Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

John Rees on Iraq and activism

Monday, December 11th, 2006

John Rees, a founder of the Stop the War Coalition in the Uk, gave a dynamic speech on the need to march in opposition to war, and the necessity of matching words with deeds. He spoke at the London International Peace Conference, attended by 1400 international delegates, during December 10-11, 2005.

See full coverage of the conference, with photos, audio and video, at
http://www.traprockpeace.org/london_peace_10dec05.html

Learn more about the Stop the War Coalition at
http://www.stopthewar.co.uk

Copyright notice: This video is © 2005 Charles Jenks; all rights reserved. Videos may be copied and shown for non-profit, educational and non-commercial use, under the following conditions: no editing of video (including extraction of sound or stills), no sale of the video (by itself or as part of a compilation), attributions shall be given to persons in the videos, sponsoring organizations and Traprock Peace Center; attribution shall be given to Charles Jenks as creator of the video with reference to his having copyright with all rights reserved, and notice shall be given to him via email of the use of the video. Uses that may involve editing or sale require prior permission. Contact: charlesjenks@gmail.com

Wal-Mart – chain of exploitation

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

This is Al Norman’s keynote address to a rally to stop a Wal-Mart supercenter in Hadley, MA, and to protest corporate practices that hurt women, workers and the environment. Several hundred activists participated in this November 19, 2005 rally outside the Wal-Mart store in Hadley, MA.

See photos and more video at http://www.traprockpeace.org/wal-mart_protest.html

See Al Norman’s Sprawl-Busters website
http://www.sprawl-busters.com

Copyright notice: This video is © 2005 Charles Jenks; all rights reserved. Videos may be copied and shown for non-profit, educational and non-commercial use, under the following conditions: no editing of video (including extraction of sound or stills), no sale of the video (by itself or as part of a compilation), attributions shall be given to persons in the videos, sponsoring organizations and Traprock Peace Center; attribution shall be given to Charles Jenks as creator of the video with reference to his having copyright with all rights reserved, and notice shall be given to him via email of the use of the video. Uses that may involve editing or sale require prior permission. Contact: charlesjenks@gmail.com

Letter to plowshares judge

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Letter to the Judge Who Sentenced My Husband to Federal Prison for Protesting Nuclear Weapons

by Michele Naar-Obed. Michele is married to Greg Boertje-Obed who was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison in November 2006 for hammering on the concrete lid covering the missile silo which houses the Minuteman III nuclear missile.

Dear Judge Hovland,

Thank you for making the arrangements for me to visit Greg in jail after you sentenced him to a year and a day in federal prison. The jail officials had been rather adament in their unwillingness to allow me to visit, so your intervention made the visit possible. (more…)

Jeremy Scahill video

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Nov 29, 2006: the Jeremy Scahill video is temporarily unavaible for technical reasons. Thank you for your patience. We will make is available online as soon as possible. – Traprock Peace Center

Oh Freedom!

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Annie Hassett (playing guitar) leading “Oh! Freedom” as part of an informal sing at Traprock Peace Center on Woolman Hill, Deerfield. With Sunny Miller (on right, Executive Director of Traprock Peace Center), the late Wally Nelson and Juanita Nelson (on left, esteemed pioneers of the US civil rights and war tax resistance movements) and Jude and Jontz Johnson (in back). Recorded by Charles Jenks, summer 1999. (We don’t have the exact date because an FY2K bug redated all of our photos at that time to January, 2000!)

Copyright notice: All videos produced by Traprock Peace Center are © Traprock Peace Center; all rights reserved. Videos may be copied and shown for non-profit, educational and non-commercial use, under the following conditions: no editing of video (including extraction of sound or stills), no sale of the video (by itself or as part of a compilation), attributions shall be given to persons in the videos and sponsoring organizations; attribution shall be given to Traprock Peace Center as producer of the video with reference to its having copyright with all rights reserved, and notice shall be given to Traprock via email or phone of the use of the video. Uses that may involve editing or sale require prior permission from Traprock Peace Center. Traprock Peace Center; 413.773.7427; info@traprockpeace.org

SOA Watch uplifting

Friday, November 24th, 2006

A true giving of thanks for people of conscience
by Silvia Brandon Pérez

On the eve of the celebration of Thanksgiving in the United States, and
while thousands across the land battled each other for yet another
nonsensical and highly expensive toy, I have returned from what I may
characterize as one of the most emotionally and spiritually uplifting events
of my life, and of some 40+ years of activism of one sort or another. (more…)

Martín Espada – Alabanza!

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Martín Espada – poet, essayist, editor and translator, recited his stirring poem – ” Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100″ on May 1, 2006 at the Amherst Common. The rally held there was part of the National Boycott for Immigrant Rights.

Hear the Amherst rally and the Springfield MA rally.

See photos of May 1 events in WMass.

Hear James FiorentinoInternational Socialist Organization

See immigrantsolidarity.org

http://www.traprockpeace.org

Lynne Stewart at Socialism 2006

Friday, November 24th, 2006

This is a slideshow with audio of her stirring talk at Socialism 2006 in NYC on June 24, 2006. This was an emotional talk before a wildly enthusiastic audience, and with her pending sentencing, with a possible 30 year sentence. The place was full and rocking, with over 1100 registrants to the conference.

See more on the Conference, with photos, audio of the entire plenary session, workshops on “The Myth of Humanitarian Intervention” with Jeremy Scahill; “Iraq” Graveyard of US Imperialism” with Annie Zirin and Michael Letwin; and “Soldiers and Famlies Against the War” with Kelly Dougherty, Camilo Mejia, and Pablo Paredes (moderated by Eric Ruder.)

Lynne Stewart was sentenced to 28 monts on October 14th; she is now free pending appeal. Join her at 7 PM Saturday, Dec 9, 2006 at the Judson Memorial Church for “An Ode to Joy and Struggle.” See her website.

And come to Socialism 2007 this summer. Watch for announcements.

Copyright notice: All videos produced by Traprock Peace Center are © Traprock Peace Center; all rights reserved. Videos may be copied and shown for non-profit, educational and non-commercial use, under the following conditions: no editing of video (including extraction of sound or stills), no sale of the video (by itself or as part of a compilation), attributions shall be given to persons in the videos and sponsoring organizations; attribution shall be given to Traprock Peace Center as producer of the video with reference to its having copyright with all rights reserved, and notice shall be given to Traprock via email or phone of the use of the video. Uses that may involve editing or sale require prior permission from Traprock Peace Center. Traprock Peace Center; 413.773.7427; info@traprockpeace.org

Aimee Allision on military counter-recruiting

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Aimee Allison an amazing speaker. She is a veteran, conscientious objector and counter-recruiter, and was a featured speaker at the national counter-recruitment confernece held at UCAL/Berkeley, October 22, 2005. It was jointly sponsored by the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) and MOOS-Bay (Military Out of Our Schools). Over 650 attended; it was also CAN’s annual national conference.

See photos. Hear student activist Elizabeth Wrigley-Fieldand hear the “Our Generation Won’t Go Away” workshop.

Campus Antiwar Network website.

Humble with Anja Danial at Traprock

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Led by Anja Daniel (vocals and guitar) and Debbie (dance instruction), with Kate Marks on percussion. Touchstone Farm and Yoga Center, http://www.sacredcircles.com is located in Easthampton, MA. Anja and Debbie lead sacred circle dancing internationally, and led dances and singing at Traprock Peace Center’s annual July 4th picnic (2006).

See Traprock’s website for photos from the day at
http://www.traprockpeace.org/traprock_picnic_4july06
and see video of Mixed Nuts, in concert at Traprock on July 4th.

Her Anja Daniel singing Humble at http://traprockpeace.org/Humble.html (copyright Anja Daniel – all rights reserved)

Copyright notice: All videos produced by Traprock Peace Center are © Traprock Peace Center; all rights reserved. Videos may be copied and shown for non-profit, educational and non-commercial use, under the following conditions: no editing of video (including extraction of sound or stills), no sale of the video (by itself or as part of a compilation), attributions shall be given to persons in the videos and sponsoring organizations; attribution shall be given to Traprock Peace Center as producer of the video with reference to its having copyright with all rights reserved, and notice shall be given to Traprock via email or phone of the use of the video. Uses that may involve editing or sale require prior permission from Traprock Peace Center. Traprock Peace Center; 413.773.7427; info@traprockpeace.org

Ahmed Shawki on activism

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Ahmed Shawki, Editor in Chief of the International Socialist Review, spoke on the necessity of combining activism and education, practice with theory, and joining with other movements that have shared goals. Citing the the immigrant rights movement, he linked it with working class rights and working class power.

This is a short clip of his speech. He shared the stage with human rights attorney Lynne Stewart; Shujaa Graham, and Nativo López, with moderation by Sherry Wolf. See full details, with photos, audio of the entire rally, and coverage of workshops with Jeremy Scahill, Annie Zirin, Michael Letwin, Kelly Dougherty, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Eric Ruder.

See also the International Socialist Review
and the Socialist Worker Newspaper.

Mixed Nuts Concert at Traprock

Monday, November 20th, 2006

The musical group Mixed Nuts gave a rousing concert of peace at Traprock on July 4, 2006. This clip features two of their original songs “Walk in Sunshine” and “Golden Rule.”

The accomplished musicians behind Mixed Nuts have distinguished careers in jazz to folk to new world music. They join together as “Mixed Nuts” with music that is enjoyed by the entire family. And the more dancing the better!

Mixed Nuts that day included :

Lynne Meryl – vocals, guitar
(Sunflower seed… nickname “Sunflower”)
David Wertman — Bass
Hazelnut Jones… nickname “Hazelnut”)
Barbara Ween – vocals, percussion
(Barbara Brazilnut…. roll the “r’s”)
Karen Copeland – vocals,congas
(Karen KoKonut…nickname “KoKo”)
John Sprague – flute, congas
(John Almond….nickname “J’almond”)
Zack Danziger – vocals,guitar
(Zack Mackadamia…nickname “Zackademia” …. because he’s a teacher)

Mixed Nuts website

See a photo album of the annual picnic.

All music and words (c) 2002 Sunmuse Records David Wertman (BMI)

ExxonMobil and the Iraq War on Youtube

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Nick Mottern discusses ExxonMobil’s profit mongering from the Iraq War and explains the rationale for the ExxonMobil War Boycott, which was initiated by Consumers for Peace. See the Consumers for Peace website and more resources on the war at Traprock’s website.

Traprock Peace Center
info@traprockpeace.org
413-773-7427

Cindy Sheehan at White House – May 18, 2006

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

On May 18, 2006 Cindy Sheehan led a delegation of activists and citizens to the White House gates to deliver the Don’t Attack Iran petition, signed by over 42,000 people. Now, over 80.000 people have signed it. Sign it online, and see the list of supporting organizations, at
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/iran

See photos and video at http://www.traprockpeace.org/iran_petition_video.html

Audio of the rally may be downloaded at
http://www.traprockpeace.org/audio/dont_attack_iran_18may06.mp3

Video and audio are copyright Traprock Peace Center and may be posted and aired noncommercially and for non-profit use, with attribution to Traprock as producer and notice to charles@traprockpeace.org. Photos are copyright 2006 Charles Jenks; all rights reserved.

Ask for Investigations on Iraq

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Want to End the War? Ask for Investigations!

By David Swanson

Public awareness of the lies that led to the war and the crimes committed during the war helps build public demand for the troops to come home. Not every committee in Congress can work fulltime on simply ending the war: a legislative process that must be pursued but which will be uphill and subject to veto or signing statement. Many committees in the House and Senate, without taking any energy away from ending the war, can finally conduct the investigations that have gone undone for 6 years, exposing evidence that could very well lead to criminal, civil, or political accountability, as well as pressure to end the war and precedent to help prevent the next war.

Ask your Representative and Senators to conduct investigations. (more…)

Scott Ritter’s Early Warning on Iraq

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

This is vintage Scott Ritter. Video quality is poor (2002 afterall, taken with a digital still camera.) Five clips are included; please excuse the poor video quality – it was 2002 afterall. He debunks the claims that Iraq was developing nukes, and the often stated lie that Iraq kicked the inspectors out of Iraq in 1998 (right before the Clinton Administration started the Desert Fox cruise missile bombing campaign. Ritter asked for help in getting called as a witness to the upcoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings. Traprock sent several hundred faxes to John Kerry asking for his assistance (he is on the committee). Sen. Kerry not only wouldn’t have Ritter called, he refused to meet with Ritter or his antiwar constituents before he voted for the war resolution in October, 2002. Sen. Kerry has blood on his hands, as surely as the Bush Administration, in this writer’s opinion (Charlie Jenks). After his vote for war, Kerry locked his constituents out of his WMass office. See more on Kerry’s complicity at http://traprockpeace.org/john_kerry_was_misled.html

And see much more on Scott Ritter at http://traprockpeace.org/scott_ritter.html
You’ll see Traprock’s history with Scott Ritter, which included a national tour before the War Resolution vote, and resources, including audio, video and transcripts.

Video copyright Traprock Peace Center; all rights reserved. For permission to copy or distribute, contact Traprock at charles@traprockpeace.org

Blood-Pouring Anti-Nuke Clowns Sent to Prison:

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Blood-Pouring Anti-Nuke Clowns Sent to Prison: Weapons of Mass Destruction Protected
By Bill Quigley.

Three men protesting the presence of weapons of mass destruction in North Dakota were sentenced to federal prison terms of over three years and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution by a federal judge in Bismarck.   The three dressed as clowns and went to the Echo-9 launch site of the intercontinental Minuteman III nuclear missile in rural North Dakota in June 2006.  They broke the lock off the fence and put up peace banners and posters.  One said: “Swords into plowshares – Spears into pruning hooks.” They poured some of their own blood on the site, hammered on the nuclear launching facility and waited to be arrested.   (more…)

The New Media Offensive for the Iraq War

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

The New Media Offensive for the Iraq War
By Norman Solomon

The American media establishment has launched a major offensive against the option of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

In the latest media assault, right-wing outfits like Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page are secondary. The heaviest firepower is now coming from the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA — the front page of the New York Times. (more…)

IRAQ TROOP WITHDRAWAL LOOKS FAR OFF

Monday, November 13th, 2006

IRAQ TROOP WITHDRAWAL LOOKS FAR OFF

– Bush/Cheney appear benched by Baker/Daddy Bush “Coup”.
– What can we expect from the Baker Iraq Study Group?
– New plans for taming resistance likely to be very bloody.

By Nick Mottern, Director, Consumers for Peace

The removal of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense is being described in the press as a step planned by President George W. Bush even before the Democrats swept both houses of Congress to clear the way for changes in U.S. policy and action in Iraq. It is a step that has raised hopes of less bloodshed and an early return home of U.S. troops. But in spite of Democratic statements calling for quick withdrawal, this hope may not be realized any time soon. (more…)

Corporate Plundering of US Gulf Coast

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Robin Hood in Reverse: Corporate and Government Looting of the Gulf Coast

By Bill Quigley. Bill is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He can be reached at Quigley@loyno.edu. If you want to know more, check out www.justiceforneworleans.org and look at the CorpWatch report, “Big, Easy Money: Disaster Profiteering on the American Gulf Coast.”

Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. On the Gulf Coast, the reverse is happening. Federal state and local governments are teaming up with corporations and developers to systematically steal hurricane relief funds from the poor to enrich themselves. (more…)

Resisting US Empire

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Joel Geier, Associate Editor of the International Socialist Review, spoke on “Resisting US Empire” at the Midwest Socialism Conference, held at the Universtiy of Illinois at Chicago, 11/04/06.

Hear conference audio, and see photos and more video, including the entire audio of Joel Geier’s talk

Thanks Youtube!

Part I

Part II

Struggle for Self-Determination in Venezuela

Monday, November 13th, 2006

[Please note: Any audio file may be played or posted with email notice to Traprock at charles@traprockpeace.org and attribution to program speakers and sponsors. Any playing or posting shall include a reference to Traprock having copyright to the audio, or another copyright holder if indicated, with all rights reserved. No programs may be edited or sold without prior written approval of the copyright holder.]

Martín Sanchez, Venezuela’s consul general in Chicago, spoke on “The Struggle for Self-Determination in Venezuela” at the Midwest Socialism Conference, November 4, 2006 at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

See more conference material – audio, video and photos.

Excerpts of Martín Sanchez

Part I

Part II

Chanting at Midwest Socialism Conference

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

Attendees chant before plenary session. See videos below of Martín Sanchez, Venezuela’s consul general in Chicago, on “The Struggle for Self-Determination in Venezuela” and Joel Geier, Associate Editor of the International Socialist Review, on “Resisting US Empire.” Also, see photos and download mp3 audio – including Elizabeth Wrigley-Field’s workshop on imperialism.

Chanting

GI Resister Sgt. Ricky Clousing

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Sgt. Clousing served in Iraq as an interrogator for the US army. See him speak about war crimes committed by US forces.

Hear his full talk at http://www.traprockpeace.org/audio/ricky_clousing_16sept06.mp3
(mp3 audio)* 1:09:54 length with Q&A; 64 kbps mono

He spoke in D.C. Sept. 16, 2006 (introduced by David Swanson). Clousing says the US is “creating the insurgency…It’s this crazy mindless cycle of violence and death and killing and wasted money and nobody seems to understand the big picture.”
Download the transcript at http://www.traprockpeace.org/ricky_clousing_16sept06.pdf

After his return from Iraq, he left the army as a matter of conscience. He was charged with desertion. Ricky Clousing was tried by court martial and sentenced to 3 months in October for absent without leave. Learn more at
http://www.couragetoresist.org

Video and audio may be replayed for non-profit, non-commercial (not sold) use. Prior permission is not required to air material; attributions and notice are required. Please notify via comment if you air or replay mp3, transfer this video to your site or upload transcript to your site. Thank you. Another YouTube channel lifted a similar video (shot and edited by me) without attribution, in violation of copyright notice. The video show here is a longer version that includes the segment being replayed by the other channel. We have asked them to give proper attribution.

Holly Near singing “I am Willing”

Friday, November 10th, 2006

[Nov 10th Note: We have a catalog of about 50 videos that we will be posting to this blog, as well as new ones. The advantage of using this blog is that we can stream the videos, so you may watch while they download, via YouTube. Thanks to YouTube! So, check back often as we’ll be adding exciting new – and old – videos of the movement over the next few weeks. Much coming this weekend. We started with a great one – Holly Near!]

Holly Near sang on May 18, 2006 at a rally outside the White House. Cindy Sheehan and others from groups including Gold Star Families for Peace, AfterDowingStreet, Democracy Rising, Code Pink, and Traprock Peace Center, among many others, brought a petition to the gates of the White House. The petition called on the Bush administration to not attack Iran; it was signed by over 40,000 people.

See the photo album.
Hear audio of the rally.
See more video.

Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow sang backup.

The Don’t Attack Iran on-line petition now has over 78,000 signatures, and was presented to the White House, again, on November 8, 2006. Cindy Sheehan was arrested outside the White House. See the report.

value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Cm0gIma_LgA">

BIG OIL READY TO SETTLE FOR LESS IN IRAQ?

Monday, October 30th, 2006

BIG OIL READY TO SETTLE FOR LESS IN IRAQ?

By Nick Mottern, Director, Consumers for Peace.

It looks like U.S. Senator from Texas Kay Bailey Hutchison sent a message this month that big oil is abandoning ambitions for quick access to all of Iraq’s oil wealth, for now, and is willing to settle for operating in northern Iraq. (more…)

The Pundit Path for Death in Iraq

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

The Pundit Path for Death in Iraq

By Norman Solomon

No one knows exactly how many Iraqi civilians have died from the war’s violence since the invasion of their country. The new study from public health researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimates that the number of those deaths is around 601,000, while saying the actual total could be somewhere between 426,369 and 793,663. Such wartime figures can’t be precise, but the meaning is clear: The invasion of Iraq has led to ongoing carnage on a massive scale. (more…)

Rep. James McGovern’s Trojan Horse

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

McGovern’s Trojan Horse

by Charles Jenks

The pitch:

The Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) trumpets its continued support of Rep. James McGovern bill (HR 4232) as “a top legislative priority.” PDA urges all to sign its petition to support the bill, as PDA is “committed to cutting off all funding for the deployment of US troops in Iraq and for the removal of all funding for the occupation of Iraq.” http://www.pdamerica.org/articles/news/2006-09-12-13-20-02-news.php

PDA assures its members and website visitors that the bill would 1) “end all funding for the deployment of US troops in Iraq; 2) “in no way prohibit nor interrupt US non-defense funding” in support of “democratic institution building” and reconstruction; and 3) that the bill “provides for the safe, orderly, and honorable withdrawal of the United States from military operations in Iraq.

By continuing U.S. support for the economic and social reconstruction of Iraqi society and the financial and material needs of Iraqi security, it maintains our moral and political obligations to the Iraqi people, while concretely promoting, supporting, and providing for greater multilateral engagement in these serious tasks.” (emphasis supplied)

Code Pink and United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) also support this bill.

Warning flags should go up by just reading PDA’s pitch for the bill. The bill would not get in the way of the US meddling in governing Iraq – or as PDA puts it “democratic institution building.” And, the bill provides for continued financial and material support for the ‘security’ forces (secret police, military and uniformed police) that the US has established in Iraq. (more…)

Trying to Make It Home: New Orleans One Year After

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

August 21, 2006
New Orleans

Trying to Make It Home:
New Orleans One Year After Katrina

Bill Quigley
Quigley@loyno.edu

Bernice Mosely is 82 and lives alone in New Orleans in a shotgun double. On August 29, 2005, as Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the levees constructed by the U.S.  Corps of Engineers failed in five places and New Orleans filled with water.

One year ago Ms. Mosely was on the second floor of her neighborhood church. Days later, she was helicoptered out. She was so dehydrated she spent eight days in a hospital. Her next door neighbor, 89 years old, stayed behind to care for his dog. He drowned in the eight feet of floodwaters that covered their neighborhood.

Ms. Mosely now lives in her half-gutted house. She has no stove, no refrigerator, and no air-conditioning. The bottom half of her walls have been stripped of sheetrock and are bare wooden slats from the floor halfway up the wall. Her food is stored in a styrofoam cooler. Two small fans push the hot air around. (more…)

Dear World – from Gaza

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

[This letter was written by Mohammed Mukhaimar, Psychologist, with children of Gaza]

Dear World

From here…from across the oceans…from Palestine…..the land of open wounds, from our hearts and souls……..we talk to you.

Every day, when the sun rises in the morning, and sets in the evening, and the moon appears, we know there is a big world out there, and there we find you.

We share the same sun, the same moon, but our days are not like yours, neither our nights……we do not know why? (more…)

Mass Murder in Qana

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

see photos and download audio mp3’s from emergency WMass forum on Middle East war

“The building was not targeted.”

That’s the Israeli government’s excuse about its killing of many civilians, including at least 16 children by Human Rights Watch, in its bomb attack on Qana, Lebanon on July 30, 2006.

It doesn’t cut it. (more…)

Israel and the future of the antiwar movement

Friday, July 28th, 2006

see photos and download audio mp3’s from emergency WMass forum on Middle East war

We thank Sharon Smith for permission to reprint this article

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Israel and the future of the antiwar movement
By Sharon Smith | July 28, 2006

ISRAEL’S SLAUGHTER of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians should be a moment of truth for the U.S. left. The fact that “about 55 percent of all casualties at the Beirut Government University Hospital are children of 15 years or less,” according to journalist Dahr Jamail, should dispel the myth that Israel’s latest incursions are acts of “self-defense,” as Israel’s many apologists claim.

The Bush administration’s rush shipment of precision bombs to aid Israel’s onslaught last weekend should be a wake-up call for those on the U.S. left who purport to follow antiwar principles, yet until now have failed to take a clear stand against the Israeli manifestations of the U.S.’s so-called “war on terror.”

To do so would require acknowledging that the U.S.’s wars on Afghanistan and Iraq were meant to be mere stepping-stones in a strategic plan aimed at establishing U.S. dominance over the entire Middle East. (more…)

Lebanon and Gaza victims of US racist standard

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

Traprock homepage

(Monday July 17 2006)

Lebanon, Gaza and the consistently racist American stanard

by Ahmed Amr   http://nilemedia.com/

“If Saudi Arabia honestly wanted a change in American policy, they have a very easy way to send a convincing message to Washington. They can simply stop accepting American dollars in exchange for their oil. They won’t do it. Because that particular regime – along with Kuwait and other Gulf countries – was instrumental in orchestrating the war against Iraq in full partnership with the Likudnik operatives in the Israeli lobby.” Here we go again. The Arabs weigh America’s response to the onslaught against Lebanon and Gaza and start accusing Washington of double standards. It is an accusation that has no merit. The more obscene reality is that the United States has consistently implemented a single racist standard against the indigenous people of the Middle East. 

After months of tormenting the Palestinians with all manner of collective punishment, the Israelis have invaded Gaza and laid siege to Beirut. In the Israeli narrative, the escalation of the conflict in the Middle East started with the abduction of a single IDF soldier. This absurd and blatantly false time line of recent events has been elevated to holy writ by the Bush administration and Israel’s mass media collaborators at CNN and The New York Times.

The predictable response from Washington has been to applaud Olmert for acting in ‘self defense.’ With a straight face, Bush is demanding that “the international community must address the root causes” of the violence in the Middle East. In his jaded view of the conflict, “this started because Hezbollah abducted two soldiers.”

When Israel incinerated a family of seven on a beach in Gaza, the United States didn’t even bother to comment on the ‘incident.’ In the southern Lebanese village of Dweir, an entire clan of ten children and their parents are murdered by the IDF. Again, the State Department had nothing to say about the matter. Sixteen Lebanese – nine of them children – are incinerated in a convoy escaping the carnage. The victims had evacuated their village after Israelis instructed them to leave over loudspeakers. No comment on the incident was forthcoming from the White House.

While the IDF was unleashing indiscriminate fire on innocent Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, Bush publicly and unabashedly gave Ehud Olmert a carte blanche to continue the nasty business of systematically destroying vital infrastructure, power plants and Beirut’s international airport. The crippling economic siege has been imposed on both Lebanon and Gaza. In the case of Gaza, the American government has arm twisted the European Union and Arab states to join the in an international coalition to starve the Palestinians into accepting Israeli dictates.

More recently, John Bolton – the neo-con ambassador to the United Nations – was instructed to veto a watered down UN resolution condemning the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Bolton’s veto was cast even though the resolution called for the release of that one ‘precious’ Israeli POW. In a further public show of disdain for the Lebanese people, Bush brazenly obstructed the Security Council’s efforts to call for a cease fire. And Condi Rice is making it clear that she wants the hostilities to continue.

Far from making any attempts to put an end to Israel’s collective punishment campaign, the president has taken the liberty of pouring gasoline on the fire. In a calculated move to give Israel a free hand, Bush invited the Israelis to escalate the conflict by expanding its operations to Syria. As Tony Snow puts it, the president “is not going to make military decisions for Israel.”

Bush’s reaction to the events of the last two weeks was not only predictable but certain. This is a president who bombed Fallujah to rubble to avenge the death of four mercenaries. He is the same man who insisted on rules of engagement that gave American soldiers immunity to slaughter innocents in Haditha and torture detainees in Abu Ghraib. The rape of a 14 year old Iraqi girl and the cold blooded murder of her family is but one of many war crimes that the Pentagon has attempted to cover up. Bush is an individual who can’t be bothered with body counts – especially if the anatomies being dismembered and slaughtered are of the Arab variety. It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to understand that Bush might be grateful that the current crisis has diverted attention from the quagmire in Iraq – where another three hundred Iraqi civilians perished last week.

Given his record in Iraq, Bush is not exactly in a position to publicly condemn another nation’s war crimes. From the Israeli perspective, this immunity from American criticism is one of the enduring and advantageous legacies of the Pentagon’s atrocious behavior in Iraq. This might help explain why Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and the Likudnik neo-con cabal in the Pentagon agitated for loose rules of engagement in Iraq.

Still, it is a mistake to conclude that Bush is implementing a policy that varies substantially from previous occupants of the White House. While this commander in chief is perhaps the most psychopathic president since Andrew Jackson, his policies are not an aberration. Having been frustrated in the search for Saddam’s phantom chemical arsenal, Bush authorized his generals to deploy their own WMD arsenal in Fallujah – including phosphorous bombs. In mild contrast, the Clinton administration was partial to the use of depleted uranium and genocidal sanctions.

The accusation that Bush is implementing a policy that amounts to some kind of “double standard” in favor of Israel is nonsense. In fact, he has been consistent in vigorously implementing a single standard that devalues Arab lives in comparison to Israeli lives. The former is worthless and the latter is more precious than the blood of his kin.

For one Israeli captive soldier – the Gaza penitentiary can be converted into a shooting gallery for Tel Aviv’s goons. For two Israeli captive soldiers, the IDF can unleash a scorched earth policy against Lebanon.

If George Bush would only bother checking the sequence of events that led to the outbreak of the current crisis – he might notice that the atrocity on the beach in Gaza took place weeks before Hamas apprehended the Israeli soldier. Someone somewhere at the State Department might also recollect that the collective punishment measures and deliberate destruction of infrastructure was put in motion to extract vengeance from the Palestinians for their bad voting habits. If the policy makers in Washington could take the time to review Israeli conduct over the last four decades, they might discover that the seeds of the conflict are rooted in the well documented belligerent land grabbing occupation of Palestinian land.

In regards to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, American policy is as clear as day. Israel can kill and abduct Palestinians and Lebanese at will. Olmert’s government has a license from the great white father in Washington to collectively punish millions of Arabs from the refugee hovels of Gaza to cosmopolitan Beirut. While nine thousand Palestinians – including women, children and elected officials – rot in Israeli jails, whole families can be wiped out to release a single soldier involved in enforcing the genocidal IDF siege on Gaza.

For those who bother to pay attention to the Bush administration’s role in fomenting violence in the Middle East, there is an obvious method to the madness. Tel Aviv and Washington have already negotiated and settled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Starving and humiliating the Palestinians is merely a necessary condition for implementing the infamous “Rice/Weisglass” accord – an agreement that was finalized in October, 2004. This final unilateral solution to the Palestinian ‘problem’ is now the official – if undeclared – policy of the United States.

So, enough already with Arab gripes about ‘double standards.’ For six decades of well documented history, successive American administrations have been very consistent in their treatment of Middle Easterners of the non-Jewish persuasion. The Arab governments are not only aware of the consistency of American policy – but have come to accept it as a fact of life. They just haven’t figured a way to break the news of their capitulation to their own people.

The basic elements of American foreign policy in the region are simple enough to understand. In the event of any conflict involving the natives of the Middle East and their Jewish lords, the conflict will be judged in favor of Israel. In matters involving real estate acquisition for additional Jewish settlers, the native people will be encouraged to move along and find other quarters to live and die. The killing of a native by a Jew will not be considered a crime. If a native so much as dares to throw a rock that dents an Israeli tank, Israel will have the right to ‘defend itself’ as it sees fit, short of using tactical nuclear weapons. Only Israel will be allowed to possess and use WMDs. Native people who have wet dreams about WMDs will be subject to invasion by the Armed Forces of the United States. The natives will acknowledge that the “Special Relationship” between the United States and Israel will take precedence over the decidedly slave/master special status of their own countries.

One can only hope that God is not finished with American Foreign policy. At some point, a more informed American public will do the decent thing and demand that foreign affairs should not be influenced by the bigotry and racism of the Israeli Lobby and its accomplices in the White House, Congress and the mass media.

In due course, extremist bigots like Cheney and his neo-con gang will become as anachronistic as Jim Crow. Future Arab generations might rebel against their designated status as the lesser race of the Middle East. At which point, they can initiate constructive measures to demand equal treatment by Washington.

People change. History evolves to reflect those changes. In the meantime, it is folly to pretend that we are not where we are. America has spent six decades enforcing a single racist standard in the Middle East. One of the definitions of insanity is to repeat the same thing and expect different results. And the Arab people ought to get with the program and stop griping about double standards and figure out a way to deal with America’s alliance with Israel and the Bush administration’s racist and murderous hostility towards the people of the region.

Instead of griping about double standards, individual Arabs need to take the initiative to convince their senile quisling leaders that enough is enough. If the House of Al Saud and the other custodians of the oil plantations have made the strategic decision to capitulate to Tel Aviv – they must be asked to do so publicly and start mass education programs to teach their people how to properly lick American and Israeli boots.

If Saudi Arabia honestly wanted a change in American policy, they have a very easy way to send a convincing message to Washington. They can simply stop accepting American dollars in exchange for their oil. They won’t do it. Because that particular regime – along with Kuwait and other Gulf countries – was instrumental in orchestrating the war against Iraq in full partnership with the Likudnik operatives in the Israeli lobby.

It should be clear to every Arab that the kleptocrats who operate the oil plantations in the Gulf hold their own people in greater contempt than Washington or Tel Aviv. If individual Arabs started challenging their governments to change the “oil for dollars and only dollars” policy – even the bigots in the Bush administration will have to revisit their political calculations. They won’t necessarily shed their deeply engrained racism – but they will be compelled to take the national interest into consideration before allowing Israelis to do whatever they can get away with.

While the Arabs have no military options to confront Israeli adventurism – they certainly have economic leverage. The Israeli government has publicly stated that the destruction of infrastructure is meant to impose punitive collective economic measures against the Palestinians and the Lebanese. To accomplish the mission, Tel Aviv is deploying American financed tanks and planes. No such implements of death and destruction are required by Arab governments. All they need to do is post a sign that the American dollar will no longer be accepted in exchange for their oil. Before you know it, the powers that be in Washington will have a sudden revelation that they need to come up with another standard to assess the value of an Arab life.

***

We thank Ahmed Amr for contributing this article to the writer’s blog.

Students Confront Military Recruiters and Campus Repression

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

Presented as part of panel on June 23, 2006 with Elizabeth Wrigley-Field (Campus Antiwar Network – NYU) and Charles Peterson (Campus Antiwar Network – HCC) (moderated by Monique Dols) – “Free Speech and the Movement Against Military Recruitment” 63:26 minutes – 29.1 mg – June 23, 2006. See full conference coverage at http://www.traprockpeace.org/socialism_2006.html

June 23, 2006
Charles Jenks, Traprock Peace Center

Students Confront Military Recruiters and Campus Repression
National and International activists came forward in 2005-06 to support US students

The Campus Antiwar Network has had a very busy year, onfronting military recruiters on campuses and facing down repression and threats by college administrations.

During this academic year, protests, followed by repressions, have happened at Holyoke (MA) Community College (HCC), George Mason University, Kent State, Harold Washington College (Chicago), Hampton University (an historically black university in Virginia), Pace University, U Wisconsin at Madison, San Francisco State University and U Texas at Austin.

In most of these cases, student protestors have been threatened with possible expulsion. At HCC, for example, Charles Peterson was pepper sprayed by campus police during a non-violent protest. It was the police who had become violent by ripping a sign from a student’s hands and then roughing up students. At Kent State, recruiters chased, and grabbed student Dave Airhart from a climbing wall they had erected on campus. Airhart is a veteran of the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and had unfurled a banner that read “Kent, Ohio for Peace” at the top of the wall. He was threatened with expulsion by the university. At Hampton University, students were threatened for passing out “unapproved” literature.

In all these situations, college administrations backed down in the face of massive phone calls, emails and, in some cases, media attention. The situation at SFSU is ongoing, as students have been threatened with discipline, after having been kicked off campus for several days with no hearing. Several students were rendered homeless and prevented from going to campus jobs as the university reacted to their loud, but nonviolent, protest of military recruitment at a campus jobs fair. Police used rough tactics in escorting the students from the jobs fair, but as in all the other cases, there was no investigation of the perpetrators of violence – that is, the police or recruiters.

Still, despite the threats, no students have been subjected to serious discipline. Much of the reason for this may lie in the extraordinary support that students have received from activists and organizations from the larger antiwar movement.

Several strategies have been used to bring in support from the broader movement. Traprock, CAN national coordinators and CAN chapters at the affected campuses have consulted on the best approaches for each campus. Tactics have included on-line petitions, letters of support, call-in campaigns and open letters to college administrators.

Traprock took on the role of approaching outside activists and organizations and asking them to write letters of support for the students. The letters were sent to college administrators, and also posted at the Traprock and CAN web sites, with links from the websites of sympathetic organizations and news services. Upon posting the letters, we sent out email blasts with links to the letters and requests to the movement at large to call and write to administrators. We posted activist letters for support for students at Holyoke Community College, Kent State University, Hampton University, Pace University, and San Francisco State University.

At SFSU, we relied primarily on an open letter, drafted by Traprock’s Charlie Jenks with valuable help from Elizabeth Wrigley-Field of NYU. 70 noted activists, writers and artists have signed the letter. The letter was then posted, with signatures, as an online petition to the SFSU administration (over 1200 people have signed it.)

The letters from activists and organizations have served several functions. The letters 1) have encouraged other people in the antiwar movement to contact the administrations – either by email, letter or phone call; 2) have helped to generate media interest through use in press releases and at press conferences; 3) have been available as exhibits for potential disciplinary hearings; and 4) have forged or strengthened relationships between student and non-student organizers.

In virtually all cases, threatened disciplinary actions were dropped prior to a hearing. At Kent State, NBC’s Dateline called the administration and a UK television crew showed up for the student press conference and hearing. The administration dropped its charges before the press conference could take place. Students held it anyway, as an educational program and as a celebration. Audio and photos are available at the www.traprockpeace.org

A wide array of activists and organizations responded to the calls for help. It was extraordinary that so many people took the time to sit down and write letters. (We asked so often, given CAN’s busy year, that we opted for the open letter approach with SFSU.) While UFPJ has not responded, the students got warm international support.

National and International Support and Cooperation

I turn my attention to this international support and cooperation for the Campus Antiwar Network and US students. It’s been a two way street – CAN has supported the initiatives of others. I contrast this cooperative approach with refusals of cooperation by another US national network, namely United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). (I note that CAN’s spirit of cooperation has not always been mirrored by other organizations that purport to represent students.)

This year, students have received support from US activists including Cindy Sheehan, Camilo Mejia, Sharon Smith, Dahr Jamail, Michael Letwin (NY City Labor Against the War), David Swanson (After Downing Street), Anthony Arnove, Sara Flounders, Howard Zinn, Pablo Paredes, Todd Chretien, Stan Goff, Norman Solomon, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others, including directors of regional coalitions (such as Bonnie Weinstein of BAUAW) and grassroots organizations (such as Tim Baer, with the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition).

European supporters have included Denis Halliday and Hans-Christof von Sponeck, both former UN Assistant Secretary Generals who resigned in protest as UN Humanitarian Coordinators for Iraq; Dirk Adriaensens, coordinator of SOS Iraq and a member of the Executive committee of the Brussells Tribunal; Lindsay German, convener for the Stop the War Coaltion (UK); Paola Pisi, professor of religious studies (Italy) and editor of uruknet.info; and Pav Akhtar, Convenor, National Union of Students (UK) Internationalism Campaign.

CAN’s international support has grown out of relationships that it has developed over the years. The Stop the War Coalition and the National Union of Students have supported CAN since its beginning. Jeremy Corbyn, British Labor MP and a STW steering committee member gave the key note address at CAN’s founding conference in Washington, DC on January 17, 2003. Helen Salmon of NUS also spoke in DC, and Omar Waraich of British Students Stop the War addressed CAN’s national conference in November, 2003 in Chicago.

CAN has responded to international invitations to participate in events in Paris (2003 European Social Forum and 2004 protests); Iraq (2004 peace delegation), St. Petersburg (2004 conference), London (delegate to the 2005 London International Peace Conference) and this year at the World Social Forum in Caracas. Monique Dols, Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, Tim Kaldas, Khury Petersen-Smith, Katrina Yeaw, and Kathleen Brown have represented US students and CAN internationally. In December, Elizabeth was the only US student delegate to the London International Peace Conference, where she addressed the mass meeting of student organizers. A video of her talk and photos are available at the Traprock website.

In December, CAN supported the international call, led by the Stop the War Coalition, for mass demonstrations in major cities marking the third anniversary of the war. In contrast, UFPJ pointedly refused to do so at the London conference. Judith LeBlanc, UFPJ’s Co-Director, said that it was instead looking to a mass demo in late April, with an eye toward the 2006 Congressional elections. (As we know, after stating that it would refuse to work with A.N.S.W.E.R., UPJF organized a mass march and festival, without the traditional rally, in NYC on April 29th.)

