We all like a president who says "The buck stops here." Mr. Bush never ducks the buck. But he puts severe limits on the number and kind of people who can hand it to him. He picks them, receives their passionate and by definition limited recommendations, makes his decision, and sticks. All very Trumanesque, except Truman could tolerate argument and dissent. They didn't pass the buck to little Harry, they threw it at his head. Clark Clifford was in in the morning telling him he had to recognize Israel, and George Marshall was there in the afternoon telling him he'd step down as secretary of state if he did.
It was a mess. Messes aren't all bad.
If Senator Specter really believed the president owes the American people an explanation, maybe he wouldn’t have scheduled Senator Russ Feingold’s hearing on censure on a Friday. That’s not exactly a day to get full attendance. To my personal disgust, many Democrats didn’t even bother to show up. Friday is get away day and Specter knew it. His disingenuousness runs just shy of the deep hypocrisy in his statement.
For the record, I and many other members of PRAWN were also quite disgusted at the inability of Democrats to show themselves on that day.
The Bush Administration has never attempted to explain this, in fact Cheney fought to keep the doings of the task force secret.
Current expenditures don't track with the "democratization" notion, either. The US has overseen the loss of some $20 billion from the oil money that rightfully belongs to the people of Iraq, yet it can't seem to afford a few tens of millions to fund democracy programs. Keep in mind, the US was estimated to have spent $700 billion as of August 2005 to keep the Iraq War going.
So, the idea that
is a rather hard to understand. If the Bush Administration is uninterested in building democracy in Iraq, and that appears to be the case, what on Earth are progressives supposed to be doing to get Iraq rebuilt as a democracy? If the obstacles to democratization consisted exclusively of the "gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance", then I would agree, there would be no reason not to support the Iraq War.
As to the notion that
That's a nice idea in the abstract. Oppose all tyranny? Sure, sign me up! Oppose all oppressive regimes? Why not? Let's go for it!
Problem: Democracy is NOT the automatic default condition of humanity. Simply removing the oppressor does not mean that the formerly oppressed people will automatically burst into song and dance and cheers and begin conducting town hall meetings in the style of New Englanders in the early 1800s.
Again, this is a great idea in the abstract. Hamas and Hezbollah have both committed many acts that have for better or worse, been called terrorism. Yet, there's simply no question that they are the properly-elected representatives of their respective populations. It may be a great idea to unequivocally condemn terrorist acts, but it's hard to say that proper human beings are on one side and all terrorists are on the other.
Many people have called Moqtada al-Sadr a terrorist, but he openly and publicly supports the current properly-elected Prime Minister of Iraq (Who seems to still be unable to form a government.) and al-Jaafari appears to be okay with al-Sadr's support. Concerning the situation in Anbar Province, where the US is trying to get new elections going ASAP:
"If people who feel disenfranchised get to vote, then they're going to work together to make the insurgency unstable," Bishop said.
At least that's the hope. Previous attempts at building a government in Anbar haven't gone according to plan.
As Juan Cole points out "It has never worked before there, so why do they think it will work this time? If 80 percent of the local people are with the guerrilla movement, electoral politics itself inevitably gets distorted."
Am I thereby "observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of the Iraqi ‘insurgency’" ? I guess so, but as the insurgency legitimately represents real and deep opposition to the presence of US troops in Iraq, I find it difficult to spend a lot of time condemning them. I certainly don't consider them heroes or romantic characters, but that doesn't mean I consider their struggle pointlessly evil. Whether we in America consider their struggle to be just another form of terrorism, we all need to recognize that it exists for a reason and that reason must be taken into account when one is trying to reach a settlement.
BTW, the Euston authors expend a great deal of ink condemning "the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking." I quite honestly have no idea who they're talking about. However, this final thought makes the objective of the authors all too clear:
This tendency has reached the point that officials speaking for Amnesty International, an organization which commands enormous, worldwide respect because of its invaluable work over several decades, can now make grotesque public comparison of Guantanamo with the Gulag, can assert that the legislative measures taken by the US and other liberal democracies in the War on Terror constitute a greater attack on human rights principles and values than anything we have seen in the last 50 years, and be defended for doing so bycertain left and liberal voice.
