes,
Kevin Benderman, and recently freed Camilo Mejia.
We also made a concerted effort to let
people know about the upcoming March 19 demonstration in Hartford,
CT that marks the two year anniversary of the illegal U.S. invasion
of Iraq and how everyone that is disgusted by the continued
occupation has to get involved now!
We stressed the need for people to get
involved in building the strongest possible antiwar coalition at
Southern and why it is such an
urgent campaign for us to get the recruiters off this campus that
has already seen 127 of our fellow students go off to fight in
Afghanistan or Iraq.
Passing students were very receptive
in hearing the argument as to why the recruiters are here in the
first place at a working class commuter school, why they have to lie
to get students to sign up, and why they should leave and not come
like millions across the country face increased tuition (going on
nine consecutive semesters at SCSU) and numerous budget cuts that
has created increased anger and frustration and the last thing we
need is the Army claiming that they have "an alternative".
As for the action itself, the Army set
up around 11:15 am, next to us (after one of the vendors selling
clothes gave up a table for them) and we immediately made their
attempt to engage students impossible.
First, about four of us blocked
their table and handed out counter-recruitment info while the
students behind our table grilled the two recruiters with questions
about why they were here, why do they openly discriminate against
our gay, lesbian, and transgender brothers and sisters, and how
quickly will those who sign up go off to war somewhere in the world
that is based on lies.
Needless to say
they were not thrilled by any of this and like a couple of third
graders "told on us" to the student center representative within
twenty minutes. By this time we had at least 8-10 students facing
the Army holding signs ranging from "Get off our campus" to "Money
for School, not for War" and Recruiters out, Troops Home!
The student center rep wanted to meet
with a couple of us and expressed that there was a problem to which
we agreed by stating "yes there is a major problem, why is there an
institution on this State campus that openly discriminates based on
sexual orientation?" The response
was typical "oh well they were invited by career services, if they
were here on their own accord WE would kick them off for you".
Really, how comforting to know that.
Thus, the Antiwar Coalition has a
meeting with career services to discuss why they would ever invite
the Army on campus and do they plan on it in the future.
agreed to not to stand directly in front of the table, but it was at
that time we started to get more confident and aggressive in our
outreach and by 12:30 pm the Army needed reinforcements.
Along came the
third recruiter who after only a few minutes was so angry and red in
the face that he could have easily been in a cartoon where their
By 12:45pm they
decided to pack it up and call it a day after not getting one person
to even make an appointment, let alone sign up for "duty".
Interestingly enough the student center rep walked them out and was
heard apologizing for the trouble, what a stunner!
the three recruiters left while we began chants of "Money for
school, not for war...money for healthcare, not for war" which then
erupted into cheers when they were completely off of OUR campus.
It was actually shocking to almost all
of us that they left so early, we really did not anticipate them
giving in so quickly but when they saw that they were wasting their
time they took off. We were extremely excited but were quick to say
that this is just the first round; they will come back(just like
they have at all the other schools in this country) and with more
experienced, aggressive, and most likely intimidating recruiters
that will do everything in their power to sign up the next round of
students for war.
That is why we wrapped up by
explaining how crucial it is for those who took part to spread the
word to everyone they know on campus and throughout the New Haven
community that in the next round we will have to be even more
organized, more aggressive, and more intimidating on our own by
having increased forces taking part at Southern that demands loud
and clear: WE KICKED YOU OFF ONCE, NOW STAY OUT!
Sorry this report
was quite long but this initial victory was so damn inspiring and
displayed to people that struggle is possible and necessary
especially at a time when we in the antiwar movement are inundated
with the myths that we cannot do anything, the country is so
right-wing, and nobody will listen, let alone get involved.
Well, as what
usually happens when people come together and fight, these types of
myths are destroyed and you have new activists that are ready and
willing to continue the fight. We saw the beginning of the
re-emergence of the fightback in New Haven yesterday at SCSU, let
the spirit of Seattle (and countless others) continue to spread!!!
The SCSU AntiWar Coalition
WE WON’T GO:
End the Occupation
RALLY AT FORT BRAGG
Youth And Student
Contingent In Fayetteville, North Carolina
[Thanks to PB, who sent this in.]
