September 02, 2007

September 15th: Be There

Are we really going to attack Iran? I hope not, because that would be, as I've said many times before, indescribably goddam insane.

Anyway, it looks like September 15 will be a day for protesting two wars; one that's happening and one that might still be prevented. It's timed to coincide with the Bush administration's progress report on Iraq.

The perpetual hawk faction, (aka, the 'bomb them all and let God sort it out' crowd,) which includes many members of the US' political press corps, have spent years talking as if there was nothing more stupid, smarmy, or naively sentimental a person could do than to protest a war. Right.

Because it's stupid not to want to throw your country's treasury into a black hole of neverending violence when over 40 million of our fellow citizens have no health care. It's smarmy to say that the teachings of all the great religions hold that to fight unjust wars is a terrible sin. That an unjust war is a crime against the divine, against humanity, every one of whom we should regard as our own family. Like that guy Jesus, man, what a smarmy pansy he was. It's naive to say that, hmmm, you know, if we're mainly known around the world for bombing and killing and destroying, there's going to come a day when that becomes a real serious problem for us. And it's just plain, unserious sentimentality to think about all the innocent people who are going to be butchered, all the families who are going to be wiped out, all the orphans and widows and maimed and sick and starving, and say, good gods, couldn't we try talking to each other instead? Just for kicks? Just this once?

Or, if we're already in a war, dude, how f'n sappy is it to say this: Nothing we do or have done is making things better. We're more at risk for terrorism, both at home and globally, than we were when we started this war. Nearly everyone wants us to go home, which includes their guys and our guys. They're already in a civil war. It's already a death sentence to be publicly known to work with the occupation, even if it's to rebuild things. Our contractors all have to pay protection money to the resistance, anyway. Neither the capital city nor the main command center are safe, and it's pretty much a death sentence to walk alone and unarmed in public if you're an American. Our troops are exhausted, both in body and spirit. This country tortures people now, using this war as a major justification, we torture now and we hold people without charges. It's just time to call this off. It's time to stop. Time to bring everyone home and have done.

It's time to come to that point as a nation where we can cut our losses and realize that we'll lose a lot more face by staying with a failed course than by making the public admittance that something's gone very, very wrong.

So if you can show up in Washington, DC on September 15th, please come. If you can't, think about organizing something where you are. Even if it's just you, a couple friends, a sign and some lemonade on a street corner. Is it really too much to ask, to ask please, please come out in public and say that you don't approve of your government engaging in war crimes, lying, murder, torture and maiming?

Throw off your apathy and your sense of insignificance for one day. For one day, refuse to be an accomplice. Refuse to be complicit. Because it's time to step up, show up and speak up. Live and in person, take a walk with me. Take a walk with the rest of us. It's time. Be there.

Update: Even freshman Democratic Rep. Zack Space and Sen. Barack Obama are joining in the escalating propaganda against Iran. The media, led as usual by Fox News, has been ratcheting up the fear. Don't it just give you the goddam warm and fuzzy feelings that everything's going to be all right?

Wonder what these guys are thinking when they hear that we might start another unjustified land war in Asia:

WASHINGTON - Sapped by nearly six years of war, the Army has nearly exhausted its fighting force and its options if the Bush administration decides to extend the Iraq buildup beyond next spring.

The Army's 38 available combat units are deployed, just returning home or already tapped to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, leaving no fresh troops to replace five extra brigades that President Bush sent to Baghdad this year, according to interviews and military documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

That presents the Pentagon with several painful choices if the U.S. wants to maintain higher troop levels beyond the spring of 2008: ...

If you click over, you'll see that war cheerleader Frederick Kagan is putting in a plug for hoping that the Army's well being won't have to be sacrificed to the war effort. Not because he realizes that the only way to prevent that is to get out, but because he just hopes that all the competent observers and Army leadership are just wrong, and that the Army will (magically? who knows) simply be able to avoid the ill effects of the circumstances he doesn't see any reason to extricate them from.

We're ruled by lunatics who are guided by fools. Did I mention that I think it'd be a good idea to go out on September 15th and make your concerns public?

Posted by natasha at September 2, 2007 09:22 AM | Iraq | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

You should know that the poster on Kos that the Boorman Report links to seems to have quite the reputation as a storyteller. Kos even comments on it. I am not saying the idiots in the White House are not capable of something, nor that other more reliable sources have come out with Iran attack concerns, but the Kos diary appears to be a less than credible diarist.