I don't regard comparisons between "Guantanamo with the Gulag" to be out of place at all. Certainly, the Gulag constructed by the late Soviet Union was a vastly larger affair involving many more people, by several orders of magnitude, but was the Gulag actually worse than Guantanamo? Were the prisoners of one treated with any more respect or dignity than the other? The War on Terror has most certainly seen an enormous degradation in human rights and values. Nothing justifies that.
I simply can't regard the Euston authors as having a serious case to make.
This morning (Monday, April 10th) a large group- about 12 of us went to see Sen Arlen Specter's Chief of Staff who came down form DC to talk with us. We are still holding out for a town meeting with Specter. AS you will see the exchange of ideas was good BUT Specter is still going forward with funding the war because: “Regardless of how we got into the war, we need to ensure that we don’t leave a power vacuum in Iraq”
When some of us came out of the Federal Building after the exchange with Bill Reynolds, it was good to see and feel supported by Monique (PRAWN), Hal (Germantown Friends Meeting) Carol (WILPF) standng with a poster and Resister Sister's banner -
OUT OF IRAQ!
Notes from meeting with Bill Reynolds , Sen Specter's chief of Staff -
(Written by Karen Wisniewski, minor edits by Rich Gardner)
The agreed-upon procedure was that all of us would speak in turn and then Reynolds would answer and then we would have a more free-for-all discussion.
- Larry Petkov, representing PRAWN, former public school teacher: requests that Specter introduce a resolution similar to James McGovern’s and to vote against appropriations for troops in Iraq.
- Kaki Sjogren, social worker, alternatives to violence: wants a public debate that addresses private interests—oil—and the exploitation of the natural resources of the Iraqi people. What will Specter do to expose the private gains?
- Matt Sullivan, college student/activist: asked Specter to take a stand now against the war (he cited 70% troops on the ground support for withdrawal in 6 months) and expressed serious concern about the possible use of nuclear weapons in Iran
- Rich Gardner, Retired US Navy petty officer: What is Specter’s opinion of VP Cheney’s energy task force in 2001 examining maps of Iraqi oil fields? Iraqi people want US troops to go home. Does Specter respect the wishes of the Iraqi people?
- Marge Van Cleef, teacher, musician, Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition: Will Specter support a floor debate about the war? Will the US leave or continue to occupy Iraq? What about the 14 new bases in Iraq? Will Specter take a stand about an invasion of Iran? Will he listen to US generals on the ground who are saying troops should be withdrawn?
- Bernadette Cronin-Gellar, social worker for 44 years, with child welfare, now working in adult ed, St. Vincent’s Peace Committee, Brandywine Peace Community: How long will Specter support an immoral war?
- Phyllis Gilbert, with Peace Action - Delaware Valley, property owner and landlady: Did Specter go to war based on solid information? Will he introduce a resolution in the Senate stronger than Murtha’s?
- Marlene Santoyo, WILPF, NOW and Germantown Monthly Meeting (Quakers): Why do they hate us? What are US soldiers dying for? No war in Iran.
- Ruth Balter, grandmother: What about the staggering debt and the next generations?
- Karen Wisniewski, RN in free clinic in Kensington, Delaware Co. Pledge of Resistance, Philadelphia Buddhist Peace Fellowship: reminder of the poor in Kensington.
- Bill Perry, Disabled Vets of America, VFW, Vietnam Vets for Peace, member of the building trades: It’s all about Specter’s legacy.
Responses from Bill Reynolds:
“The thought that we would use nuclear weapons in Iran is very, very, troubling…the senator will be asking some hard questions about this”
“The senator is not afraid to wag his finger in the president’s face”
“He bucked the president and the Republican Party with the additional appropriations of $7billion for labor, health and education” “His overall position on the war is different than Murtha’s, which is not to say that his position will not change”
“He is not in a position to enter a resolution like Murtha’s or McGovern ’s”
His justification :
“Keep up the grassroots activism” Reynolds said this at least four times
“Senator Specter has no problem poking a finger in the eyes of those who need poking” (said twice)
“Needs to be a workable plan for a pull out”
This is for want of a better word, “an imperial presidency”
“We do more than is required by senate rules” regarding reporting of interests, etc.