February 25, 2005 Campus Anti-War
March 19, 2005
March 19, 2005 marks the second year
anniversary of the United States’ illegal invasion of Iraq.
In solidarity with military
resisters and their families we will be marching in Fayetteville,
North Carolina to “Bring the Troops Home, Now!”
As youth and students we have seen
tuition hikes, budget cuts, and the increased militarization of our
schools. We have seen the belligerent and often racist repression
of our classmates and our professors.
We have seen our loved ones and our
friends' loved ones lied to and sent off to die--all so that
Washington can wage an endless war on the world.
We and many of
our brothers, sisters, classmates and friends have considered
joining the military for college money. But, no one should have
to sign up to kill and be killed for an education.
We refuse to sit by as our lives are
marred and denigrated by the military and their wars for conquest.
We demand money for schools and job training not for war and
We won't be made
cannon fodder for oil and empire!
Join us on March 19
in Fayetteville, North Carolina to say:
“We Won’t Go: End
the Occupation, Now!”
Student Outreach Coordinator for the
Fayetteville March 19 demonstration
University of North Carolina,
Greensboro- Campus Antiwar Coalition
Georgia State University- Students for
Peace and Justice
Campus Antiwar Network Coordinating
(Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2005)
As thousands of troops across the
country return from the first extended National Guard overseas
combat role since the Korean War,
officials are watching reenlistments
drop despite bonuses and other incentives recently authorized by
Says Iraq War “Bullshit”
24 February 2005 The Australian
Australia's involvement in Iraq would
end in disaster just like Vietnam, a retired general said today.
Major General Alan Stretton said the
Government would eventually bow to public pressure and withdraw the
troops, leaving behind a bloody mess. Prime Minister John Howard has
rejected comparisons with Vietnam, saying such analogies are
I really believe it will go the same
way as Vietnam," he told the John Laws radio program on 2UE.
"It will get no better – (only) worse
– and eventually public opinion in both the US and Australia and
elsewhere will demand our troops come back and when they do they
will be pretending that the locals can handle it all themselves, and
we will just leave a bloody mess."
Maj Gen Stretton said Iraq was already
going the way of Vietnam.
"This talk about
fighting for democracy, that is absolute, to use a phrase,
bullshit," he said.
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.
40% Of British
Soldiers Believe Army Has A Problem With Bullying, Sexual
Discrimination And Harassment.
[Thanks to Joan M
who sent this in:]
February 26, 2005 Joanna Bourke, The
The evidence of abuse on British army
premises in Iraq that was revealed during the trial indicates that
something is seriously wrong with our armed forces.
physical and psychological humiliation, as well as sexual abuse, are
not confined to overseas operations, but are also present "at home".
A survey carried
out by the Ministry of Defence in 2002 found that more than 40% of
British soldiers believed the army had a problem with bullying,
sexual discrimination and harassment.
More recently, an
official study claims that almost half the women serving in the RAF
have been sexually harassed at some point in their career. And
only yesterday, the Sun published photographs of members of the
Queen's Guard apparently ritually humiliating a new recruit by tying
him naked to a fence and pouring what appears to be manure over his
In addition, the
claims of ritual humiliation and sexual abuse at Deepcut training
camp, in Surrey, are profoundly disturbing. A police report into
the barracks contained more than 100 allegations of serious abuse.
The fact that the army was aware of
the repeated violent, predatory behaviour of men such as Lance
Corporal Leslie Skinner (convicted in 2004 of a series of sexual
attacks on young recruits) and Lance Corporal David Atkinson (who
murdered Cambridge student Sally Geeson on New Year's Day), is
another indictment of the institution.
The army insists that these are
aberrations - a few "bad apples". But it is plausible to assume
that bullying and abuse are more widespread than senior officers
wish to admit.
barracks, a culture of silence prevails. Leslie Skinner's victims,
for instance, said nothing for years. The reason for their reticence
was that Skinner was "rank" and in the army "you do what you are
The "macho" culture in training
barracks is shared by female soldiers too, many of whom become
obsessed with the need to trounce the boys. And despite their
enthusiasm, "GI Janes" often become targets of abuse.
