Archive for the 'Sand, oil, blood, and tears.' Category

Harvard @ Iraq Invasion + 5

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Harvard Anti-War Coalition passing Holworthy Hall on the way to the Statue of the Three Lies.

Harvard gathers against the War at the Statue of the Three Lies.

Official portrait of Karl Rove

We’re an empire now,

and when we act,

we create our own reality.

-‘widely believed to be’ Karl Rove[1]

[Karl wasn’t actually at the rally. Photo: Wikipedia]

Adaner and friends on the steps of University Hall.

We on the left should frame our opposition to the war as opposition to empire.

– Adaner Usmani


Some folks at Harvard Law School are doing just that with their event series, Confronting Empire: 5 Years of War in Iraq. The series is over, but the website has a link for each and every speaker, many of whom have freely downloadable articles. I’m told that proceedings from it, will, in time, appear. [And I’ll point you to my faves.] The series was sponsored by, Justice for Palestine at Harvard Law and:

Header from the website of Unbound, the journal of Harvard's Legal Left.

Harvard Anti War Coalition marches past skewers planted in the Law School Yard to commemorate iraqi and American dead.

Harvard Anti War Coalition passing Langdell Hall, Harvard Law School.
Skewers in the foreground each commemorate 100 deaths, Iraqi and American, since March 19, 2003. Signs along the “Iraqi Freedom Trail” explain.

A report of this action for 5yearstoomany.org and one for the rally on Boston Common.

[1]In an earlier edition, I quoted Karl as saying, “We make our own reality. We’re an empire now.” I relied on memory. I’m sorry. What appears in the text now is the quotation reported by Ron Suskind in an opinion piece of October 17, 2004 of the New York Times Magazine, Without a Doubt. The quote is from Paragraph 8 on Page 7.

The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

As you can see, Ron attributed to “the aide”. In paragraph 7 on Page 7, he uses the phrase “senior advisor’. It was only later that undisclosed pundits decided it was Rove. There are some, who, as I did, make the unqualified claim that it was Rove. I can’t find anyone who will say how they know what they claim. Again, I’m sorry. That said, I’ll bet it was Rove.

Boston, Harvard observe 5 years of Iraq war.

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The invasion of Iraq took place on March 19, 2003. Tomorrow, Wednesday March 19, 2003 will mark five years, the death of 3990 American service personnel, the 82,000 to ~800,000 1Iraqi civilians, the expenditure of $1 Trillion to $3 Trillion2, and the release of unknown amounts of depleted Uranium and carbon dioxide into the environment. At Harvard the day will be marked by two events:

Harvard Cambridge Peace Walk

The Harvard – Cambridge Walk for Peace will have their regular Wednesday vigil meeting at the John Harvard statue at noon.

A group formed this year, the Harvard Anti-War Coalition, which brought us:

Harvard Anti War Coalition in front of the John Harvard Statue with Abu Gharib style prisoner hoods.

***HAWC members and [not really] John Harvard in their Abu Gharib finery. [Photo: HAWC]***

will hold a rally. From their Facebook entry:

Rally Against the War March 19, 2:30pm
To End the Occupation Science Center
For Immediate Peace Harvard Yard

Join students, teachers, staff, and community members to rally against the war on the 5th Anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. [Black Hood optional. Ed.]

The rally kicks-off at 2:30pm and will feature a great array of speakers and student groups. At 3:30pm, the rally will march to the Boston Common to join a citywide vigil[see below].

**Bring All The Troops Home Now!
**End All Funding for the Iraq War Now!
**Don’t Attack Iran
**Support Our Communities, Fund Human Needs!
**Stop the Attacks on Civil Liberties, Defend Human Rights!

—–

Finally, from 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM at the Park Street T station:

***”Answer Cindy’s Questions” Vigil for Cindy Sheehan, Park Street T station, August 13, 2005.***

United for Peace with Justice is sponsoring a vigil, one of over 660 nationwide. The 5 Years Too Many Website has a locator for events nationwide.

1Depending on whether you believe the Iraq Body Count website or extrapolations of the Ocober 2006 John’s Hopkins Cluster Analysis published in the british medical journal The Lancet.

2Depending on whether you believe the Government Accountability Office or Bilmes and Stiglitz.