“We’re not in this to get rich; it’s a calling for me”
“Grassroots activism IS the force of change”
“I will present to him (Specter) what you’ve told me, look at the resolutions, including Kerry’s, and tell him that you still want to meet with him”
“I can’t tell you that he is or isn’t going to change his mind” on the war.
Cole believes that Ahmadinejad and Bush are both using each other as boogeymen to frighten their countrymen because both groups of hardliners are low in popularity.
I sincerely hope that Bush knows the answer and is trying to hide the answer behind a screen of apparent befuddlement. The idea that he truly may not know is an answer too horrifying to contemplate.
As to what the legal status of US mercenaries means, let's imagine that we're a group of Iraqi civilians and we've just witnessed an American soldier commit an atrocity. Say, an American soldier shoots an unarmed Iraqi soldier while the Iraqi soldier is in US custody. When a soldier commits an atrocity, the rank insignia on his or her sleeve and the soldier's nametag tells any witnesses who it was that committed the act. With mercenaries, is there any standard uniform? Is there anyone who will enforce such standards? Who does one complain to if a mercenary is seen abusing or shooting an unarmed Iraqi? To the private company half a world away in the US that employs the mercenary? To the local military commander, who may or may not even know about the nearby mercenary units? To the US President, who is apparently unaware of what their status is in the first place?
Yeah, they could always complain to the government of Ibriham Jaafari, but that presumes that his writ extends beyond the Green Zone. What if an atrocity occurs miles away from Baghdad? What do the Iraqi witnesses do then? The CBS News correspondent Lara Logan reported "If you had any idea of the number of Iraqis that come to us with stories of abuses of U.S. soldiers and you look at our coverage over the last -- my coverage over the last few weeks, or even over the last three years, there's been maybe two or three stories that have related to that." So, apparently, Iraqi civilians report problems with American soldiers to TV news reporters because they're the ones they can identify as being able to do something about the soldiers.
But clearly, not many such reports ever make it onto the air. There could be perfectly legitimate reasons why. Reporters are not equipped to go out and investigate and to confirm that these reports are accurate. They don't have subpoena power, they can't insist that soldiers talk.
Mercenaries are of course even less accountable than that.
And Bush doesn't know their legal status?
Under the pretense that Iraq is being pacified, the U.S. military is partially withdrawing from hostile towns in the countryside and parts of Baghdad. By reducing the numbers of soldiers the administration can claim its policy is working going into the midterm elections. But the jobs that the military will no longer perform are being sloughed off onto State Department "provincial reconstruction teams" led by Foreign Service officers. The stated rationale is that the teams will win Iraqi hearts and minds by organizing civil functions.
Wow! That's pretty amazing. A "provincial reconstruction team" sounds like a pretty good idea for the Iraqi situation of about...oh... three years ago. During the summer of 2003, they might not have even needed that much protection. If the Iraqis saw the teams as performing a useful function, they might have even attracted defenders from among the population. Now? With the chaos in Iraq these days? My first suspicion was that this had to be a plot by the Bush Administration to empty the State Department of Foreign Service officers. What evidence is there that the Bush Administration has any sort of grudge against these folks? Well,
State department officials in the field are reporting that Shia militias use training as cover to infiltrate key positions. Thus the strategy to create institutions of order and security is fuelling civil war.
Rather than being received as invaluable intelligence, the messages are discarded or, worse, considered signs of disloyalty. [emphasis added]
The state department's Intelligence and Research Bureau was correct in its scepticism before the war about Saddam Hussein's possession of WMDs, but was ignored. The department was correct in its assessment in its 17-volume Future of Iraq project about the immense effort required for reconstruction after the war, but it was disregarded. Now its reports from Iraq are correct, but their authors are being punished.