In the Falklands
war of 1982, for instance, British soldiers on troop ships were
shown violent pornographic films as a way of stimulating their
aggression prior to battle. Young male recruits
in particular were terrified of being derided as "queer" and
"chicken". Those who refused to participate in "raggings" or group
abuse were regarded as lacking loyalty.
Ban On Gays In
(Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2005)
lawmakers called for an end to the Pentagon's ban on gays in the
military, citing findings in a government report that the
prohibition hurts recruiting and retention even as the war in Iraq
strains the military's ability to maintain its troop strength.
“The Government Of
The United States...Is Not In Any Sense Founded On The Christian
February 3, 2005 by Brooke Allen, The
In 1797 our
government concluded a "Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the
United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, or
Barbary," now known simply as the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 of
the treaty contains these words:
“As the Government
of the United States...is not in any sense founded on the Christian
religion--as it has in itself no character of
enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen--and
as the said States never have entered into any war or act of
hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the
parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever
produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two
This document was
endorsed by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and President John
It was then sent
to the Senate for ratification; the vote was unanimous. It is
worth pointing out that although this was the 339th time a
recorded vote had been required by the Senate, it was only the
third unanimous vote in the Senate's history.
There is no record of debate or
dissent. The text of the treaty was printed in full in the
Philadelphia Gazette and
in two New York papers, but there were no screams of outrage, as one
might expect today.
that "religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits
it for every noble enterprize."
He spoke of the
"almost fifteen centuries" during which Christianity had been on
trial: "What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride
and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity,
in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."
If Washington mentioned the Almighty
in a public address, as he occasionally did, he was careful to refer
to Him not as "God" but with some nondenominational moniker like
"Great Author" or "Almighty Being." It is interesting to note that
the Father of our Country spoke no words of a religious nature on
his deathbed, although fully aware that he was dying, and did not
ask for a man of God to be present; his last act was to take his own
pulse, the consummate gesture of a creature of the age of scientific
Tom Paine, a polemicist rather than a
politician, could afford to be perfectly honest about his religious
beliefs, which were baldly deist in the tradition of Voltaire: "I
believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond
this life.... I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish
church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish
church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of.
My own mind is my own church."
This is how he opened
The Age of Reason, his
virulent attack on Christianity.
In it he railed against the "obscene
stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous
executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness" of the Old Testament, "a
history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize
The New Testament
is less brutalizing but more absurd, the story of Christ's divine
genesis a "fable, which for absurdity and extravagance is not
exceeded by any thing that is to be found in the mythology of the
He held the idea of
the Resurrection in especial ridicule: Indeed, "the wretched
contrivance with which this latter part is told, exceeds every thing
that went before it."
Paine was careful to contrast the
tortuous twists of theology with the pure clarity of deism. "The
true deist has but one Deity; and his religion consists in
contemplating the power, wisdom, and benignity of the Deity in his
works, and in endeavoring to imitate him in every thing moral,
scientifical, and mechanical."
Franklin freely admitted, had "no weight with me," and the covenant
of grace seemed "unintelligible" and "not beneficial."
As for the pious
hypocrites who have ever controlled nations, "A man compounded of
law and gospel is able to cheat a whole country with his religion
and then destroy them under color of law"
Jefferson thoroughly agreed with
Franklin on the corruptions the teachings of Jesus had undergone.
abstractions of Athanasius, and the maniacal ravings of Calvin,
tinctured plentifully with the foggy dreams of Plato, have so loaded
(Christianity) with absurdities and incomprehensibilities" that it
was almost impossible to recapture "its native simplicity and
Like Paine, Jefferson felt that the
miracles claimed by the New Testament put an intolerable strain on
"The day will
come," he predicted (wrongly, so far), "when the mystical
generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the
womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation
of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." The Revelation of St. John he
dismissed as "the ravings of a maniac."
The three accomplishments Jefferson
was proudest of--those that he requested be put on his
tombstone--were the founding of the University of Virginia and the
authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia
Statute for Religious Freedom.
