Ukraine News - June 17, 2014


Russia cuts Ukraine's gas after talks fail - GlobalPost


Ukraine’s stance in gas talks with Russia is ‘blackmail’, a method to negotiate an ultra-low price: Gazprom CEO - RT Business


Gazprom files $4.5 billion lawsuit against Ukraine's Naftogaz - ITAR-TASS


Gazprom Says Further Lawsuits Against Naftogaz to Follow Shortly - RIA Novosti


European Consumers to Receive Russian Gas in Full Volume: Gazprom - RIA Novosti


If Ukraine tries to steal Europe-bound gas, Gazprom will develop alternative routes: Miller (VIDEO) - RT Business


Europe Ready to Consider Opal Pipeline For Future Gas Supplies: Gazprom - RIA Novosti


Gazprom ready to finance supply of gas to European storage facilities - ITAR-TASS


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Ukraine declares emergency in energy sector, to set "economically justified" tariffs for transit of Russian gas through its territory - IANS


PM Yatseniuk says Russia intends to temporarily set the price of gas for Ukraine at $385/1,000 m3 and in winter raise it to $500 - Ukrinform


Ukraine's Naftogaz Sues in Stockholm Over Russia Gas - Capital.gr


The European Union has offered reverse-flow gas supplies to Ukraine at a price lower than that of Russia’s Gazprom: Naftogaz - ITAR-TASS


Naftogaz asking EC for major gas reverse flow from Slovakia - Russia Beyond The Headlines


Ukraine Able to Maintain Domestic Gas Supplies for Several Months - Capital.gr


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Poroshenko calls for Ukraine ceasefire to buy time for peace deal - The Globe and Mail


VIDEO (Ukrainian): Poroshenko announces potential ceasefire plans - YouTube


Ukrainian army ready to cease fire in east in 5-7 days: Security Council chief - ITAR-TASS


Donetsk, Lugansk should hold early local elections: Poroshenko - The Voice of Russia


Ukraine to close border with Russia next week: defence minister - ITAR-TASS


Over 100 people killed in Lugansk in past 2 days: head of self-proclaimed Lugansk republic - Strategic Culture Foundation


Ukraine's army opens mortar fire on community near Lugansk - self-defense - The Voice of Russia


Militia report downing two drones of Ukrainian army - ITAR-TASS


Pro-Russian rebels take Ukraine state bank, 'We want the tax revenues to stay here instead of going to Kiev’ - skynews.com


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Ukraine mourns the 49 servicemen killed after plane shot down, 300 protestors assault the Russian embassy in Kiev - The Westside Story


VIDEO: Protesters attack Russian embassy in Kiev - LiveLeak.com


Ukraine FM Deshchytsia calls Putin dickhead, sparks calls from Russia for his resignation - Business Insider


VIDEO: Ukraine FM Deshchytsia calls Putin dickhead - YouTube


Psaki defends Ukraine FM over 'Putin f**ker' remark, confuses Iraq and Iran (VIDEO) - RT USA


FM Lavrov accuses Ukrainian acting interior minister of connivance with extremists on the rampage in front of the Russian Embassy in Kiev - The Voice of Russia


VIDEO: Lavrov slams Russian embassy attack in Kiev - YouTube


Ukraine Says Russia Has 38,000 Troops on Border Amid ‘Invasion’ - Bloomberg


Approximately 200 Russian Army Vehicles Reported Moving Toward Ukraine Border (VIDEOS) - The Speaker


NATO releases photographs of what it says were suspected Russian tanks delivered to separatists in eastern Ukraine - foreignpolicy.com


NATO Says Russia Considers it an Opponent, Prepares Ukraine Aid - atlanticcouncil.org


Russia prepares plan for complete substitution of military products from Ukraine: Rogozin - The Voice of Russia

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)

Labeling Latino Kids as Gangsters: DA says Speaking Spanish in Public and Wearing Sportswear Signify Gangsterism

By Kathy Swift

 

Santa Barbara, CA -- What can we learn from the medieval church about biometric identification? Quite a lot it turns out, at least according to Santa Barbara city officials.

NO MORE WAR ON IRAQ!

Protest Obama when he speaks at the Democratic Party Fundraiser.

Tuesday, June 17th - 5:30pm

Gothem Hall. 1356 Broadway. (35 & 36th Sts) New York City

Bring your signs and banners.

As US prepares to bomb, what we're not being told about ISIS and the Iraq crisis

By Ross Caputi


Former US marine Ross Caputi says ISIS is not a lone actor in Iraq, capturing territory for a future Islamic state: it is just one faction in a larger popular rebellion against the Maliki government.

ISIS rebels in Iraq

What unites marginalized Sunnis in Iraq and hardcore ISIS ideologues is their desperation to be rid of Prime Minister Maliki.

Ross Caputi, 29, is a US veteran of the occupation of Iraq. He took part in the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004. That experience led him to become an anti-war activist.

This week Iraq emerged from the recesses of American memory and became a hot topic of conversation. Alarming headlines about ISIS’s “takeover” of Mosul and their march towards Baghdad have elicited a number of reactions: The most conservative call for direct US military action against ISIS to ensure that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki remains stable in Baghdad. The most liberal lament the ongoing violence and divisions in Iraqi society caused by the US occupation; though they make no attempt distinguish between the violence of ISIS and the violence of the Maliki government. 

This range of ideas and perspectives is fascinating, and it says much about American war culture, but mostly for the ideas and perspectives that are omitted from this debate. Entirely absent is the perspective of Iraqis and the issues that are important to them: accountability, independence, and resistance. Moreover, the real complexities of this issue have been lost in a number of the Western media’s favorite binaries: terrorism vs. counterterrorism, good vs. evil, and insurgency vs. stability. 

If we dare to take Iraqi voices seriously and think outside of the dominant framework presented to us by the mainstream media, a very different picture of the violence in Iraq emerges and a whole new range of options open up for achieving peace and justice. 

The Rise of ISIS

One year ago ISIS was concentrated in Syria, with almost no presence in Iraq. During this time, a nonviolent protest movement, which called itself the Iraqi Spring, was in full swing with widespread support in the Sunni provinces and significant support from the Shia provinces as well. This movement set up nonviolent protest camps in many cities throughout Iraq for nearly the entire year of 2013. They articulated a set of demands calling for an end to the marginalization of Sunnis within the new Iraqi democracy, reform of an anti-terrorism law that was being used label political dissent as terrorism, abolition of the death penalty, an end to corruption, and they positioned themselves against federalism and sectarianism too.

Instead of making concessions to the protestors and defusing their rage, Prime Minister Maliki mocked their demands chose to use military force to attack them on numerous occasions. Over the course of a year, the protestors were assaulted, murdered, and their leaders were assassinated, but they remained true to their adopted tactic of nonviolence. That is, until Prime Minister Maliki sent security forces to clear the protest camps in Fallujah and Ramadi in December of 2013. At that point the protestors lost hope in the tactic of nonviolence and turned to armed resistance instead. 

It is important to note that from the beginning it was the tribal militias who took the lead in the fight against the Iraqi government. ISIS arrived a day later to aid Fallujans in their fight, but also to piggy-back on the success of the tribal fighters in order to promote their own political goals. 

