GI SPECIAL 3B32:
Shit, And It’s Not Accomplishing Anything.”
May 6, 2005 Socialist Worker
troops in Iraq who oppose the war for oil and empire they
were sent to fight, speaking out can be dangerous. But
three soldiers--whose pen names are hEkLe, Heretic and Joe
Public--found that their consciences made it more difficult
not to speak out.
about a year in Iraq. Throughout their tours, they earned a
reputation for reporting the truth--on their Web log at
ftssoldier.blogspot.com--about what was taking place in
occupied Iraq. Their dispatches have also
been featured in Thomas Barton’s
GI Special, a
daily Internet newsletter for soldiers and military
families, available on the Web a www.militaryproject.org.
mid-April, hEkLe, Heretic and Joe Public spoke to
ERIC RUDER about their experiences, observations and
opinions of the U.S. occupation.
This is the
first interview, with hEkLe:
you think about morale in the military?
WHILE WE were in Iraq, it was
pretty low. It depends on what camp or operating base you
were at. If you are at a place where you didn’t go out on
missions, but stayed on and provided support for others,
morale was higher, because they weren’t seeing the shit.
Battalions that were going out every day and doing
missions--their morale was pretty low.
You’re crammed into a
15-by-20-foot aluminum box with two other roommates--plus
the heat, plus the miserable conditions, plus bad food for a
whole year. You add it all up, and morale gets pretty low.
I saw the
military bring in reporters who they knew would tell a
picture-perfect story. They wouldn’t talk to reporters who
might tell it how it is. The soldiers they interviewed all
gave the Army hoo-hah. Low morale never got out to the
A lot of soldiers coming back
now are starting to realize that they have post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD). Some of the things you’ve seen
start to creep back up on you. Whatever you had growing in
you--bottled up all year long--is starting to come out now.
It’s going to be really interesting to see how guys react to
this now that they’re back in the real world.
reports acknowledge that the Army and National Guard are
missing their recruitment quotas, and that a small number of
soldiers has refused to re-deploy to Iraq. What’s happening
among soldiers in Iraq?
I KNOW a lot of people who say
they’re never going back. The three of us agree that we’re
never going back.
There are people who have
re-enlisted while they’re in Iraq. There are a lot of
people in the Army who came from poor families. They join
the Army, and the government feeds them and clothes them and
takes care of their families. All they have to do is go out
and kill for a year. They’re not afraid to sacrifice that
The number of resisters in the
ranks is still very, very low. It’s going to take time
before they realize that the war isn’t right--that it’s
wrong. There are definitely some resisters, but not as many
as the antiwar movement would like to see.
talk about life as a U.S. soldier in Iraq?
YOU WORK every day, and your
mission could stay the same or change greatly, depending on
where you’re at, or what you’re doing. My mission was
pretty monotonous, but it always involved going “beyond
sector,” and coming in at night and trying to regroup your
A lot of times nothing
happened. We’d go out, get a lot of ugly looks and come
back home. But at least once or twice a month, there’d be
something that was really disturbing--something that would
really just make you sit down and think for a while.
Going out every day and doing
what you’re told is your mission, and then coming back and
waiting for the clock to run down every day for a year--it
gets very tedious and stressful. You don’t even realize how
stressful it is until you’re back, and you’re in normal
society. It was a long year of my life, but at the same
time, it flashed right by because of the amount of work that
we were doing.
describe life for average Iraqis?
WHERE WE were, there were many
peasant farmers and small shopkeepers. Many didn’t want
anything to do with the violence, but they didn’t sympathize
with American forces either, which only helps the
insurgency. Stuff like car bombs at Iraqi police
checkpoints didn’t faze the people--it was just more
violence added on. You could see in their eyes--they were
just getting tired of the violence.
there for a year, and nothing changed--nothing was solved.
And I don’t imagine anything is being accomplished now, as
we speak. There’s a lot of poverty, roads need repairs,
street lights need repairs. A lot of people didn’t have
electricity or running water. These are things we promised
them when we came in, and nothing is getting solved. A lot
of the reason is because we’re too busy trying to hold down
this insurgency that’s not dying out, and seems to be
of pressure did you face for opposing the occupation?
IF YOU’RE a
soldier that your chain of command recognizes as a
resister--a peace-freak, somebody that doesn’t like the
Army--you have an enemy on both sides of the wire.
of us have been labeled “shit bags” by the Army--that’s what
they like to call people like us because they don’t like
what we believe in. They don’t like the way we see things,
and we’re pretty vocal about it. The chain of command can
make it very hard on a soldier who constantly says, “This is
fucked up, this is wrong,” or just generally dismisses a lot
of what the Army thinks is important.
really stressed out that I could go out and die--or I could
get court-martialed and sent to jail because I said some bad
things about George W. Bush and the war. So it felt like I
had an enemy on both sides. There are people trying to fuck
me in the camp and my chain of command--and then there are
insurgents out to kill me on the outside.
of command creates stress. And outside of the wire, you had
to deal with blown-up bodies. Car bombs that killed
innocent civilians. A little girl’s pink sandals smoldering
on the side of the road. A guy’s face in a watermelon after
a watermelon truck full of explosives blew up and killed
Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint. U.S. soldiers dying in
You deal with that kind of
shit for a year, and you recognize it as disturbing and
gross. But when you get back and start thinking about it,
all of a sudden it becomes much more horrific, much more
painful. All this creates a classic diagnosis of
PTSD--general depression for no reason, problems
concentrating and remembering little details. You don’t
even know what’s affecting you. It parallels a lot of the
traumas associated with victims of abuse.