CAN has also supported initiatives by non-student organizations in the US. In 2006, for example, it has endorsed the ExxonMobil War Boycott; the Walk to Redeem the Soul of America from Dallas to Crawford, Texas; and the Don’t Attack Iran petition initiated by Cindy Sheehan. This followed a major collaboration with Military Out of Our Schools (MOOS-Bay) that brought 650 people to a joint counter-recruitment conference in San Francisco in October, 2005. At that conference, CAN endorsed upcoming initiatives in December by other organizations, such as the RCP’s World Can’t Wait (an initiative that UFPJ refused to endorse.)

Where does the student movement go from here?

The big question now is where does the US student movement go from here, after a year of protests against war and military recruitment, and after victories over repression at campuses coast to coast? The answer to that question is up to students obviously. The Campus Antiwar Network has a strong record of success, and given that it is the democratic, grassroots national student antiwar network in the US, it will have a primary role in determining student priorities in 2006-2007.

Certainly, CAN have much work to do to stimulate and organize student activism at US campuses. Unlike last year, though, we know this: it has proven allies, both in the US and internationally, who will come to their aid when they face the inevitable challenges that lie ahead.

References:

The Open Letter to SFSU is found at http://www.traprockpeace.org/sfsu/

CAN’s history in photos, with links to blogs that contain letters in support, is found at http://www.traprockpeace.org/campus_antiwar.html

See also the Campus Antiwar Network website at http://www.campusantiwar.net

Open Letter on Witnessing Darfur – A Benefit for the People of Darfur

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Traprock Peace Center homepage

TO: The attention of co-sponsor Mayor Claire Higgins

RE: An Open Letter about the June 21, 2006 event:
Witnessing Darfur: A Benefit for the People of Darfur

Sunday, 18 June 2006
Dear Friends,

We are writing to express our concern over the upcoming June 21 event:
WITNESSING DARFUR, to be held at Smith College, for which many local
and national religious, cultural or political organizations are co-sponsors (see
bottom). Like you we deeply believe in the need to alleviate the
people of Darfur’s suffering, however, we strongly feel that the
position being taken, which many local organizations have supported,
namely that the Islamic government of Sudan is committing genocide
against the “African” people of Darfur, does not accurately reflect or
fully address the complexities and realities of the situation.

We strongly believe that the situation in Darfur should be placed in a
wider context and the role of the United States and other external
actors MUST be acknowledged and dealt with honestly if there is to be
peace and stability in Darfur, Sudan or indeed an improvement of basic
conditions. We encourage people to think carefully and examine the
history of humanitarian aid organizations before making any financial
contributions: it is well documented that certain organizations
working in Sudan have been involved in very dubious activities
counterproductive to expressed or publicized humanitarian aims.

We respectfully ask that people actively seek out and examine
different points of view. We emphasize that we are not trying to
malign or attack either any sponsor of this event, the producers of
the film(s) to be shown, or speaker Dr. Eric Reeves of Smith College;
rather we are calling for an open dialogue now and in the future. If
the U.S. wants to end the violence in Darfur and elsewhere its first
step should be to stop participating in it. We believe that our first
step as US citizens and residents should be to speak openly and
honestly and to hold the US government accountable. We find it
increasingly difficult to do so within the United States: can we
expect that it will be done in a far away, oil-rich country like
Sudan? (Petroleum is one of Darfur’s several coveted resources.)

We respectfully encourage all those who wish to allocate funds for aid
in Darfur to do so, but to donate only after careful examination of ALL
the facts. We respectfully ask the Community Foundation of Western
Massachusetts to HOLD all Sudan Aid Funds received, to date, or
subsequently, for the same reasons. We call on co-sponsor Mayor Clare
Higgins and the town of Northampton to hold a public hearing,
immediately, where the entire spectrum of issues can be openly and
publicly aired. Given the gravity of the situation and people’s desire
to alleviate the very real suffering in Darfur, we ask the sponsors of
this event, and people concerned about the Darfur situation, to press
for this hearing to occur immediately.

We urge you to read the SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION we have provided
below; this is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive sampling of
relevant issues. We also ask that you circulate this letter widely,
forward to your organizations’ mailing list, to all interested
parties, and the press.

With sincerity and best wishes,

Deborah Chandler, graphic designer and activist, Northampton, MA
deborahchandler@comcast.net

Dimitri Oram, writer & researcher, Northampton, MA
dadima23@yahoo.com

Doug Wight, writer & activist, Northampton MA
wellness15@yahoo.com

Keith Harmon Snow, genocide & human rights investigator, Williamsburg, MA.
ksnow_srintl@yahoo.com – www.allthingspass.com
{Contractual experience in the human rights arena includes: [a]
Consultant on Genocide, United Nations: Ethiopia, 2005; [b] Genocide
Investigator, Genocide Watch : Sudan &
Ethiopia, 2004; [c] Genocide Investigator, Survivor’s Rights
International < www.survivorsrightsinternational.org >: Sudan and
Ethiopia, 2004; [d] work at the International Criminal Tribunal on
Rwanda (2001). Also independent human rights researcher in the Dem.
Rep. of Congo, 2004-2006; ten years experience in 17 countries in
Africa.

***************************************************************

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION

Undisclosed information about the current geopolitical realities
regarding the Darfur conflict include the facts that the U.S. was
funding and supporting forces in Southern Sudan (Sudan People’s
Liberation Army & Movement: SPLA/M) throughout the 1990s and beyond.
We believe the US is still supporting rebel forces in Darfur thus
actively contributing to the conflict. We are aware these are strong
charges but there is plenty of documented evidence for the former
charge and a good deal of circumstantial evidence for the latter. A
quick sampling reveals:

• “The Clinton administration has launched a covert campaign to
destabilize the government of Sudan which it considers a key supporter
of international terrorism and instability in the Middle East. More
than $20 million of military equipment, including radios, uniforms and
tents will be shipped to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda in the next few
weeks. Although the equipment is earmarked for the armed forces of
those countries, much of it will be passed on to the Sudan People’s
Liberation Army (SPLA), which is preparing an offensive against the
government in Khartoum.” (James Adams “Americans Move to Destabilize
Sudanese Regime,” Sunday Times, Nov. 17, 1996);
• “U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had a surprise meeting
in Kampala [Uganda] Wednesday with Sudanese opposition leaders
including SPLA rebel chief John Garang in what was seen as a move
further pressuring Khartoum’s Islamic fundamentalist leaders. Albright
told reporters that Washington sought to show top-level support for
efforts to secure political change in Sudan, where Garang’s Sudanese
People’s Liberation Army in the Christian and animist South has fought
troops of the Moslem North since 1983.” (Dec. 10, 1997, Deutsch Presse
Agenteur);
• “Welcome to the 1980s. Long live Ronald Reagan. Remember the
scenario—a rebel group being trained and armed by the CIA to topple a
sovereign government, cross-border incursions from secluded camps, and
the whole destabilization exercise backed by international sanctions
and a massive propaganda campaign. It sounds like Nicaragua or Angola
circa 1984. In fact it’s Sudan 1998.” (Jonathan Steele, “Stop this war
now; The US could remove the threat of starvation for thousands of
Sudanese May 1, 1998 The Guardian);
• “[T]o the peril of regional stability, the Clinton Administration
has used northern Uganda as a military training ground for southern
Sudanese rebels fighting the Muslim government of Khartoum…The
people in Sudan want to resolve the conflict. The biggest obstacle is
US government policy said former president Carter in an interview last
week in Mozambique “The US is committed to overthrowing the government
in Khartoum. Any sort of peace effort is aborted, basically by
policies of the United States” Kurt Schillinger “Carter, Others say
Clinton has faltered on Africa” Dec. 8, 1999 Boston Globe).

A confirmed and egregious violation of international law was the U.S.
bombing of Sudan’s sole pharmaceutical plant in 1998 with all the
misery and death that followed. With a background like that isn’t it
possible that the U.S. is still covertly intervening in Sudan
especially Darfur? Is it mere coincidence that the rebels in Darfur
launched their first major attacks the month that USAID set up its
mission in Darfur?

• “Under the Bush administration, the work of USAID has become
increasingly politicized. But over Sudan, in particular, two of its
most senior officials have long held strong personal views. Both
Natsios, a former vice-president of the Christian charity World
Vision, and [Roger] Winter have long been hostile to the Sudanese
government.” (U.S. ‘hyping’ Darfur Genocide Fears by Peter Beaumont,
03 October 2004, The Observer)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sudan/story/0,14658,1318643,00.html

The U.N., the European Union, Medecins Sans Frontieres, aid groups,
U.N. officials and human rights groups have all questioned the
genocide claims.

While no one doubts there is horrendous death and suffering in Darfur
use of the word genocide has been used to put all blame on the
government, exonerate the rebels and prevent peace. Indeed, as Emily
Wax writes “that label only seems to have strengthened Sudan’s rebels;
they believe they don’t need to negotiate with the government and
think they will have U.S. support when they commit attacks. Peace
talks have broken down seven times, partly because the rebel groups
have walked out of negotiations.” (Washington Post, “5 Truths About
Darfur,” April 21, 2006)

The African Union “peacekeeping” mission in Darfur includes U.S.
military personnel; training and logistical support by the U.S.
military has also been provided. (See: Department of Defense, “U.S.
Transports Rwanda Forces to Sudan”:

Rwandan Defense Forces sent to Darfur are themselves responsible for
crimes against humanity and acts of genocide in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, and these troops are highly linked to the U.S.
military (Rwanda New Times, 15 May 2006). The U.S. military’s European
Command (EUCOM) is also partnered with Uganda, and working with
Ugandan troops, and Uganda’s role in Sudanese affairs mirrors its role
in Congo: clandestine guerrilla activities, massacres, rapes,
extortion, gun-running and plundering of natural resources. These have
all been widely documented by numerous international human rights
bodies.

The African Union mission also included supporting operations by
private military contractor Dyncorp: Dyncorp was caught running a sex
slave ring in Bosnia, was sued for illegally spraying toxic herbicides
in Ecuador, believed to have smuggled drugs from Colombia and is
generally accused of brutal behavior wherever it goes. Pacific
Architects and Engineers (PAE) is also on the AU job. According to
Corpwatch: PAE “has a history of being accused of overcharging.” Also,
PAE “already provides[d] staff for a so-called Civilian Protection
Monitoring Team (CPMT) which monitors human rights in Sudan under the
State Department contract. The CPMT office is run by Brigadier General
Frank Toney (retired), who was previously commander of Special Forces
for the United States Army and organized covert missions into Iraq and
Kuwait in the first Gulf War.”

Could these mercenary groups be involved in helping the rebel groups?
It is also uncomfortable that a State Department official connected to
Sudan issues who wished to remain anonymous said: “We are not allowed
to fund a political party or agenda under United States law, so by
using private contractors, we can get around those provisions. Think
of this as somewhere between a covert program run by the CIA and an
overt program run by the United States Agency for International
Development. It is a way to avoid oversight by Congress.” (CorpWatch
Oct. 21, 2004)

It’s also true that a number of humanitarian groups are far from
impartial. Several of them were and probably still are smuggling
weapons into Sudan and working toward regime change. Norwegian
People’s Aid (NPA) was caught red-handed and its role in supplying
arms to the SPLA was the subject of a 1999 Norwegian television
documentary, entitled ‘Weapons Smuggling in Sudan’. “CSI [Christian
Solidarity International], along with the U.S.-based groups Voice of
the Martyrs and Samaritan’s Purse (run by Franklin Graham, the son of
Billy Graham), are among a handful of Christian groups that have taken
sides in the dispute. They work exclusively in southern Sudan—and
provide not only humanitarian aid but also political and sometimes
logistical support for the southern rebels…Even during the peace
talks, they’ve lobbied the U.S. government to provide military aid and
weaponry to the SPLM…According to Human Rights Watch, the SPLM, like
Khartoum, has committed numerous human-rights violations.” (Fighting a
Peace Plan: Some Christian aid groups are supporting the rebels, by E.
Benjamin Skinner, August 18, 2003 NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL.)

We do not excuse violence, murder, or sexual atrocities committed by
any side, but we question the predominant version of events in
Darfur—which we believe is grossly disinformational and
one-sided—presented by the mass media and by both Right- and Left-wing
political factions in the United States. We want to know where money
marked for “Sudan Aid” is going, and we do not so quickly accept some
of the answers that are being given. We are greatly disturbed by the
fact that the ultra-Right Wing organization Center for Security
Policy, a strong proponent of multi-billion dollar programs in
National Missile Defense and a tool of the military industrial complex
is advocating divestment from the same firms Eric Reeves has and is
targeting. [1]

We note that the organization Save the Children is closely tied to
USAID, its board of trustees includes one retired Rear Admiral, and
almost all the others (15) are connected to the mainstream US media
(ABC, CBS, Hollywood). More concerning, Save the Children is funded in
part by Exxon-Mobil (according to an Exxon-Mobil corporate report) to
build a road through neighboring Chad—a country with a heavy U.S.
military involvement—to the Darfur region: we are concerned that this
may be for strategic and military purposes cloaked under the banner of
humanitarian aid and poverty alleviation.

The role of USAID official Roger Winter with the U.S. Committee for
Refugees includes organizing support for the Rwanda Patriotic Front
invasion of Rwanda in 1990; the U.S. Committee for Refugees remains a
highly unusual political organization with a specious agenda.

The director/advisers of the International Rescue Committee include
Henry Kissinger.

[1] See: http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/index.jsp?section=papers&code=01-F_68;
please also examine the CSP’s take on the antiwar movement
http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/index.jsp?topic=peacemvmt§ion=featured.

—————————————————-

Witnessing Darfur: A Benefit for the People of Darfur is sponsored by:
Congregation B’nai Israel Darfur Action Group

Co-sponsors include: Al-Baqin Mosque · American Friends Service
Committee, Western Mass. · Amnesty International USA/Group 76 · Beit
Ahavah · Catholic Social Justice Committee of Greater Northampton ·
Edwards Church · Episcopal Peace Fellowship of Grace Church, Amherst ·
Hampshire Interfaith Council · Jewish Family Services of Western Mass.
· Mayor Clare Higgins · National Association of Social Workers,
Pioneer Valley Chapter · Northampton Committee to Stop the War in Iraq
· Northampton Friends Meeting · Physicians for Social Responsibility,
Pioneer Valley · Progressive Christian Voice Task Force, The First
Churches · Safe Passage · Smith College · Unitarian Society of
Northampton and Florence · The Vestry of St. John’s Episcopal Church,
Northampton · Western Mass. Darfur Coalition

————————————————-

Traprock Peace Center homepage

Who’s Illegal? – Shooting to Kill on the Border

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Traprock Peace Center homepage

Who’s Illegal?

Shooting to Kill on the Border

By SHARON SMITH

On the afternoon of May 18, 22 year-old Oscar Abraham Garcia-Barrios was shot and killed at close range by U.S. Border Patrol and Customs agents. Garcia-Barrios was just 50 feet north of the border crossing from San Diego to Tijuana. He and a teenage passenger were transporting four undocumented immigrants-back to Mexico.

Border Patrol agents told reporters that they began following Garcia-Barrios’ black Dodge Durango after receiving a “tip” from a San Diego “citizen” that his car had picked up four undocumented Mexicans.

As he headed back toward Mexico, the agents alerted U.S. Customs to close down its busy border crossing. Armed agents surrounded the vehicle as it stopped in the far right lane on orders to pull over, 100 feet north of the border.

Agents smashed the driver’s side window with a baton when Garcia-Barrios refused orders to get out of the car. They opened fire when he then accelerated in the direction of the border.

Garcia-Barrios died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds. The agents refuse to say how many rounds they fired. They had made no attempt to shoot at the vehicle’s tires. Although Chris Bauder, president of National Border Patrol Council Local 1613, claimed an agent’s “life was in danger,” none of the agents reported even minor injuries. And no weapons were found in the Dodge Durango.

In response to critics, Bauer defended the agents shoot-to-kill policy, arguing that their “job is to apprehend people who are here illegally.”

Expect to hear more stories like this one in the future. Both sides involved in the Congressional furor over immigration reform are jostling for red-state votes-and are mirroring the level of xenophobia and racism long associated with organizations of the far right.

Last week, the Senate unanimously passed a proposal by Republican Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas to deny citizenship to immigrants convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors. Senators overwhelmingly endorsed building a 370-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. They also passed an amendment by former Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry (not to be outflanked on his right by Bush’s plan for National Guard troops on the border) to increase number of Border Patrol agents by 1,000 in the current fiscal year.

Most significantly, the Senate voted for a Republican-sponsored proposal to declare English the “national” language of the United States. Democrat John Salazar of Colorado, representing the “opposition party,” retaliated with a barely discernible motion to declare English as the “common, unifying” language of the United States-also passed by a substantial majority

The Far Right is Growing

In this political climate, it is not surprising that far-right organizations are beginning to grow significantly.

A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing extremist groups, documented 803 such hate groups operating in the U.S. last year-33 percent more than in 2000.

The Center’s Mark Potok also noted a growing alliance between neo-Nazis and anti-immigrant vigilante organizations. “More and more [neo-Nazi] groups are turning to immigration to help recruitment,” he said.

The American Border Patrol, a civilian group that rounds up and detains suspected undocumented immigrants to turn over to authorities across the Southwest, demonstrates this overlap. Glenn Spencer, the director of this vigilante group, defended the practice. “Our borders are unprotected, and the Border Patrol is derelict in its duty,” Spencer argued. “We are trying to help by any means necessary.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has also accused the Border Guardians, a new organization based in Arizona, of working with neo-Nazis to harass and steal money from undocumented immigrants.

Border Guardians’ director Laine Lawless vehemently denied those charges. But she also called immigrants’ rights activists “brown Nazis” who are threatening to ignite a “civil war” in America, leaving considerable doubt as to whether she is capable of making such a political distinction.

Who’s Illegal?

Speaking of illegality, it might surprise Lawless to learn that the entire Southwestern U.S., including her home state of Arizona, was part of Mexico until the U.S. military invaded that sovereign nation in 1846 to force the Mexican government to “sell” one-third of its territory to the U.S. for a paltry sum. That military incursion, known as the Mexican-American War, allowed the U.S. to expand its territory “from sea to shining sea” across its South.

By 1847, many Northern politicians were clamoring for the U.S. military to annex all of Mexico. But Southern slaveholders were loath to extend U.S. citizenship to the majority of Mexicans, for no other reason than to maintain racial purity in their budding imperialist power.

Sen. John Calhoun of South Carolina expressed the majority’s objections in an 1848 Congressional debate:

“To incorporate Mexico, would be incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race.”

The “Permanent Temporary” Labor Force

When the U.S. created its first broad immigration controls in the 1920s, Mexicans were singled out to play a unique role as a “permanent temporary” labor force for U.S. employers. While curtailing immigration overall, U.S. law allowed unlimited migration from Mexico and Canada.

This, as historian David Montgomery argued,

“institutionalized a revolving door for migrant field workers from Mexico, who numbered at harvest time as many as all immigrants from the rest of the world combined but could be, and were, returned to Mexico en masse when large growers did not need their labor.”

Immigration laws have undergone a variety of changes since then, but this exploitive employment pattern for Mexican workers has remained. Even when federal law bans Mexican migration, immigration officials typically look the other way while employers openly flout the law. They reserve punishment for undocumented workers, arrested and deported in showcase immigration raids-to reinforce an atmosphere of fear in Mexican communities.

Two Sides of a Coin: Guest Worker Programs and Deportation

This was the case even during the notorious Bracero Program, which imported more than 4 million Mexican farm laborers to work in the U.S. between 1942 and 1964, as a temporary workforce without basic legal rights-all to be deported by their employers when their contracts expired. Working conditions were described as “legalized slavery” by Lee G. Williams from the U.S. Department of Labor officer in charge of the Barcero program before it ended.

While the Bracero program was in full swing, however, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service also instituted a mass deportation program in 1954, known as “Operation Wetback.” Fueled by the anti-communist witch hunt already well underway, the INS, working with Border Patrol agents, rounded up and deported at least one million Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the name of “protecting national security and American jobs.”

U.S. employers thus found an ideal solution to their problems, two sides of the same coin: rigorous border enforcement and guest worker status for Mexican migrants-ensuring racist scapegoating against the entire Mexican and Mexican-American population residing in the U.S.

Both these elements-and only these elements–are present in the current Congressional debate over immigration now being waged in Washington over the Senate bill-which must still be reconciled with the House’s unilaterally punitive HR 4437, passed in December.

Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein has already suggested that that the negotiations will “not necessarily” be finished before the November elections.

Let’s hope so.

