Sunday, January 02, 2011

Iraq Roundtable

Ava: Consider this our "We're exhuasted" roundtable. I don't know if we'll get to e-mails but you can send e-mails to Participating in this roundtable for The Third Estate Sunday Review is me. Others participating are Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and of The Third Estate Sunday Review so that's two of us for Third; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration.


Ava (Con't): I wanted to turn moderating duty over to Rebecca who has done many strong roundtables. However, we tend to get complaints when we do that here from some readers who feel that, this being Third Estate Sunday Review, a moderator should be from Third. C.I. and I are steering this edition, Jim, Dona, Jess and Ty are off. I'll also note that one time Jess helped steer an edition and was the moderator and we got e-mail on that. Why, some wondered, when Jim was off wouldn't we run with a female moderator? Gina and Krista moderate roundtables for the gina & krista round-robin every Friday -- Friday's when the newsletter comes out -- and Polly does the same every Sunday for Polly's Brew. Other newsletters often include roundtables but not every week. Community roundtables have been moderated by Rebecca, as I already pointed out, and by C.I. 2010 saw two "Black Roundtables" and those were moderated by Ty since they appeared at Third. But the reason I would prefer to have someone other than C.I. or myself moderate is due to the fact that she and I are the only ones who can do shorthand. We take notes for these transcript pieces and if one of us is moderating, that's putting a lot of weight off on the other. A rule I've made for this roundtable is that if C.I.'s asked a question or we know she's speaking next, we wait thirty seconds so she can finish taking notes on whomever was speaking and I'll take notes on her comments. It's 2011. I know none of us with Third expected to still be online this long. As the new year starts, I'm wondering if there are any hopes and, Ruth, could you start?

Ruth: Surely. I do not see the Afghanistan War ending. There are some who believe the Iraq War might end and US forces might leave Iraq. I do not see that happening but it would be great if it did.

Mike: I'm with Ruth, I just don't see it happening. And what else I see is less and less coverage of Iraq in the media. Doesn't IVAW have some sort of event next month?

C.I.: Yeah, I have that and one other event ready to read in. This is the upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event Mike's talking about:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am Busboys & Poets, Langston room 14th & V st NW Washington DC This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq? How can we do reparations and reconciliation work? Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include: Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)

C.I. (Con't): That's Feb. 25th.

Mike: And hopefully it will get some attention. That's a Friday. If Pacifica Radio had a functioning DC station, they could carry it live. It being a Friday and the hour, I have a feeling it's going to be very easy to ignore it.

Ruth: Which really is the problem. We do not need anymore gavel to gavel b.s. from Pacifica. We need things like this and these are the things that would become historical broadcasts. It would be really easy for them to carry this live. Gloria Minott would turn thirty minutes over to it and hand off to Jared Bell for the next thirty minutes and they could do a wrap after -- either just the two of them or the two of them plus Leigh Ann Caldwell. Possibly with members of IVAW. It would be really easy to do and Pacifica stations could carry it -- either live or later in the day.

Mike: And if that doesn't happen, I doubt very seriously it will get much attention at all. I hope I'm wrong. But that's been the pattern.

Ava: It appears this is going to be an Iraq roundtable. That's more than fine because I don't think we have an Iraq feature planned for this edition. C.I., can you read in the other press release you had for us to note?

C.I.: Sure. Okay, so IVAW has the event next month, at the end of February, the following month, A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action.

In San Francisco, the theme of the March 19 march and rally will be "No to War & Colonial Occupation – Fund Jobs, Healthcare & Education – Solidarity with SF Hotel Workers!" 12,000 SF hotel workers, members of UNITE-HERE Local 2, have been fighting for a new contract that protects their healthcare, wages and working conditions. The SF action will include a march to boycotted hotels in solidarity with the Lo. 2 workers. The first organizing meeting for the SF March 19 march and rally will be on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2pm at the Local 2 union hall, 209 Golden Gate Ave.

In Los Angeles, the March 19 rally and march will gather at 12 noon at Hollywood and Vine.

C.I. (Con't): So those are two peace events and actions for the first part of this year.

Rebecca: And I'll jump in now to note something C.I. and I were discussing. Another action taking place in March is by Military Families Speak Out which wants to deliver 20,000 postcards to the White House and Congress on the anniversary of the Iraq War. You can purchase 10 for $1.50, 25 for three bucks, 50 for five dollars, etc. The postcards read: "Hundreds of thousand of lives have been ruined, trillions of American tax dollars wasted, and for what? These wars are not making us safer. These funds should be used to take care of the troops when they come home, rebuild our economy, and protect our communities." And Ty asked me to note that if you have an Iraq event between now and the anniversary of the start of that war and you would like it noted to e-mail Third at C.I. will also try to carry those in the week day snapshots.

Ava: Thank you, Rebecca. Betty, what about Iraqi Christians?

Betty: I am getting so sick of the petty resentments towards Iraqi Christians. They are being targeted and yet we've got Becca Heller of the Iraqi Refugee Assistant Project in the US insisting that Christians were given special treatment by France. What France did, for those who don't know, is offer medical help and asylum to the victims of the October 31st assault on Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation Church. It was an attack. It was outrageous. And France responded. They did a good thing. But little Becca Heller was whining to Nick Vinocur (Reuters) and saying, "The argument for group evacuation is that it's far more efficient: rather than negotiate each case for eight hours, you can set a criterion for everyone, like proving you are a Christian, and negotiate asylum for a group." She doesn't favor that. She claims it will result in discrimination.

C.I.: Speaking slowly --

Ava: I've got you --

C.I.: Becca Heller didn't disclose, nor did Nick Vinocur, that her group is built around the individual. They don't fight for refugees. They fight one case for one individual, over and over. That's their goal. The Baby War Hawk brags that her organization is the first to provide the individual approach to refugees.

Betty: Thank you for adding that, it does explain a great deal. I think that should have been disclosed in the article. But there she is whining and hours after her whine's all over the place, at least six bombs in Baghdad target Iraqi Christians' homes. At least two die, at least sixteen more are wounded. Bombs outside their homes. And Becca wants to whine.

Ann: I was outraged by that. I was mad when C.I. covered the woman's nonsense in "Iraqi Christians" on Thursday morning and madder when the Thursday "Iraq snapshot" went up and I read of all the violence targeting Iraqi Christians. I don't know about Becca but I'm a beliver -- I'm a Christian -- and I saw that as reality slapping Becca upside the head. I still get, at my church, I still get people complaining about the lack of coverage from US outlets on Iraqi Christians. I think they're right to complain. They're not seeing it on their evening news, evening network news. I'm tired of it too, tired of the silence. In the US, these are the only outlets that have covered this story in the last months: Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post and McClatchy Newspapers. In addition the US wire service AP has covered it. That's not good enough. This is outrageous.

Ava: When we discuss it here, someone always e-mails in to say, "Well Muslism get targeted too!" Ann, respond to that.

Ann: We've covered that, that's my response. Leave me out of it, just focus on this site, the Iraq War has been covered and covered here over and over. Every angle that could be covered has been covered in the six years -- Happy sixth anniversary to Third, it's six years this month -- this site has been around. No one's denying that Muslims are victims. But they're not being targeted because they're Muslim. Assyrians are targeted because they're Christians. Religious minorities are targeted in Iraq because they are religious minorities. That is a valid story and it's one that too many people are shying away from covering. Probably because of comments like the e-mails Ava just summed up. I'm supposed to what, say, "Oh my goodness! How outrageous of me! I never covered the targeting of Muslims in Iraq!" Sunnis were targeted. Muslims were not targeted for being Muslim. If they were Sunni, they were targeted. If they were Shia, they were targeted -- sometimes in retaliation. But it was not about being Muslim. Whereas the attacks on Christians are about their religion. That's a fact. And another fact is that the extremism in Iraq currently wants to do away with the sale of alcohol and most alcohol dealers in Iraq are Christians. Their beliefs are getting them targeted.

Ava: Stan, do you see that as the big Iraq story of 2010?

Stan: I think it's one of them. I certainly think it's the biggest story of the last third of the year. The other big story, to me, would be the fact that there is no progress in Iraq and how the world saw it this year with the political stalemate, how, in 2005, they held elections and had a government formed in about four months but this year it took nearly five months longer than that. That's not progress. And in the end, all that waiting, all that happened was that the prime minister remained the same thug. So that really showed how the months and months of struggle were for nothing. Iraq's a joke. Joe Biden looks like the fool so many comics and reporters say he is every time he tries to Happy Talk Iraq.

Ava: Marcia, do you agree with your cousin?

Marcia: Yes. I agree regarding the Iraqi Christians story and I agree regarding the political stalemate. In terms of the stalemate and it's long, long resolution, did the US government give a damn? Other than Nouri's promise to pass the theft-of-Iraqi-oil legislation and to let US troops stay on the ground in Iraq, what did the US get out of it? And look at all that the Iraqi people lost. There's no democracy. The people turned out, they risked violence, they turned out and did not throw their support behind Nouri. He was supposed to be the clear winner of the March elections but he wasn't. And yet the will of the people was overturned. So the big story of 2010 for Iraq is that democracy was never allowed to take root despite all the garbage from the Bush administration and the Barack administration.

Isaiah: And we learned that Nouri would back US troops staying. We learned that this week, though we already knew it. Even with Sam Dagher deliberately lying at the Wall St. Journal, we learned the reality. You can refer to "One pimps, the other fluffs" but Nouri's talking about how a new agreement can replace the SOFA. And I think that goes to why Mike and Ruth are not optimistic about the war ending this year.

Ruth: I would agree with that and there is also the backup plan whereby if US troops have to leave, they stay but under State Department control, not the Defense Department. The US is not leaving. I just do not feel that they are.

Mike: And, again, I am in agreement with Ruth.

Ava: Alright. Kat and Elaine we still haven't heard from you. Kat, your pick for one of the big stories out of Iraq in 2010?

Kat: I would encourage everyone to read Shashank Bengali and Sahar Issa's "2011 looks grim for progress on women's rights in Iraq" for McClatchy Newspapers. Iraqi women have repeatedly been the under-reported story throughout the Iraq War. In the early years of the illegal war, as C.I. documented so well in real time, John F. Burns and Dexter Filkins never could be bothered with quoting Iraqi women in their news stories, let alone covering issues effecting Iraqi women. The US has done nothing to ensure the rights of Iraqi women but it has done everything to ensure the destruction of their rights.

Ava: Elaine?

Elaine: I would echo Kat on her very important remarks. In addition, I would add that the reaction to "An Open Letter to the Left Establishment" was very telling. Like C.I., I know Michael Albert of ZNet and find his actions shameful. He posted the letter and then, when he got complaints from people mentioned in the first paragraph, he started this whole song and dance about how he misread it and then started whining about how unfair it was to the people named -- people like Tom Hayden, Katrina vanden Heuvel and others who have presented themselves as leaders -- and how he didn't know what those people really thought which was just b.s. And let's assume for a moment that Michael didn't know what they thought -- as he claimed -- considering their positions and their output, that's an indictment of them right there. They are useless and it's really amazing that such a mild letter -- mine would have drawn blood and not been as kind as the open letter was -- resulted in so much whining and carping and, most of all, silence as everyone worked overtime to pretend the letter didn't exist. The egos of the useless were judged more important than ending an illegal war, how very telling.

Ava: Alright. Everyone's had a chance to speak at least once and we're going to wrap up. Mike and company are going to work on highlights and C.I. and I are trying to figure out what to write for our TV piece. This is a rush transcript.

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