25/12/03 GI SPECIAL #159: Ex-Delta Force Stan Goff: "THERE IS NO 'WAR on TERRORISM'-democrats are conspiring in US crimes

From: "Thomas F. Barton" thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

SIX MONTHS AGOIraqi Lawyers
Iraqi lawyers shout slogans during a protest June 16, 2003. (AP Photo/Samir Mezban)

THE RESISTANCE FIRE THAT CAN’T BE PUT OUT

Help Reach Out To The Soldiers At Camp Santiago
Organización Socialista Internacional (OSI)
P. O. Box 22075
San Juan, Puerto Rico  00931-2075
Teléfono y fax 787-753-7673

http://www.geocities.com/socialismo_2000
organizacion_socialista_internacional@hotmail.com

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

12.22.03

Dear GI Special

We are following all your reports with great interest.  We find the GI Special to be invaluable.  Keep up the good work.  Congratulations.

So far 13 Puerto Rican soldiers have died, some in Iraq and others in Afghanistan.  Over 4,000 reservist and National Guard soldiers from Puerto Rico are now active.  Over 2,000 reservist have been called for the rotation.  

The soldiers in Camp Santiago will be on break from the 23 to the 28.   That day we are planning to hand in anti-war leaflets as they report back.

At the same time in Mayaguez, a civil disobedience camp has been established in the University to block the construction of a new ROTC building. The students of FUDE -Frente Universitario por la Desmilitarizacion y la Educación- have been there for more than three month now.

In the struggle,

Roberto Barreto

Editor of Socialismo Internacional

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/

IRAQ WAR REPORTS:

THREE SOLDIERS KILLED IN ROADSIDE BOMB ATTACK

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
December 24, 2003 Release Number: 03-12-21C

TIKRIT, Iraq — Three Task Force Ironhorse soldiers were killed when the vehicle they were in was struck by an improvised explosive device (roadside bomb) on Highway One near Samarra at approximately 9:00 a.m. on Dec. 24.

The soldiers were traveling in a convoy when the attack occurred.

Also Wednesday, a minibus detonated a roadside bomb in a Baghdad traffic tunnel, killing one civilian and wounding two others, Iraqi police said. The bomb exploded in the Shurta tunnel around noon, when roads fill as residents go home for lunch. (The Associated Press 24 December 2003)

1ST ARMORED DIVISION SOLDIERS KILLED BY ROADSIDE BOMB

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
December 22, 2003 Release Number: 03-12-20C

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Two 1st Armored Division soldiers were killed when the convoy in which they were riding struck a roadside bomb, (improvised explosive device) at approximately 11:45 a.m. this morning in Baghdad.  The explosion also killed an Iraqi translator traveling with the soldiers.

Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack and were medically evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital.

US Convoy Attacked;

One Wounded
SARAH EL DEEB Associated Press December 23,

In Mosul, rebels on Tuesday fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a convoy of four U.S. Humvees escorting a cash delivery to a city bank. One soldier was wounded, according to a U.S. soldier at the scene who declined to give his name.

DoD Identifies Army Death
United States Department of Defense No. 969-03 December 22, 2003

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Glenn R. Allison, 24, of Pittsfield, Mass., died on Dec. 18 in Baghdad, Iraq.  Allison died during physical training. Allison was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, based in Fort Drum, N.Y.

First Thai Soldier Injured In Iraq
December 23, 2003. AFP

A Thai soldier was injured when he stepped on a landmine in Iraq,

The soldier, an army captain, was said to be in a stable condition with injuries to his right leg and arm after stepping on the mine near the central city of Karbala, where Thailand's 440 strong contingent has been based since September.

Car Bomb Hits Interior Ministry, Kills Four in Arbil
ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) & December 23 sg.news.yahoo.com

12.24.03 - A car bomb exploded outside a government building in the Kurdish city of Arbil in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least four people and wounding 20, Iraqi officials said.

The car detonated just outside the gates of the Interior Ministry in the city, killing the bomber, two policemen guarding the facility and a passer-by.

The ministry building suffered material damage and windows of nearby residential buildings were shattered by the blast, witnesses said.

Arbil was the seat of an autonomous Kurdish government after the 1991 Gulf War when U.S.-backed Kurds rebelled against Saddam's government in Baghdad.

A Turkman judge was shot dead late Monday in a driveby shooting in the center of Iraq's explosive northern city of Mosul.

Youssef Khoshi, a top investigating judge in the northern city of Mosul, was killed by three men in a car on Monday night.

"He was shot six times from behind in the back. He died immediately," police Major Ali Mohammed said on Tuesday.

The murder came just two weeks after a Christian judge was gunned down in the ethnically diverse city, grouping Arab Muslims, Christians, Kurds and Turkmen.  

Polish Soldier Dead;

British Under Constant Attack;

General Rejects Silly "Foreign Fighters" Lie
SARAH EL DEEB Associated Press December 23,

A Polish soldier died when a fellow soldier's gun fired accidentally in Babylon, south of Baghdad, hours after a visit by Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski.

A British commander said that while the multinational forces were still also coming under regular attack, the situation was not escalating.

"We have a consistent hit rate that sits between about three to five (a day) so the problem is not going away from our perspective, it is contained," said General Graeme Lamb, commander of British forces in the southeast of the country.  (Like the Titanic "contained" the ice berg.)

"Many of them are Iraqis and not so-called foreign fighters (Islamic militants)."

TROOP NEWS

Boone Iowa Has Had Enough Of The War
By Kim Barker, Chicago Tribune Staff Reporter, 12.24.03

BOONE, Iowa -- The signs of war were everywhere. The town's oldest barber lost almost half his regulars. The Pufferbilly Days Parade needed new volunteers. Only nine holes had been finished on the new championship golf course.

The city administrator tried to help this central Iowa town of 13,000 cope with the hundreds of National Guard members who were called away to serve their country. But then his own phone rang.

"Just the look on his face, I knew," said Connie Trout, his wife. "My stomach just turned. He said, `I got the call.'"

Boone has always been a National Guard town. Everyone knows someone who belongs -- a son, a cousin, a sister's boyfriend, a mother's neighbor.  A major training center is just outside town and it has called up at least 400 people from the area.

But over the past two years, fueled by wars in Afghanistan  and Iraq, the nature of the Guard has changed. These soldiers are no longer leaving for weeks at a time to help communities hit by tornadoes and floods. Now they are on the front lines of fighting overseas.

In Boone, hundreds of people have been called away from their regular jobs and sent off to places as close as Kentucky and as far away as Afghanistan.  One of two area state troopers left.  So did a police officer, teachers, factory workers.  A meat cutter at the Fareway grocery store became a military police officer in Baghdad.   

An aviation maintenance unit--Company D, 109th Aviation--was even called up twice, spending almost two years away from home, longer than any other unit in Iowa.  These 150 people just returned, in time for Christmas, but they have already been asked whether they would like to volunteer to go back.  Some are afraid to unpack their bags.

Although snow covers the ground and wreaths line the streets, Christmas this year in Boone will be a challenge. Some people plan to ignore the holidays.  Others can't seem to finish anything, too distracted to wrap presents or decorate trees. And others welcomed home loved ones only to worry that they might leave again.

Connie Trout held Christmas in November. She surprised her husband, Brent, with a decorated tree one Saturday, dotted with ornaments made by their two sons and an ornament with a family photograph proclaiming "Families like this don't grow on trees!" She spent the morning crying.

While picking out gifts for a school gift exchange recently, the boys asked her for bags of toy soldiers, something they had never before wanted.  They then set up a battle on a coffee table, deciding which soldier would die by playing the game of rock, paper, scissors.

Most years, JoAnn Franksain lights up a Christmas tree in every room. Her husband builds gifts in his wood shop and sets up a giant tree in the basement.

But this year, Franksain has only one tree, just shy of 4 feet tall.  Her husband is in Afghanistan. Although he was supposed to come home in February, his orders were just extended by 90 days. One daughter is with another Guard unit in Egypt. Another daughter is training to become a helicopter pilot with the Guard.

"You find yourself watching the news constantly and you don't want to eat," she said.

Some families have been reunited this holiday season.  But they are reluctant to celebrate too much, given that many soldiers are still gone. They say they will not be happy until everyone is home.

For the first time in months, Master Sgt. Jim Nelson walked into his house last Friday. He stored his bags and boxes in corners. He handed his wife the milk and barbecue sauce she had asked him to pick up on his drive home from active duty.

Nelson, 37, is part of the aviation unit sent out for a year after the Sept. 11 attacks. After 101 days home, Company D was again activated. Nelson eventually ended up in Afghanistan, helping maintain helicopters.

Since he first left, his son's voice started to crack and change. His daughter stopped reading Harry Potter books and stopped going to a softball pitching camp.  At 14, she now has a driver's permit and a boyfriend.

Nelson can't help thinking of what life would have been like if he were home.  Maybe his daughter would have spent more time on softball.  Maybe his son, now 12, would have played football.

When the soldiers return, they go to re-entry classes at which they are told not to make waves in their families. Nelson tries to remember this. He tells his daughter, in pink lipstick and a ponytail, that she looks beautiful. He misses the years.

"I can't describe it," he said. "They grow up so fast."

Nelson's ties show just how important the Guard is to Boone, how close the community is.  He signed up at age 18, largely because his father was in the Guard.  Even his full-time job is with the Guard.

While in Afghanistan, Nelson ran into Franksain's husband. He served with the state trooper. He knows the soldier who had to postpone a job offer in Arizona.  Nelson's sister-in-law is engaged to the meat cutter now serving as a military police officer in Baghdad.

Ashly Mentzer, 21, also a college student, has suffered three close calls:

His Humvee was sideswiped.  Then his Humvee was blown up, and the driver lost both his legs and Mentzer lost some of his hearing.  On his way to receive the Purple Heart, his vehicle again was hit.  No one inside was hurt. He is now waiting for a flight home.

