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 reoport was originally broadcast by Deutsche Welle Worlde, January 21, 2009
In a paper on transatlantic cooperation published to coincide with the inauguration of Barack Obama as US president, Chancellor Merkel's conservatives call for a new political strategy to end the conflict in Afghanistan.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc in parliament this week proposed setting up a "contact group" of nations to forge a new political strategy to stablilize Afghanistan.
The group, the document says, should not only include the five permanent UN Security Council members -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- but also the European Union, Iran and Pakistan.
The policy paper does not specifically mention Iran but German media quoted Andreas Schockenhoff, vice chairman of Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU ) saying the conservatives would welcome Iran's participation.
Germany hopes to include Iran
"Such an initiative, that would include Iran, would benefit if it came to direct talks between Washington and Tehran," Schockenhoff said in comments released by his office.
"The group should aim to reach an international consensus...that the stability of Afghanistan should be an objective of the utmost importance," the paper said, adding that weakening al Qaeda is "a common interest".
"Given the lack of an international consultation forum (on Afghanistan), an international contact group that is legitimized by the UN Security Council, should carry out such an initiative," the paper reads.
A similar idea for a "contact group" to coordinate international strategy in Afghanistan was proposed by former French President Jacques Chirac in 2006, but was not supported by Washington.
Presented on the day of President Barack Obama's inauguration and under the title "For a Closer Transatlantic Partnership", foreign policy experts from the Christian Democrats called on the new US president to look for alternatives to an increase in troops, which Obama has advocated.
Germany bracing for troops request
Germany is among European nations bracing for demands from the new US administration that they do more in Afghanistan, but the Germans are reluctant to send more troops and believe talks on a new strategy for stabilizing the country are the main priority.
Chancellor Merkel has said that she would not accede to any request from the new US administration to send troops to southern Afghanistan, the scene of much of the heavy fighting against Taliban insurgents. "Wherever Germany commits itself, a wholeness of military and civilian assistance should be visible," she said.
German forces, the third-biggest component in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), are based in safer northern Afghanistan. Other armies have borne the brunt of the fighting in the south.
Merkel skeptical of Obama's Iran policy
Merkel indicated on Tuesday that Obama would draw a blank in Berlin if he pressed Germany to send more troops to Afghanistan, and also expressed doubts on whether Obama's stated wish to talk to Iran would bear fruit. In contrast to President George W. Bush, Obama has said he is open to talks with Iran, a step Germany has welcomed.
"On the European Union side we have held talks with Iran on multiple occasions, but unfortunately very unsuccessfully over a long period of time," Merkel said. "I think it will remain clear that so long as Iran keeps its nuclear program so opaque, and as long as it wants to destroy Israel, there will of course be points when we will say that on this basis we cannot come together."
But she added: "I believe in any case that we should try it."
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Jan. 19 -- On the eve of Barack Obama's presidential inauguration, military commission proceedings lumbered forward against five men accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and, separately, against a Canadian charged with killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. But with the president-elect having promised to close down the detention facility here, the military base was infused with a sense that this legal process is doomed.
Both the prosecution and defense had sought a delay, which was denied, and government officials here are expecting an order down the chain of command shortly after the inauguration telling them to halt proceedings, sources said.
Judge Stephen R. Henley, an Army colonel, intimated several times Monday that the rulings he issued or the matters under discussion in a series of pretrial motions might well be moot.
"If later sessions are scheduled," Henley said, addressing one legal matter. Later he referred to "the next session -- should it occur." He also said, "It will be scheduled -- if at all -- in the future."
"You get a sense from the judge's statements that the commissions are going to stop very soon," said Army Maj. Jon Jackson, military counsel for Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, a Saudi national accused of war crimes and murder for his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks.
Obama has not detailed a process to shut down the detention center, but defense attorneys here anticipate that he will suspend proceedings before laying out a plan to deal with the roughly 245 detainees who remain imprisoned. Some detainees are likely to be returned home, others resettled in third countries, and an unknown number transferred to federal courts or military courts-martial for prosecution.
At the 9/11 hearing Monday, the defendants gave no indication that they were aware of any pending decision by Obama. But the proceeding was again marked by interjections from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who asserted responsibility for organizing the attacks, as he has in the past, but with an apparent dig at his ostensible boss.
"I am the mastermind of 9/11, not Osama bin Laden," Mohammed said during argument over whether the case needed to be re-arraigned because of a technical error by Susan Crawford, the Pentagon official charged with deciding who goes to trial at Guantanamo. The judge ruled that the case could go forward despite the error.
Mohammed also waved a copy of The Washington Post containing an article by Bob Woodward in which Crawford said another detainee was tortured at Guantanamo Bay. The matter arose during a discussion about an order signed by the judge to protect classified information, which the defense said was too broad.
One of the defense attorneys argued that the order would prevent them from discussing the article containing Crawford's statements or any public document that referred to the CIA or other intelligence agencies.
"Everybody knows this order was written by the CIA," Mohammed said. "Their true reason is to protect themselves against their own wrongdoing."
During the discussion, a civilian lawyer advising Mohammed noted that his daughter lives in Iran and has tuberculosis. He said the order prevented his passing information to Iran that Mohammed had provided about his family's medical history because defendants' statements are presumptively classified. The judge said he might amend the order.
Relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks attended proceedings for the second time, and some of them were struck by the minutiae that came up in court.
At one point, Mohammed disputed a claim by the prosecution that cushions were provided to the defendants to compensate for the time they spent sitting on hard benches in a van that takes them to court. "It's not true that they put cushions," Mohammed said.
"It's slow-going, but we're patient," said Jimmy Riches, a retired New York City firefighter, who carried the body of his son Jimmy, also a firefighter, from the rubble of the World Trade Center.
Among the 779 people who have passed through Guantanamo, three have had trials. Riches said he had no objection to the Obama administration moving the proceeding to another court as long as a fair proceeding is followed by the death penalty for defendants who, he noted, have admitted they helped organize the attacks.
Not all relatives of 9/11 victims agreed. "Mr. Obama needs to reexamine his stance and he needs to keep these tribunals going," said Donald Arias, a retired Air Force officer who lost his brother Adam in the attack on New York.
Another of the defendants, Ramzi Binalshibh, said in court Monday: "We are proud of 9/11."
Obama's administration will face a thicket of legal, logistical and diplomatic hurdles to achieve its aims, including deciding whether to halt the imminent trial of Omar Khadr, the Canadian, who was 15 when he was detained in Afghanistan. The administration is under pressure from rights groups not to allow the trial of someone who was a "child soldier" at the time of his capture.
If Khadr's trial goes ahead next Monday, the Obama administration will find it difficult if not impossible to transfer him to another legal forum because of double jeopardy, defense attorneys said.
This column, by Seth Ewing, was originally published in the Merced Sun Star, December 27, 2008
As a returning veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I would like to address some areas of concern in the local Merced community that affect our returning veterans who currently study at Merced College and UC Merced.
First is the issue of the Individual Readiness Reserve, or IRR. Many people are unaware of what the IRR is. People who are familiar with it refer to it loathsomely as "the back-door draft." Every service member signs an eight-year contract, regardless of how many years are spent on active duty.
For example, if a soldier signs up for two years active duty, he or she will have to wait out a remaining six years on the IRR roster. A majority of young people join the military in order to receive money for college. This is especially true for the community of Merced, where poverty is a major affliction.
The problem is that there is no special protection for student-veterans who are being recalled into active duty. Some feel that soldiers and other members of the military deserve everything that happens to them in Iraq or Afghanistan simply because they volunteered for it. Such apathetic thinking is absurd.
Young veterans who've come home as I did look at war in many ways. Some continue to believe in the truth and worth of their mission. Others, as I have done, question whether their commitment was worthwhile.
Every member of the military takes an oath to defend the United States, uphold the Constitution and obey the president, who is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. The notion that the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is vital to our defense is absurd. Iraq never harbored al-Qaida until the United States made it possible by removing the previous government, therefore creating a suitable environment for anarchy.
Al-Qaida in Iraq has now grown into a myth that is a moral justification for an illegal war unsanctioned by the United Nations. The United States is a member of the U.N., and, as a member, the U.S. is required to follow the rules of the U.N. The U.S. is in no way exempt from following those rules.
It is important to remember that the reason for the initial invasion was to rid Iraq of weapons of mass-destruction. It's now known that there never were any of these weapons, and some suggest that Vice President Dick Cheney forged the evidence of WMDs. This raises the question: is it possible that if the government lied about Iraq, could it possibly be lying again? The answer is yes -- it is possible.
Afghanistan is even more easily refutable. The true intentions of the Bush administration are to set up an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea, through Pakistan, Afghanistan and finally ending at the Indian Ocean. The Caspian Sea is one of the world's main sources of crude oil and natural gas.
