Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
Where applicable, parallels will be drawn between the new movement and the Vietnam era movement which was the focus of the film Sir! No Sir!
Disclaimer: In accordance with title 17 u.s.c. section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.
The Sir! No Sir! Blog has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is the Sir! No Sir! Blog endorsed or sponsored by the originator. Links are provided to allow for verification of authenticity.
This article, by Lisa 'Stienster' Nerone, was published by the Atlantic Free Press, March 26, 2009
"The Posse Comitatus Act of June 16, 1878 was reversed on October 17, 2006 by Bill 5122 (sponsored by John Warner). Now our government can use our own Military against “We The People”.
"On October 1, 2008 the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, which, said the Army Times newspaper, has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq, was brought home. This begins the first breech of what the Posse Comitatus was created to prevent." (source)
The truly savage behavior of "our" government officials (with few exceptions) are not only directed at those members of humanity who are often easily targeted as undeserving of civility, ex: violent criminals. The malevolence expressed in their actions- when not in their words- have existed with virtually zero counter-measures from the majority of Americans, whom are obviously the true target of the malignant evil that grows on The Hill.
In complete polarity, true Constitutional patriots who are/were in the military services are standing up against the tyrannical faction who have usurped The Constitution on many levels. These truly brave men and women have formed several united groups against the lying oligarchs who pursue their fabricated "global war on terrorism".
"Iraqi Veterans Against War" (IVAW) and the resulting protest group, The Hempstead 15 (so named by alternative non-main-stream-media), are two such groups of current and veteran military members who are willing to stand on the 'front-line' of the illegal and unconstitutional wars of aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The Hempstead 15 are members of IVAW who requested admittance to the Hempstead New York Presidential Debate held at Hofstra University in October, 2008. One of these IVAW members, US Army veteran, Matthis Chiroux, details the ensuing fascist crimes of The Nassua County Police Department.
Their respectful written request to address the candidates with one question directed to each candidate was issued to "Bob Schieffer, the debate moderator (Hofstra University), as well as Det. Thomas J. Calvert and Det. Robert Annese of the Nassau County Police Department the day before the action (Hofstra-Debate Police Security Controllers). IVAW were "assured (Police security) would instruct their officers to respect the non-violent spirit of the action by using restraint towards peaceful veterans and demonstrators". But at the time of the debate event, the assurances of Calvert and Annese didn't materialize.
A few members of IVAW, in full military dress, peaceably approached the entrance to the debate facility and were met by riot-gear clad, horse-mounted Hempstead Police. A few "lucky" IVAW members were instantly arrested for "disorderly conduct" and placed in a police bus, where they watched in horror as "the police charged their horses onto a sidewalk and unprovokedly knocked Nick Morgan to the ground, trampling his head and face, then arrested him".
The Nassau County Police Department continued it's vile, illegal, and aggressively abusive activities, as can be heard and seen here.
Army Veteran Chiroux further stated, "Police pulled other members and supporters of IVAW from the sidewalk and arrested them, while horses spun in circles causing injury to most who couldn’t escape their paths... One officer, when I brought up the prospect of speaking to a lawyer, threatened to put me in the back (jail) where 'the big boys will pop your cherry'. When I asked this officer if he had just threatened an honorably discharged veteran of Afghanistan with prison rape and told him I wanted his name and rank, he refused and told me to look it up on the police report, which the Nassau County Police Department has refused to provide.".
Also of important mention is "Courage To Resist" (CTR), whose members' resistance pivots on the huge impact to all of humanity of the immoral and illegal wars. CTR comprises current enlisted American military personnel who refuse to deploy or re-deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Veteran Chiroux is a member and has his Army hearing on April 21, 2009, in St. Louis, MO. But prior to his hearing, Mr. Chiroux, "at the request of members of the German Parliament" will be present "to speak about why they should not be supplying troops to the occupation of Afghanistan nor supporting the NATO alliance." He will then also participate in the protest demonstrations being held in Europe on April 1-4, 2009, against the G20 and NATO summits in London and Strasbourg, France. (Matthis Chiroux website)
The members of The Nassua County Police Department who inflicted the above listed attacks, are quite obviously not members of "The Oath Keepers". These well welcomed police, sheriff, and military members of America have banded together to speak out against and oppose the tyranny and unconstitutional actions being ordered of our police and military forces against We The People. Their commitment to their sworn-to oath to serve and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic is taken seriously, and they state: "Our oath is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and that oath will be kept. We won’t 'just follow orders'."
