War: March 2003 Archives

Molly Ivins reminds us in The Progressive this month that, in spite of his other failings, Hermann Goering was no fool.

While under arrest in Nuremburg in 1946 the Nazi leader told an interviewer, "Why of course the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?" He went on to insist that it was up to the leaders of every country and every form of government to drag the people along. Goering would have none of the interviewer's naive objection that in democracies people have a say in the matter through their elected representatives.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Ivins recognizes how conflicted many Americans are now that "ghastly conflict" in Iraq is underway, but she offers encouragement to those who persevere in protesting the deadly policies of the regime in Washington.

Speak up, speak out, but never let anyone else define what you think--including the President. It is never "My country, right or wrong." As the Radical Republican Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri once put it, "Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to put right."

Could any report on this, the sixth day of the slaughter in this unjust war, be more revealing of the failure of American journalism, even of America? This is the actual NYTimes headline, spread in two horizontal lines across all six columns of the front page of the "Late Edition" this morning:

This goes well beyond the effrontery in the famous pre-World War II headline in the Times of London: "Fog in Channel: Continent isolated."

Unless "the newpaper of record" is reporting that after five days no Iraqis are dead or hurt, the Times is joining our fascist regime, and most Americans, in refusing to recognize the humanity of our victims.

"All the News That's Fit to Print"

[This headline doesn't appear online right now. If it was there earlier, it's now been succeeded by another which is more distanced.]

Sometimes there's no temptation to comment on a news story.

NEAR NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Burned-out vehicles and incinerated bodies littered a plain in central Iraq on Sunday after U.S. forces overwhelmed Iraqi militia fighters in a battle south of the holy city of Najaf.

U.S. armored infantry and tanks took control of the plain in the early hours of Sunday after a battle of more than seven hours against Iraqi forces who were armed with machineguns mounted on the back of Japanese pick-up trucks.

Najaf lies just 100 miles south of Baghdad.

On the main road running across the plain, burned-out Iraqi vehicles were still smoldering on Sunday afternoon, and charred ribs were the only recognizable part of three melted bodies in a destroyed car lying in the roadside dust.

"It wasn't even a fair fight. I don't know why they don't just surrender," said Colonel Mark Hildenbrand, commander of the 937th Engineer Group.

"When you're playing soccer at home, 3-2 is a fair score, but here it's more like 119-0," he said, adding that the Iraqi sport utility vehicles (SUVs) stood no chance against tanks.

"You can't put an SUV with a machine gun up against an M1 tank -- it's heinous for the SUV," Hildenbrand said.

So what are we supposed to look forward to now? It's hard to avoid asking the question.

Of course I'm referring to how things are going to play out here in the U.S., in the Middle East and throughout the world. For the ultimate good of humanity and the planet, do we really want to see our worst nightmares and predictions realized, or would we be grateful to see something closer to the dreams and expectations of the madmen in the White House?

How can someone who is in The Resistance even ask himself this question? Well, I've decided I don't have to, and I won't, since wishing can't get me anywhere. The only way I can relate to the future is by working in the now.

I walked through Manhattan today for four hours carrying a sign, "US OUT OF NY," meaning that for its own survival the city must immediately try to sever itself from a national government whose policies both increase the threat of terrorism here and rob us of the civil rights New Yorkers appreciate more than most Americans. The idea was supposed to be that the city's continued connection with a fascist regime in Washington can only endanger or destroy our community. The sign appeared to strike a chord for many out there today, judging from the reactions of those who saw it.

I now have to admit however that the situation is not quite so clear. It's not just Washington. To the dangers from the feds we must add those presented by our own city authorities, when we describe the source of our most clear and present danger. We all saw that on February 15 the New York City government and its hopped-up police arm conformed to a classic fascist program when it sought, with a great deal of success, to make the presence of a million people gathered in its streets for a single political purpose, invisible and ineffectual. There was a repeat performance, with much smaller numbers all around, in Times Square on the evening after the war began, March 20.

For much of today I thought that our abusive city fathers and their armed cudgels had disciplined themselves to perform as New Yorksers should expect them to perform. There appeared to be no visible aggressive opposition to the presence of New Yorkers in the streets doing what New Yorkers have always done, making themselves heard. That is, there was nothing of the kind of attention we have come to expect.

However when we returned home from Washington Square Park after an amazing, truly glorious day with our friends and neighbors, it became clear that the police had decided that they were going to ensure that in the end the story of the day was not going to be 250,000 beautiful people marching peacefully against the war, but, to cite the NY1 headline at this moment, "Several Arrested, Officers Injured In Largest Anti-War Rally Yet."

More than 20 people were reportedly arrested and at least 10 police officers were sprayed with Mace during an anti-war demonstration that drew an estimated 200,000 people to Manhattan Saturday afternoon.

While the rally began as a peaceful one, violence broke out near Washington Square Park as police attempted to disperse the crowd at the scheduled 4 p.m. end of the rally. Several protesters were arrested and a number of police officers were sprayed with Mace as they tried to move crowds out of the area.

"I was trying to disperse, you couldn’t get through because of a line of helmeted riot police," said a woman who participated in the protest. "They started making a line and pushing the crowd back so you could not exit. They’re squeezing in people like rats because there’s no place to go and the police are provoking what’s going to be violent."

