US Bush regime killing women and children in Baghdad, Iraq


This video is called Fallujah-the hidden massacre.

From British daily News Line:

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

60% OF SADR CITY DEAD ARE WOMEN AND CHILDREN

THE Sadr City region of Baghdad is facing a humanitarian catastrophe with tens of thousands of residents cut off from clean water, food and essential supplies, the United Nations children’s aid agency Unicef warned yesterday.

For the past seven weeks US and Iraqi puppet government forces have been bombarding the densely-populated area, where two million people live, but have faced determined resistance from Mahdi Army fighters.

The fighting has severely damaged water and sewage pipes, posing serious health risks, and hospitals are reporting shortages of medical supplies.

Unicef wants better access to those in need and said it is working hard to get water tankers into affected areas and medical supplies to hospitals and clinics.

The Iraqi puppet government estimates that 1,000 have been killed in Sadr City in recent weeks; aid agencies report that most of these were civilians and 60% were women or children.

Of the 51 American deaths in Iraq in April, more than twenty were in Sadr City, many in circumstances most feared by American commanders – block to block, house to house fighting in the warren of streets in a slum city.

The US military has wheeled in Abrams tanks, brought out 200-pound guided rockets, and called in air power in a major way.

Planes, helicopters, and Hellfire-missile-armed drones are now all regularly firing into the heavily populated urban neighborhoods in east Baghdad.

US forces often call in airstrikes or use guided rockets to attack ‘insurgents,’ ‘criminals,’ or ‘known criminal elements’, destroying whole buildings, even rows of buildings – in one case recently damaging a hospital and destroying ambulances.

Every day civilians die and children are pulled from the rubble.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that more women carried out suicide attacks so far this year than in the five previous years combined, and attacks by women are expected to increase again in the coming months.

Twelve women carried out suicide attacks in Iraq in the first few months of this year compared with 11 between 2003 and 2007.

Former US government adviser Farhana told the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in Washington on Monday: ‘Between January and April, there were 12 suicide attacks by women in Iraq. That marks an exponential increase.

‘So long as this conflict continues, you will see greater instability in Iraq and women will be greatly victimized, you will see more women in Iraq choose suicide terrorism in the next few months.

‘Iraqi women, slowly, over the course of the conflict have been marginalised.’

Speaking of Iraq under Saddam he added: ‘Women were at the forefront of their society. They were in the Iraqi cabinet, in government, in NGOs. We stripped them of those opportunities.

‘Many have left but those who stayed behind are also victims of rape and torture and kidnapping. So they are being victimised twice.

‘Women use attacks as a protest. In Iraq, they are protesting at the loss of their men, the loss of their society and the loss of their country.

‘Some may have been coerced into carrying out suicide attacks, but the greater danger comes from those who choose to blow themselves up.

Sharp increases in food prices have generated a new wave of anti-occupation and anti-U.S. sentiment in Fallujah, Iraq: here.

12 thoughts on “US Bush regime killing women and children in Baghdad, Iraq

  1. Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    Soldier suicides to exceed U.S. battlefield deaths: report

    AFP

    WASHINGTON — Suicides and “psychological mortality” among U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan could exceed battlefield deaths if their mental scars are left untreated, the head of the U.S. Institute of Mental Health warned Monday.

    Of the 1.6 million U.S. soldiers who have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, 18-20 percent — or around 300,000 — show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or both, said Thomas Insel, head of the National Institute of Mental Health.

    An estimated 70 percent of those at-risk soldiers do not seek help from the Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration, he told a news conference launching the American Psychiatric Association’s 161st annual meeting here.

    If “one just does the math”, then allowing PTSD or depression to go untreated in such numbers could result in “suicides and psychological mortality trumping combat deaths” in Iraq and Afghanistan, Insel warned.

    More than 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since the U.S. invasion of 2003, and more than 400 in Afghanistan since the U.S. led attacks there in 2001, of which some 290 were killed in action and the rest in on-combat deaths.

    “It’s predicted that most soldiers — 70 percent — will not seek treatment through the DoD or VA,” Insel said at the meeting, at which the psychological impact of war is expected to top the agenda over the next four days.

    Left untreated, PTSD and depression can lead to substance abuse, alcoholism or other life-threatening behaviors.

    “It’s a gathering storm for the civilian and public health care sectors,” Insel said.

    He urged public-sector mental health caregivers to recognize the symptoms of psychological troubles resulting from deployment to a war zone and be ready to provide adequate care for both soldiers and their families.

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  2. Also:

    Stop the Iraq Sellout Thursday: Call Congress Today

    On Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will force the House to approve $163 billion more of our tax dollars for the occupation of Iraq – nearly $100 billion for 2008 plus nearly $70 billion more for 2009.

    We are outraged. This Democratic Congress was elected to end the occupation, not fund it forever.

    On Monday, a new Democrats.com poll found an overwhelming 68% of Americans want to bring our troops safely home within 6 months – a significant increase from 54% last September. Support among Democrats increased 14% to 85%, while support among Independents increased 20% to 78%. Why is the Democratic Congress defying the will of the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Independents?

    Each day’s news underscores how disastrous the occupation is. April was the deadliest month for U.S. soldiers since last September. One in five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans – roughly 300,000 – report symptoms of PTSD or major depression. The V.A. covered up the fact that 12,000 veterans attempt suicide each year while under V.A. treatment. As Cindy Sheehan asked, “for what noble cause” are our sons and daughters suffering and dying?

    To make matters worse, Bush continues to use our occupation of Iraq as a reason to wage a covert war against Iran that could quickly turn to a wider and even more disastrous war. We know the Iraq War “marketing” was timed for the 2002 election – if John McCain is behind in the polls, will Bush “bomb bomb Iran” as an “October Surprise” to keep Republicans in power?

    On top of it all, as our economy tanks, we simply cannot afford to waste $163 billion more of our tax dollars for Iraq on top of the $562 billion we’ve already wasted and the $3 trillion overall cost, included tripling the price of gasoline.

    It’s urgent for everyone to call your Representative today with a simple message: Not One More Penny for Iraq.

    This battle is not impossible. On January 16, 42 progressive Democrats voted against the last $70 billion blank check. Most Republicans oppose Pelosi’s bill because it includes some domestic spending, so a large bloc of progressive Democrats can defeat it.

    Call the House switchboard at 202-224-3121 or find your Representative’s name and direct dial by entering your address on the right side here.

    Please report the results of your call here:
    http://www.democrats.com/iraq-sellout-alert-call-congress-today

    Thanks for all you do!

    #####

    Forward this message to everyone you know!

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  3. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article3868043.ece

    From The Sunday Times

    May 4, 2008

    Mahdi Army fighters grateful for sand storm standstills in Sadr City

    Hooded Mehdi Army fighters loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr hold their weapons as they take up position in a street in Basra

    On a bare patch of ground outside the entrance to Sadr general hospital, 15 women clad from head to foot in black squatted in a sandstorm, wailing and waiting for their dead.

    Lightning flashed, thunder rolled and the women’s robes were spattered with mud falling from a sky filled with rain and sand, but they did not notice.

    “Ya’mma, Ya’ba” (“Oh mother, oh father”), cried Amira Zaydan, a 45-year-old spinster, slapping her face and chest as she grieved for her parents Jaleel, 65, and Hanounah, 60, whose house had exploded after apparently being hit by an American rocket.

    “Where are you, my brothers?” she sobbed, lamenting Samir, 32, and Amir, 29, who had also perished along with their wives, one of whom was nine months pregnant.

    “What wrong have you done, my children?” she howled to the spirits of four nephews and nieces who completed a toll of 10 family members in the disaster that struck last Tuesday. “Mothers, children, babies; all obliterated for nothing.”

    The keening of Zaydan and her distraught circle of friends was drowned out briefly by sirens shrieking as ambulances sped through the hospital gateway with the latest consignment of casualties from a brutal battle that has been raging for the past month in Sadr City, a slum of more than 2m souls on the eastern side of Baghdad.

    Doctors and nurses with pinched faces darted out of the dilapidated hospital to greet the wounded and dying, while administrators stared at the weeping women and saw that they were beyond comforting.

    Zaydan had hardly moved from the hospital for 24 hours since her family’s home was demolished as she and her sister Samira, 43, prepared lunch. Neighbours were trying to dig bodies out of the debris when another rocket landed, killing at least six rescuers.

    Apart from the two sisters, the family’s only survivor was their brother Ahmad, 25, who arrived at the hospital with leg injuries and shock. “I lost everybody,” was all he could say.

    On Wednesday afternoon, Zaydan was still waiting for seven family members to be disinterred from the rubble and delivered to Sadr general. The other three were in the morgue, among them a nephew, aged three, lying on a trolley in a puddle of blood from a head wound.

    The child was another helpless victim of a clash between titanic powers which has killed 935 people and wounded 2,605. Even by the callous standards of Iraq’s cruel war, this is a ruthless struggle. Most of the dead and injured have been civilians.

    On one side is the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army of the radical Shi’ite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, which is defending Sadr City, its biggest stronghold, with a resilience it failed to show when it ceded parts of the southern port of Basra last month.

    On the other is the American-backed Iraqi army of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, which launched an offensive on March 30 with the aim of seizing control of the city but which took only one southern district before its advance was halted.

    The fight between Sadr and Maliki, between the dirt-poor who look to the firebrand cleric for inspiration and the relatively secure who support the prime minister, is one that neither side can afford to lose.

    Last week the Mahdi fighters took advantage of the sandstorms, which grounded US helicopters, to blast the Iraqi army’s front line positions with roadside bombs, mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and machinegun fire.

    Embedded with them for four days and three nights, I witnessed the fighting at close quarters, learnt of preparations being made by Mahdi special forces to spread the violence to other parts of Baghdad and heard their commanders swear to paralyse the government and destroy Maliki if their own leader authorises all-out war.

    The battle of Sadr City, with all the human misery it entails, is in danger of spilling out across the capital, reversing the security gains that followed last summer’s American troop surge.

    It is little wonder that US commanders say the Shi’ite militias backed by Iran now pose a greater threat than the Sunni insurgents who were their deadliest enemies when Al-Qaeda in Iraq was at its peak.

    “We can bring Baghdad to a standstill,” boasted one Mahdi commander. “Be assured that when all-out war is eventually declared, we will be able to take over the city.”

    No sooner had I arrived in Sadr City than my escorts received word that an attack was about to be launched on Al-Quds Road, the dividing line between the Mahdi forces to the north and the Iraqi army to the south.

    Sand was swirling through the air as a fresh storm stirred and the men knew this presented them with an opportunity.

    “Allah is on our side,” said one. “They bombard us with artillery, war planes and helicopters at will. Maliki has the entire US air force behind his army and all we need is a bit of sand to bring it to a standstill.”

    As we reached the narrow streets that ran down to Al-Quds Road, nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary at first. But one by one, young men in western jeans and T-shirts appeared from the alleyways with machineguns or rifles slung across their shoulders. They grinned, patted each other’s backs and uttered the greeting “Peace be with you”, before getting down to the business of war.

    Two snipers had already entered shattered buildings overlooking the highway beyond which the Iraqi army was hunkered down. The dozen or so gunmen who had congregated in front of me ran forwards 50 yards to take up their positions. Then one of them briefly broke cover to open fire with his AK47 assault rifle. Another stepped round a corner and unleashed a volley of bullets from a heavy-calibre machinegun, followed by another and another.

    As the Mahdi positions came under equally heavy machinegun fire in turn, the noise reached a crescendo with an exchange of mortar rounds that smashed shops on either side of Al-Quds Road, showering the whole area with shards of debris. The cacophony faded, only to be replaced by the whizz of snipers’ bullets shooting up the street. It was time to take cover.

    My escort hammered on the gates of the nearest house and a woman ushered me into her courtyard, introducing herself as Salma Jamila, an unmarried teacher aged 40 who lived with her elderly parents. When she heard that I had come to report on the fighting, she fetched a small plastic chair and propped it against the yard wall so that I could peep over it to see what was happening.

    Evidently a cool hostess in a crisis, she disappeared into her kitchen and returned beaming with bottles of orange juice on a tray as mortar rounds crashed on to the road less than 100 yards away.

    Stranger still, another guest arrived, a cousin and Mahdi Army commander named Abu Ali who was enjoying a day off. He hugged Jamila, explained that he had come to visit her father and chatted away about how he had been arrested a few days earlier.

    “One of the officers with the Iraqi army is a Mahdi sympathiser and he arranged for me to be released within two hours,” he said with a smile. “We have quite a number of Mahdi people in the army and they tip us off about certain movements.”

    The violence died down as suddenly as it had flared up and some of the fighters shouted that it was all over. A man with a relaxed manner and a Russian rifle on his back sauntered past. I asked him how old he was.

    “Twenty-three,” he answered. “Young for a sniper,” I said. He shrugged.

    “I killed two Iraqi soldiers,” he replied, and strolled away.

    Another passing fighter, a well-built man with fair skin, said he had set fire to an Iraqi tank with a rocket. There was no way to verify either account.

    The men exchanged information for a few moments before walking off in different directions. Some were collected by cars as they approached neighbouring streets incongruously thronged with shoppers inured to shooting and buying food for the evening meal.

    It was around 6pm, as we were driving towards the centre of Sadr City, that another call came through and we headed back to the front line. This time Mahdi fighters were trying to push back Iraqi army and American forces.

    Several people were said to be buried under collapsed buildings and the Mahdi Army — which, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, has made itself popular by providing welfare services to local people — had decided to take responsibility for rescuing them, even if that meant fighting its way to the scene.

    Driving along roads lined with open sewers, past children playing football in winding alleys and old women peering out from their doorways, we reached a point where men on street corners were handing cold water to fighters taking a break from the front line.

    We parked and moved forwards through ranks of Mahdi Army fighters who had lined an alleyway with rocket-launchers, rifles and machineguns. The sound of sniper fire intensified but the hardened militiamen who were accompanying me paid no attention.

    The regular thud of mortars and the relentless clatter of machineguns indicated that the fighting here was far more intense than it had been earlier on Al-Quds Road.

    As we rounded a corner, I noticed a school 100 yards ahead on the right-hand side. I was wondering how long it would be before the pupils could return when an explosion almost knocked us off our feet. An artillery shell had landed in the playground and the classrooms were shattered by shrapnel.

    I froze with fear. For the second time that day, a fighter rapped on the nearest house gate and I was beckoned into a secluded courtyard. So shaken was I that my legs barely carried me into the house. I squatted on the floor to catch my breath.

    Three spinsters produced a large bottle of fizzy drink from a shop they ran from their house. As before, the fighting subsided after about half an hour and we returned to our vehicle.

    The inconclusive nature of both confrontations witnessed suggested that neither side could be confident of gaining the upper hand.

    The Iraqi army may have the superior fire-power but Mahdi commanders were eager to show off their own arsenal. Seven of them gathered in a single-storey concrete house to display weapons ranging from mainly American-made guns, including M16 and M18 rifles, to homemade roadside bombs known as raaed, or thunder.

    “Our bombs are not Iranian-made — they are produced locally,” said one commander. “Any Mahdi fighter can put one together.”

    The plastic cylinders packed with gunpowder, TNT and C4 explosives came in four sizes, he explained: 5kg and 15kg for use against small military vehicles, and 25kg and 50kg against armoured personnel carriers.

    Another commander, who gave his name as Abu Ahmad, was limping from an injury sustained one week into the battle when his unit set an American tank on fire, only to be wiped out by a helicopter gunship.

    He spoke softly as he described seeing his best friend, Uday al-Dulemi, killed in front of him. Dulemi’s father refused to accept condolences and insisted that his “martyred” son’s burial be treated as his wedding day. He said that if his three other sons in the Mahdi Army were killed too, he would volunteer himself.

    The Mahdi Army also claims to have a secret weapon at its disposal. Its elite special forces, called “The Nerves of the Righteous — the Islamic Resistance in Iraq”, are said to be lying in wait in sleeper cells across the country, ready to carry out unspecified “spectacular” attacks against coalition forces.

    Many of the members, known as “shadows”, have been trained in Iran.

    According to a senior aide to Moqtada al-Sadr, they are capable of raining down missiles on the heavily protected Green Zone where the Iraqi government and US military are based, causing disarray among Iraq’s security forces and halting the work of ministries.

    They have also created a potential “ring of fire” around Sadr City that could be ignited in the event of a full-scale offensive by Maliki.

    Whether Sadr or Maliki will order an escalation of the conflict in the days ahead depends on efforts to secure a resolution.

    Sadr is understood to believe that his rival has set out to destroy his power bases in Baghdad and Basra to ensure that he is a spent force before local elections in the autumn. He is resisting demands by Maliki for 500 named Mahdi “criminals” to be handed over. In turn, Sadr is demanding that the Iraqi army stay out of Sadr City indefinitely.

    The negotiations hang in the balance but one thing is certain: if the two Shi’ite leaders fail to resolve their differences, it is the civilians of Sadr City who will suffer for it.

    At Sadr general hospital last week, Amira Zaydan was by no means the only woman mourning her family. Beside her sat her neighbour Um Aseel Ali, who had lost her husband and three boys, aged six, four and two, when their house was blown up by a rocket.