A command structure was set up in Fallujah within the first weeks of fighting. It consisted primarily of tribal leaders and former army officials and went by the name of the General Military Council for Iraqi Revolutionaries. This council was led by Sheikh Abdullah Janabi, who also led the the Shura Council of Mujihadeen in Fallujah in 2004. After the 2nd US-led assault on Fallujah, Janabi fled to Syria, but returned to Iraq in 2011. His calls for cooperation between the various militant factions in Fallujah was a significant unifying factor

Yet despite the glaring differences between the various militant groups in Fallujah, the Iraqi government insists on treating all fighters as terrorists. A government official said it clearly to Reuters, “if anyone insists on fighting our forces, he will be considered an [ISIS] militant whether he is or not.” The Iraqi government launched an indiscriminate bombing campaign that to date has killed 443 civilians and has wounded 1657 in Fallujah, and has displaced over 50,922 families from Anbar Province as a whole. The Fallujah hospital has been targeted numerous times, and residential neighborhoods have been bombed and shelled daily for six months. Struan Stevenson, President of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq, wrote an open letter calling the Iraqi government’s operation “genocidal”.

Over the course of the months of fighting with the government, ISIS has grown in strength. Their access to funds and weapons has made them an attractive group to young Sunnis who see no future for themselves in Iraq as long as Maliki remains in power. Many of the recruits who have joined ISIS are the same men who were nonviolent protestors one year earlier. Many of them remain opposed to the ideas of federalism and sectarians—ideas which are central to ISIS’s political platform. What unites them and the hardcore ideologues within ISIS is their desperation to be rid of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who has left them with no choice but to operate outside of the political system in order to better their lives in Iraq. 

Insurgency or Revolution? 

This week the media buzzed with the news that ISIS had captured Mosul, the 2nd largest city in Iraq, and was prepared to march towards Baghdad. Two assumptions in these reports went unexamined: that ISIS had been a lone actor and that Mosul had been “captured” rather than liberated. 

While the first assumption is a matter of fact, the latter is a matter of perspective. It was noted in the New York Times that ISIS had collaborated with several local militias in Mosul, including Baathist and Islamist groups; although the significance of such a fact went understated. If one further acknowledges that ISIS has cooperated and continues to cooperate with several militias in several Iraqi cities, it begins to appear that ISIS is not a lone actor in Iraq, attempting to capture territory for a future Islamic state. Rather, it appears that ISIS is just one faction in a larger popular rebellion against the government of Nouri al Maliki. 

When 500,000 residents of Mosul fled their city earlier this week, they did not do so out of fear that ISIS would subject them to sharia courts. They did so out of fear of their government’s reprisal. Many have even expressed gratitude towards the fighters who kicked Maliki’s security forces out of their city. 

This loose coalition of militias—from the tribal militias in Fallujah, to Baathist militias like Naqshabandi, and Islamist groups like ISIS—have come to embody the hopes and aspirations of Sunnis in Iraq to one day be free of Maliki’s oppression. For them there is no other option, no other future is imaginable, and there is no turning back. 

A Path Forward

President Obama has announced that the US would not intervene in Iraq until the Iraqi government made concessions to the disenfranchised Sunni community within Iraq. However, the US has already increased its “intelligence and surveillance assistance” and has shown no sign of decreasing its supply of arms to the Iraqi government. While publicly criticizing the Maliki government’s sectarian policies, the US has been aiding and facilitating this “genocide” against the Sunni population for months.  

The impunity of the Maliki government is never questioned in the debate raging within the US. It is simply unimaginable within the limits of this debate that Maliki might be held accountable for the war crimes his regime has committed against his own people. Equally unimaginable is the notion that his regime should fall and that Iraqis should be able to dismantle the constitution and the institutions that the US-led occupation imposed on them. 

We must take seriously the legitimacy of Sunni resistance, while at the same time taking seriously the fear that a group like ISIS elicits in Shia Iraqis. These fractured communities within Iraq must decide their own future, without the interference of Washington or Tehran. Most importantly for us, as Americans, we must make an effort to analyze this issue outside of the paradigm of US political thought and try to see this issue through the eyes of those most affected by it. We must respect their ideas and values, their politics and culture, and their right to determine their own future, unimpeded by foreign interference.

Source: Common Dreams

What's Really Going on in Iraq

By John Mesler

The latest Truth about the Fighting in Iraq

Things have certainly gotten worse for al-Maliki's government. In the west, the resistance has gained more ground and won more battles against the sectarian Iraqi "government" forces. We continue to read about how Maliki is fighting terrorists ,whether labeled al-Qaeda, al-Nusra or even ISIS or ISIL (same thing) but the truth has remained the same. He is fighting Iraqi resistance fighters who are fighting to re-unite their country.

Since the beginning of this year (Jan.1st, 2014) his indiscriminate bombing of Fallujah alone has wounded 1,647 and killed 443 civilians as of June 12th, 2014, according to Dr. Ahmed Shami Jassen (as told to me by Dr. Muhamad al-Darraji). His bombs have found and hit the hospital in Fallujah no less than 16 times and even according to CNN's own Fareed Zakaria (one of mainstream media's reporters that I find credible) he is "nothing more than a shia thug who sympathizes more with Iran than he does with Iraq". As the resistance continued to occupy al-Maliki's forces in the west (al-Anbar) a very different and interesting event took place just 2 days ago in the north.

Iraq's own version of "Shock and Awe"

The last time I wrote, many of you did not believe what I had to say about al- Maliki calling in his friends, the Iranian militias. Now that even the mainstream media is admitting that fact I hope I have established some credibility. Now our mainstream media reported that on June 13th that ISIS (the Islamist State for Iraq and Syria) took Mosul by surprise and the Iraqi army simply walked away. The truth of the matter is that it was not the ISIS who liberated the province on Nineveh. It is Ibrahim Ezat al-Douri (Saddam Huseins right-hand man in pre 2003 Iraq), leader of the Iraqi National Resistance which consists of the Iraqi people commanded by officers of the old Iraqi Army.

There are also SOME factions of ISIS (the media half- truth again), but not nearly the number they'd like us to believe. Perhaps 20% of the resistance is ISIS. The other is Baa'th party and the very vast majority of Iraqi citizens who want their country back. It is for this reason the churches and Husseiniyat were not closed. Preparations had been planned for more than 2 years under secrecy, and coordination among the various groups was great. They've come to finally free Iraq of its occupiers. This time the occupiers are Iranian militia and its Republican Guard, not Americans.

The decision to liberate Iraq from the Iranian occupation was made after the massacre of Haweijah last year by Maliki. The revolutionary forces treated and captured soldiers of Maliki and handled them with dignity, then released them as long as they promised to not re-enter the fight. The resistance captured many arms, vehicles, tanks and airplanes. Ezat al- Douri, the Commander of the resistance, appeared in Mosul and other places in the newly liberated areas (according to Ibrahim Ebeid ). Banks, schools and other institutions were protected, the TV stations are being readied to operate, and all schools and universities will re-open next week according to Ibrahim's sources.

From what I have learned, most citizens in Mosul welcomed al-Douri with open arms and a two day celebration ensued. Not the reception one would get had these troops actually been ISIS as reported in the rest of the world. As a matter of fact I have just heard that the refinery in Mosul may be open and running again before the publication of this article.

So what are their intentions? Well, so far it truly seems that the main priority is to drive all Iranians back into Iran. No one (other than al-Maliki) can have a problem with that, so the next few weeks should be very interesting.

As I write this, much of Maliki's army has deserted him. You will read that they were all slaughtered by the ISIS, but the truth is that Maliki is killing the army deserters who do not want to kill their fellow Iraqi citizens.