Winter Soldier: Hart Viges, “…it wasn’t my kill…”

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Hart Viges 82nd Airborne in Iraq

Hart Viges in Iraq [Photo: IVAW]

We were driving down Baghdad one day and ah … we found a dead body on the side of the road. So we all pulled over to … to secure it and wait for MP’s or whatever authorities would come and take care of this … this dead man here who was clearly murdered. And my friends jumped off and started taking pictures with him, you know, with big ol’ smiles on their faces … and they said, ‘Hey, Viges, you want a picture with this guy?’ And I said no. But no not in the context of that’s really messed up because it’s just wrong … on a ethical basis, but I said no because it wasn’t my kill. You shouldn’t take trophies for things you didn’t kill. I mean that’s … that’s where my mindset is…WAS back then. Cuz I wasn’t even upset that this man was really dead. They shouldn’t have been taking credit for something they didn’t do.

-Hart Viges; 82 Airborne Division 1st 325 HHC Battalion Morters1 Testimony at Winter Soldier, Silver Springs Maryland March 14, 2008

The Monday March 17, 2008 edition of Democracy Now! has a large segment covering Winter Solder testimony as well as a retrospective of the My Lai massacre including an interview with Seymour Hersch. Most of the Tuesday March 18, 2008 edition is devoted to Winter Soldier including Hart Viges’ testimony.

Tomorrow marks the 5th Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

1“I joined the army right after September eleventh and asked for airborne … asked for infantry and ended up with 82nd Airborne Division 1st 325 HHC Battalion Morters … ‘hunters in the sky’ … ‘death from above'”

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan; Finale today.

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U.S. Soldiers in an Iraqi house - from the Winter Soldier hearings.

Photo presented at Winter Soldier hearings. [Photo: IVAW]

Sunday, March 16 – Silver Springs Maryland. Winter Soldier testimony concluded today with two sessions:

10:00AM – 1:00PM The Breakdown of the Military
2:00PM – 3:15PM The Future of GI Resistance

Iraq Veterans Against the War has posted photos from Saturday’s testimony. The’ve promised clips, but they haven’t appeared yet. As of 10:40 PM only a few clips have appeared on the net. Alternative video news startup Independent World Television has 8 clips on their The Real News Net Beta site. DemocracyNow! will undoubtedly devote a good portion of Monday’s show to the hearings.

Meanwhile,,,

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Revolutionary Communist Party banner on boarded up storefront in Harvard Square.

Winter Soldier in Harvard Sq: First Church Unitarian

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Today at First Church Unitarian, Harvard Square.

Banners for Winter Soldier, First Church Unitarian, Harvard Square, Cambridge.

Banners:

One Day of the Iraq War = 720 Million Dollars: How Would You Spend It?
One Day of the Iraq War = 423,529 Children with Health Care.
One Day of the Iraq War = 1,274,336 Homes with Renewable Electricity
One Day of the Iraq War = 6, 482 Families with Homes.
One Day of the Iraq War = 1,153,846 Free School Lunches.
One Day of the Iraq War = 34,904 Four Year Scholarships for University Students

Winter Soldier hearings webcast from Silver Springs Md. shown in the parlor of First Church Unitarian, Harvard Sq. Cambridge

Viewing the webcast from Silver Springs, Md in the Parlor.

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan

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Live from Silver Spring Maryland, a reprise of the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation1. Also available on cable and satellite through Free Speech TV. This evening, tomorrow and Sunday March 16.

Corporal Gilligan has challenged the accuracy of my report. Corrections to appear. 3-28-08

Former Marine Corporal James Gilligan, gunner on humvee, tearfully reported an incident where he was pressed into service as a forward artillery observer despite not being “authorized to direct fire”. He was the only one in his unit who had seen the flash. He reported that they had taken fire. HQ asked him for the azimuth where the fire had originated. His GPS was too slow so he pulled out his compass. He now realizes that his M240 almost certainly disturbed the compass. After three morter barrages he reported seeing no hits on the target. A fourth barrage – nothing. He reported the target out of range, and told his driver to pull out, but heard fifth and sixth barrages go off. A few moments later, his humvee turned and he saw an Afghani village in flames.

1Transcript.

See Linda count: $1 Trillion, $2 Trillion, $3 Trillion…

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Linda Bilmes on Democracy Now!

[Photo: Democracy Now!]

That would be the latest accounting of the cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Professor Linda Bilmes1 of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz appeared on the Friday broadcast of Democracy Now! If you missed it on satellite, cable TV, and radio, you can download it from the web and play it on your computer.


1In an earlier edition, I mispeled ‘Bilmes’. I apologize. As for the marginal impertinence of the title, I’m sticking with the ‘competing with Drudge’ defense.

Noam Chomsky: Why is Iraq Missing from 2008 Presidential Race?

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Last Wednesday on Democracy Now!

Every Wednesday, Rain or Shine.

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Harvard Cambridge Walk for Peace on a frowsy New England winter day.

Assembly for the Harvard Cambridge Walk for Peace Assembly at Noon

The Jarhead on the T: Updated

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He wasn’t in uniform. I thought his boots meant construction, but he said, “destruction.” He’s a United States Marine on leave from Iraq for a month. He’s going back for 9 more. I made no attempt talk him into resisting. Nor could I, like Radar O’Reilly, say, “Stay low, fella.” Improvised Explosive Devices, you see, are usually on or in the ground. All I could say was, “Watch yourself.”

“Will do.”

We can’t wait for an election which will give us a choice of people who will ‘manage’ a situation that the Neo-Cons, even as you read, are wiring to last a long, long time.

If we cannot reach them1, we must impeach them.

Time for the Harvard Cambridge peace walk2.

Update: The National Defense Authorization Act excludes use of funds for permanent military bases in Iraq. George W. Bush released a signing statement that he intends to ignore that provision. Joseph A. Palermo finds this to be yet another reason to impeach and Gary Hart calls this lastest move in the NeoCon plan what it is: the Burden of Empire.

1The ship has pretty much sailed on that one.

2Noon every Wednesday. Meet at the John Harvard Statue i.e. The Statue of At Least Three Lies. The Berkman server clock is wrong by an hour.

Israeli Consulate snubs Boston area Jews.*

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Updated, January 25

They came to deliver food and medical supplies for an international relief convoy to Gaza this Saturday January 26:

Bringing food and medical supplies to the Israeli Consulate at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston

Gaza has other problems:

Clean the Water, Turn on the Lights, Stop the War on Human Rights
Clean the Water, Turn on the Lights,
Stop the War on Human Rights.

The demonstrators view the Israeli blockade in response to Hamas rockets as:

Collective Punishment is a War Crime

Collective Punishment

They wanted to speak with the Israeli Consul and ask him to let the convoy through:

Panorama of Jews for Human Rights in Gaza trying to get in to the Israeli Consulate

But they were turned away:

Police turning away the Jews for Human Rights in Gaza at the Israeli Consulate, Park Plaza Hotel, Boston

There were some goyim1 and the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights might include some Palestinians, but mostly the were Jews – Jews for Human Rights in Gaza and Jewish Voices for Peace – and the Israeli Consul would not see them.

Saturday, January 26, Local: Campaign to Break the Siege of Gaza, 12noon-1pm, Harvard Sq., Cambridge (in front of Au Bon Pain) On that day that Israeli peace groups will attempt to enter the Gaza Strip with a convoy of essential supplies and medicines. Gaza no longer has sufficient fuel to keep its power station running. Hospitals and homes are dark and cold, remaining food stocks are being spoiled, the water and sewage infrastructure is breaking down. We American taxpayers — who make this collective punishment possible — must raise our voices. Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights

1Reverand Ralph, though sporting an Anglican collar, is Unitarian. Ah, those Unitarians, such an unruly bunch. God love ’em. And as I’ve mentioned before, I am Pennsylvania Dutch.

Jews for Human Rights in Gaza,

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Jewish Voice For Peace Boston, and Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights have announced:

Protest at the Israeli Consulate Boston to demand Israel stop the Blockade of Gaza, which is leading to malnutrition, raw sewage in the streets, no electricity ect. In solidarity with the international relief convey.

Demonstration by Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights at the Israeli Consulate at the Park Plaza Hotel Boston.
Similar demonstration July 2006.

Time: NOON to 1pm this Thursday January 24th

Place: Israeli Consulate Boston, located in the Park Plaza Hotel

Directions: Park Plaza hotel is located near the Boston Public Gardens (Arlington St. stop) We’re meeting at noon right across the street from the Park Plaza Hotel, the entrance closest to the Common (Arlington St. stop).