A lot of it boils down to
guilt. That’s what I feel for the people I killed out there
and the stuff that I saw--just knowing what you’re doing is
wrong. All of these guilty feelings bottle up and explode
Patriotism in itself isn’t
wrong, but overzealous patriotism and overzealous
nationalism isn’t right. The public’s own inability to see
its nationalistic fervor is what’s actually hindering people
from seeing the overall picture.
If they can
try to understand it through the eyes and from the shoes of
the Iraqis, they can understand that war is shit, and it’s
not accomplishing anything. It’s hard for an American to
say that war is wrong when all they’re given is a patriotic
shot in the ass about it.
Of all the
casualties, almost 50 percent are women and children. How
is this right? How is this war justified? How is it
correct? How is it even helping our country? War is wrong.
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
Send requests to address up top.
Convoy Hit, American, Two Iraqis Killed
bomb killed two Iraqis and wounded two other Iraqis and an
American -- all security contractors working for a Western
firm -- in eastern Baghdad on Monday
night, Iraqi police said.
Iraqi Resistance Better Armed Than Expected;
16/05/2005 By Oliver Poole,
Telegraph & Washington Post
Iraqi insurgents have proved
to be better equipped and more elusive than expected, United
States marines have said at the end of a week-long operation
near the Syrian border.
[Expected by who? Underestimating the enemy has been a
constant for Imperial invaders since ancient Rome.]
wore bullet-proof vests and a number had Soviet-designed
armour piercing bullets and night sights, equipment rarely
seen previously in Iraq. [But no doubt to be seen more and
Marines swept west across Iraq in a week-long operation to
flush out foreign fighters north of the Euphrates River,
fleeing insurgents left proxies to do the killing for them:
meticulously rigged roadside bombs and mines, planted on
dirt roads where wheels or tank treads would pass.
Night, More Casualties To Evacuate
Week & Space Technology, May 16, 2005
The air war in Iraq has
changed from one primarily of bombing to that of
intelligence-gathering, surveillance and command. During a
recent flight on an E-8C Joint Stars aircraft, improvised
explosive devices were found, convoys were rerouted and
casualties were evacuated—and the air crew said it was a
quieter than normal night
The End Had
Come, But It Was Not Yet In Sight
In The Company Of Soldiers, by Rick Atkinson;
Henry Holt And Company; New York, N.Y.; 2005.
this thoughtful book on the invasion of Iraq, traveling with
the 101st Airborne over the line, Atkinson leaves
clues to everything that was to come, including more than
one case of “famous last words.” Excerpts make that clear.
Brig. Gen. Benjamin J.
Freakley, Assistant Division Commander For Operations:
Asked how long he anticipated
the campaign would last, he mulled the question for a
moment. “Two weeks if it goes well, two months if it
doesn’t. If it gets into Baghdad, or the other cities, the
plan is to use precision strikes by identifying points of
resistance and hitting quick and hard, then getting out.
will be no kicking-in of doors.”
A few minutes later, I
buttonholed [Sgt. Maj.] Savusa near the tent flap and asked
about morale. “More than half the soldiers in this brigade
have combat experience in Afghanistan,” he said.
“The biggest challenge now
is maintaining the standards and discipline, and getting
across to younger soldiers the dangers involved.
I’m not sure they really grasp what we’re about to
undertake. But these guys are ready. They have confidence
in their leaders. And they have a certain look in their
I made my
own morale assessment with a quick inspection of several
plywood latrines. Soldiers had so few
authorized opportunities to articulate stress and
frustration that graffiti assumed an importance larger than
simply providing a doodleboard for sophomoric crudities,
although there were plenty of those. “Fuck this place,” one
poet had written with a kind of rap exuberance. “Fuck the
Rakkasans. Fuck you. Fuck me. Fuck, fuck, fuck.”
I also read “Bush is the Anti-Christ.”
Lt. Col. D.J. Reyes:
“People say he’ll use
chemicals as soon as we cross the berm into Iraq. Naw, why
would he show his hand there? I personally think he’ll use
them when he sees that we’re definitely coming into Baghdad.
very concerned about Baghdad. I’m very concerned about
all the urban areas. Our systems to a large extent will
be mitigated or defeated if this gets into a street
fight. Urban canyons allow the enemy to canalize us
into ambush channels. We’ll get drawn like a fly into
He shifted on his sandbag
seat. An added anxiety for the 101st was the vulnerability
of the division’s helicopters, particularly in the MEZ, the
missile engagement zone, around Baghdad; it was said to be
second only to Pyongyang, North Korea, in air-defense
“I lose sleep over it.
Because you have to worry about everything. Roland
missiles, triple A”—antiaircraft artillery— “and even
iron-sight guns that have no radars associated with them.
Mog”—Mogadishu—”helicopters were shot down with
rocket-propelled grenades, RPG-7s. How do you fight that?
I lose sleep over it. Every day I walk
into the briefing and I wonder, What is it that I can’t
I asked about working for
“He’s very compassionate, very
understanding,” Reyes said. “But the man has some seriously
high standards. All
generals are like this. You give them something and they
want more. You have to have the balls to say, I don’t know
but I’ll find out. You also have to have the intestinal
fortitude to say, This is what I think. It’s an art, as
well as a science. You don’t get that as a lieutenant. You
get it after twenty years of getting shot in the face. My
good day is when nobody says anything to me.”
this war, I asked, turn into a quagmire? What if the
Iraqi asymmetrical tactics led not to a conventional
slugfest, where the United States was clearly superior,
but to a guerrilla campaign?
“There’s some serious fog of
war out here,” Reyes said. “At the end of the day, the
question is, Can you live with yourself? Did you give it
your best? We’re doing
this for a reason. I don’t know what it is, but I know that
it’s something bigger than me. Just submit to it.” [How’s
that for dodging and twisting the question?]
The next morning dust lay
drifted in windrows
inside the tent. After moderating slightly at
daybreak, the wind picked up with redoubled howling.