No legislation is much preferable to what is on offer in Congress. The future for immigrants rights will be determined not by election-year Congressional wrangling but by more bodies in the streets.

The mass outpouring of protest over the Sensenbrenner bill has thus far prevented Congress from passing anti-immigrant legislation. We need to redouble our efforts to continue to build a movement that stands squarely for full and complete legalization of undocumented immigrants.

Sharon Smith is the author of Women and Socialism and Subterranean Fire: a History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States. She can be reached at: sharon@internationalsocialist.org

This article is published with permission of Sharon Smith; it is also published by CounterPunch.org

Open letter to U Texas on free speech by Charles Jenks

Friday, May 5th, 2006

Traprock Homepage
Campus Antiwar Network

May 5, 2006

Cindy Braly, Student Affairs Administrator, cbraly@mail.utexas.edu
Annemarie Seifert, Dean of Students office, aseifert@mail.utexas.edu
Margaritta Arrellano, Associate Dean of Students, arellano@mail.utexas.edu

Dear Ms. Braly, Ms. Seifert and Ms. Allrellano:

I have just received an email that the “The Campus Antiwar Movement to End the Occupation (CAMEO), an student antiwar group at the University of Texas, is being charged with infractions of the UT student organization code, including chalking on campus sidewalks, putting a poster on the MLK statue telling people where to go for a rally with Cindy Sheehan, using amplified sound in an unauthorized location, and having non-student organizations on campus.” Apparently, a hearing is scheduled for this morning.

As Peggy Lee might say, “Is that all there is?”

It seems unbelievable – absurd – that the university would consider disciplining this student organization for such activities. Chalking a sidewalk? Would you consider discipline for chalking hop scotch squares? And putting up a sign on a Martin Luther King, Jr. statue? He stood against war – in fact, that’s what turned the US government against him. Do you think he’d mind if antiwar students up a sign on a statute to him? C’mon.

When I was in college (many years ago, I admit), amplified sound was everywhere. Granted it was mostly music, but not music to everyone’s taste. And I went to college during the Vietnam War. There were amplified antiwar speech’s as well. It was all part of the blend on a college campus where expressions of free speech were encouraged. There was a mixture of cultures with different sounds and a marketplace of ideas. Not so at UT?

Finally, what’s wrong with inviting non-student organizations to campus? What are you afraid of? Were these some kind of groups promoting illegal or dangerous acts? If so, let’s hear it. If not, are students – they’re adults I remind you – really prohibited from bringing in outside groups with their different ideas? Does UT want to be insular? Does UT wish to cloister students?

If UT disciplines CAMEO for such silly reasons, it will appear to be pure pretext for a clampdown on protest against the war and student freedom of expression. I urge you to be reasonable here and to drop any consideration of disciplining CAMEO or student activists on these ridiculous charges.

I would appreciate a response, and will watch the situation closely.

The international peace movement has advocated strongly for students who have faced repression for antiwar protest activities this year – at Holyoke Community College, George Mason University, Wisconsin at Madison, Pace University, Hampton University, Kent State University and most recently at San Francisco State University. Over 1100 people have signed an open letter by leaders of the movement to the SFSU president. http://www.petitiononline.com/sfsu10/petition.html

I urge you to drop these charges against CAMEO.

Sincerely,

Charles Jenks
Chair of Advisory Board and Web Manager
Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413-773-7427
http://www.traprockpeace.org

Open letter to U Texas on free speech by Bonnie Weinstein

Friday, May 5th, 2006

Traprock Homepage
Campus Antiwar Network

Memo to:

Cindy Braly, Student Affairs Administrator, cbraly@mail.utexas.edu
Annemarie Seifert, Dean of Students office, aseifert@mail.utexas.edu
Margaritta Arrellano, Associate Dean of Students, arellano@mail.utexas.edu

From:

Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War
www.bauaw.org
P.O. Box 318021
San Francisco, CA 94131-8021

Subject:

Freedom of speech and assembly and association.

Dear all,

I am distressed to hear that you are contemplating disciplinary charges
against a student group, Campus Antiwar Movement to End the Occupation
(CAMEO) for exercising their right to assemble and express opposition to the
war and to the injustices permeating our society.

Freedom of speech does not mean jumping through hoops in order to exercise
it. Freedom of speech does not require permission!

And, for God’s sake, chalk on the sidewalk is completely and totally
harmless. Should we go around the country punishing or arresting
six-year-olds?

No school administration has the right to limit free speech or assembly in
any way. You do, however, have an obligation to see that the truth is
exposed about the war, military recruitment on campus and the No Child Left
Behind Act which requires the militarization of our schools in order to get
much-needed federal funds–a sacrifice of the lives of the poor to benefit
the profits of U.S. Business interests! The children of the wealthy are not
called upon to fight and die for their education!

You should be standing up with these students and demand an end to the
occupation of Iraq; military recruiting in the schools; and the end to the
so-called “war on terror” that the U.S. Government is using to terrorize and
torture the world!

The world is watching what you do! Keep your hands off student rights to
free speech and assembly and, yes, chalking on the sidewalk!

Who’s side are you on? The students’ or the war-mongers’?

Sincerely,

Bonnie Weinstein
415-824-8738

Antiwar activists could learn from immigrant rights movement

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

Traprock Homepage

This is what a movement looks like

by Michael G. Smith

While much of the left has been bemoaning the demise of the antiwar movement and fighting to reinvigorate the opposition to American warmongering that was so evident before the war began, millions of immigrants and their allies have poured into the streets to fight the racist stench emanating from Congress and demand real justice and dignity for all workers. This incredible movement for immigrants’ rights, which seemed to spring up out of nowhere but actually has its roots in decades of immigrant-bashing, right-wing vigilantes patrolling the border and the continued super-exploitation of millions of undocumented workers, has given us a glimpse of what a real movement against the war could look like.

This raises an obvious question: given the continued unpopularity of both President Bush and his war on Iraq, why is the antiwar movement so unable to produce the kind of numbers, momentum and political depth as its immigrants’ right counterpart? In other words, with Bush’s approval rating at 36% and 57% of Americans now calling the war a mistake, what the hell is wrong with the antiwar movement?

The fight to end the occupation of Iraq is paralyzed by the twin paradoxes of the antiwar movement: as more and more Americans turn against the war, the movement gets smaller and smaller; and as Americans move leftward on the issue of the occupation, much of the leadership of the antiwar movement is actually moving to the right.

These contradictions have played themselves out in numerous ways over the past year and a half, with the most striking aspect being the antiwar leadership’s (near) unanimous support for John Kerry in 2004, a candidate who not only voted for the war and said that he would do it again but who also called for more troops to be sent to Iraq and argued that Bush had not been tough enough on the Iraqi people.

More recently, the third anniversary of the invasion passed with barely a whisper of protest. Amazingly, even with a solid majority of Americans now against the war, there was no national demonstration called on the anniversary against the occupation. Instead, local demonstrations were held in cities large and small around the country, with numbers that can only be called disappointing given the unpopularity of the war.

ANSWER, one of the principal national antiwar organizations, was able to mount regional protests in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle, along with a youth march in New York, but did not attempt a national demonstration in either Washington, DC or New York similar to the ones on previous anniversaries of the war.

Even more significantly, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), the other main antiwar group in the country and decidedly to the right of ANSWER, explicitly told people to not attend even the regional demonstrations because of its ongoing feud with ANSWER. Instead, they called for even more fractured local demonstrations on March 18th, and dubbed March 20th, the actual anniversary of the invasion and a Monday, as a day to “call your Congressional representative to keep the pressure on Congress.”

These are problematic strategies on several fronts. To let the anniversary of the war pass without a national expression of opposition can be seen only as a sign of weakness. Many Americans would be hard pressed to know that a majority of their fellow citizens share their antiwar views, simply because there has been no visible expression of that opposition. Local and regional demonstrations have their place, to be sure, but to miss out on such an obvious opportunity to showcase antiwar voices, and thus give confidence to the millions of Americans who want to see the occupation end but feel isolated in that sentiment, is a tragedy.

Moreover, UFPJ’s orientation on Congress is sorely misplaced. It represents a move rightward, from putting people in the streets and building a genuine movement that demands immediate withdrawal to pressuring Congress to pass legislation for “strategic redeployment” or “gradual withdrawal.” This is especially disconcerting given the leftward trend in American public opinion on the question; a recent Gallup poll pegged support for withdrawing troops at 64%, with 28% favoring immediate withdrawal, which is particularly impressive given the lack of any coherent opposition to Bush and the war from either Democrats or the antiwar movement.

You cannot build an antiwar movement by appealing to warmongers, demobilizing the movement to get warmongers elected and then telling people that the best thing they can do is to stay at home and let those same warmongers in Congress sort it out.

The national demonstration that UFPJ did call, set for April 29th in New York, is shaping up to be little more than a pep rally for the Democratic Party. This is not the space to review the sordid history of the Democrats and the Iraq War; needless to say, relying on an avowedly pro-war and pro-imperialism party to end the war and occupation is a sadly mistaken strategy.

UFPJ’s recent endorsement of Rep. John Murtha’s “antiwar” resolution–which is more accurately a shuffling of U.S. troops around the Middle East rather than actually bringing them home, and is meant to bolster U.S. aims in the Middle East, not to curtail them–is equally unfortunate. Murtha, long known as a staunch hawk, is hardly the person to be carrying the banner of the antiwar movement.

Politics is, at heart, what you think is wrong with the world and how you think we should go about fixing it (thanks to Sharon Smith for the formulation). The demise of the antiwar movement shows that it’s not enough to have an arrogant, incompetent and wholly unpopular president, nor is it enough to see a majority of Americans actually turn against the war; in short, politics matter. In this case specifically, the discussion around what should be done to end the war–the liberals’ answer of reliance on the Democratic Party and congressional action vs. the left’s answer of a genuine movement in the streets combined with resistance to the occupation from both Iraqis and American soldiers–is dominated by the liberals, and thus far it has produced exceedingly bad results.

Ultimately, for the antiwar movement to succeed, we need a strategy that doesn’t rely on pro-war politicians to represent the antiwar movement and instead empowers the majority of Americans who are against the war and occupation to take matters into their own hands, build institutions that actually represent them, and use the power of the working class here at home and soldiers resisting in Iraq to bring the troops home.

So how does the immigrants’ rights movement play into all this? First, this incredible turn of events can serve as an example to the antiwar movement, to that 57% of Americans who think the war was a mistake but have been so tragically let down by their “leaders.” Let us see what a real movement looks like, one independent of the party of killing slightly fewer Iraqis and deporting slightly fewer undocumented workers, and from that let us all conclude that, to paraphrase Eugene V. Debs, “There is nothing we cannot do for ourselves.”

Second, let us all realize that the immigrants’ rights movement has been as large, as politically conscious, as effective as it has been precisely because the Democratic Party never saw it coming. The compromises, half-measures and empty rhetoric of the Democrats and their liberal allies have thus far fallen on deaf ears, and it is the refusal of those in the streets to be co-opted and forced into the narrow confines of electoralism that is transforming the debate around immigration.

As Democratic politicians across the country have sickeningly tried to get to the front of this speeding train so they can apply the brakes as quickly as possible, pretending to be friends of immigrants and telling them that yes, really, a new Bracero program is basically the same as amnesty, we can start to get a sense of what it might look like were the politicians in Washington chasing us in the antiwar movement, trying to meet our demands, as opposed to the other way around.

Finally, let this immigrants’ rights movement put to rest any notion that America is a hopelessly right-wing country, that the Democratic Party is the best we can hope for or that the old-fashioned idea that ordinary people can fight for their own emancipation and in the process build their own movements and organizations is somehow quaint or outdated. It is, in fact, the only thing that has ever changed the world, and it is the only thing that ever will.

Also appearing in http://www.counterpunch.org/smith04212006.html
and http://www.mrzine.org

Published with permission of Michael G. Smith

A Path to Peace with Iran by Scott Ritter

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

More:
June 23, 2005 – “Scott Ritter: US at War with Iran”
November 17, 2005 – “Scott Ritter speaks out against wars on Iraq and Iran”
Scott Ritter Archives

A Path to Peace with Iran

By Scott Ritter

04/20/06

It has been more than a week now since the Iranian government announced that it had “joined the nuclear club” by successfully enriching uranium, albeit for nuclear fuel, not a weapon. Once a nation has the capacity to enrich to the former, enrichment to the latter is simply a matter of time; the technology is the same. Iran’s declaration immediately made headlines around the world, with stunned punditry engaging in wild speculation about the potential ramifications of this turn of events. From a simple laboratory-scale enrichment experiment, a massive nuclear weapons program grew Pheonix-like from the ashes, prompting dire warnings from US Government officials such as Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Stephen Rademaker, who told a press conference in Moscow, where he was visiting to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue with Russian officials, that Iran “…may be capable of making a nuclear bomb within 16 days.”

Rademaker was referring to the mathematical possibilities arising from Iran enriching uranium to weapons grade-levels at its centrifuge enrichment plant at Natanz, using a 50,000-centrifuge cascade system the United States and others say is capable of being installed at the facility. In a nod to the hypothetical nature of his outlandish remark, Rademaker did note that the Iranians have gone on record as only wanting to install a 3,000-centrifuge cascade at Natanz. In that case, Rademaker said, “We calculate that a 3,000-machine cascade could produce enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon within 271 days.” Apparently 271 days isn’t as terrifyingly sexy as 16 days, given that the majority of the media reported Rademakers initial statement.

In all fairness to Mr. Rademaker, the full 16 days window he postulated remains open, and so it is perhaps too harsh to pass criticism until it is known whether or not his prediction will come to pass. But I’ll wager a dime to a dollar that come 16 days — or even 271 days — the world will find Iran no closer to a nuclear bomb than it is today, because the reality is Iran does not possess an active, ongoing, viable nuclear weapons program. In all reality, Iran does not yet even possess the capability to enrich uranium on an industrial scale. Its claims regarding the laboratory-scale work that was conducted — a limited run of some 164 centrifuges which enriched Uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) from 0.7% to 3.5% U235 — has yet to be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is in the process of collecting samples of the enriched gas for further analysis.

The fact that the IAEA safeguard inspections are at play in Iran may in itself come as a surprise to most observers of the ongoing Iranian nuclear saga. Iran is still very much a member, in good standing, of the non-proliferation treaty, and all of its nuclear activities continue to be under the stringent monitoring of the IAEA safeguard inspectors, an odd reality for a nation only 16 days away from being able to replicate the American attack on Hiroshima, if Stephen Rademaker is to be taken seriously. It takes an extraordinary stretch of the imagination to have Iran fabricating a nuclear weapon right under the nose of IAEA inspectors who today manage an inspection process that is not only technologically advanced, but seasoned after years of sleuthing after nuclear weapons programs in Iraq, North Korea, South Africa and Iran. To liken these professionals, as is the habit of many in the Bush administration today, to “keystone cops” is like comparing the US Marine Corps to the Boy Scouts. The IAEA inspectors are the best in the world at what they do. The fact that they have not found a “smoking gun” to back up what has been to date nothing more than irresponsible speculation concerning the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program should ease the fears of those politicians and pundits prone to panic. Unfortunately, this has not been the case, and as a result the world finds itself inching ever closer to a tragically unnecessary war between the United States and Iran.

The problems that plague Washington DC on the issue of Iran are the same problems that haunt America overall regarding Iraq — no clear understanding of why we as a nation are doing what we are doing where we are doing it, and absolutely no system of accountability for those who are implicated, directly through their actions or indirectly through abrogation of duties and responsibilities, in embroiling America in such senseless conflict. There seems to be, especially among the so-called “anti-war” crowd, a tendency to blame the “system” for all that ails us, with a specific trend to isolate particular nodes of economic and/or political power for special indictment.

In this light, the current war in Iraq and the real possibility of war with Iran becomes the responsibility of “Big Oil,” the “Neo Cons,” the “Military Industrial Complex,” and more recently, the “Israeli Lobby.” There are more names one can add to the list; everyone, it seems, is to blame. Congress, while not getting a pass, does get special dispensation in so far that we can understand why the elected representatives of the people abrogate the trust and confidence we place in them by noting that they have fallen under the ever expanding control of “special interests,” namely the aforementioned power nodes that are to blame for everything. Likewise, since these power nodes also control the mainstream media, one can begin to understand why it is that the pro-war message trumps the anti-war message every step of the way.

Of course, there is much merit in all of the above arguments. There are in fact special interest groups (the so-called “power nodes”) which exude influence, both in terms of influencing the legislative agenda of elected officials as well as the overall “thematic” of mainstream media, far in excess of that which is healthy in an ostensibly representative democracy. But it is wrong, and futile, to simply blame these power nodes, or the institutions they have come to so heavily influence. These power nodes did not simply appear out of nowhere. They are a product of American history and culture, a manifestation of the reality that, even more so than the processes of representative democracy, America is a product of unadulterated capitalism.

All that is good and bad about our society today stems from that basic truth. The American capitalist system exists to make money, and that money ends up concentrated in the hands of a few, while the majority of Americans toil in support of this massive capital generating behemoth. As a nation over time we have tinkered with the American system (imperfectly, it may be argued) in a way that seeks to protect the civil liberties of the individual. But in the end we are compelled not to bite the hand that feeds us, and the corporation for the most part has benefited at the expense of the citizen. Some would argue that the gains of the corporation translate into the gains of the citizen. This is true, as long as there remains a system of checks and balances through the vehicle of the rule of law that stays the hand of excessive greed at the expense of individual rights. But in the end the strongest proponent of individual rights must be the individual citizen, and when the system of capitalism dulls the attraction of citizenship based upon the rule of law (a process that is extraordinarily time consuming and difficult) with the allure of consumer-based creature comforts delivered to the masses, the individual is faced with an up-hill struggle of immense proportions that cannot be won unless a helping hand is offered by the very system of capitalism the individual is struggling against.

In short, America as a nation is genetically constructed in a manner that places a premium on greed. However, the DNA that drives this greed gene requires a compliant host, which we could call the American citizenry, if it is to survive. There has always been a complicated Kabuki-type dance occurring between the American corporation and the American citizen, with a Constitutionally mandated system of governance, replete with pre-programmed checks and balances, serving as puppet master in an effort to preserve a relative balance. But, as President Eisenhower foretold when warning America about the ascendancy of the military-industrial complex back in the 1950’s, if this delicate balance is disrupted, the system is in danger of collapsing.

The American system has been in collapse for many decades now, with the rise of corporate power occurring in direct relationship with the demise of concept and reality of individual citizenship. How America as a nation reacted to the horrific events of September 11, 2001 clearly put the manifestation of this collapse on center stage. Americans for the most part remained mute and motionless as the rights of the individual were infringed on irrationally by the so-called Patriot Act. The various economic and political power nodes, once held in check by a Congress which at one time recognized its responsibilities to the individual citizen, now ran rough shod over the elected representatives of the people by exploiting the fear of the people generated by the people’s own ignorance of the world they lived in. In short, the current war in Iraq, and the looming war with Iran, can be explained as a manifestation of American capitalism gone mad.

Some might argue that this very definition in itself provides justification for a total rejection of the current manifestation of the American system, and the need to seek a new path or direction. There are those in the anti-war movement today who articulate such an argument. I, for one, am not prepared to embrace this way of thinking. I recognize both the good and bad inherent in the difficult blending of capitalistic greed and individual humanism that is modern America, and accept that this system is the best model in existence today, as long as it maintains a system of checks and balances that keeps the forces of excessiveness under control. In likening America to a biological entity suffering from genetic mutation, I not only attempt to identify the problem, but also the cure.

The delicate balancing act that exists between capitalism and individual rights is a pre-requisite for American national survival. Right now this system is out of balance, and America is teetering down a path of self-destruction. Fortunately, like most biological beings, there is an internal mechanism that recognizes when a system is out of alignment, and seeks to make the appropriate adjustments in time to forestall its demise. Since America is, first and foremost, a capitalist system, it is to capitalism that one must look to for these adjustments. We got the first inklings of this very sort of attitudinal wake-up call just this week, when Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, a Republican of distinction who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for the Bush administration to “cool it” on the issue of Iran.

Senator Lugar did not base his arguments on grand ideological principles of peace and justice, but rather the more base passion of prosperity. Speaking before an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, Senator Lugar warned that a confrontation between the United States and Iran over its nuclear programs could trigger economic collapse at home and abroad should Iran’s oil and gas resources be withdrawn from the global energy market. With global consumption of oil on the rise, not only in the United States but also developing economies such as China and India, spare production capacity has dwindled from 10 percent in 2002 to less than two percent today, Lugar noted. If Iran pulled its oil and gas resources from the market, or had them pulled indirectly through sustained US military intervention, the global energy market would be thrown into a crisis the likes of which have never been seen.

