29/11/03 GI SPECIAL #145: Resistance In The Army: Command In Deep Shit Now
From: "Thomas F. Barton" thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

Charging Soldier With "Insubordination" Who Declined To Sign "Voluntary" Waiver Allowing Extra Deployment To Iraq:

Army Says He "Butted In" To Help Other Soldiers
November 28, 2003, Associated Press,

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — An Army reserve officer faces insubordination charges after he questioned the legality of a waiver that his battalion was asked to sign allowing their third deployment to a war zone since January 2002.

Capt. Steve McAlpin of 401st Civil Affairs Battalion was notified in a memorandum Wednesday that he was being removed from the unit’s battle roster.  Members of the 401st will be deployed for duty overseas on Dec. 3.

McAlpin said he could face other punishment, including court-martial and demotion in rank, over the charges.

In the memorandum, Lt. Col. Phillip Carey, commander of the 401st, charges McAlpin with having a "negative attitude" toward the 401st and with being "insubordinate towards the leadership" of the unit.  (You ain’t seen nothing yet.)

McAlpin, 44, said he questioned the waiver last Saturday during a teleconference with Col. Guy Sands, commander of the McAlpin’s parent unit, the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade. McAlpin asked whether the battalion may be violating federal law by not allowing combat troops a required 12-month "stabilization period" at home.

A spokesman for the 401st, Capt. Brian Earley, said Friday that McAlpin’s questioning of the waiver was one reason why he was being disciplined.

Individual members of the 401st are allowed to refuse to sign the waiver, but Earley said McAlpin was "butting in" for other soldiers.

While declining to elaborate, Earley said "there’s a lot of soldiers we’re not sending because they have one issue or another. It’s important that we put together a solid team."

The memorandum commands McAlpin to clear up his affairs at the unit by Dec. 1, when it bans him from battalion grounds.  It also transfers him to the Individual Ready Reserve, whose soldiers can be called up in the event of a national emergency.  (But he is NOT going to Iraq.)

McAlpin, a 25-year military veteran, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that instead of signing the reprimand document, he attached a note of protest, stating his performance evaluations have been excellent and that his record shows "no pattern of incompetence."  He also plans to meet with a military attorney.

More Resistance In The Army

Vet Dad & Active Duty Son Speak Against War;

Army Charges Son
By Robert Fisk, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 27 November 2003

In Iraq, they are just numbers, bloodstains on a road.  But in the little town of Madison, Wis., last week, they were all too real on the front page of the local paper, the Capital Times. Sgt. Warren Hansen, Spc. Eugene Uhl and 2nd Lt. Jeremy Wolfe of the 101st Airborne Division were all on their way home for the last time.

Hansen's father had died in the military. Uhl would have been 22 at Thanksgiving but had written home to say he had a "bad feeling."  His father had fought in Vietnam, his grandfather in World War II and Korea.  Two of the three men were killed in the Black Hawk helicopter crash over Tikrit.

Things are changing.  At a lecture I gave in Madison last week, there was a roar of applause from the more than 1,000-strong audience when I suggested that the Iraq war could yet doom George W. Bush's election chances next year.  A young man in the audience stood up to say that his brother was in the military in Iraq, that he had written home to say that the war was a mess, that Americans shouldn't be dying in Iraq.

After the lecture, he showed me his brother's picture -- a tall 82nd Airborne officer in shades and holding an M-16 -- and passed on a message that the soldier wanted to meet me in Baghdad next month.

But I'd better make sure I don't reveal his name because those in the United States who want to keep the people in the dark are still at work.

Take the case of Drew Plummer from North Carolina who enlisted during his last year in high school, just three months before 9/11.

Home on leave, he joined his father, Lou, at a "bring our troops home" vigil. Lou Plummer is a former member of the U.S. 2nd Armored Division whose father, unlike Bush, served his country in Vietnam. Asked for his opinion on Iraq by an Associated Press reporter, Drew Plummer replied, "I just don't agree with what we're doing right now. I don't think our guys should be dying in Iraq. But I'm not a pacifist. I'll do my part."

But free speech has a price for the military in the United States these days. The U.S. Navy charged Drew Plummer with violating Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: disloyal statements. At his official hearing, he was asked if he "sympathizes" with the enemy or was considering "acts of sabotage." He was convicted and demoted.

Yet still the U.S. media turn their backs on this. How revealing, for example, to find that the number of seriously wounded U.S. soldiers brought home from Iraq is approaching 2,200, many of whom have lost limbs or suffered facial wounds. In all, there have been nearly 7,000 medical evacuations of soldiers from Iraq, many with psychological problems.

And while the Pentagon is now planning to have 100,000 GIs in Iraq until 2006, the journalistic heavyweights are stoking the fires of patriotism.

Amid such filth, we should perhaps remember the simple courage of Drew Plummer.  

And remember, too, the following names: Army Prv. First Class Rachel Bosveld, 19; Army Spc. Paul Sturino, 21; Army Reservist Dan Gabrielson, 40; Army Maj. Mathew Shram, 36; Marine Sgt. Kirk Strasekie, 23. They, too, came from Wisconsin. And they, too, died in Iraq.

Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA.  Send requests to address up top.  For copies on web site see: http://www.notinourname.net/gi-special/

Pentagon Sending More Marines To Killing Ground
CNN, 27 November 2003

The Pentagon said three battalions of Marines and support units -- as many as 3,000 people -- will get orders for deployment to Iraq.

The Marines will be used to make up for the failure of the United States to get enough commitments from other countries to field a third multinational division.  

IRAQ WAR REPORTS:

U.S. Soldier Dead As Resistance Mortars Mosul Base
November 28, 2003, By Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press & Luke Baker, Reuters

BAGHDAD, Iraq — An American soldier died when guerrillas shelled a military base in the northern city of Mosul Friday, a day after President Bush’s surprise visit to U.S. troops at a heavily fortified military compound at Baghdad’s main airport.

A military spokeswoman said four mortar bombs landed inside the headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division in the northern city of Mosul with one killing the soldier, another wounding an Iraqi working in the compound and two falling harmlessly.  The 101st Airborne is based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

One soldier died on Thanksgiving from a gunshot wound inside the heavily fortified base in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad.  It was not immediately clear how the shooting occurred, a military statement said.

Attacks by Iraqi insurgents on U.S. troops in Mosul have increased in recent weeks.  

The military said a soldier was seriously wounded when a roadside bomb struck a convoy traveling near the town of Samarra, north of Baghdad.

Another Bloody Afternoon On Highway 1
(London Financial Times, November 28, 2003)

Roadside explosions are a regular occurrence for the American forces guarding the "mixing bowl," a nickname for the cloverleaf intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 8 just south of Baghdad.  The crossing point of two main U.S. supply routes, it is one of the most dangerous spots in Iraq for attacks on passing vehicles.

TROOP NEWS

"I’m Just As Angry As My Soldiers Are.  I Don’t Know When We’re Going Home;"

Going Broke For Bush’s Oil Empire
November 28, 2003, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — When members of Sgt. Don Henry’s unit deployed to Iraq eight months ago, they expected to be back home in South Carolina by September, yet they spent Thanksgiving Day with no idea when they could return.

The best word the 43-year-old veteran National Guardsman has for them right now is June.

"Give me a date to go home, then I can plan," said Henry, of Aiken, who has spent 25 years in the military, 10 on active duty. "I’m just as angry as my soldiers are. I don’t know when we’re going home."

It’s the financial concerns that keep them awake at night.

They are citizen soldiers, many of them giving up well-paying jobs to serve their country. Most are older, with families and established careers. Most guardsmen and reservists didn’t plan for an extended deployment.

The average age in Henry’s unit is 33, while the average age of an active duty soldier is in the early 20s.

Maximum pay requirements for employers run out after six months. Those soldiers who are self-employed find their businesses suffer or stall.  Providing insurance becomes complicated with an extended deployment.

"We’ll go home when the Army says go home," said 1st Sgt. Bill Bryant of Aiken. "But we feel like we signed up for a 10-K run and ended up in a marathon."

With President Bush’s call for international troops going largely unheeded, the Pentagon plans for a larger call up to replace the troops now on the ground in Iraq.

Nearly 40 percent of the 105,000 troops in the new force will be part-time soldiers including, for the first time, Marine reserves.

"The stress level is just so high," said Henry, an Aiken County sheriff’s deputy.

"Every time you go under an overpass you just brace yourself for the blast. It’s bad enough that you have to be away for the holidays, but you also have people trying to blow you up."

Soldier Says Bush Visit Worth 60 Days In Iraq

"After 13 months in theater, my morale had kind of sputtered," said Capt. Mark St. Laurent, 36, of Leesburg, Va.  "Now I’m good for another two months."

TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent. November 28, 2003

Terrified White House Forbids Reporters To Say Word One To Fort Carson Soldiers;

Gag Order Leaves Troops, Reporters Speechless
Mike Littwin, Rocky Mountain News, 25 November 2003

Before the press was herded into the giant hangar in advance of George W. Bush's pep rally/photo op with the Fort Carson troops, we were given the rules.

No talking to the troops before the rally.

No talking to the troops during the rally.

No talking to the troops after the rally.

In other words, if I've done the math right, that means no conversation at all - at least, while on base - with any soldiers. After all, who knows where that kind of thing could lead?

Just as an example: It could lead to a discussion about why the president has time to get to so many fund-raisers and no time to attend a single funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq.

there is something that apparently makes the president nervous. Although the lack of access to the troops was explained as a logistics problem - too many media members needing escorts - it couldn't have been quite the problem, say, of embedding media in Iraq.

Or it could have been an Elaine Johnson issue.

In his speech, Bush didn't mention Elaine Johnson, whose son Darius Jennings was one of four Fort Carson soldiers on the Chinook helicopter that was shot down Nov. 2.

When Johnson was at the Fort Carson chapel a week ago for her son's memorial service, she wondered aloud why the president had visited South Carolina in the week of her son's funeral but had not bothered to attend or to send any message to her or her family.

"Evidently my son wasn't important enough to him dead for him to visit the family or call the family," she said then.  "As long as my son was alive he was important, because he sent him over there to fight a war."

There was no such headline this time. All anyone saw this time was Bush's speech in a visit that was as organized as any presidential campaign stop.

Be Advised:

Reservist Cop In MP Uniform An Extremely Dangerous Kill Freak;

Do Not Turn Your Back
By Scott Taylor in Tikrit, Iraq, 27 November 2003

As American troops exit the former Presidential Palace complex in Tikrit, the last thing they see emblazoned above the arched gateway is the 4th Infantry Division motto: Strike First.

Since the last of the organised Iraqi military resistance was crushed in late April, these expansive palace grounds have been the headquarters for the US 4th Division.

I asked my escort Specialist Jack Craig, a military policeman from Minnesota, how he correlated the "strike first" directive with the US military's current policy of attempting to win the "hearts and minds" of the local population.

"Actually, I see 'hearts and minds' as a tactical doctrine.  To me, it means that's where we should aim first," said Craig. "  Shoot them in the body or in the head, but just make sure you shoot them first."

"We have two major factors effecting the ability for some of our troops to understand restraint," said Eddie Calis, the civilian security adviser at the US airbase at Kirkuk, in northern Iraq.

"One problem is that a lot of our soldiers are shit-scared and want to get out of here alive, no matter what that entails.

"The second and much less widespread issue is that of misplaced patriotism," said Calis, giving as an example one of the soldiers stationed at the Kirkuk airfield will soon be rotated back to America, and who feels that he has yet to fulfill his national duty.

"Every day he complains that he has not yet had the opportunity to kill an Iraqi, and do his bit for the war," explained Calis.

"On several recent occasions he has initiated provocation deliberately with local drivers at the gate, and I only hope that [this soldier] will be sent home before he fulfils his quest at the cost of an innocent life."  (That’s not "misplaced patriotism.  That’s a twisted kill freak disgracing a uniform, just another form of mad dog, and dangerous to U.S. troops as well as Iraqis.)

In recent weeks, the Kirkuk airbase has come under almost daily attacks by Iraqi resistance fighters.

Breathtaking Stupidity Leads To Disaster:

The increase in hostilities has been attributed to an influx of foreign Arab resistance fighters into the Kirkuk area.  In an attempt to apprehend the perpetrators, the US offered a $50 cash bonus to the local police force for each suspect arrested.

Unfortunately, the post-war Kirkuk police force has been almost entirely recruited from the ethnic Kurdish minority. With little love for their Arab neighbours, the police wasted no time in collecting the promised bounty.

"The very next day the Kurdish police showed up with three badly beaten Arabs - one of whom had been shot in the arm - claiming that they were 'Saddam loyalists'," said Eddie Calis.

Although the reward was paid, the three men were cleared after a brief interrogation.

"They were completely innocent, so we released them immediately. Unfortunately, the image of beaten US captives will not improve our standing and trust with the local Arabs."

The unofficial policy of cash rewards was also quickly revoked, "but the damage was already done," said Calis.

With the US military suffering from such public relations setbacks, the stiffening resistance has taken on almost mythical qualities amongst the Iraqi population.

The perception remains that the Americans are suffering serious casualties.

"There are many more dead and wounded US soldiers than they admit to," said Anmar Saadi, a 43-year-old former Iraqi soldier.

Living close to the US-controlled airport and a major highway intersection, Saadi has witnessed numerous attacks against American convoys during the nine months of US occupation.

"Often the attacks I see are not reported in the Western media," said Saadi.

The local media on the other hand often glorify resistance strikes,

"At the moment, the Iraqi resistance has the upper hand in this struggle," said Jabar Abu Marwan, a former senior officer with Saddam's Mukhabarat (the Iraqi secret service).

"Both the resistance and the US countermeasures are putting civilians at risk and creating collateral damage.  However, while the Americans have failed to win the hearts of Iraqis, the resistance has at least captured their imaginations."

Cheery Thanksgiving!;

One Officer Warns About Suicides While Numbskull General Petreaus Babbles Again
Associated Press, November 28, 2003

At a Thanksgiving celebration in Baghdad, a U.S. commander warned his troops to watch their friends because suicides are on the rise.

"Check on your buddy," Lt. Col. Harry Nantz told soldiers yesterday, urging them to be vigilant for signs of depression.

Since April, at least 17 Americans - 15 Army soldiers and two Marines - have taken their lives in Iraq, the military said. At least two dozen noncombat deaths are under investigation as possible suicides, according to a review of Army casualty reports by the Associated Press.

Addressing troops in Mosul, Maj. Gen. David Petreaus, commanding general of the 101 Airborne Division, said: "I am happy to see the end of November. We've taken some real blows during this time. We've had some terrible losses.

"The fact is that we have taken some hard shots, but winners and champions do get knocked down every now and then, and the test of a champion is whether you get back on your feet and start swinging again. And that's exactly what we've done."  

