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Military Industrial Complex
Reviewing Marjorie Cohn and Kathleen Gilberd's "Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent"
Reviewing Marjorie Cohn and Kathleen Gilberd's "Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent"
By Stephen Lendman
Marjorie Cohn is a Distinguished Law Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where she's taught since 1991 and is the current President of the National Lawyers Guild. She's also been a criminal defense attorney at the trial and appellate levels, is an author, and writes many articles for professional journals, other publications, and numerous popular web sites.
Her record of achievements, distinctions, and awards are many and varied - for her teaching, writing, and her work as a lawyer and activist for peace, social and economic justice, and respect for the rule of law. Cohn's previous books include "Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice" and "Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law."
Her newest book just out, co-authored with Kathleen Gilberd (a recognized expert on military administrative law), is titled "Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent." It explores why US military personnel disobey orders and refuse to participate in two illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also explains that US and international law obligate them to do so.
Our emergency international delegation to Honduras, organized from the United States by CODEPINK, Global Exchange and Non-Violence International, began its fact-finding mission in the wake of the June 28 coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya.
We started out with a briefing by the Network of Sustainable Development (Red de Desarrollo Sostenible, a 15-year-old organization devoted to the exchange of information about sustainable development. It has now become a center for exchanging information about the coup. Using blogspot, facebook, twitter, myspace, flickr and youtube, the Network's network is abuzz with hour-by-hour accounts of political developments. Their communication system has become a critical way for Honduras to get information, since the coup leaders have muzzled the press.
The Network has a history of being objective and staying above politics, but the staff is outraged by the coup. "This was just over the top," said National Coordinator Raquel Isaura, who is being targeted by the right for some anti-coup internet messages posted under her name. "A military coup in this day and age must be condemned by all sectors of civil society." Read more.
Along with postcards of cowboys riding jackalopes and giant berries on flatcars, there's a brand new entry in the American gigantism sweepstakes: an embassy complex to be built in Islamabad, Pakistan, for -- if you assume the normal cost overruns on such projects -- what's likely to be close to a billion dollars. If that doesn't make the U.S. number one in the imperial hubris footrace for all eternity, what will? The question is: with its projected "large military and intelligence contingent," and its "surge" of diplomats, will that embassy also issue the largest visas on the planet?
Here's the strange thing: The embassy story was broken at the end of May by the superb journalists at McClatchy News (in this case, Warren P. Stroebel and Saeed Shah). As part of what Shah, in the Christian Science Monitor, estimates as a staggering "$2-billion-plus price tag on a revamped diplomatic presence for the United States in Afghanistan and Pakistan," they reported that an appropriation of $736 million for embassy construction had quietly made its way through both houses of Congress without a peep from anyone. This news, however, seemed to plunge off a steep cliff into a deep well of silence. Indicative as the Obama administration's decision to build such an imperial monstrosity may be of a longer-term commitment to a wider war in the Af-Pak (as in Afghanistan-Pakistan) theater of operations, it evidently proved of no interest to anyone here.
The story was not widely picked up or played up significantly. Despite the fact that major news operations have been bolstering their staffs in Pakistan, there has been no further reporting on the appropriation, the plans for the embassy, or what it all might mean. As far as I can tell, nowhere in the United States did a mainstream editorial page decry, challenge, or even discuss the development. Charlie Rose didn't gather experts to consider it, nor did the Newshour with Jim Lehrer seem to think it worth exploring. Letters of outrage at the thought of those desperately needed funds heading Islamabad-wards didn't pour into local newspapers (perhaps because few knew it was happening and those who did saw it as just another humdrum story about making the U.S. safer in a dangerous world). I've seen no obvious congressional attempts to oppose the passage of the money. The general attitude is evidently: Been there, done that (in Iraq, as a matter of fact, in the Bush years).
The Lingering Effects of Torture
After Guantanamo, Scientists and Advocates Study Detainees
By Devin Powell | Inside Science News Service via ABCNews | Link features ABC's Jake Tapper's first video interview with Algerian Lakhdar Boumediene.
Like many of the other inmates interrogated at Guantanamo Bay, Adeel's personal nightmare did not end when he returned home.
Today, in his native Pakistan, the sound of approaching footsteps or the sight of someone in a uniform can trigger bad memories and set off a panic attack. The former teacher and father of five now thinks of himself as a suspicious and lonely person.
