I flew to Kansas City to see Tomas Young. Tomas was paralyzed in Iraq in 2004. He was receiving hospice care at his home. I knew him by reputation and the movie documentary Body of War. He was one of the first veterans to publicly oppose the war in Iraq. He fought as long and as hard as he could against the war that crippled him, until his physical deterioration caught up with him. “I had been toying with the idea of suicide for a long time because I had become helpless,” he told me in his small house on the Kansas City outskirts where he intended to die. “I couldn’t dress myself. People have to help me with the most rudimentary of things. I decided I did not want to go through life like that anymore. The pain, the frustration.…” He stopped abruptly and called his wife.
As a U.S. diplomat who resigned from the U.S. government in 2003 in opposition to Bush’s war on Iraq, I hoped at the time that all Americans would not be vilified by the world for the actions of the Bush administration. As hard as it might be for some, I plead that we not vilify Russians for the actions of their political leaders. I hope that we can be as generous to peace-seeking Russians as the world was to anti-war Americans. I have visited Russia twice in the past six years and I know the Russians I spoke with, and I would guess that most Russians, do not want war and object to Putin’s war on Ukraine. Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets to protest the war and have been jailed. Thousands of Russians have signed letters and petitions to their own government to stop the military action against Ukraine.
When I urge my writing students to juice up their stories, I tell them about “disruptive technologies,” inventions and concepts that end up irrevocably changing industries. Think: iPhones, personal computers, or to reach deep into history, steamships. It’s the tech version of what we used to call a paradigm shift. (President Biden likes to refer to it as an inflection point.) Certain events function that way, too. After they occur, it’s impossible to go back to how things were: World War II for one generation, the Vietnam War for another, and 9/11 for a third. Tell me it isn’t hard now to remember what it was like to catch a flight without schlepping down roped-off chutes like cattle to the slaughter, even if for most of the history of air travel, no one worried about underwear bombers or explosive baby formula. Of course, once upon a time, we weren’t incessantly at war either.
Nearly 20 years ago, in July 2002, I sat behind then-President George W. Bush as he gave a speech to my Army unit, the 10th Mountain Division. Less than a year later I was in Iraq, on Bush’s orders, as part of the US invasion. Tonight as Bush spoke at a so-called “Distinguished Speaker Series” event in Beverly Hills--with the cheapest tickets starting at over $500--I again watched from the crowd, before confronting the event. Primarily, I demanded he apologize for the 1 million or more dead, who are only dead because of his lies and his crimes. When George W. Bush took the nation to war in Iraq, he did so with full knowledge that Iraq possessed none of the Weapons of Mass Destruction he told the country he knew existed.
When word came down yesterday that former Defense Secretary and brazen orchestrator of mass death Donald Rumsfeld had shuffled loose the mortal coil at age 88, CNN and the other networks began to do their standard back-and-fill exercises to shore up the fiction while burying the truth after a genuine monster drops dead. “Controversial,” they called Rumsfeld, while showing footage of him scurrying around the wreckage after the Pentagon attack on September 11. “I think that’s what we’ll all remember,” said one talking head of those images. Not if I have anything to say about it. See, on the same day he was doing no more or less than what any average citizen would likely do at an emergency scene, Rumsfeld returned to his office and immediately began scheming to use the attacks as a pretense for invading Iraq.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided, on December 9, to abandon its inquiry into war crimes committed by British forces during the Iraq war, despite its investigation having concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe war crimes were in fact committed. Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, announced in a public statement that she had decided to close the preliminary examination and not pursue an investigation into war crimes committed by the British Armed Forces in Iraq. The Chief Prosecutor also confirmed in her statement that despite closing the case, the report had found “…that there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of the British armed forces committed the war crimes of willful killing, torture, inhuman/cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape and/or other forms of sexual violence.”
Yet another shocking example of abuse of court procedure unfolded on Wednesday. James Lewis QC for the prosecution had been permitted gratuitously to read to two previous witnesses with zero connection to this claim, an extract from a book by Luke Harding and David Leigh in which Harding claims that at a dinner at El Moro Restaurant Julian Assange had stated he did not care if US informants were killed, because they were traitors who deserved what was coming to them. This morning giving evidence was John Goetz, now Chief Investigations Editor of NDR (German public TV), then of Der Spiegel.
The U.S. military's announcement Wednesday that thousands of troops will soon withdraw from Iraq was met with skepticism by peace activists, who were quick to note that a reduction in troop strength is not the same thing as ending the war. U.S. Central Command (CETCOM) commander Gen. Frank McKenzie said Wednesday that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will be reduced from 5,200 to 3,000 during the month of September, but critics said this should not be seen as President Donald Trump fulfilling his campaign promise in 2016 to end the nation's wasteful overseas wars.
A profusion of anonymous axioms and memes floods social media these days but one remains my very favorite: “It’s like we’ve all been sent to our room to think about what we did.” My friends, if there ever was a nation that needed a “time out” for that purpose, it’s ours. With nearly every minute of round-the-clock news cycles dedicated to updates on the Covid-19 pandemic, one needn’t restate examples of the plague’s panic, suffering, fear or insecurity. It’s all right there, worsening with each iteration. Fortunately, we’re also witnessing an abundance of human compassion that assuages some of the pain and fear. Every day people find creative ways to express their concern and confirm our common humanity. In a stellar essay, New York Times columnist David Brooks reflects, “Already there’s a shift of values coming to the world. We’re forced to be intentional about keeping up our human connections."
March 19 marks 15 years since the U.S.-U.K invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the American people have no idea of the enormity of the calamity the invasion unleashed. The US military has refused to keep a tally of Iraqi deaths. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the initial invasion, bluntly told reporters, “We don’t do body counts.” One survey found that most Americans thought Iraqi deaths were in the tens of thousands. But our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion. The number of Iraqi casualties is not just a historical dispute, because the killing is still going on today. Since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell to Islamic State in 2014, the U.S. has led the heaviest bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam, dropping 105,000 bombs and missiles and reducing most of Mosul and other contested Iraqi and Syrian cities to rubble.
By Kathy Kelly for Counterpunch. Before making their home in Damascus, Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak had regularly visited Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, where they developed lasting friendships and deepened cultural awareness. Iraq was steadily deteriorating under thirteen years of U.S./UN imposed economic sanctions. Despite iron clad determination by U.S. policy makers to isolate Iraq, Gabe and Theresa repeatedly challenged the economic sanctions by carrying medicines and medical relief supplies to Iraqi children, families and hospitals. They also helped organize opportunities for scores of other U.S. and U.K. people to visit Iraq as part of Voices in the Wilderness (VitW). Voices delegations politely but firmly notified U.S. authorities that they would break the economic sanctions by personally carrying duffel bags filled with children’s vitamins, antibiotics, medical textbooks, surgical kits, first aid material and medical relief supplies, all of which the economic sanctions prohibited.
By Nafeez Ahmed for MEE - A new analysis by Middle East Eye finds that nearly 100 percent of the Labour MPs who have moved to oust Jeremy Corbyn voted against an investigation into the Iraq war. The analysis is based on a detailed examination of the voting records of all the MPs who chose not to support Corbyn’s leadership. Amongst the Labour MPs who had voted in 2003 on the Iraq war, an overwhelming majority who voted against Corbyn were in favour of the military invasion of the country
By Joe Glenton for International Business Times - All the evidence discouraged an attack on Iraq yet it looks like Tony Blair and his close allies lied to take Britain to war. It cost the lives of 179 soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. In the end the war also gave us Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) and so the horror slithers on. In recent and coming weeks the real issue – why we went, the deadly deception – will be blurred by references to peripheral issues about the conduct of the war. Let's be clear. Bad equipment, for example, is secondary in the big scheme of things.