So What Should We Do?

We need to contact our representatives in Washington and do what we did in August and September of 2013. At that time President Obama was being pressured by the corporatocracy to put "boots on the ground" in Syria. We spoke up!! We made the difference. It doesn't happen often but Obama kept his campaign promise. He said we need to speak up. We did and he heard us. Now we need to do it again. The Iraqis don't want our help. We've done enough damage. What will be best for us is also what would be best for Iraq. A free Iraq. Finally free of all occupiers. Then, perhaps, we can once again have a friend in the Mid East who will be willing to be a fair trading partner. But we must also convince our government to recognize in whole the new Iraq. The resistance.

##

I'd like to thank: al-Waleed Khalid, Muhamad al-Darriji, Falcon, Al-Basrahet and dhiqar. Also Khdyer Murshidy of the Baa'th party and General Muzher al-Qaisy for their help on this article. As always, I thank Akkadian Mespotamia for his information and continued friendship along with Hayfaa Ahmed and many other Iraqi friends.

Iraq News - June 16, 2014

 

Iraq Army tries to roll back Sunni militants’ advance, says nearly 300 ISIS militants killed and 50 vehicles destroyed - Bloomberg


VIDEO: Iraq conducts air strikes on ISIS targets - The Washington Post


Maliki Orders Iraqi Troops To Make Stand At Samarra - ibtimes.com


Samarra: Holy City where Iraq is doing battle against Sunni radicals - Telegraph


Shia militia: 'ISIS will not take Baghdad' - The Observer


Shiite militias strike back in Iraq, "We want to show the world that we can protect ourselves” - washingtonpost.com


VIDEO: Shia volunteers leave Basra for Baghdad to confront ISIS - theguardian.com


Powerful Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr calls for a military parade across Iraq - AhlulBayt News Agency


Anti-al-Qaeda Sunni Group Backs Iraq’s Shiite Government - Bloomberg


Kurd forces hold Iraq border crossing with Syria - Arab News 


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Advancing Iraq rebels seize northwest town Tal Afar in heavy battle - Yahoo News


Bombings Kill Up to 21 People in Baghdad - NYTimes.com


ISIS photographs detail execution of Iraqi soldiers (PHOTOS) - The Long War Journal


Iraq crisis: Cracks emerge in fragile alliance of insurgents - FT.com


VIDEO: General Military Council of the Iraqi Revolutionaries: ‘We are stronger than ISIS’ - warincontext.org


Iraq arrest that exposed wealth and power of ISIS jihadists - The Guardian


ISIS By The Numbers: How The Group Funds Terror (VIDEO) - newsy.com


The Future of ISIS and the Sectarian Response: ISIS has Picked a Fight it Cannot Win - Syria Comment


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Obama pushes Iraqis to mend sectarian rifts, prodding the leaders to form a new national unity government - NYTimes.com


US, UK create joint team to prepare for air strikes in Iraq: report - RT News


Security boosted at U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, some personnel are evacuated - The Washington Post


US prepares for talks with Iran to stop ISIS militants, says official - theguardian.com


Iran, US can end Iraq crisis says Rouhani adviser - Al-Monitor


Iran sends 2000 Basiji forces into Iraq to aid fight against ISIS militants - theguardian.com


Beleaguered Iraqis Court Iranian Mastermind of the Shiites Who Fought the U.S. - NYTimes.com


Syria pounds ISIS Northeast bases in coordination with Iraq: activist group - THE DAILY STAR


Syrian army crushes rebel push near Northwest Turkish border - US News


Spread of fighting in Iraq to Turkmen town Tal Afar alarms Ankara - CİHAN


America's Allies Are Funding ISIS: Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have dual agendas in the war on terror - The Daily Beast


Saudi press blames Iraq PM's 'sectarianism' for unrest - Ahram Online


ISIS recruitment drive in Riyadh also poses a potential threat to the Al Saud family’s rule - Businessweek


To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)

Meeting Logs: Obama Quietly Coddling Big Oil on “Bomb Trains” Regulations

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

When Richard Revesz, Dean Emeritus of New York University Law School, introduced Howard Shelanski at his only public appearance so far during his tenure as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Revesz described Shelanski as, “from our perspective, close to the most important official in the federal government.”

Manning says US public lied to about Iraq from the start

New York (AFP) - The detained US soldier convicted of leaking a trove of secret documents to WikiLeaks made a rare foray into public life Saturday to warn Americans they were being lied to about Iraq once more.

Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence on espionage charges and other offenses for passing along 700,000 secret documents, including diplomatic cables and military intelligence files, to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in the largest-scale leak in US history.

"I understand that my actions violated the law. However, the concerns that motivated me have not been resolved," the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning wrote in a New York Times editorial.

"As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan."

President Barack Obama said this week he was "looking at all the options" to halt the offensive that has brought militants within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of Baghdad's city limits, but ruled out any return of US combat troops.

Obama has been under mounting fire from Republican critics over the swift collapse of Iraq's security forces, which Washington spent billions of dollars training and equipping before pulling out its own troops in 2011.

While the US military was upbeat in its public outlook on the 2010 Iraqi parliamentary elections, suggesting it had helped bring stability and democracy to the country, "those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality," Manning wrote.

"Military and diplomatic reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissidents by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and federal police, on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. Detainees were often tortured, or even killed."

Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst, said he was "shocked by our military's complicity in the corruption of that election. Yet these deeply troubling details flew under the American media's radar."

Criticizing the military's practice of embedding journalists, Manning charged that "the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance."

Manning is serving out the prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and had requested a name change after court-martial proceedings revealed the soldier's emotional turmoil over sexual identity.

A US Army general denied clemency to Manning in April, upholding the 35-year sentence.

On ThisCantBeHappening! radio: Dave Lindorff and Vietnam Vet and Long-Time Peace Activist John Grant Discuss the Bowe Bergdahl

By Dave Lindorff

 

Bowe Bergdahl, the POW held for five years by the Taliban in Afghanistan who was recently traded for the release of five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, has been convicted in the halls of Congress and in most of the media as a deserter -- even a traitor or a Taliban convert -- all without any trial or even any evidence. John Grant, a veteran of the Vietmam War, where desertions were common, says it's an old story: As America's losing wars wind down, those who advocated the in the first place and pushed for their continuation try to create a "stabbed in the back" narrative to explain the humiliating defeat of US military forces.

Mosul, Kirkuk ,Salahuddin and Diyala: Protecting Civilians and Providing Relief to Displaced Families Must Come First!

By ICSSI
 

With Mosul, areas of Salahuddin and Kirkuk out of Iraqi government control, the situation for civilians there and in Iraq as a whole is increasingly dangerous. Moment by moment, the media/news agencies are busy gathering news of what has happened and continues to happen in northern Iraq, and with each report, anxiety grows.

 

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative declares its great concern for the fate of civilians and displaced families in cities beyond the control of the central government. In this critical moment it calls on the Iraqi government and armed groups involved in the conflict in northern Iraq to adhere to international humanitarian law, specifically in providing protection to civilians and their property, as well as to aid workers, ambulances, and civic organizations that seek to help civilians and reduce their suffering. The protection of civilians, hospitals, schools and basic services, as well as sites that house refugees and displaced persons, is a binding legal and humanitarian responsibility for everyone — violating it might bring later accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for everyone to recognize the neutrality of Iraqi and international aid workers. Their work is to help all civilians, professionally and without discrimination.