"I feel like I am in a big prison and still in isolation. I have lost all my life," he told psychologists working for the non-profit Physicians for Human Rights. They diagnosed him as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe depression.
Newly emerging research on large numbers of torture survivors shows that anecdotal stories like these are common and suggests that "psychological" forms of torture -- often thought to be milder than the direct infliction of physical pain -- can in fact have serious long-term mental health consequences.
Adeel's story is similar to those of other prisoners who may be released this year as President Obama pushes to close the facility. Adeel spent four years in U.S. custody, first at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Afghanistan and then at Guantanamo -- and was freed in 2006, never having been charged with a crime. Read More
Tomgram: Dahr Jamail, A Secret History of Dissent in the All-Volunteer Military | TomDispatch.com
The All-Volunteer Force (AVF) exists for a reason captured in a study by Colonel Robert D. Heinl, Jr., author of the "definitive history of the Marine Corps," published in Armed Forces Journal in 1971. The U.S. military in Vietnam was at that moment at the edge of chaos. As Colonel Heinl put it, it was experiencing "widespread conditions... that have only been exceeded in this century by the French Army's Nivelle mutinies of 1917 and the collapse of the Tsarist armies [of Russia] in 1916 and 1917."
In fact, statistics flowing back to Washington about the American war machine in Vietnam then pointed toward an unimaginable nightmare. Drug use was rampant; desertions stood at 70 per thousand, a modern high; small-scale mutinies or "combat refusals" were at critical, if untabulated, levels; incidents of racial conflict had soared; and strife between "lifers" and draftees was at unprecedented levels. Reported "fraggings" -- assassination attempts -- against unpopular officers or NCOs had risen from 126 in 1969 to 333 in 1971, despite declining troop strength in Vietnam. According to Colonel Heinl's figures, as many as 144 antiwar underground newspapers were being published by, or for, soldiers. And most threatening of all, active duty soldiers in relatively small numbers (as well as a swelling number of Vietnam veterans) were beginning to actively organize against the war.
When, in January 1973, before the war was even over, President Richard Nixon announced that an American draft army was at an end and an all-volunteer force would be created, this was why. The U.S. military was in the wilderness without a compass, having discovered one crucial thing: you couldn't fight an endless, unpopular counterinsurgency war with the kind of conscript army a democracy had to offer. What resulted, of course, was the AVF, a moniker that, as Andrew Bacevich has written in his book The New American Militarism, was but "a euphemism for what is, in fact, a professional army... [that] does not even remotely 'look like' democratic America." Citizenship and the obligation to serve were now officially severed and, from the 1980s on, most Americans would ever more vigorously cheer on the AVF from the sidelines, while it would be a force theoretically purged of possible Vietnam-style dissent and refusal.
In that sense, it could be considered a success. We've now been at war seven and a half years in Afghanistan and more than five in Iraq, two catastrophic counterinsurgency struggles, and yet a Vietnam-style movement has neither arisen in the military, nor for that matter in the streets of what's now called "the homeland." But as TomDispatch regular Dahr Jamail indicates below and in his new book, The Will To Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, dissent has proved irrepressible. With the generous support of the Nation Institute's Investigative Fund, Jamail has produced a report on the seeds of refusal and dissent in the military that may -- in a quagmire future in Afghanistan and possibly Iraq -- grow into something far larger. Tom
Recently, reports surfaced that President Obama is drafting an executive order that would authorize a regime of indefinite detention without charge. Indefinite detention without charge is one of the most egregious of all human rights violations and is a hallmark of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes the world over. A handful of White House lawyers are now attempting to erase a bedrock principle of American justice by the stroke of a pen, without even the fig leaf of congressional approval. There's a clear alternative, and that is standard American justice: either charge detainees and give them a fair trial in US federal court, or release them. We need you to help change President Obama's mind–he needs to hear that millions of Americans care enough about this issue to speak out. Send the email or—even better—use our sample letter to write your own.
The Military Invades U.S. Schools: How Military Academies Are Being Used to Destroy Public Education
The Military Invades U.S. Schools: How Military Academies Are Being Used to Destroy Public Education
In Chicago, there's a push to replace public schools with military academies. This model may soon spread to the rest of the country.
By Brian Roa | TruthOut.org via Alternet
For the past four years, I have observed the military occupation of the high school where I teach science. Currently, Chicago's Senn High School houses Rickover Naval Academy (RNA). I use the term "occupation" because part of our building was taken away despite student, parent, teacher and community opposition to RNA's opening.