Humvees and helicopters appeared to have been dipped in milk
chocolate. I arrived in the ACP at 7:30 A.M. to find
Petraeus on the phone with Wallace. His face was drawn, as
if he had slept poorly.
intelligence officer, Lieutenant Jeanne Hull, told me that
orders had come down overnight banning the term “Fedayeen,”
which means “men who sacrifice themselves for a cause,”
because it ostensibly invested those fighters with too much
dignity. They were to be referred to as paramilitaries.
(Later the approved phrase would be “terroristlike death
Hull estimated that there were
nine to twelve Fedayeen battalions in Iraq, each with
roughly six hundred fighters, including a battalion in
Najaf. In a small blow
against Orwellian excess, most officers continued to call
ID was around Karbala quite a while, and look at
how many bad guys were still there,” he said.
we’re going to have to go into every town. 3 ID sets
conditions by shooting the big pieces, and then the infantry
moves in to clean out the diehards and secure the towns.
The lesson in Karbala is that you can rum around all you
want -- you can even run tanks through the
streets -- yet it doesn’t clear the city. It has to be
TRUTH? CHECK OUT THE NEW TRAVELING SOLDIER
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.
with Iraq War vets in the call to end the occupation and
bring our troops home now! (www.ivaw.net)
SAIGON --- OOPS --- LIBERATED IRAQ:
HAVE A NICE
US Black Hawk helicopters fly
over smoke billowing from the site of explosion in Baghdad,
14 May 2005. (AFP/Marwan Naamani)
Like I Fought For Nothing”
[Thanks to Phil G., who sent
May 13, 2005 Film Review by
Sarah Macaraeg, Socialist Worker
Arlington West, a documentary by Peter
Dudar and Sally Marr, Laughing Tears Productions.
IN SANTA Monica, Santa Barbara
and Oceanside, Calif., Veterans for Peace has constructed
temporary cemeteries in the sand, honoring the soldiers who
have died in Iraq. If a cemetery were created to honor the
Iraqi dead, it would fill the entire beach. The memorial
also serves as a gathering place for military families and
veterans of both the Vietnam and Iraq wars, whose interviews
are documented in the film Arlington West.
The strength of this film lies
in the testimonies of those who have fought or lost family
members in the war--ordinary people trying to figure out why
they’ve been forced to sacrifice so much for a war based on
lies. They speak to the human cost of the war, the true
motives behind it and the realities on the ground in Iraq.
veteran says, “I know a lot of us were being lied to because
I feel like I fought for nothing. I saw exactly what
happened in the war and I hear what they tell everyone and
it doesn’t match.”
veteran remarks, “I can tell you from my own experience from
being in Iraq, that we’re the bad guys, we’re invading their
territory.” The documentary highlights the hypocrisy of the
Bush administration’s claim that it “supports the troops.”
Various soldiers, most of whom
cite money for college as their reason for joining the
military, speak to the amount of trauma undergone in war,
how little they’re paid, and the treatment they receive from
the Veterans Administration.
homeless Vietnam veteran describes it, “it’s as if they
don’t expect to see a live veteran.”
In its effectiveness at
speaking to people who haven’t yet been exposed to antiwar
politics, Arlington West serves as a powerful tool in
building the antiwar movement.
Eats Up Next Military Pay Raise
May 16, 2005, Army Times
The Consumer Price Index,
which measures the cost of goods and services, is increasing
at an annual rate of 3.1 percent, as are private-sector
wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
increase in consumer prices, largely due to growing energy
costs, means that a 3.1 percent hike in basic pay in January
would be just enough to maintain — but not increase — the
purchasing power of military paychecks.
hardly a financial incentive for military people who could
get private-sector jobs that often pay more, which is one
reason why the services want bigger bonuses to retain people
with critical skills.
Thanks Big Red One For Signing On To Fight Bush Regime
May 16, 2005 AFPS:
Secretary Francis Harvey told the soldiers of the 1st
Infantry Division that their service …. was against "a
ruthless and immoral enemy willing to employ any means
necessary to achieve their objective.,"
The Higher Ranking Officers Be Facing Charges?
Letters To The Editor
It looks as
if the Pentagon has been successful in isolating the
prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison to a few
unfortunate lower enlisted soldiers.
these soldiers were no doubt threatened into plea bargaining
their cases and accepting their penalties without much
fanfare. These soldiers were indeed
guilty of mistreating Iraqi prisoners and deserved to be
is no possible way that prisoner abuses of this magnitude
could have taken place without the acquiescence of higher
headquarters, or the dereliction of duty by the chain of
command to not have noticed what was happening in Abu Ghraib
blaming the whole scandal on seven lower enlisted
soldiers, the Army and the Pentagon successfully protect
those higher up in the chain of command who should have
stopped what was happening, who ordered the abuses, who
never properly trained the soldiers serving as guards or
who were not aware of what was occurring in that prison
but should have been.
prisoner abuse scandal is a good lesson for senior
noncommissioned officers and officers on how not to allow
lower enlisted soldiers to be made into scapegoats.
should be curious about when the higher-ranking officials at
the Pentagon, who are responsible for creating this culture
that allowed such human rights abuses to happen, will be
facing their own charges.
Staff Sgt. Thomas P. Murt
Adopts Restriction On Treatment Of Detainees
[New York Times, May 11, 2005]
barred the government from using any money in a newly passed
emergency spending bill to subject anyone in U.S. custody to
torture or "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" that is
forbidden by the Constitution.