 

We also call on the authorities of the Kurdistan Region to abide by their stated political commitments to support displaced people, and to act on them immediately, allowing families and civilians to cross into safe areas within the region, and to provide them with the necessary relief. We also ask them to provide needed facilities to aid organizations and civic organizations. We call upon the UN and the international community to support regional authorities and organizations working there to provide the urgent aid required to deal with the humanitarian crisis.

 

We also call on local and central governments, along with the Kurdistan Regional Government to take seriously their responsibilities to protect civilians and their property in accordance with established law, the Iraqi constitution, and international laws related to armed conflict and human rights. The can be no rush to collective punitive measures like bombing cities and places where civilians may be harmed. The priority now is to protect civilians, and to review the factors which led to the deterioration of political stability which has resulted in the current security crisis, and to prevent it from spreading to other safe cities.

 

We also call on the politicians elected by the Iraqi people to leave their conflicts aside and direct  their full attention to the selection of a national Iraqi government that is able to unite Iraqis without discrimination or bias. This government must work to build peace with the active involvement of local communities, and to establish an open and public dialogue in which everyone has a voice. The government must adopt a policy of continuous dialogue, and it must reject war as a solution to its political and economic problems. The claim that war can end violence and unrest, that guns can solve problems, is based on a lie — using violence to combat violence can yield no lasting peace, provide no enduring security, as the experiences of Mosul and before it, Fallujah, well attest. Iraqis, Kurds, Arabs — all people in the region — are able, given a stable political atmosphere, to protect their cities and their country. Any international or U.S military intervention will only increase and reinforce the negative effects Iraq has suffered over the past decade.

Rome, June 2014

Iraq News - June 14, 2014


Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's Highest-Ranking Shia Cleric, Issues Fatwa To Fight ISIS - ibtimes.com


VIDEO: Top Iraqi Shia cleric calls on followers to take up arms against ISIS - euronews


Why Ayatollah Al-Sistani's Iraq Fatwa Is So Important - ibtimes.com


Thousands of Iraqis volunteer to battle ISIS militants - AFP


Iraq PM Maliki Arms Tribes In Fight With Anbar Militants - haberler.com


VIDEO: Recruits from Karbala set off to help fight ISIS - YouTube


ISIS' advance halted at Samarra - The Long War Journal


Iraq PM in embattled Samarra for security meet - GlobalPost


VIDEO: ISIS threatens Samarra shrine - YouTube


President Barzani: Peshmerga in Areas Abandoned by Iraqi Army - Rudaw


Kurdish Peshmerga Say They are Ready if Islamists Bring Fight - Rudaw


Iraq cracks down on ISIS with airstrikes, killing 40 - Daily Sabah


Samarra, Baghdad, Karbala, and Najaf: These cities and their Shi’a shrines will not fall the way that Mosul did - Institute for the Study of War Iraq Updates


U.S. Officials Say 4 of Iraq’s 14 army divisions abandoned their posts under ISIS attack, Other units stationed closer to Baghdad would put up a resistance - NYTimes.com


In Iraq, ISIS militants continue drive, grab 2 towns close to Baghdad - CBS News


Extortion, bank robbery fuel ISIS bloody drive to establish Sharia caliphate (VIDEO) - Fox News


The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Has a Consumer Protection Office, A guide to how the militant group overrunning Iraq actually governs - The Atlantic


ISIS boast of slaughtering 1,700 soldiers after posting beheading video of Iraqi policeman - Mail Online


U.N. Warns of Atrocities, Abuses and Hundreds Dead in Iraq Fighting - NYTimes.com


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Obama Considering 'Targeted' Military Action in Iraq - rollcall.com


VIDEO: President Obama Makes a Statement on Iraq - The White House


TRANSCRIPT: Statement by the President on Iraq - The White House


Report: Carrier Bush to move toward Iraq crisis - AP


Pentagon Said to Plan Increased Surveillance Over Iraq - Bloomberg


Iraq May Turn to Iran for Help, Maliki Aide Says - NYTimes.com


In a phone conversation Rouhani, Maliki stress eradication of terrorism in Iraq - PressTV


Exclusive: Alarmed by Iraq, Iran open to shared role with U.S. - Iran official - Yahoo News


State Department: U.S., Iran Have a 'Shared Interest' in Stabilizing Iraq, But Haven't Discussed the Iraqi Crisis - WSJ


Iranian Proxies Step Up Their Role in Iraq - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy


Hizbullah Vows Not to Intervene in Iraq, Warns of ISIS Spread - Naharnet


Jihadist expansion in Iraq puts Persian Gulf states in a tight spot - The Washington Post


Iraq government to blame for Islamist rebel advance: Saudi prince - Yahoo News


Fears About Iraq Continue to Push Up Oil Prices - NYTimes.com


To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)

War, Profits and the U.S. Government

                In 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan. The invasion was purported to be a response to the Taliban’s refusal to surrender Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the United States, but probably had a lot more to do with enabling the construction of an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. Today, thirteen years later, U.S. soldiers continue to fight there.


Two years later, the U.S, the most powerful country in the world, unleashed its terrorism on Iraq, due, it was said, to the dubious then and later unproven charge that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was moments away from using them to destroy the American way of life (whatever that is). It wasn’t until 2011 that something that President Barack Obama and his minions decided to call ‘victory’ was sufficient to withdraw U.S. troops.

Dear America: It's Over (Rulers of the World Era)

by Tom H. Hastings

Reinvade, reoccupy, and redestroy Iraq. That is the solution to the inevitable civil war that happens when the US pulls out? Will we do it until either Iraq is remade in our image or until the US economy, political environment, and culture is also destroyed?

Eight years ago a group of Portland peace activists raised the funds to bring together a number of experts to produce an exit strategy from Iraq. Ours was done, as it turns out, at the same time that the Iraq Study Group did their work. We were just unaware that the government had finally at long last decided maybe it was time to think Exit Plan. Duh. I expect we were all simply inspired and challenged by the insightful and cogent strategy published shortly before in the widely cited peer-reviewed journal, The Onion.

Still, despite the obvious--and our group, which was informed by military experts and conflict transformation experts alike, noted well that no matter when the US left the Iraqis would have a bloody civil war and settle on a new autocratic government that shot its way to power and repressed its citizenry--it took the US three more years to begin to leave, longer to finish leaving, and now the correctly predicted violent settling-out process is happening in earnest.

Naturally, the US conflict industry is dismayed when the US isn't spending every last centavo on weaponry and other military profiteering contracts. Time to respond! Go bomb! Send in "advisers." No-fly attacks, hunt down insurgents with drones and war jets. Remobilize US troops because if there is one glaringly blatant truth, proxy troops no longer work in this post-Cold War era. They seemed to be Just Fine and a great way to drain the American taxpayer when their loyalty was fairly dependable. But the era of "he may be a son of a bitch but he's our son of a bitch" (ascribed a bit dubiously to FDR about our boy Somoza, the Nicaraguan dictator) is over. Our SOBs are now routinely driven from power by the ballot, the bullet, or the bodies--that is, by the elections we no longer control, by violent insurgencies, or by civil society nonviolent revolution.