Hamid Karzai, the Bush-appointed president of Afghanistan, is a former Unocal employee. The exact hour is now known when Osama bin Laden crossed over from Afghanistan into Pakistan, eluding the CIA and U.S. forces in 2001. The only reason the Bush administration keeps letting him get away is so he can be their Orwellian Snowball, the pig in "Animal Farm" who received all the blame for anything going wrong.
Pakistan used to be No. 1 on the list of terrorist states until 9/11 when it became an ally of convenience that could facilitate the pipeline. It should also be noted that each and every 9/11 terrorist had a Pakistani visa stamped on his passport.
The final clause in a service member's oath states that a service member must obey the orders of the president. This is true. But what do you do when the orders of the president are unlawful -- as proven previously.
In a free society, leaders are held to the same laws as the citizens. When you break the rules, you must be held accountable.
It seems only just that when the Bush administration leaves office that some of its members be put on trial for their unlawful actions. These include fraud, abuse of power for financial gain and the murder of innocent lives, among many other crimes including the legalization of torture as an interrogation technique.
It is unfortunate that an act of free expression -- the incident of Iraqi journalist Al-Zaidi throwing his shoes at President Bush -- has shifted attention away from the Bush's most recent treaty guaranteeing U.S. occupation until the year 2011. This undermines President-elect Obama's authority, whose plan calls for a full troop withdrawal by the end of 2009.
It is unconceivable that even now, veterans who have left the Army are now getting recall orders in their Christmas stockings. Veterans who have already suffered through numerous combat deployments. Veterans who have families with children they will never see growing up. Veterans who are struggling financially who are going to college on the GI Bill.
Our local community doesn't need to sit idly by. Giving special protection for student-veterans isn't enough. We need to end these two conflicts. A small idea in Merced County can spread and change America. Spread the word -- it is never too late for justice to be served.
This article, by Jason Straziuso, was distributed by the Associated Press, July 13, 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan - A multi-pronged militant assault on a small, remote U.S. base close to the Pakistan border killed nine American soldiers and wounded 15 Sunday in the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan in three years, officials said.
The attack on the American troops began around 4:30 a.m. and lasted throughout the day. Militants fired machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars from homes and a mosque in the village of Wanat in the mountainous northeastern province of Kunar, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.
"Although no final assessment has been made, it is believed insurgents suffered heavy casualties during several hours of fighting," NATO said in a statement.
U.S. officials say militant attacks in Afghanistan are becoming more complex, intense and better coordinated than a year ago. Monthly death tolls of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan surpassed U.S. military deaths in Iraq in May and June. And last Monday, a suicide bomber attacked the Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing 58 people in the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since 2001.
U.S. officials are considering drawing down additional forces from Iraq in coming months, in part because of the need for additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have said they need at least three more brigades in Afghanistan — or more than 10,000 troops.
NATO confirmed nine of its soldiers had been killed and 15 wounded. A Western official said the nine dead were Americans, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the troops' nationalities. Four Afghan soldiers also were wounded, NATO said.
Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, the top U.S. military spokeswoman in Afghanistan, said she could not comment because the fighting was ongoing.
The attack was the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since June 2005, when 16 American troops were killed — also in Kunar province — when their helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. Those troops were on their way to rescue a four-man team of Navy SEALs caught in a militant ambush. Three SEALs were killed, the fourth was rescued days later by a farmer.
The latest assault came at a time of rising violence in Afghanistan. Also on Sunday, a suicide bomber targeting a police patrol killed 24 people, including 19 civilians, while U.S. coalition and Afghan soldiers killed 40 militants elsewhere in the south.
More than 2,300 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an Associated Press tally of official figures. Attacks in eastern Afghanistan are up 40 percent this year compared with last year.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned during a visit to Kabul last week that there are more foreign fighters, including al-Qaida members, in Pakistan's tribal areas, militants who cross the border and launch attacks against U.S. and Afghan troops.
Mullen has said he hopes improved security in Iraq will allow troops to be shifted this year from Iraq to Afghanistan, where violence is rising.
Violence in Iraq is at its lowest level in four years and Iraqi forces are taking on more responsibility, trends that could allow Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, to recommend to President Bush in September that he resume a troop withdrawal that is being put on hold this month so Petraeus has time to assess the overall situation. A top Bush aide, Ed Gillespie, said Sunday that withdrawing more troops from Iraq after that assessment always has "been a possibility."
Another cause for concern in Afghanistan is the high casualty tolls for civilians killed in violence. This month, an Afghan government commission found that U.S. aircraft killed 47 civilians during a bombing run in Nangarhar province, while a separate incident in Nuristan province is alleged by an Afghan officials to have killed 22 civilians.