Liberating DoD Workers:
Federal Times, May 16, 2005
employees believe proposed changes to personnel policies at
the Defense Department give managers too much authority to
adjust salaries and change work assignments, strip workers
of basic rights and protections and will destroy morale,
according to a sampling of public comments submitted on the
May 09, 2005
Letters To The Editor
This is my opinion on the
outcome of Staff Sgt. (David H.) Price’s punishment (“Busted
a rank,” April 25).
It is a sad disgrace to be in
an NCO Corps where leaders are able to get away with such
abuse. Situations such as this once again give the military
a bad rap.
If I were a
parent, would I want my child to join the military when
things like this happen and all you get is a slap on the
Taking away rank is not much.
Most soldiers just look at it as a pay decrease. Maybe
recruiting efforts would increase if the Army was
professionally led by those put in charge as leaders.
Why is it necessary to keep
individuals in uniform who are a disgrace to this country
Sgt. Charley Westerhold
May 09, 2005
Letters To The Editor
Leaders act as the guides who
are supposed to direct young soldiers toward success. But
sometimes, some leaders fail to distinguish efficiency from
When a person in charge of
leading troops to battle displays something other than
professionalism, the validity of the mission in question is
jeopardized. The mission, in this case, is ensuring that
fresh recruits successfully complete and graduate from basic
If intimidation and physical
abuse are utilized by those whom new soldiers are supposed
to trust, then loved ones back home cannot sleep at night
with the confidence that their children are safe in the
hands of the leaders in charge of them.
scandals involving abuse by various drill sergeants over the
past few months are poor displays of an organization that is
supposed to stand for the exact opposite: equal treatment of
all individuals, regardless of race, age or gender.
days of old, many people thought nothing of the occasional
thrust or shove by an infuriated drill sergeant on some
recalcitrant trooper. But we now find ourselves fighting a
new war with a new kind of soldier, one raised in a
politically correct society, free of the violent antagonism
that was once an accepted form of disciplinary reprimand.
Bunker Hill to Baghdad, soldiers with little to no
military experience will make mistakes.
However, this does not mean correction of the error
should involve physical and psychological torture.
Until those who fill the
demanding role of drill sergeants are instilled with sound
reasoning and judgment in regard to the treatment of new
recruits, the image of the Army will continue to be
tarnished by the flaws of a few.
Spc. Moses Cortez
Fort Drum, N.Y.
May 09, 2005
Letters To The Editor
I think the
drill sergeant got off easy.
people join the Army because they want to do something good
and make a difference. A soldier in training trusts that
the Army will take care of him.
When I joined the military in
1998, I thought my drill sergeants — Drill Sgts. Dunkin,
High and Kelsey at Fort Jackson, S.C. —were the best thing
that ever happened to the Army.
I don’t know if they make
drill sergeants like that any more: drill sergeants who care
and have feelings but are not afraid to correct a soldier in
a fair way to train the soldier properly.
Sgt. Jesse Leal
Camp Doha, Kuwait
Of The Week
5.9.05 Army Times
paratroopers in India’s elite Eastern Frontier Rifles who
were on different duty schedules got into a fight over
whether barracks lights should be on or off — and it ended
with one soldier missing a chunk of his nose.
Bhupesh Rava had just come off
duty and wanted the lights off so he could sleep. Sepoy
Durga Lama, who was about to go on duty, wanted the lights
on a little longer while he dressed. In the ensuing battle,
Rava pinned down Lama and gnawed off part of his nose,
according to a Reuters report.
Police said Lama’s screams led
others in the barracks to rush to break up the fight. Lama,
bleeding profusely, was taken to a hospital, where doctors
operated to reattach the bitten piece of flesh to his nose.
Rava was arrested on assault charges.
Demands Immediate End Of Occupation & Freedom For U.S.
May 16, 2005 By ABDUL HUSSEIN
AL-OBEIDI, NAJAF, Iraq (AP)
Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militia
battled U.S. forces in Baghdad and Najaf last year, held a
press conference in his father's home in this holy Shiite
Muslim city, 100 miles south of Baghdad. Al-Sadr criticized
the American-led occupation and called for an immediate
withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
the immediate withdrawal of the occupation forces.''
also accused the United States of trying to foment a
sectarian conflict, and he demanded the coalition release
occupier is trying to make up a sectarian war between the
Sunnis and Shiites,'' al-Sadr said. ``It is not acceptable
to direct the allegations of ugly acts committed by the
occupier against the Shiites, to the Sunnis, we also condemn
and denounce all the terrorist acts.”'
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!
Minister Threatens To Kill Bush, Rumsfeld & U.S. Occupation
5/16/2005 By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS,
The Associated Press
government will strike with an iron fist against any
criminal who tries to harm a Sunni or a Shiite citizen,"
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told
reporters after visiting Iraq's top Shiite cleric in the
holy city of Najaf. "The
death sentence will be implemented."
5.16.05 Mail & Guardian & By
ALEXANDRA ZAVIS, The Associated Press & (Reuters) & Terence
Neilan & Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times
soldiers were killed and at least four people wounded after
a mortar and roadside bomb attack against a fire station in
Khan Bani Saad, a town 30km north-east of Baghdad, said
police Colonel Mudafar Mohammed.
A roadside bomb killed four
soldiers who had raced to the town's fire station, which had
come under mortar attack, Mohammed said.
"I just arrived at the gate of
the base and mortar rounds landed on it, injuring some of
us," said Lieutenant Colonel Jabbar Hussein, who was taken
to a nearby hospital suffering from shrapnel wounds.
word that two car bombings in Baghdad have killed nine Iraqi
soldiers and injured many civilians. A
senior police official says the blasts came minutes apart
near a street market.
Armed men also opened fire on
an Iraqi National Guard patrol, killing two civilians and
wounding three people, one of them a guardsman and the
others civilians, the official said.
patrol responding to the first explosion was struck down by
the second blast. Authorities say five soldiers were
Three Iraqis working for
Kuwaiti television have been killed south of Baghdad, the
Iraqi military said on Monday.