Stop it. Stop interfering in other countries. Stop sending arms. Stop the drones. Just support civil society with helpful and requested aid, never guns or tanks or war jets or anti-insurgent helicopters or anti-government rocket-propelled grenade launchers. And for any chance of success, keep US troops at home. Let Iraqis work it through and then try to be a friend to their citizenry with our goods of life. It may not be as fast as the "I've got a gun to your head so go vote!" model of spreading "democracy" that is favored by our leaders and our military industrial congressional complex, but it is the only one that actually works. Can we please start now?

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoiceDirector.

Bahrain: 46 countries condemn regime, AI wants Saudis to stop execution of child

For the first time in the history of the Human Rights Council (HRC), many countries have signed up to a statement condemning Bahrain’s serious violations of human rights. While attempting to appear neutral the statement acknowledged regime’s attempts to show the world that it is implementing certain recommendations, but the statement is critical of most aspects of human rights that continue to be violated. Any spectator with an open mind will see that the Alkhalifa have received strong blows despite Saudi and British attempts to shield them from international condemnation. On behalf of the European Union, Greece told HRC that Bahrain should allow office of High Commissioner of Human Rights to operate in Bahrain with full mandate.

The statement said: the human rights situation in Bahrain remains an issue of serious concern to us. We are concerned about the increases in long sentences for exercising rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the lack of sufficient guarantee of fair trial. We are concerned about the repression of demonstrations. There are also concerns that peaceful demonstrations are frequently disrupted by a minority of violent demonstrators.

In response to the anticipated statement the regime had escalated its repression of Bahrainis. A 15-years boy was arrested this week as he was preparing for his exams. Yousuf Sahwan was snatched from his home at the town of Maqaba to join his cousins; Hussain and Mohammad Sahwan. The boy has only three exams to finish before he transfers to the secondary school. but he was denied the right to complete them. He is a player in Bahrain’s national team. His cousin, Hussain Sahwan, missed four exams to finish his secondary school. Yesterday a judge decided to hold him for 45 day.

On 5th June Alkhalifa court sentence four Bahrainis to life imprisonment on trumpeted charges. The regime alleged that they had participated in the killing of an Asian worker and that they are members of illegal organisation. They insisted that they had nothing to do with the crime and that their sentence is based on pre-prepared “confessions” signed under extreme forms of torture.

The ill-treatment by regime’s torturers has forced Ali Al Singace to go on hunger strike. He started his action ten years ago demanding his right to sufficient medical care for his ailments that are direct result of torture including back pain, broken nose and fractured knee. Three years ago he was sentenced to death on trumpeted charges.

Among the recently detained Bahrainis is Ali Al Aryash, from Duraz who disappeared few days ago. Yesterday he was allowed to make a brief phone call from the torture centre at Al Adliya. Another snatched Bahraini is Jassim Mohammad Abdulla, 27, from Al Malikiya. He called his family to tell them that he was being held at the notorious CID torture centre.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) has issued a statement expressing concern about the health of an activist who had been subjected to most horrific treatment. BCHR said that the family of Redha Al Ghasra had contacted them and told them that their son faced the prospect of attracting a serious infectious disease. He has been placed at a cell with another inmate who has Pulmonary Tuberculosis, which is highly infectious. This comes after AlGhasra had already been subjected to different types of harassment, ill-treatment and reported torture.

Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action to highlight the plight of a Saudi national sentenced recently to death for an alleged crime that he had not committed. Ali Mohammad Baqir Al Nimr was seventeen when he allegedly committed these “crimes” including participating in a demonstration against the government, attacking security forces, possessing a machine-gun and armed robbery. The court has based its decision on singed “confessions” which had been extracted under torture. AI called  for investigation into allegations of torture, to observe the rights of Mr Al Nimr who falls within the children category and establish immediately an official moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing death sentences.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

Tell the Pentagon to stop "helping" in Iraq and Ukraine


To: U.S. Congress, President, Department of "Defense"

Stop arming Iraq. And do not bomb or send in troops. Remove U.S. drones immediately. Pursue a ceasefire and negotiations, working through the United Nations and the Arab League.

Why is this important?
Iraq needs actual aid, not "military aid." A policy of promoting, facilitating, and engaging in violence has produced nothing but disasters for decades.





To: U.S. Congress, President, Department of "Defense"

We call on the U.S. government to work with other NATO governments to cancel the Rapid Trident exercise, and to commit to not participating in military exercises in Ukraine.

Why is this important?
We note with great concern that U.S. and other NATO troops are scheduled to participate in joint military exercises in Ukraine in July as part of NATO’s Rapid Trident maneuvers. Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Its participation in military exercises by a nuclear-armed alliance with a first-strike policy can only further destabilize the country.




Make your own petition like the ones above. Promote it, show us it's popular, and we'll promote it too!

Give it a try: http://DIY.rootsaction.org

"Illegal Procedure" (One of Them) at the FBI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How NSA Can Secretly Aid Criminal Cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor Note:  Though the NSA says its mass surveillance of Americans targets only “terrorists,” the spying may turn up evidence of other illegal acts that can get passed on to law enforcement which hides the secret source through a ruse called “parallel construction."

By Ray McGovern

Rarely do you get a chance to ask a just-retired FBI director whether he had “any legal qualms” about what, in football, is called “illegal procedure,” but at the Justice Department is called “parallel construction.”

From Egypt to Afghanistan : Electing our own slavery

Sherif Samir, writing from Egypt

Thoughts behind the voting curtain…

Democracy is not the aim. The aim is justice, dignity, and development. Democracy is the way to it, and it's not the perfect way, but it's the best way so far. According to Rousseau, representative democracy is not a democracy at all, and even that democracy is so hard for us to reach to in Egypt. 

As in Afghanistan and other parts of the third world, people must cross many obstacles before experiencing democracy.  First, they must  believe that politics controls the food on their tables, the education for their children, clothes, traffic, and everything else.  Second, people must know that democracy is not infidelity, and that we can't go back in time and practice to the Muslim medieval regime (Khalifa), as fanatical Muslims always urge. Third, people have to know that democracy is not just an election, not just voting papers and transparent boxes. It is that and everything before and after it. It should be a free choice of a freely educated generation. It should be a choice of peace, not war, a choice of enlightenment, not ignorance, of progress, not poverty, of science, not myth, a choice of a people's representative, and not just of the lesser of two evils.

But this is not what we are having now in our countries. So, when I make my mark on the voting paper, place it in the box, put my finger in the phosphoric ink, smile at the camera and share the photo on Facebook, I won't be expecting any good change out of it, because it's a fake fruit of a fake tree.

“My dear voter, the multiple choice question you are answering now was written by me,” said the imperialist.

Dr Hakim, writing from Afghanistan

“In our history school text books, we are taught that ruthless conquerors were heroes,” offered 17 year old Najibullah, as a reason for the personification of warriors as strong leaders.

It is worrying that Afghans, like supporters of the National Rifle Association in the U.S., have unknowingly normalized the possession and use of weapons. Many Afghan parents are getting toy guns as gifts for their children, even for their daughters, on the Afghan New Year.

Children with toy guns at graveyard on Afghan New Year

“For this uncertain situation in Afghanistan, we need a good dictator,” says Murtaza, a law student at Kabul University.

Another young Afghan, Baqiatullah, says that people have to be pragmatic, so he has volunteered to campaign for one of the two Afghan Presidential candidates competing in the run-off elections on June 14th.  “It’s the candidate that has more money, resources and connections that will win. Money buys votes. By the way, if you can get together some youth to form a soccer team, I’ll get you free T-shirts of Dr Abdullah Abdullah!”

In 2009, some youth and I had organized a half-day Peace Conference at Bamiyan University, and we were directed to a civil society group which turned out to be a vehicle for General Dostum’s outreach.

General Dostum is the vice-presidential candidate on Mr Ashraf Ghani’s team in this year’s election. After he had submitted his candidacy in October 2013, he had given a public apology, saying, “I would like to be the first person to say that we apologize to all who have suffered on both sides of the wars….”

I had arrived at the civil society group’s office on time, and was asked to wait for the ‘boss’ to come.

He came, a young upstart dressed in a suit and tie, appearing hurried and important. He sat behind a big mahogany desk, like a CEO of sorts, and began spouting the praises of General Dostum, who he claimed had ‘hundreds of thousands of supporters as far as Turkey’.

Then, a few young Hazaras came submissively into the office, and like indentured servants, they kneeled in front of the desk, none of them in shirt or tie, and all of them looking miserable but obedient.

I told the ‘boss’ about our Peace Conference, to which he replied crisply, “We’re very supportive of such wonderful peace efforts. If I’m too tied up with work, I will certainly send one of these members to the meeting.”  With a wag of his chin, he gestured to the row of four subjects before his table.

I remember that while the ‘boss’ was boasting, one of the four Hazaras had quietly slipped out of the room, and later, came back with a pot of tea, which he poured for his ‘boss’.

His eyes had an unwilling glaze, his mind appeared to be elsewhere, but he was subserviently ‘loyal’. Did he choose to work like a slave?

No one from the group came to our Peace Conference.

While people know that perpetuating the unequal status quo dominated by a greedy and militarized elite is enslaving for the human spirit, a helpless feeling prevails that we can’t do much but vote once every four of five years.

*****

Sherif Samir is an Egyptian writer and an Arabic teacher. He was the 2012 winner of the International Contest of Microfiction, awarded by Museo de la Palabra in Spain

Dr Hakim, ( Dr. Teck Young, Wee ) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 9 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.

Iraq News - June 13, 2014


In new audio recording ISIS urges militants to march to Baghdad - Al Arabiya News


VIDEO: ISIS release audio urging fighters to march on Baghdad - Telegraph


Saddam-era fugitive’s armed group fighting alongside militants in Iraq, officials say - Fox News


UN Official Sees No Immediate Threat to Baghdad - VOA


Iraq: Government Controls Baiji Oil Refinery - VOA


Maliki Turns to Militias to Halt Militant Onslaught - Bloomberg


Kurdish peshmerga seize a chaotic victory in Kirkuk, Police loyal to Nouri al-Maliki powerless to stop looting - The Guardian


VIDEO: Kurdish Peshmerga fighters clash with ISIS militants - ITV News


ISIS Shelling Kurdish Peshmerga-controlled Areas South of Kirkuk - Rudaw


Q&A with Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim: Peshmerga to Stay 'As Long as Necessary’ - VOA


How effective is ISIS compared with the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga? - theguardian.com


AUDIO (Arabic): Full audio message from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām: “The Good That Has Happened To You Is From God” - JIHADOLOGY


TRANSCRIPT (English): Full audio message from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām - azelin.files


PHOTOS: Iraqi refugee reveals the horrors of the jihadi takeover as Baghdad vows to fight back - DailyMail


Iraq Isis Crisis: Medieval Sharia Law Imposed by ISIS on Millions in Nineveh Province - Yahoo News UK


ISIS Takes Over Thermal Plants - Eurasia Review


ISIS Claims Baghdad Terror Attacks that Killed Dozens: Statement - The New Indian Express


How ISIS Pulled Off A Rapid Takeover In Iraq - ibtimes.com


VIDEO: Remarkable footage of 100s of Iraq soldiers surrendering to ISIS near Tikrit - Twitter / Charles_Lister


How ISIS is exploiting the economics of Syria's civil war - Vox


ISIS Threatens to Invade Jordan, 'Slaughter' King Abdullah - gatestoneinstitute.org


-------------------------------------------------------

US President Barack Obama meets national security team on Iraq - zeenews


VIDEO: Obama considers options to help Iraq, Not ruling anything out - YouTube


U.S. Secretly Flying Drones Over Iraq - WSJ


Americans being evacuated from Iraqi air base as militants advance, The three planeloads are mostly contractors and civilians - Fox News


Iran to combat terrorism in Iraq: Iran President Rouhani - AFP


Iran Deploys Forces to Fight Militants in Iraq - WSJ


Iran Police Chief: Tehran Could Intervene in Iraq to Protect Shia Shrines - The Daily Beast


The Battle for Iraq Is a Saudi War on Iran, Why the ISIS invasion of Iraq is really a war between Shiites and Sunnis for control of the Middle East - foreignpolicy.com


Iraq crisis: Sunni caliphate has been bankrolled by the Saudi Wahhabis and Kuwaiti oligarchs - The Independent


Militant advances in Iraq 'Saudi terrorism': Syria media - THE DAILY STAR


VIDEO:  Video shows Saudis fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq - Al Arabiya News

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

UVA Research Park Drains Our Economy

The University of Virginia research park, across Rt. 29 North from the National Ground Intelligence Center, is hosting a conference on weapons technologies that has been promoted as dealing with economically beneficial matters.

And why not?  Both the military facility and the research park provide jobs, and the people who hold those jobs spend their money on things that support other jobs.  What's not to like? 

Well, one problem is what those jobs do.  A Win/Gallup poll of 65 nations earlier this year found the United States by far most widely considered the greatest threat to peace in the world.  Imagine how it must sound to people in other countries when we talk about the U.S. military as a jobs program.

But let's stick to economics.  Where does the money come from for most of what goes on at the base and the research park north of town?  From our taxes and government borrowing.  Between 2000 and 2010, 161 military contractors in Charlottesville pulled in $919,914,918 through 2,737 contracts from the federal government. Over $8 million of that went to Mr. Jefferson's university, and three-quarters of that to the Darden Business School. And the trend is ever upward. 

It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs -- with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.

The superiority of other spending or even tax cuts has been established repeatedly by seminal studies out of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, frequently cited and never refuted over the last several years.  Not only would spending on trains or solar panels or schools produce more and better paying jobs, but so would never taxing the dollars in the first place.  Military spending is worse than nothing, just in economic terms.

Add to this the impact on foreign policy that massive military spending has had since before President Eisenhower warned us on the day he left office: "The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual --" he said, "is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government."  Today even more so, so much so perhaps that we notice it less, so routine has it become.

Connecticut has set up a commission to work on transitioning to peaceful industries, largely for economic reasons.  Virginia or Charlottesville could do the same. 

The U.S. government spends over $600 billion a year just on the Department of Defense, and over $1 trillion total every year on militarism across all departments and debts for past wars.  It's over half of U.S. discretionary spending and about as much as the rest of the world's nations combined, including the many NATO members and allies of the United States.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world.  That sounds like a lot of money to you or me.  It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water.  Again, that sounds like a lot.  But consider the amounts being spent on economically detrimental programs that also damage our civil liberties, our environment, our safety, and our morality.  It wouldn't cost much for the U.S. to become seen as the greatest threat to suffering and poverty instead of to peace.

David Swanson is a Charlottesville resident and organizer of WorldBeyondWar.org.