So, it appears my first suspicion was correct. Foreign Service officers are being offerred up as sacrifices because of their perceived disloyalty. But hold on! Condi Rice (Termed "Darling Condi" by various snarky liberals when describing her relations with the press corps) is responsible for the safety of State Department personnel. Wouldn't mass casualties among the Foreign Service officers cause her to lose face?
Amid this internal crisis of credibility, the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has washed her hands of her department. Her management skills are minimal. Now she has left coercing people to fill the PRTs to her counsellor, Philip Zelikow, who, by doing the dirty work, is trying to keep her reputation clean.
So the answer is, yes it would, IF the slaughter of Foreign Service officers was seen as her fault.
The Pentagon has informed the State Department that it will not provide security for these officials and that State should hire mercenaries for protection instead.Now, I don't pretend to know anything about the mercenaries available to the State Department these days, but mercenaries back during the days of Renaissance Italy had the reputation of being there until they were really needed. Mercenaries made for fine parade-ground soldiers, but when their paymasters were faced with a really threatening force, they made themselves scarce very quickly. Is this going to be a problem with the provincial reconstruction teams? The situation is not identical. When you're a small group defending a small group, it's probably easiest for everybody to stay together. But if you've got a team working with the villagers and the mercenaries are down the road and the bad guys attack from an unexpected direction, it might be easier for the mercenaries to just scatter, away from the fighting and the screaming and the bloodshed. If the provincial reconstruction team gets wiped out completely, who's going to contradict the story that the mercenaries tell? Someone from the team would have to survive for that to happen.
Marlene Santoyo, Women's Int'l. League for Peace & Freedom, 215-247-4385, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marge Van Cleef, Delaware County Pledge of Resistance, 484-348-2487, email@example.com
PLACE: Senator Specter's Philadelphia office in the Federal Building, 6th &
Market St., Rm 9400.
Washington to meet with representatives from the Philadelphia anti-war
movement, including United for Peace and Justice-UFPJ/Philadelphia. This is
in response to a visit to the Senator's office on March 27th when the names
of U.S. and Iraqi war victims were read.
and visits to his office opposing his support of President Bush's war policies in
Iraq. Monday's meeting with Bill Reynolds will include another request for a town
meeting where the Senator himself will hear from constituents.
at 6th & Market St, 12 o'clock noon on April 10th. JOIN US!
Ngô Đình Diệm Jean Baptiste ran South Vietnam for the Americans, assassinated in 1963 when he failed to fight the North Vietnamese/Vietcong in the manner that the Americans wished him to.
Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the current legitimately elected Prime Minister of Iraq
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini Sistani was asked for assistance against Jaafari
Muqtada al-Sadr supports Jaafari
The headline on 27 March said: Iraq ruling Shi'ites demand control over security. The provocation was what the Iraqi government called " 'cold-blooded' killings by troops of unarmed people in a mosque." After waiting 24 hours, "US commanders mounted a media offensive to deny Shiite accounts". Obviously, the Bush Administration didn't take very kindly to the suggestion that US troops leave Iraq, because on 29 March, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran the following article:
By Nancy A. Youssef and Warren P. Strobel / Inquirer Foreign Staff
U.S. officials sent a message this week to Iraq's senior Shiite cleric asking that
he help end the impasse over forming a government and strongly implying that the
prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, should withdraw his candidacy for reelection,
according to U.S. officials. ... reach out to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani
suggested how eager the Bush ...
And Sistani's answer?
An aide to Sistani said the Shiite was unhappy with what he saw as American meddling
in Iraqi politics.
By Qassim Abdul-Zahra
BAGHDAD - A hand-delivered letter from President Bush to Iraq's supreme Shiite spiritual
leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, sits unread and untranslated, a key
aide to Sistani said yesterday.