His mother is worn down by worry.

Not just families are affected. Businesses have also felt the pinch of Guard members being gone.  The Adobe Lounge, run by a retired Guard member and his wife, lost many of its regulars.  The local hotels, which count on the soldiers coming in for drills, suffered.

"You take half a guy's trade away, sure, you feel your business start to slip," said barber Clyde Anderson, 80, long known for his $6 haircuts.

Nelson was also hit. Along with their wives, Nelson and another man from the Guard started building a golf course three years ago. Nine holes have been finished, but the Honey Creek Golf Club, a $5 million project, is years behind schedule.  

"There's so many things going on in our lives," Nelson said. "To have the ultimate dream right there -- and half done -- it just puts everything on hold. It will probably break us."

Despite the struggle, the town tries to hold onto its patriotism.  Although the ceremony welcoming back Company D was held in the middle of the workday Tuesday, more than 800 people showed up.

When city workers tried to take down the American flags for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks, people complained. Within days the flags were back.

But there is a sense now that Boone has given enough, that it's another town's turn. Spouses talk about it, officials talk about it, soldiers talk about it.

"I have mixed emotions," Nelson said.  "I don't mind at all doing what America needs.  It's definitely a just cause, and I'm proud to serve. I think they need to spread the wealth though, a little bit more. Iowa has been tapped pretty hard."

Some in Nelson's unit retired during Company D's first leave of 101 days, including the police officer, who said he no longer wanted to be away from his family.

On Monday night, three of the 15 Company D soldiers who met up for beers and pizza at the Adobe Lounge said they were retiring. Their families said, "No more."

Franksain tries to think about the future, about her husband coming back. She said she does not necessarily support the war but she does support the soldiers.

Franksain sells signs reading "We Support Our Troops." She helped fill her husband's role with the annual Pufferbilly Days Parade, a celebration of the steam engine and the railroad and the fact that up to 100 trains pass through Boone every day.

Franksain and a few other women mailed Christmas care packages to the Boone troops, filled with Pez candy, hand warmers, playing cards and wet wipes.

And she went to Wal-Mart, buying yards and yards of yellow ribbon.

She and other volunteers tied the ribbons on trees and signposts all over town.

Months later, the yellow ribbons are faded and tattered. Some people have complained, asking for new ribbons. But Franksain said no.

"We don't need new ones," she said. "The soldiers have been gone for a long time. We need people to know they've been gone for a long time. The ribbons are faded. They are. And they'll be white, I'm sure, by the time everybody gets home."

Protest Works--Keep Up The Pressure;

Pentagon Retreating From Decision To Raise Commissary Prices & Close Some

December 22, 2003 By Karen Jowers, Army Times staff writer

(Angry protests from military families and troops are having an effect.  Keep it up!)

Defense officials are reconsidering, on a case-by-case basis, plans to shut down eight commissaries that had been slated for closure this fiscal year.

An Aug. 29 memo to the services and the commissary operating board indicating the stores would close was not intended to be a final decision, said John Molino, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy.

"I will plead guilty to a poor choice of words," Molino said in a Dec. 9 interview about recent actions affecting commissaries.

"I think the future is bright for the commissaries," he said.

His original memo said, "Please submit plans to close" those commissaries in fiscal 2004, and sets a deadline of Dec. 1, 2003, for submission of those plans.

But that’s not the final word, according to Molino.

"None of this is over-the-cliff stuff," he said. "If you don’t know what the closure plan means, it paints the wrong picture. The closure plan really is that reconsideration. It tells the services we have looked at these, and by the pure black-and-white statistics, they don’t seem to pass the case to remain open."   (Watch the bureaucrat.  He’s dancing and spinning as fast as he can.  Babble, babble, babble.)

Recent memos originating from Molino’s office have referred to reducing taxpayer dollars for the commissary system, even though no one in Congress has sought such a reduction.

Pricing study sparks concern

Store closures are not the only controversial commissary issue lately. Military family advocates and industry representatives raised concerns about Molino’s Oct. 29 memo directing a study on variable pricing, which would allow commissaries to price items higher or lower than cost.

Under current law, items must sell for the price the commissary pays for them, plus a standard 5-percent surcharge that pays solely for store construction and renovation.

No Help Coming;
Rumsfelds Puppet "Army" A Bad Joke

By MARIAM FAM The Associated Press December 23,

Some Iraqi troops have received threats from suspected insurgents who have carried out deadly attacks on Iraqis working with the coalition.

Others complained that old ways from the former army linger. Soldiers swap stories of Iraqi officers yelling at them for watching television, insulting them or meting out physical punishment.

Hussein Hamed, a 19-year-old soldier, said four Iraqi officers beat up a friend who asked for a vacation, leaving him with a bruised eye. "The injustice and oppression are just like before. There's no respect," he said.

Maj. Richard Caya of the 4th Infantry Division, who is responsible for Iraqi troops after basic training, also listens to more mundane complaints:  The uniforms shrink.  The boots are uncomfortable.  The gloves tear easily.