Senator Lugar spoke of the threat that exists simply if the price of oil is sustained at the $60 a barrel level, noting that Americans paid 17 percent more for energy in 2005 than in the previous year, an increase which accounted for more than a third of the American trade deficit. “If oil prices remain at $60 a barrel through 2006, we will spend about $320 billion on oil imports this year.” As of this writing, oil prices were just above $70 per barrel, with the Iranian government noting that in their opinion the price of oil was still below its “real value.” What Lugar did not engage in directly, but referred to obliquely, was that the forces of capitalism which drive America also drive the global oil market, and that if America, which currently consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil, engages in actions with Iran that disrupt the global oil market, the competition which fuels speculative oil pricing would go out of control as the United States, Europe, China and India competed to lock down energy supplies they all need to survive. Lugar spoke of his concerns over oil prices sustained at $60 per barrel. Imagine the consequences of sustained oil prices of $100 per barrel, or more.

This reality is understood not only by Senator Lugar, but also various conservative foreign policy figures, including those who articulated in favor of war with Iraq. Influential persons such as Richard Haas and Richard Armitage have come out recently in favor of broad diplomatic and economic engagement with Iran, versus the extreme confrontational approach of the Bush White House. These conservatives are loathe to take the lead on such a volatile issue on their own initiative. Instead, their posturing away from confrontation with Iran is more likely a manifestation of the reality that the conservative capitalist circles they operate in are becoming increasingly nervous about the damage such confrontation could bring to the economic system that currently sustains them.

It is said that politics makes for strange bedfellows. If there is to be any hope of forestalling a disastrous war between the United States and Iran, there must be an internal realignment of the delicate Kabuki dance between capitalism and individualism in America that seeks to sustain the American way of life, versus destroy it. Today, many in the anti-war movement decry conservative capitalists as being the source of all that ails America, and the nurturing point which feeds the various economic and political power nodes that produce the variety of special interest groups the anti-war movement likes to pin responsibility for war in Iraq (and the possibility of war with Iran) on. Likewise, this total disconnect between many of those that populate the anti-war movement and the conservative circles in which Richard Lugar, Richard Haas, and Richard Armitage operate in means that there is no tendency on the part of these conservatives to reach out to the anti-war movement for help in forestalling a conflict both sides agree is wrong for America.

Many in the anti-war movement seem to recognize that there is a need to expand the base of this movement to be much more inclusive of mainstream America. I suggest that the pace of current events dictate a much more dramatic solution — that the anti-war movement begin to reach out to the very institutions that it condemns and make common cause for the preservation of a way of life — the unique blend of corporate capitalism and individual rights — that is at risk from the policies of the Bush administration. It is not likely that there will be many points of agreement on the long-term path that America should take regarding achieving the ideal balance between these two competing, and somewhat contradictory, concepts. But one thing is certain: if the Bush administration has its way regarding war with Iran, both concepts will be put at risk in the chaos which will follow.

© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

Published by persmission of Scott Ritter and Independent Media Institute, http://www.alternet.org/

Open letter to SFSU President from antiwar movement

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

Traprock Homepage

Please sign the open letter on-line

President Robert A. Corrigan, Ph.D.
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132

(415) 338-1381
corrigan@sfsu.edu

Dear Dr. Corrigan:

On Friday, April 14 ten SFSU students protested military recruitment at the university’s career fair. Campus police interrupted their protest and physically took the students from the school’s gymnasium where they were protesting. The police then notified the students that they were banned from campus.

You officially confirmed the ban that same day, and the campus chief of police notified students that if they returned to campus prior to April 28th, they would be “subject to immediate arrest.” When the students called to request a hearing, they were told they would have to wait until May.

We were glad to hear – for the sake of the students – that you withdrew the ban three days later, on Monday. Several students who lived or worked on campus became instantly homeless or unemployed by your arbitrary action. At this point, the students are waiting for the other shoe to drop, as they have heard no word as to whether disciplinary proceedings will come next. Students report that the university waited over a week to notify students of charges against them in a previous situation.

The world has witnessed a full display of intimidation tactics by SFSU against the students, from rough behavior when the police physically removed nonviolent students from the career fair, to your serving notice on them that they were banned — without a prior hearing — from campus for 2 weeks. Any pretense of due process was thrown out the window when your office informed them that they could not have a hearing until after their banishment ended. Now, they face the prospect of discipline. And for what?

They distributed anti-military recruitment leaflets, talked to recruiters and potential recruits, and chanted phrases such as, “Killing Iraqis is no career! Recruiters are not welcome here!” We understand that the chants were loud, but that the students were peaceful and committed to nonviolence.

We also understand that the police aggression came as a shock to the students, who hadn’t planned to get arrested or cited, and who were not given any warning prior to detainment. Reportedly, police rapidly lined up in front of the students, intimidated them and began physically pulling students out of the career fair. Students say that this behavior breached a police policy against mishandling students.

This incident at SFSU has come at a time when students nationwide are facing oppression for protesting this academic year. We have heard of the recent incident at UC Santa Cruz where police roughed up two female students who were leaving at the end of the protest. Earlier this academic year, student protesters were threatened with serious discipline at Holyoke Community College (MA), George Mason University (VA), Kent State University, Wisconsin at Madison, Hampton University (VA), and Pace University (NY). In each case, the university backed down in the face of an international outcry against repression of peaceful protests against war and military recruitment. Such an outcry is building now concerning SFSU’s actions.

As the students have pointed out, SFSU is a university with a legacy of protests, starting with the student strike of 1968. The 10 students with Students Against War, a chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN), were exercising their rights to free speech and carrying forth the proud tradition of students before them.

Indeed, this is not the first time SFSU has sought to suppress the speech of its students dissenting from recruitment to the war in Iraq. Just over a year ago, on March 9, 2005, according to “A New Battleground on Campuses” by Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, a member of CAN’s national coordinating committee, “200 students rallied against recruitment on campus in protest of the war and the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, ultimately driving recruiters out of the campus career fair with their peaceful chanting and placards. The SFSU administration then decided to single out two student groups (among the six sponsors) and three students for disciplinary action.” Both student groups were put on probation and had their funding eliminated. The three students, meanwhile, have never had their cases resolved – with SFSU neither disciplining them, nor being willing to forgo its claim to discipline them in the future for their protest last spring. The lack of punishment so far may be attributable to the international outrage provoked by the case, as well as a sister case on the same day, where three students and a staff member at City College New York (CCNY) were assaulted by campus security, arrested, and banned from campus during a peaceful protest against military recruiters at their career fair. The community response to both cases led to the CCNY administration, and the New York District Attorney’s office, dropping all charges.

Let’s not forget what these students – “the SFSU 10?” – were protesting. They were protesting the military’s recruiting students into ‘careers’ that would foster death, destruction and injustice. They were trying to protect their fellow students from serious risks of their being among the tens of thousands of US troops killed, maimed or traumatized in Iraq. They were trying to protect students from participating in war crimes – a war in which 100,000 or more Iraqis have been killed, according to the peer reviewed Lancet study; a war in which the US uses uranium, a radioactive neurotoxin, in munitions; a war in which 1 in 4 combat marines admitted to having killed a civilian, with 8 in 10 having reported seeing injured women or children whom they were unable to help (Boston Globe, July 1, 2004).

These horrors and crimes are not cited in military recruitment materials. Instead, students are fed lies about military careers and benefits.

If anything, the protesters should be praised. You should be joining them in condemning recruitment that enables the continued occupation and destruction of Iraq. You should support students who are trying to protect their peers from the untold physical and mental risks of war, whether it’s this one or the one that the US is planning against Iran. You should be proud of students who will not condone hate against their peers by a homophobic and sexist military.

Further, SFSU professes to be part of and to care about the Bay Area community. Do you care what your community thinks about the war and military recruitment? As Bonnie Weinstein of the Bay Area United Against the War has pointed out in a letter to you, in November, 2005, the voters of San Francisco voted to stop the war in Iraq and to bring troops home immediately, and they voted to get the military out of San Francisco schools. And, in the San Francisco Unified School District, 95 percent of parents signed the district’s Opt-Out form, making it clear that they don’t want the military in contact with their children. As she wrote in her letter, “the least that all school administrations could do is actively fight the No Child Left Behind Act and stand in full support of all those who protest the militarization of our schools and the ongoing presence of the military whenever they show up.”

We stand in defense of the SFSU protesters and call on you to take no disciplinary action against them and to apologize to them for violating of their civil liberties and human rights. We believe the university should also compensate any of the group who may have become homeless or otherwise suffered economic hardship because of the SFSU actions. And we invite you to join us as we renew our efforts to build the movement to end this war, bring all the troops home now, and institute reparations for the people of Iraq.

Sincerely,

the undersigned:*

Ahmed Shawki, editor, International Socialist Review and board member of the National Council of Arab Americans;
Alan Maass, editor of Socialist Worker newspaper;
Annie and Buddy Spell, Covington Peace Project_Covington, LA;
Anthony Arnove, author, “Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal,” co-editor with Howard Zinn, “Voices of a People’s History of the US;”
Betsy Corner, Wmass activist and tax resister, she was a subject of the documentary film “An Act of Conscience;”
Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War;
Brian Kelly, student organizer and victim of repression; Pace University Campus Antiwar Network and Students for a Democratic Society;
S. Brian Willson, Humboldt Bay Veterans For Peace; Arcata (CA) Nuclear Free Zone and Peace Commission;
Camilo Mejia, war resister who spent six months in military prison for refusing to return to Iraq;
Carolyn Fuller, Senior Analyst/ Programmer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
Charles Jenks, Chair of Advisory Board, Traprock Peace Center;
Charles Peterson, member of the International Socialist Organization and student victim of repression at Holyoke Community College;
Charlie Jackson for Texans for Peace;
Christopher Schwartz, Co-president of the UNI Students for Social Justice; Coordinating Committee member of the Campus Anti-War Network (CAN); President of Cedar Valley United for Peace & Justice; Publisher of The Legacy; Editor and Chief of College Not Combat; Organizing Committee of the Midwest Social Forum;
Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace and mother of Casey Sheehan, who died in Iraq;
Dahr Jamail, indepdendent journalist;
David Rovics, progressive songwriter and musician;
Dave Stratman, Editor, NewDemocracyWorld.com;
David Swanson, co-founder, AfterDowningStreet.org, DontAttackIran.org;
Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General who resigned in protest as the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq;
Dennis Kyne, Gulf War veteran and activist;
Dirk Adriaensens, coordinator of SOS Iraq and member of the Executive committee of the Brussells Tribunal;
Dorinda Moreno, hitec aztec communications co-moderator, indyiraqaction, central coast diversity alliance;
Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, NYU, national coordinating committee of Campus Antiwar Network;
Eric Ruder, writer, Socialist Worker;
Gabriele Zamparini, independent filmmaker, writer and journalist living in London; co-producer with The Cat’s Dream;
Hans-Christof von Sponeck, former UN Assistant Secretary General who resigned in protest as the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq;
Jacob Flowers, Director, Mid-South Peae and Justice Center, Memphis;
John Robinson, Hampton University Black Campus Progressives, he and others faced repression for protesting at the university;
Hadi Jawad, Crawford Peace House;
Josey Foo for San Juan Peace Network (New Mexico);
Judy Linehan, MFSO mother of Iraq War Veteran;
Kathy Kelly, Voices of Creative Nonviolence;
Katrina Yeaw, SAW/CAN at San Francisco State University, studying in Italy;
Kelly Dougherty, co-founder Iraq Veterans Against the War;
Kevin Ramirez for the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors and Military Out of Our Schools-Bay Area;
Kristin Anderson, student organizer, SAW/CAN, SFSU;
Lindsey German, convener, Stop the War Coalition (UK);
Marc Herold, Professor, Departments of Economics and Women’s Studies, University of New Hampshire;
Medea Benjamin, cofounder, Global Exchange and CODEPINK;
Michaelann Bewsee, Director, Arise for Social Justice (MA);
Michael Smith, Bay Area activist; a founding member of the Campus Antiwar Network who faced campus repression as a member of the “Berkeley 3;”
Natylie Baldwin, Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center;
Nick Mottern, National Director of Consumers for Peace, ExxonMobil War Boycott;
Nikki Robinson, student organizer, KSAWC/CAN, Kent State University;
Norman Solomon, author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death;”
Paola Pisi, professor of religious studies (Italy) and editor of uruknet.info;
Pav Akhtar, Convenor, NUS (UK) Internationalism Campaign;
Phil Gasper, Chair, Department of Philosophy & Religion, Nortre Dame de Namur University;
Randy Kehler, veteran of the peace movement and co-founder of the Traprock Peace Center (1979), the National Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and the Working Group on Electoral Democracy;
Sanford Russell, veteran and moderator of BoycottUS yahoo group;
Sara Flounders, International Action Center co-director;
Sharon Smith, author of “Women and Socialism: Essays on Women’s Liberation;”
Sheila Rosenthal, Lafayette Area Peace Coalition (Indiana);
Sunny Miller, Executive Director, for Traprock Peace Center;
Tariq Khan, George Mason University student and Air Force vet assaulted and arrested for peaceful protest;
Dr. Thomas Fasy, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine;
Thomas F. Barton, editor of “GI Special;”
Tim Carpenter, National Director, Progressive Democrats of America;
Todd Boyle, Washington Truth in Recruiting;
Todd Chretien, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in California;
Valley Reed, March to Redeem the Soul of America, Texas;
Vicky Steinitz, Associate Professor (retired), U Mass/Boston;
Ward Reilly, SE National Contact – Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Baton Rouge;
Wes Hannah, Cornell University, Campus Antiwar Network national Coordinating Committee;
William McAvinney, Information Architect, MIT

*Affiliations are for identification purposes only, except as indicated.

DOES IRAN PRESIDENT WANT ISRAEL WIPED OFF THE MAP

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

Traprock Homepage

DOES IRAN’S PRESIDENT WANT ISRAEL WIPED OFF THE MAP AND DOES HE DENY THE HOLOCAUST?

AN ANALYSIS OF RHETORIC IN MEDIA ON ITS WAY TO WAR AGAINST IRAN – COMMENTING ON THE ALLEGED STATEMENTS OF IRAN’S PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD

Authors: Anneliese Fikentscher and Andreas Neumann (Germany), Translation to English: Erik Appleby

Bush frankly speaks of ‘threat to Iran’. Is this a Freudian slip? He speaks of ‘military might’ against Iran: “But now that I’m on Iran, the threat to Iran, of course — (applause) — the threat from Iran is, of course, their stated objective to destroy our strong ally Israel. That’s a threat, a serious threat. It’s a threat to world peace; it’s a threat, in essence, to a strong alliance. I made it clear, I’ll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally, Israel, and — (applause.)” George W. Bush, US-President, 2006-03-20 in Cleveland (Ohio) in an off-the-cuff speech (source: www.whitehouse.gov) But why does Bush speak of Iran’s objective to destroy Israel?

DOES IRAN’S PRESIDENT WANT ISRAEL WIPED OFF THE MAP?

To raze Israel to the ground, to batter down, to destroy, to annihilate, to liquidate, to erase Israel, to wipe it off the map – this is what Iran’s President demanded – at least this is what we read about or heard of at the end of October 2005. Spreading the news was very effective. This is a declaration of war they said. Obviously government and media were at one with their indignation. It goes around the world.

But let’s take a closer look at what Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said. It is a merit of the ‘New York Times’ that they placed the complete speech at our disposal. Here’s an excerpt from the publication dated 2005-10-30:

“They say it is not possible to have a world without the United States and Zionism. But you know that this is a possible goal and slogan. Let’s take a step back. [[[We had a hostile regime in this country which was undemocratic, armed to the teeth and, with SAVAK, its security apparatus of SAVAK [the intelligence bureau of the Shah of Iran’s government] watched everyone. An environment of terror existed.]]] When our dear Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Iranian revolution] said that the regime must be removed, many of those who claimed to be politically well-informed said it was not possible. All the corrupt governments were in support of the regime when Imam Khomeini started his movement. [[[All the Western and Eastern countries supported the regime even after the massacre of September 7 [1978] ]]] and said the removal of the regime was not possible. But our people resisted and it is 27 years now that we have survived without a regime dependent on the United States. The tyranny of the East and the West over the world should have to end, but weak people who can see only what lies in front of them cannot believe this. Who would believe that one day we could witness the collapse of the Eastern Empire? But we could watch its fall in our lifetime. And it collapsed in a way that we have to refer to libraries because no trace of it is left. Imam [Khomeini] said Saddam must go and he said he would grow weaker than anyone could imagine. Now you see the man who spoke with such arrogance ten years ago that one would have thought he was immortal, is being tried in his own country in handcuffs and shackles [[[by those who he believed supported him and with whose backing he committed his crimes]]]. Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime [Israel] has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world.”
(source: www.nytimes.com, based on the publication of ‘Iranian Students News Agency’ (ISNA) — insertions by the New York Times in squared brackets — passages in triple squared brackets will be left blank in the MEMRI version printed below)

It’s becoming clear. The statements of the Iranian President have been reflected by the media in a manipulated way. Iran’s President betokens the removal of the regimes, that are in power in Israel and in the USA, to be possible aim for the future. This is correct. But he never demands the elimination or annihilation of Israel. He reveals that changes are potential. The Shah-Regime being supported by the USA in its own country has been vanquished. The eastern governance of the Soviet Union collapsed. Saddam Hussein’s dominion drew to a close. Referring to this he voices his aspiration that changes will also be feasible in Israel respectively in Palestine. He adduces Ayatollah Khomeini referring to the Shah-Regime who in this context said that the regime (meaning the Shah-Regime) should be removed.
Certainly, Ahmadinejad translates this quotation about a change of regime into the occupied Palestine. This has to be legitimate. To long for modified political conditions in a country is a world-wide day-to-day business by all means. But to commute a demand for removal of a ‘regime’ into a demand for removal of a state is serious deception and dangerous demagogy.

This is one chapter of the war against Iran that has already begun with the words of Georg Meggle, professor of philosophy at the university of Leipzig – namely with the probably most important phase, the phase of propaganda.

Marginally we want to mention that it was the former US Vice-Minister of Defence and current President of the World Bank, Paul D. Wolfowitz, who in Sept. 2001 talked about ending states in public and without any kind of awe. And it was the father of George W. Bush who started the discussion about a winnable nuclear war if only the survival of an elite is assured.

Let’s pick an example: the German online-news-magazine “tageschau.de” writes the following about Iran’s president on 2005-10-27: “There is no doubt: the new wave of assaults in Palestine will erase the stigma in countenance of the Islamic world.” Instead of using the original word ‘wave’ they write ‘wave of assaults’. This replacement of the original text is what we call disinformation. E.g. it would be correct to say: “The new movement in Palestine will erase the stain of disgrace from the Islamic world.” Additionally this statement refers to the occupation regime mentioned in the previous sentence.