Posted by: Scott at September 2, 2007 03:07 PM

I did see that, but BooTrib quotes first from the Times of London. We've also been hearing from a lot of sources over the years that they want to, and I suspect that if the Iraq war had been going any better, they'd have been at it already.

Posted by: natasha at September 2, 2007 06:25 PM

Oh, don't get me wrong. I completely agree that the Bushies are capable of attacking Iran, most likely hitting key sites with air power. I also agree that had Iraq gone even remotely well, we would have left that country the same way, and with the same result, that we left Afghanistan, so that we could move on to Iran.

Nothing about any kind of attack on Iran would surprise me. Sadly, or is it pathetically, when one thinks of the most dangerous governments in the world, a list must include North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, and ... the United States.

Posted by: Scott at September 3, 2007 06:19 AM

The horses are already out of the barn on this situation, but it should not have required a bit of thought to consider this Labor Day long weekend as an optimal time for getting parents of families to come to Washington DC. The 15th is a lousy time, by comparison, for turnout, if you want to get typically non-political people who, however, have a strong desire to make their opinion against the war known visibly.

But then, frankly, we could bring ten million people to this demonstration and it would still be ignored by this administration and minimized by the media. Further, if a sufficient level of violence takes place, or is perceived by the media to take place, the Bush administration will simply use that as a pretext to ratchet down on our remaining freedoms that much more severely.

And yet we have to make it clear that a majority of American citizens are against the existing war in Iraq and the desired war in Iran.

I think Scott Ritter has a point when he says that most Americans prefer being American consumers over being American citizens. So I think that’s where we show our displeasure first.

I think we need to declare “war through consumption”. I think we need to ask those who are against the war in Iraq and the planned war in Iran to minimize their purchase of all goods and services to only those they absolutely need for the duration, as a sign pf protest. No lattes, no weekly trips to Target, and especially minimize your use of gas. For me, that means walking to and from work, minimizing use of the car to groceries (and a two-week slot where I have to transport my daughter to and from a temporary site for swim team practice that doesn’t have bus service readily available), minimizing groceries such that “treats” are off the menu for the duration, and reviewing all other purchase activity to remove “frills”. It’s a decentralized activity, yet its effects can be both measured and noticed over time, and with the right set of messages to promote it, it’s an easy way for the folks who won’t put themselves in the line of fire to do something useful. (For those that have the cash and are willing to do it, selecting a specific day for us to collectively sell off, say, a minimum of $10K each in our present investments or to transfer them into money market funds or other “safe” options, simultaneously, would also give some of the folks that fuel this administration pause.)

I think we need to go to our Congressional representatives in force, especially those of Democrats who don’t seem to comprehend why they were elected into office in 2006, and we need to get them to sign whatever we consider a straightforward, standardized, valid argument that they will no longer fund or support further action in Iraq or any new military action within Iran. It’s already becoming painfully obvious that the outrageous $50 billion US that the Bush Administration wants tacked on to the existing budget for Iraq is actually a $200 billion offer, and that some of that money may go towards war with Iran. Any Republican and any Democrat that won’t sign off on such a statement will be challenged in the 2008 primaries, if a recall petition campaign cannot take place immediately. I also think we need to get the DNC to immediately also make a vocal stand against the current and potential military situation, and make it clear through our donations to them that we will only give money to those willing to support the statement, and no one else.

These are just off the cuff ideas – I don’t pretend to have a guaranteed way to resolve this horror show of a situation for the better. But the usual ways of shutting down deplorable actions by those in power don’t apply to an administration that has no sense of shame, and I think we’d better start coming up with ones that they can’t respond to with ever more force.

Posted by: palamedes at September 3, 2007 07:47 AM

Sept. 15 is the day they'll be doing the dog-and-pony show with the report. And it's Labor Day weekend in DC, the last weekend of the congressional recess. There's no one here watching from among our Very Important People, except a few staffers who deeply regret not having gotten out of town but are partying hard to make up for the indignity.

I hear you on the feasibility of travel for a lot of people, but keeping old style bankers' hours would be a step down for congressional sessions. (I know that they then go back to their districts and do other things the rest of the time, it's just that if you want to catch them in DC, it isn't exactly convenient.)