Action: WE are one of hundreds of protest world wide to demand that the international relief convey be let thought on Saturday January 26th SEE (http://zope.gush-shalom.org/index_en.html)

We will attempt to bring food to the Israeli Consulate and demand they end the siege of GAZA. Bring one food item to give…..

We will have leaflets, signs, speaker, music, and a few cartons of medical and food aid to carry in to the consulate – we’re going to try asking the consul to deliver it to Gaza, and to forward to his government our demand that they let the Israeli relief convoy through the Erez checkpoint this Saturday.

—–

Demonstrator at the Israeli Consulate Boston saying no to collective punishment.

Is collective punishment ever justified?

Latest National Intelligence Estimate: Oops! Iran’s Nukeless! *

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The wires are glad to tell you what they think it says, but won’t give you a link. I respect my readers1 more than that. It is not that long. First of all, only the summary – i.e. the conclusions – is declassified. The “evidence” is all carefully sequestered within the cone of silence.

  • p1. Full color title with the seal of the Director of National Intelligence – wherein the eagle soars on gold wings while wearing a stars and stripes breast plate.
  • p2. Dramatis personae.
  • p3. The NIE Process.

These things don’t usually change from one NIE to another.

  • p4. Scope Note – They tell us what they’re going to tell us. Unique to the NIE
  • p5. Explanation of Estimative Language – boilerplate glossary of the official terms of obfuscation.2
  • p6-8.Key Judgments. Hooray! They tell us.
  • p9. Key differences … They tell us what they told us.

This NIE raises as many questions as it answers.3 I’d like to go into them with y’all1, but I have to go do some life support activity. Y’all1 come back now, hear?

1 I’m assuming there’s someone besides Tim Gray who reads “the guy by the door.” Wait, someone besides Tim and Joe Wrinn 🙂 . Actually Joe has person who reads it. I read her blog too.

2They attempt to define a seven category scale of likehood and a three category scale of confidence. The categories necessarily have some width. There is also fuzziness about the boundaries. The serious question – does the fog of the language explaning the fuzziness of the boundaries clarify anything? Maybe it’s a good thing Noam reads these things. Confidence is about the quality of the sources used in the estimate all of which are carefully sequestered in the cone of silence. Hey trust us! Been there! Done that!

3It’s OK. I didn’t take expos at Harvard.

* It would be more in keeping with the spirit of the N.I.E.’s explanation of estimative language to say:

We estimate with a moderate to high level of confidence that we may have made, with a significant probability, a misapprehension of the Iranian situation vis. a vis. nuclear weapons, but it was with a very high probability an honest misapprehension which we can with the highest of confidence assert that it is exceedingly unlikely that we have done it this time.

Work with me people. I’m up against Drudge!

“Let’s WAKE UP about Iran:

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What do we know? What can we do? “

Iranians for Peace and Justice on Boston Common 10/27/07.
Iranians for Peace and Justice [awesome site] on Boston Common 10/27/07.

Thursday, November 15th, 7:00 – 9:15 pm at
Cambridge YMCA, 820 Mass. Ave. Central Square [Note Change in Location especially DotPeace.]

The forum will feature a panel with Paula Gutlove and Gordon Thompson, who co-convene the US-Iran Working Group on Health Science Cooperation and recently led a health diplomacy mission to Iran, Kaveh Afrasiabi, an Iran expert and Professor of International Relations at Bentley College and Anne Miller, New Hampshire Peace Action director, who visited Iran in 2006 as part of a “peace between peoples” delegation and is organizing on peace issues for the presidential primaries. Following brief presentations, there will be time for questions, information sharing with local peace and justice groups and brainstorming ways to respond.

The forum is sponsored by AFSC, Cambridge Peace Commission, Mass. Peace Action, IPPNW/PSR1, Cambridge UJP, WILPF, Middle East Crisis Coalition2 and Greater Boston United for Justice with Peace.

For more information, people can contact the Cambridge Peace Commission at peace@cambridgema.gov 617-349-4694 or Mass. Peace Action www.masspeaceaction.org 617-354-2169

1International Physicians for the Prevention of War [Google translate]

2Their page is parked. I tried.