The aide - who has never allowed use of his name in news reports, citing Sistani's
refusal to make any public statements himself - said Sistani had laid the letter
aside and did not ask for a translation because of increasing "unhappiness"
over what senior Shiite leaders see as American meddling in Iraqi attempts to form
their first permanent post-invasion government.
position that Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, should not be given a
backing from radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has a thousands-strong heavily
armed militia that was responsible for much of the violence that hit the country
after the Feb. 22 bombing of an important Shiite shrine in Samarra, north of Baghdad.
A bit of background: Jafaari is serving a single one-year term. A second term for him would mean that he serves a full four years. Is he legitimately in office? Was he properly elected? Juan Cole says: "He maintains he was elected fair and square by his party. Hard to argue with."
So what are the options for the US? The US obviously doesn't want to repeat the mistake President Kennedy made with Ngô Đình Diệm. Diệm was not performing satisfactorily as South Vietnams' first President. Essential problem was "Hồ Chí Minh and his communist policies were popular, and Diệm was not." So when the US ambassador heard that South Vietnamese generals wanted to overthrow Diệm, no objection was made. The good news was that the US could now work with a more pliable government that did what it was told. The bad news was that the new government was no more popular than the old one was. So, it appears the US is trying to get his fellow Iraqis to push Jaafari out.
Iraq Shi’ites Call For Jaafari to Step Down
Slight problem with that idea, though:
Iraqis Rally Support for Jaafari
And it appears that the US Ambassador is not popular enough to have any leverage:
US Ambassador Reportedly Shunned by Iraq Leaders
Of course it doesn't help when "At a time when we send Condi to Iraq to plead with them to uphold their commitments, the United States is abandoning our commitment to build hundreds of primary health care clinics in the country."
As of 5 April, "Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw pleaded with [Jaafari] and his rivals for an immediate agreement to prevent a slide to civil war - Ibrahim Jaafari insisted he would continue to carry out his duties." Is Jaafari now regretting his closeness to Muqtada al-Sadr? Not at all:
So it seems the US is stuck dealing with an Iraqi Prime Minister who doesn't have a whole lot of use for the US troops occupying his country.
Friends of Monday, March 27th meeting - Via a phone call from Chris Bradish,"foreign policy advisor" in Specter's DC office, it was agreed that he and Bill Reynolds, Chief of Staff, would meet with us on Monday, April 10th at noon in Specter's Philadelphia office in the Federal Building, 6th & Market, Room 9400.
Thanks for doing this collective organizing via e-mail. Marlene and I agree to co- coordinate.
Marlene Santoyo 215-247-4385
Marge VC 484-384-2487
From Marlene - I would like to recommend that each of us outline the topic that we/you want to discuss- Make it succinct, share it via email & practice (Role play)
what you want to/need to say and then the next person goes - Share your emphasis so the next person can take up where the previous left off.
Now, I need to say that since Marge asked, am glad to respond & assist. I can not be there on Mon at Specter's
I have an appt with two doctor's appointments that took me three months to schedule BUT I do feel we all are equal participants & will do what I can beforehand or after this date, including when we have a date set up to speak with Sen Specter, be it in Phila or DC.
* * * * * * * * * *
From: Kaki Sjogren [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Re: Responding to All: : NEXT SPECTER'S OFFICE MEETING
What about candid discussion about the oil industry? permanent military bases? e.g. see
Crude Designs - The Rip-off of Iraq's Oil Wealth
This is the hidden dragon.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Marlene Santoyo"
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 9:59 PM
Subject: Responding to All: : NEXT SPECTER'S OFFICE MEETING
Hello Dear Activists, Feminists, Peacemakers,
A while back a group of about 12 got to speak to Rep Chakkah Fattah. There were 10 of us.
It went very well. After talking with Marge, I'm going to share with you how we organized it.
We each one introduced ourselfves & our community & took 3 min to BRIEFLY outline one aspect of why the war policy is wrong.
The reasons "Why I/we oppose the war" they might include: for Ex-
- As a grandmother, the legacy & debt I am leaving my children. WWII, Vietnam, Iraq- Post traumatic syndrome
- The dead, the wounded- US & Iraq.- never to see their children grow.
- As a veteran--
- An unsafe world- Of course they hate us, I hate us ..