(Petreaus spent his formative years watching bad John Wayne movies, and bases his leadership style on the hopelessly incompetent NFL coaches he chose for role models as he failed to advance to maturity.  This is the brainless twit who was babbling a few weeks ago about how Mosul was so pacified and orderly, thanks, of course, to his brilliant leadership. Now that his command area has exploded with resistance attacks, will he take his service pistol and do the honorable thing?  Of course not, he loves the press conferences too much, and for an inflated gasbag General like Petreaus, it’s the grunts’ job to do the dying.  He has other priorities.  Career career career.)

Special Ops Command Under Criminal Investigation For Hiding $20 Million
St. Petersburg Times, November 27, 2003, Pg. 1

Pentagon auditors have quietly enlisted criminal investigators to help determine why the Tampa-based Special Operations Command hid millions of dollars in its budget.  The Defense Criminal Investigative Service has contacted or interviewed at least three persons in recent weeks who are familiar with a February 2002 e-mail from the Special Operations comptroller.  The e-mail detailed how the command hid $20-million in its 2002-2003 budget at the request of the Pentagon comptroller.

Good News: Russian Army Welcomes Gays

Bad News: They May Get Beat Up By Ignorant Scum

(Moscow Times, November 28, 2003, Pg. 4)Homosexuals are no longer forbidden from serving in the Russian armed forces, General-Major Valery Kulikov, a member of the Defense Ministry's health commission, said. But he added: "I would not advise such persons to publicize their sexual orientation. In the army they are not liked and will probably be beaten."

IN MEMORY:

(THIS ISSUE OF GI SPECIAL IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF SP. 5 JEFF SHARLET, FROM ANOTHER TIME OF GROWING GI RESISTANCE TO AN IMPERIAL WAR.)

(From Vietnam GI, August 1969)

Many good men never came back from Nam.  Some came back disabled in mind. Jeff Sharlet came back a pretty together cat--and he came back angry.  Jeff started VGI, and for almost two years poured his life into it, in an endless succession of 18-hour days trying to organize men to fight for their own rights.  On Monday, June 16th, at 2:45 pm, Jeff died in the Miami VA Hospital.  He died of a sudden heart failure, brought on by the uncontrollable growth of the cancer that had earlier destroyed his kidney.  There was no way to save him.  He was only 27 years old.

Rather than wait for the draft, like so many others Jeff went RA.  With dreams of seeing Europe, he applied for "translator-interpreter", and found himself at the US Army Language School at Monterey, California. But instead of French, Czech or German, he was assigned a strange language called "Vietnamese"--spoken in a country he couldn't even find on the map.  For eleven months in 1962 he was drilled in Vietnamese.

In 1963 he was assigned to Army Security Agency, and left for his first tour in Nam. Stationed in Saigon awhile, Jeff witnessed the ARVN coup that overthrew Saigon dictator Ngo Diem. On his second tour his ASA unit was stationed near Phu Bai. Engaged in top-secret work monitoring, decoding and translating North Vietnamese radio messages, they wore AF uniforms and worked at a small air base. But every time they went into the bars, every bargirl could reel off all the facts about their mission.

Speaking the language well, Jeff could talk to many Vietnamese about what was happening to their country. He spent long hours questioning ex-Foreign Legion men, who'd settled in Vietnam after the French left, peasants, ARVN officers, students, and even suspected VC agents. By the time he ETSed in July, 1964 he'd put a lot of pieces together.

Jeff went back to school, and got his college degree (with honors) from Indiana University in 1967. During his "GI Bill years" he joined the peace move–ment, and became chairman of his local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. But he had become increasingly disillusioned about the student movement, and felt that it's shallowness and snotty attitude towards other people made it ineffective.

That summer he went to New York City to work with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and it was there that he decided to try to organize other Gis to fight the brass.  Jeff had won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for graduate study at the University of Chicago. He enrolled and" picked up his check. From then on all his time and money were sunk into starting a newspaper for servicemen.

After two years of endless traveling, fund-raising and writing, Jeff's drive started to fade. That restless energy that had brought him countless miles to base after base wasn't there.  After his last trip to Ft. Hood in the Fall of 1968, Jeff complained that he was really beat, burnt out.  We all agreed that he should go "on leave" and take a rest.

It was while visiting friends in Boston that the first really severe pains started. Jeff flew home to Florida, and entered the hospital.  From there it was steadily downhill all the way.  The removal of his left kidney, massive radiation treatments, drugs--nothing stopped the growth of his cancer.  At the end he was weak and emaciated, without enough breath in his lungs to speak for more than a few sentences. He said that he had many new ideas for our fight, but was just too exhausted to talk about them.

Jeff was a truly rare man. He was our friend and comrade, and those of us who came together in this fight will never forget him. VGI, the paper that so many '"readers called "the truth paper", will go on fighting.

Protest And Survive;

Underground GI Newspapers During The Vietnam War
Book, by James Lewis, Prager, Westport, Ct., 2003, 243 pp.

Reviewed by Thomas F. Barton. (From Citizens Soldier website 11.26.03: http://www.citizen-soldier.org/)

As discontent within the Armed Forces over the war in Iraq spreads, more interest is being taken in how a soldiers rebellion during the Vietnam War brought the army to its knees.