For What It’s Worth VIII

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After Action Reports

Boston

Wide panorama of rally on Boston Common Oct. 27, 2007

Close-up of banner. Rally on Boston Common Oct. 27, 2007.

More to come.

Around the Country [Piclinks]

Unite-Here contingent at NYC rally Oct. 27, 2007
More to come. Reports are starting to come in to the National Site.

The decision to do regional rallies rather than one big one in Washington, is in my opinion, a good one. For one thing, it makes it possible for more people to reach their demonstration by ground. October 27, 2007 was an anti-war demonstration with a good carbon footprint.1 There probably was a greater number of people at the 11 regional rallies than could have gone to DC. But how to maximize the benefit of those greater numbers? Keep those action reports and blogs coming. Frank Capra didn’t know from internet.

1In fact, per capita, much better than the No War, No Warming demonstration the week before, but with a focus on civil disobedience, it kinda had to be in one place – at least at this point in time. And with a much smaller number of people their carbon footprint was not bad.

For What It’s Worth VII

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I think it’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s goin’ down.

Rain or Shine!

Screen capture of You Tube Promo for Oct 27 New England Mobilization.

[It’s a link. I couldn’t get embed to work with WordPress.
Then again, I didn’t try all that hard.]

One of eleven regional demonstrations [includes a video by Robert Greenwald].

Medea Benjamin is scheduled to be in Boston. I hope she remembers to not get arrested on Friday. She wil, no doubt, be taking relatively carbon friendly transport being on the “no-fly” list and all.

Medea Benjamin at State of the Union 2007 Protest

Μήδεια at the State of the Union 2007 Protest. [Photo: Wikimedia]

For What It’s Worth II, III, IV, V, VI, Wikipedia.

Screen Capture from For What It's Worth Video

No War, No Warming!

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Separate Oil & State [Photo No War, No Warming. Click Pic for Flickr pix.]
More from Indymedia.

Global Crises: How Many? Which First?

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Poster for Bill McKibben's appearance at Harvard Oct. 20, 2007.

Bill McKibben was the first to make me aware that the importance of access to a vast store of low entropy carbon, is often undersold in describing the rise of capitalism. Normally, the Protestant ethic and/or Yankee ingenuity is center stage. The primeval ferns, having slowly but relentlessly done work against the second law of thermodynamics for millions of years, are just stage dressing. Fossil fuels look like lifeless ooze and/or rocks, but it has one essential property due to the action of life – the ability to progress to lower entropy state. This biogeological piggy bank has made a huge contribution to the rise of capitalism. Unfortunately, it has led to enormous as yet unaccounted costs of production.2 One of these mega-externalities is the release of Carbon Dioxide and the consequent global warming. The crisis over ownership of low entropy carbon, predicted in the early ’70’s1, is well upon us. The Carbon Wars of Acquisition are here, but are we facing Carbon Wars of Ejection – social dislocation due to global warming? You might check in with Bill McKibben.

This is Head of the Charles weekend and the Yard is posted with security regulations. Among them that access to the Houses, which includes Adams, will be restricted. I would be remiss, if I did not point out that Harvard’s Law Enforcement Community would like non-Harvard people to be the guest of a Harvard student. There will be other chances to see him. And I will be reporting on my trip to the First Annual:

IFG Teach-in: Confronting the Global Triple Crisis – Climate Change, Peak Oil, Global Resource Depletion & Extinction

1James Ridgeway, The Last Play: The Struggle to Monopolize the World’s Energy Resources, Mentor/New American Library 1974.

2It has also had deleterious effects on economic theory by encouraging the erroneous assumption that the human econosphere is unbounded. It is potentially unbounded in an astrophysical sense, but there is a very large investment barrier presented by the gravitational well of the earth that makes states outside it effectively inaccessible on a time scale comparable to the global warming crisis.

Who Wants NOT to Bomb Iran?

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Forgive the Drudgism. Obviously, most of the world would prefer the U.S. not bomb Iran. There are of course exceptions. As for the American People, it’s hard to tell. They clearly want out of Iraq, which is in part why the administration needs to hang violence in Iraq on Iranian heads. But as Bush paraphrases the old African Proverb, “You fool me once shame on you. You fool me … you can’t get fooled again.”1 Here, The Newshoggers mirror the claim by the UK’s Daily Telegraph that SecDef2 Robert Gates is replacing a disabled Condi Rice as the administrations voice of restraint. Given the reports of discontent in the top ranks of the military. It may be true.