"I have a family of 12 people in addition to my wife and three children.  Is this salary supposed to be enough for rent or food or for ourselves?" said soldier Maitham Abed, 27, who takes home $60 a month.  "If I were a garbage collector, I would have made more money."

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP

Pipeline Nailed Again And Again And Again And Again
December 23 sg.news.yahoo.com

A pipeline connecting Kirkuk's oilfields with Iraq's largest refinery in Baiji was blown up Monday in the third act of sabotage in four days.

The country with the world's second largest oil reserves can only generate limited crude sales because of relentless attacks on its oil export pipeline in the north.

That pipeline network has come under constant sabotage attack in recent months but Baghdad still hopes to resume pipeline exports early next year, Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum told Reuters in an interview on Monday. (They’ve been making the same "hoping" bullshit announcement since August.  Lots of luck.  The resistance totally controls the northern oil supply routes.  No hope, no win.  A handful of determined resistance troops can keep it closed forever.)

Gift Package (Bomb) Left "In" Occupation Stooge Home While He’s Off In Moscow
SARAH EL DEEB Associated Press December 23,

A U.S. military convoy was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade on Tuesday in Mosul, the U.S. military said. A foreign private security guard was wounded.

A bomb was found on Monday in the home of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a Shi'ite leader and current head of the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council, but was defused, his son said. Hakim was in Moscow for debt relief talks.

Resistance "Not For Saddam, For Love Of The People;"

"We Will Hit Them Even More"
By Suleiman al-Khalidi December 23

BAQUBA, Iraq (Reuters) - The burly young Iraqi swells with pride when he talks about the men he leads in mortar attacks against a U.S. airbase under the cover of darkness.

"After dusk we begin our attacks with 82 or 120 mm mortars," said the former special officer in Saddam Hussein's security apparatus who goes by the nom de guerre of Abu Jassem.  

In the heart of the "Sunni Triangle", Saddam's capture last week by the Americans has done little to dampen the will to fight among fellow Sunni Muslims, angered by foreign occupation and at losing their once dominant minority position in society.

Abu Jassem said he lives in one of a string of lush palm-lined villages close to the former Iraqi airforce base, now occupied by U.S. troops and near the town of Baquba.

"We hit (that) with nine mortars," he said, pointing to a communications tower on the outskirts of Baquba, some 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.

Abu Jassem said Saddam's capture last week by U.S. forces near the former dictator's home town of Tikrit, further to the north of Baquba, jolted many of his followers but has not broken their spirit or determination to hurt the American occupiers.

"The resistance will strengthen, not for love of Saddam, but for love of the people," Abu Jassem said.

As if to underline his determination, a cache of shiny new mortar bombs lay in hiding spots just visible behind the palms on the road facing the base.

A mix of former members of Saddam's Baath party, army officers and Islamist youth inspired by jihad, or Muslim holy struggle, make up the insurgents who have been waging a guerrilla war with U.S.-led forces in Iraq, he said. Abu Jassem said weapons left over from the former government's stockpiles and black market mortar bombs are plentiful enough to keep the insurgents going for years to come.

"We have a lot that can keep us for four to five years..we get things to attack such as mines, ground-to-air missiles and rocket propelled grenades and mortars," he said.

The guerrillas launch coordinated attacks by a series of cells of up to 10 people, he said.

"We are groups...a group of six, another group of 10. We are four (groups) in this village and in another," he said of the cells in the adjoining villages.

The proximity of targets and their villages gives guerrillas ample time to take cover, and to dismantle and hide their mortars in and around the lush orchards which stretch out from a tributary of the Tigris River.

"They (Americans) take time to respond and in half an hour we have finished everything and have changed our clothes," said Abu Jassem, who says he hails from the Sunni Dulaimi tribe.

"For every mortar that comes from the village..the Americans respond with fifty missiles and their planes hit and burn our watermelon fields," said local resident Ahmed al-Azawi.

At night U.S. tanks stream into the village's dirt streets to hunt down the perpetrators of the attacks, residents complain. A night curfew further fuels resentment.

"I am inside the village and I cannot go to see my brothers in the house next door," said Abdul Karim Obeidi.

Few of the residents dare rip off red ribbons placed by U.S. soldiers on the doors of village houses after every search.

Anxious villagers point to bulldozer activity on the highway that separates them from the base as rumours fly the U.S. military is planning to cordon off the area, like they have done for an operation north of here in a town called Samarra.

"If they erect a fence our anger will explode and we will hit them even more," said villager Ahmad Otab.

Why The Resistance In Winning The War;

Textbook Examples
By MICHELLE FAUL The Associated Press December 22

In Samarra, a 70-year-old man died when U.S. troops put a bag over his head and prepared to detain him Sunday night, Iraqis said. Neighbors said Mehdi al-Jamal died of a heart attack.

One person was killed during an airborne raid Sunday in Jalulah, on the house of a sheik suspected of directing local resistance, said spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle of the 4th Infantry Division.