The three men -- two
journalists and a driver -- were on their way back to
Baghdad from the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala when they were
ambushed near the towns of Mahmudiya and Latafiya.
soldiers were killed Monday when a roadside bomb exploded
outside Baquba, north of Baghdad, police said.
Seven soldiers and three civilians also were
wounded. A car bomber
blew himself up near a courthouse, narrowly missing the
governor of Diyala Province.
DON’T LIKE THE RESISTANCE
This, Let's Quit!”
To: GI Special
Sent: May 16, 2005
Subject: let's stop this,
excerpt from a 1927 story entitled "The Sleigh" by Japanese
writer, and former imperial soldier, Denji Kuroshima.
is Siberia, circa 1920, when Japan's troops formed part of a
multinational intervention led by the United States trying
to reverse by force the recent political victory of the
Soviet revolution. The Japanese fought on the longest only
to be driven out after several years.
became and remained a lifelong antimilitarist. In this
scene the Japanese soldiers have just repelled a group of
Russian guerrillas, killing some civilians in the process.
All the very best to you!
don’t quit, I’m telling you, it’ll go on forever.”
[A Flock of
Swirling Crows and Other Proletarian Writings by Kuroshima
Denji, University of Hawaii Press, 2005]
Shortly the Japanese troops
arrived at the spot where father and son lay.
“They ever want us
to stop chasing them?”
“I could use some
“Hey, let’s take a
They too were
tired of fighting. Winning brought them no benefit. War
consumed their physical and mental energy as an express
train burns coal.
The ill Kimura,
coughing and out of breath, caught up at last, dragging his
The thin hard
surface of the snow kept on caving in under the men’s
weight. Whenever they shifted their feet, the snow
threatened to snatch away their boots.
“Ah, I’m worn
out.” Kimura spit out phlegm mottled with blood.
“You’d better go
“I can’t even
“Take him back on
the sled,” said Yoshihara.
“Yeah, that’d be
better. What is this, making even sick men go out and
kill!” Two or three nearby voices burst out at the same
“Ho, I may have
killed them myself,” Asada looked at the fallen Lipski and
shuddered. “I pulled the trigger two or three times back
Father and son lay
a few feet apart in the snow, their heads pointing in the
same direction. There was a small piece of black bread by
the man’s fingertips, as though he was shot at the moment he
was about to eat it.
The boy lay face
down, his left arm thrust into the snow. The small shoes
were torn, and the snow all around him was dyed with blood.
It was a pitiful sight. Little pale lips pressed against
the snow seemed on the verge of shouting something to the
this killing!” A mighty emotion welled up in their chests.
“Hey, I’ve finally
got it now,” said Yoshihara. “We’re the guys making war.
Nobody but us.”
force us to do it,” said someone.
“Still, we’re the
ones making war. When we stop, it stops.”
Like a stemmed
tide, the soldiers stood before the father and son. All
were utterly weary. What are we doing, said some. Some sat
on the snow to rest. Others flung away their still smoking
rifles, scooped up the snow and ate it. They were thirsty.
“There’s no end to
“Isn’t it time to
pull out? I’ve had enough.”
“If we don’t quit,
I’m telling you, it’ll go on forever. Those jokers are out
for medals and they’ll drive us on and on and on until we’re
all dead! Let’s stop this, let’s quit! Let’s get out of
here!” Yoshihara was as agitated as a man in the midst of a
battle-fatigued troops wanted to get back to the barracks as
soon as they could and rest in the warm rooms. Better yet,
they wanted to go all the way home and throw off the
stifling uniforms for the rest of their lives.
They thought of
the men who had escaped conscription relaxing in warm beds,
their pretty wives beside them. Same age as the soldiers,
these men had remained in Japan enjoying the right to choose
the most beautiful and appealing women.
sake too, and
all manner of good food. Viewing snow-clad scenery was a
diversion to them, something done while sipping cups of
All this while the soldiers themselves were condemned to
exist in Siberia engaging in mutual slaughter a people they
did not hate!
bastards! What do you think you’re doing in the presence of
the enemy!” The company commander stormed up to them
clutching his sword.
What 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.
5/16/2005 By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS,
The Associated Press
Late Sunday, at least eight
more men were found near a dam in another Shiite-dominated
Baghdad neighborhood, their hands tied behind their backs
and bullet wounds to their heads.
Two of the
victims were still alive, but died soon afterward, police
Associated Press Television
News footage showed the blood-soaked ground where the bodies
were found, and three of the corpses being brought into a
Sunni-based Association of Muslim Scholars said the two
survivors told their families before they died that security
force members seized them from mosques and shot them.
Defense Minister Saadoun
al-Duleimi denied the accusation, saying the killings were
carried out by "terrorists" wearing military uniforms.
But in a gesture to the
association, he said Iraqi security forces would be banned
from entering places of worship and universities.
POLITICIANS AT WORK
Service Searches Home Of Anti-War Protester
April 27, 2005 Matthew
Rothschild, The Progressive
Jensen of Elkins, West Virginia, likes to express herself.
She has put
up as many as a dozen signs in her yard over the past year,
protesting the war in Iraq, Bush and Cheney, and the
crackdown on civil liberties.
Some of her
signs have said:
Ashcroft, We Prefer Our America Remain the Home of the Free
and the Brave."
Cheney, What You Sow You Shall Reap. Those Who Destroy the
Earth Will Be Destroyed."
Rumsfeld, Human Beings Are Not Just Collateral Damages, but
People with Hopes, Dreams, Relationships, and Lives to
Doers, Bush and Cheney Are Destroying America. I Cry
Liberty and Stand for Our Constitution."