The tolls have prompted the International Committee of the Red Cross this week to ask all sides to show restraint and avoid civilian casualties. But violence continued around the country on Sunday.
A suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up next to a police patrol in the southern province of Uruzgan, killing 24 people. The bomb attack on a police patrol at a busy intersection of the Deh Rawood district killed five police officers and 19 civilians, wounding more than 30 others, said Juma Gul Himat, Uruzgan's police chief. Most of those killed and wounded were shopkeepers and young boys selling goods in the street, he said.
Elsewhere, Taliban militants executed two women in central Afghanistan late Saturday after accusing them of working as prostitutes on a U.S. base.
The women, dressed in blue burqas, were shot and killed just outside Ghazni city in central Afghanistan, said Sayed Ismal, a spokesman for Ghazni's governor. He called the two "innocent local people."
Taliban fighters told Associated Press Television News the two women were executed for allegedly running a prostitution ring catering to U.S. soldiers and other foreign contractors at a U.S. base in Ghazni city
1st Lt. Nathan Perry, a U.S. military spokesman, said he had not heard allegations "anything close to that nature."
Meanwhile, at least 40 militants were killed following an attack on Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces in Helmand province, the coalition said in a statement. The militants attacked the combined forces near Sangin on Saturday from "multiple concealed and fortified positions," the coalition said. Thirty "enemy boats" and several small bridges have been destroyed on the Helmand River during two days of fighting, it said.
Also Sunday, a soldier with NATO's International Security Assistance Force died in a roadside blast in Helmand province, a statement said. The soldier's nationality was not released and it wasn't clear if the death was connected to the two-day battle.
In the north, a soldier serving with ISAF died of wounds caused by an explosion Saturday, the military alliance said in a statement. The statement did not give any further details of the explosion. The soldier's nationality was not disclosed.
There are nearly 53,000 troops from 40 nations serving in the ISAF in Afghanistan.
Critics of IVAW seem to come in a number of forms. Some of these, especially active duty GIs and some veterans oppose IVAW for principled reasons and should be respected. Still others misunderstand the goals and aspirations of the movement, viewing it as a continuation/re-run of the 1960s antiwar movement. There is, however a category which stands out from the crowd and it primarily consists of a collection of bloggers attached to and affiliated with the far right of the republican party. One of the worst of these is the aptly named Chickenhawk Express, whose work is most charitably characterized as ugly and bitter and occasionally veers toward the slanderous.
The following post includes a number of Robin's writing, about IVAW written since the Winter soldier Hearings:
IVAW and VFP leaders must be banging their heads on the wall trying to figure out what they have to do to get a little mainstream media attention. They held another "Arrest Bush and Cheney" Action back on March 19th but to their chagrin, no one covered it. They are just now getting some "publicity" from the "Independent" media (aka their inner circle of comrades) including a YouTube video. VFP and IVAW had BIG plans for this stunt...
The Veterans then proceeded to the National Archives where the Constitution is housed. We had originally planned a civil resistance action inside the National Archives, in the Rotunda, where the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence are displayed. The plan was for a number of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War to enter the Rotunda and to use plastic cuffs to secure ourselves to the massive gates at the entrance to the Rotunda. Our rationale in doing this would be that as fulfillment of the oath we took upon joining the military to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, we would now demand the arrest of those who had most grievously abused that document and all it stands for. Delivering the Warrant in the place of Constitutional housing, we would remain handcuffed to "guard" the Constitution until the aforesaid accused either surrendered themselves to us or to the appropriate authorities.
But the "crowds" waiting to enter the National Archives made the protesters change their tactics...
However, on Monday and Tuesday as we surveyed the huge lines wending around the block waiting to enter and realizing that we couldn't just cut the line and walk in, we changed our plan to an outside occupation with the same demand for a citizen's arrest. The outside plan turned out to be much better.
Yeah the new plan worked SOOOO much better...
