Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Harry Taylor is Running for U.S. Congress

Remember how Harry Taylor stood up and spoke his mind to President Bush at a town hall meeting in Charlotte, N.C. in 2006?

You should read about what he's doing now. My news about Harry Taylor can be seen at Note: The respectful look on the faces of the audience in Norman Rockwell's portrait of healthy democracy at work in our nation's town halls is not the same look on the faces of the carefully screened audience in Charlotte on the day Harry stood and said, in his own way, 'No more.'

Abortion Hater Endorses Abortion Embracer

Just when you thought you'd heard it all.

The news that evangelical leader Pat Robertson will endorse the GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani, as Chris Cillizza reports this morning at The Fix, is hypocrisy at its most obvious. I guess anything goes in the name of politics .. even a religious leader's allegedly most closely-held religious values.

Everything gets watered down for the sake of partisan politics. In Pat Robertson's world, the moment he endorses longtime social liberal Rudy Giuliani for POTUS should be the moment he's struck by lightning from above and burnt to a crisp like Satan's bacon strips on the side of all the fertilized eggs Rudy has played a political part in sending his way.
Saty Waitin' on Pat

Monday, November 05, 2007

Active Duty Fort Drum Soldier Protests Iraq War

I took this photo
of Phil Aliff on September 29th
in Syracuse, N.Y., where he was the first active duty soldier (and Iraq war vet) to publicly denounce the U.S. foreign policy in Iraq and participate in an IVAW chapter.

See my post from September

Excerpt from:

US soldiers shy from battle in Iraq
By Dahr Jamail

Read entire article here

WATERTOWN, New York - Iraq war veterans now stationed at a base here in upstate New York say that morale among US soldiers in the country is so poor, many are simply parking their Humvees and pretending to be on patrol, a practice dubbed "search and avoid" missions.

Phil Aliff is an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum. He served nearly one year in Iraq from August 2005 to July 2006, in the areas of Abu Ghraib and

Fallujah, both west of Baghdad.

"Morale was incredibly low," said Aliff, adding that he joined the military because he was raised in a poor family by a single mother and had few other prospects. "Most men in my platoon in Iraq were just in from combat tours in Afghanistan."

According to Aliff, their mission was to help the Iraqi army "stand up" in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad, but in fact his platoon was doing all the fighting without support from the Iraqis they were supposedly preparing to take control of the security situation.

"I never heard of an Iraqi unit that was able to operate on their own," said Aliff, who is now a member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). "The only reason we were replaced by an Iraqi army unit was for publicity."

Aliff said he participated in roughly 300 patrols. "We were hit by so many roadside bombs we became incredibly demoralized, so we decided the only way we wouldn't be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time."

"So we would go find an open field and park, and call our base every hour to tell them we were searching for weapons caches in the fields and doing weapons patrols and everything was going fine," he said, adding, "All our enlisted people became very disenchanted with our chain of command."

Aliff, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), refused to return to Iraq with his unit, which arrived in Kirkuk two weeks ago. "They've already lost a guy, and they are now fostering the sectarian violence by arming the Sunnis while supporting the Shi'ites politically ... classic divide and conquer."

Aliff told Inter Press Service (IPS) he is set to be discharged by the military next month because they claim his PTSD "is untreatable by their doctors".

Phil is on the far right with fellow Iraq War veterans/members of IVAW
Photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Zogby Urges Return to Iraq Study Group Recommendations

Dr. James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC, believes that the war in Iraq is far from over - and may soon get worse. He says it could and should have been foreseen. All the warning signs were there. In Northern Iraq, the file of historical grievances of the Kurdish people has been opened and it won't close anytime soon.

Over the past decade, Iraq's Kurds have prospered under a US-protected umbrella. With the collapse of the regime in Baghdad, Kurdish hopes of expanding their autonomy grew, and with it, their ambition as well. The Kurdish Provisional Authority (KPA) has become, for all intents and purposes, a state within a failing state. With its own flag and military, and its own Washington representation, the KPA is moving inexorably towards independence.

When Dr. Zogby refers to the KPA's "own Washington representation," this story (from the WaPo) is a good part of what he's talking about. I have written [in 2005, in 2006, in 2007] about my deep concerns about the conflict of ethics and interest when well-paid K-Street lobbyists become de-facto U.S. diplomats in war-torn regions. It's akin to letting Blackwater fight our nation's wars. It's against every democratic principle intended by the Founding Fathers to keep our Republic from falling into a state of corruption and oligarchy.

Dr. Zogby revisits the Iraq Study Group recommendations, surely making neoconservatives shiver as he invokes the name of their Straussian devil known as the U.N. This idea acknowledges an interdependent world, but threatens the hijack-hold the neocons still have on U.S. foreign policy, thanks to the Presient's delusions of one-day historic greatness, and the intellectual shortcomings and raw partisan ambitions of the Bush administration and the U.S. Republican party:

With Turkey and Iran both bombing Kurdish positions within the KPA and threatening an even greater response if the insurgent groups are not controlled, the US sees the possibility that its one Iraqi success story may give way to the opening of a new front in what will become an even more complicated war.

This all should have been understood before the war began, but was not. And that is why one of the principal recommendations of the Iraq Study Group is as valid today as when it was written. And that is the necessity of creating a regional security pact to bring together all the component groups inside Iraq, along with Iraq's neighbours, under the auspices of the UN, so that problems of this sort are not tackled piece meal. Iraq's neighbours have a direct stake in the stability and unity of Iraq and are better made partners towards that goal than a collection of allies and rivals.

There is a new framework from which the UN could be instrumental in resolving the Kurdish question. Recently passed (without a 'YES' vote from the United States) was the Human Rights Council Resolution on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [pdf]. It's a declaration that could give indigenous peoples like the Kurds a valuable tool even though, still imperfect, the agreement’s non-binding nature leaves indigenous peoples to rely upon the political will of nation states as each respective state creates a framework for working with their indigenous populations. A great leader would take Dr. Zogby's advice and go back to the Iraq Study Group recommendations and implement the new UN Declaration framework in a way that would bring an end to U.S. occupationand bring peace to the region and fairness to the Kurds by involving and placing responsibility with all of Iraq's neighbors.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pakistan is a Powderkeg

This isn't the first time I've said it. Look it up on a Google Search: