Bush’s Iraq invasion caused present bloodshed, Chelsea Manning writes


This music video by David Rovics in the USA is called Song for Chelsea Manning.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

The US media and the debacle in Iraq

17 June 2014

A column written by Chelsea (Bradley) Manning from his cell in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas has done more to illuminate the real sources of the present debacle for US imperialism in Iraq than all of the lying and self-serving pieces produced by the well-paid pundits of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the other major news outlets combined.

The column by the imprisoned US soldier, published in Sunday’s New York Times, is directed at exposing the role of government secrecy and control of the media in foisting onto the American public a war of aggression launched on the basis of lies.

Manning insists that the sudden collapse of the US-trained and funded Iraqi army and the descent of the country toward a full-blown sectarian civil war only demonstrate that the concerns that motivated him to pass some 700,000 secret documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as US foreign policy skullduggery around the globe to WikiLeaks “have not been resolved.”

Breaking the wall of secrecy and misinformation maintained by the government and the media provoked the wrath of the US ruling establishment. The soldier and former intelligence analyst is now serving a 35-year prison term. In April, an army general rejected a motion for clemency.

Manning examines the US reaction to the 2010 election of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had been installed by the US occupation four years earlier. The American press, the imprisoned soldier recalls, “was flooded with stories declaring the elections a success,” aimed at creating the image of the US war having “succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq.”

During this same period, he writes, he and other military analysts in Baghdad were receiving continuous reports of “a brutal crackdown on political dissidents by Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior and federal police,” acting on behalf of Maliki. Opponents of the US-backed prime minister “were often tortured, or even killed,” he notes.

Manning exposes the direct complicity of the US military in these crimes, reporting that he informed the US officer in command of eastern Baghdad that 15 individuals arrested for publishing a critique of Maliki’s government “had absolutely no ties to terrorism.” The commander responded that “he didn’t need this information; instead, I should assist the federal police in locating more ‘anti-Iraqi’ print shops.”

“I was shocked by our military’s complicity in the corruption of that election. Yet these deeply troubling details flew under the American media’s radar,” he writes.

This account gives the lie to the US media chorus that the present debacle in Iraq is “all Maliki’s fault.”

Manning attributes the sharp divergence between the developments in Iraq and the media’s portrayal of them in part to the Pentagon’s censorship of coverage of the war through the system of “embedded” journalists. Reporters who had good relations with the military and provided favorable coverage got access, while those who exposed scandals, crimes and lies faced blacklisting, he writes.

There is no doubt that this system of military censorship played a major role in concealing from the American people the grisly and criminal character of a war that claimed the lives of upward of a million Iraqis, while killing nearly 4,500 US troops and leaving tens of thousands more wounded.

However, the process of “embedding” began well before Bush ordered “shock and awe” to be unleashed on Baghdad, and included not just war correspondents, but the top columnists, editors and publishers of the major newspapers and other media outlets.

People like Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. and Bill Keller, who in 2003 rose from senior writer and leading war advocate to Times executive editor, lent themselves and their newspapers unreservedly to a massive campaign to pressure the American public to support a war of aggression against Iraq. They decided to parrot the government’s lies about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” and ties between Baghdad and Al Qaeda—both non-existent—and to eschew any critical investigation of the Bush administration’s war propaganda. On the contrary, through the sinister efforts of the Times and its correspondent Judith Miller, they embellished upon this propaganda, piling on their own lies.

Now, as the full extent of the debacle created by the wanton destruction of Iraqi society is revealed, those who served as media propagandists for the war are circling the wagons, looking to protect their own backsides. Columnists like the TimesThomas Friedman—who more than a decade ago wrote that he had “no problem with a war for oil”—and Nicholas Kristof have published pieces insisting that Maliki is solely to blame for Iraq’s disintegration, and the US had nothing to do with it.

They were followed Monday by a particularly foul column by Times columnist Roger Cohen entitled “Take Mosul back,” calling for US intervention to “drive back the fanatics of the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).”

Cohen uses the column to ridicule those playing “the blame game,” a breathtakingly cynical denunciation of any attempt to assign responsibility for a war that killed over a million people and destroyed an entire society.

“The facts are plain enough,” he writes “The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 because of its weapons of mass destruction. However, Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction.” Plain enough indeed—the war was based upon a lie, which Cohen helped disseminate.

He goes on: “There was no Al Qaeda in Saddam’s Iraq. The United States birthed it through the invasion.” Thus, another lie was used to justify the war, whose catastrophic consequences include the strengthening of extreme Islamist and sectarian tendencies in Iraq and throughout the region.

In his piece, Cohen demands that the Obama administration unleash “targeted military force” against the “fanatics” of ISIS. But he enthusiastically supported Washington’s use of these same “fanatics” in wars for regime-change first in Libya and then Syria. He waves aside any questions about the logic of such policies: “A logical approach in the Middle East is seldom a feasible approach.” The only “logic” is the use of whatever instrument is at hand to assert US hegemony and plunder the region’s resources.

“The blame game misses the point,” Cohen repeats. Both Iraq and Syria were “ripe for dismemberment” before “America’s hapless intervention.”

Whom is he kidding? The US intervention was anything but “hapless,” employing all of the firepower at the Pentagon’s command in a campaign that saw some 1,700 bombing sorties—including 504 using cruise missiles—in the space of three days.

One might just as well describe 1939 Europe as “ripe for dismemberment” and Hitler’s blitzkrieg as “hapless,” or dismiss the Nuremberg tribunals as a futile exercise in “the blame game.”

The reality is that real apportioning of blame has yet to take place. That requires that those responsible for planning and executing the war of aggression against Iraq—from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell to the top military commanders—be placed on trial as war criminals.

At Nuremberg, it bears recalling, standing in the dock—and ultimately on the gallows—with the surviving leaders of the Third Reich was Julius Streicher, the editor of the vile, anti-Semitic weekly Der Stürmer and later the daily Fränkische Tageszeitung. While the tribunal found that Streicher had no direct part in formulating war policy, he nonetheless played a vital role in poisoning the consciousness of the German people. Without Streicher’s propaganda efforts, the prosecution argued, the German generals “would have had no one to follow orders.”

In any genuine accounting for the crimes of the Iraq war, Cohen, Friedman, Keller and those like them, who enthusiastically served the Pentagon’s propaganda machine, would have to similarly be tried for their criminal promotion of aggressive war.

Under conditions in which US imperialism is planning a new military intervention in Iraq, while preparing far more terrible wars across the planet, the unrelenting struggle against the lies of the media becomes all the more urgent in developing a struggle against militarism and war.

America the Beautiful, by David Rovics


This video from the USA is called Falmouth Historic Society & Katherine Lee Bates.

More than a century after the original poem America the Beautiful, by Katharine Lee Bates, a feminist, a lesbian, a Christian socialist, and an anti-imperialist, now David Rovics‘ take.

From Rovics’ Songwriter’s Notebook:

Monday, February 3, 2014

“America the Beautiful”

Here’s my contribution to the discussion resulting from Coca-Cola‘s multilingual “America the Beautiful” Superbowl commercial. Dedicated to whatever disgusting corporation runs the Live95.5 pop music station that my daughter and her little friends that we drive to school with most days like to listen to.

“America the Beautiful”

America is beautiful but it’s got a lot of ugly people
I heard one of them this morning on the radio
He interrupted the pop music programming
To tell us what he thought we needed to know
He said America is an English-speaking country
And that Coke commercial was just all wrong
You can’t interrupt an all-American football game
To have little brown girls sing an all-American song

He said America is beautiful but it’s only got one language
The one we inherited from the King
Although the king himself spoke German and the French helped us overthrow him
But I still don’t want to hear those girls sing
He said it and I wondered if it reminded him
Of his grandparents who were probably refugees
From Finland or Italy or Lithuania
Or perhaps from Belarus or Germany

Or perhaps they came from Ireland where they fought for generations
To try to speak the language of their birth
And now their red-faced son is shouting English is the language
In this little stolen corner of the Earth
Not Navajo or Lakota, not Tagalog or Spanish
But the language of those who came out on top
Not the language of the conquered or the ones who were here first
But the language of the ones who run the shop

America is beautiful, it would be silly to deny it
If you’ve seen the forests or the mountains capped with snow
But as I left my Japanese wife to drive to the French school
With a carpool full of gorgeous kids in tow
Who all sang along to Katy Perry and then listened to this bigot
Tell us this is an English-speaking nation
I don’t know what the kids thought but I said this guy’s a fascist
And we all agreed to change the station.

See also here.

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US singer David Rovics concert in England


This music video says about itself:

Song For Hugo Chávez” by David Rovics @ ALBA @ Copenhagen 17.12.2009.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Folk legend Rovics on board for Star fundraiser

Sunday 28 April 2013

Legendary political folk singer-songwriter David Rovics will perform a Morning Star fundraiser gig at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds this summer.

The musician from Portland, Oregan, will headline the event in Queens Road on Sunday June 9, with support from folk-inspired songwriter Duncan Evans and guest speakers Aslef vice-president Tosh McDonald and Morning Star editor Richard Bagley.

Tickets are £7 in advance or £9 on the door. Doors open at 7.30pm. You can buy tickets online now at www.leedsgigtickets.co.uk/tickets/83333.

Song about murderer Breivik, video


This is a music video of the song Breivik, about the Norwegian extreme Right mass murderer, by United States singer David Rovics.

Lyrics are here.

Tony Benn, Galloway, Zephaniah, Rovics, etc. on their favourite music


This music video is called Benjamin Zephaniah – Responsible.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Red Folk’s favourite lefties chat about their musical and political highlights of 2007 and ponder the prospects for the year to come.

THE new year is upon us, so this month’s column catches up with some top lefties to hear their thoughts on the music and politics of 2007 and their hopes for 2008.

Tony Benn is rightly recognised as one of the foremost politicians of his generation, but also for his performances with folk singer Roy Bailey.

When asked for his 2007 musical highlight, he not unsurprisingly chooses the Not In Our Name CD, which was reviewed recently in the Morning Star. …

Respect MP George Galloway also has a reputation as a lover of good music.

“I’m still getting out my Dylan CDs,” he confides.

“I’ve been particularly taken by the radio shows that he did, DJing for a satellite radio station.

“I don’t know if these are generally available, I know that some at least were broadcast on BBC, but they are magical, funny, insightful and revealing.

“I’m totally hooked on Bruce Springsteen‘s album Magic and I’ve been playing one of the tracks as a kind of signature on my shows on talkSPORT, it’s Radio Nowhere. …

People’s poet, songwriter, author, musician and peace campaigner Benjamin Zephaniah had his usually busy year in 2007 and took a well-earned break in socialist Cuba over the new year.

Zephaniah had his latest book Teachers Dead published in September and has already been approached by the BBC to write a screenplay to be made into a major programme in the future.

Musically, 2007 saw Zephaniah going back to his roots and listening to a lot of early reggae records by Burning Spear, the Mighty Diamonds and the legendary Lee Perry.

Always eclectic in his musical tastes, Council Estate of Mind by British rapper Skinnyman caught his ear, as well as The Dusty Foot on the Road, an album by Somalian-born rapper K’naan, who is now living in Canada.

With a possible new album in the offing, Zephaniah looks set for an equally busy 2008.

Top US political folk singer-songwriter David Rovics, who is often to be found touring Britain, has a new live album called The Commons, which has just had a British release.

Unusually perhaps for such an accomplished musician, Rovics does not listen to much recorded music. Being based more at home of late while he brings up his daughter Leila, his living room is often full up with friends practising Balkan, Irish and old-time music.

Politically, his highlight of 2007 was the G8 protests in Germany.

He says: “The low point was and is the ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity and the earth being committed daily by the Bush administration and the capitalist world in general.”

His message to Morning Star readers is typically forthright. “Capitalism is omnicidal, socialism is inevitable and failure is unthinkable.”

9/11. The dying firefighter, by David Rovics


Firefighter's helmetFrom the Google cache of Dear Kitty ModBlog.