As a precaution we will examine a different translation of the speech – a version prepared by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), located in Washington:

“They [ask]: ‘Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?’ But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved. [[[…]]] “‘When the dear Imam [Khomeini] said that [the Shah’s] regime must go, and that we demand a world without dependent governments, many people who claimed to have political and other knowledge [asked], ‘Is it possible [that the Shah’s regime can be toppled]?’ That day, when Imam [Khomeini] began his movement, all the powers supported [the Shah’s] corrupt regime [[[…]]] and said it was not possible. However, our nation stood firm, and by now we have, for 27 years, been living without a government dependent on America. Imam [Khomeni] said: ‘The rule of the East [U.S.S.R.] and of the West [U.S.] should be ended.’ But the weak people who saw only the tiny world near them did not believe it. Nobody believed that we would one day witness the collapse of the Eastern Imperialism [i.e. the U.S.S.R], and said it was an iron regime. But in our short lifetime we have witnessed how this regime collapsed in such a way that we must look for it in libraries, and we can find no literature about it. Imam [Khomeini] said that Saddam [Hussein] must go, and that he would be humiliated in a way that was unprecedented. And what do you see today? A man who, 10 years ago, spoke as proudly as if he would live for eternity is today chained by the feet, and is now being tried in his own country [[[…]]] Imam [Khomeini] said: ‘This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.’ This sentence is very wise. The issue of Palestine is not an issue on which we can compromise. Is it possible that an [Islamic] front allows another front [i.e. country] to arise in its [own] heart? This means defeat, and he who accepts the existence of this regime [i.e. Israel] in fact signs the defeat of the Islamic world. In his battle against the World of Arrogance, our dear Imam [Khomeini] set the regime occupying Qods [Jerusalem] as the target of his fight. I do not doubt that the new wave which has begun in our dear Palestine and which today we are also witnessing in the Islamic world is a wave of morality which has spread all over the Islamic world. Very soon, this stain of disgrace [i.e. Israel] will vanish from the center of the Islamic world – and this is attainable.”
(source: http://memri.org, based on the publication of ‘Iranian Students News Agency’ (ISNA) — insertions by MEMRI in squared brackets — missing passages compared to the ‘New York Times’ in triple squared brackets)

The term ‘map’ to which the media refer at length does not even appear. Whereas the ‘New York Times’ said: “Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map” the version by MEMRI is: “Imam [Khomeini] said: This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.”
MEMRI added the following prefixed formulation to their translation as a kind of title: “Very Soon, This Stain of Disgrace [i.e. Israel] Will Be Purged From the Center of the Islamic World – and This is Attainable”. Thereby they take it out of context und by using the insertion ‘i.e. Israel’ they distort the meaning on purpose. The temporal tapering ‘very soon’ does not appear in the NY-Times-translation either. Besides it is striking that MEMRI deleted all passages in their translation which characterize the US-supported Shah-Regime as a regime of terror and at the same time show the true character of US-American policy.

An independent translation of the original (like the version published by ISNA) yields that Ahmadinejad does not use the term ‘map’. He quotes Ayatollah Khomeini’s assertion that the occupation regime must vanish from this world – literally translated: from the arena of times. Correspondingly: there is no space for an occupation regime in this world respectively in this time. The formulation ‘wipe off the map’ used by the ‘New York Times’ is a very free and aggravating interpretation which is equivalent to ‘razing something to the ground’ or ‘annihilating something’. The downwelling translation, first into English (‘wipe off the map’), then from English to German – and all literally (‘von der Landkarte löschen’) – makes us stride away from the original more and more. The perfidious thing about this translation is that the expression ‘map’ can only be used in one (intentional) way: a state can be removed from a map but not a regime, about which Ahmadinejad is actually speaking.

Again following the independent translation: “I have no doubt that the new movement taking place in our dear Palestine is a spiritual movement which is spanning the entire Islamic world and which will soon remove this stain of disgrace from the Islamic world”.

It must be allowed to ask how it is possible that ‘spritual movement’ resp. ‘wave of morality’ (as translated by MEMRI) and ‘wave of assaults’ can be equated and translated (like e.g tagesschau.de published it).

DOES IRAN’S PRESIDENT DENY THE HOLOCAUST?

“The German government condemned the repetitive offending anti-Israel statements by Ahmadinejad to be shocking. Such behaviour is not tolerable, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated. […] Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed Ahmadinejad’s statements to be ‘inconceivable'” (published by tagesschau.de 2005-12-14.

But not only the German Foreign Minister Steinmeier and the Federal Chancellor Merkel allege this, but the Bild-Zeitung, tagesschau.de, parts of the peace movement, US-President George W. Bush, the ‘Papers for German and international politics’, CNN, the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, almost the entire world does so, too: Iran’s President Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust.

What is this assertion based on? In substance it is based on dispatches of 2 days – 2005-12-14 and 2006-02-11.

“The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stepped up his verbal attacks against Israel and the Western states and has denied the Holocaust. Instead of making Israel’s attacks against Palestine a subject of discussion ‘the Western states devote their energy to the fairy-tale of the massacre against the Jews’, Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday in a speech at Zahedan in the south-east of Iran which was broadcasted directly by the news-channel Khabar. That day he stated that if the Western states really believe in the assassination of six million Jews in W.W. II they should put a piece of land in Europe, in the USA, Canada or Alaska at Israel’s disposal.” – dispatch of the German press agency DPA, 2005-12-14.

The German TV-station n24 spreads the following on 2006-12-14 using the title ‘Iran’s President calls the Holocaust a myth': “The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stepped up his verbal attacks against Israel and called the Holocaust a ‘myth’ used as a pretext by the Europeans to found a Jewish state in the center of the Islamic world . ‘In the name of the Holocaust they have created a myth and regard it to be worthier than God, religion and the prophets’ the Iranian head of state said.”

The Iranian press agency IRNA renders Ahmadinejad on 2005-12-14 as follows: “‘If the Europeans are telling the truth in their claim that they have killed six million Jews in the Holocaust during the World War II – which seems they are right in their claim because they insist on it and arrest and imprison those who oppose it, why the Palestinian nation should pay for the crime. Why have they come to the very heart of the Islamic world and are committing crimes against the dear Palestine using their bombs, rockets, missiles and sanctions.’ […] ‘If you have committed the crimes so give a piece of your land somewhere in Europe or America and Canada or Alaska to them to set up their own state there.’ […] Ahmadinejad said some have created a myth on holocaust and hold it even higher than the very belief in religion and prophets […] The president further said, ‘If your civilization consists of aggression, displacing the oppressed nations, suppressing justice-seeking voices and spreading injustice and poverty for the majority of people on the earth, then we say it out loud that we despise your hollow civilization.'”

There again we find the quotation already rendered by n24: “In the name of the Holocaust they created a myth.” We can see that this is completely different from what is published by e.g. the DPA – the massacre against the Jews is a fairy-tale. What Ahmadinejad does is not denying the Holocaust. No! It is dealing out criticism against the mendacity of the imperialistic powers who use the Holocaust to muzzle critical voices and to achieve advantages concerning the legitimization of a planned war. This is criticism against the exploitation of the Holocaust.

CNN (2005-12-15) renders as follows: “If you have burned the Jews why don’t you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel. Our question is, if you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?”

The Washingtonian ‘Middle East Media Research Institute’ (MEMRI) renders Ahmadinejad’s statements from 2005-12-14 as follows: “…we ask you: if you indeed committed this great crime, why should the oppressed people of Palestine be punished for it? * […] If you committed a crime, you yourselves should pay for it. Our offer was and remains as follows: If you committed a crime, it is only appropriate that you place a piece of your land at their disposal – a piece of Europe, of America, of Canada, or of Alaska – so they can establish their own state. Rest assured that if you do so, the Iranian people will voice no objection.”

The MEMRI-rendering uses the relieving translation ‘great crime’ and misappropriates the following sentence at the * marked passage: “Why have they come to the very heart of the Islamic world and are committing crimes against the dear Palestine using their bombs, rockets, missiles and sanctions.” This sentence has obviously been left out deliberately because it would intimate why the Israeli state could have forfeited the right to establish itself in Palestine – videlicet because of its aggressive expansionist policy against the people of Palestine, ignoring any law of nations and disobeying all UN-resolutions.

In spite of the variability referring to the rendering of the statements of Iran’s President we should nevertheless note down: the reproach of denying the Holocaust cannot be sustained if Ahmadinejad speaks of a great and huge crime that has been done to the Jews.

In another IRNA-dispatch (2005-12-14) the Arabian author Ghazi Abu Daqa writes about Ahmadinejad: “The Iranian president has nothing against the followers of Judaism […] Ahmadinejad is against Zionism as well as its expansionist and occupying policy. That is why he managed to declare to the world with courage that there is no place for the Zionist regime in the world civilized community.”

It’s no wonder that such opinions do not go down particularly well with the ideas of the centers of power in the Western world. But for this reason they are not wrong right away. Dealing out criticism against the aggressive policy of the Western world, to which Israel belongs as well, is not yet anti-Semitism. We should at least to give audience to this kind of criticism – even if it is a problematic field for us.

2006-02-11 Ahmadinejad said according to IRNA: “[…] the real holocaust should be sought in Palestine, where the blood of the oppressed nation is shed every day and Iraq, where the defenceless Muslim people are killed daily. […] ‘Some western governments, in particular the US, approve of the sacrilege on the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), while denial of the ‘Myth of Holocaust’, based on which the Zionists have been exerting pressure upon other countries for the past 60 years and kill the innocent Palestinians, is considered as a crime’ […]”

The assertion that Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust thus is wrong in more than one aspect. He does not deny the Holocaust, but speaks of denial itself. And he does not speak of denial of the Holocaust, but of denial of the Myth of Holocaust. This is something totally different. All in all he speaks of the exploitation of the Holocaust. The Myth of Holocaust, like it is made a subject of discussion by Ahmadinejad, is a myth that has been built up in conjunction with the Holocaust to – as he says – put pressure onto somebody. We might follow this train of thoughts or we might not. But we cannot equalize his thoughts with denial of the Holocaust.

If Ahmadinejad according to this 2006-02-11 condemns the fact that it is forbidden and treated as a crime to do research into the Myth of Holocaust, as we find it quoted in the MEMRI translation, this acquires a meaning much different from the common and wide-spread one. If the myth related to the Holocaust is commuted to a ‘Fairy Tale of the Massacre’ – like the DPA did – this can only be understood as a malicious misinterpretation.

By the use of misrepresentation and adulteration it apparently succeeded to constitute the statements of the Iranian President to be part and parcel of the currently fought propaganda battle. It is our responsibility to counter this.

Concluding:

A dispatch by Reuters confirms 2006-02-21: “The Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki has […] repudiated that his state would want the Jewish state Israel ‘wiped off the map’. […] Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been misunderstood. ‘Nobody can erase a country from the map.’ Ahmadinejad was not thinking of the state of Israel but of their regime […]. ‘We do not accredit this regime to be legitimate.’ […] Mottaki also accepted that the Holocaust really took place in a way that six million Jews were murdered during the era of National Socialism.”

The next step is to connect the Iranian President with Hitler. 2006-02-20 the Chairman of the Counsil of Jews in France (Crif) says in Paris: “The Iranian President’s assertions do not rank behind Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf'”. Paul Spiegel, President of the Central Counsil of Jews in Germany, 2005-12-10 in the ‘Welt’ qualifies the statements of Ahmadinejad to be “the worst comment on this subject that he has ever heard of a statesman since A. Hitler”. At the White House the Iranian President is even named Hitler. And the German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel as well moves over Iran’s President towards Hitler and National Socialism by saying 2006-02-04 in Munich: “Already in the early 1930’s many people said that it is only rhetoric. One could have prevented a lot in time if one had acted… Germany is in the debt to resist the incipiencies and to do anything to make clear where the limit of tolerance is. Iran remains in control of the situation, it is still in their hands.”

All this indicates war. Slobodan Milosevic became Hitler. The result was the war of the Nato against Yugoslavia. Saddam Hussein became Hitler. What followed was the war the USA and their coalition of compliant partners waged against Iraq. Now the Iranian President becomes Hitler.

And someone who is Hitler-like can assure a hundred times that he only wants to use nuclear energy in a peaceful way. Nobody will believe him. Somebody like Hitler can act within the scope of all contracts. Acting contrary to contract will nevertheless be imputed to him. “Virtually none of the Western states recognize that uranium enrichment is absolutely legal. There is no restriction by contract or by the law of nations. Quite the contrary: Actually the Western countries would have the duty to assist Iran with these activities, according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. As long as a state renounces the bomb it is eligible for technical support by the nuclear powers.” (Jörg Pfuhl, ARD radio studio Istanbul 2006-01-11) But – all this does not count if the Head of a state is stigmatized as Hitler.

***

Submitted by the authors for publication by Traprock on April 19, 2006
Article originally published on authors’ website: http://www.concernedphotography.com/iran-statements

Youth – a poem by Avery Friend

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Written on Good Friday, April 14, 2006

Youth
 
 
seven is too young to hear
that daddy won’t come home
years go by but still can’t fill
the time you spent alone
 
fourteen is too young to care
about saving innocent lives
to campaign hard to stop a war
based on naught but lies
 
twenty is too young to fight
a battle that’s not ours
while government officials hide
like god-forsaken cowards
 
fifty is too young to bear
the weight of wooden crosses
for those collapsed along the road
under their heavy losses
 
one hundred is too young to wake
from nightmares of the past
no matter how many years go by
these scars will always last
 
one thousand lifetimes is too few
to understand the pain
a mother knows when she finds out
her child’s died in vain
 
I am too young to write these words
for all which we aspire
but my my pen never have rest
’till peace replaces fire

Don’t Attack Iran by Cindy Sheehan

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

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Don’t Attack Iran Petition

Don’t Attack Iran

By Cindy Sheehan

Fresh from a resounding victory in Iraq, George Bush swaggered onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and boldly and confidentally declared victory. It was a pretty war, it was a clean war, it looked stunning in all of its shock and awe. Wow, never was there such a swift and amazing American victory and it all looked so damn glamorous on CNN!

As fake as his codpiece was, so was his “cakewalk” of an invasion. Over 2000 thousand dead soldiers, billions of wasted dollars, thousands of maimed young people, innocent Iraqis dead by the hundreds of thousands, still no consistent electricity or clean water in their country, later, and this swaggering imbecile of a “leaker in chief” has the nerve to be trying to sell all of us on a new war in Iran.

Do the warped neocons with their puppet president think that we are all stupid? Fool us once, shame on us, fool us,—well, we just can’t be fooled again.

“But our objective is to prevent them from having a nuclear weapon,” GWB, on Iran, 04/10/06 at Johns Hopkins University. So, let me get this straight, in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear, or “nucular” weapons, we will use tactical nuclear weapons on them! The continued hypocrisy of this regime is absolutely breathtaking!

Even having nuclear weapons is crazy, but talking about deploying them is sheer insanity. Retired General, Anthony Zinni said on CNN today that Iran would not just sit back and do nothing if attacked: they have the means and the capability to retaliate. Our young people in Iraq would be sitting ducks along with Israel and our supply of natural gas and oil could be greatly compromised. I have an even scarier reason: I, and others, believe that using tactical nukes in Iran could start WWIII or IV. With all of the “Left Behind” religious fanatics praying for Armageddon, this thought is made even scarier by the fake believers in the White House who are exploiting the neo-Christian idea that Jesus was a war monger and anything our great leader does is okay, because he is a Christian man!

By putting the focus on nuclear strikes we are also forgetting the appalling destructive power that conventional weapons wield. We must not even, for one moment, contemplate a conventional invasion in Iran either. No matter how George Bush lies about how rosy things are in Iraq, they aren’t, and Iraq is proof that war of any kind is a horribly tragic way to solve problems.

We must not believe BushCo or anything they say about Iran. He has lied through his teeth so many times before: From WMD and terrorism in Iraq to the fact that no one could “anticipate” the levees breaking in New Orleans. He was the leaker of the documents that outed Valerie Plame, while he promised us that the leaker would be punished. We must not allow him to frighten us into this one.

The doctrine of preemptive war is an abominable doctrine, especially when we have such a vacuum of leadership in this country that rubberstamps any maniacal thing that this president wants to do. We cannot allow our leaders to destroy the world by jousting with windmills that are no threat to our safety, or our way of life.

We must elect leaders that will get at the root causes of terrorism and not pretend that every terrorist can ever be killed to satisfy some kind of primeval bloodlust that flows through the war machine’s veins. When our leaders go terrorist hunting, they kill innocent men, women and children and they, themselves, become the very thing that they are trying to teach us to loathe.

Please go to Don’t Attack Iran and sign the petition to our “fearless with other people’s lives” leaders and tell them that you do not support an attack on Iran. We members of Gold Star Families for Peace, Code Pink Women for Peace, Traprock Peace Center, AfterDowningStreet.org, Democract.com , Progressive Democrats of America, The Velvet Revolution, and Global Exchange urge you to sign the petition prohibiting our leaders from committing more war crimes and crimes against humanity in our names. We must loudly repudiate the crimes lest we be accused of them also.

We cannot allow an attack on Iran. We must restore sanity to our country if it’s not too late already.

Antiwar Petition and Talking Points on Iran

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

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Bush is considering a nuclear strike on Iran – what are we going to do about it?

Friends,

Seymour Hersh reports in The New Yorker that President Bush is considering using nuclear weapons as part of a U.S. military strike against Iran.

See http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060417fa_fact

Despite the disaster in Iraq, there has been almost no Congressional opposition to attacking Iran. Senators John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, and Joseph Lieberman have all said they would support using military force as a “last resort” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. When lawmakers say that, “last” resorts tend to come first, after the dance of non-negotiable negotiations has quickly played out.

On May 6, 2004, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution authorizing President Bush to use “any and all appropriate means” to prevent Iran from prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Given Bush’s sweeping view of his power as Commander in Chief, it is not clear whether he would feel he needed any further Congressional authority to bomb Iran. Congress must reclaim its Constitutional authority immediately.

The consequences of bombing Iran could be as far-reaching and ultimately devastating as the invasion of Iraq. Iran today is far stronger than Iraq was in 2003, and it might retaliate by trying to mine the Strait of Hormuz (through which much of the world’s oil passes), attack Saudi oil production, and create greater chaos in Iraq, especially among its majority Shiites. In response, the United States could find itself drawn further into war. A U.S. attack could kill many thousands of Iranians. It would also incite retaliation and terrorism in the Middle East and globally.

Thank you.

David Keppel
Bloomington, Indiana
http://www.traprockpeace.org/david_keppel/

Charles Jenks
Deerfield, MA
Traprock Peace Center

Please sign a petition initiated by Cindy Sheehan at: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/iran

This petition is hosted by After Downing Street and supported by Gold Star Families for Peace, CODE PINK, Progressive Democrats of America, Democrats.com, Traprock Peace Center, Global Exchange, Velvet Revolution, Democracy Rising, Truthout, OpEdNews, the Backbone Campaign and ConsumersforPeace.org. National and International organizations are invited to join this list. Email david@davidswanson.org

The Petition reads:

Dear President Bush and Vice President Cheney,

We write to you from all over the United States and all over the world to urge you to obey both international and U.S. law, which forbid aggressive attacks on other nations. We oppose your proposal to attack Iran. Iran does not possess nuclear weapons, just as Iraq did not possess nuclear weapons. If Iran had such weapons, that would not justify the use of force, any more than any other nation would be justified in launching a war against the world’s greatest possesor of nuclear arms, the United States. The most effective way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons would be to closely monitor its nuclear energy program, and to improve diplomatic relations — two tasks made much more difficult by threatening to bomb Iranian territory. We urge you to lead the way to peace, not war, and to begin by making clear that you will not commit the highest international crime by aggressively attacking Iran.

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/iran

###

Talking Points for Congress on Iran

We are gravely concerned by reports that President Bush is considering a military strike on Iran to set back its suspected nuclear weapons program. We are particularly alarmed to learn that such a strike reportedly might involve bunker busting U.S. nuclear weapons. For the United States to use nuclear weapons would break the taboo on their use that has existed since Nagasaki and open Pandora’s Box to nuclear wars, nuclear proliferation, and nuclear terrorism. Whatever the weapons used, such an attack would be provocative and reckless. We strongly oppose it. We call for vigorous diplomacy, including direct U.S. – Iranian negotiations, and toughened inspections under the International Atomic Energy Agency.