Senn students are made to feel like second-class citizens inside their own school, due to inequalities. The facilities and resources are better on the RNA side. RNA students are allowed to walk on the Senn side, while Senn students cannot walk on the RNA side. RNA "disenrolls" students and we accept those students who get kicked out if they live within our attendance boundaries. This practice is against Chicago policy, but goes unchecked. All of these things maintain a two-tiered system within the same school building.
This phenomenon is not restricted to Senn. Chicago has more military academies and more students in JROTC than any other city in the US. As the tentacles of school militarization reach beyond Chicago, the process used in this city seems to serve as a model of expansion. There was a Marine Academy planned for Georgia's Dekalb County, which includes 10 percent of Atlanta. Fortunately, due to protest, the school has been postponed until 2010. Despite it being postponed, it is still useful to analyze the rhetoric used to rationalize the Marine Academy. Many of the lies and excuses used to justify school militarization in Chicago and Georgia may well be used in other cities as militarism grows.
Not for Recruiting? Read more.
By David Swanson
Do they have a fourth of July in Italy? That's not a trick question. This July 4th, Italians plan to gather in Vicenza to take nonviolent action aimed at freeing Italy from U.S. occupation and opposing the proposed construction of an enormous new U.S. military base in a town already swarming with U.S. troops stationed at existing bases. For years now, a major campaign organized by local residents has resisted the construction of the new base. The history of this campaign is chronicled in English here and here. A local referendum voted 95 percent against the base. A leader of the opposition to the base has been elected to the local government. An Italian prime minister has been temporarily thrown out of power. Local activists and members of parliament have visited Washington to oppose the base, and testified before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs on April 23, 2009. The European media has been unable to avoid the story.
Michael Hudson's "Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire"
By Stephen Lendman
First written in 1972, it was updated in a 2003 edition that's every bit as relevant now - thus this review focusing on Hudson's new preface, introduction, and detailed account of the book's theme.
He revisited it in his 2008-09 Project Censored award- winning article titled: "Economic Meltdown - The 'Dollar Glut' is What Finances America's Global Military Build-up" in which he explains the following - the "inter-related dynamics" of:
- "surplus (US) dollars pouring into the rest of the world for yet further financial speculation and corporate takeovers;"
- global central banks "recyl(ing) these dollar inflows (into) US Treasury bonds to finance the federal US budget deficit; and most important (but most suppressed in the US media),"
- "the military character of the US payments deficit and the domestic federal budget deficit."
US Iraq Casualties rise to 72,351
Compiled by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander-in-Chief Obama suffered 41 combat casualties in the week ending June 30, 2009 as the official total rose to at least 72,351. The total includes 34,864 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 37,487 dead and medically evacuated (last reported April 4, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions - were diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
Oshkosh Wins $1.06 Billion Job for Mine-Resistant Trucks
By August Cole | WSJ
Oshkosh Corp. has won a contract valued at $1.06 billion to provide mine-resistant trucks to the U.S. military for use in Afghanistan.
The big-ticket Pentagon weapons acquisition is part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's efforts to rebalance the military to better fight insurgent groups. Pentagon leaders insisted on fast-tracking the contract because the vehicles fill an immediate need for troops in Afghanistan, a similar effort to Mr. Gates's previous push to rush armored trucks to Iraq.
Other urgent Pentagon initiatives focused on fighting insurgent forces include buying turboprop planes equipped with state-of-the art surveillance gear designed to get better battlefield intelligence and information to U.S. forces on the ground.
The contract calls on the Oshkosh, Wis., truck maker to provide 2,244 wheeled armored vehicles, as well as parts and related services. Companies such as BAE Systems PLC also had bid for the contract. The Pentagon could order thousands more of the vehicles. Read more.
Meet "04-309." I don't know his name--DOD redacted that from the reports on detainee deaths it released to ACLU some time ago. "04-309" is the number DOD assigned to the autopsy they did on him in Mosul on April 26, 2004, just two days before the Abu Ghraib story broke.
When 04-309 was captured by Navy Seals around April 2, 2004, he was around 27, a "well-developed, well-nourished" man, 6 foot and 190 pounds. He had no visible scars. He was, apparently, healthy.