Another: War Is Dead Wrong."
Her vigorous exercise of free
speech has not been well received.
One day in early January, her
signs were vandalized.
"I had gone to the movies, and
when I came back, all my signs were stolen," she tells The
Progressive. "And one had been turned over, and someone
wrote, "We love George Bush" on it."
The mayor of Elkins, Judy
Guye, tried to use a city ordinance to make Jensen take her
"Guye had said she believes
Jensen's signs pose a potential traffic hazard, since people
driving by her house often stop or slow down to look at
them," Paul J. Nyden wrote in an article for the Charleston
Gazette on January 16. Nyden pointed out that the mayor, "a
Republican, had a pro-Bush sign in her own front yard."
Guye backed off.
But those were the least of
fall, the Secret Service gave her a call.
"They said they wanted to ask
me some questions," she recalls. "I said sure. They said
someone called them and said I had signs up in my yard that
were threatening the President. I said I did have some
signs in my yard, but I wasn't threatening the President.
The worst I've ever said was that he's an Evildoer. And
this Secret Service man specifically asked me about the sign
about Mr. Cheney. He said, "That's from revelations." I
said, "Yes, I have no desire to destroy anybody. I'm just
quoting out of the Bible." His name, she said, was Agent
January 11, she had some unexpected visitors.
actually taking a nap, and there was a knock on my door,
there was a West Virginia State Trooper and a Secret Service
agent," she says, identifying them as Trooper R. J. Boggs
and Agent James Lanham. "They asked to come in. And I let
them. And they started interviewing me."
at the time was running for city council, asked why they
someone had made a statement that I'd been canvassing door
to door and had said I wanted to cut President Bush's head
off," she says. "I told Agent Lanham that I was running for
city council, but I hadn't started my door-to-door campaign
yet and I never had said anything like that."
This didn't satisfy them,
conducted an extensive interview about my background, my
family, and any political organizations I belonged to," she
says. "I told them I belong to the ACLU and that's about
continued to pry, she says.
Lanham "asked me several times to sign a form about
releasing my medical records, and I refused," she says.
"That was kind of annoying. And he asked to search my
house. He didn't have a search warrant, but I said go
ahead. And they took some pictures of me and some
pictures of my signs."
Before they left, she says, "I
had to sign a statement that I never threatened the
Though she hasn't heard from
the Secret Service since, Jensen is not happy about the
power citizens have to rat their neighbors out for merely
expressing political views they disagree with.
easy for other people to call up the Secret Service or the
Department of Homeland Security," she says, "and say things
about you and have you investigated."
Demands Control Of US Troops As Uprising Spreads:
Puppet Postures Preposterously
16 May 2005 By Nick Meo, The
Hamid Karzai insisted the Kabul government will veto US
military operations after a week of hugely destructive
anti-American rioting left Afghan cities and towns in flames
and hospitals overflowing with casualties.
leader, installed with Washington's support in 2001 and
often derided as an American puppet, seemed to be bowing to
a growing mood of popular anger with American military
tactics and uneasiness over how long bases will remain on
He promised to correct
"mistakes" made by US forces, especially intrusive searches
of village homes by American troops in areas where the
Taliban insurgency continues.
Searching homes for weapons is
a highly contentious issue in the southern and eastern
Pushtun tribal areas, especially when soldiers barge into
womens' quarters, a deeply insulting act in tribal culture.
also complain that innocent villagers are frequently
arrested and taken to Guantanamo Bay or the interrogation
centre north of Kabul at Bagram if they are unlucky enough
to be in the vicinity of attacks on US soldiers or if they
are the victim of faulty intelligence.
Last year, Mr Karzai appealed
to the US military to rethink their tactics. But he is now
demanding. [Could he
have figured out that the handful of U.S. troops in
Afghanistan can’t hold down a nation of 30 million when they
rise against him and the Occupation? The whole Russian Army
couldn’t hold Afghanistan. A pathetic 18,000 U.S. troops
have no hope at all. 18,000 vs. 30 million
is absurd. Duh.]
President also called for the return of hundreds of Afghan
prisoners held at Guantanamo, another major friction point,
and promised to raise the issue with President George Bush
when the two leaders meet in Washington this month.
But he stressed the importance
of the relationship with America which has underpinned his
government. "We know that without the strategic partnership
with America, Afghanistan would not make it as a sovereign,
independent nation," Mr Karzai said.
[Translation: My worthless
ass won’t last 5 minutes without the Occupation.]
U.S. Commanders Said The Resistance Was Finished,
Rise Again For The Fighting Season
15 May 2005 Independent News &
Media (UK) Ltd, Nick Meo
fizzling out, the rebels are staging their annual spring
resurgence with a surprising new spirit, writes Nick Meo
from Kabul. This wasn't what US military planners were
American soldiers in the
mountain valley of Deh Chopan expect to be targeted by an
unseen enemy. But the amateurish hit-and-run attacks of the
Taliban - wildly fired rockets and mistimed roadside bombs -
rarely inflict casualties.
It was a
shock, then, when a patrol was ambushed a fortnight ago with
rocket-propelled grenades and sustained small arms fire.
Six Americans were wounded. Two had their legs blown off.
Two more were wounded badly enough to require evacuation to
Germany for surgery.
of the ferocious five-hour battle was predictable enough -
withering air power obliterated the Americans' enemies - but
not before a US unit had suffered serious casualties and was
forced to fall back before a determined enemy assault.
