Tomgram: Bombs Away Over Iraq

January 30, 2008

Looking Up

Normalizing Air War from Guernica to Arab Jabour

By Tom Engelhardt

A January 21st Los Angeles Times Iraq piece by Ned Parker and Saif Rasheed led with an inter-tribal suicide bombing at a gathering in Fallujah in which members of the pro-American Anbar Awakening Council were killed. (“Asked why one member of his Albu Issa tribe would kill another, Aftan compared it to school shootings that happen in the United States.”) Twenty-six paragraphs later, the story ended this way:

“The U.S. military also said in a statement that it had dropped 19,000 pounds of explosives on the farmland of Arab Jabour south of Baghdad. The strikes targeted buried bombs and weapons caches.”In the last 10 days, the military has dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of explosives on the area, which has been a gateway for Sunni militants into Baghdad.”

And here’s paragraph 22 of a 34-paragraph January 22nd story by Stephen Farrell of the New York Times:

“The threat from buried bombs was well known before the [Arab Jabour] operation. To help clear the ground, the military had dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of bombs to destroy weapons caches and I.E.D.’s.”

Farrell led his piece with news that an American soldier had died in Arab Jabour from an IED that blew up “an MRAP, the new Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected armored vehicle that the American military is counting on to reduce casualties from roadside bombs in Iraq.”

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Dahr Jamail, Missing Voices in the Iraq Debate

January 30, 2008

There’s an old joke in which a fellow natters on endlessly about himself. Finally, he turns to his friend and says, “Well, enough about me, how about you? What do you think of me?” Sometimes, we in the U.S. seem to be that guy. There are so many voices crucial to understanding our world that we seldom or never hear. They just aren’t attended to. This week at Tomdispatch, Nick Turse brought us the forgotten voices of a lost war in Vietnam and now Dahr Jamail offers voices from an ongoing lost war in Iraq. In many ways, we Americans, whether supporters or critics of the war, manage to fill all the roles when it comes to that country. Watch your TV set and ask yourself how often, in the last years, you’ve heard an ordinary Iraqi speaking at any length about his or her life — or seen the Iraqi equivalent of a “talking head.” We’ve talked our heads off about Iraq and yet how often have we even fulfilled the second part of that old joke and asked Iraqis what they thought of us — or the lives the United States has brought them?

Dahr Jamail has been an exception. If you pick up a copy of his riveting book, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, perhaps the most striking thing about it is how many Iraqi voices you do hear and what a different perspective they offer us on our version of their country. Here, then, is the latest from Jamail. Tom

“Reality Is Totally Different”

Iraqis on “Success” and “Progress” in Their Country

By: Dahr Jamail

This March 19 will be the fifth anniversary of the shock-and-awe air assault on Baghdad that signaled the opening of the invasion of Iraq, and when it comes to the American occupation of that country, no end is yet in sight. If Republican presidential candidate John McCain has anything to say about it, the occupation may never end. On January 7th, he assured reporters that he was more than fine with the idea of the U.S. military remaining in Iraq for 100 years. “We’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea 50 years or so… As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That’s fine with me.”

He said nothing, of course, about Iraqis “injured or harmed or wounded or killed.” In fact, amid the flurries of words, accusations, and “debates” which have filled the airways and add up to the primary-season presidential campaign, there has been a near thunderous silence on Iraq lately — and especially on Iraqis.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll indicated that 64% of Americans now feel the war in Iraq was not worth fighting. American opinion on the war and occupation, in fact, seems remarkably unaffected by the positive spin — all those “success” stories in the mainstream media — of these post-surge months. The media now tells us that Iraq is going to be taking a distinct backseat to domestic economic issues, that Americans are no longer as concerned about it.

Once again, with rare exceptions, that media has had a hand in erasing the catastrophe of Iraq from the American landscape, if not the collective consciousness of the public. What, it occurred to me recently, do my friends and acquaintances back in Iraq (where I covered the occupation for eight months during the years 2003-2005) think not just about their lives and the fate of their country, but about our attitudes toward them? What do they think about the “success” — and the silence — in America?