A 60-year-old woman was killed Sunday when soldiers blasted open the reinforced steel door of her home, said Lt. Col. Henry Kievenaar, who was directing the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in raids in Rawah.

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/

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

Yeah, It’s Nationalism
SEYMOUR M. HERSH The New Yorker 12/8/2003

The American military analyst agreed that the current emphasis on Baathist control "overlooks the nationalist and tribal angle."  For example, he said, the anti-coalition forces in Falluja, a major center of opposition, are "driven primarily by the sheikhs and mosques, Islam, clerics, and nationalism."  The region, he went on, contains "tens of thousands of unemployed former military officers and enlistees who hang around the coffee shops and restaurants of their relatives; they plot, plan, and give and receive instructions; at night they go out on their missions."

This military analyst, like many officials I spoke to, also raised questions about the military’s more conventional tactics–the aggressive program, code-named Iron Hammer, of bombings, nighttime raids, and mass arrests aimed at trouble spots in Sunni-dominated central Iraq.  The insurgents, he told me, had already developed a response.  "Their S.O.P."–standard operating procedure–"now is to go further out, or even to other towns, so that American retribution does not fall on their locale.  Instead, the Americans take it out on the city where the incident happened, and in the process they succeed in making more enemies."

The brazen Iraqi attacks on two separate American convoys in Samarra, on November 30th, provided further evidence of the diversity of the opposition to the occupation. Samarra has been a center of intense anti-Saddam feelings, according to Ahmed S. Hashim, an expert on terrorism who is a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College.  

In an essay published in August by the Middle East Institute, Hashim wrote, "Many Samarra natives–who had served with distinction in the Baath Party and the armed forces–were purged or executed during the course of the three decades of rule by Saddam and his cronies from the rival town of Tikrit." He went on, "The type of U.S. force structure in Iraq–heavy armored and mechanized units–and the psychological disposition of these forces which have been in Iraq for months is simply not conducive to the successful waging of counter-insurgency warfare."

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.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?g=events/iraq/082701iraqplane&a=&tmpl=sl&ns=&l=0&e=124&a=


Liberation, Bush Style:  Iraqi crowd outside a local police station as they stand in line to get ID cards in Uja, a village outside of Tikrit, 11.03. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Stan Goff on Iraq And More;

"We Should Contest For The Loyalty Of The Rank And File In The Military"
(Excerpts from Indymedia, 12.18.2003 Jennifer Van Bergen [JVB] interviews Stan Goff [SG]:

[JVB] You have become widely known for the fact that you are an ex-Delta force sergeant and (what else? Marine?) who now speaks out against war and or and what do you oppose?

[SG] I was in the army.  Delta was a unit in the army.  The mystique associated with special operations, partly encouraged by the military as a deterrent, and heavily hyped by the militaristic entertainment media, helps me get people's attention so I can de-mystify it.

I was also a plain old private in a plain old parachute infantry unit, as well as serving in Ranger units and Special Forces assignments.  None of these assignments are what the general public thinks they are, because the public is contaminated with the action-figure mystique.  As to what I am, that's for someone else to decide.  A witness maybe.  Maybe just a writer, who does what other writers do. I describe things with the descriptive tools I have acquired in life. That's suddenly become a big deal because of the current conditions, which adds a good deal of responsibility to what I do.

What I'm for is the same thing Mencken said when he was asked that. Common sense and common decency. But I'm not the reactionary Mencken was, and I also know that social systems structure the possibilities for sense and decency. And I have to qualify the notion of common sense, because sometimes the truth is very counter-intuitive.

What I oppose is power exercised on behalf of privilege. I think that is systemic too, so I oppose the system, which right now is a kind of global gangster capitalism.

[JVB] Obviously the most pressing question is what do you think about the capture of Saddam Hussein?

[SG] I think he looked like Fyodor Dostoevsky. He should have kept the beard. It was a very nice beard.

[JVB] Does his capture mean an end to hostilities in Iraq?

[SG] Far from it. He was never running any facet of the post-invasion resistance.

If anything, it will give the green light to the Shia resistance in the south, who have likely been reluctant to add decisive force to expel the Americans if that would mean the return of Sunni-based secular power from the north.  And Sunni Wahabbists increase their own influence at the expense of the Ba'athists.

The resistance to Anglo-American occupation is Iraqi. Its unifying theme is patriotism. If we put ourselves in the place of the Iraqis, who also have a strong identification with other Arabs, who have a real sense of the colonial past, and we think about the Americans who pressured the UN to emplace and hold the sanctions that devastated the country, and we think of the US-Israeli axis, another source of Arab humiliation and rage, and we see on the television where an Arab leader is having things stuck in his mouth like he's livestock by an American soldier - like the American soldiers that just killed 10,000 more civilians, like those who kick in doors and invade homes, and pull up orchards like Israelis, and embarrass people sexually with searches, and post pornography as a joke on the walls, and kill civilians sometimes out of fear and sometimes even nihilism... For vast numbers of Iraqis, this image of Saddam Hussein in custody is not perceived as liberatory. It is perceived as an insult and a challenge.