A couple of days later nine
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers died when they were
ambushed by machine-gun fire as they got down from a truck
in Kandahar province - the newly formed ANA's worst-ever
combat loss. Then two US marines were killed in a cave
where they had insurgents pinned down.
what US military planners were expecting at the start of
this spring's "fighting season" when the snow thaws in the
mountains. After all, Afghanistan is supposed to be the war
that the American military has won. The official emphasis
has changed from combat operations to "hearts and minds"
over the freezing Afghan winter, there were few attacks,
leading to talk from the Kabul government and US
military that the Taliban were short of recruits and low
on morale. Soon, went the word, their commanders would
be joining the amnesty set up to lure tired fighters in
from the mountains.
This programme is the
hoped-for endgame after three and a half years of desultory
guerrilla warfare which has tied down 18,000 US combat
troops and cost the Pentagon more than $10bn a year.
military is desperate to scale down troop numbers after
September's parliamentary elections and hand over to Afghan
forces and the 5,000 British troops who arrive at the end of
fizzling out, the Taliban have staged what has become a
now-annual spring resurgence, and with a surprising new
their ranks seem to have been reinforced by more experienced
and more determined men.
reports indicate that more sophisticated tactics are
being used and that new weapons are being smuggled in
over the Pakistan border. When a Romanian soldier was
killed near Kandahar last month it was a modern
anti-tank mine that blew up his armoured personnel
carrier, not an improvised bomb or one of the old Soviet
landmines that frequently don't work.
north along the Pakistan border, near Khost, the war has
become a hot one - human waves of Taliban fighters launch
night assaults against the fortified bases of an Afghan
mercenary force recruited by the CIA.
Those insurgents are under the
command of an old warlord with links to Saudi Arabia -
Jalaluddin Haqqani - whose Pakistan-based operations seem to
have received a new infusion of Gulf money.
Then the worst anti-US riots
since the fall of the Taliban devastated eastern Afghanistan
last week. Seven died, aid agency buildings were burnt and
looted, causing millions of dollars of damage.
Orchestrated as they may have been, the riots showed a new
mood of anti-Americanism which will worry the US military
and the Kabul government. [“Worry?” Pissing their pants is
more like it.]
Palestinians Mark Nabka, Day Of Catastrophe
5.16.05 Aljazeera By Khalid
Amayreh in the West Bank
Palestinians have observed the blackest day in their history
with warnings that there will be no Middle East peace until
they get independence and the plight of their refugees is
Palestinians at home and in the diaspora on Sunday
commemorated the 57th anniversary of the Nakba
The term denotes the loss of
Palestine to Zionism, the creation of Israel and the
expulsion of most of the Palestinian people from their
out what life is like under a murderous military occupation
by a foreign power, go to:
www.rafahtoday.org The foreign army is Israeli; the
occupied nation is Palestine.]
Against Uzbekistan Tyrant Spreading:
"It Was A
Popular Uprising. There Were No Terrorists Here, Just
16 May 2005 The Associated
Sporadic shooting continued
Monday in an eastern Uzbek city where an uprising sparked a
crackdown by security forces that left up to 500 people
dead, and a human rights group reported that clashes in
another town killed an additional 200.
The spreading unrest in a
region bordering Kyrgyzstan - the worst since Uzbekistan
gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 - also
left 11 people dead in clashes Sunday in a third town and
sparked a rampage by residents in a fourth town on Saturday,
remained extremely tense on Monday after gunfire continued
throughout the night. Residents said government troops were
fighting militants in Bogishonol, an outlying district of
the city, but the claim could not officially be confirmed.
armored personnel carriers formed a tight circle around the
city center, where the local administration building - at
the center of Friday's violence - was on fire late Sunday.
Piles of sandbags used as
defenses in the fighting dotted the streets.
separate clash in the border town of Teshiktosh on Sunday,
eight government soldiers and three civilians were killed
and hundreds of Uzbeks fled into neighboring Kyrgyzstan,
border community, Korasuv, an estimated 5,000 people went on
a rampage on Saturday and forced authorities to restore a
bridge across a river that marks the border with Kyrgyzstan.
Local residents saw the government's closing of the bridge
more than two years ago as a move to deny them access to the
better economy and more open politics of Kyrgyzstan.
"It was a
popular uprising. There were no terrorists here, just
ordinary people," said Furkat Yuldashev, 32, as he stood
with other townspeople near the bridge.
necessary to get this ruler out," said a 75-year-old man
named Umarjon-Aka, dressed in a traditional black robe and
dark blue hat.
Empire And Its 'Special' Dictator
Z, who sent this in.]
May 17, 2005 By Pepe Escobar,
Asia Times Online Ltd.
delighted to be back in Uzbekistan. I've just had a long
and very interesting and helpful discussion with the
president ... Uzbekistan is a key member of the
coalition's global war on terror.
brought the president the good wishes of President Bush
and our appreciation for their stalwart support in the
war on terror ... Our relationship is strong and has
been growing stronger." - US Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld in Tashkent, February
Uzbekistan dictator Islam
Karimov's army, which last Friday opened fire on thousands
of unarmed protesters in Andijan, in the Ferghana Valley,
has been showered by Washington in the past few years with
hundreds of millions of dollars (US$200 million in 2002
alone) - all on behalf of the "war on terror".
won't see the White House, or Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice, hammering Karimov. You won't hear many in Washington
calling for free elections in Uzbekistan.
strongmen of color-coded, "revolutionary" Georgia, Ukraine
and Kyrgyzstan were monsters who had to be removed for
"freedom and democracy" to prevail. So is the dictator of
Karimov. He's "our" dictator: the Saddam Hussein of Central
Asia is George W Bush's man.
relies on proven "counterinsurgency" torture methods
with a macabre, creative touch (immersion in boiling
water) thrown in.
Washington-Tashkent "special relationship" started as early
as the mid-1990s, during the Bill Clinton administration.
In 1999, Green Berets were actively
training Uzbek Special Forces.