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Court Solidarity with Shawn Brant – February 4 – 7, 2008

January 30, 2008

Shawn Brant’s Army Trial

Mon. Feb 4 – Thurs. Feb 7

41 Dundas St. W
Napanee, ON.

10 am – start of court each day

Driving Directions

Highway 401 exit #579, hwy 41
Drive south to Hwy #2, or Dundas St, Napanee’s main drag

Trumped up charges against Shawn will be made clear in the trial. Nov 15, 2006, a convoy of army trucks from Trenton were driving with ‘student drivers’ across Tyendinaga Territory when they were stopped by Bay of Quinte Mohawks.

Provincial police eventually escorted the military away. In January 2007, Shawn Brant and another Mohawk activist, Mario Baptiste, were arrested. Shawn was charged with ‘uttering death threats’, Mario with ‘assault’ and ‘mischief’, in conjunction with the November 15 2006 incident.

Shawn has said members of his own community have been told not to attend the trial, to keep the focus on the Culbertson Tract and the broken land promises. He has also said though, it ‘would be great’ to have other activists and allies in court. Please consider attending.

MidEast Dispatches: ‘US the Biggest Producer of Terror’

January 30, 2008

‘US the Biggest Producer of Terror’

Inter Press Service
By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*

BAQUBA, Jan 25 (IPS) – Broken promises have brought a dramatic increase in anti-U.S. sentiment across the capital city of Iraq’s Diyala province.

Many people in Baquba, capital of Diyala 40 km northeast of Baghdad, had supported U.S. forces when they ousted former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. But failed reconstruction projects and muddled policies mean the U.S. has lost that support.”The Americans based their strategy in Iraq on certain Shias here who have direct enmity with Sunnis and allegiance to Iran,” resident Ayub Ibrahim told IPS. “This was the source of the gap between certain Shias which the U.S. backs, and certain Sunnis they back.” Shias and Sunnis are different sects within Islam.

The U.S. has also alienated people through its policy of extensive detentions. Many believe that raids that lead to arrests are based on motivated information given to the U.S. military by Shia militiamen who have infiltrated the Iraqi army and police.

“We never witnessed an attempt to arrest Shia people either by the U.S. army or the Iraqi police and army,” resident Abdul Sattar al-Badri told IPS. Most people see no reasonable basis for many of the arrests.

In November the International Committee of the Red Cross said that around 60,000 people are currently detained in Iraq.

“The Americans occupied our country and put our men in prisons,” Dhafir al-Rubaiee, an officer from Iraq’s previous army told IPS. “The majority of these prisoners have been arrested for nothing other than for being Sunni. Every one of these prisoners has a family, and these families now have reason to hate Americans.”

Others blame the lack of security and the destroyed infrastructure for the increasing anti-U.S. sentiment.

“The lack of security is a direct result of the occupation,” resident Abu Ali told IPS. “The Americans crossed thousands of miles to destroy our home and kill our men. They are the reason for all our disasters.”

Another resident, speaking on condition of anonymity added, “We lived in need during the period of the Saddam government, but we were safe. We were compelled to work sometimes 20 hours a day to earn our living, but we were happy to see our children and relatives together.” U.S. forces, he said, have ended all that.

Abu Tariq believes the U.S. military intentionally destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure. “The Americans destroyed the electricity, water pumping stations, factories, bridges, highways, hospitals, schools, buildings, and opened the borders for strangers and terrorists to get easily into the country,” he said.

The large number of Iraqis killed by U.S. forces has also hardly endeared the forces to the people.

“When targeted by a roadside bomb or suicide bomber, U.S. soldiers shoot at people randomly. Innocent civilians have been killed or injured,” Yaser Abdul-Rahman, a 45-year-old schoolmaster told IPS. “Thousands of people have been killed like this.”

The anti-U.S. sentiment in Baquba is now so high that people no longer hide their distrust of the U.S.