• Under Article One of the Constitution, Congress has the responsibility to vote on declarations of war. Congress disastrously abdicated that responsibility in October 2002 when it voted to authorize President Bush to use force against Iraq. Members of Congress afterwards claimed they thought the President would use that authority to negotiate. It must not repeat this mistake with Iran. On May 6th, 2004, the House of Representatives authorized the President to use “any and all appropriate means” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Congress must make clear that President Bush does not have authority to bomb Iran without coming to Congress and seeking a declaration of war.
• As in the Iraq case, hard liners are making highly selective use of partially leaked intelligence information of dubious reliability – often, as in the Iraqi case, from exiles. Meanwhile, many independent experts believe that Iran is at least several years and perhaps a decade away from being able to produce nuclear weapons. As Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has suggested, Congress should insist that intelligence information be declassified and made available for scrutiny.
• The Administration and Congress appear to have thought even less about the possible consequences of attacking Iran than they did with Iraq. Yet these could include ten thousand casualties in the American air strike, as well as Iran’s mining the Strait of Hormuz, attacking Saudi oil production, and creating greater chaos in Iraq. A CIA report finds that terrorism would grow in the aftermath of a strike. Congress must hold rigorous, open hearings on the possible costs – human, political, economic, fiscal – of attacking Iran.
• The United States must give priority to non-proliferation, engage Iran in direct negotiations, and renounce the policy of regime change. We cannot expect to reach a diplomatic solution with a government we are trying to destabilize. The regime change agenda also weakens international support for our concern about proliferation. Authentic Iranian dissidents such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi warn that U.S. support risks making them look like traitors. Congress must defeat bills such as the Iran Freedom and Support Act (S.333), which are provocative and are a hidden gift to the regime. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement that Israel should be “wiped off the map” is totally unacceptable. A U.S. attack on Iran, however, would only make Mr. Ahmadinejad a hero in Iran and beyond and would incite Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and globally.
• To persuade Iran to forgo nuclear weapons, and to curb proliferation globally, the United States must change its own military and nuclear policies. President Bush’s preemption doctrine gives countries such as Iran an incentive to get nuclear weapons as a deterrent: after all, Mr. Bush invaded non-nuclear Iraq, not nuclear North Korea. The Nuclear Posture Review endorses U.S. nuclear attacks against non-nuclear states, in violation of all the understandings of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Treaty is a grand bargain, in which non-nuclear countries renounce nuclear weapons and in return existing nuclear states are obliged to work towards nuclear disarmament. Yet the Bush Administration is exploring a new generation of “usable” nuclear weapons. In addition, Iran is both motivated and – in the eyes of many in the Middle East – legitimized in its possible pursuit of nuclear weapons by the Israeli arsenal of (an estimated) 200 nuclear weapons. United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, sponsored by the U.S. and Britain, commits us to seek a nuclear weapons free Middle East. (Israel is far better able to defend itself by conventional weapons than it was when it first sought a nuclear arsenal.)

References:

Congressional votes on Iran and pending legislation: See http://thomas.loc.gov and type “Iran” in the search field. To find the 2004 vote, specify May 2004 in the time entry.

Dubious intelligence information: See the article, “Exiles,” by Connie Bruck in the March 6th issue of The New Yorker. http://www.iran-interlink.org/files/News4/Mar06/NewYorker060306.htm A governmental National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 2005 estimated that Iran is a decade away from a bomb. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/01/AR2005080101453.html For the analysis of independent expert Joseph Cirincione – and a call to declassify intelligence information behind nuclear allegations – see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/01/AR2005080101453.html

Consequences of war: See Paul Rogers, “Iran: Consequences of a War,” Oxford Research Group, March 2006. http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefings/IranConsequences.htm See also Michael J. Mazarr (of the National War College), “Attacking Iran Is a Bad Idea.” The New Republic, August 15, 2005 http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20050815&s=mazarr081505 Dana Priest, “Attacking Iran May Trigger Terrorism,” The Washington Post, April 2, 2006.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/01/AR2006040100981.html

Negotiate on the nuclear issue rather than pursuing regime change: See Jessica Tuchman Matthews, “Speaking to Tehran, With One Voice,” The New York Times, March 21, 2006. http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=print&id=18159 See also F. Stephen Larrabee (RAND Corporation), “Defusing the Iranian Nuclear Crisis,” Orange County Register, March 9, 2006. http://www.rand.org/commentary/030906OCR.html For Iranian dissident (and Nobel Laureate) Shirin Ebadi’s views, see http://www.masnet.org/aroundworld.asp?id=544 See also Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi, “The Human Rights Case Against Attacking Iran,” The New York Times, February 8, 2005 http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00A17FF345F0C7B8CDDAB0894DD404482 An account of the CIA-sponsored 1953 coup against Iranian Premier Mohammad Mossadegh appears in Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.

To curb nuclear proliferation, the United States must change its own military and nuclear policies. For information on preemption, see Steven C. Welsh, “Preemptive War and International Law,” Center for Defense Information, March 16, 2006 http://www.cdi.org/news/law/preemptive-war-031606.cfm For an analysis of the Bush Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, see Jaya Tiwari, “Dr. Strangelove Meets the Pentagon,” Physicians for Social Responsibility http://www.psr.org/home.cfm?id=nuclear_posture On how U.S. nuclear policy undermines the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, see Eric Weiss (of GlobalSecurity.org), “Nonproliferation Treaty at Risk,” The Decatur Daily (why wasn’t this in The New York Times?), May 21, 2005 http://www.psr.org/home.cfm?id=nuclear_posture For an analysis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 of 1991, calling for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, and its relevance to the Iran crisis, please see Peace Action’s briefing http://www.psr.org/home.cfm?id=nuclear_posture See also the Federation of American Scientists’ briefing http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/

David Keppel
keppel@sbcglobal.net

The article, with talking points and references, is posted at David Keppel’s blog at
http://www.traprockpeace.org/david_keppel/

Veterans and Survivors March – Mobile To New Orleans

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

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See Ward Reilly’s entire photo album (185 photos)

Veterans-Survivors March…Mobile To New Orleans
Beauty Defined In Epic Action

by Ward Reilly

Dave Cline of VVAW and VFP called me, and a few others, back in December, and asked what I/we thought about organizing a march along the (Katrina-affected) Gulf Coast, to commemorate the third anniversary of the war in Iraq, in the mold, no pun intended, of the civil rights marches of the 60`s.

We had been tossing around different ideas about what action to take for the third anniversary of the Iraq disaster, ever since we had marched together in Washington back in September of 2005, and it was time to make a decision, so we did. The “Veterans-Survivors March….Mobile to New Orleans” was born. We were “Walkin` To New Orleans!”

Stan Goff took the bull by the horns, and started putting together a team to organize this huge undertaking, and in January we got down to business. Goff, a retired Special Forces Master Sergeant, and member of VVAW, VFP, and MFSO, put together a budget and supply list, and we got to work organizing this incredible adventure. We set up a website, and started a series of conference calls, formed committees and a task force. The team involved is too large to list, but they know who they are, and what we accomplished together. In the end, EVERY participant was what made it work.

Veterans For Peace of Mobile, Alabama, led by veteran Paul Robinson, put out the “official” call to march, and the work began. We knew that we were already late in organizing an adventure of this scope, but we were determined that it was a great idea, that being to try and tie the war in Iraq, and its staggering cost, to the virtual abandonment of the Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans.

If the Bush administration had trillions of dollars to destroy and “re-build” Iraq, why wasn’t that same administration doing anything-and-everything possible to help the (destroyed) cities in our own country? As we had put on the event t-shirts, “Every bomb dropped on Iraq, explodes along the Gulf Coast”. This was a play on Dr. Martin Luther Kings words during the Viet Nam War, when he said that “every bomb dropped on Hanoi, explodes in Harlem”.

We kicked around a few different names for the march, and a few different logos, and in the end, we decided on the “Veterans-Survivors March”, with the theme of “Walkin` To New Orleans”, a Fats Dominos song of the same title. “Fats” lost everything to Hurricane Katrina, and he lived in the infamous “Lower 9th Ward” of New Orleans.

We decided to start the 130 mile march on Tuesday, March 14th, and to end the march in New Orleans on March 19th, the third anniversary of our nations invasion of Iraq, a country that did absolutely NOTHING to the USA. And we marched…and we bussed…and we marched some more.

Our message was simple enough…”Let’s stop the war, and rebuild our own nation, NOW.” We chose for a march logo a picture done by Perry O`Brien of IVAW, that of a combat soldier and a civilian woman, walking side-by-side into the sunset.

We also decided that it was imperative for “Iraq Veterans Against the War” to lead and speak as representatives for this action, and LEAD AND SPEAK they did! Press coverage locally was outstanding, with front-page photos and articles in EVERY city we marched through, from Mobiles’ “Press Register”, to “The Mississippi Press” and finally in the “Times Picayune” of New Orleans.

We were on local TV, and on many live radio shows around the country, such as in Colorado, where KVNF Public Radio did live broadcasts. If there was one disappointment, it was in our (failed) national press in covering the march, but the good news was that we got killer international press, with “Aljazeera” covering us for the last three days, and BBC, CNN, and a Japanese press agent were with us, also. In other words, the people of Iraq and the rest of the world got to see U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghan Wars, speaking the TRUTH about those wars, a major coupe for us. There were also at least 5 documentary film crews with us.

IVAW took the lead each and every day, proudly carrying theirs`, and the marches`, banners. They led with grace, and they led with the TRUTH. They also did a fabulous job of sharing their experiences, with their own brand of intense poetry and music. That so many of their members came from around the country is tribute to their commitment, and their beauty on stage, and in being interviewed, was ” icing on the cake.” At least 25 IVAW members made the trip.

The Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans did a superb job of speaking, and an even better job of performing. One after another, they went on stage and shined during the “Veterans Art Collective”, which took place on Saturday night, the 18th, at the Vietnamese village in New Orleans East, where we camped the last night. The Art Collective was organized by IVAWs own Michael Cuzzort, a Louisiana native who lives near New Orleans. It would be a disservice to say that any act was better than any other, because they were truly ALL inspired.

It is still hard for me to understand how they can rap out multi-paragraphed lyrics, with deep emotion, without even a lyrics sheet, or how they can articulate so much meaning and their heart-felt words, straight from memory.

Some of the participants in the “Veterans Art Collective” were Josh Dawson, who emceed and performed. Joe Hatcher and Garrett Reppenhagen did several (Iraq War based) poems, Dave Cline jammed with Ward Reilly, Josh Dawson, and Ethan Crowell. Billy Mitchell, a Nam-era vet, and co-founder of “Gold Star Families For Peace”, read a poem about his son, who was KIA the same day as Casey Sheehan, whose mother Cindy also joined us for a portion of the march. Charlie Anderson played a fine song. Fernando Braga did a poem about Katrina, and Stephen Potts did his (now infamous) speech, comparing holding-farts-in to not speaking out.(How’s that for COMPLETE coverage?)

Dave Cline then took the stage once more for an incredible song about “touching The Wall”…I must add that there were late-night drum sessions that went into the wee hours of the morning, each and every night, and that it was incredibly gratifying to see all those young vets having fun and realizing that there IS some semblance left of the nation they were supposed to be fighting for. They were “home” for the first time since they went away to impose Bush`s war-crime-policies on the Iraqi and Afghani people.

The other good news about the march is that we made contact, REAL contact, with the black and Vietnamese communities that Bush and Cheney’s “class warfare” have most affected. Truthfully, the issues down here along the gulf-coast are issues of gentrification and the stealing of the land of the poorest of our citizens, and NEVER BEFORE have so many white Americans gone into the homes and communities of the black citizens in the deep south.

On Saturday, a team of 10 vets gathered in New Orleans, at the house of a veteran that had lost everything to Katrina, and we worked with the “Arabi Wrecking Krewe” of New Orleans, gutting out his house, and cleaning his yard, truly helping another veteran/citizen/Katrina survivor, which was also part of our mission.

We shared their music, their churches, and their food, as they fed us, laughed with us, cried with us, and loaned us their land to rest our weary heads (and feet). Day after day we took care of each other and loved one another, and we started something that will spread like wildfire. The locals had the chance to mingle with people that LOVED and RESPECTED them as true equals, and the marchers and locals alike came together in the realization that we must stand together against a common enemy, an enemy not of color, but of class.

Yes, we did it…and the hardest part of the trip was saying goodbye to all of those that formed this incredible family, our TRIBE of peace-makers, on this fabulous journey, from Mobile to New Orleans.

Until we meet again, March On, and PEACE OUT.

Sponsors of march were:

Veterans For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families For Peace, S.O.S. (Savin’ Our Selves), MIRA(Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance), Bayou Liberty Relief, CAWI of Baton Rouge, C3 of New Orleans, Common Ground Collective, Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund

Seven Months After Katrina

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

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March 28, 2006

Seven Months After Katrina:

Sleeping in Your Car in Front of Your Trailer in Front of Your Devastated Home, Tales of Lunacy and Hope from New Orleans

By Bill Quigley. Bill Quigley is a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. His email address is Quigley@loyno.edu

In New Orleans, seven months after Katrina, senior citizens are living in their cars. WWL-TV introduced us to Korean War veteran Paul Morris, 74, and his wife Yvonne, 66. They have been sleeping in their 2 door sedan since January. They have been waiting that long for FEMA contractors to unlock the 240 square foot trailer in their yard and connect the power so they can sleep inside it in front of their devastated home.

This tale of lunacy does not begin to stop there.

Their 240 square foot trailer may well cost more than their house. While FEMA flat out refuses to say how much the government is paying for trailers, reliable estimates by the New York Times and others place the cost at over $60,000 each.
How could these tiny FEMA trailers cost so much?

Follow the money.

Circle B Enterprises of Georgia was awarded $287 million in contracts by FEMA for temporary housing. At the time, that was the seventh highest award of Katrina money in the country. According to the Washington Post, Circle B was not even being licensed to build homes in its own state of Georgia and filed for bankruptcy in 2003. The company does not even have a website.

Here is how it works. The original contractor takes their cut and subcontracts out the work of constructing the trailer to other companies. Once it is built, they subcontract out the transporting the trailers to yet other companies which pay drivers, gas, insurance and mileage. They then subcontract out the hookups of the trailers to other companies and keep taking cuts for their services. Usually none of the people who make the money are local workers.

With $60,000 many people could adequately repair their homes.

Why not just give the $60,000 directly to the elderly couple and let them fix up their home? Ask Congress. FEMA is not allowed to give grants of that much. Money for fixing up homes comes from somewhere else and people are still waiting for that to arrive.

While many corporations are making big money off of Katrina, Mr. and Mrs. Morris wait in their car.

Craziness continues in the area of the right to vote.

You would think that the nation that put on elections with satellite voting boxes for Iraqis and Afghanis and Haitians and many others would do the same for Katrina evacuees. Wrong. There is no satellite voting for the 230,000 citizens of New Orleans who are out of state. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Advancement Project, ACORN and the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund have all fought for satellite voting but Louisiana and the courts and the U.S. Justice Department have said no.

The rule of thumb around here is that the poorer you are, the further you have been displaced. African Americans are also much more likely to be poor and renters – the people who cannot yet come back to a city where rents have doubled. They are the ones bearing the burdens of no satellite voting.

The people already back are much more affluent than the pre-Katrina New Orleans. The city is also much whiter. Many of those already back in New Orleans are not so sure that all of New Orleans should be rebuilt. The consequence of that is not everyone will be allowed to return. Planners and politicians openly suggest turning poor neighborhoods into green spaces. No one yet has said they want to turn their own neighborhood into green space – only other people’s neighborhoods – usually poor people’s neighborhoods. Those who disagree are by and large not here.

New Orleans has not been majority white for decades, but it is quite possible that a majority of those who are able to vote in the upcoming election will be white. Thus the decisions about the future of New Orleans are poised to be made by those who have been able to get back and will exclude many of those still evacuated. Guess what type of plans they will have for New Orleans?

There are many, many more tales of lunacy all over town as all systems have melted down: criminal justice, healthcare, public education, churches, electricity, water, garbage, our environment – you name it, it melted down and is not yet fully back up.
But, there are also clear signs of hope.

Across New Orleans neighborhood groups are meeting every weekend planning their own comebacks. People catch rides back into town and visit ruined neighborhoods and greet neighbors and together make plans to recover. Because governmental action and contractors are so slow, groups are looking to their own resources and partnering with churches and community groups and universities and businesses to fill in the gaps where the politicos have not yet been able to respond. The citizens themselves are our greatest hope.

We also have allies that give us hope.

We have been amazed and refreshed by the thousands of college students who took their spring break in New Orleans helping our elderly and uninsured families gut houses, clean up streets and advocate for justice with Common Ground Relief, the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund, Catholic Charities, ACORN and many other church and civic groups. Even law students! Over 1000 law students helped provide legal aid and are providing the first comprehensive documentation of abuses of local and out of town workers by businesses.

Over 100 clergy from across the US visited New Orleans with the PICO Network, as did hundreds of other people of faith with the Jeremiah community. The Protestant Women are here now and the Interfaith Worker Justice group meets here soon. Together, these groups raise the voices of their faith communities and call for justice in the rebuilding of our communities.

On the national level, we see rising support from numerous social justice groups. Several created the Katrina Information Network, an internet advocacy group that enables people across the country to take action with us to influence all levels of government in the rebuilding effort. We are inspired by the veterans and allies who marched from Florida to New Orleans to highlight the diversion of money from our cities to war efforts.

Yes, we have lunacy in New Orleans. But there are also signs of hope.

Whether lunacy or hope will triumph in New Orleans is yet to be determined. But we appreciate those of you who are working in solidarity with us to try to keep our hope alive.

“Death Row” Talks Back to Etan Thomas

Monday, March 27th, 2006

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Edge of Sports

“Death Row” Talks Back to Etan Thomas

By Dave Zirin

This Sunday at 4pm, I am proud to be speaking at an event in San Francisco called a “Civil Rights Slam for Justice,” sponsored by among others the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. The slam will be at the Malcolm X school at 350 Harbor Street. In addition to myself and a crew of young artists, activists and poets, speakers will include an NBA basketball player by the name of Etan Thomas.

Regular readers of this column know that I’m not exactly shy about singing the praises of the Washington Wizards forward. Etan plays a gritty, elbows-up style of basketball, but on a microphone he is pure Jordan. In the tradition of Amiri Baraka, his poems are sharp enough to cut glass, and generous enough to leave seedlings that can sprout in the cracks.
I first heard about Etan’s political poetry when a rumor started going around Washington DC that this rather gigantic gentleman with dreads was going to U street coffee houses reading anti-death penalty, anti-racist verse in front of a crowd you could fit in a van. Since then Etan has risen to every occasion, speaking out at last September’s anti-war rally, speaking out against the mistreatment of Katrina refugees, speaking out against the execution of Stan Tookie Williams, and speaking out through a published book of verse fittingly enough called ‘More Than An Athlete’ [Moore Black Press].

Right here, for the first time, Death Row speaks back to Etan Thomas. This comes in the form of a letter from Illinois Death Row prisoner Stanley Howard. Stanley, always organizing, typed his message to Etan on the back of a fact sheet that explains his case. Here his letter is republished with permission from both Stanley and Etan.
I pass on Stanley Howard’s letter so folks can see that athletes don’t take political stands for their own amusement or ego, but to be part of something larger than themselves. I also pass it on to demonstrate how a prisoner on death row has as much a capacity to inspire as any jock.

See you in the Bay, Dave Zirin

Dear Brother Etan Thomas:

My name is Stanley Howard, and I’m currently incarcerated at the world famous Stateville Correctional Center/Warehouse in Joliet, Illinois.

I’m a 43 year old Black poor man from Chicago who has spent the last 22 years kidnapped by this unmerciful system — 16 of those years were spent trying to stop the State of Illinois from lynching me on Death Row.

I’m no longer suffering on Death Row (fighting yet another wrongful conviction), but my heart is still in the struggle to end the Death Penalty because I can still hear the cries for justice and understanding loud and clear in my ears.

I’ve recently heard about your upcoming scheduled appearance at a Campaign to End the Death Penalty (“CEDP”) event, and I just wanted to send these words of thanks to show my sincere appreciation.

I’ve heard so much about your activism against classism, racism and this unjust system and government, and you’ll be surprised to know that you’re a great inspiration to many of the guys behind this 30-foot wall. Because like the title of your book says, you’re “More Than an Athlete.”

I was on Death Row when it seemed like nobody cared what happened to Death Row prisoners, and worthless politicians were climbing on top of each other to pass laws and rules designed to make it easier to be sent to Death Row; harder to get off; and, faster to execute. They caused 100s to be executed during this time period trying to prove they were not soft on crime.

They were able to kill all these people (some of which had to be innocent, like me), even though we had many well established groups and organizations fighting to abolish the Death Penalty.

Everything began to change with the bold and aggressive grassroots efforts of the CEDP, because they consist of everyday people whose not sitting behind desks pushing paper, but out on the streets organizing, educating, protesting and agitating the so called Powers That Be. Everyone on Death Row loves the CEDP, because they changed the face of how this life saving movement is fought — helping to put the Death Penalty under the national spotlight; obtaining a Death Penalty moratorium; highlighting many cases; and, convincing Gov. Ryan to empty out Illinois’ Death Row and granting my request for a pardon and three other pardons.

So on behalf of all the Brothers and Sisters still fighting to stop from being lynched on Death Rows around the country, I thank you for joining the struggle and helping to bring this madness to an end.

THEY SAY DEATH ROW — WE SAY HELL NO!!!

Thank You for being More Than an Athlete!!!