[JVB] Do you think he'll be tried in Iraq?

[SG] He won't be legitimately tried anywhere. He'll be placed before someone's kangaroo court. It might be an American kangaroo court, but that would make the neocons even stupider than I thought they were. So it will probably be an American-appointed Iraqi kangaroo court. This show trial is going to be a complicated business for the Bush administration. There are a lot of land mines in that process.

[JVB] What effect do you think his arrest and trial have on the American public?

[SG] It depends on which sector of the public. We're not monolithic.  There will be a lot of decorously-subdued triumph for as long as the press and the White House can milk it. Maybe they'll time the trials to coincide with the US elections.  Then they can create a dog and pony show to deflect Americans from their own economic concerns.

[JVB] On the war on terrorism?

[SG] There cannot be a war on a tactic. There is no war on terrorism.

There is a plan afoot to militarily reconfigure the geopolitical architecture of the globe to guarantee US power for a little longer, and it's been fatally stalled by Iraqis who are not conforming to script.

The minute we even refer to a war on terrorism, like the Democrats have, we surrender the truth. We accept their premise, which will inevitably lead to their preferred conclusions. There is no war on terrorism. There can be no war on terrorism. That's like saying they will wage war against frontal attacks. Wars are fought against people, not tactics.

What's going on here is a set-up to define the people Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld want to attack as terrorists.

The tactic of terrorism, on the other hand, will become not less effective or common, but more effective and common, because the immense conventional military might of the United States has no conventional counterpart.  So-called legal or conventional war is not a viable option. That's the paradox the Bushies don't get. They are taking a bogeyman story and turning it into a real bogeyman.

[JVB] On Bush's chances for reelection?

[SG]  Bush shouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting re-elected.  He's destabilized the most volatile region in the world, done irreparable damage to an ailing American economy, attacked American working-class living standards, appointed theocrats and fascists to his administration, made the United States a laughingstock around the world, and transferred massive amounts of wealth from the bottom to the top.

He doesn't have the oratory skills of a sideshow barker, and he can't string a coherent thought together without rehearsing it for days. It would take complete fools to lose an election to him and the Republican Party.  Unfortunately, the Democrats are just the folks to do it, if it can be done. Their general disingenuous spinelessness of the past has come back to haunt them.  They have conspired in Republican crimes, so now all they have to fall back on is saying the Republicans are not competent criminals.

I talked to my Democratic congressman a while back and asked him point blank, why aren't the Democrats attacking Bush for violating the UN Charter.  He said, frankly, that they themselves had signed onto Clinton's violation of the UN Charter when he bombed Yugoslavia. Just like that, he admitted they had signed onto an illegal military operation.

But maybe the Democrat handlers will see the light and shift a little to the Keynesian left before it's too late. Bush has pissed off speculator capitalists like George Soros and Warren Buffet, who are now selling dollars short just to give him a spanking. They don't like foolish children swatting the hornets' nests in their little global gardens. This kind of tug-of-war between the state and capital, each fighting for a degree of autonomy, will become more common as things get worse.

[JVB] Have you heard any news about troop morale in Iraq?

[SG] Plenty. It's rock-bottom. Even the officers are starting to say things like "every decision in the field seems connected to the 2004 election."  Most of the senior officers, who see the handwriting on the wall for the military as an institution - an institution that is being used up like an old dishrag - most of them would barbecue Donald Rumsfeld given half the chance. Even from the point of view of the military, even from the point of view that supports the occupation, Rumsfeld is an arrogant dolt.  I think David Hackworth called him an asshole, twice. I seldom agree with Hackworth on political evaluations, but I think he nailed this one.

[JVB] Do you think Saddam's capture will improve morale for troops?

[SG] No.

(PART TWO WILL BE IN THE NEXT GI SPECIAL, #160)

OCCUPATION REPORT

Liberation In Action
December 22, 2003 By Matthew Cox, Army Times staff writer

An older man, dressed in a green pin-striped blazer over a khaki-colored dishdasha – a traditional ankle-length shirt – and brown sandals, drove up in a Mazda sedan. Chief Talal, as he calls himself, seemed excited to talk to C Company commander Capt. Eric Beaty.

Talal’s tone was urgent and frustrated as he described how American forces detained him and many others from his village five months ago and confiscated a large sum of his money, about $5,000 in U.S. currency.

"Please, please, please, please – my money," he said in broken English, explaining that his people are opposed to terrorists. Beaty repeatedly explained through an interpreter that his unit is here to ensure that terrorists don’t operate in the town.  

"If they are justified to have that money," said C Company commander Capt. Eric Beaty, "they’ll get it back."  (So, if you can prove somehow your money is your money somebody, sometime, somehow, will give it back.  Fucking brilliant. And people wonder why the armed resistance to the invasion and occupation grows every day.)