These honorable servants used to be the norm. But because such integrity of character is now seldom found, these respectable patriots stand out as the shining hope of what our future can STILL BE. If we can stay focused on what We The People require of each other- and also then must require of ourselves- conscionable policies that reflect the spirit of who we thought we were, then we can again become a nation of industrious, morally strong individuals who together form an America of immeasurable spiritual and material prosperity.
This article, by Robert Burns, was published by the Associated Press, Februuary 23, 2009
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama faces split opinions within the military on whether to make the speedy withdrawal from Iraq he championed on the campaign trail.
Obama’s top generals in Baghdad are pressing for an elongated timetable, while some influential senior advisers inside the Pentagon are more amenable to a quicker pullout.
Although Obama has yet to decide the matter, his announcement last week that he’s sending thousands more combat troops to Afghanistan implies a drawdown of at least two brigades from Iraq by summer.
But that does not answer the question that has been dangling over Iraq since he took office in January: Will Obama stick to his stated goal of a 16-month pullout or opt for a slower, less risky approac
Gen. Ray Odierno, the top American commander in Baghdad, favors a longer timetable for leaving Iraq. He sees 2009 as a pivotal year, with parliamentary elections set to be held in December; he doesn’t want to lose more than two of the 14 combat brigades that are now in Iraq before the end of the year. And he believes the U.S. military will need to remain engaged in Iraq, to some degree, for years to come.
Odierno’s boss at U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, leans toward Odierno’s view.
Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has steered clear of the debate over withdrawing from Iraq, but he sees his battlefield as an increasingly urgent priority — not just for additional combat troops but also for Iraq-focused surveillance aircraft and more civilian support.
There are now about 146,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, compared with 38,000 in Afghanistan. Obama has directed 17,000 more to head to Afghanistan, including Marines and soldiers who had been in line for Iraq duty.
At the Pentagon, a more mixed view prevails. The uniformed service chiefs see Iraq as a strain on their troops and, more broadly, a drain on their resources. The Marines, in particular, are in the tough position of having a foothold in both major U.S. wars — Iraq and Afghanistan. As a relatively small service, they would prefer to concentrate more fully on Afghanistan, if only they could get out of Iraq.
Neither Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nor Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said publicly whether he supports a 16-month withdrawal timeline. But they have their own perspective — an obligation to consider the full spectrum of threats and potential threats to U.S. national security.
“There’s a very clear understanding of what is at stake here,” Mullen said Feb. 10.
“And it’s very natural for Gen. Odierno to want to go slower and to hang onto capability as long as possible,” he added. “That’s not unusual. It’s very natural for Gen. McKiernan to say, ‘I need more.’ And so that’s the tension. We don’t have an infinite pot (of resources and deployable forces). We have to make hard decisions about where to accept risk.”
In internal discussions, the emphasis appears to be on getting out responsibly rather than quickly, several officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made.
Obama must weigh an array of hard-to-figure tradeoffs in security and politics. And he must reconcile his conviction that the combat phase of U.S. involvement in Iraq must end with his commanders’ concern in Baghdad that hard-fought gains could be squandered.
It boils down to this: How much more effort is the Iraq war worth? What is the risk of leaving too soon?
Is the 16-month timetable too short, given the uncertain state of stability and political reconciliation in Iraq and the potential cost of seeing the country slide back into widespread sectarian war?
And is anything substantially beyond 16 months too long, given the call for still more troops in Afghanistan, where Obama himself has said the battle against extremists is going in the wrong direction?
Obama is still considering his options, which officials say includes a less hurried, 23-month withdrawal. The deadline he inherited from the Bush administration is Dec. 31, 2011, the date set in a security agreement with Baghdad that says all U.S. troops, not just combat forces, must be gone by then.
One clue to some of the thinking inside the White House might lie with the views of Obama’s national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James Jones. Jones co-chaired a study published in January 2008 on the way ahead in Afghanistan. The group endorsed the idea of providing more military support for Afghanistan, including resources that become available as combat forces are withdrawn from Iraq.
The president has an additional factor to weigh: the political cost of backing off the 16-month pullout timetable that was a prominent feature of his campaign. Although he has said he thinks 16 months is a reasonable timetable, he also has assured military leaders that he will consider their advice.
Notably absent, at least so far, is even a whiff of public pressure from fellow Democrats to stick to a 16-month timeline. That suggests Obama’s party might be satisfied so long as he makes early and clear steps in the direction of ending U.S. combat involvement in Iraq, even if on a somewhat longer timeline.
Obama campaigned for the White House on a promise that he would end the war and get U.S. commanders moving immediately on a transition to Iraqi control of their own security. He said military experts believe combat troops can be pulled out safely at a rate of one to two brigades a month, meaning all 14 combat brigades there now could be gone within 16 months, which equates to mid-2010.
Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel who was the executive officer for Petraeus when the general was in Baghdad overseeing the “surge” of U.S. forces in 2007-08, said he thinks it likely that Obama will pull at least four combat brigades out of Iraq by the end of this year. But he hopes the president does not insist on getting all 14 brigades out within 16 months.
“If the president orders it, the military can do it, but whether it’s advisable or not is a different story,” he said in a telephone interview. “Quite frankly, I don’t think it is, given the risk you would incur to potentially upsetting the political situation” inside Iraq.
This article, by Evan Goodenow, was originally published in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel, July 31, 2008
Returning home after serving a year near Nasiriyah as a military police officer with the Army National Guard, Kelly Dougherty remembers people asking her what it was like in Iraq. But as soon as she started going into detail, they quickly changed the subject.
“I started to feel like people don’t really want to know what my experience was; they just feel obligated to ask,” said Dougherty, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “They just want to keep me or keep the veterans in this box of idealized war hero and not confront what is actually being done in the name of them and in the name of our country.”
Dougherty co-founded Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2004 with the aim of telling the hard truths about the war that some Americans might not want to hear and to push for an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. soldiers from Iraq.
The organization is taking part in anti-war rallies around the country, and members are going into high schools in “counter-recruitment” efforts.
They’re also assisting in post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts to highlight what they say is a diversion of money to Iraq that they believe should have been spent at home.
Members are also speaking out about what they say happens when soldiers reach their physical and emotional breaking points by repeated deployments to Iraq.
At hearings held by the group in Silver Springs, Md., in March, Iraq War veterans spoke of routine atrocities committed by them and fellow soldiers: unarmed civilians shot at checkpoints, civilians run over by convoys driving fast to avoid ambushes or roadside bombs and innocent Iraqis routinely roughed up in their homes during raids.
Dougherty contends the “few bad apples” argument given whenever U.S. soldiers commit atrocities fails to recognize that those acts occur in an atmosphere in which military commanders and the White House either condone or look the other way at criminal behavior – such as the use of dogs, hooding, sleep deprivation and sexual degradation against Iraqi prisoners at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Dougherty’s organization is pushing for a complete withdrawal, not the ones advocated by presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, which would leave troops in or around Iraq to fight al-Qaida.
While many soldiers who have served in Iraq support the war, Dougherty believes anti-war vets can make the best case for withdrawal. And she disputes war supporters’ contentions that criticizing the war undermines soldiers in Iraq.
“We know what it’s like to lose our friends or to be injured ourselves or come home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Dougherty said. “What undermines the troops the most is being lied to by their political leadership.”
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded by Iraq war veterans in July 2004 at the annual convention of Veterans for Peace (VFP) in Boston to give a voice to the large number of active duty service people and veterans who are against this war, but are under various pressures to remain silent.
From its inception, IVAW has called for:
Immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq;
Reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered, and stopping the corporate pillaging of Iraq so that their people can control their own lives and future; and
Full benefits, adequate healthcare (including mental health), and other supports for returning servicemen and women.
Today, IVAW members are in 48 states and on numerous bases overseas, with chapters throughout the U.S. and in Canada and Germany.
On behalf of Iraq Veterans Against the War I would like to invite you to meet with a delegation of our members at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, located at 915 East 9th Avenue Denver, CO between August 25-27, at a time most convenient to you. We would like to discuss your position on withdrawal from Iraq as well as your commitment to veterans care and reparations to the Iraqi people. We would also like to present to you our Winter Soldier testimony, which illustrates the moral necessity of bringing an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq. Please RSVP at your earliest convenience regarding this matter, stating whether or not you or members of your staff will attend or proposing an alternative location for the meeting.
In addition, we would like you to review the following background information and provide your official response to the questions below prior to or on the date of August 27, 2008.
US-headquartered multinational corporations (MNCs) are currently awaiting passage of a law governing foreign direct investment (FDI) in Iraq's energy sector. They have indicated that they will not substantially invest in reconstruction of the country's oil infrastructure until the Iraqi government passes a law which will allow them to negotiate long-term investment contracts called "Production Sharing Agreements" (PSAs) in the parlance of the oil industry.
PSAs have been compared to the colonial concessions which European imperial powers imposed upon Middle Eastern nations in the 20th century, including Iraq and Iran. Numerous historians have pointed out that these concessions humiliated the Arab-Muslim world for decades and provoked internal political instability, the rise of militant nationalism and most recently, religious radicalism directed primarily against the United States.
We are concerned that the Bush administration, despite its denials, is exerting political pressure on the Iraqi government to pass a law which will open the door to these types of contracts once again. We believe that this sort of alleged pressure directly contradicts the ostensible mission of the United States military in Iraq and hinders political progress and stability there. Without a doubt, the prospect of perpetual instability will tempt future administrations to justify a prolonged occupation or continued interference in Iraq's internal political affairs.
Our troops have fought hard. They do not deserve to have their efforts undermined by this or any other administration. The Iraqi people demand independence and we have no right to deny it to them. In doing so we contradict the principles our own nation was founded on and act against our own national security interests. For these reasons we are determined to oppose such policies, official or otherwise.
For more information please see the accompanying documents.
Our questions are:
What is your position on long term FDI in Iraq's oil industry by US-headquartered MNCs?
What is your position on the role of the United States government in negotiating a so-called hydrocarbon law with the Iraqi government which would govern FDI there?
What is your position on Production Sharing Agreements and similar sorts of contracts?
What is your position on debt relief to the Iraqi government? Should it be contingent upon passage of the above-mentioned hydrocarbon law?
What is your position on the so-called Strategic Framework Agreement, which is rumored to contain language on FDI? Should it be ratified by the U.S. Senate, whether or not it is actually called a "treaty"?
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Iraq Veterans Against the War
The Western MA chapter of the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Western Mass AFSC are sponsoring a raffle.
1 Ticket - $2.00
3 Tickets - $5.00
7 Tickets - $10.00
All proceeds will go to support a delegation of Western MA veterans bringing an anti-war message to the upcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Prizes include gift certificates worth $10-$60 or more for great books, fine food & drink, entertainment and relaxation.
Thanks to the generosity of the following local businesses in Amherst, Northampton& Easthampton:
Amherst Wines & Spirits
Elements Hot Tub & Spa
The Henion Bakery
The Northampton Brewery
Northampton Pride & Joy
The Odyssey Bookstore
River Shark Café
You can buy tickets from a volunteer or send a check to the American Friends Service Committee, 140 Pine St.Rm 10, Florence, MA01062. Don’t forget to include a phone number or email that we can use to contact you if you win! Checks that are mailed must be received by August 14th. Call AFSC at 413-584-8975 with questions.
The drawing will take place at the Delegation Send-Off Concert on the Amherst >Common on the evening of August 15, 2008.You do not have to be present to win.
This article, by Jim Michaels, was published in USA Today, July 28, 2008
U.S. combat deaths in Iraq appear headed to the lowest monthly total since the start of the war as the top U.S. general there said overall violence is declining toward "normal" levels.
Gen. David Petraeus cautioned, however, that the progress still could be reversed. Suicide attacks Monday in Iraq killed more than 50 Iraqis.