Five veterans, Joel Kovel, Diane Wilson, Ellen Barfield, Malcolm Chaddock and Andrew Schoerky decided to handcuff themselves to the flagpole outside the Archives with a huge blowup of the Citizen's Arrest Warrant for Bush and Cheney. There was also a immense canvas replication of the Constitution that would be displayed. That morning as the Veterans gathered on the National Mall, Tarak from VFP, Adam Kokesh, Daniel Black and James Gillian from IVAW decided to climb over the 10 ft. spiked metal fence at the top of the front steps of the Archives and to occupy the 40 ft. high ledge on the front of the building with an upside down American flag (symbol of distress) and a megaphone so that they could speak to the crowd more effectively. Our assumption was that both the flagpole occupation and the Vets on the ledge would result in arrests but we felt that the Vets on the high ledge would have more time to speak to the crowd before the police would venture out to arrest them. (Thanks to VFP Pres. Elliot Adams for a leg up when we were climbing over the fence) As it turned out the Vets on the ledge were there for 90 minutes broadcasting before the Archive security ventured out to offer them safe passage if they would only leave the ledge peacefully. The police had opened the previously locked gate in the fence. After some discussion we decided to accept their offer. As we left the ledge to the cheers of the crowd below, a few of the police actually shook our hands. It seemed as if the police had made a decision not to arrest the Vets. Andrew, Ellen, Diane, Joel and Matthew decided to stay handcuffed to the flagpole, at least for a while, even though the march would move on.
Sadly there were no arrests, no scuffles with police and no street blockades. As far as the cheers of the crowd, watch the video. The only ones cheering are part of the demonstration itself. The crowd waiting to enter the National Archives looks bored.
Watch for FAIR and other organizations in the pocket of these groups to issue a demand for an explanation as to why the media failed to cover their "action". They are still whining about the lack of media coverage of Winter Soldier II. Maybe the mainstream media is smarter than I give them credit for being...
Talk about audacity... IVAW has issued a press release countering the testimony of General Petraeus and Amb Crocker. Here's snips from the press release...
WASHINGTON, DC - April 9 - Contrary to General Petraeus's testimony, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) attest that the major destabilizing force in Iraq is the ongoing U.S. occupation. What's more, U.S. troops are being commanded to perform acts that directly violate their moral codes and the rules of war, making a positive outcome exceedingly difficult to achieve.
Less than one month ago, over 100 veterans and active-duty soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan shared their eyewitness accounts of the occupations at Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan. Their testimony illustrated how the ongoing occupation of Iraq is resulting in the dehumanization and abuse of the Iraqi people, the destabilization and breakdown of the U.S. military, and the emotional and physical injury and damage to thousands of U.S. troops.
Testifiers gave firsthand accounts of being ordered to raid the homes of innocent Iraqis, physically and psychologically abuse Iraqi prisoners, and indiscriminately shoot at civilians.
Dear Martha -I listened to the audio of the testimony and read the reports (from both sides) about the testimony given at WSII. Most of it was simply "war is hell and it sucks" type testimony. The "war crimes" and atrocities never materialized in the testimony. And as far as the "dehumanization" claims - give it a rest. Millard's "haji" story is as ridiculous as his claim of depleted uranium exposure. The abuse and indiscrimate shooting of civilians was mostly "I was told" testimony and no one has yet to go under oath with their claims.
"Petraeus continues to repeat the administration's talking points while ignoring what the soldiers on the ground know: the Iraq occupation is not working," said Kelly Dougherty, a former Military Police Sergeant in Iraq and Executive Director of IVAW
Frankly Kelly - IVAW keeps repeating the talking points from UFPJ, CodePink, ANSWER, Dahr Jamail, VFP and VVAW. The only ones ignoring what is happening on the ground is IVAW and those who have everything to gain by a humilating withdrawal of US forces while leaving Iraqis at the mercy of Al Qaeda. This isn't Vietnam and your retread of the same tactics will not work.
But to claim that you guys and gals know more than General Petraeus is beyond laughable.
The five year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq sent the moonbats into a complete and total frenzy of protest activity. According to people on the ground in DC, the city was awash in the unwashed and covered in pepto bismal pink.
Jonn over at This Ain't Hell was all over the place. He went from protest site to protest site and recorded the events for posterity. He's got lots of pics and videos posted. But this scene makes me scratch my head.
What exactly does Medea flashing her goodies in a bed on the streets of DC mean? Is she protesting Eliot Spitzer? Or maybe she's looking for some hot hippie action. Weird - just freakin' weird.
Of course IVAW was out in force despite the lackluster WSII performances. King Kokesh led the pack. He certainly has a way with street theater. Too bad he's not a mime.
Every time I see the American Flag flying upside down, it makes me want to vomit. Yes - I know it symbolizes a country in distress but damn it sends such a negative image around the world. Oh wait - that's the point.
TSO over at The Sniper got in on some of the protest action. He's got several posts up about today's events but my favorite is his deconstruction of the anarchists and his lunch with Suzie Rottencrotch.
After suffering through WSII and now this, I hereby award Jonn and TSO the Blogger Courage Award. Sorry - not a money award but lots of hugs and my deepest respect for you two guys!