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

The Occupation Makes War On Kids;

"They Came By Force, They Will Leave By Force"
Wendell Steavenson Dec. 23, 2003 slate.msn.com

Ibrahim Ahmed Hakmet is 16, a cocky, engagingly arrogant kid; slim, with close-cropped hair, a little acne on his temples, and a tendency to giggle at me, because apparently I remind him of his aunt.

A few days after Saddam's capture, he was arrested by the Americans.

About a hundred soldiers in armored Humvees and tanks surrounded the Amriyeh High School (a school for boys aged between 16 and 19). With the Iraqi police in attendance, they went from classroom to classroom matching faces to photographs and names to a list.  They were looking for boys who had been at a pro-Saddam demonstration the day before.

"It's against the law," explained Lt. Col. Leopoldo Quintas, commander of the 2-70 "Old Ironsides" Armored Battalion, which carried out the operation. "And they were displaying pictures of Saddam."  "It's subversive," added his public affairs officer.

Ibrahim said he was the first to be caught because he was on his way out of school to get a doctor's note; it was midmorning, and he was the only student on the front entrance path.

"An American officer shouted at me: 'Sit down!' Sit down!' and indicated that I should kneel, pointing with his gun.  Then he said, 'Get up!'  I didn't understand what he wanted me to do, so I put my hands on the wall. He kicked me twice on the leg. He was very big. He checked me roughly, even behind my ears, and threw my English and Arabic books away. He cuffed my hands with wire, roughly. He sprained my wrist. And later, when he was taking the wire off, he cut me when he was cutting it with a knife."

Ibrahim and several other detained boys (Ibrahim says nine or 10, the Americans say five or six) were put in the back of a truck. The truck broke down and had to be towed by a tank. An outraged crowd had gathered: parents, passers-by, kids from neighborhood schools, shouting and yelling.

Ibrahim was rather enamored of his adventure.

"We were laughing," he said, all tough and unconcerned, wearing his bandaged wrist like a trophy and using a single crutch to support the leg he said was kicked and beaten with a stick. "We knew we hadn't done anything.

One of the Americans said in Arabic, 'Incheb!' Shut up!" Ibrahim was full of himself, laughing at the Americans to their faces, getting beaten for his defiance, and then asking for more.  "The more I laughed, the more he hit me. It shows what kind of a weak man he was to hit a boy," he sneered.

The Americans, in their efforts at zero tolerance, intimidation, containment, detentions, night arrests, and operations to arrest high-school kids, provoke only frustration, outrage, and distrust.

"The soldiers went through my class," said Mr. Karim, the math teacher, " 'What is your name? What is your name?' The children were afraid."

"They had no right, no right to come!" Mr. Hamza, the Arabic teacher, was indignant. "Is this American democracy?"

The headmaster, Mr. Fadhil, said he was angry.  The boys in the school were angry with him.  He had not protected them against the Americans; he had invited the Americans to arrest them.  Spray-painted on the wall of the school were slogans: "Saddam's High School!"  "Down Down USA!" and "Down With the Informer Principal Fadhil!"  They were quickly painted over.

"Do you think Mr. Fadhil can keep his job after this unpleasantness?" I asked.

Ibrahim hid his mouth behind his hand and giggled at such a silly question.  "Oh we want him to stay!  He's in our pocket now!  Who else will pass us this year?"

Ibrahim does not go to school very regularly. He says he has observed that those with an education and those without end up earning the same amount. He has been learning English for five years and cannot speak a word, except to understand some of what the American soldiers shouted at him.

School, for him, is more of a place to hang out with friends than an institution of discipline and educational standards. The Amriyeh High School is newly painted and has some old computers.  The classrooms are very bare: cheap wooden desks, benches, blackboard, and chalk.  The Americans have been refurbishing schools, but it's often just a paint job. It's the state of lassitude and corruption that is the problem.  Pay the teachers-a few bribes, threats, whatever-and they will pass you. Ibrahim shrugged, "The principal is a moody guy.  Sometimes you can give him some chocolates and he is all right. Other times he wants a million Iraqi dinars."

Amriyeh is a suburb with Sunni Triangle sensibilities, where a lot of families from Ramadi and Tikrit settled. It's also an area in which Saddam distributed land to Mukhabarat (intelligence) officers.

"These are their sons," explained Mr. Hamza, the Arabic teacher.

"This was a real country to be proud of," said Ibrahim. "I am Iraqi. They are humiliating every Iraqi when they humiliate Saddam.  Even if Hitler came here he would not fill our eyes [make us proud] as much as Saddam did."  Ibrahim has read about Hitler.

When the Americans arrested him and his school friends, they took them to their base nearby (a former Republican Guard barracks) and held them in what Ibrahim described as "a cage," and what the colonel called "a temporary holding facility," although he wouldn't let me see it "for security reasons."

The soldiers let them out to use the washroom and to be questioned.  They were fed chicken and macaroni and chocolate bars for lunch.  Ibrahim said it was pretty good.