"If you could reduce these sensational attacks further, I think you are almost approaching a level of normal or latent violence," Petraeus said in a phone interview Monday from Iraq.
"The fact that the levels of violence have come down so significantly and stayed down now for some two-and-a-half months … indicates there is a degree of durability," Petraeus said.
There have been six U.S. combat deaths so far in July, according to a USA TODAY database. The lowest monthly number was eight in May 2003, slightly more than a month after the invasion. Iraqi civilian deaths also have dropped.
Although suicide attacks along with other violence has been declining, al-Qaeda retains the ability to bomb civilian targets and wreak havoc. Monday's attack was the deadliest in more than a month.
"Al-Qaeda, although significantly degraded … still can strap a suicide vest on an individual and push him or her into a crowd of Iraqis," Petraeus said.
The ability of U.S. and Iraqi forces to sustain low levels of violence is considered a key condition for allowing a further drawdown in American forces.
The last of five extra brigades sent to Iraq in 2007 left that country this month, bringing U.S. troop levels to about 140,000. Petraeus is expected to make a recommendation in late August or early September about future troop levels.
Violence levels have continued to drop as the extra brigades have departed. The lower levels have been maintained for more than two months.
Daily attacks during the past two months have averaged about 25 to 30, down from about 160 to 170 a little more than a year ago, Petraeus said.
"What we've got to do, of course, is figure out how to keep it there while, over time, further reducing our forces and … trying to further degrade the networks that carry out the sensational attacks," Petraeus said.
Iraqi security forces have been growing in numbers and effectiveness as threats from al-Qaeda and Shiite militias have decreased, Petraeus said.
About 70% of Iraq's combat battalions are leading operations in their areas.
"There is a degree of momentum across the board," he said. "Certainly there have been very tough days and tough reversals."
The progress in Iraq comes as there is increasing pressure to shift U.S. troops to Afghanistan, where violence is growing.
This article, by Marjorie Cohn, was originally published by Truthout, 29 July, 2008
So far, Bush's plan to maintain a permanent US military presence in Iraq has been stymied by resistance from the Iraqi government. Barack Obama's timetable for withdrawal of American troops has evidently been joined by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Bush has mentioned a "time horizon" and John McCain has waffled. Yet, Obama favors leaving between 35,000 and 80,000 US occupation troops there indefinitely to train Iraqi security forces and carry out "counter-insurgency operations." That would not end the occupation. We must call for bringing home - not redeploying - all US troops and mercenaries, closing all US military bases and relinquishing all efforts to control Iraqi oil.
In light of stepped-up violence in Afghanistan and for political reasons - following Obama's lead - Bush will be moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Although the US invasion of Afghanistan was as illegal as the invasion of Iraq, many Americans see it as a justifiable response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the casualties in that war have been lower than those in Iraq - so far. Practically no one in the United States is currently questioning the legality or propriety of US military involvement in Afghanistan. The cover of Time magazine calls it "The Right War."
The UN Charter provides that all member states must settle their international disputes by peaceful means, and no nation can use military force except in self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council. After the 9/11 attacks, the Council passed two resolutions, neither of which authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan. Resolutions 1368 and 1373 condemned the 9/11 attacks and ordered the freezing of assets; the criminalizing of terrorist activity; the prevention of the commission of and support for terrorist attacks; the taking of necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist activity, including the sharing of information; and urged ratification and enforcement of the international conventions against terrorism.
The invasion of Afghanistan was not legitimate self-defense under article 51 of the Charter because the attacks on 9/11 were criminal attacks, not "armed attacks" by another country. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. In fact, 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, there was not an imminent threat of an armed attack on the United States after 9/11 or Bush would not have waited three weeks before initiating his October 2001 bombing campaign. The necessity for self-defense must be "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation." This classic principle of self-defense in international law has been affirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the UN General Assembly.
Bush's justification for attacking Afghanistan was that it was harboring Osama bin Laden and training terrorists. Iranians could have made the same argument to attack the United States after they overthrew the vicious Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979 and he was given safe haven in the United States. The people in Latin American countries, whose dictators were trained in torture techniques at the School of the Americas, could likewise have attacked the torture training facility in Ft. Benning, Georgia, under that specious rationale.