- Vets return and there is more spousal abuse, drugs ..
- LIES started the war and..
- Poverty, funds cut from reasonable costing housing, healthcare, decent paying jobs
- stop US arms sales to the Middle East.
- The way of peace is through the US withdrawing its military presence from the Middle East, whereas the Bush administration is now actively transferring troops and weapons and expanding bases, obviously has no intention of leaving.
- The way of peace is through human development, and Iraq is a graphic example of how the US erodes and even destroys the possibility of human development by a foreign policy that intends to rule by economic and military domination. The deliberate targeting of Iraq's water systems for sanctioning is a disgrace that the US has not owned up to or repaired. Because of war devastation and sanctions, a society that was once marked by its high rate of literacy, the accomplishment of women, and widespread access to free and excellent health care is now in a state of de-development characterized by high levels of malnutrition and a sense of hopelessness.
- President Bush was given an okay from the Congress for war in Afghanistan, and now we look at an Afghanistan where many people have died with no end to war in sight. War is not the answer, and the war the US has waged against the people of Iraq since 1990 must finally be ended. US continued and new aggression on Iraq creates the very circumstances that make future attacks on the US not only more likely but inevitable. The only solutions for the crises in Iraq (and Palestine) are political, and they require the US to respect Iraqi sovereignty.
- Disarmament is a goal that can be pursued internationally only if the US intends to obey international laws. If the US flagrantly goes its own way, then there will no longer be any basis for international cooperation. Whatever laws are established, they must first and foremost apply the United States.
- In the war on terror the US wants its citizens to be safe, yet it pursues policies that make the US an enemy of the people of the world. As long as the US supports Israel and maintains the siege on Iraq, many people of the world will regard the US as their enemy, thus making attacks on the US more, not less, likely in the future.
I would like to recommend that each of us outline the topic that we/you want to discuss- Make it succinct, share it via email & practice (Role play) what you want to/need to say and then the next person goes - Share your emphasis so the next person can take up where the previous left off.
They don't want more than 2 or 4 .The heck with it- don't compromise. last time we were 10 people- Go and sit in the outer office. They can bring a chair & sit with us there or in the corner office. Don't give him the upper hand.
Think about it- Is this the time to do CD??
* Then we LISTEN , without interruption and we emphasize that we are here and will not be going away until we talk with Arlen
When will that be. WE are determined to STOP the "collateral damage"
- DEATHS of Americans & Iraqis and we will speak with the journalists the TV audience. WE hold our Senator - Se Specter directly responsible - UNTIL such time as he stops funding the war & joins Mc Govern or initiates other legislation to Bring home our sons and daughters & keep them here with their husbands & wives and children.
OK- Friends- your turn,
We must be courteous & if we are to have a relationship it will be though the good relations we have with this person sitting in front of us. Don't get angry with him. We want him on our side.
Then one or two wraps it up & everyone leaves
It would be great if you can have a reporter(s) there, A press release would be excellent.
If lots of folks come , more than fit in the office- that can read the names of the dead out on Market St.
In peace with justice,
. Keep in mind what we are there for. It's not a time to chit-chat , that trivializes our mission.
WE could each time read again the names of the dead- Somber and shouldn't be the case.
- From: Marge VanCleef [mailto:email@example.com]
NEXT SPECTER'S OFFICE MEETING
Friends of Monday, March 27th meeting -
I just received a phone call from Chris Bradish in Specter's DC office. He is the "foreign policy advisor" in the office. He said that he and Bill Reynolds, Chief of Staff, would meet with us on Monday, April 10th at noon in Philadelphia office.
- Do you all agree that we should go ahead with this?
- he needs to know numbers and names of people who will attend (names = numbers?)
- We will need to prepare for the meeting, suggested last Monday that we gather again at the Bourse at 10:45 a.m.
- We will need some press work done, so please volunteer if you like to do that.
Thanks for doing this collective organizing via e-mail. I can continue to coordinate, and will add Marlene's phone number as the other coordinator.
Marlene Santoyo 215-247-4385
Marge VC 484-384-2487