The latter was a truly radical document that would eventually
influence the separation of church and state in the US Constitution;
when it was passed by the Virginia legislature in 1786, Jefferson
rejoiced that there was finally "freedom for the Jew and the
Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammeden, the Hindu and infidel of
every denomination"--note his respect, still unusual today, for the
sensibilities of the "infidel."
The University of
Virginia was notable among early-American seats of higher education
in that it had no religious affiliation whatever. Jefferson even
banned the teaching of theology at the school.
"It does me no
injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It
neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
John Adams as an
old man observed, "Twenty times in the course of my late reading
have I been upon the point of breaking out, 'This would be the
best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!'"
The Whited Sepulcher
2005. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
‘roll-back’ is due largely to the public opting out of the
political process, a process that both the Republicans and the
Democrats can be blamed for.
‘right-wing takeover’ is one largely achieved by default. As to
the apocalyptic nature of the Christian fundamentalist (or at
least a percentage), it seems to me that Moyers is all too ready
(along with many others) to shift the onus from corporate
capitalism onto those in the throes of enrapturement.
7 February 2005 by William Bowles
In an essay by Bill Moyers (‘There is
no tomorrow’), ‘doyen’ of what passes for the ‘liberal’ media in the
US, we read the following
“In this past
election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls
believing in the rapture index.
“That’s right –
the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling
books in America today are the 12 volumes of the “Left Behind”
series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right
warrior Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a
fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of
immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and
wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of
millions of Americans.”
The essay goes on to tell us that
effectively, the US is now run not only by a right-wing ‘cabal’ but
an apocalyptic one, who wait, enraptured for ‘Der tag’ the day the
Earth will be destroyed.
But of course, any
reading (and hope fully, understanding) of history reveals that in
times of massive social, political and economic upheaval, the
apocalyptics always magically appear with warnings of dire
consequences because we’ve wandered too far from ‘God’s path of
righteousness’ or whatever.
normally involves extreme flagellation, followed by burning at the
stake and a horrible death and finally banishment to the lowest
depths of hell and eternal damnation, depending of course on your
particular religious persuasion, but it seems Christianity has
copyrighted the idea. And indeed, descriptions of the total
destruction of Fallujah would seem to confirm this.
“A 2002 Time-CNN
poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies
found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly
one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across
the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian
radio stations, or in the motel turn on some of the 250 Christian TV
stations, and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you
will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent
prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, “to worry about the
environment. Why care about the earth, when the droughts, floods,
famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of
the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate
change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture?”
But just how true is this picture of
America and if it is true, how did it come to pass?
Whilst it is true
that Christian fundamentalism plays a disproportionate role in US
politics, it is by no means the cause, rather it’s an effect. For
missing from Moyers’ essay (aside from a couple of mentions almost
in passing) is any analysis of the fundamental role of big business
in determining the policies of the Bush administration.
election results give a distorted image of the role of the
Christian right as only little over the 50% of registered voters
actually voted and out of this only a little over 50% voted for
Bush. Hence at best, Bush got only 25% of the registered vote and
there are no figures to indicate what percentage represent the
So in real terms,
the Bush administration is one based on a minority and in no way
reflects the opinions of Americans as a whole, not that you’d know
this from the way the media has reported things, but then the role
of the media in projecting the illusion of a right-wing cabal is yet
another aspect of the manipulation of reality taking place.
So what has brought
about the palpable fear Moyers’ essay displays?
Largely it’s Moyers’ concern over the
all-out assault of the Bush administration on the environment. But
just how different is this from earlier US administrations who have
been conducting an all-out war on the environment since the founding
of the Republic in 1776, starting with the total eradication of the
indigenous population and the ecology of which they were a part?
And whilst there have been ‘blips’ in
the track record largely due to public pressure to regulate the
ravages of the corporations, overall, big business has gotten its
way, for surely the changes to the climate didn’t occur overnight,
they are the result of an accumulated assault that goes back at
least 150 years even if it’s only fifty years ago that we started to
become aware of this (Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ was published
in 1954, exactly fifty years ago this year).
‘roll-back’ is due largely to the public opting out of the political
process, a process that both the Republicans and the Democrats can
be blamed for.