"They are civil in a way," Ibrahim said. "They are afraid of the situation here, and that's why they behave badly." But he is not intimidated by them. His family has seen plenty of American injustice. His father (something to do with the former government, though exactly what Ibrahim wouldn't say) has been detained three times, his uncle twice. His cousin was shot in the leg at an American checkpoint when he didn't understand what the soldier was shouting. His grandmother had three and a half kilos of gold and an heirloom diamond necklace taken during a nighttime raid on her house. All run-of-the-mill, unverifiable stories of the kind I have heard many times.

"A foreigner will always be the weaker one." observed Ibrahim. "This is my country: They came by force they will leave by force."

The Americans questioned Ibrahim and the others and determined that they were just schoolboys protesting; there had been no particular resistance involvement.

"I would have preferred not to have done it," said Lt. Col. Quintas, while acknowledging that the operation at the school had been undertaken on his initiative, "But they need to understand that they are not allowed to do this and that there are consequences."

(As armed resistance grows, fed by idiots like Quintas, he will come to understand he is not allowed to do this, and that there are consequences.)

The boys were released that evening and driven home. Ibrahim said that was the only time he was scared-he was worried the Humvee he was being taken in might get hit by the resistance.

They rang the doorbell. His father came out.

"It was funny," said Ibrahim. "He didn't know if they were going to return me or take him!"

Wendell Steavenson, a former reporter for Time, is the author of Stories I Stole. In March and April of 2003, Slate published her series of "Dispatches From Northern Iraq."

CLASS WAR NEWS

Dying For Dollars
Wall St. Journal 12.8.03 By Vanessa Fuhrmans

Employers slowed their runaway health-care costs more sharply than expected this year, but they did it mostly by shifting an unprecedented share of the expense to employees.

"The last three or four years, employers really didn’t pass on much of the cost increases," says Blaine Bos, a Mercer health-benefits consultant.  But this year, "they took out their scalpels."

Another wave of cost shifting is likely next year.  A quarter of the companies surveyed said they expected to increase employee contributions, and 23% said they would pass on more costs by making changes to the health plans they offer workers.

In California, 70,000 workers at several grocery chains, including Albertsons Inc., Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc., have been involved in a protracted strike over proposed cuts to their health care.

Many companies have been paring, and even phasing out, retiree benefits for years.  According to the survey, only 21% of large employers still offered medical coverage to Medicare-eligible retirees, down from 40% a decade ago.  Just 28% offered coverage to early retirees, compared with 46% 10 years ago.

Cost shifting by employers is prompting some employees to cut back on their use of prescription drugs and other medical care rather than absorb the extra costs, with as many as 21% at one employer, for example, giving up taking cholesterol-lowering statins.

The researchers, from Harvard Medical School and pharmacy-benefit manager Medco Health Solutions Inc., said it was unclear how the switch had affected people’s health.

(Unclear?  Well, let’s make a mighty effort here to figure it out.  When people can’t afford "their use of prescription drugs and other medical care" what could we suppose the effect on their health would be?  Why, they probably live much longer and feel so much better, right?)

Slumlords Behave In A Very Rational Manner
The Tenant, Vol. 33, No. 11, December 2003

Slumlords may be inhumane, but they are also behaving in an economically rational manner.

They increase their profits by maximizing the misery of their tenants.  They milk properties for rent money while forcing families to live in hazardous conditions.

If they are able to force rent-stabilized tenants out by failing to provide items like heat or hot water, this enables them to do a little work and crank up the rent for whoever comes next.

In the meantime, anyone unfortunate enough to have nowhere else to go, and not excited about raising their family in a shelter, is forced to endure conditions that we ought to have eliminated a century ago.

Slumlords are able to get away with such abuses because the city’s system allows it to be a productive avenue for amassing wealth.

(That’s exactly how capitalism works.  Love it, or live in the gutter, or organize to wipe it off the face of the earth.  If you prefer to fight, check out http://www.socialistworker.org

Bush Cuts Kills More Americans Than Saddam Hussein Ever Dreamed Of

State budget cuts have forced 1.12 million from Medicaid and other programs in the past two years. (Wall St. Journal 12.22.03)  The Bush Administration has fought providing funding to the states to keep the health care programs going.  (Payback is overdue.)

Received:

GI Special Offers Deepest Regrets And A Complete Apology

The last issue of GI Special referred to President George Bush as "a third-rate political whore."

We have received several angry e-mails pointing out that this is an insult to professional sex-workers and escorts.

D. writes:  "Ok, I fuck guys for a living, so what?  I never cheat anybody, I never steal from anybody, I do not lie to my clients, and I sure as shit don’t leave a trail of bodies behind.  What you wrote was way out of line.  How dare you compare him to me or anybody else I know?"

The criticisms are on target.  This public apology is made to all professional sex workers for using thoughtless, insulting language. It will never happen again.

If printed out, this newsletter is your personal property and cannot legally be confiscated from you. "Possession of unauthorized material may not be prohibited."  DoD Directive 1325.6 Section 3.5.1.2.

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