16/11/03 GI Special #134: Two More Copters Down

To: “Thomas B” <thomasfbarton@earthlink.net>

(AFP/Patrick Baz)

Two Helicopters Down, Seventeen U.S. Troops Killed;

Coalition Shuts Down Basra HQ After Attacks

BAGHDAD (AFP) – 11.15.03

Seventeen U.S. troops were killed when two US helicopters crashed in northern Iraq.

“There are 12 coalition soldiers killed and nine wounded,” a spokesman told AFP. A military official had earlier said that the two Blackhawk helicopters crashed west of Mosul.

An AFP correspondent at the scene saw a helicopter in flames on a road in a residential neighbourhood in the centre of the city.

US troops immediately moved in to cordon off the area where fire engines and ambulances had converged.

An Iraqi police officer said that he saw assailants ambushing a US foot patrol in the area, prompting the intervention of a Blackhawk helicopter.

A missile was then fired towards the chopper, which crashed into a second Blackhawk as it tried to dodge the missile, he said.

A US soldier was killed in Baghdad’s al-Azamiyah district when a roadside bomb exploded as an army convoy drove by, also wounding two soldiers, the military said.

The deaths raised to 173 the number of US troops killed in combat in Iraq since May 1, when Bush declared major hostilities over.

In Basra, a spokesman said coalition headquarters in the southern port city were still closed in the wake of the bloodiest postwar anti-coalition attack which killed 19 Italians and nine Iraqis in Nasiriyah on Wednesday.

“We are still not open. No Iraqi staff can come in” the huge compound overlooking Shatt El-Arab, once used as Saddam’s official palace, Dominic d’Angelo told AFP. He said the situation would be reviewed late Saturday.

A string of bomb blasts over the past week shattered the relative calm of Basra, prompting local Iraqi authorities and the British troops commanding the area to heighten security measures.

Basra: The Walls Close In: British soldiers patrol in Basra following last day’s attack on a British army jeep. Occupation Headquarters was shut down. (AFP/File/Ahmad Al-Rubaye) BRING ALL THE BRITS HOME NOW TOO!


Oil: Sabotaged Pipelines;

Pumping It Back Into The Ground

Remember all the babble about how Iraqi oil would pay for the occupation?

Looks pretty stupid now.

The U.S. invasion rushed for the oil fields, and ignored the pipelines.

“The Iraqi-Turkey route is one of the most strategically important pieces of oil infrastructure in the Middle East. Iraqi officials say they are producing more than two million barrels of oil a day, but without the line, which can carry 800,000 barrels daily, technicians in Iraqis northern fields must pump some 300,000 barrels a day back into the ground. (Iraq uses about 500,000 barrels a day to feed domestic refineries and power plants.) There is simply nowhere else to put it.”

“In mid-August, the Iraq-Turkey line resumed limited pumping. Just a few days later, a major blast blamed on sabotage shut off the flow, and the line has been plagued by maintenance-related breakdowns and sabotage ever since. The 101st Airborne has recorded 14 incidents of suspected sabotage since June along the portion of the line that runs through the sector it patrols.

“In the latest incident, about two weeks ago, saboteurs dug a few yards into the sand to the buried pipeline. They peeled open the line’s 46-inch-diameter walls and let oil flow into the sand around the line before igniting it, according to Maj. Timothy Sullivan.

“Last weekend, in these scrub-covered desert hills about 55 miles north of the refinery town of Beiji-a recent hotbed of anti-American sentiment-Ome’ed Khursheed Amin looked on as workers replace a 6 ∏ yard section of the pipeline that had a jagged hole ripped through it. Last month, saboteurs dug through the sand and planted a homemade bomb on the line, said Mr. Amin, a pipeline repair supervisor from North Oil Col., the state production company based in Kirkuk.

“A month earlier, he was at the same place replacing an adjacent section of the line, blown up in September. The twisted segment he replaced back then still rests on a sand dune just a few yards away from the site of the new blast.”

Wall St. Journal 11.13.03


A Sailor’s Courage In The Face Of The Enemy

By Lou Plummer Posted 12 nov 2003


Veterans Day 2003:

Troops in Iraq will be on our minds this Veterans Day

I’m a vet, and my son Drew joined the military during his last year of high school. Three months after he enlisted in June 2001, the world became a different place. Today he serves aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Drew and I both grew up in Fayetteville, N.C., adjacent to Ft. Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne Division and the U.S. Army Special Warfare School.

Slogans abound here. The sign outside the Veterans Affairs Hospital proclaims, “Freedom isn’t free.” Practically every member of my extended family has some relation to the military. For my part, I served with the 2nd Armored Division and the NC National

Guard from 1983-89.

When the war in Iraq began in the spring, I joined a small but committed local group of activists who protested weekly in the center of town. We got a mixed reaction from those who drove by. There were certainly plenty of thumbs up and other signals of approval.

There were also plenty of catcalls and other fingers aimed in our direction.

During this time, Drew was home on leave. He met me at one of these vigils. He held a sign that read “Bring Our Troops Home.” He wasn’t in uniform.

While at the vigil, he answered a reporter’s question about the war in Iraq. “I just don’t agree with what we’re doing right now,” he said. “I don’t think our guys should be dying in Iraq. But I’m not a pacifist. I’ll do my part.”

The reporter who interviewed my son worked for the Associated Press. The story he wrote ran nationally. The next day we received numerous phone calls from other journalists wanting to question this active-duty sailor who dared question the war. Drew declined all further requests for interviews. He never intended to cause a stir. His answer to the original question had been a simple, heart-felt reaction to the daily pictures of carnage that the embedded reporters were describing to the nation.

My son was prosecuted for his comments. The Navy charged him with violating Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: Disloyal Statements. At his hearing he was asked if he were a sympathizer with the enemy and whether he had considered acts of sabotage. To both of those questions he answered no. When asked if he regretted his comments, he also answered no. He was convicted and demoted.

Today we hear daily reports of American soldiers being killed in Iraq. When President Bush challenged the Iraqi resistance fighters to “bring it on,” he put our soldiers at risk — our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, husbands and wives.

The reaction we get now at our weekly vigils from those driving by is much more positive. Some people actually stop their cars in traffic to roll down their windows and offer shouts of encouragement.

From this experience alone, I can tell you that in one of the most pro-military towns in America, support for the war is waning quickly.

My own father spent years during my childhood serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Steeped in military culture, I made a hero out of my dad and wanted to emulate him when I grew up. Now that I am grown, I have a new hero: my 20-year-old son.

Father Of Dead British Soldier Condemns Bush Bullshit



LONDON, England —U.S. President George W. Bush says he is prepared for widespread anti-war protests during his state visit to Britain next week.

The president also plans to meet some of relatives of the 54 British soldiers killed in Iraq to tell them their loved ones died for a “noble cause.”

But the father of a military policeman killed in Iraq angrily rejected Bush’s claims that his son died for a “noble cause.”

Reg Keys, 51, whose son Lance Corporal Thomas Keys was one of six Royal Military Policemen gunned down defending a civilian police station in Al Majar al-Kabir near Basra in June, said he would like to meet the president to tell him that he was responsible for his son’s death.

Keys said: “I am totally against his visit. I don’t know how he has the nerve to show his face in this country after costing the lives of 54 British soldiers for his own glory.

“I do not see a noble cause. I looked at my son’s bullet-riddled body and that did not seem very noble to me.

“He did not die for a noble cause. He was just killed by a mob.”


101st Airborne soldier in Mosul says: “We have all faced death here without reason or justification”. For the rest of the story, go to www.traveling- soldier.org/11.03.predmore.php

On Friday October 3, a demonstration took place at the Newark offices of NJ Senators Corzine and Lautenberg led by Army reservist Frank Mendez, along with 25 family members, friends and members of Veterans For Peace (VFP), to demand the troops be brought home. … For the rest of the story, go to


25,000 rally in D.C. to say: Bring the troops home now! End the occupation! Veterans and family members of soldiers now in Iraq mobilized in large numbers for the October 25 demonstration in Washington, D.C. to show their opposition to Bush’s war and occupation. The night before, more than 100 people gathered for a vigil by the Viet Nam War Memorial organized by Veterans for Peace.…

For the rest of the story, go to www.traveling-soldier.org/11.03.oct25.php

Marine: “You will see me assault the Bush regime at every possible angle” For

the rest of the story, go to www.traveling-soldier.org/11.03.assault.php

While hundreds of thousands of troops are off fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon another target in its sights: commissaries and schools run by the Department of Defense that serve service members and their families. Nineteen commissaries are slated to be closed and another nineteen may be closed later, while at the same time the Pentagon is finishing a study on how to close or transfer control of 58 schools located on 14 installations throughout the continental U.S.…

For the rest of the story, go to www.traveling-soldier.org/11.03.pentagon.php

Have you noticed how the politicians who ask that question aren’t in Iraq? They’re making speeches and holding press conferences in Washington about “How can we leave Iraq?” An old story from Vietnam Days comes to mind. Somebody asked a soldier who was against the war, “How can we leave Vietnam?”

For the rest of the story, go to www.traveling-soldier.org/11.03.leave.php

Words from the front-lines: “In the beginning I was into this; we all were. [But] we haven’t found anything, no weapons of mass destruction, no Saddam, no nothing. And the people there hate us. If we were rolling through a town and they were cheering, hell yeah, it would make us feel better. But when they’re not cooperating and throwing rocks and giving us evil looks, we don’t want to be there. We’re conquerors to them. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. … I hate it over there, I hate it.”

For the rest of the story, go to www.traveling-soldier.org/11.03.words.php

Brass aims at GIs during Rummy’s visit; Wolfowitz meets the real world for the first time.

For the rest of the story, go to www.traveling-soldier.org/11.03.rummywolf.php

That’s Why They’re Officers

A study reported by the Wall St. Journal finds holes in rising officers’ knowledge of military capabilities.

Just 37% know the U.S. can’t shoot down a ballistic missile with a laser-equipped airplane, 23% wrongly believed the U./S. has a sea-based system against the missiles and 43% didn’t know either way.

In the study, by Naval War College’s Thomas Mahaken and James R. FitzSimonds, Marines got the most correct answers.

Naval officers the least.


Hold On To Your Humanity:

An Open Letter to GIs In Iraq

By Stan Goff (US Army Retired)

November 15, 2003 by Counterpunch

Dear American serviceperson in Iraq,

I am a retired veteran of the army, and my own son is among you, a paratrooper like I was.

The changes that are happening to every one of you—some more extreme than others—are changes I know very well. So I’m going to say some things to you straight up in the language to which you are accustomed.

In 1970, I was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, then based in northern Binh Dinh Province in what was then the Republic of Vietnam. When I went there, I had my head full of shit: shit from the news media, shit from movies, shit about what it supposedly mean to be a man, and shit from a lot of my know-nothing neighbors who would tell you plenty about Vietnam even though they’d never been there, or to war at all.

The essence of all this shit was that we had to “stay the course in Vietnam,” and that we were on some mission to save good Vietnamese from bad Vietnamese, and to keep the bad Vietnamese from hitting beachheads outside of Oakland.

We stayed the course until 58,000 Americans were dead and lots more maimed for life, and 3,000,000 Southeast Asians were dead.

Ex-military people and even many on active duty played a big part in finally bringing that crime to a halt.

WHY BOTHER? US soldiers make their way through a traffic jam after another in the endless series of explosions was heard in Baghdad (AFP/Patrick Baz)

When I started hearing about weapons of mass destruction that threatened the United States from Iraq, a shattered country that had endured almost a decade of trench war followed by an invasion and twelve years of sanctions, my first question was how in the hell can anyone believe that this suffering country presents a threat to the United States? But then I remembered how many people had believed Vietnam threatened the United States. Including me.

When that bullshit story about weapons came apart like a two-dollar shirt, the politicians who cooked up this war told everyone, including you, that you would be greeted like great liberators. They told us that we were in Vietnam to make sure everyone there could vote.

What they didn’t tell me was that before I got there in 1970, the American armed forces had been burning villages, killing livestock, poisoning farmlands and forests, killing civilians for sport, bombing whole villages, and committing rapes and massacres, and the people who were grieving and raging over that weren’t in a position to figure out the difference between me—just in country—and the people who had done those things to them.

What they didn’t tell you is that over a million and a half Iraqis died between 1991 and 2003 from malnutrition, medical neglect, and bad sanitation. Over half a million of those who died were the weakest: the children, especially very young children.

My son who is over there now has a baby. We visit with our grandson every chance we get. He is eleven months old now. Lots of you have children, so you know how easy it is to really love them, and love them so hard you just know your entire world would collapse if anything happened to them. Iraqis feel that way about their babies, too. And they are not going to forget that the United States government was largely responsible for the deaths of half a million kids.

So the lie that you would be welcomed as liberators was just that. A lie. A lie for people in the United States to get them to open their purse for this obscenity, and a lie for you to pump you up for a fight.

And when you put this into perspective, you know that if you were an Iraqi, you probably wouldn’t be crazy about American soldiers taking over your towns and cities either. This is the tough reality I faced in Vietnam. I knew while I was there that if I were Vietnamese, I would have been one of the Vietcong.

But there we were, ordered into someone else’s country, playing the role of occupier when we didn’t know the people, their language, or their culture, with our head full of bullshit our so-called leaders had told us during training and in preparation for deployment, and even when we got there. There we were, facing people we were ordered to dominate, but any one of whom might be pumping mortars at us or firing AKs at us later that night. The question we stated to ask is who put us in this position?

In our process of fighting to stay alive, and in their process of trying to expel an invader that violated their dignity, destroyed their property, and killed their innocents, we were faced off against each other by people who made these decisions in $5,000 suits, who laughed and slapped each other on the back in Washington DC with their fat fucking asses stuffed full of cordon blue and caviar.

They chumped us . Anyone can be chumped.

That’s you now. Just fewer trees and less water.

We haven’t figured out how to stop the pasty-faced, oil-hungry backslappers in DC yet, and it looks like you all might be stuck there for a little longer. So I want to tell you the rest of the story.

I changed over there in Vietnam and they were not nice changes either. I started getting pulled into something—something that craved other people’s pain. Just to make sure I wasn’t regarded as a “fucking missionary” or a possible rat, I learned how to fit myself into that group that was untouchable, people too crazy to fuck with, people who desired the rush of omnipotence that comes with setting someone’s house on fire just for the pure hell of it, or who could kill anyone, man, woman, or child, with hardly a second thought. People who had the power of life and death—because they could.

The anger helps. It’s easy to hate everyone you can’t trust because of your circumstances, and to rage about what you’ve seen, what has happened to you,

and what you have done and can’t take back.

It was all an act for me, a cover-up for deeper fears I couldn’t name, and the reason I know that is that we had to dehumanize our victims before we did the things we did. We knew deep down that what we were doing was wrong. So they became dinks or gooks, just like Iraqis are now being transformed into ragheads or hajjis. People had to be reduced to “niggers” here before they could be lynched. No difference.

We convinced ourselves we had to kill them to survive, even when that wasn’t true, but something inside us told us that so long as they were human beings, with the same intrinsic value we had as human beings, we were not allowed to burn their homes and barns, kill their animals, and sometimes even kill them. So we used these words, these new names, to reduce them, to strip them of their essential humanity, and then we could do things like adjust artillery fire onto the cries of a baby.

Until that baby was silenced, though, and here’s the important thing to understand, that baby never surrendered her humanity. I did. We did. That’s the thing you might not get until it’s too late. When you take away the humanity of another, you kill your own humanity. You attack your own soul because it is standing in the way.

So we finish our tour, and go back to our families, who can see that even though we function, we are empty and incapable of truly connecting to people any more, and maybe we can go for months or even years before we fill that void where we surrendered our humanity, with chemical anesthetics—drugs, alcohol, until we realize that the void can never be filled and we shoot ourselves, or head off into the street where we can disappear with the flotsam of society, or we hurt others, especially those who try to love us, and end up as another incarceration statistic or a mental patient.

You can ever escape that you became a racist because you made the excuse that you needed that to survive, that you took things away from people that you can never give back, or that you killed a piece of yourself that you may never get back.

Some of us do. We get lucky and someone gives a damn enough to emotionally resuscitate us and bring us back to life. Many do not.

I live with the rage every day of my life, even when no one else sees it. You might hear it in my words. I hate being chumped.

So here is my message to you. You will do what you have to do to survive, however you define survival, while we do what we have to do to stop this thing. But don’t surrender your humanity. Not to fit in. Not to prove yourself. Not for an adrenaline rush. Not to lash out when you are angry and frustrated. Not for some ticket-punching fucking military careerist to make his bones on. Especially not for the Bush-Cheney Gas & Oil Consortium.

The big bosses are trying to gain control of the world’s energy supplies to twist the arms of future economic competitors. That’s what’s going on, and you need to understand it, then do what you need to do to hold on to your humanity. The system does that; tells you you are some kind of hero action figures, but uses you as gunmen. They chump you.

Your so-called civilian leadership sees you as an expendable commodity. They don’t care about your nightmares, about the DU that you are breathing, about the loneliness, the doubts, the pain, or about how you humanity is stripped away a piece at a time. They will cut your benefits, deny your illnesses, and hide your wounded and dead from the public. They already are.

They don’t care. So you have to. And to preserve your own humanity, you must recognize the humanity of the people whose nation you now occupy and know that both you and they are victims of the filthy rich bastards who are calling the shots.

They are your enemies—The Suits—and they are the enemies of peace, and the enemies of your families, especially if they are Black families, or immigrant families, or poor families.

They are thieves and bullies who take and never give, and they say they will “never run” in Iraq, but you and I know that they will never have to run, because they fucking aren’t there. You are

They’ll skin and grin while they are getting what they want from you, and throw you away like a used condom when they are done. Ask the vets who are having their benefits slashed out from under them now. Bushfeld and their cronies are parasites, and they are the sole beneficiaries of the chaos you are learning to live in. They get the money. You get the prosthetic devices, the nightmares, and the mysterious illnesses.

So if your rage needs a target, there they are, responsible for your being there, and responsible for keeping you there. I can’t tell you to disobey. That would probably run me afoul of the law. That will be a decision you will have to take when and if the circumstances and your own conscience dictate. But it perfectly legal for you to refuse illegal orders, and orders to abuse or attack civilians are illegal. Ordering you to keep silent about these crimes is also illegal.

I can tell you, without fear of legal consequence, that you are never under any obligation to hate Iraqis, you are never under any obligation to give yourself over to racism and nihilism and the thirst to kill for the sake of killing, and you are never under any obligation to let them drive out the last vestiges of your capacity to see and tell the truth to yourself and to the world. You do not owe them your souls.

Come home safe, and come home sane. The people who love you and who have loved you all your lives are waiting here, and we want you to come back and be able to look us in the face. Don’t leave your souls in the dust there like another corpse.

Hold on to your humanity.

Stan Goff

US Army (Ret.)

(Stan Goff is the author of “Hideous Dream: A Soldier’s Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti” (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book “Full Spectrum Disorder : The Military in the New American Century” (Soft Skull Press, 2003).

He is a member of the BRING THEM HOME NOW! coordinating committee, a retired Special Forces master sergeant, and the father of an active duty soldier.

Email for BRING THEM HOME NOW! is bthn@mfso.org. Goff can be reached at: sherrynstan@igc.org

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/

Why Is Iraq’s Oil So Important?

By Dr Mustafa Bazergan, 10 August 2003 Al Jazeera.net

Dr Mustafa Bazergan is an Iraqi economist and specialist in energy issues. He is based in London

The eventual return of Iraqi oil to international markets will have major consequences for the world economy and political stability in the Middle East.

Iraq is a sleeping oil giant. It holds the world’s third largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Russia with 112.5 billion barrels of proven reserves and around 98 billion barrels of undiscovered oil. But until recently it was supplying just 2% of the world’s oil.

Although Iraqi oil installations sustained minor damage in the last war, oil production and exports have not yet resumed on any significant scale.

Reasons for this can be attributed to a lack of planning, organisation and understanding from the current occupation administration and poor security as highlighted by the media on a daily basis.

Attempts have recently been made to analyse and determine the future of Iraq’s oil industry exports, whilst developing a programme to attract essential foreign investment needed to increase Iraq’s oil production to pre-war levels. Unfortunately the assumptions made have been unrealistic and uninformed.

The Iraqi oil industry is in a shambles, unable to produce enough crude oil and refined products to satisfy domestic demand, let alone export to the world. Refineries are limping along, largely due to a shortage of electricity.

Iraq’s infrastructure problems are severe due to operating constraints and the previous regime’s erratic policies. Iraqi oil managers have resorted to sub-optimal techniques to sustain production. For example, the Basra refinery, Iraq’s second largest, is running at less than half capacity, due to a shortage of chemical additives.

Besides technical problems, persistent looting and resistance attacks have plagued the oil industry.

“The industry is in a state of dilapidation,” said one expert on oil affairs recently.

US appointed de facto oil minister in Iraq Thamir Ghadhban reinforced the above notion by stating it would take 18 months to restore the country’s giant oilfields to their pre-war production levels of 3 million barrels per day.

A further barrier to the development of the Iraqi oil industry, was highlighted again, when the Pentagon recently warned companies, hoping to operate in Iraq that they will have to provide their own security and that their movements would be restricted.

Iraq not only has the potential to become the world’s largest oil producer but also can produce the oil more economically than most oil producing countries.

Favorable geology has given Iraq some of the world’s most prolific oil wells. In 1979 Iraqi wells produced an average of 13,700 bpd. By contrast each Saudi Arabian well averaged 10,200 barrels.

US wells, which are gradually drying up, averaged just 17 bpd. It would take more than 800 US wells to pump as much oil as a typical Iraqi well. Consequently, production costs in Iraq are much lower. The average cost of pumping a barrel of oil out of the ground in the US is about $10; in Iraq it is less than $1.

Most of Iraq’s known oil reserves are waiting to be developed. That’s why many countries have has cast a covetous eye on Iraq, and why each one of the world’s major powers and international groups has an agenda for Iraqi oil.

For now at least, US policymakers envision Iraq as a swing producer, i.e. a producer that can provide just enough oil to even out world supply, demand and prop up prices.

Iraq’s importance in reducing the price of oil was spelled out two years ago in an energy study issued by the Council on Foreign Relations and the James A Baker III institute for public policy.

The report said “tight oil markets have increased US and global vulnerability to disruption and provided adversaries undue potential influence over the price of oil. Iraq has become a key swing producer posing a difficult situation for the US government.”

The US occupation of Iraq has reinforced its role as a swing producer. However, this presents a different set of problems.

If Iraq limits its production between 2.5 million and 3.5 million bpd per day it will fail to generate enough revenue to rebuild its infrastructure.

A US State Department sponsored advisory group of Iraqi exiles has concluded that the country needs to double its output by the end of the decade to â?oinvigorate Iraqâ?Ts economy and lift the Iraqi people out of a future of impoverishmentâ?.

If Iraq succeeds many experts are inclined to believe that the growing demand for oil around the world would absorb the new supply as quickly as it came to market, thus keeping prices stable.

But others see Iraqi production pushing oil prices sharply downwards, creating instability elsewhere, especially in Saudi Arabia.

Restricted production in Iraq has become the norm. It has never come close to achieving its potential. Production peaked at 3.5 million bpd in 1979.

Casting The Balance;

CIA Says Resistance Strategy Succeeding

“The CIA report goes on to say that the insurgents’ goal isn’t to win the support of the average Iraqis but rather to intimidate them into withholding support for the U.S. reconstruction efforts. Lists of Iraqis who are cooperating with the U.S. are being put up in mosques and are being crossed off once they are killed, according to the official.

“The reports warns that even the capture of Saddam Hussein is unlikely to blunt the insurgency. The U.S. must also persuade Iraqi citizens that it won’t cut and run and that is quickly moving to put in place an Iraqi government to replace the U.S. occupation authority.

“U.S. military officials in Iraq privately say the attacks seem to be increasingly coordinated, as the militants choose from a target list that appears designed to isolate the U.S. internationally and within Iraq.

“That appeared to be the point of the attack on the Italians. The death toll from that strike exceeded the toll from the downing of the U.S. Chinook helicopter west of Baghdad earlier this month. The Nasiriyah blast also produced the worst casualties sustained by the Italian military since World War II, traumatizing a traditionally pacifist nation that stayed out of the initial conflict in Iraq, and whose constitution officially ‘repudiates war.’

“The fallout from yesterday’s explosion was bound to rekindle the debate in many European nations about the wisdom of maintaining in an increasingly active war zone the troops that were deployed on what was supposed to be a safe peacekeeping mission. According to Italian pollster Renato Mannheimer, many Italians did not realize the dangers faced by their troops and the bombing is likely to intensify public pressure for a pullout.

“That’s already happening in other European nations. The Polish government’s decision to send about 2,300 troops to Iraq slipped to 38% approval in a late October poll by the CBOS agency. In Britain, a recent poll by the Populus polling agency says 49% of Britons now believe invading Iraq was the wrong thing to do, while 37% think it was right. In April, 64% were in favor in just 24% against.

“Yesterday’s bloodshed also is likely to strengthen opposition to sending troops to Iraq in those nations sill considering U.S. requests, such as South Korean and Japan.

“Japan’s prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi….has been assuring the public that the Japanese troops will go to low-risk parts of the county. This prompted the opposition leader, Naoto Kan, to wonder this week: ‘Just where exactly are those noncombat zones supposed to be in Iraq?’”

“Like the rest of southern and central Iraq, occupied by two European-led multinational divisions, Nasiriyah is populated mostly by Shiites-a community that suffered heavily under Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime. Unlike American soldiers, who are killed almost daily in Baghdad and the so-called Sunni Triangle north and west of the capital, the European troops until recently faced few attacks.

“Yet the violence started to spread south in recent weeks, producing casualties among the British, Polish, Spanish and Ukrainian contingents-and prompting Spain to withdraw most of its civilian staff in Baghdad.

“’They want to scare everyone else out of working with us, and they want to bleed us until we leave,’ one military official in Baghdad said.” (You got that right, and it works.)

(Wall St. Journal 11.13.03

Iraq: The People Support The Resistance War

BY TARIQ ALI, Green Left Weekly, November 12, 2003

Some weeks ago, Pentagon inmates were invited to a special in-house showing of an old movie. It was the Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo’s anti-colonial classic, initially banned in France. One assumes the purpose of the screening was purely educative. The French won that battle, but lost the war.

At least the Pentagon understands that the resistance in Iraq is following a familiar anti-colonial pattern. In the movie, they would have seen acts carried out by the Algerian maquis almost half a century ago, which could have been filmed in Fallujah or Baghdad.

Then, as now, the occupying power described all such activities as ``terrorist’’. Then, as now, prisoners were taken and tortured, houses that harboured them or their relatives were destroyed, and repression was multiplied. In the end, the French had to withdraw.

As American ``postwar’’ casualties now exceed those sustained during the invasion (which cost the Iraqis at least 15,000 lives), a debate of sorts has begun in the US.

Few can deny that Iraq under US occupation is in a much worse state than it was under Saddam Hussein. There is no reconstruction. There is mass unemployment. Daily life is a misery, and the occupiers and their puppets cannot provide even the basic amenities of life. The US doesn’t even trust the Iraqis to clean their barracks, and so south Asian and Filipino migrants are being used.

This is colonialism in the epoch of neoliberal capitalism, and so US and ``friendly’’ companies are given precedence. Even under the best circumstances, an occupied Iraq would become an oligarchy of crony capitalism, the new cosmopolitanism of Bechtel and Halliburton.

It is the combination of all this that fuels the resistance and encourages many young men to fight. Few are prepared to betray those who are fighting. This is crucially important, because without the tacit support of the population, a sustained resistance is virtually impossible.

The Iraqi maquis have weakened George Bush’s position in the US and enabled Democrat politicians to criticise the White House, with Howard Dean daring to suggest a total US withdrawal within two years. Even the bien pensants who opposed the war but support the occupation and denounce the resistance know that without it they would have been confronted with a triumphalist chorus from the warmongers.

Most important, the disaster in Iraq has indefinitely delayed further adventures in Iran and Syria.

One of the more comical sights in recent months was Paul Wolfowitz on one of his many visits informing a press conference in Baghdad that the ``main problem was that there were too many foreigners in Iraq’’.

Most Iraqis see the occupation armies as the real ``foreign terrorists’’. Why? Because once you occupy a country, you have to behave in colonial fashion. This happens even where there is no resistance, as in the protectorates of Bosnia and Kosova. Where there is resistance, as in Iraq, the only model on offer is a mixture of Gaza and Guantanamo.

Nor does it behove Western commentators whose countries are occupying Iraq to lay down conditions for those opposing it. It is an ugly occupation, and this determines the response.

According to Iraqi opposition sources, there are more than 40 different resistance organisations. They consist of Baathists, dissident communists, disgusted by the treachery of the Iraqi Communist party in backing the occupation, nationalists, groups of Iraqi soldiers and officers disbanded by the occupation, and Sunni and Shia religious groups.

The great poets of Iraq – Saadi Youssef and Mudhaffar al Nawab – once brutally persecuted by Saddam, but still in exile, are the consciences of their nation. Their angry poems denouncing the occupation and heaping scorn on the jackals – or quislings – help to sustain the spirit of resistance and renewal. Youssef writes:

I’ll spit in the jackals’ faces
I’ll spit on their lists
I’ll declare that we are the people of Iraq
We are the ancestral trees of this land.

And Nawwab:

And never trust a freedom fighter
Who turns up with no arms
Believe me, I got burnt in that crematorium
Truth is, you’re only as big as your cannons
While those who wave knives and forks
Simply have eyes for their stomachs.

In other words, the resistance is predominantly Iraqi – though I would not be surprised if other Arabs are crossing the borders to help. If there are Poles and Ukrainians in Baghdad and Najaf, why should Arabs not help each other?

As for the UN acting as an “honest broker”, forget it – especially in Iraq, where it is part of the problem. Leaving aside its previous record (as the administrator of the killer sanctions, and the backer of weekly Anglo-American bombing raids for 12 years), on October 16 the Security Council disgraced itself again by welcoming “the positive response of the international community… to the broadly representative Governing Council… [and] supports the Governing Council’s efforts to mobilise the people of Iraq…”

Meanwhile, a beaming fraudster, Ahmed Chalabi, was given the Iraqi seat at the UN. One can’t help recalling how the US and Britain insisted on Pol Pot retaining his seat for over a decade after being toppled by the Vietnamese.

The only norm recognised by the Security Council is brute force, and today there is only one power with the capacity to deploy it. That is why, for many in the southern hemisphere and elsewhere, the UN is the US.

The Arab east is today the venue of a dual occupation – the US-Israeli occupation of Palestine and Iraq. If initially the Palestinians were demoralised by the fall of Baghdad, the emergence of a resistance movement has encouraged them.

After Baghdad fell, the Israeli war leader, Ariel Sharon, told the Palestinians to “come to your senses now that your protector has gone”. As if the Palestinian struggle was dependent on Saddam or any other individual. This old colonial notion that the Arabs are lost without a headman is being contested in Gaza and Baghdad. And were Saddam to drop dead tomorrow, the resistance would increase rather than die down.

Sooner or later, all foreign troops will have to leave Iraq. If they do not do so voluntarily, they will be driven out. Their continuing presence is a spur to violence.

When Iraq’s people regain control of their own destiny they will decide the internal structures and the external policies of their country. One can hope that this will combine democracy and social justice, a formula that has set Latin America alight but is greatly resented by the empire.

Meanwhile, Iraqis have one thing of which they can be proud and of which British and US citizens should be envious – an opposition.


Paul Bremer, Washington’s top loser in Iraq, put forward silly new US plan for holding on to Iraq while pretending not to. No one cared. (AFP-Pool/Dusan Vranic)

‘There Is No Iraqi Law, There Is Only One Law In Iraq-It’s Coalition Law” Colonel Says

Wall St. Journal 10.20.03

The same afternoon, Col. Dermer fielded questions at an even more emotional debate with members of Sadr City’s unrecognized council. “America says it is for democracy,” said Mr. Erebat, the lawyer who supports the insurgents. “Why can’t I be on the council? Why am I denied my voice?”

“Where you when the council was elected?” asked Col. Derner.

“But there were no elections in our neighborhood!” Mr. Erebat said.

“That’s not true,” Col. Derner responded. “Just because someone walks in and demands change, this doesn’t mean you do it. So far you’ve shown me nothing. You say you represent the people. Show me the people,” the colonel insisted.

The unofficial council’s chairman, engineer Naim Qaabi, jumped at the opening: “Tomorrow I can make a demonstration with two million people. Can you come to see it?” Col. Derner remained silent, well aware that demonstrations by Muqtada Sadr’s supporters have turned violent in recent days.

Col. Derner, who wore khaki pants and a civilian t-shirt concealing a bulletproof vest, tried to turn the discussion by appealing to Sadr City’s wallets. All aid projects were suspended since the previous council was ousted, and no new cash will be forthcoming, he said.

As disapproving murmurs grew in the hall, one member appeared to anger Col. Derner by asking “Why do you hate the Iraqis?” Then, a gray-haired elder, Adbulhussein Jabr Amr, tried to offer an olive branch.

“The enemies of America are also our enemies. Do not lose our friendship,” Mr. Amr pleaded. “Dissolve the previous council. It’s just a small group. These people were put together by the coalition without the knowledge of the people, and That council is not legitimate.”

“Tell me what law is he speaking of,” the colonel asked through his interpreter.

“Iraqi and international and universal law,” replied Mr. Amr.

“There is no Iraqi law,” shot back Col. Derner. “There is only one law in Iraq-it’s coalition law.”

As members of the unofficial council filed into the courtyard after the meeting, they nervously lit their cigarettes. The gap between the sides was as large as ever and a confrontation seemed inevitable.

“We were suppressed by the old regime, and now we are suppressed by the Americans,” scowled one of the Sadr-backed councilman, Ridha Alwan. “Where is the freedom?”

Col. Derner, who spent the last decade in posting across the Middle East, wasn’t happy either. “They just don’t get it. They don’t,” he repeated. (Ease up, Colonel, they got it all right. That’s why they’re picking up RPG’s and Mortar Tubes to blow your arrogant ass away. You’re the stupid one. Your options have just run out.)

Two days later, in the middle of the Muslim weekend, a detachment of Iraqi police from another part of Baghdad, backed by American tanks, roared toward the building and cordoned off the area. Twelve supporters of the unauthorized council inside refused To leave and were arrested.

They are still in jail.



Occupation Organizes Riots;

“It’s Crazy”

“Some officials from the Coalition Provisional Authority privately fear that price rises being debated for fuel and basic foodstuffs in next year’s budge will stoke inflation, lead to riots and yet more attacks on foreign troops.

“’We’ve created a new economy and then inflated it out of the reach of ordinary Iraqis,’ said a U.S. military coordinator with the Iraqi government. ‘It’s crazy.’” (Wall St. Journal)

“I Wouldn’t Want Anyone Coming Into My House,” Soldier Says Of Iraq Searches

Alibah, Iraq Army Times Oct. 20, 2003, By Gina Cavallaro

“It’s the same story as the last house. They say the weapons are out with the sheep,” said Staff Sgt. James Peace, 27, a squad leader.

“I don’t really like these kinds of searches. They never turn up very much. I wouldn’t want anyone coming into my house.”

At another house, Sgt. 1st Class Richard Boyer and platoon leader Lt. Matthew Hill talk through the interpreter to the homeowner, who has a pile of metal cylinders that appear to be parts to a bomb.

“It’s good to get it away from the bad guys, but you gotta tell us about it,” Boyer says. Later, the man is nowhere to be found when they return to detain him.

Says Squad leader Peace, a native of Enid, Oklahoma, “When we kill one of their guys, they have a blood debt that they have to pay to avenge whoever died in their family.”

(That sounds like a real good reason to leave at once, immediately, without the slightest further delay, and get totally out of every last inch of Iraq.)

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.


Guess What?

Voting Will Be Over Before You Vote

The Hightower Lowdown, Vo. 5, #10, October 2003

The voting is underway for the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

What, you say? You didn’t get your ballot yet?

Sure you did. It’s your checkbook. You are going to write a $2,000 check to one or more of the candidates, aren’t you? Or perhaps bundle a couple hundred thousand from your associates, right?

That is what the corporate and other wealthy elites are doing right now in the nation’s first and most important presidential primary election.

Months before any of us ordinary riff-raff get to vote in state primaries, the wealthy are having individual or small group meetings with the contenders in what is known as the “Money Primary.”

In corporate suites and in the living rooms of the rich, huge sums are being handed over to decide who’ll be the anointed front-runner and what issues will be the focus of the Democratic campaign.

In every presidential race of the past 20 years, the candidate who collected the most money before any vote was cast by the people went on to win the nomination.

The political pros say that candidates will have to collect more than $20 million each by the end of the year to be serious contenders. That’s more than $60,000 a day, seven days a week, for all of 2003. No wonder they don’t have time to talk to regular folks.

Please Help President Bush

A lobbyist, on his way home from work in Washington, D.C., came to a dead halt in traffic and thought to himself, “Wow, this seems worse than usual.”

He noticed a police officer walking between the lines of stopped cars, so he rolled down his window and asked, “Officer, what’s the hold-up?”

The officer replied, “The President is depressed, so he stopped his motorcade and is threatening to douse himself in gasoline and set himself on fire. He says no one believes his stories about why we went to war in Iraq, or the connection between Saddam and al-Qa’ida, or that his tax cuts will help anyone except his wealthy friends; the press called him on the lie about Iraq trying to buy uranium from Niger, and now Campbell Brown is threatening to sue him for a sexual innuendo he made at a recent press conference. So we’re taking up a collection for him.”

The lobbyist asks, “How much have you got so far?”

The officer replies, “About 14 gallons, but a lot of folks are still siphoning.”


From: M Sent: Nov 15, 2003 5:04 PM

Subject: Question

You’re doing a great job with GI Special.

Have you considered giving the original web links for the articles you include? If it isn’t more work, it would be very helpful.

Best, M

Reply: Some come without links, sent in by readers. The proposal to add links where known makes sense, and is on the “to do” list, but right now it’s tough to take the extra time to do it. Whenever possible, credits are given to help interested readers do a hopefully quick search for the original. T

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

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