    “As I ran to them, the second rocket dropped,” she cried. “I started shouting their names. I looked for them and tried to dig through the rubble. What fault did we commit for this? What wrong have we done to Maliki?”

    While she spoke, another woman, Um Marwa Muntasser, wept softly. Her pregnant daughter Marwa survived the same attack but was being kept under sedation, unaware that her husband Samir, her four-year-old boy, Sajad, and her two-year-old girl, Ayat, had all been killed.

    “Was my daughter a fighter?” asked Muntasser. “My daughter was not a fighter. She and her family were innocent civilians minding their own business and now they are dead.” The toll in the row of six houses inhabited by these families climbed to 25.

    A spokesman for the US military, which has lost at least nine men in Sadr City, said a vehicle carrying an injured soldier had been hit by two roadside bombs, gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, and at least 28 “extremists” had died in subsequent fighting. He said there had been no American air strikes that day but US ground forces had fired rockets at “militants firing from buildings, alleyways and roof-tops”. “We have every right to defend ourselves,” he added.

    Witnesses in Sadr City, however, told of a second multiple rocket attack on four houses on the same afternoon in which at least five civilians died.

    I found Lina Mohsen, 24, walking in a daze at the hospital, her face covered in brown dust. One minute she had been watching her 18-month-old toddler Ali play in the courtyard of their home, she said; the next, a rocket had struck.

    “I began screaming for him, shouting his name, trying to find him, but I couldn’t see him for dust and smoke,” she said. Eventually, she saw that he was dead.

    “I blame Maliki and his government and all those who are sitting in power and letting this happen,” she said. Then she burst into tears and walked away.

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  4. http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m43824&hd=&size=1&l=e

    Mccain, Obama And Clinton Silent On Iraq Exit
    US presidents-to-be in denial
    Dhar Jamail

    May 07, 2008 By
    Source: Le Monde diplomatique

    As soon as it was clear that the presidential primaries would be the news story of the year in the US, Iraq was dropped by the media. The occupation and the campaign for the presidential nominations were de-linked almost from the start. So we don’t know what the potential candidates would do in Iraq. But pulling troops out doesn’t seem to be an option for any of them.

    Amman, April 2008: the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, John Holmes, said he wanted “to highlight the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Iraq” (1).

    New Hampshire, January 2008: the Republican presidential candidate John McCain said: “President Bush has talked about our staying [in Iraq] for 50 years, maybe 100. We’ve been in Japan for 60 years, in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or killed” (2).

    Baghdad, April 2008: in an interview with Al-Jazeera, an Iraqi government employee said: “There is no improvement in Baghdad on the security level. All of it is getting worse. We hear about it on TV, but on the ground we see nothing. No services, no security in the streets” (3).

    Infrastructure in Iraq is currently far worse than it was under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, which overlapped with nearly 13 years of severe economic sanctions. The average Iraqi household has fewer than three hours of electricity a day, at least 40% of people have no access to safe drinking water, and unemployment is between 40% and 70% (4).

    What worsens these hardships is the complete lack of security. The propaganda accompanying the surge of US troops claimed a dramatic decrease in violence, but facts indicate otherwise. The ministries of the interior, defence and health in Iraq said 33% more Iraqis were killed in February than in January. In March the figure was 31% higher than in February. In April, because of the debacle of the offensive by US-backed Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki against the militia of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the numbers will increase again.

    The UN figure of displaced Iraqis is 4.9 million, and nearly half of those have fled the country. A UNHCR/IPSOS survey of Iraqi refugees in Syria in March found that only 4% were planning to return to Iraq. Oxfam International claims another 4 million are in serious need of emergency aid without which they will probably die. On 12 April the Iraqi parliament urged the government to reallocate $5bn earmarked for investment in infrastructure and services to social welfare programmes and a functional food rationing system for nearly 2.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).

    A study in The Lancet in October 2006 estimated the number of Iraqis who died as a direct result of invasion and occupation to be 655,000 or 2.5% of the population. This figure (now very out of date), plus the number of displaced Iraqis and those in need of emergency aid, means nearly 10 million of 27 million citizens are dead or displaced or living in the worst conditions (5).

    Silence is censorship

    Yet the three US presidential contenders, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, have been mostly silent on the Iraq issue, with tacit support from the media. Their silence is censorship.

    In April the New York Sun reported that Colin Kahl, an adviser to Barack Obama’s campaign and its day-to-day coordinator of the working group on Iraq, recommended that the US maintain between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq to serve in an “over-watch role” until 2010. Post publication, Kahl clarified that “this has absolutely zero to do with the campaign” (6).

    Obama, who, on his past record, is believed to have the best policy on military withdrawal from Iraq, does not seem to intend to end the occupation. Susan Rice, a senior foreign affairs adviser to the Obama campaign, reiterated what we have heard from Bush administration officials over the past five years: that the number of US troops Obama would keep in Iraq “depends on the circumstances on the ground”.

    Obama emphatically cautioned in October 2002: “Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbours and even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences” and “an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida” (7).

    Today he not only refrains from calling for total withdrawal – he does not address the removal of the “enduring” US military bases in Iraq and the embassy scheduled to open there this month. This is the size of the Vatican, has superthick walls, electrical and water plants, gymnasium and the largest swimming pool in the country. It cost $740m, has room for at least 1,000 “government employees”, a school for their children, bunkers, two helipads, yoga studios, fast-food outlets and shopping malls.

    Other “enduring bases” remain, four of them along the lines of Camp Victory near Baghdad airport, which is twice the size of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, already one of the largest US overseas bases built since Vietnam. Camp Anaconda near Balad houses more than 20,000 troops, over 250 aircraft, thousands of civilian contractors, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut and Starbucks outlets.

    A worse prospect

    For those who hope the election will bring a US policy change in Iraq, Hillary Clinton is a worse prospect. She has consistently refused to promise withdrawal of US forces from Iraq by the end of her first term, 2013, if elected. On 17 March Clinton outlined her plans in a telling speech at the George Washington University. While she did call for a gradual withdrawal of US combat brigades, she refused to apologise for her 2002 vote authorising the invasion. Not once has she acknowledged the illegality of that move nor explained claims she made then about Iraq’s military status and ties to al-Qaida. She continued to be a strong proponent of the occupation until she found herself vying with Obama for the votes of a populace now against the occupation; and she says she is willing to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

    Clinton attempts to deflect attention from her own position by blaming President George Bush. “It has been five years this week since our president took us to war in Iraq,” she said in the same speech, sidestepping the fact that Bush was able to launch the invasion only because Clinton, along with a minority of congressional Democrats plus a Republican majority, provided the votes necessary to invade and occupy Iraq. Clinton justified her vote by claiming that Saddam had “given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members” and that the invasion was “in the best interests of our nation”.

    During her only trip to Iraq in February 2005, a helicopter took Clinton to the Green Zone because the highway between Baghdad International Airport and the city was so dangerous. Scores of Iraqis and at least one US soldier were killed during her visit, yet she insisted that the occupation was “functioning quite well”. Later that month on NBC’s Meet the Press she said it would be a mistake to withdraw US forces immediately from Iraq, or set a timetable for withdrawal, because “we don’t want to send a signal to insurgents, to the terrorists, that we are going to be out of here at some, you know, date certain”. This echoes the Bush administration and John McCain.

    In November 2005 Clinton denounced representative John Murtha’s call for the withdrawal of US forces as “a big mistake”. In 2006 senator John Kerry sponsored an amendment that would have required the redeployment of US forces from Iraq. Clinton voted against it. She is now is offering to withdraw some of the troops but is determined that the US should indefinitely maintain its “military as well as political mission” in Iraq.

    Like the Bush administration, Clinton rationalises this as an imperative to offset Iranian influence in the region, protect the Kurdish minority, support the Iraqi military and prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state, all of which would be false goals for anyone aware of the situation in Iraq. Last year on ABC’s This Week, she offered a more viable reason: “We have to protect our civilian employees, our embassy that will be there” (8).

    Clinton sounds contradictory when attacking her Democrat co-nominee Obama, who opposed the invasion from the beginning. Just what did she mean by: “Now, my Democratic opponent talks a great deal about a speech he gave in 2002. He is asking us to judge him by his words, and words can be powerful, but only if the speaker translates them into action and solutions. Senator Obama holds up his original opposition to the war on the campaign trail, but he didn’t start working aggressively to end the war until he started running for president. So when he had a chance to act on his speech, he chose silence instead” (9).

    Extensive lobbying

    According to Dr Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern studies at the University of San Francisco: “Obama did a lot more than give a speech: he gave interviews, lobbied members of Congress and made a series of other statements in which he warned of the violent sectarian and ethnic divisions which could emerge following a US invasion and occupation, the risks of a long-term US military commitment, and the dangerous precedent of giving a carte blanche for a pre-emptive war” (10).