‘right-wing takeover’ is one largely achieved by default. As to the
apocalyptic nature of the Christian fundamentalist (or at least a
percentage), it seems to me that Moyers is all too ready (along with
many others) to shift the onus from corporate capitalism onto those
in the throes of enrapturement.
There is also the issue of whether in
reality there is a ‘cabalistic’ takeover of the US government, that
is after all the subtext of the Moyers piece. But any reading of US
policy since WWII points to the fact that regardless of the public
pronouncements by either Republican or Democratic administrations,
the ‘right-wing’ have always been in power. Any reversals in the
strategy of the imperium have come about because they have been
defeated, not in the US but by those on the sharp end. This is
surely is the hallmark of ‘democracy’ in America, namely that there
Perhaps more than
anything else, Moyers’ reaction points to the failure of the
‘liberal’ voice over the past fifty years to face up to the fact
that racism, anti-communism, the abolition of civil rights and the
assault on the environment are merely different facets of the same
thing – corporate capitalism.
If we look back and unpack the
position of the Christian right, whether of the Klu Klux Klan
variety or the Reverend Sun Yung Moon’s Unification Church or Billy
Graham, we find that they have always been in bed with capital as
advocates not only of unrestrained capital but of the most virulent
attacks on any progressive voices, from abortion to preaching
nuclear annihilation of the ‘Red Menace’. Has Moyers only just
woken up to this fact? In fact, where has Moyers been for the past
The danger of
shifting the focus from capitalism itself to some kind of ‘lunatic
fringe’ should surely be obvious for rather than challenging the
fundamental premise of capital’s ‘God-given right to rule’, it
assumes that by removing the influence of the ‘enraptured’ would in
any way change things.
There is also yet
another, even more fundamental issue to consider, namely that the
‘powers behind the throne’, the managers of the large corporate
entities that run America, are hardly likely to let a bunch of
lunatics of the enraptured (or any other) kind, screw things up
for their investors.
And whilst it’s true that they may be
largely clueless about the future of capitalism and incapable of
looking beyond the immediate, short-term gain, this doesn’t mean
that they are oblivious to the dangers of allowing the running of
America to fall into the hands of people so obviously unbalanced.
This is after all, the same argument
that was advanced to disconnect the rise of Hitler’s Fascism from
his backers, big capital, that Fascism was the result of a ‘cabal’
of anti-Semitic fanatics, when the reality was that the threat of
socialism was the real enemy as any reading of history shows.
For those of us on
the left, it is vitally important to distinguish between the
appearance of things and the underlying reality.
And whilst it can
be argued that those who are waiting for the Day of Judgement may
well be used as part of a larger project, the larger project is the
preservation of capitalism. The Christian fundamentalists are
merely part of a much larger rationale used to justify the assault
by capital on the planet that fits into the plan to demonise Islam
in order to justify the US takeover of the Middle East.
By encouraging and
giving voice to the enraptured through the mass media, we get the
totally misleading image that Bush and co are in thrall of them.
It is within this context that the
role of Israel becomes abundantly clear, for by connecting the
fascist right represented by Sharon and the ‘Greater Israel’ posse
(yet another ‘cabal’ that has been around since the beginning of the
20th century) with Christian fundamentalism, the ruling class can
tap into the fears, prejudice and just plain ignorance of people in
order to further its plans for world domination.
If there is a
lesson to be learned from all this, it’s ‘keep your eye on the ball’
And Her Kids Beaten, Robbed & Arrested:
25 February 2005 By Firas Al-Atraqchi,
Amnesty International (AI) has
expressed concern for the whereabouts of an Iraqi woman allegedly
arrested by US and Iraqi military personnel.
In an Urgent Action
report issued on 18 February, AI USA is demanding the safe treatment
of Huda Hafiz Ahmad al-Azawi, a businesswoman, seized at 4am on 17
was reportedly handcuffed, blindfolded, and beaten as were her two
daughters, Nura, 15, and Sara, 20.
AI report says that jewellery, cash, three computers and a mobile
phone were confiscated as part of an investigation into
accusations that she had been "supporting the resistance".