Coalition Of Groups Welcome Home Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

By Popular Resistance

Tomgram: William Astore, Drafted by the National Security State

On the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Brian Williams led off NBC Nightly News this way: “On our broadcast tonight, the salute to the warriors who stormed the beaches here in Normandy...”  It’s such a commonplace of our American world, that word “warriors” for those in the U.S. military or, as is said time and again, our “wounded warriors” for those hurt in one of our many wars.  This time, however, because it was applied to the vets of World War II, my father’s war, it stopped me in my tracks.  For just a moment, I couldn’t help imagining what my father would have said, had anyone called him -- or any of the air commandos in Burma for whom he was “operations officer” -- a warrior.  Though he’s been dead now for three decades, I don’t have a moment’s doubt that he would have thought it ridiculous.  In World War I, America’s soldiers had been known as “doughboys.”  In World War II, they were regularly (and proudly) called “dogfaces” or G.I. (for “government issue”) Joes, and their citizen-soldier likenesses were reflected in the tough but bedraggled figures of Willy and Joe, Bill Mauldin’s much beloved wartime cartoon foot soldiers on the long slog to Berlin.

And that was fitting for a civilian military, a draft military.  It was down to earth.  It was how you described people who had left civilian life with every intention of returning to it as soon as humanly possible, who thought the military a grim necessity of a terrible moment in history and that war, a terrible but necessary way to go.  In those days, warriors would have been an alien term, the sort you associated with, say, Prussians.

My father volunteered just after the attack on Pearl Harbor and wasn’t demobilized until the war ended, but -- I remember it well in the years after -- while he took pride in his service, he maintained a typical and healthy American dislike (to put it politely) for what he called “the regular army” and George Washington would have called a “standing army.”  He would have been amazed by the present American way of war and the propaganda universe we now live in when it comes to praising and elevating the U.S. military above the rest of society.  He would have found it inconceivable that a president’s wife would go on a popular TV show -- I’m talking about Michelle Obama on "Nashville" -- and mix it up with fictional characters to laud for the umpteenth time America’s warriors and their service to the nation.

In Vietnam, of course, the term still wasn’t warrior, it was “grunt.”  The elevation of the American soldier to the heavens of praise and bombast came significantly after the end of the citizen army, particularly with what retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and TomDispatch regular William Astore calls the new Fortress America mindset of the post-9/11 years and the ever more militarized world of constant war that went with it.

If only I could have picked up the phone, called my father, and heard the choice words he would have had for his newly elevated status as an American “warrior,” seven decades after Normandy.  But not being able to, on that D-Day anniversary I did the next best thing and called a 90-year-old friend, who was on a ship off one of those blood-soaked beaches as the invasion began.  Thinking back those 70 years with a certain pride, he remembered that the thing the foot soldiers of World War II resented most was saluting or saying “sir” to officers.  No warriors they -- and no love for an eternal wartime either.  Put another way, the farther we’ve come from our last great military victory, symbolized by the events of June 6, 1944, the more elevated the language for describing, or perhaps whitewashing, a new American way of war that, for pure failure, may have few matches. Tom

Uncle Sam Doesn’t Want You -- He Already Has You
The Militarized Realities of Fortress America
By William J. Astore

I spent four college years in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and then served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force.  In the military, especially in basic training, you have no privacy.  The government owns you.  You’re “government issue,” just another G.I., a number on a dogtag that has your blood type and religion in case you need a transfusion or last rites.  You get used to it.  That sacrifice of individual privacy and personal autonomy is the price you pay for joining the military.  Heck, I got a good career and a pension out of it, so don’t cry for me, America.

But this country has changed a lot since I joined ROTC in 1981, was fingerprinted, typed for blood, and otherwise poked and prodded. (I needed a medical waiver for myopia.)  Nowadays, in Fortress America, every one of us is, in some sense, government issue in a surveillance state gone mad.

Unlike the recruiting poster of old, Uncle Sam doesn’t want you anymore -- he already has you.  You’ve been drafted into the American national security state.  That much is evident from Edward Snowden’s revelations. Your email?  It can be read.  Your phone calls?  Metadata about them is being gathered.  Your smartphone?  It’s a perfect tracking device if the government needs to find you.  Your computer?  Hackable and trackable.  Your server?  It’s at their service, not yours.

Many of the college students I’ve taught recently take such a loss of privacy for granted.  They have no idea what’s gone missing from their lives and so don’t value what they’ve lost or, if they fret about it at all, console themselves with magical thinking -- incantations like “I’ve done nothing wrong, so I’ve got nothing to hide.”  They have little sense of how capricious governments can be about the definition of “wrong.”

Consider us all recruits, more or less, in the new version of Fortress America, of an ever more militarized, securitized country.  Renting a movie?  Why not opt for the first Captain America and watch him vanquish the Nazis yet again, a reminder of the last war we truly won?  Did you head for a baseball park on Memorial Day?  What could be more American or more innocent?  So I hope you paid no attention to all those camouflaged caps and uniforms your favorite players were wearing in just another of an endless stream of tributes to our troops and veterans. 

Let’s hear no whining about militarized uniforms on America’s playing fields.  After all, don’t you know that America’s real pastime these last years has been war and lots of it?

Be a Good Trooper

Think of the irony.  The Vietnam War generated an unruly citizen’s army that reflected an unruly and increasingly rebellious citizenry.  That proved more than the U.S. military and our ruling elites could take.  So President Nixon ended the draft in 1973 and made America’s citizen-soldier ideal, an ideal that had persisted for two centuries, a thing of the past.  The “all-volunteer military,” the professionals, were recruited or otherwise enticed to do the job for us.  No muss, no fuss, and it’s been that way ever since.  Plenty of war, but no need to be a “warrior,” unless you sign on the dotted line.  It’s the new American way.

But it turned out that there was a fair amount of fine print in the agreement that freed Americans from those involuntary military obligations.  Part of the bargain was to “support the pros” (or rather “our troops”) unstintingly and the rest involved being pacified, keeping your peace, being a happy warrior in the new national security state that, particularly in the wake of 9/11, grew to enormous proportions on the taxpayer dollar.  Whether you like it or not, you’ve been drafted into that role, so join the line of recruits and take your proper place in the garrison state. 

If you’re bold, gaze out across the increasingly fortified and monitored borders we share with Canada and Mexico.  (Remember when you could cross those borders with no hassle, not even a passport or ID card?  I do.)  Watch for those drones, home from the wars and already hovering in or soon to arrive in your local skies -- ostensibly to fight crime.  Pay due respect to your increasingly up-armored police forces with their automatic weapons, their special SWAT teams, and their converted MRAPs (mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles).  These vintage Iraqi Freedom vehicles are now military surplus given away or sold on the cheap to local police departments.  Be careful to observe their draconian orders for prison-like “lockdowns” of your neighborhood or city, essentially temporary declarations of martial law, all for your safety and security. 

Be a good trooper and do what you’re told.  Stay out of public areas when you’re ordered to do so.  Learn to salute smartly.  (It’s one of the first lessons I was taught as a military recruit.)  No, not that middle-finger salute, you aging hippie.  Render a proper one to those in authority.  You had best learn how.

Or perhaps you don’t even have to, since so much that we now do automatically is structured to render that salute for us.  Repeated singings of “God Bless America” at sporting events.  Repeated viewings of movies that glorify the military.  (Special Operations forces are a hot topic in American multiplexes these days from Act of Valor to Lone Survivor.)  Why not answer the call of duty by playing militarized video games like Call of Duty?  Indeed, when you do think of war, be sure to treat it as a sport, a movie, a game.