This book is a valuable introduction to that story, with photos and cartoons reproduced from soldiers' anti-war newspapers extremely difficult to find elsewhere in print today.

The last 40 pages form a "Partial Chronology of Dissent, 1965-1970", calendaring important events in the development of the GI resistance movement. A second appendix brings together a list of GI Publications, by name, location, and dates of issue. I haven't seen a list like this currently available in book form elsewhere.

Of course there are glitches. Vietnam GI, the leading anti-war GI publication of the day, is located in Miami when in fact it came out of Chicago. Compared to the contribution made, that's small potatoes.

The opening two chapters are a bit heavy, "semiotics" and so forth, but once past the academic groundwork, a story begins to unfold that makes exciting reading in chapters like "Response and Repression," and "Envisioning Resistance."

For example, the chapter "Envisioning Resistance" takes up a too-little known dimension of the soldiers rebellion: troops not only refused en mass to keep fighting in Vietnam, they frequently refused orders to be used to control unrest at home. Incidents where troops home from Vietnam simply refused to be deployed to control urban rebellions by blacks were the governments ultimate nightmare come true.

Tables showing year by year "Reported Incidents of GI Dissent," "Military Antiwar Activists Arrested," and "Average Sentence per GI Activist," are fresh contributions, documenting what we felt at the time: the more the resistance grew, the weaker the Army became in trying to suppress it.

For instance, in 1966, the average sentence per GI Activist was +40 months at hard labor. By 1969 it had fallen to less than 5 months at hard labor.

Since by 1969 troops in Vietnam were killing troublesome officers wholesale, the simultaneous violent jump in reported incidents of dissent and drop in prison sentences fits the reality of a disintegrating army and order of discipline.

As one paper, Broken Arrow, quoted by Lewes (p. 69), summed it up:

"Our minds have not become warped and closed by twenty years of blind obedience to a corrupt, blind institution bent on not building, but destroying everything for which our country has good these last two centuries. We as intelligent human beings are pressured to adopt these same standards with their moral and human wrongs.

"This we cannot, in all good conscience, do. As a result of this feeling, the GI Movement has become an important first step, one so unified and strong that for the last two years the brass have been faced with something they still don't fully understand. And it frightens them. They can no longer expect their impulsive moves to end our struggle. This has been proven many times in the past. This has prevented much of the kangaroo court activity for which the military is infamous."

What does all this have to do with Iraq? The Bush crowd like to repeat a new mantra: "Iraq Is Not Vietnam." They're right. It certainly isn't.

It took years for resistance to an Imperial war to grow in the army in Vietnam. It has taken only months in Iraq. There was no military families' movement during the Vietnam War, because most troops were single men who had no immediate families. Today husbands, wives, and even children of troops are organizing and beginning to raise hell right alongside their loved ones in Iraq and elsewhere in the service. The ironic joke is that the "professional, all-volunteer army" was supposed to be a cure for the kind of rebellion that broke out during Vietnam. Instead, the resistance now has a home base.

Books like this are so important because they show our hidden history of resistance to Imperial Dreams and hearten us all about what can be. It's not that what happened before could happen again. What happened before is happening again, right in front our eyes, at a higher level of awareness and organization. It's our job to lend a helping hand.

(Thomas F. Barton is a hospital worker and union member. In a previous life, he was East Coast Organizer for Vietnam GI.)

GET SOME TRUTH:  CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER

Telling the truth - about the occupation, the cuts to veterans benefits, or the dangers of depleted uranium - is the first reason Traveling Soldier is necessary.  But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces.  Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers. http://www.traveling-soldier.org/

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP

The Bremer Farce Rolls On;

Angry Police Stage Demonstrations;

Get One Week’s Training
Patrice Claude, Le Monde, 27 November 2003

Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammed Hachem Al-Moussawi has the Baraka. October 16 at 6:30AM, he discovers a 44 lb. TNT charge on his landing. Deactivation: the house is saved.  Eleven days later, it’s a suicide bomber who comes to park a car loaded with explosives in front of the Police Station he manages in Al-Khadra, a heavily-populated suburb to the west of Baghdad.

Tally: 16 dead, including one policeman and 27 wounded. A short while later, Mohammed Hachem receives a letter: "We know exactly where to find you. We’re going to kill you because you are a traitor sell-out to the Americans."

The American plan to progressively withdraw its soldiers from their bases is off to a bad start.

For the members of the security forces who undergo attack after attack and are probably dying in greater numbers than American soldiers- no one keeps the almost daily count of uniformed Iraqi victims-, their numbers still need to be increased and they, equipped. Time presses and training periods have been shortened: a week sometimes for regular police, a month for officers. That’s not much.

Ten to fifteen times higher than during the dictatorship, salaries have begun to shrink again, while inflation pursues its wild gallop.  Hundreds of police demonstrate regularly because they haven’t been paid, sometimes for months. Weapons, uniforms, badges, vehicles, and radios arrive too slowly.

All that reinforces anti-American sentiment, which is growing in Police Stations. Rumbling against "un-kept promises" intensifies. However, with the new deadlines decided in Washington, a real race against the clock is on.