Al-Azawi and her sister
had been previously arrested in December 2003 along with their
brother Iyad on suspicion of supporting armed anti-US groups.
Al-Azawi had earlier claimed that Iyad had died while in US
According to Alistair Hodgett, AI's media director at the
Washington, DC office, every Urgent Action report regarding Iraq is
sent to AI offices around the world and the US Department of
have not yet seen any response from the US military," he told
BRING ALL THE
TROOPS HOME NOW!
Bush Buddies Suck
Up More Billions From Iraq War
The US Army has awarded defence
contractor Halliburton more than $9 million in bonuses for some of
its work supporting the military in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
But the Army said performance-based
bonuses had not been paid yet to Halliburton's Kellogg Brown and
Root (KBR) unit for dining services for US troops in those
The Pentagon has
also been criticised for extending undue favours to the firm, once
headed by US Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Overall, KBR has
earned $7.2 billion under a massive 2001 logistics contract with
the US military and is set to earn more than $10 billion under
that deal. It has separate deals with the government for
reconstruction work in Iraq.
The bulk of money
paid out so far under the logistics deal - about $6.6 billion - is
for work in Iraq which still must be assessed for bonuses that
could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Iraq Oil Most
(Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2005)
Sailors Guarding Oil Live On 'Target
No. 1’: Two rusting offshore oil
terminals in the Persian Gulf, from which 90 percent of Iraq's oil
is exported, are possibly the most heavily guarded pieces of
economic infrastructure owned by the Iraqi government.
Bush Runs Away From
Town Hall Meeting with Germans
February 23, 2005 SPIEGELnet GmbH,
With reporting by Matthias Gebauer in Berlin and Georg Mascolo in
During his trip to
Germany on Wednesday, the main highlight of George W. Bush's trip
was meant to be a "town hall"-style meeting with average Germans.
But with the German government unwilling to permit a scripted event
with questions approved in advance, the White House has quietly put
the event on ice.
Was Bush afraid the
event might focus on prickly questions about Iraq and Iran rather
than the rosy future he's been touting in Europe this week?
American-style "town hall" meeting the White House has been planning
with "normal Germans" of everyday walks of life will be missing
during his visit to the Rhine River hamlet of Mainz this afternoon.
A few weeks ago,
the Bush administration had declared that the chat -- which could
have brought together tradesmen, butchers, bank employees,
students and all other types to discuss trans-Atlantic relations
-- would be the cornerstone of President George W. Bush's brief
trip to Germany.
State Department diplomats said the
meeting would help the president get in touch with the people who he
most needs to convince of his policies. Bush's invasion of Iraq and
his diplomatic handling of the nuclear dispute with Iran has drawn
widespread concern and criticism among the German public. All the
more reason, it would seem, for him to be pleased about talking to
But on Wednesday,
that town hall meeting will be nowhere on the agenda -- it's been
Neither the White House nor the German
Foreign Ministry has offered any official explanation, but Foreign
Ministry sources say the town hall meeting has been nixed for
scheduling reasons -- a typical development for a visit like this
with many ideas but very little time. That, at least, is the
diplomats' line. Behind the
scenes, there appears to be another explanation: the White House got
Bush's strategists felt an
uncontrolled encounter with the German public would be too
To avoid that messy
scenario, the White House requested that rules similar to those
applied during Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit two weeks
ago also be used in Mainz.
Before meeting with
students at Paris's Institute of Political Sciences, which preens
the country's elite youth for future roles in government, Rice's
staff insisted on screening and approving any questions to be asked
One question rejected was that of
Benjamin Barnier, the 24-year-old son of France's foreign minister,
who wanted to ask: "George Bush is not particularly well perceived
in the world, particularly in the Middle East. Can you do something
to change that?" Instead, the only question of Barnier's that got
approval was the question of whether Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority
might create a theocratic government based on the Iranian model?
though, insisted that a free forum should be exactly that. Wolfgang
Ischinger, Germany's Ambassador to the United States, explained to
the New York Times last week: "We told them, don't get upset with
us if they ask angry questions."
As an ersatz for
the town hall meeting on Wednesday, Bush will now meet with a
well-heeled group of so-called "young leaders."