Riot officers and mounted police tried to get control of the crowd, announcing via loudspeaker about 5:30 p.m. that those who remained in the area could face arrest.

These were the tactics of the police employed by a doomed Tsarist regime a hundred years ago and they are the tactics of a fascist regime not yet fixed firmly in power. If we do not continue to insist on our rights, next year there will likely be no reason for our governments to be so crude. There will be no protests.

For more on today's march, and dozens of images, see Bloggy.

These are two borrowings from Bloggy, combined here as one post.

Minutes before the [March 19] speech, an internal television monitor at the White House showed the President pumping his fist.

"Feels good," he said.

This was two nights ago, just after the intellectually and morally-challenged nincompoop had unleashed our sophisticated military fury on a crippled third-world nation.

In the broadcast itself he said, "We will accept no outcome but victory." Duh. I suppose we could at least be grateful that, like all bullies, the U.S. would never dare pick on an opponent of its own size [we never have], even if one were to be found. But in fact this evening I do not feel that gratitude, because these are the people we are blowing to smithereens tonight with "shock and awe."

Ellis Henican writes in Newsday today,

Rand Beers, the top terror-fighting official at the National Security Council, stepped down this week, just as the first missiles were being readied for launch. Officially, he resigned for "personal reasons." But close associates were saying privately that Beers left over his grave reservations about the Iraq attack and its likely exacerbation of terrorism.
Scared yet?

Yesterday in the Daily News "Rush & Molloy" included a small item reporting that Cadillac, which is the exclusive provider of cars for the Academy Awards this year, offering attendees the choice of a standard sedans or a monster truck, is having an unexpected run on their would-be tank, the Escalade, "supposedly because rolling up in limos looks tackier."

Huh? If they're trying to be sensitive, although I don't know why we should really think they are, someone should tell the stars that the suffering people of Iraq know that there's nothing tackier than Americans, especially packs of Americans, in gas-guzzling SUVs trying to imitate the Hummers of Yankee, oil-field-conquering invaders.

A friend writes that a re-reading of George Orwell's "1984" suggests that the administration has been using it as a road map, but it was an old [copyright 1961] afterword written by Erich Fromm which really took him aback. An excerpt:

Man in the beginning of the industrial age, when in reality he did not possess the means for a world in which the table was set for all who wanted to eat, when he lived in a world in which there were economic reasons for slavery, war, and exploitation, in which man only sensed the possibilities of his new science and of its application to technique and to production - nevertheless man at the beginning of modern development was full of hope. Four hundred years later, when all these hopes are realizable, when man can produce enough for everybody, when war has become unnecessary because technical progress can give any country more wealth than can territorial conquest, when this globe is in the process of becoming as unified as a continent was four hundred years ago, at the very moment when man is on the verge of realizing his hope, he begins to lose it.
Many thanks to Trick Gigolo.

I'm an atheist, so I cannot say, "God damn this country," even if I wanted to, but I can certainly say that we have damned ourselves today, perhaps irredeemably. Only hours ago we started to rain bombs upon and began an invasion of a virtually defenseless third-world country which has never threatened us.

Everything the administration has presented as an excuse for this holocaust has been a lie, and our press has never really called them on it. But Americans have chosen their media, and they have therefore chosen to remain ignorant. The result is that, with the exception apparently of some vague small proportion of the population, our approval of this war has been regarded as implicit where it has not been enthusiastic.

Iraq was never the real enemy. The enemy is here. The wreckage of our republic, and now our war crimes and the crimes against humanity which will accompany them are what really threatens us, and indeed the entire world.

I don't see the republic being restored and we cannot call back the horror unleashed tonight. America is now damned to endure the consequences, perhaps forever.


Meet that vague small number of truly republican Americans, and the visiting friends from other countries who love them, at 5 today (thursday) in Times Square or wherever your own community has agreed to show its resistance. Years from now people will ask, didn't anyone say no? If you're still around, you will want to be able to proudly answer the question.

Check the site of United for Peace and Justice for arrangements and logistics around the country.

Mindful of the sad course of events in Afghanistan, lefties have been appropriately sceptical about the administration's commitment to a postwar Iraq, but I guess we can now see that they really do intend to stay around for a while once they've reduced it to gore and rubble. There's lots of money in it for their friends and funders.

Of course that doesn't mean any of us are going to like what happens. Even The Wall Street Journal is shocked! See Matt Stoller.

The most stunning revelation of the past few days (and yes, there have been many) is surely the administration's 'audacious' plan to rebuild Iraq using private American construction companies rather than multilateral organizations with experience in nation-building in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
Major groups of U.S. companies are competing for the initial $900 million contract, which was put out for bids in secret last month.
All three of these companies are large American companies with strong ties to the administration and the American political system. I want to believe that the reconstruction of Iraq simply necessitates the special skills these companies bring to the table, but if that's so, why the secretive selection process? Why are outside experts stunned by the choice of this development path? Given the incredible boondoggles these companies have munched on in the past, how could anyone think that these companies are fit to rebuild a sensitive war-torn area with minimal help from the international community?

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from March 2003.

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