Stanley J. Howard Reg. # N-71620 Stateville
Correctional Center Route 53, P.O. Box 112 Joliet, IL
60434

[Dave Zirin is the author of “What’s My Name Fool?”:
Sports and Resistance in the United States (Haymarket Books). He is a regular writer for the Nation and a columnist for Slam Magazine. You can reach him by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com and you can get his column every week by sending a blank email to edgeofsports-subscribe@zirin.com]

Dave’s website is http://www.edgeofsports.com

Bigotry in the Catholic Conservative Movement

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

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March 21, 2006
by Charles Jenks

It’s hardly news that the conservative movement in the Catholic Church has it in for feminists, gays and heretics. Still, I was shocked this week by the report on a conference of 5000 Catholic men in Boston, and the results of a little googling of Opus Dei (yes, I’m reading the Da Vinci Code). The Boston conference report and my readings on Opus Dei – and its Fr. John McCloskey – reminded me again that religious fundamentalism – be it Protestant, Muslim, Jewish or Catholic – is a destructive force that is polarizing cultures and wrecking lives.

First, the Boston gathering of manly men. On March 4, Sean Forrest (I had never heard of him, but he’s a big time singer for Catholic audiences) spoke to 5000 Catholic men on putting and keeping women in their place.

I reprint the Boston Herald report:

####
http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=129057
Catholic leader: Men, rule roost – and your gals
By Marie Szaniszlo
Sunday, March 5, 2006 – Updated: 09:33 AM EST

Men are the ‘‘natural” heads of their families and should persuade their wives to give up birth control, quit their jobs and home-school their children, a keynote speaker at the annual Boston Catholic Men’s Conference said yesterday.
‘‘The first thing we have to do is get you off the birth control,” Sean Forrest instructed his audience of 5,000 men to tell their wives.
Next, the youth minister and contemporary Catholic musician told his audience at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center that it should ‘‘devise a plan to get them to stay home with the kids.”
‘‘They want that strength and security from you,” he said, drawing a standing ovation at the close of his speech. ‘‘They might resent it at first . . . (but) that is the natural position for a man: to lead your family to Christ.”
Forrest accused ‘‘feminist women in the church” of ‘‘watering down” its teachings on such issues, noting that 10 percent of women who hear him speak ‘‘get up in a huff and call me a sexist pig.”
‘‘I say, ‘You’ll be back,’ ” he said, sending ripples of laughter through the all-male audience.
Forrest also told the men to ‘‘learn the truth about homosexuality,” suggesting that they read a book called ‘‘A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.”
The conference concluded with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley. The cardinal-designate joined the state’s three other Roman Catholic bishops last week in suggesting that the state exempt Catholic social service agencies from a law barring them from discriminating against same-sex couples when placing children in adoptive homes.
The bishops’ statement prompted eight of 42 Massachusetts Catholic Charities board members to resign in protest.
On Friday, O’Malley addressed 3,300 women at the Boston Catholic Women’s Conference, which organizers added after holding the first men’s conference last year.
‘‘After that, the women raised a fuss,” said Marion Rudolph of Peabody. ‘‘As much as people don’t want to admit it, there are women’s issues and men’s issues in the church,” she said.

####

Forrest isn’t just some reactionary nutcase – he’s sanctioned by the Church, with the soon to be Cardinal O’Malley celebrating mass to conclude the conference. Forrest represents the Boston diocese’s mainstream, these days.

In my opinion, a religion that burned tens of thousands of women at the stake (it targeted healers and scholars, including midwives who showed they were “working for the devil” by alleviating the pains of childbirth) has no moral authority to spout forth on the role of women in society.

I feel sad, sickened and disgusted at the thought of thousands of men finding humor in his talk and then giving a standing ovation after hearing this crap.

And if this isn’t bad enough, there’s Opus Dei and its Rev. C. John McCloskey 3rd. See an indepth 2003 article on McCloskey, Opus Dei’s spokesman in the power corridors of DC, by the Boston Globe Magazine.

Opus Dei is an ultra-conservative cult-like “prelature” of the Catholic Church, that has, in fact, become a central power in the world Church. As a prelature, it reports directly to the Pope. It’s known for exerting almost total control over its “numeraries” (something akin to monks) who are expected to practice “corporal mortification” that includes whipping oneself and wearing a spiked chain (“cilice”) around their thighs for two hours a day. (I’m not making this up.)Numeraries make up about 30% of its membership (3000 members in the US, about 80,000 worldwide.) The Da Vinci Code novel brought the bizarre practices of this very rich and powerful sect within the Catholic Church into the public eye. Opus Dei’s mission, it seems to me, is to turn the clock back to a Catholic Church where Catholics obey the church as their absolute authority. Women are second class citizens in this vision of the church. In fact, in Opus Dei, female numeraries are treated more harshly than men. For example, female numeraries are expected to sleep on boards on top of their mattresses. The sect’s founder – “Saint” Josemaria Escriva – believed that women had passions that required more discipline to tame. He apparently still blamed Eve for the downfall of man. For more on Opus Dei, see the Opus Dei Awareness Network

So, we’re faced with this nutcase sect that has wormed its way into the power centers of the world Catholic Church. (I’ve just barely scratched the surface – see the ODAN website for details.) One would expect that perhaps it’s mouthpiece in Washington, Fr. McCloskey, would offer a more moderate image. If he does, it’s only on the surface.

In the Boston Globe expose, he candidly touches on his prediction in his “futuristic” essay of a “relatively bloodless” civil war that results in a purified Catholic Church and a divided US.

From the Globe article, we have Fr. McCloskey’s words:

“Do I think it’s possible for someone who believes in the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of family, over a period of time to choose to survive with people who think it’s OK to kill women and children or for — quote — homosexual couples to exist and be recognized?

“No, I don’t think that’s possible,” he says. “I don’t know how it’s going to work itself out, but I know it’s not possible, and my hope and prayer is that it does not end in violence. But, unfortunately, in the past, these types of things have tended to end this way.

“If American Catholics feel that’s troubling, let them. I don’t feel it’s troubling at all.”

No pacifist he. You can read his essay for yourself. He sees (hopes for) a splitting of the US into regions, so the purified Catholic Church can segregate itself – after a “relatively bloodless” civil war – into a theocratic state. He forsees only “tens of thousands of martyrs and confessors for the faith” with a “final short and relatively bloodless conflict” producing the new Regional States of North America. His happy new purified Catholic church will be a place where “dissent has disappeared from the theological vocabulary.”

Is it me, or is there something seriously wrong with the way this person thinks? With his vision for America, I am amazed that anyone takes him seriously. Yet, there he is baptizing and hobnobbing with the likes of Robert Bork, Robert Novak and Sen. Sam Brownback. He’s one of the most powerful conservative Catholics in the US (and the world), and foresees – and welcomes – a civil war that splits the US along religious lines. The Bush administration has courted and played up to these people, working hard to capture the conservative Catholic vote (see the Boston Globe article above.)

A lot of people are shedding light on Opus Dei and their dangerous beliefs and practices these days. Add me to the chorus.

For more on Opus Dei and Fr. McCloskey, see the 2002 Slate article.

###

This article was subsequently published by Socialist Worker – www.socialistworker.org

The Logic of Withdrawal by Anthony Arnove

Monday, March 20th, 2006

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The Logic of Withdrawal

by Anthony Arnove March 18, 2006

We find ourselves in a remarkable situation today. Despite a massive propaganda campaign in support of the occupation of Iraq, a clear majority of people in the United States now believes the invasion was not worth the consequences and should never have been undertaken.

Likewise, people strongly disapprove of the foreign policy of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, particularly their position on the war in Iraq. In a September 2005 New York Times-CBS News poll, support for immediate withdrawal stood at 52 percent, a remarkable figure when one considers that very few political organizations have articulated an “Out Now” position.

The official justifications for the war have been exposed as complete fallacies. Even conservative defenders of U.S. empire now complain that the situation in Iraq is a disaster.

Yet many people who opposed this unjust invasion, who opposed the 1991 Gulf War and the sanctions on Iraq for years before that, some of whom joined mass demonstrations against the war before it began, have been persuaded that the U.S. military should now remain in Iraq for the benefit of the Iraqi people. We confront the strange situation of many people mobilizing against an unjust war but then reluctantly supporting the military occupation that flows directly from it.

In part, this position is rooted in the pessimistic conclusions many drew after the February 15, 2003,day of international demonstrations–perhaps the largest coordinated protest in human history–failed to prevent the war. This pessimism was exacerbated by some of the leading spokespeople for the antiwar movement, who misled audiences by suggesting that the demonstrations could stop the war. As inspiring as the demonstrations were, it would have taken a significantly higher degree of protest, organization, and disruption of business as usual to do so.

The lesson of February 15 is not that protest no longer works, but that protest needs to be sustained, coherent, forceful, persistent, and bold–rather than episodic and isolated. And it needs to involve large numbers of working-class people, veterans, military families, conscientious objectors, Arabs, Muslims, and other people from targeted communities, not just as passive observers but as active participants and leaders.

We will need this kind of protest to end the occupation of Iraq. But we will also need to be able to answer the objections and concerns of thoughtful, well-meaning people who have been persuaded by one or more of the arguments for why U.S. troops should remain in Iraq, at least until “stability” is restored. Below, I outline eight reasons why the United States should leave Iraq immediately, addressing common arguments for why the United States needs to “stay the course.”

THE U.S. MILITARY HAS NO RIGHT TO BE IN IRAQ IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The Bush administration built its case for invading Iraq on a series of deceptions. The war in Iraq was sold on the idea that the United States was preempting a terrorist attack by Iraq. But Iraq posed no threat. The country was disarmed and had overwhelmingly complied with the extremely invasive weapons inspections. In a rare moment of honesty, Vice President Dick Cheney told CNN in March 2001,”I don’t believe [Saddam Hussein] is a significant military threat today.”

As the case for war has crumbled, so has the case for occupation, which also rests on the idea that the United States can violate the sovereignty of the Iraqi people and all the laws of occupation, such as the Hague and Geneva Conventions, which clearly restrict the right of occupying powers to interfere in the internal affairs of an occupied people.

THE UNITED STATES IS NOT BRINGING DEMOCRACY TO IRAQ.
Having failed to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq–the first big lie of the invasion–the United States has turned to a new big lie: George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, John Negroponte, Condoleezza Rice, John Bolton, and their friends are bringing democracy to the Iraqi people.

Democracy has nothing to do with why the United States is in Iraq. The Bush administration invaded Iraq to secure long-established imperial interests in the Middle East–the same reason Washington backed Saddam Hussein as he carried out the worst of his crimes against the Iraqi people, the Kurds, and the Iranians

By invading Iraq, Washington hoped not only to install a regime more favorable to U.S. oil interests; it hoped to use Iraq as a staging ground for further interventions to redraw the map of the Middle East. Several U.S. bases have been established in Iraq and are likely to remain long after U.S. troops are expelled. All of this has nothing to do with democracy. In fact, the United States has long been a major obstacle to any secular, democratic, nationalist, or socialist movements in the region that stood for fundamental change, preferring instead what is euphemistically called “stability,” even if it meant supporting the most reactionary fundamentalist religious forces or repressive regimes.

The U.S. government opposes genuine democracy in the Middle East for a simple reason: if ordinary people controlled the region’s energy resources, they might be put toward local economic development and social needs, rather than going to fuel the profits of Western oil companies.

Democracy cannot be “installed” by outside powers, at gunpoint. Genuine democracy can come about only through the struggle of people for control over their own lives and circumstances, through movements that are themselves democratic in nature. When confronted with such movements, such as the 1991 Iraqi uprising, the U.S. government has consistently preferred to see them crushed than to see them succeed.

THE UNITED STATES IS NOT MAKING THE WORLD A SAFER PLACE BY OCCUPYING IRAQ.
The invasion of Iraq has made the world a far more unstable and dangerous place. By invading Iraq, Washington sent the message to other states that anything goes in the so-called war on terror.

After September 11,India called its nuclear rival Pakistan an “epicenter of terrorism.” Israel has carried out “targeted assassinations” of Palestinians, bombed Syria, and threatened to strike Iran, using the same rationale that Bush did for the invasion of Iraq.” You don’t negotiate with terrorism, you uproot it. This is simply the doctrine of Mr. Bush that we’re following,” explained Uzi Landau, Israel’s minister of public security.

Furthermore, the invasion of Iraq is spurring the drive for countries to develop a deterrent to U.S. power. The most likely response to the invasion of Iraq is that more countries will pursue nuclear weapons, which may be the only possible protection from attack, and will increase their spending on more conventional weapons systems. Each move in this game has a multiplier effect in a world that is already perilously close to the brink of self-annihilation through nuclear warfare or accident.

Meanwhile, the invasion has also quite predictably increased the resentment and anger that many people feel against the United States and its allies, therefore making innocent people in these countries far more vulnerable to terrorism, as we saw in the deadly attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004, and London on July 7, 2005.

The United States is reviled not because people “hate our freedoms,” as Bush suggests, but because people hate the very real impact of U.S. policies on their lives. As the British playwright and essayist Harold Pinter observed,” People do not forget. They do not forget the death of their fellows, they do not forget torture and mutilation, they do not forget injustice, they do not forget oppression, they do not forget the terrorism of mighty powers. They not only don’t forget. They strike back.”

THE UNITED STATES IS NOT PREVENTING CIVIL WAR IN IRAQ.
Perhaps the greatest fear of many antiwar activists who now support the occupation is that the withdrawal of U.S. troops will lead to civil war. This idea has been encouraged repeatedly by supporters of the war. “Sectarian fault lines in Iraq are inexorably pushing the country towards civil war unless we actually intervene decisively to stem it,” explained one U.S. Army official, making the case for a continued U.S.presence.

But Washington is not preventing a civil war from breaking out. In fact, occupation authorities are deliberately pitting Kurds against Arabs, Shia against Sunni, and faction against faction to influence the character of the future government, following a classic divide- and-rule strategy.

Taking this idea to its logical extreme, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman argues, “We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind.” Such arguments are not just the fantasy of keyboard warriors like Friedman, however. As the journalist A.K. Gupta notes, “the Pentagon is arming, training, and funding” militias in Iraq “for use in counter-insurgency operations.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said such commandos were among “the forces that are going to have the greatest leverage on suppressing and eliminating the insurgencies.”

In addition, the Iraqi constitution, drafted under intense pressure from occupation authorities, essentially enshrines sectarian divisions in Iraqi politics. And, finally, despite all of its rhetoric about confronting Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq, the United States has in fact encouraged it, bringing formerly marginalized fundamentalist parties such as the Dawa Party and the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq into the Iraqi government.

THE UNITED STATES IS NOT CONFRONTING TERRORISM BY STAYING IN IRAQ.
Iraq has never been the center of a terrorist threat to the United States. Each month, further evidence emerges that the Bush administration went to great lengths to suppress facts that undermined its case for war, while touting bogus evidence in its support. As the New York Times reported in November 2005, “A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.”

Al-Qaeda made its first appearance in Iraq only after the invasion, a predictable outcome of the U.S. occupation. In reality, the United States engaged in state terrorism under the pretext of fighting a terrorist threat that did not exist in Iraq, and in the process greatly increased the likelihood of individual and organizational terrorist acts targeting the United States or its proxies abroad.

Even more circular is the idea that the United States has to stay in Iraq until it “defeats” the resistance to the occupation. The occupation itself is the source of the resistance, a fact that even some of the people responsible for the war have been forced to acknowledge.

THE UNITED STATES IS NOT HONORING THOSE WHO DIED BY CONTINUING THE CONFLICT.
One of the most cynical reasons for staying in Iraq was advanced by President Bush in response to the growing public criticism over the mounting deaths of U.S. soldiers and the deliberate campaign by the administration to suppress images of the returning coffins. Speaking to a carefully targeted audience in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he fled to escape the protest of Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son, Casey, in Iraq on April 4, 2004, Bush made a rare public acknowledgment of the number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We owe them something,” he said. “We will finish the task that they gave their lives for. We will honor their sacrifice by staying on the offensive against the terrorists.”

Sheehan herself had the best response to this attempt to manipulate people into supporting continued occupation, asking, “Why should I want one more mother to go through what I’ve gone through, because my son is dead?. . . I don’t want him using my son’s death or my family’s sacrifice to continue the killing.”

The soldiers in Iraq have not died for a “noble cause,” as Bush claims. Whatever personal motivations may have brought them into the military, they died for oil, for empire, for power and profit. More deaths and injuries of Iraqis and of U.S. soldiers will only compound the tragedy of the numerous lives already lost.

THE UNITED STATES IS NOT REBUILDING IRAQ.
The contractors now in Iraq are not there to help the people of Iraq but to help themselves, drawing on their close ties to influential politicians to secure contracts and profit from what Pratap Chatterjee rightly calls the “reconstruction racket.”

The reality is, Halliburton, Bechtel, and the other companies in Iraq are looting the country far more than they are rebuilding it. Iraqis have been forced to pay elevated prices to import oil, benefiting corporations like Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, while ordinary Iraqis have to stand in lines sometimes for days to buy gasoline. Project after project remains unfinished. Hospitals are in shambles. Electricity is still at woefully inadequate levels.

As the journalist Naomi Klein eloquently observes, “The United States, having broken Iraq, is not in the process of fixing it. It is merely continuing to break the country and its people by other means, using not only F-16s and Bradleys, but now the less flashy weaponry” of economic strangulation.

The Iraqi people are perfectly capable of rebuilding their own society, in fact far more so than foreign soldiers or contractors. To the extent that there have been any social services or security in the last two years, it is primarily Iraqis who have provided it. During the years of sanctions, Iraqis also showed their immense resourcefulness in holding together their badly damaged infrastructure. Iraqi engineers, teachers, and doctors have long been among the most educated and best trained in the Arab world. It is ultimately a racist worldview that believes Iraqis cannot rebuild or run their own country.

THE UNITED STATES IS NOT FULFILLING ITS OBLIGATION TO THE IRAQI PEOPLE FOR THE HARM AND SUFFERING IT HAS CAUSED.
Understandably, many opponents of the war now believe that the United States has an obligation to the Iraqi people and therefore has to stay to “clean up the mess it has created.” MoveOn.org, which grabbed headlines and signed up millions of online members with its anti-Bush campaigning, refuses to call for withdrawal of troops from Iraq because, in the words of its executive director, Eli Pariser, “There are no good options in Iraq.” Using this same logic, leading anti-sanctions and antiwar groups such as the Education for Peace in Iraq Center have formally adopted positions in support of occupation, if somehow a more enlightened occupation, and therefore against immediate withdrawal.

We must confront the bizarre logic of saying that the people who have devastated Iraq, who encouraged and enforced sanctions that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the last decade, who have failed at even the most basic responsibilities as an occupying power, who are the source of the instability in Iraq today, are the only ones who can protect Iraqis from hunger and anarchy. In no other area of our lives do we accept such logic, but when it comes to the crimes of empire, we are supposed to continually ignore history. The “doctrine of good intentions” exculpates all crimes.

The reality, however, is that the U.S. occupation, rather than being a source of stability in Iraq, is the major source of instability and ongoing suffering.

Moreover, those calling for immediate withdrawal do not advocate a position of isolationism and of simply walking away from any obligation to the Iraqi people. Does the U.S. government have an obligation to the Iraqi people? Absolutely. An obligation for the crimes Washington supported for years when Saddam Hussein was an ally. For arming and supporting both sides in the brutal Iran-Iraq War. For the destruction of the 1991 Gulf War. For the use of depleted uranium munitions, cluster bombs, daisy cutters, and white phosphorus. For the devastating sanctions. For the humiliation and deaths caused by the 2003 invasion, and for the great damage the occupation has caused since.

But the first step in meeting this obligation is to withdraw immediately.

If there were any genuine justice for the people of Iraq, not only would the politicians responsible for this unjust war face prosecution for their crimes, but the U.S. government would be required to pay reparations to the Iraqi people and to the families of U.S. soldiers who have been maimed and killed by its criminal actions.

In demanding an end to the U.S. occupation, we do not need to call for some other occupying power to replace the United States. We should allow the people of Iraq to determine their own future. This means, as Naomi Klein has argued, that in addition to calling for an end to military occupation, we should be calling for an end to the economic occupation of Iraq and the cancellation of all debts that Iraq still owes from the previous regime (many of which still have not been forgiven). If the Iraqis ask for outside assistance, that is their prerogative. But it is their decision, not ours, to make, and that decision can only be freely made if the United States, United Kingdom, and other occupying armies withdraw completely and end their economic, political, and military coercion of Iraq.

****

This article is adapted from Anthony Arnove’s forthcoming book Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, due out on April 18 from The New Press.