Surging in America 

I’ve been out of the military for nearly a decade, and yet I feel more militarized today than when I wore a uniform.  That feeling first came over me in 2007, during what was called the “Iraqi surge” -- the sending of another 30,000 U.S. troops into the quagmire that was our occupation of that country. It prompted my first article for TomDispatch.  I was appalled by the way our civilian commander-in-chief, George W. Bush, hid behind the beribboned chest of his appointed surge commander, General David Petraeus, to justify his administration’s devolving war of choice in Iraq.  It seemed like the eerie visual equivalent of turning traditional American military-civilian relationships upside down, of a president who had gone over to the military.  And it worked.  A cowed Congress meekly submitted to “King David” Petraeus and rushed to cheer his testimony in support of further American escalation in Iraq.

Since then, it’s become a sartorial necessity for our presidents to don military flight jackets whenever they address our “warfighters” as a sign both of their “support” and of the militarization of the imperial presidency.  (For comparison, try to imagine Matthew Brady taking a photo of “honest Abe” in the Civil War equivalent of a flight jacket!)  It is now de rigueur for presidents to praise American troops as “the finest military in world history” or, as President Obama typically said to NBC’s Brian Williams in an interview from Normandy last week, “the greatest military in the world.”  Even more hyperbolically, these same troops are celebrated across the country in the most vocal way possible as hardened “warriors” and benevolent freedom-bringers, simultaneously the goodest and the baddest of anyone on the planet -- and all without including any of the ugly, as in the ugliness of war and killing.  Perhaps that explains why I’ve seen military recruitment vans (sporting video game consoles) at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  Given that military service is so beneficent, why not get the country’s 12-year-old prospects hopped up on the prospect of joining the ranks?

Too few Americans see any problems in any of this, which shouldn’t surprise us.  After all, they’re already recruits themselves.  And if the prospect of all this does appall you, you can’t even burn your draft card in protest, so better to salute smartly and obey.  A good conduct medal will undoubtedly be coming your way soon.

It wasn’t always so.  I remember walking the streets of Worcester, Massachusetts, in my freshly pressed ROTC uniform in 1981.  It was just six years after the Vietnam War ended in defeat and antiwar movies like Coming Home, The Deer Hunter, and Apocalypse Now were still fresh in people’s minds.  (First Blood and the Rambo “stab-in-the-back” myth wouldn’t come along for another year.)  I was aware of people looking at me not with hostility, but with a certain indifference mixed occasionally with barely disguised disdain.  It bothered me slightly, but even then I knew that a healthy distrust of large standing militaries was in the American grain.

No longer.  Today, service members, when appearing in uniform, are universally applauded and repetitiously lauded as heroes.

I’m not saying we should treat our troops with disdain, but as our history has shown us, genuflecting before them is not a healthy sign of respect.  Consider it a sign as well that we really are all government issue now.

Shedding a Militarized Mindset

If you think that’s an exaggeration, consider an old military officer’s manual I still have in my possession.  It’s vintage 1950, approved by that great American, General George C. Marshall, Jr., the man most responsible for our country’s victory in World War II.  It began with this reminder to the newly commissioned officer: “[O]n becoming an officer a man does not renounce any part of his fundamental character as an American citizen.  He has simply signed on for the post-graduate course where one learns how to exercise authority in accordance with the spirit of liberty.”  That may not be an easy thing to do, but the manual’s aim was to highlight the salutary tension between military authority and personal liberty that was the essence of the old citizen’s army.

It also reminded new officers that they were trustees of America’s liberty, quoting an unnamed admiral’s words on the subject: “The American philosophy places the individual above the state.  It distrusts personal power and coercion.  It denies the existence of indispensable men.  It asserts the supremacy of principle.”

Those words were a sound antidote to government-issue authoritarianism and militarism -- and they still are.  Together we all need to do our bit, not as G.I. Joes and Janes, but as Citizen Joes and Janes, to put personal liberty and constitutional principles first.  In the spirit of Ronald Reagan, who told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this [Berlin] wall,” isn’t it time to begin to tear down the walls of Fortress America and shed our militarized mindsets?  Future generations of citizens will thank us, if we have the courage to do so.

William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and TomDispatch regular, edits the blog The Contrary Perspective.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me.

Copyright 2014 William J. Astore

Emails: ND Ethics Law Potentially Broken on Petraeus Fracking Trip

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

DeSmogBlog has obtained emails via North Dakota's Open Records Statute revealing facts that could be interpreted as indicating that North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt broke State Investment Board ethics laws.

Photo Credit: Office of North Dakota State Treasurer; Obtained via ND Open Records Statute

Iraq News - June 12, 2014


ISIS takes control of Bayji, Tikrit in lightning southward advance - The Long War Journal


ISIS Sunni militants push into Iraqi oil refinery town - Reuters


Iraq Says Mosul Violence Won't Spread to Oil-Producing South - WSJ


PHOTOS: Tikrit falls to Islamist terrorists - Mail Online


Mosul Seized: Jihadis Loot $429m from City's Central Bank to Make ISIS World's Richest Terror Force - ibtimes.co.uk


MAP: Where ISIS Is Gaining Control in Iraq and Syria - NYTimes.com


Iraq forces repel militant assault on Samarra: witnesses - THE DAILY STAR


Iraq says to work with Kurdish forces to retake Mosul - Reuters


Kurdish Fighters Mobilize to Stop Threat of Islamist Militants - WSJ


As Islamic Militants Continue Advance, Kurds Vow to Defend Kirku - Rudaw


Sadr calls for new force to defend Iraq religious sites - THE DAILY STAR


ISIS Militants Seize Turkish Consulate Staff in Iraqi City - NYTimes.com


Bombings in Shiite areas of Iraq kill 37 - THE DAILY STAR


Al-Qaida splinter group ISIS encircles Syrian city across the Iraq border - The Washington Post


How ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became the world’s most powerful jihadist leader - washingtonpost.com


The Ginger Jihadist of Mosul: Omar al-Shishani the Chechen ‘General’ - ibtimes.co.uk


------------------------------------------------------

Iraq Asked U.S. for Airstrikes, Officials Say - NYTimes.com


Iraq Requests Accelerated Shipment of U.S. Arms to Counter Militants - Wall Street Journal


US considers sending emergency military aid to Iraq - The Independent


Iraqi, U.S. Forces Trade Barbs Over Failures - WSJ


State Department: US has no plans to send any of its 35,000 Middle East-based troops into Iraq - Mail Online


US ponders whether new leadership in Baghdad could slow extremists but sees few alternatives - Fox News


U.S. Embassy in Iraq prepares evacuation plans - IraqiNews.com


Iraq foreign minister: Iraq faces 'mortal threat' - Yahoo News


Iraq army capitulates to ISIS militants in four cities - The Guardian


Iraq's Army Abandoned Mosul To ISIS By 'Changing Clothes, Abandoning Weapons’ - huffingtonpost.com


VIDEO: Iraqi Army fleeing Kirkuk in civilian clothing - YouTube


How did hundreds of Islamist militants beat thousands of US-trained Iraqi army soldiers? - ITV News


Iraq army was not prepared for ISIS, says former White House advisor - abc.net.au


Iraqi Army's power blunted by a rise in desertions, Exhausted and bereft soldiers quit fight - NYTimes.com


Iraq’s Terrorists Are Becoming a Full-Blown Army - The Daily Beast


President George W. Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq at the root of Iraq’s chaos - Consortiumnews


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