Posted by: natasha at September 3, 2007 08:04 AM

Other random comments - If we attack Iran from the air at the beginning, this isn't going to negate the need for engagement on the ground at some point. The Bush administration is all down with the smashing, but I feel fairly certain that they'll also want to get on with the grabbing part.

And whatever citizen actions are taken, don't expect the DNC to be part of them. They're not a policy setting organization, they're an electioneering organization. Don't think for a minute that Dean is going to break out on his own from his platform there. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Posted by: natasha at September 3, 2007 08:10 AM

I don't expect coordination with the DNC, but by our making it clear that we will only give money to those that make clear, succinct and firm statements regarding the wars in Iraq and perhaps Iran, we have a much better shot at effective reaction to the situation within the Democratic Party as a whole.

A statement made by Howard Dean on January 10th of this year:

"By choosing to escalate the crisis in Iraq, President Bush continues to ignore the lessons of history, ignore the advice of military experts, ignore the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and the will of the American people. The President's plan will not make America more secure. It puts more American troops in the middle of a civil war and a situation reminiscent of Vietnam. Democrats in Congress have made it clear that they fully support our brave troops in combat, but will also hold the President accountable for a new direction in Iraq that turns the country over to the Iraqis and allows for our troops to come home. Our troops have already sacrificed enough for the President's mistakes."

So yes, he can make such statements regarding a possible war in Iran and the futility of it.

Any air attack on Iran will result in at least one downed pilot - they have very thick, if occasionally old-fashioned, air defense systems in place at key military installations where nuclear weapons development might be taking place. That pilot or multiple air crew members will be used as an excuse to send in standard military personnel into Iran itself, perferably in parts where they think ethnic division can take place. The Bush Administration wants that option, and the excuse for it, to be on the table, to be used as needed.

Furthermore, if reports about Special Forces units in southwest Iran are already true (militarily supporting separatists in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province, allegedly, which could inconveniently and inadvertently fund similar efforts for Balochi rebels in adjacent Pakistan), there's already a thought process within the Bush administration that ground troops can and are in use, just not for the usual sort of fighting we are used to. The sad thing about this is that we may try to foment rebellion, and instead get ethnic warfare within Iran and more adamant anti-American reactions by the majority Persian-Azerbijani population that makes up the majority of the country.

I guess what I would ask you Natasha, is that for those of us who don't have the ability to wing off to DC on the 15th, what kind of demonstration or action of any sort would result in an effective way of being both noticed and approved of by at least a large segment of our local community? Because while a majority of people hate the war in Iraq and hate this administration, I dunno what you do over a given day to flip them from angry and/or despondent to angry, despondent and acting out.

And that's why I'm throwing out the decentralized, longer-term actions I describe above.

Posted by: palamedes at September 3, 2007 09:13 AM

hoping that the Army's well being won't have to be sacrificed to the war effort. Not because he realizes that the only way to prevent that is to get out

But that's not the only way, natasha.

After we're in a conventional war with Iran, BushCo will feel perfectly justified in recreating the military draft. After all, it'll be a national emergency, right?

My son is just seventeen years old. I'm starting to look for ways to get him out of the country.

Posted by: joel hanes at September 4, 2007 05:19 PM

palamedes - There's nothing to do except show up somewhere and say your peace, by your presence, possibly supplemented by a sign. Or just talk to someone who's on the fence.

If you're looking for some radical new thing to try, I can't help. I'm sorry. I know you, so I know you're already working to elect more and better Democrats. I know you already canvas and volunteer and talk to people. I have to say, other than that, I don't know what else to tell you to do.

Just consider that sometimes all someone needs to go from quietly simmering to taking action is to know that other people are on their side. Maybe a little demonstration out front of a grocery store parking lot in Redmond is exactly the thing that needs to happen out your way. If you reach even one other person and convince them that it would make a difference if they spoke up, too, that might be worth it.

joel - I laugh only out of bitterness. There are disturbing things happening in the world right now, or at least, plenty of disturbed people with their hands on all the wrong buttons. I can only encourage you not to let yourself be consumed and constrained by worry.

Posted by: natasha at September 4, 2007 09:32 PM

natasha - I hope I'm not consumed, but merely highly motivated. I guess we'll see.

But my concern here is informed by experience: I was one of the last men drafted for Viet Nam. In the event, the war ended before I got out of advanced training, but the draft is not an abstraction to me.

Posted by: joel hanes at September 4, 2007 09:50 PM