“At the beginning of the occupation, the people of Iraq did not realise the U.S. strategy in the area,” Abu Taiseer, a member of the communist party in the city told IPS. “Their strategy is based on destruction and massacre. They do anything to have their agenda fulfilled.

“Now, Iraqis know that behind the U.S. smile is hatred and violence,” Taiseer added. “They call others violent and terrorists, but what they are doing in Iraq and in other countries is the origin and essence of terror. America is the biggest producer of terror, and they spend huge funds for creating and training death squads all over the world.”

Despite the differing U.S. ways of dealing with Shias and Sunnis, the two sects seem one in their hatred of the U.S.

“Look at our country, it will need 30 years to get back again,” Edan Barham told IPS. “This has nothing to do with sects; all of us are Iraqis, and we should think of Iraq in a better way than sectarian lines.”

“People of Iraq of all sects now realise that it is the occupation represented by the Americans that has damaged the country,” resident Khalil Ibrahim said.

Political analyst Azhar al-Teengane says the only Iraqis who support the occupation are those benefiting directly from it.

“The occupation is good for politicians who have made money, militiamen, contractors and opportunists,” Teengane said. “These form not more than 5 percent of Iraqi people.”

Self-rule could help lower anti-U.S. sentiment, said resident Jalal al-Taee. “In order to improve the situation, the U.S. army should let the people of this city run it.”

(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq’s Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East)


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The Fight for Bush’s Legacy

January 30, 2008

National Democrats seem content to let the clock run out on George W. Bush’s presidency with no serious effort to hold him accountable. The same approach was followed by Bill Clinton regarding George H.W. Bush in the 1990s with disastrous results.

For the full story, go to

Tommy Douglas play in Oakville, February 21

January 30, 2008

“The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Malcolm X, 1963

Phantom Poets Touring Theatre presents TOMMY DOUGLAS: ARROWS OF DESIRE Featuring John Nolan

Thursday, February 21st at 8:00pm

Most Canadians under 50 seem to know little or nothing about Douglas. They take their medical card for granted, assuming that every human has one. Little do they know that Medicare was the brain child of Tommy Douglas, a visionary way ahead of his time, but Douglas was much more than the Father of Medicare, and Tommy Douglas: Arrows of Desire brings the depth and breadth of the Douglas phenomenon as a great statesman, humourist and storyteller to life!

Toronto: Rally for Housing Not War! (Feb 7) and Endorse HNWCampaign

January 30, 2008


6 Trinity Square, Toronto, Ontario Canada M5G 1B1
Phone: 416-599-TDRC (8372) Fax: 416-599-5445
* <>* |

*HOUSING NOT WAR: **Rally & Press Conference*
*12:00 noon – Thursday, February 7, 2008*
*King & University* *Toronto*

At the Toronto office of Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, demand HOUSING NOT WAR:

Stop the Afghan War!

Shift funding from record-high military spending to peace – an extra 1% for housing!

The Federal government is choosing to fight a counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan, spending *$100 million per month* to fight a war a large majority of people in Canada don’t want. This is the Afghan War’s 7th year.

At home, a decade after *Canada’s ten largest cities declared homelessness a “national disaster”*, the government continues to ignore the solution: a national housing program. We are the only industrialized country without one. The government continues to ignore the 1% solution: an extra 1% of the budget for social housing (doubling funding to $4B). *300 000 people*experiencing homelessness every year doesn’t seem to mean much to them. Neglected, the disaster has only worsened* with more suffering and deaths.

Over the same decade, military spending has increased 69% to $18.2B or 8.5% of the budget. In constant dollars, it is the highest since WWII.

*The government cannot justify wasting billions on war while neglecting the housing crisis.*

Public pressure wins relief for people made homeless by government policies.

Public pressure kept us out of the Iraq War.

Since we launched just over 2 months ago, over *125 organizations and thousands of individuals* have joined together to demand Housing Not War. We have to build more pressure.

*At 12 noon on Thursday, February 7, 2008, rally at the Toronto office of Jim Flaherty, the Federal Finance Minister – demand Housing Not War!*

The rally and press conference will feature speakers and more – check out <> for details as they arrive.

For more info: