10/11/03 GI Special #130: Unrest At Ft. Campbell

From: “Thomas F. Barton”

Fort Campbell:

“It’s Time For Them To Come Home”

“You Have Soldiers Dying, And You Wonder Why”

As members of the 101st Airborne trickle back from Iraq, cracks are showing in the once unwavering confidence.

Wes Allison, St. Petersburg Times (Florida), November 7, 2003

Fort Campbell, Kentucky – There are no hordes of black flies to swat, the night air is fine, the Budweiser is cold and, more important, it’s right there in his refrigerator. He and his wife are outside with the crickets, smoking Marlboros. His 7-year-old son is getting ready for bed. It is good to be home.

But Sgt. 1st Class John Bogle, who returned from Iraq six weeks ago to retire, finds little comfort with the state of affairs there, and after 22 years of service he’s not shy about questioning the Army’s dangerous and evolving role.

“At the beginning, it was very clear: Get that maniac out of power, get him and his regime gone, and everything else would take care of itself,” Bogle said. “We reached that goal, and continued past that goal, and we’ve lost track of what we’re doing.

“You can’t leave, but you can’t win. … All they’re doing now is getting people killed.”

Among many soldiers’ wives and for some soldiers who recently have returned to Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division, the escalation of attacks on American troops in Iraq is gnawing at support for the U.S. mission there.

Their anxiety only deepened with Sunday’s attack on a U.S. Chinook helicopter. Fifteen American soldiers – none from the 101st – died.

Many at Fort Campbell say their feelings are compounded by the lack of significant evidence that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and by the escape so far of dictator Saddam Hussein.

To be sure, support for the troops couldn’t be stronger here. No one questions their commitment or their duty, and it’s rare to find someone who didn’t initially support the war. Yellow ribbons and banners of “Thanks for Protecting Us” and “Way to Go 101" and “I love my soldier” are everywhere.

But now the autumn leaves are skittering across the empty training grounds, and on Thursday a cold rain set in. Long gone is the hopefulness of last spring, when fear for the soldiers was tempered by their quick success on the battlefield and light casualties, and it seemed they might return by Independence Day.

Frustration runs especially high in the treeless blocks of low-rent apartments where many younger soldiers live, stashed off base behind the busy strip of military surplus stores and payday loan shops. The young women raising their children there say they now find little return on their husbands’ investment.

At times, some sound like congressional leaders quizzing the Bush administration: What’s the plan for handing control to the Iraqis? Will the United States be rotating troops into Iraq forever? Where’s the international support? Where’s Hussein?

“What are we really trying accomplish?” asked Kalah Gilbreath, 29, whose husband is a staff sergeant in an artillery company. He served in Desert Storm, Bosnia and Kosovo, and she won’t complain, but as the unrest continues, she worries. “You have soldiers dying, and you wonder why.”

Overall, 379 soldiers, including 32 from Fort Campbell, have been killed, and thousands more have been wounded.

The 101st Airborne has about 19,000 soldiers there now, and 500 to 700 return for various reasons each month. Most are near Mosul, northwest of Baghdad, which was relatively peaceful until attacks began increasing in September, soldiers say. Wednesday, guerrillas launched three grenade attacks there, wounding several Americans.

Michelle Isom, 23, whose husband is in the Airborne’s 187th Infantry, says she appreciates how U.S. soldiers are helping the Iraqis, such as by providing medical care and opening schools. But she questions whether it’s still worth it, and says many of her friends feel the same way. “We haven’t found weapons of mass destruction, and we didn’t have the backing of the United Nations, and now we’re the ones there occupying a country that doesn’t want us,” said Isom, who manages a fast-food restaurant.

“We’re going to support our guys, because they’re our guys, but we’re not sure what they’re fighting for anymore.”

In Iraq, Sgt. 1st Class Ken Klinger is responsible for the 32 men in his platoon in C Company, 2nd Battalion of the 327th Infantry, called “No Slack.” At Campbell, his wife, Rhonda, is responsible for their families and dozens more.

Each major military unit – brigade, battalion and company – has a family readiness group, a network of soldiers’ spouses or parents. As the C Company leader, Mrs. Klinger quashes rumors and provides a sympathetic ear for wives who fear for their husbands, or are frustrated with being single moms. Most soldiers now have occasional access to e-mail and telephones, which helps. Her husband tells her his work is important. But the Army’s goal isn’t so clear anymore, and that makes it harder for families back home, Mrs. Klinger said.

Nine babies have been born in C Company since the men left. Several marriages are cracking. “The further we go into this, it’s wearing me out, too, and then all the attacks. …” Mrs. Klinger said. “It’s time for them to come home.”

What’s hardest “is watching my daughter cry herself to sleep because her daddy’s not there,” she said, dabbing at her eyes. “She’s 6. She asks me all the time how many bad guys do daddy and his friends have to kill before he comes home. I just pull a number from the air.”

The Airborne left Fort Campbell eight months ago with the expectation it would return within six months. By May it was clear that wouldn’t happen.


Fort Campbell:

Mounting Skepticism About War In Iraq;

“We Shouldn’t Have Been There In The First Place,” Vet Says

By Kimberly Hefling Associated Press 07 November 2003

Residents of this military town reacted with sadness and mounting skepticism Friday about the war in Iraq after learning that five 101st Airborne soldiers had died in attacks on a helicopter and a convoy.

The casualties make it the deadliest day in Iraq for the Fort Campbell-based 101st since the war started. One soldier attached to the 101st was killed Thursday in a separate convoy attack, and counting that death, 36 Fort Campbell soldiers have died while deployed for the Iraq war.

“It’s time for us to get out of there. We shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” said Ron Simmons, cashier at the Amoco Food Shop, pausing Friday from ringing gas sales at the shop across the street from Fort Campbell.

Simmons, a former soldier, said his skepticism before the war has changed to anger with each new report of casualties. Although residents still support the troops, he said he and others who live in the Kentucky and Tennessee communities around Fort Campbell, 50 miles north of Nashville, are becoming more cynical.

“I just wish all of this would be over with. It’s scary that it has gone on for as long as it has,” said Todd White, 31, from the barber’s chair at the Gate 4 Barbershop.

The 20,000-plus strong 101st, an air-assault division, is not scheduled to begin returning until February – one year after it left. The 101st is the only division of the four now in Iraq that participated in the drive to Baghdad last spring.

Hiding The Dead?


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the U.S. has started lying about the # of troops killed in Iraq.

I found a report from 10/17 (only one, mind you) that had the correct number at that point: 336 (139 before May 1, 197 after). I challenge you to find any news story within the past month that has figures that high. The only one I could find was from the 11/2 New York Times that reported that 222 soldiers had died since May 1.

But even the NY Times doesn’t update that figure daily. According to my calculations, since that was reported another 29 soldiers have been killed.

In most stories, now, the number of casualties is now always carries the qualifier “killed in combat.”

The change in accounting has meant that Aug. 26, 2003 was the first time that most media sources reported that the number of troops killed sine May 1 surpassed the total of before May 1.

But that little factoid has been “unreported” thanks the fact that non-combat deaths have magically disappeared from most major U.S. news reporting.

The bottom line: the number of troops killed is something like 391, but I can’t find a single news source that is reporting that figure.


US Soldier Killed By Mine

By Dean Yates, BAGHDAD (Reuters), 11.9.03

Another U.S. soldier was killed and a comrade wounded late on Saturday when their vehicle ran over a bomb in Baghdad. A bomb also wounded a British soldier in the southern city of Basra.

Several loud explosions echoed across Baghdad on Sunday night and police said a mortar bomb hit a house in the city center, but there were no immediate reports of casualties and little damage. It appeared to be the fourth mortar attack by insurgents in the past week on the capital.

Guerrillas have grown increasingly bold in launching mortar attacks in the past week on the U.S.-led administration on the West side of the Tigris River. The attacks have not killed anyone but have wounded several personnel in the coalition.

Over 7,000 Wounded

The Pentagon has held off on reporting the number of wounded soldiers, creating a major gap in reporting on the war. In late October, Stars and Stripes reported that the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany had treated 7,381 wounded American soldiers. (Frida Berrigan, Common Dreams, 04 November 2003)

Pissing In The Wind;

Big Attack Show For Home Consumption

The Observer, November 9, 2003, by Peter Beaumont and Dan Plesch &

By Dean Yates, BAGHDAD (Reuters), 11.9.03

US troops yesterday unleashed their most furious attack in Iraq since the official end of the war. The attacks, which happened in Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit, were carried out in response to the killing of six soldiers whose Black Hawk helicopter was shot down near the town on Friday.

“If necessary, we’ll carry out more shows of force,” said Major Josslyn Aberle, spokeswoman for the 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit. (Why not have a parade? This stupidity dates back to about 1893, when ignorant natives were supposed to be impressed by “a show of force.” It didn’t work then, it won’t work now, but hey it’s about looking good for Bush on TV, right?)

As F16s jets dropped 500lb bombs on the area where the helicopter was shot down, US troops launched a massive sweep operation, designed as a show of force against resistance fighters based in the Sunni Triangle, which saw the arrest of several dozen alleged fighters and the death of five more.

That was the first time U.S. planes had bombed Iraq since the official end of major combat on May 1

There were suspicions that the bombing raids were designed as much for domestic US consumption as out of operational necessity.


Military Families, Troops Have Had It With Bush

Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian (United Kingdom) October 26, 2003

News of the death of Jane Bright’s son, Evan, arrived with the US military’s greatest triumph in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad. In Mosul, the 101st Airborne cornered and killed Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday and Qusay. Outside town, a US patrol came under attack, and Ms Bright’s son, an infantryman, was killed along with two other soldiers.

That was on July 24. Her anger has not abated. “There are some terrible things going on there,” she says.

The growing toll and reports of poor conditions and low morale among troops have produced an undercurrent of dissent among US military families. The Guardian has found that 75% of the 478 troops removed from the Iraqi theatre because of mental health issues have been reservists.

Ms Bright’s unease set in soon after her son arrived in Iraq, and grew deeper with calls and emails home in the months before he was killed. “He had lost 25 pounds from dysentery. My daughter-in-law told me he called one day and he sounded very upbeat. She said, ‘Why are you so happy?’ He said he had just got food and water.

“I don’t care what the administration says about flag-waving and children throwing flowers. It is just not true. The stories coming back are horrific. All he told me was that he had seen and done some horrible things, that they had all done and seen some terrible things.”

The stories coming back from Iraq have helped to chip away at the culture of stoicism. So have the circumstances of the deployment. An underclass that grew up to view military services as a ticket to advancement or a college education now finds itself going off to two distant wars – in Afghanistan and Iraq – in less than two years.

It is still uncommon for families of soldiers to voice criticism. Some are afraid of retaliation against their relative serving in Iraq. But there are signs of growing outspokenness, in part because of the Bush administration’s decision to rely heavily on reservists and National Guard members to fights its wars.

Almost half of the 130,000 US troops on the ground are drawn from these sources – weekend warriors now serving overseas tours of duty that were recently extended to 15 months

On the home front, families may be less than understanding of having their lives interrupted. Not knowing how long their relatives will stay in Iraq has fuelled resentment and deepened anxieties about losing jobs, falling behind on mortgage payments, and family separation.

For Barbara Willis, whose son is a reservist serving in a postal unit at Baghdad airport, it is the idea that he was pulled out of college in his final term of study for a degree in business education, only to sit at Fort Dix, New Jersey, for three months, waiting to be sent to Iraq. “If only they’d have said, ‘Stay at home until you finish your education,’” she said. “I am not against President Bush but it gets very aggravating the way he is ruining all these young people’s lives.”

The families of reservists have taken the separations harder than those on active duty, who are used to military life. The experience of war, with its mix of tedium, brutality and the capriciousness of the US military bureaucracy, also appears harder for the reservists and National Guard members to bear.

Reservists are beginning to speak out, saying they are made to do the “grunt work”, and are treated unfairly in provision of supplies – especially of bulletproof vests for which there are shortages – and of military furloughs. “The equipment they tried to hand us was items that were bound for the trash pile,” Nicholas Ramey, a reservist from Indiana working in a public affairs unit, writes in an email.

“Vietnam-era flack vests held together by dental floss and a prayer won’t keep us safe … It was like pulling teeth trying to get the things we needed. As ‘dirty reservists’, we didn’t deserve the same respect, even though we’re supposed to watch the active duty’s backs.”

Such stories are increasingly common among reservists, and circulated among family members at home. The friction, combined with growing confusion about their mission in Iraq, has rattled even longstanding members of the reserves.


A ribbon with a photo of Sgt. Ernest Bucklew, is tied on a handle of his casket Nov. 8, 2003 in Beaver Falls, Pa. Bucklew, 33, was among 16 U.S. soldiers killed when a missile downed their helicopter in Iraq Nov. 2. Bucklew was traveling home to attend his mother’s funeral when the chopper was shot down. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

None of the people the Guardian contacted said their family member would re-enlist. Some have taken a decision to get out – even those who have devoted their lives to the reserves . “My husband has 20 years in the military, and loved every minute of it,” says Candance Gordon, the wife of a reservist from Texas. “He will be resigning his commission the minute he steps foot on American soil, and he says almost everyone he knows is doing the same. The only ones staying in are those who have long contracts, or no family, or make more money being in the reserves than in their civilian life.”

The biggest complaint is the one most difficult for the Pentagon to remedy: that service personnel are under strain from long deployments in Iraq. Families described the slow agony waiting for details about each fallen soldier. They are also thinking about homecoming. Several said they feared their children or spouses would be unrecognisable.

Others said they detected anger and depression in their emails that would be difficult to fix when they returned. “They’re changing. They have dehumanised the Iraqis. They call them ‘hajji’ now – that’s like ‘gook’. I am old enough to remember the Vietnam war, and I remember,” says Adele Kubein, whose daughter is a National Guard mechanic serving in Iraq.

On one occasion, her daughter telephoned her, sobbing. “She said, ‘Mom, I have shot people. I am never going to be able to come home and live a normal life again. How can I come home and live a normal life when every second I am trying to be alert to see if I will be shot?’”

Medic Wields A Sharp Scalpel, Carves Bush A New…….

On ABC’s “World News Tonight,” the correspondent John Berman captured a “M*A*S*H” moment when a military medic attending the American wounded looked directly at the camera and said, “ `All major combat operations have ceased’ “ – after which he winked and, with a roll of his eyes, added a sarcastic, “Right!” (FRANK RICH November 9, 2003 nytimes.com)


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: www.traveling-soldier.org/

Reservist “A POW Of Her Own Country;”

Parents Forced To Buy Son’s Armor!!

NEWSWEEK, BY Jerry Adler, Nov. 17 issue

Two days before she was to leave the Army Reserves in February, with her paperwork all done, Leslie Crawford of Provo, Utah, was ordered into a new unit that was on its way to Iraq-where she still is, according to her sister, Lisa. “She says she feels like a POW of her own country,” Lisa says.

It is the perceived disparity of treatment between reservists and active-duty personnel that draws the anger of many families at home. “Why are reservists there for 16 months and some active-duty guys for six months?” demands Candance Robison of Texas, whose husband, Mike, has been away from home since February.

Of course, active-duty troops did most of the fighting in the invasion. But there’s plenty of danger to go around for reservists, and they’re facing it, in some cases, without the same equipment provided to regular units.

Joe and Suzanne Werfelman of Sciota, Pa., were shocked to hear from their son, Richard, a 23-year-old law student called up by his military-police unit, that he had been issued a protective vest without the “plates” that stop automatic-rifle rounds. They bought and shipped the plates themselves, at a cost of $660.

In Kansas, relatives of soldiers in the 129th Transport, which was sent to Iraq in April, set up a Web site, 129bringthemhome.com, and collected more than 13,000 signatures on a petition calling for a one-year limit on Reserves deployments. Eventually a general was sent out from the Pentagon to talk with them. Soon afterward they got a firm date for their spouses’ return: June 22, 2004.

Military Families Opposing War

USA Today AP Article — 11-08-03

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Families with husbands, sons and other relatives serving in Iraq gathered in drizzling weather Saturday in this military-dependent city to voice their opposition to the way in which the U.S.-led war is being handled.

“This is how I show my support,” said Candance Robison, whose husband, Army 1st Lt. Mike Robison, is serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in Fallujah, Iraq, the heart of anti-American insurgency.

“If my husband got killed and I hadn’t done everything I could to bring him home, I’d never forgive myself,” said Robison, 27, a mother of two from the Dallas area.

“It’s our job and our duty to question our government and hold it accountable for what they’re doing over there,” said Shannon Sharrock, of Temple.

Sharrock, a Baylor University law student, said her heart stopped when she heard that a Black Hawk helicopter from the 101st Airborne Division had gone down Friday and that everyone on board was killed.

Her husband, Capt. Joseph Sharrock, is a Black Hawk pilot attached to the 101st Airborne.

“He called at 3:30 this morning to make sure I knew that he’s OK,” said Sharrock, a 1997 West Point graduate and former Army helicopter pilot. “He knew all six aboard that helicopter.”

A CNN-USA Today poll released Thursday found that 54% of Americans disapprove of the way President Bush is handling Iraq. The same poll in August found that 57% supported the president’s performance.

The two dozen Texans who voiced their opposition Saturday said the shift in national sentiment has made it easier for them to speak up without being branded as anti-American.

But Sharrock said she still can’t share her beliefs with many friends at Fort Hood, where her husband’s unit is based.

“They think you can’t speak against the war without speaking out against the troops,” she said. “I’m against the war, therefore (to them) I’m unpatriotic.”

The family members said their soldiers know they are campaigning against the war, and support their right to dissent.

“Our politics are on opposite ends of the spectrum,” Robison said of herself and her husband, “but he’s coming over a little my way.”

WAITING FOR DAD TO COME HOME, ALIVE; Laura Kinslow is facing her second winter alone with her children, Toby and Sadie, at her remote South Dakota home.

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:www.notinourname.net/gi-special/

General W. Clark (Ret’d) Betrays

“General Clark’s Appeal For Clothing For Wounded Soldiers (November 8, 2003)

Dear Friend: Since major combat operations began in Iraq last spring, more than 2,000 American soldiers have been wounded in Iraq. After 34 years in the military, feel a greater sense of urgency as each day brings more grim news about the wounded and killed in Iraq.

This is a deeply personal issue. In 1970, I was being flown on a stretcher to Saigon after being hit by enemy fire in Vietnam. I missed the birth of my only son while I was recovering in Japan. I know something about how the young men and women who were wounded in Iraq feel, because I experienced it myself. If there is one thing that can make those tough days of recovery easier, it’s having support from home. That’s why I’m writing to ask for your help in supporting our wounded soldiers returning from Iraq.

Many of them are treated at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. They usually arrive with only the clothes on their backs. As the casualty rate rises, it becomes harder to provide the best for our wounded soldiers. They need warm clothes – the winter there isn’t any warmer than winter in New Hampshire.

They’re also eager for phone cards to call their families back home.

In conjunction with our monthly National Day of Service, my campaign offices in New Hampshire are holding a clothing drive to give the good people at Landstuhl a hand. I’d be grateful if you could stop by our offices with clothing and international phone cards.

We’ll see that they get to our wounded soldiers right away.

You can drop off the clothing at our Manchester Headquarters at 60 Rogers Street, Manchester (603) 623-8000 or at our Dover Field office at 266 Central Avenue in Dover (603) 750-4000. We also anticipate opening several additional field offices across the state shortly, and each will be accepting clothing and phone card donations.

Thank you so much for your help.”

Article 31 For The General:

1. DIVERSION OF MILITARY SUPPLIES FOR UNAUTHORIZED PURPOSES AND PERSONAL BENEFIT: Why is the general going into competition with the relief fund, which just launched their appeal last week?? (See next below.) Couldn’t be cheap political opportunism could it? Oh, hell no, not from a General.

“Donations will go to a central fund, the Armed Forces Relief Trust www.afrtrust.org/ , and will be distributed among the five military relief societies. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society will get 38 percent; the Air Force Aid Society, 25 percent; Army Emergency Relief, 34 percent; and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, 3 percent. The formula was agreed upon by the relief societies, based on the percentage of their service in the total force. The relief societies also will administer the fund.” (November 07, 2003, By Karen Jowers, Army Times staff writer)

2. DERELICTION OF DUTY: Why is the general silent about how Pentagon scum are refusing to get wounded soldiers what they need?

Clothing? Phone cards? Rumsfeld’s Asshole Corps has hundreds of billions to hand out to their defense contractor buddies, while the wounded have to go begging for clothing and phone cards??

What does Clark have to say about that?

Why, nothing at all, not one fucking word.

Where is his demand for Rumsfeld’s head? Where is his call for corrupt Pentagon officials who pissed away $142 million on illegal first class plane tickets for themselves to go to prison for it?

This is nothing but disgusting politician hypocrisy, and the purpose is to make it look like the general cares. Meanwhile, he stabs the relief fund in the back.

All it does is expose him for the treacherous enemy he really is. But then, most generals fit that description.

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.

Families of War Dead Condemn Bush Visit to UK

by Severin Carrell, The Independent, November 9, 2003

George Bush’s official visit to Britain next week has been condemned as insensitive and ill-timed by some families of British troops killed in Iraq.

Reg Keys, whose son, Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, was one of the six Royal Military Police killed by a mob near Basra in June, said he had developed “a quite passionate hatred” of the US leader.

“I can’t stand the man,” said Mr Keys, 51, of Llanuwchllyn, north Wales. “He has a nerve coming over to this country after all the misery he’s caused. I just can’t understand why Bush was so keen to go to war against Iraq – it’s almost as if he was hell bent on making a name for himself.”

His criticisms were supported by the mother of one of the first Britons killed in the war, L/Cpl Shaun Brierley.

Christine Brierley, from Batley, West Yorkshire, said: “I think it’s disgusting the way Bush is carrying on. It’s a war that should never have been fought: then dragging England into it when it wasn’t our war anyway. I just wish all the troops were back home – Americans and English. At the end of the day, what’s going to be resolved?”

Gordon Evans, whose son Lance Bombardier Llywelyn Evans was killed in the same helicopter crash as Mrs Seymour’s husband, said he wanted Mr Bush to meet British relatives face to face, to explain why he went to war.

“He’s the puppet-master, isn’t he? If he says do something, Tony Blair jumps. I’m angry with the Prime Minister, because he conned the nation into going to war in the first place.”


Bob Dylan’s Prophecy Dream:

Still Fresh After All These Years

You fasten the triggers

For the others to fire

Then you sit back and watch

When the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion

As young people’s blood

Flows out of their bodies and is buried in mud.

And I hope that you die

And your death’ll come soon

I will follow your casket

In the pale afternoon

And I’ll watch while you’re lowered

Down to your deathbed

And I’ll stand o’er your grave ‘til I’m sure that you’re dead


U.S. Occupation Setting Up Fake Company “Unions;”

Bosses In Love With Them

Ewa J In Baghdad, 18.10.2003 15:11

There are many ex- high ranking Baathist initiated struggle absorbent unions popping up all over Iraq that need to be scrutinized. Many are not authentic expressions of worker solidarity or struggle..

Well, I met with some workers at Daurra as well and they came with myself and a friend, away from the refinery and the unionists there and told us, at much risk, that the elections were fixed.

They said that the Union leadership had been against the three wildcat strikes that took places at the plant, which were organised outside of the Union and the Union leadership themselves said that the strikes couldn’t happen again as ‘they would harm the national interest’. The Director General Dithar Khashab of the refinery – called ‘a fascist’ by many and whose role is unclear in the massacres of workers that took place at Daurra in 1972 (20 killed) and 1978 (18) but who was a former Baathist.

He thinks ‘privatisation’ is good because it keeps workers in fear. In fear of their jobs’ and he wholeheartedly supports the union. The union has also been recognised by the Occupation Authorities too – when no other union has been.

Its not a representative union. Its essentially steered by the management of the refinery and it shouldn’t be trusted as an expression of workers autonomy or struggle. Its a company union. It exists to co-opt worker struggle and sedate it, neutralize it and in a critical crucial point of capital accumulation and convection like Daurra Oil Refinery – workers will be facing massive restrictions and controls, just like they did under the Baath and a fake union to give them a semblance of control or bargaining potential is a necessary mechanism of worker repression.

Khashab himself admitted that he wished he could have dealt with the stoppages ‘peacefully’ He never elaborated on how he did deal with them.

I was taking care of a US delegation of trade unionists in Baghdad and we met many many new fake unions, all cooperating with management, ‘we support our boss, he supports us, he wants to help us but he cant’ was the oft heard refrain. The Gaylani Oil Transportation Company was one such place.

This is just a word of caution. Its within the interests of the occupiers and the bosses to have new false activity and struggle absorbent unions to contain workers’ struggle, now at this volatile period more than ever. And especially as many baathists are still in power controlling industry, especially the most critical oil industry.

We need to scratch the surface and get beyond the theatrics and meet the really vulnerable autonomously organizing workers out there, who wont talk in front of ‘their union’ or bosses or sometimes not even in their own workplace. People are still very very afraid of speaking out, especially to foreigners.

This is not a critique of the delegation or its’ efforts which I think were great but just on another point, the Iraqi Confederation of Trade Unions is not the only body organising or representing workers.

There are other more underground initiatives going on and the Worker Communist Party (BIG conflict between them and the Iraqi Communist Party, so if they were helping to organise the delegation then they wouldn’t have let you anywhere near them as it is they thoroughly scolded me and tried to dissuade me from having anything to do with them in a really underhand and utterly patronizing way but, that’s political infighting for you) is helping to organize too, on a more independent level as far as I can see.

But whatever, alla ya tikolaerfye (good work now take your rest – Palestinian Arabic saying) to all of the Stop The War delegation for braving Baghdad.



Occupation Recruits For Resistance Again: Iraqi Jamal Mohammed looks over a house destroyed during an attack by U.S. forces in the town of Tikrit, November 8, 2003. (Ali Jasim/Reuters)

Official Army Review Leaked;

The Occupation Plan Was—No Plan

The Observer, November 9, 2003, by Peter Beaumont and Dan Plesch,

An official US army review leaked to the US NGO globalsecurity.org has revealed that the army had no plan for the occupation of Baghdad.

Officially titled the Third Infantry Division (Mechanised) After Action Report, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the study provides the first formal internal view of the Iraq war from the point of view of the soldiers who brought down Saddam Hussein.

The report provides official confirmation of a complete absence of high-level military and political planning to manage the aftermath of victory and indicates some key problems that continue to hamper US army effectiveness to this day.

Some of the lack of planning first became apparent at Baghdad International Airport (BIA): ‘Multiple military and inter-agency organisations vied to set up operations at BIA, but the (3rd Infantry) Brigade Combat Team controlling BIA was too engaged in continuing combat operations to coordinate this adequately.’

The report continues that the 3rd Infantry Division itself, which had been engaged in some of the heaviest fighting on the outskirts of Baghdad, ‘lacked guidance’ on how to deal with the different competing Iraqis they encountered. ‘Ongoing struggles for power, establishing security without the benefit of a functioning police system, and re-establishing a pay system for government workers continue to plague the restoration of “normalcy” to Baghdad,’ it said.

For another outstanding political take on the collapse of Bush’s Imperial Dreams, see the article “Has Iraq Become The New Vietnam?” by Paul D’Amato at www.socialistworker.org.


Neocon-Friendly Solutions For Manning Shortfalls In The War Against Terror

Karen Kwiatkowshi

We need to lower the age of service, starting at 17, with a plan later to recruit and train 16 year olds. If they can drive a car, they can drive a tank. Now, let me emphasize – this isn’t a draft, it is targeted recruiting, with affirmative action for the kind of people whose parents won’t ask too many questions or fight back.