04-309 did, however, show signs of minor injury: cuts and bruises around his head and belly and right shoulder and arm. These wounds may have come when he was arrested--his autopsy summary says "Q by NSWT [Navy Seals], struggled/interrogated" before it describes he, "died sleeping."
But 04-309's Final Autopsy Report--completed on November 22, 2004, long after Abu Ghraib broke and the CIA's Inspector General concluded the CIA's interrogation program was cruel and inhumane (though not all that long after a criminal investigation of homicides committed in 2002 concluded, on October 8, 2004, that the deaths were partly caused by sleep deprivation and stress positions)--doesn't conclude how he died. It does, however, describe these "circumstances of death:" Read more.
Not long after the statue of Saddam fell in Firdos Square, several CODEPINK women and I returned to Iraq. We'd first visited in February during the time Bush proclaimed, "The game is over" and announced his plans for "shock and awe." We'd learned then how much Iraqis loved Americans and did not want our disrupting their country; they asked us to let them deal with Saddam because the change had to come from within or it could be a disaster. We fell in love with Iraq and felt totally safe there, taking cabs in the wee hours of the morning, walking at 2 a.m. on the Tigress and driving to many parts of the country.
Returning a few months later, however, we found the country devastated. Bustling markets were empty, the streets were those of a ghost town. Electricity was rare if at all and gas lines were miles long. U.S. soldiers in Humvees sped down the streets with an embarrassing arrogance. Jerry Bremer had just arrived and had issued 100 edicts that infuriated every Iraqi. The story on the street was that it only took Saddam a month to get the country back in shape after the Gulf War, thus, impatience and anger toward the U.S. were growing. Over and over, we heard from Iraqis, "We had one Saddam and now we have hundreds."
We were in Iraq to see how to support women in the transition, going to meeting after meeting of how they were going to be included. Zainab Salbi from the non-profit peace group Women for Women International (W4WI) was in many of those meetings with us, including a reception that Bremer threw inside the Coalition Provisional Authority, now the Green Zone. Her father was Saddam's pilot and her mother had sent her to the U.S. to marry out of concern for her safety. I talked to Zainab a few days ago to learn about her most recent trip to Iraq.
"In six years they have destroyed Iraq," her eyes teared as she began to tell me what she found. She used the image of a pen trying to balance on the tip of her finger to describe Iraq now: balancing but very unstable. Since she was there last it is a bit safer. Women who had been in exile and hiding for four years were starting to reemerge. But more than 70 percent of the women are not sending their daughters to school. I asked her about the women from the Bremer reception, 20 women have been killed and most others are gone. Read more.
American forces have attempted to take over an Iranian oil field near the country's western border with Iraq, a security official says.
“US forces backed by tanks entered the Mousian area of the Dehloran County, laying around 100 meters of pipeline in Iranian territory," the source, talking on condition of anonymity, said Monday. Read more.
The postwar humanitarian crisis in Gaza takes a turn for the worse with the Israeli Navy intercepting a relief ship headed toward the coastal strip.
A group of 21 activists sailing to Gaza said Tuesday that Israeli forces had threatened to gun down their boat unless they changed direction.
"There is a patrol boat around us and we were told that if we did not turn back they would open fire," Reuters quoted Irish activist Derek Graham as saying.
"We are continuing our course to Gaza," he added.
The Free Gaza Movement activists had left the Cypriot port of Larnaca earlier on Monday to deliver three tons of medical supplies, some tool kits and copper wiring to Gaza.
The activists onboard included an Irish Nobel peace laureate and a former US congresswoman. Read more.
Tomorrow is the deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq, a date Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is calling a “great victory.” But in a new interview with Washington Times radio, Vice President Cheney was still pushing the U.S. to stay in Iraq, saying that withdrawal would “waste” the sacrifice of U.S. troops:
Mr. Cheney told The Washington Times’ America’s Morning News radio show that he is a strong believer in Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and that the general is doing what needs to be done.
“But what he says concerns me: That there is still a continuing problem. One might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks.
“I hope Iraqis can deal with it. At some point they have to stand on their own. But I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point.“ Read more.
Color Revolutions, Old and New
By Stephen Lendman
In his new book, "Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order," F. William Engdahl explained a new form of US covert warfare - first played out in Belgrade, Serbia in 2000. What appeared to be "a spontaneous and genuine political 'movement,' (in fact) was the product of techniques" developed in America over decades.