1As I understand it, the African Proverb says,”You fool me once. shame on you. You fool me twice, shame on me.” I can’t confirm that this is actually an African Proverb or where in Africa it is believed to have originated. Google is not the obvious way to find out. I think asking a human is the way to go. “You can’t get fooled again,” is from England, i.e. The Who. Or for the monolingual, like me, the English Wikipedia Page. Apparently, the Dutch speaking world links to their page more often the English speaking world.

2The military name for the position once known as Secretary of War. This was well before the understanding that “defense” means maintaining the permanent ability to fight two and half simultaneous wars.

Shifting Targets: Seymour Hersh on Cheney’s New Designs on Iran

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Pulitzer1 winner Seymour Hersh published Shifting Targets in the New Yorker on Sunday.2 The article details the shifting of targets from the broader “all possible nuclear installations throughout Iran” to the narrower “installations of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.” Since the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment makes the Guard terrorists, this is a shift from ‘preventing’ nuclear proliferation to ‘fighting terrorism’. It is a shift over a period of months within Iran. You might have thought Sy meant shifting the target from Iraq to Iran. That shift is on a larger scale in space and time3, but I’m sure Sy wanted you to think about that too.

About 20 minutes of this morning’s Democracy Now! is with Sy as well as clips of Too Much Cappucino Ferino claiming that Bush is pursuing every possible diplomatic avenue JUST AS HE DID WITH IRAQ!

1Sy won the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for exposing the massacre by U.S. Armed Forces of over 300 [and possibly as many as 500] unarmed civilians in the Vietnamese village of My Lai.

2I was off the net, looking in people’s book bags.

3One of the joys of having studied condensed matter physics – thermodynamics and kinetic theory specifically – is the idea the theories are often incomplete. When they are, knowing the scale on which the apply is important. Stronger theories often contain multiple scales with a definite relationship between them. (|Neo) Classical Economics has the significant flaw, that while the sphere of effective economic activity has definite scales, the theory does not. My proposal to President Drew, require the economists to study Kinetic Theory, before they claim to be emulating Physics. The sociologists are much less brazen.

My second favorite Jarhead on Iraq and Iran

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Scott Ritter by David Schankbone, Wikimedia

Photo: David Schankbone, Wikimedia

The war in Iraq isn’t going to expand tenfold overnight. By simply doing nothing, the Democrats can rest assured that Bush’s bad policy will simply keep failing. War with Iran, on the other hand, can still be prevented.

Major Scott Ritter USMC [Retired.] truthdig.org

My brother is a sailor1. It took him three tries to get himself to Viet Nam. I filed for Conscientious Objector, but lotteried out. During Christmas Break 1991 we talked about the impending war with Iraq. I told him that we would be lucky if it came out as well as Viet Nam. It looked, for a bit, like I might be wrong, but in the span of time, it appears I was right. I am a bit like Cassandra.

The sailors refer to the Marines as Jarheads. Marine Lt. Jonathon Kendrick in A Few Good Men, says of the sailors, “We like you boys just fine. Whenever we go somewhere to fight, you boys always give us a ride.” I never thought I would like Jarheads, but then I learned about Major General Smedley Butler who wrote War is a Racket. He’s my fave Jarhead.

I’m working on a third Jarhead. He knows a lot of evolutionary biology. He wonders if we [humanoid carbon units] will ever learn to live together. Or will we extin(ct|guish)2 ourselves. Professor, we need more than wishful thinking from you. As always, I have a seedling of a plan. Think Social Darwinism vs. Evolution of Cooperation.

1 He is officially retired, but he still has to show up now and then.

2This is an example of what computer scientists refer to as a regular expression. It is equivalent to (extinct|extinguish) which means “extinct or extinguish”. Regular expressions obey a Type-3 grammar in the Chomsky Hierarchy.

Iran: Is the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment a ticket to a U.S. Invasion?