The chat is being held under the
slogan: "A new chapter for trans-Atlantic relations." The aim of the
meeting is to give these "young leaders" a totally different
impression of George W. Bush. In
order to guarantee an open exchange, the round has been closed to
journalists -- ensuring that any embarrassments will be confined to
a small group.
The guest list for
the Wednesday afternoon gathering has been handpicked by several US
organizations with offices in Germany.
In recent days, the Aspen Institute
and the German Marshall Fund have sent lists of possible guests to
the German Foreign Ministry. The requirement was that all of the
nominees had to be in their twenties or thirties and they must
already have been in a leadership position at a young age.
In other words:
there won't be any butchers or handymen on the elite guest list, but
rather young co-workers from blue chip companies like automaker
DaimlerChrysler, Deutsche Bank or the consultancy McKinsey. The
fact that two American organizations are the ones managing the guest
list suggests that the chat won't be overly critical of Bush.
MORE COWARDICE IN
Here's what the
Democrats would have said had they been around at the time of our
founding fathers! February 25, 2005 By John A.
Offensive Wounds U.S. Soldier;
February 25, 2005 By Mirwais Afghan
(Reuters) (Additional reporting by Sayed Salahuddin) & By Stephen
Graham, Associated Press
Insurgents launched three separate
attacks in southeastern Afghanistan on Thursday, wounding an
At least 22 rebels and troops have
been killed in a renewed surge in violence in Afghanistan, U.S. and
Afghan officials said on Friday.
Gunmen killed nine
Afghan troops in southern Helmand province near the border with
Pakistan, a provincial government official said on Friday, in one of
the bloodiest attacks against Afghan forces for months.
The soldiers were
killed while on a night patrol in the Chakool Ghar area of the
"Two of those killed were officers and
the other seven were soldiers," said Haji Mohammad Wali, spokesman
for the provincial governor. "The
car they were traveling and their weapons have gone missing, too."
Our mujahideen (holy warriors) killed
the soldiers in an ambush," Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi
said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The U.S. military
said seven Taliban rebels also died on Thursday during a U.S.
helicopter raid in the southeastern province of Khost after five
Afghan soldiers were wounded in an ambush.
Wali said the
Taliban also killed an Afghan soldier and wounded three others in an
attack on their post in a mountainous area near the eastern city of
Jalalabad on Friday.
Two Aid Workers
Slain, Left In The Ditch
(Chicago Tribune, February 24, 2005)
occupation workers were found shot to death on the side of a
southern desert road, officials said, in a reminder of the dangers
facing reconstruction efforts three years after the fall of the
Why They Get Killed
Sept. – Oct. 2004 International
Socialist Review, By Katherine Dwyer
administered by the government is given only in exchange for
Reid Finn explained, “It’s simple. The more they help us find the
bad guys, the more good stuff they get.” As a result, aid workers
are increasingly seen as political and military targets by anyone
hostile to the U.S. intervention.
Because so many aid workers have been
assassinated or held hostage, many independent agencies are simply
pulling out of Afghanistan. Explaining their decision to leave
Afghanistan after twenty-four years, a spokeswoman for the
international group Doctors Without Borders cited the fact that
thirty aid workers have been killed this year alone.
While most aid goes
directly to military projects, there is also a substantial flow of
international money into investment in projects that only benefit
the tiny, parasitic ruling class. While most of
Kabul and the surrounding countryside continue to degenerate, aid
flows in to finance boutique hotels, restaurants; and to finance the
cushy lifestyles of UN and other international workers.
As author Christina Lamb describes
after visiting Afghanistan, Kabul has become a city with two sides.
With as many as 1,000 nongovernmental organizations in residence,
rents are higher here than in much of Manhattan.... An agent from
the Marco Polo agency who drove me around last month told me his
company leases 10 houses to the World Food Program at rents of
$9,000 to $15,000 a month per house.
The total comes to
more than $1.5 million a year. “Most Afghans feel angry that this
is our money, money meant for the Afghan people, which aid agencies
are spending on beautiful houses, carpets and drinking” while
schools and hospitals still need to be built, the agent said.
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