Occupation Befuddled As Resistance Support Grows

AL-AHRAM, 27 November - 3 December, Salah Hemeid

On Sunday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, attackers shot and killed two American soldiers who were waiting in traffic. The assailants fled and the bodies of the soldiers were left lying in the street next to their vehicle. The attackers were spotted by locals, but no one informed the US authorities.  In separate incidents, one US soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated north of Baghdad, while three American civilian contractors were wounded in an explosion in the northern oil centre of Kirkuk.

Leading American columnist Fareed Zakaria wrote in this week's issue of Newsweek that, "it has become increasingly clear that the resistance in Iraq is not the work of a small band of dead-enders, but it is in fact a more widespread movement."

He noted that though months have passed since the resistance started, the Americans still know little about the identity of their attackers.  "The reason for this lack of information must be that the guerrillas are able to merge back into the population and that the locals are not actively informing on them," wrote Zakaria.

In fact, US military officials have acknowledged that their intelligence is insufficient to find out who is behind the recent surge in guerrilla attacks.  They also admit that the insurgents appear to be exploiting US intelligence weaknesses in order to escalate their attacks and foil any US counter-offensive.

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

Mr. President, Iraq Oil Isn’t Worth The Life Of One More Soldier

November 23, 2003, By ERIC MARGOLIS <mailto:margolis@foreigncorrespondent.com> Contributing Foreign Editor, The Toronto Sun

NEW YORK -- President George Bush should heed the wise old New York garment district maxim: "First loss, best loss."

Translated from New Yorkese, this means when you get into a bad deal, bail out fast. The longer you stay in and refuse to face reality, the more you will end up losing.

President Bush's crusades in Afghanistan and Iraq have turned into bloody, expensive messes.  These neo-colonial misadventures may soon cost $2 billion U.S. weekly, plus the deaths and wounding of growing numbers of Americans, allies dragooned into service in Iraq and Iraqi civilians.

The so-called political process in both nations is a farce.  Their U.S.-installed regimes are widely viewed as quislings.  The White House, seeing its pre-election popularity dropping fast, is desperately seeking some way out of the Iraqi hornet's nest into which it so foolishly stuck its thick head.

Bush just announced - shades of Richard Nixon - that the Iraq war would be "Iraqized." A facade of political power will be handed over to an Iraqi government. But U.S. troops will stay on for years for "security."  What happens if the "independent" Iraqi regime tells U.S. forces to leave? A speedy regime change, no doubt.

Anyone who remembers Vietnam, which Iraq increasingly recalls, knows "Iraqization" won't work.  Meanwhile, Iraq's Shia majority remains quiet only because it fears Saddam Hussein may return.  Ironically, if the U.S. hunts down and murders Saddam, the Shia will rise up and demand an Islamic republic - just what the White House seeks to avoid.

Any free vote in Iraq will produce the same result.  So take Bush's calls for Arab democracy with much salt.  The only truly free vote held in the Arab world - most of which is controlled by the U.S. - brought to power in Algeria a moderate Islamic government. It was promptly overthrown by the army, with backing from the U.S. and France.

Neo-conservatives insist the U.S. can't withdraw because of loss of face and prestige. Retreat will encourage terrorism, claim these sofa samurais.

Nonsense. America shrugged off retreat from Vietnam and Indochina. All good generals know when to fall back, and - unlike the neo-cons who engineered these stupid wars - always leave open a line of retreat. No one cared about Afghanistan when the Soviets killed 1.5 million of its people, nor about Iraq when it lost 500,000 soldiers fighting Iran, or 500,000 children due to the punitive U.S. blockade. Why care now?

"We just can't cut and run," said Bush in London, trying to sound Churchillian. Why not?  Yes, chaos will ensue.  But Iraq and Afghanistan are in chaos now, and terrorism, as we saw in Istanbul last week, still rages.

Immediate retreat saves $100 billion-plus.

Iraq and Afghanistan are not worth the lives of one more American or Canadian soldier,

P.S. It's cheaper to buy oil than to conquer it.

What do you think?  Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome.  Send to the E-mail address up top.  Name, I.D., withheld on request.  Replies confidential.

OCCUPATION REPORT

Making War On Children And 1500 Chickens In A Truck;

U.S. Officer Says "Determined Enemy Of Significant Size;"

Iraqis Will Kill Soldiers In Revenge For Dead Children

November 24, 2003 San Francisco Chronicle http://sfgate.com/chronicle/info/copyright/


Vivienne Walt, Chronicle Foreign Service mailto:chronfeedback@sfchronicle.com

Fallujah, Iraq -- It was a fateful turn in the road. Traveling home one night from a local farm -- where the al-Jumaidy family had bought live chickens for their store in town -- the driver turned the pickup truck on to the highway to Fallujah, which has been the flashpoint for anti-American attacks for months.

Fifteen minutes later, the driver and four passengers lay dead in the vehicle, their bullet-riddled bodies battered by a volley of heavy fire from an American tank, which was part of a mobile checkpoint set up on the dark road.

Among the dead was 10-year-old Khalid al-Jumaidy -- his sweatpants, with the word "Italy," soaked in blood -- as well as his father and two young cousins, ages 18 and 21.