Those who conspired to hijack airplanes and kill thousands of people on 9/11 are guilty of crimes against humanity. They must be identified and brought to justice in accordance with the law. But retaliation by invading Afghanistan is not the answer and will only lead to the deaths of more of our troops and Afghans.
The hatred that fueled 19 people to blow themselves up and take 3,000 innocents with them had its genesis in a history of the US government's exploitation of people in oil-rich nations around the world. Bush accused the terrorists of targeting our freedom and democracy. But it was not the Statue of Liberty that was destroyed. It was the World Trade Center - symbol of the US-led global economic system, and the Pentagon - heart of the US military, which took the hits. Those who committed these heinous crimes were attacking American foreign policy. That policy has resulted in the deaths of two million Iraqis - from both Bill Clinton's punishing sanctions and George W. Bush's war. It has led to uncritical support of Israel's brutal occupation of Palestinian lands; and it has stationed more than 700 US military bases in foreign countries.
Conspicuously absent from the national discourse is a political analysis of why the tragedy of 9/11 occurred and a comprehensive strategy to overhaul US foreign policy to inoculate us from the wrath of those who despise American imperialism. The "global war on terror" has been uncritically accepted by most in this country. But terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. You cannot declare war on a tactic. The way to combat terrorism is by identifying and targeting its root causes, including poverty, lack of education and foreign occupation.
There are already 60,000 foreign troops, including 36,000 Americans, in Afghanistan. Large increases in US troops during the past year have failed to stabilize the situation there. Most American forces operate in the eastern part of the country; yet, by July 2008, attacks there were up by 40 percent. Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser for Jimmy Carter, is skeptical that the answer for Afghanistan is more troops. He warns that the United States will, like the Soviet Union, be seen as the invader, especially as we conduct military operations "with little regard for civilian casualties." Brzezinski advocates Europeans bribing Afghan farmers not to cultivate poppies for heroin, as well as the bribery of tribal warlords to isolate al-Qaeda from a Taliban that is "not a united force, not a world-oriented terrorist movement, but a real Afghan phenomenon."
We might heed Canada's warning that a broader mission, under the auspices of the United Nations instead of NATO, would be more effective. Our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan should emphasize economic assistance for reconstruction, development and education, not for more weapons. The United States must refrain from further Predator missile strikes in Pakistan, and pursue diplomacy, not occupation.
Nor should we be threatening war against Iran, which would also be illegal and result in an unmitigated disaster. The UN Charter forbids any country to use, or threaten to use, military force against another country except in self-defense or when the Security Council has given its blessing. In spite of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency's conclusion that there is no evidence Iran is developing nuclear weapons, the White House, Congress and Israel have continued to rattle the sabers in Iran's direction. Nevertheless, the antiwar movement has so far fended off passage of HR 362 in the House of Representatives, a bill which is tantamount to a call for a naval blockade against Iran - considered an act of war under international law. Credit goes to United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Peace Action, and dozens of other organizations that pressured Congress to think twice before taking that dangerous step.
We should pursue diplomacy, not war, with Iran, end the US occupation of Iraq and withdraw our troops from Afghanistan.
This editorial, by Howard Zinn, was originally published in the Boston Globe, July 17, 2008
BARACK OBAMA and John McCain continue to argue about war. McCain says to keep the troops in Iraq until we "win" and supports sending more troops to Afghanistan. Obama says to withdraw some (not all) troops from Iraq and send them to fight and "win" in Afghanistan.
For someone like myself, who fought in World War II, and since then has protested against war, I must ask: Have our political leaders gone mad? Have they learned nothing from recent history? Have they not learned that no one "wins" in a war, but that hundreds of thousands of humans die, most of them civilians, many of them children?
Did we "win" by going to war in Korea? The result was a stalemate, leaving things as they were before with a dictatorship in South Korea and a dictatorship in North Korea. Still, more than 2 million people - mostly civilians - died, the United States dropped napalm on children, and 50,000 American soldiers lost their lives.