    To his credit, in January 2007 Obama introduced legislation “to responsibly end the war in Iraq, with a phased withdrawal of troops engaged in combat operations” and has promised to take “immediate steps to confront the ongoing humanitarian disaster”.

    It has not been an easy task to get a clear idea through the media of each candidate’s position on Iraq or infer the policies they intend to implement there. Norman Solomon, columnist and founder director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a national consortium of policy researchers and analysts, told me: “Whatever tendencies existed in the US media in 2006 to look toward a reasonably swift withdrawal of US troops have largely dissipated since then and the presidential contenders who remain, with a real chance to become president, are not too willing to run counter to the overall media terrain.”

    A study carried out by the Project for Excellence in Journalism showed that by autumn 2007 media attention had shifted from the occupation of Iraq to the presidential campaign, de-linking the two. Reportage of the occupation fell sharply around the time that the 2008 presidential campaign emerged as the top story.

    This works to the advantage of Arizona senator John McCain, the most unambiguous about his pro-occupation stand. Aboard his campaign plane McCain told reporters in April: “We fought a war with Japan and Germany. Afterwards we maintained a military presence there, which we are doing today. We fought a war in Korea, we maintained a military presence in Korea, which we are doing to this day.” Jumbling time, space and reality, he concluded: “The first Gulf war, we threw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, and we have a military presence there to this day” (11).

    McCain also decried Obama for lack of experience and knowhow about occupation: “So he… hasn’t read or doesn’t understand the history of this country in warfare, and the way that we secure alliances and secure the peace, that is through military government-to-government agreements that call for United States presence and mutual defence. Not only in that country itself, but also in the region… it displays a fundamental misunderstanding of history and how we’ve maintained national security, and what we need to do in the future to maintain our security in the face of the transcendent challenge of radical Islamic extremism.”

    Spin cycle

    Solomon points out: “The structural disconnects of accountability and the shortage of functional democracy in the United States together cause a large gap between popular sentiment and US foreign policy. The two wheels are spinning in somewhat different directions; the teeth of their gears are only partially meshing. The war machine is able to move forward with little functional hindering from popular opinion. In part this has to do with the ongoing impacts of the capacity of pro-war spinners to use the levers of media to constrict what seem to be viable political options.”

    This explains why the candidates are able to edge closer to the November election without being taken to task on their policy. Solomon said: “Conventional media wisdom feeds on itself. What a lot of US journalists `know’ is what other journalists are saying, and so the spin cycle goes. Corporate media coverage is anyhow in sync with the range of opinion heard most often from Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington. News outlets say the war is receding as a political issue; when the candidates say less about the war, journalists point to them saying less as evidence that the war is receding as a political issue.”

    The US doesn’t want to be in Iraq – that is, 65% of actual people in the US oppose the occupation – yet Obama, Clinton and McCain march towards the election with the media not challenging their ambivalent positions on Iraq. As for the Iraqis – if any one of those three is listening – a recent BBC/IPSOS poll in Iraq showed more than 70% of Iraqis oppose the continuation of the occupation, while local polls found 92% of Iraqis oppose it.

    Dahr Jamail is a journalist and author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2007

    (1) “Top UN official highlights gravity of humanitarian situation”, International Regional Information Network, 4 April 2008.

    (2) Derry, New Hampshire, 3 January 2008.

    (3) “Fresh Fighting Erupts in Iraq”, Al-Jazeera English website, 16 April 2008.

    (4) “Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq”, Oxfam International, July 2007.

    (5) Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy, Les Roberts, “Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey”, The Lancet, 11 October 2006.

    (6) Eli Lake, “Obama Adviser Calls for Troops To Stay in Iraq Through 2010”, New York Sun, 4 April 2008.

    (7) Barack Obama, 2 October 2002, http://www.barackobama.com

    (8) http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerI..

    (9) Hillary Clinton, speech at George Washington University, 17 March 2008, http://www.hillaryclinton.com

    (10) Stephen Zunes, “Clinton’s GWU Iraq Speech,” Foreign Policy in Focus, 25 March 2008.

    (11) “McCain, Obama Spar Over Spending 100 Years in Iraq”, FoxNews.com, 1 April 2008.

    :: Article nr. 43824 sent on 08-may-2008 05:15 ECT

    http://www.uruknet.info?p=43824

    Link: http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/17565

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