We also need tougher and harsher training for our folks, more in line with Spartan style isolation from communities and indoctrination for organized state violence. As a great imperial nation, we must be able to tolerate a significant increase in the training death rate, as well as create more brutal soldiers. A kind of national crustiness and bad temper is required, and these death rate increases will be for you, Mr. Rumsfeld, one more metric to use to gauge our success (and Final Victory!) in the global war on terrorism.

It is also imperative that dying for the State be viewed as rewarding and profitable. It is nice that the House just passed an increase in the soldier’s death benefit from $6,000 to $12,000 www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-benefit30oct30,1,3212749.story?coll=la-news-a_section . But as my husband commented to me the other day, after taxes, you can’t even buy a Camaro for that money.

If Saddam can pay a suicide bomber’s family $25,000 each, and he had a fourth rate economy, I not only suggest to you, but demand that a $100,000 tax-free death bonus be paid to the surviving family. This will not only help to quell outrage among many poorer and less politically powerful parents, wives and husbands, but makes the state appear generous and loving.

And one more thing. I know George W. Bushmaster finds it extraordinarily difficult to attend soldiers’ funerals. Over 350 www.defendamerica.mil/fallen.html missed opportunities so far, but don’t worry, they’ll be many more. I think with proper staging and a photo op of the handoff of that super-size $100,000 check to carefully pre-selected tearfully grateful parents, even these events can become a powerful weapon in the war on terrorism.

I conclude my pitch to Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, Rummy and Cheney with this. Using a mini-nuke to expand and defend the new American empire will no doubt reduce the need for, not to mention the existence of real American soldiers. In fact, I believe it is as brilliant as any idea that’s ever emerged from a neo-con love-in.

Maybe even more brilliant, if such brilliance could possibly be perceived by mere mortals. But I am here to tell you there are many other things we can do right now to address our military manpower shortage while killing more of our favorite subjects, er …enemies, … I mean terrorists!


Creates 20,000 Jobs For Halliburton In Last Quarter

November 9, 2003 Andy Borowitz: www.Borowitzreport.com

The White House had yet another piece of good economic news to trumpet over the weekend, announcing that Vice President Dick Cheney expanded even faster than the U.S. economy in the quarter just ended.

“Our economic policy, including our program of tax cuts for the highest income brackets, have resulted in the most dramatic expansion of a Vice President in U.S. history,” President Bush said in his weekly radio address on Saturday.

While President Bush acknowledged that many Americans had yet to reap positive benefits from Mr. Cheney’s explosive growth, he said that it was only a matter of time before the Vice President’s surging wealth trickled down to the rest of the country.

According to figures released by the White House, Vice President Cheney expanded at a torrid 11.2% rate in the last quarter, creating over 20,000 new jobs, most of them for the Halliburton Company.

While economists expressed amazement at Mr. Cheney’s unprecedented growth rate, however, some doubted that his dramatic expansion could be sustained.

But Charles Donner, chief economist for Credit Suisse First Boston, predicted that the next quarter will also be strong for the Vice President, with the completion of an oil and gas pipeline leading directly from the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan directly into Mr. Cheney’s super-secret underground lair.

“With the completion of that pipeline, Dick Cheney will become the second-largest economy in the world,” Mr. Donner said.


Palestinian youths hurl stones at an Israeli army tank during clashes in the West Bank city of Jenin November 7, 2003. Israeli soldiers killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy Friday. (Saaed Dahlah/Reuters)

To check out what life is like under a murderous military occupation by a foreign power, go to: www.rafah.vze.com. The foreign army is Israeli; the occupied nation is Palestine.


1% Own 40% Of All U.S. Wealth

The richest 1% of Americans now own well over 40% of their nation’s wealth. It is a skewed distribution that sets the US apart from other modern industrialised nations. In Britain, widely viewed in America as the embodiment of social stratification, the richest 1% owns a mere 18% of the wealth. (Julian Borger The Guardian 05 November 2003)

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