Did we "win" in Vietnam? We were forced to withdraw, but only after 2 million Vietnamese died, again mostly civilians, again leaving children burned or armless or legless, and 58,000 American soldiers dead.
Did we win in the first Gulf War? Not really. Yes, we pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, with only a few hundred US casualties, but perhaps 100,000 Iraqis died. And the consequences were deadly for the United States: Saddam was still in power, which led the United States to enforce economic sanctions. That move led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, according to UN officials, and set the stage for another war.
In Afghanistan, the United States declared "victory" over the Taliban. Now the Taliban is back, and attacks are increasing. The recent US military death count in Afghanistan exceeds that in Iraq. What makes Obama think that sending more troops to Afghanistan will produce "victory"? And if it did, in an immediate military sense, how long would that last, and at what cost to human life on both sides?
The resurgence of fighting in Afghanistan is a good moment to reflect on the beginning of US involvement there. There should be sobering thoughts to those who say that attacking Iraq was wrong, but attacking Afghanistan was right.
Go back to Sept. 11, 2001. Hijackers direct jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing close to 3,000 A terrorist act, inexcusable by any moral code. The nation is aroused. President Bush orders the invasion and bombing of Afghanistan, and the American public is swept into approval by a wave of fear and anger. Bush announces a "war on terror."
Except for terrorists, we are all against terror. So a war on terror sounded right. But there was a problem, which most Americans did not consider in the heat of the moment: President Bush, despite his confident bravado, had no idea how to make war against terror.
Yes, Al Qaeda - a relatively small but ruthless group of fanatics - was apparently responsible for the attacks. And, yes, there was evidence that Osama bin Laden and others were based in Afghanistan. But the United States did not know exactly where they were, so it invaded and bombed the whole country. That made many people feel righteous. "We had to do something," you heard people say.
Yes, we had to do something. But not thoughtlessly, not recklessly. Would we approve of a police chief, knowing there was a vicious criminal somewhere in a neighborhood, ordering that the entire neighborhood be bombed? There was soon a civilian death toll in Afghanistan of more than 3,000 - exceeding the number of deaths in the Sept. 11 attacks. Hundreds of Afghans were driven from their homes and turned into wandering refugees.
Two months after the invasion of Afghanistan, a Boston Globe story described a 10-year-old in a hospital bed: "He lost his eyes and hands to the bomb that hit his house after Sunday dinner." The doctor attending him said: "The United States must be thinking he is Osama. If he is not Osama, then why would they do this?"
We should be asking the presidential candidates: Is our war in Afghanistan ending terrorism, or provoking it? And is not war itself terrorism?
This article, by Uzi Mahnaimi, was originally published in The Sunday Times, July 13, 2008
President George W Bush has told the Israeli government that he may be prepared to approve a future military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran break down, according to a senior Pentagon official.
Despite the opposition of his own generals and widespread scepticism that America is ready to risk the military, political and economic consequences of an airborne strike on Iran, the president has given an “amber light” to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties, the official told The Sunday Times.
“Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you’re ready,” the official said. But the Israelis have also been told that they can expect no help from American forces and will not be able to use US military bases in Iraq for logistical support.
Nor is it certain that Bush’s amber light would ever turn to green without irrefutable evidence of lethal Iranian hostility. Tehran’s test launches of medium-range ballistic missiles last week were seen in Washington as provocative and poorly judged, but both the Pentagon and the CIA concluded that they did not represent an immediate threat of attack against Israeli or US targets.
“It’s really all down to the Israelis,” the Pentagon official added. “This administration will not attack Iran. This has already been decided. But the president is really preoccupied with the nuclear threat against Israel and I know he doesn’t believe that anything but force will deter Iran.”
The official added that Israel had not so far presented Bush with a convincing military proposal. “If there is no solid plan, the amber will never turn to green,” he said.
There was also resistance inside the Pentagon from officers concerned about Iranian retaliation. “The uniform people are opposed to the attack plans, mainly because they think it will endanger our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the source said.
Complicating the calculations in both Washington and Tel Aviv is the prospect of an incoming Democratic president who has already made it clear that he prefers negotiation to the use of force.