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Former Secretary of the Navy1 and now Senator Jim Webb2 thinks it is. What is Kyl-Lieberman?3 It is an amendment, offered by Senator Jon Kyl and Senator Joe Lieberman, to the 2008 Department of Defense Authorization. As Senator Webb says,

…amendment No. 3017, the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which among other things–and most troubling–would designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The fear, as mentioned below, is that this reclassification of part of the Iranian military might be used by the neocons to justify bombing Iran under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force:

This is not the way to make foreign policy. It is not the way to declare war, although this clearly worded sense of the Congress could be interpreted this way. These who regret their vote 5 years ago to authorize military action in Iraq should think hard before supporting this approach, because, in my view, it has the same potential to do harm where many are seeking to do good.

Or:

This proposal is DICK CHENEY‘s fondest pipe dream. It is not a prescription for success. At best it is a deliberate attempt to divert attention from a failed diplomatic policy. At worst it could be read as a backdoor method of gaining congressional validation for military action without one hearing and without serious debate.

The original version has apparently been rewritten slightly to no good effect. The best reportage is by Carah Ong at Iran Nuclear Watch.

Check out Crooks and Liars and Talking Points Memo.

[More links to come. bbl :)]
1Under Ronald Reagan no less!

2But at least he’s a Democrat which is not much in and of itself, but he did introduce the measure to try to get more time for rest and retraining between combat tours for the troops. It was denouced by the neocons as a “backdoor” way of winding down the war in Iraq.

3The flippant footnote answer is, “the shortest but regrettably cryptic way I could think of to get a quasi-punchy title and still appear to be doing more than recycling persistant internet Bomb Iran rumors.

No End In Sight

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New documentary on the Iraq War Opens in Select Cities Including Cambridge Today!

The official website has trailers and a full listing of cities.

In Cambridge, there are several showings daily at the Kendall Square Cinema .

New in this film, Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Sidney Blumenthal says that this has the White House worried that Colin Powell might become an open critic of U.S. Iraq policy.

See Linda Count the cost of the war.

Economist Linda Bilmes ’80 from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government documents the toll. I first heard of her when the national press noted her publication, together with Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz of Columbia University, “The Economic Costs of the Iraq War: An Appraisal Three Years After the Beginning of the Conflict.” Their estimate – $2 trillion – differed by a factor of four from official estimates. Their analysis included the cost of treating wounded veterans. Official estimates did not.

A Pretext for War

author James Bamford also appears. His previous works, The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets, reveal the inner workings of the National Security Agency. He obtained much of the information by filing for declassification under the Freedom of Information Act. Bamford was raised in Natick, Massachusetts and got his law degree from Suffolk County Law.

Senate Sleepover Ends in War Business as Usual*

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A significant number of Republican Senators have publicly called for a change in strategy in the war in Iraq. Nonetheless, they have blocked even a hint of a timetable with the threat of filibuster that none dared call filibuster1. Surely, in the cold sober light of CSPAN2, those Senators would be forced to put their vote where there mouth is. Or at least that’s what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] hoped. But NO!!! After 30 hours of debate, the Senate voted 52-47 to end debate and vote on the Levin-Reed2 Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act for 2008. Falling short of the 60 votes required, the amendment did NOT come to a vote. Senator Reid withdrew the the Defense Authorization Act from the floor, leaving open the possibility of resubmitting Levin-Reed at a future date. Presumably, pressure on the Repugs will be greater in September.

The best account I’ve seen, including full text of Levin-Reed, is at BobGeiger.com.

How much of a change in strategy are we talking about?

Not a lot. Levin-Reed calls for a reduction in troops in Iraq to be completed by April 2008, but leaves some in place indefinitely. Presumably their role would be limited. It does nothing to reduce the number of American paid mercenary soldiers in Iraq. Lastly, and most important for the long term, it leaves the door open for “redeployment” in the region. It may be a turn in course, but it is not an obvious turn away from the neo-conservative pursuit of hegemony. With the Lieberman amendment already attached to the the Defense Authorization Act, Levin-Reed might merely mean a turn in the course of the pursuit of hegemony away from Iraq toward Iran. That would not be a course for survival.

*I’m goin’ for a little Matt Drudge thing here. 🙂

1A cloture vote to end debate and bring a measure to a vote, requires 60 of the 100 votes. Rather than say filibuster, the Repugs simply say, “you know it takes 60 votes?”

2The homophonic Senator Jack Reed [D-RI] is distinct from the Majority leader.