9/11/05 at 3:51PM

To commemomerate 11 September 2003 in New York City, from the site of David Rovics:

The Dying Firefighter

by David Rovics

I saw the plane hit the building
The flames and the billowing smoke
I saw the glass, paper, metal and stone
Everything shattered and broke
I was there with my people
Engine Company 24
We rushed into the building
Got as far as the 35th floor

The black smoke and the heat was like nothing
I’d seen in all of my years
With each step in that blazing inferno
You could feel destiny near
In the midst of the falling girders
The sheet rock and God knows what else
I tried to find the survivors
Those who made it to the stairwells

I carried the wounded to safety
If that’s what you might call the street
With bodies and boulders and metal
All crashing down by your feet
As #2 was collapsing
When only ten floors still stood
Everything was falling around me
Like it was made out of cardboard and wood

It was just then I heard someone
Trapped underneath the debris
I started pulling at something
And that’s when the fire got me
I was pinned ‘neath the rubble
And the flames were licking my coat
And the pain, the unbearable agony
And then that was all that she wrote

But I just wish I could tell you
Before I am taken away
That I’ve seen a lot of this world
And there’s something that I gotta say
I don’t believe in politics
I believe in the human race
I believe in the goodness of people
In New York or some far-away place

I believe in my daughter
And I believe in my wife
And may nobody’s father be taken
To avenge the loss of my life
People may call me a brave man
And this may very well be
But the firefighters of Kabul
Are just as brave men as me.

From the Google cache:

USA: David Rovics song for Cindy Sheehan

Date: 8/24/05 at 4:24PM

From ClickPress:

Song for Cindy Sheehan By David Rovics

Media Outlets Use New Tune In Their Camp Casey Coverage

[ClickPress, Tue Aug 23 2005] CampCasey, TX –David Rovics’, internationally acclaimed activist/singer/songwriter/blogger, new tune, “Song for Cindy Sheehan” is now the number one song on the SoundClick.com Acoustic — Folk Charts.

Hours after the song was released on the Internet, it was used for stories from Camp Casey by radio station KPFA and television network Democracy Now.

Video blogger Steve Garfield also created a video using the song and scenes he filmed of a vigil in Boston.

RocketBoom.com, a daily Internet video show, used Steve’s video the next day.

The MP3 studio recording is available to hear online or as a free download for portable music players like Apple’s iPod at: http://www.soundclick.com/davidrovics.

“Feel free to link to the online media or to use the MP3 for any purpose,” explains David Rovics.

“Same goes for the other songs you find there, including many related songs (“Four Blank Slates,” “Waiting for the Fall,” “When Johnny Came Marching Home,” many more).

Thanks to William Rivers Pitt for his article in Truthout entitled ‘Every Mother’s Son’.”

Song for Cindy Sheehan (Excerpt)

Casey was a good boy
He treated people well
And his momma loved him
Anyone could tell

She’d send him off to school
Pack his lunch with care
When he came back home she hugged him
With her fingers in his hair

Cindy, she loved Casey
And when all is said and done
She is every mother
And he was every mother’s son

David Rovics Bio

David Rovics has been called the musical voice of the progressive movement in the US.

Amy Goodman has called him “the musical version of Democracy Now!”

Since the mid-90’s Rovics has spent most of his time on the road, playing hundreds of shows every year throughout North America, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

He and his songs have been featured on national radio programs in the US, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and elsewhere.

He has shared the stage regularly with leading intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn), activists (Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader), politicians (Dennis Kucinich, George Galloway), musicians (Billy Bragg, the Indigo Girls), and celebrities (Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon).

He has performed at dozens of massive rallies throughout North America and Europe and at thousands of conferences, college campuses and folk clubs throughout the world.

He makes all of his recordings available for free download on his website, http://www.davidrovics.com, and the downloads are in the many hundreds of thousands.

More importantly, he’s really good. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, and he will make the revolution irresistable.

Resources:

SoundClick Acoustic Folk Charts
Meet with Cindy
Crawford Blog
David Rovics Website
David Rovics Blog
KPFA’s Flashpoints
Democracy Now
Steve Garfield Video Blog
RocketBoom

Contact:

David Rovics
DRovics@aol.com
(617) 872-5124
P.O. Box 995
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 U$A

JOlmsted
f911@yahoogroups.com

http://f911.blogspot.com