Al-Jumaidy family members say there was no sign telling them to stop where the American tanks were parked on the highway. They also say American soldiers did not fire any warning shot -- or at least none they heard.

"It was totally dark," said Sa'ad Hamud al-Jumaidy, 20, Khalid's first cousin, who survived the tank's assault by hiding under the backseat of the truck.  Sitting outside the family home, where scores of men gathered in a large mourning tent to pay their respects, he said he remembered little of those tumultuous minutes.

"No one shouted to us to slow down," he said. "And when they started to fire, we screamed: 'Stop!' Stop! We're civilians!' No one answered us."

He said he believed American soldiers would surely have known they were civilians, because "we had 1,500 chickens in boxes on the back of the truck."

Iraqi lawyers who represent civilians in disputed cases say they face months of bureaucracy in pursuit of redress.

"You go through this incredibly long process," said Wa'el Sabeeh al- Sa'adi, an attorney in south Baghdad.  "The military always demands to know the number of the unit, which Iraqis never know."

Human Rights Watch in New York said the organization's researchers in Baghdad had found "credible" reports of 94 civilian deaths by American firepower in the capital alone, between May 1 and Oct. 1.

"Iraq is currently a combat zone, and forces here are engaged in combat operations against determined enemy forces of significant size," the CPA said in a statement earlier this month.  (A striking admission!  But no Coalition spokesperson has yet admitted to including chickens or children among the numbers of the "determined enemy.")

Four months after 12-year-old Mohammed al-Kubaisi was mistakenly shot dead on the family rooftop by a passing American patrol, the family has yet to receive any compensation, although U.S. military officers apologized.

The al-Kubaisi's tribal sheikh in Baghdad says he is now considering other forms of redress, which could include killing American soldiers. That decision would be made by a meeting of sheikhs, who regularly rule on inter- tribal disputes.

"If they don't pay our settlement, we'll kill four of them," said Sheikh Abdul Salam Mohammed al-Kubaisi, sitting in his tribal office in central Baghdad near the Tigris River. "The Americans are like a tribe for us."

Similarly, the tribal sheikh representing the al-Jumaidy family in Fallujah says tribal justice seems simpler than applying for U.S. military compensation.

An eye for an eye

"Our tribal rule is if one of them kills one of ours, we kill one of theirs," said Sheikh Abdullah Farhan al-Jumaidy. "The problem is that the Americans are very powerful. And we don't know exactly which soldier killed the five people."

Jassim Kalaf al-Jumaidy, 40, whose two sons, Hisham, 18, and Wissam, 21, were killed by American gunfire, says he is not ready to seek deadly revenge. The father said he had stayed home that fateful night, venturing out only at 4 a.m. to find his missing family. He discovered the dead bodies still lying in the family's chicken truck near Fallujah's Jordanian Hospital.

He dropped his head in his hands as he recalled the moment.

"We will be patient and see what happens," he said quietly, sitting outside his home, surrounded by mourners. "The Americans must pay us money at least.

"But it is more important that they leave our country."

Killing Hearts And Minds;

Two More Children Dead
Australian Broadcasting Corporation November 28

US troops have shot dead two young Iraqi sisters near Baqubah, north of Baghdad.

Iraqi police and family members say American troops shot the 12-year-old and 15-year-old as they were collecting wood from a field.

The older girl died on the spot and her sister died later of her wounds.

A policeman claims that US forces handed one of the girls' bodies over to the police "arguing that she had a gun in her possession".  (This is the lame bullshit cops back home use after murdering people, usually black.  They carry an extra cheap "throwdown" gun to plant on their victims.)

Police searched the family home but found nothing suspicious.  

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

"Bush Has Zero Popularity Here"
Khaled Oweis, MSNBC News, 28 November 2003

Some Iraqis were happy U.S. President George W. Bush came to their country on Thursday, others wished he had gone to hell instead.

"As far as I'm concerned he's welcome to come and he's more than welcome to leave," said Abu Mohammed, 57, a cigarette and chewing gum vendor on the streets of the capital.

Abu Sara, a restaurant owner in the capital, said if security and living standards under the Americans did not improve rapidly, more Iraqis would turn against the U.S. forces.

"We welcome Bush as we welcome any guest who comes peacefully," he said. "But we want to draw attention to the fact that there is no security, no jobs and no services well into the American occupation of Iraq.

"If the situation continues, Iraqis will use everything they have to throw the Americans out, including stones."

"To hell with Bush. He is another Mongol in a line of invaders who have destroyed Iraq," said Mohammed al-Jubouri.

Iraqis waiting for hours to fill up with gasoline in the centre of Baghdad said Bush was not liked at all.

"Look at what we have to go through. Our living conditions have become deplorable. The U.S. situation in Iraq will only become worse if things do not improve," said one taxi driver.

"Bush has zero popularity here"

U.S. Closing Down Silly Search For Non-Existent "Weapons Of Mass Destruction"
(New York Times, November 28, 2003)

Dozens of the American intelligence experts and linguists sent to Iraq to search for illicit weapons have been reassigned to an expanding effort to learn more about the insurgents attacking U.S. troops, senior government officials said.