In the 1990s, RAND Corporation strategists developed the concept of "swarming" to explain "communication patterns and movement of" bees and other insects which they applied to military conflict by other means. More on this below.
Former Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beig claims the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has distributed 400 million dollars inside Iran to evoke a revolution.
In a phone interview with the Pashto Radio on Monday, General Beig said that there is undisputed intelligence proving the US interference in Iran.
“The documents prove that the CIA spent 400 million dollars inside Iran to prop up a colorful-hollow revolution following the election,” he added. Read more.
Obama must call off this folly before Afghanistan becomes his Vietnam
Senseless slaughter and anti-western hysteria are all America and Britain's billions have paid for in a counterproductive war
By Simon Jenkins | Guardian.co.UK | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
If good intentions ever paved a road to hell, they are doing so in Afghanistan. History rarely declares when folly turns to disaster, but it does so now. Barack Obama and his amanuensis, Gordon Brown, are uncannily repeating the route taken by American leaders in Vietnam from 1963 to 1975. Galbraith once said that the best thing about the Great Depression was that it warned against another. Does the same apply to Vietnam?
Vietnam began with Kennedy's noble 1963 intervention, to keep the communist menace at bay and thus make the world safe for democracy. That is what George Bush and Tony Blair said of terrorism and Afghanistan. Vietnam escalated as the Diem regime in Saigon failed to contain Vietcong aggression and was deposed with American collusion. By 1965, despite Congress scepticism, American advisers, then planes, then ground forces were deployed. Allies were begged to join but few agreed – and not Britain.
The presence of Americans on Asian soil turned a local insurgency into a regional crusade. Foreign aid rallied to the Vietcong cause to resist what was seen as a neo-imperialist invasion. The hard-pressed Americans resorted to ever more extensive bombing, deep inside neighbouring countries, despite evidence that it was ineffective and politically counterproductive.
No amount of superior firepower could quell a peasant army that came and went by night and could terrorise or merge into the local population. Tales of American atrocities rolled in each month. The army counted success not in territory held but in enemy dead. A desperate attempt to "train and equip" a new Vietnamese army made it as corrupt as it was unreliable. Billions of dollars were wasted. A treaty with the Vietcong in 1973 did little to hide the humiliation of eventual defeat.
Every one of these steps is being re-enacted in Afghanistan. Read more
On January 22, 2009, two days after he was sworn in as president of the United States, Barack Obama signed an executive order revoking Bush regime directives, orders, and regulations concerning detention and interrogation.
He commented, "We believe that ... we can abide by a rule that says we don't torture, but that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need. This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers ... that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but when it's hard."
The issuance of this executive order was Obama's first act as president of the United States. It could be seen as evidence of his desire to return the United States to a condition of moral rightness. It should be seen as a signal to the United States that facing what we did in the name of "fighting terror" during the debacle of the Bush years is of paramount importance. Continue reading.
Special Event: On Monday evening June 29 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time (9:00 p.m. Eastern) I will interview Lynn Feinerman, and you can ask her questions and make your own comments. Lynn is a San Francisco Bay Area independent media professional, whose company, Crown Sephira Productions, has emphasized ecology, peace, and social justice. Her recent writings have appeared online at Common Dreams and UFPJ.
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9,728 - The estimated number of people who have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since the start of 2007, shortly after Mexican president Felipe Calderon declared war on drug traffickers. That's more than the fatalities in the Iraq war.
See the LATimes' complete series, including interactive map, multimedia gallery, video Q&A, chronology and more.
Any agreement on cyberspace presents special difficulties because the matter touches on issues like censorship of the Internet, sovereignty and rogue actors who might not be subject to a treaty.
The United States and Russia are locked in a fundamental dispute over how to counter the growing threat of cyberwar attacks that could wreak havoc on computer systems and the Internet.
Both nations agree that cyberspace is an emerging battleground. The two sides are expected to address the subject when President Obama visits Russia next week and at the General Assembly of the United Nations in November, according to a senior State Department official.
But there the agreement ends. Read more.
President Obama signed the $106 billion war-spending bill into law Friday, but not without taking a page from his predecessor and ignoring a few elements in the legislation.
Obama included a five-paragraph signing statement with the bill, including a final paragraph that outlined his objections to at least four areas of the bill.
President George W. Bush was heavily criticized for his use of signing statements, declaring he'd ignore some elements of legislation by invoking presidential prerogative. Read more.