Senator Barack Obama’s previous opposition to the war in Iraq, and his apparent doubts about the urgency of the Iranian threat, have intensified pressure on the Israeli hawks to act before November’s US presidential election. “If I were an Israeli I wouldn’t wait,” the Pentagon official added.
The latest round of regional tension was sparked by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which fired nine long and medium-range missiles in war game manoeuvres in the Gulf last Wednesday.
Iran’s state-run media reported that one of them was a modified Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which has a claimed range of 1,250 miles and could theoretically deliver a one-ton nuclear warhead over Israeli cities. Tel Aviv is about 650 miles from western Iran. General Hossein Salami, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander, boasted that “our hands are always on the trigger and our missiles are ready for launch”.
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said she saw the launches as “evidence that the missile threat is not an imaginary one”, although the impact of the Iranian stunt was diminished on Thursday when it became clear that a photograph purporting to show the missiles being launched had been faked.
The one thing that all sides agree on is that any strike by either Iran or Israel would trigger a catastrophic round of retaliation that would rock global oil markets, send the price of petrol soaring and wreck the progress of the US military effort in Iraq.
Abdalla Salem El-Badri, secretary-general of Opec, the oil producers’ consortium, said last week that a military conflict involving Iran would see an “unlimited” rise in prices because any loss of Iranian production — or constriction of shipments through the Strait of Hormuz — could not be replaced. Iran is Opec’s second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia.
Equally worrying for Bush would be the impact on the US mission in Iraq, which after years of turmoil has seen gains from the military “surge” of the past few months, and on American operations in the wider region. A senior Iranian official said yesterday that Iran would destroy Israel and 32 American military bases in the Middle East in response to any attack.
Yet US officials acknowledge that no American president can afford to remain idle if Israel is threatened. How genuine the Iranian threat is was the subject of intense debate last week, with some analysts arguing that Iran might have a useable nuclear weapon by next spring and others convinced that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is engaged in a dangerous game of bluffing — mainly to impress a domestic Iranian audience that is struggling with economic setbacks and beginning to question his leadership.
Among the sceptics is Kenneth Katzman, a former CIA analyst and author of a book on the Revolutionary Guard. “I don’t subscribe to the view that Iran is in a position to inflict devastating damage on anyone,” said Katzman, who is best known for warning shortly before 9/11 that terrorists were planning to attack America.
“The Revolutionary Guards have always underperformed militarily,” he said. “Their equipment is quite inaccurate if not outright inoperable. Those missile launches were more like putting up a ‘beware of the dog’ sign. They want everyone to think that if you mess with them, you will get bitten.”
A former adviser to Rice noted that Ahmadinejad’s confrontational attitude had earned him powerful enemies among Iran’s religious leadership. Professor Shai Feldman, director of Middle East studies at Brandeis University, said the Iranian government was getting “clobbered” because of global economic strains. “His [Ahmadinejad's] failed policies have made Iran more vulnerable to sanctions and people close to the mullahs have decided he’s a liability,” he said.
In Israel, Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, has his own domestic problems with a corruption scandal that threatens to unseat him and the media have been rife with speculation that he might order an attack on Iran to distract attention from his difficulties. According to one of his closest friends, Olmert recently warned him that “in three months’ time it will be a different Middle East”.
Yet even the most hawkish officials acknowledge that Israel would face what would arguably be the most challenging military mission of its 60-year existence.
“No one here is talking about more than delaying the [nuclear] programme,” said the Pentagon source. He added that Israel would need to set back the Iranians by at least five years for an attack to be considered a success.
Even that may be beyond Israel’s competence if it has to act alone. Obvious targets would include Iran’s Isfahan plant, where uranium ore is converted into gas, the Natanz complex where this gas is used to enrich uranium in centrifuges and the plutonium-producing Arak heavy water plant. But Iran is known to have scattered other elements of its nuclear programme in underground facilities around the country. Neither US nor Israeli intelligence is certain that it knows where everything is.
“Maybe the Israelis could start off the attack and have us finish it off,” Katzman added. “And maybe that has been their intention all along. But in terms of the long-term military campaign that would be needed to permanently suppress Iran’s nuclear programme, only the US is perceived as having that capability right now.”