Inevitably, there will be more
uprisings in the impoverished Ferghana Valley that has
reached a boiling point. Karimov again will unleash his
American-funded army. The White House will be silent. The
Kremlin will be silent (or dub it "green revolution" - by
Islamic fundamentalists, as it did with Andijan).
media will be silent: one imagines the furor had Andijan
happened in Lebanon when Syrian troops were still in the
the Ferghana won't be valued as people legitimately fighting
for freedom and democracy: they will be labeled as
terrorists. And Rumsfeld will keep cultivating a "strong
relationship" with Karimov.
Needs The Uzbek Torturer;
Shits On The Dead
western news agenda has moved the dead of Andijan from
the "democrat" to the "terrorist" pile. Karimov remains
in power. The White House will be happy.
May 16, 2005 Craig Murray, The
of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Uzbekistan are
scarcely cold, and already the White House is looking for
ways to dismiss them.
House spokesman Scott McClellan said those shot dead in the
city of Andijan included "Islamic terrorists" offering armed
resistance. They should, McClellan insists, seek democratic
government "through peaceful means, not through violence".
But how? This
is not Georgia, Ukraine or even Kyrgyzstan. There, the
opposition parties could fight elections. The results were
fixed, but the opportunity to propagate their message
brought change. In Uzbek
elections on December 26, the opposition was not allowed to
take part at all.
And there is no media freedom.
On Saturday morning, when Andijan had been leading world
news bulletins for two days, most people in the capital,
Tashkent, still had no idea anything was happening.
demonstrations in the capital tolerated. On December 7 a
peaceful picket at the gates of the British embassy was
broken up with great violence, its victims including women
and children. So how can Uzbeks pursue democracy by
The conviction rate in
criminal and political trials in Uzbekistan is over 99% - in
President Karimov's torture chambers, everyone confesses.
torture by no means ends on conviction. In prison there
is torture to make you sign a recantation of faith and
declaration of loyalty to the president. And there is
torture to make you sign evidence implicating
"accomplices". It was at this stage that the infamous
boiling to death of Muzafar Avazov and Husnidin Alimov
took place in Jaslik prison in 2002.
One of the uses of Uzbek
torture is to provide the CIA and MI6 with "intelligence"
material linking the Uzbek opposition with Islamist
terrorism and al-Qaida. The information may be untrue, but
it is valuable because it feeds into the US agenda.
is very much George Bush's man in central Asia. There
is not a senior member of the US administration who is
not on record saying warm words about Karimov. There is
not a single word recorded by any of them calling for
free elections in Uzbekistan.
The airbase opened by the US
at Khanabad is not essential to operations in Afghanistan,
its claimed raison d'Ítre. It has a more crucial role as
the easternmost of Donald Rumsfeld's "lily pads" - air bases
surrounding the "wider Middle East", by which the Pentagon
means the belt of oil and gas fields stretching from the
Middle East through the Caucasus and central Asia.
A key component of this
strategic jigsaw fell into place this spring when US firms
were contracted to build a pipeline to bring central Asia's
hydrocarbons out through Afghanistan to the Arabian sea.
That strategic interest explains the recent signature of
the US-Afghan strategic partnership agreement, as well as
Bush's strong support for Karimov.
Uzbek people can keep on dying. They are not worth a lot of
cash, so who cares?
I travelled to Andijan a year
ago to meet the opposition leaders, and kept in touch. I
can give you a direct assurance that they are - or in many
cases were - in no sense Islamist militants.
an unwanted embarrassment to US foreign policy.
news agenda has moved the dead of Andijan from the
"democrat" to the "terrorist" pile. Karimov remains in
power. The White House will be happy.
wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t think that the
United States benefited greatly from our partnership and
strategic relationship with Uzbekistan.”
August 2004, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the
US Joint Chief’s of Staff speaking in
Tashkent. [Thanks to William Bowles, 5.16.05,
Uninsured Adults Forgo Needed Treatment For Chronic Health
02 May 2005 By Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation, YubaNet.com
analysis of government data shows that millions of uninsured
adults in the U.S. suffer with chronic illness and have
medical needs that are unmet.
Nearly half (45 percent) of
non-elderly, uninsured adults report having one or more
chronic health problems. More than 15 million uninsured
adults in the U.S. have diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or
other chronic conditions.
analysis documents that millions of these chronically ill
adults forgo needed medical care or prescription drugs due
to cost, leaving them at serious risk for increased health
"Being uninsured carries
serious health consequences," said C. Everett Koop, M.D., a
former Surgeon General of the United States appointed by
"Americans who are uninsured
have the same medical conditions that insured Americans have
-- high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and so forth. But
because they do not have health coverage, they are not able
to get the medical care they need. They don't see their
doctor as early as do patients with insurance.
To be blunt, uninsured
patients are more likely to die than their insured
counterparts with the same diagnosis."
(49 percent) of uninsured adults with chronic conditions
forgo needed medical care or prescription drugs due to
cost. Uninsured adults with chronic conditions were 4.5
times as likely as their insured counterparts to report an
unmet need for medical care or prescription drugs.
Many uninsured adults with
chronic illness do not have a usual source of health care.
Uninsured adults with chronic conditions were more than
seven times as likely as insured adults with chronic
conditions to lack a usual source of health care.
adults with chronic conditions are less likely to visit a
health professional than their insured counterparts.
More than one in four (27 percent) uninsured
adults with chronic conditions reported no visits to a
health professional in the past year, compared to about one
in 14 (seven percent) insured adults.
having fewer contacts with the health care system, uninsured
adults with chronic conditions still face large
out-of-pocket expenditures for their care. More than one in
five (21 percent) uninsured adults with a chronic condition
report spending at least $2,000 out of pocket on medical
care in the 12 months prior to the survey.
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unauthorized material may not be prohibited.” DoD Directive
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