Pat-Down On The Way To Prayer
By Alissa J. Rubin, L. A. Times Staff Writer, November 25, 2003

BAGHDAD - The faithful wending their way to the Musa Al Kadhim mosque were stopped nearly a mile from the holy site by a team of searchers who patted their stomachs, probed their backs and ran prying hands down their limbs.

After the search, the throngs of believers advanced about 50 feet toward the mosaic-covered mosque, only to be confronted by a new team of searchers, who repeated the pat-down.  The believers had been through half a dozen body searches and still had one final search to go before they could enter.

US Targets Clerics In Mosul
Michael Howard in Mosul, November 25, 2003, The Guardian

The US military is acting to stem the rising tide of radical Islamism in Iraq's third largest city and rooting out preachers held to be using their sermons to incite attacks on Americans.

Coalition forces are alarmed by a surge of deadly attacks in Mosul, a Sunni Muslim stronghold of 1.7 million Arabs and Kurds.

The attacks reveal a simmering resentment among sections of Mosul's Arab population, particularly the large number of unemployed and disaffected youth.

Sheikh Salih Khalil Hamoody, one of Mosul's senior clerics, welcomed the US attempt at bridge-building, but warned this was undermined by the heavy-handedness of US troops in response to the worsening security.

Sheikhs complained that US soldiers showed disrespect to ordinary Muslims at the growing number of checkpoints, he said. They also alleged that former Ba'athists, now working for the American-trained civil defence corps, were sent into mosques to spy on the imams.

The US hearts and minds campaign will not be easy.  A group of clerics in the city, the Association of Muslim Scholars, recently warned the faithful: "Beware of supporting the occupiers, and know that contacting them, without a legitimate necessity is sinful."

"Some mosques in Mosul are outlets for anti-American rhetoric," said Col Egert. "We do monitor what the imams say.  "They are free to say what they want - provided they don't preach violence." He said the Iraqi authorities had removed one imam for anti-US speeches.

(Perfectly reasonable for an invading, occupying army to try to stop all free speech urging resistance.  What is disgusting is the Bush Regimes’ hypocrisy, trying to pretend they are not an imperialist power, and that they care anything at all about what Iraqis want.  It’s also perfectly reasonable for Iraqis to organize a resistance movement to take up arms against and fight an invading, occupying imperial power.  They are right to do so.)  

(Having read the news article above, now see what a Bush regime bonehead still says about the Mosul area:)

By Craig Gordon, Newsday WASHINGTON BUREAU, November 24, 2003

"How dare anyone say that we were not?" said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I've been to the north [of Iraq]. They threw flowers on us. Let's be fair, we were greeted as liberators and we still are. That is a bum rap."

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

Iraqis Underwhelmed By Bush Eat And Run Visit
November 28, 2003, By Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press

Iraqis expressed differing opinions about the significance of the brief visit, which was organized in such secrecy that even members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council invited to attend Thanksgiving celebrations at the airport were not told about it.

"We cannot consider Bush’s arrival at Baghdad International Airport yesterday as a visit to Iraq," said Mahmoud Othman, a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. "He did not meet with ordinary Iraqis.  Bush was only trying to boost the morale of his troops."

Ordinary Iraqis said it was difficult to judge the importance of the event.

"It meant little to the Iraqi people. Some are welcoming it, but most are dismissing its importance," said Kamal Mehdi, a cashier in Baghdad.

Comment from D: 11/28/2003

I often share the news items at VCS with my parents as they don't have the internet. After sharing George W's, Thanks Giving visit to Baghdad' story, Dad announced,.."So, the luna module has landed in Baghdad, with the looney on board..One giant step for Dubya..One giant chasm for mankind."  While my mother's thoughts, "How nice, a turkey full of corn!"

AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS

Three GIs Wounded In Afghanistan Fighting
(New York Times on the Web, November 28, 2003)

Scattered fighting in Afghanistan over the Eid-al-Fitr Muslim holiday slightly wounded three coalition fighters, including two American soldiers, and one pro-Taliban militant, the U.S. military said.

Afghan Puppet Army Evaporating
(Los Angeles Times, November 27, 2003, Pg. 1)

Many of those who signed up to be trained for Afghanistan's fledgling army have quit, saying the pay is not worth the risk.

CLASS WAR NEWS

Shark Brained Miami Cops Pull Guns On Unarmed Demonstrators
By Tom Hayden, AlterNet http://www.alternet.org, November 21, 2003

MIAMI, Friday 8:21pm EST – The police force continued operating with the brains and appetite of a carnivorous shark today as city officials kept demonstrating "the Miami model" of suppression even as protestors and trade ministers were leaving the city in droves.

Global Exchange co-founder Medea Benjamin and others were pulled over Thursday night by a dozen officers who pointed guns at them. The Sierra Club's Washington D.C. advocate, Dan Seligman, also described officers holding a weapon to his head and that of another colleague. Mark Rand, coordinator of a group of foundation funders, displayed a large bluish bruise on the back of his leg from a rubber bullet.

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