Tuesday :: Aug 15, 2006

We Don't Make It Here Anymore - But We Can

by pessimist

Kenneth Janda, a professor emeritus of political science at Northwestern University, asks in the August 14, 2006 Chicago Tribune, Why has Iraq war lasted nearly as long as WWII?

Already, the war in Iraq has gone on as long as the war against Germany (and Italy, which surrendered even earlier), and it seems destined to last even longer than the three years, eight months, and nine days needed to defeat Japan.

The United States has been fighting in Iraq since March 19, 2003, when President Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom with air strikes against Baghdad. Monday marks the 1,245th day of the Iraqi conflict. By that reckoning, Americans troops will have fought in Iraq for as long as they fought Germany in World War II.

Our war against Germany lasted 1,245 days, from Dec. 11, 1941, (when both nations declared war) until May 8, 1945.

Our war against Japan from Dec. 7, 1941, until Aug. 15, 1945, lasted somewhat longer--1,348 days.

So one cannot yet say that the war in Iraq has been longer than World War II. Nov. 25, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, will mark the 1,348th day of American involvement in the Iraqi conflict. It is not a date to celebrate.

Before we can ask WHY the war has lasted so long, we have other questions to ask.

For instance, we should be asking WHY IS THERE A WAR GOING ON AT ALL?

George of the neo-con jungle likes to protest that "they hate us for our freedoms", but he never explains what those 'freedoms' are.

Julia E. Sweig, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers some insights into the reasons America is no longer considered every nation's friend:

Why They Hate Us
August 15, 2006

Julia E. Sweig is the author of Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century

Around the world, anti-Americanism is not simply the result of anger about President Bush's foreign policies. Rather, it is deeply entrenched antipathy accumulated over decades. It may take generations to undo.

Consider the causes:

Cold War legacy: U.S. intervention in Vietnam, and covert attempts to overthrow governments in Iran, Guatemala and Cuba, among others, created profound distrust of U.S. motives throughout the developing world. Europeans also disdain these policies and bemoan the cultural coarseness of Americanization sweeping their continent.

Americans, by contrast, tend to dismiss this side of the Cold War. Gore Vidal famously referred to this country as the United States of Amnesia. We're all about moving forward, getting over it, a nation of immigrants for whom leaving the past behind was a geographic, psychological and often political act. As the last guy standing when the Cold War ended, in 1989, we expected the world to embrace free markets and liberal democracy.

Power and powerlessness: Power generates resentment. But the United States has lost the ability to see its power from the perspective of those with less of it. In Latin America, for example, U.S. policies — whether on trade, aid, democracy, drugs or immigration — presumed that Latin Americans would automatically see U.S. interests as their own. And when denied deference, we sometimes lash out, as did Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld when he lumped Germany, a close U.S. ally, with Cuba and Libya because Berlin opposed the Iraq war.

Globalization: In the 1990s, our government, private sector and opinion makers sold globalization as virtually synonymous with Americanization. President Clinton promised that open markets, open societies and smaller government would be the bridge to the 21st century. So where globalization hasn't delivered, the U.S. is blamed.

What we stand for: Bush is wrong to say that foreigners hate us because of our values and freedoms. Quite the contrary. U.S. credibility abroad used to be reinforced by the perception that our laws and government programs gave most Americans a fair chance to participate in a middle-class meritocracy.

But the appeal of the U.S. model overseas is eroding as the gap between rich and poor widens, public education deteriorates, healthcare costs soar and pensions disappear. Most recently, the U.S. government's seeming indifference to its most vulnerable citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina further undercut belief in the American social contract. The immigration debates also have fostered the perception that the U.S. is vulnerable, hostile and fearful.

Far from being a welcoming haven for the people of the world, America has become very hostile to immigrants, especially if they come from certain areas of the world. Recall the latest ethnic insult from King George himself. It didn't play well with those at whom the comment was seen by too many 'patriotic' Americans as targeting:

In an open letter to President Bush, Parvez Ahmed, board chairman of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), wrote Thursday: “"Unfortunately, your statement this morning that America 'is at war with Islamic fascists' contributes to a rising level of hostility to Islam and the American-Muslim community.”

Parvez Ahmed accused Bush of making contradictory statements, he wrote, "You have on many occasions said Islam is a 'religion of peace.’ Today you equated the religion of peace to the evil of fascism.”

Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director , said at a news conference in Washington: "We believe this is an ill-advised term and we believe that it is counterproductive to associate Islam or Muslims with fascism…We ought to take advantage of these incidents to make sure that we do not start a religious war against Islam and Muslims.”

“We've got Osama bin Laden hijacking the religion in order to define it one way ... We feel the President and anyone who's using these kinds of terminologies is hijacking it too from a different side," said Mohamed Elibiary, a Texas-based Muslim activist, [about] Bush’s remarks.

There is empirical evidence supporting these fears. In an ironic coincidence, roughly the same percentage - 39 per cent - of 1,007 Americans polled by researcher Gallup for USA Today said they felt at least some prejudice against Muslims as support George W. Bush: 37%.

The same percentage favoured requiring Muslims - including U.S citizens - to carry a special ID "as a means of preventing terrorist attacks in the United States".

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported the number of assault and other discriminatory complaints rocketing, from 1,019 in 2003 to 1,972 in 2005. Discriminatory acts in everyday life – in shops, schools and at work – are being reported frequently to the council, it said, [for instance] the example of Motaz Elshafi, a software engineer, who casually opened an internal e-mail at work last month, only to find a message beginning "dear terrorist".

But one doesn't have to be Muslim or even an Arab to feel such hostility:

The Tinderbox
The angry immigration debate in one California town, like those in others around the country, is tearing the community apart.
by Susy Buchanan

More than 40% of Costa Mesa's 110,000 residents are Hispanic, many of them undocumented workers from Mexico.

If Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor and his supporters have their way, thousands of undocumented Hispanic immigrants will be run out of Costa Mesa. Last December, the City Council narrowly passed a resolution pushed by Mansoor calling for the city's police officers to be trained and empowered to arrest illegal aliens for violating federal immigration law. Costa Mesa was the first city in the country to pass such a measure.

Additionally, Mansoor and his allies on the City Council, Gary Monahan and Eric Bever, have disbanded the city's human rights committee, shut down the city's day laborer center, and sliced funding for charities that serve Hispanics. There has also been talk of closing the Latino swap meet and even banning pick-up games of soccer from public parks.

"Costa Mesa is at the epicenter of the immigration debate and a microcosm of what is taking place across the United States," says Humberto Caspa, a professor at the University of California, Long Beach. Of the mayor and his supporters, Caspa says, "Their objective is simple: to kick all the Latinos out."

Costa Mesa, "The City of the Arts," is located on 17 square miles of bluffs just inland from the California coast, in the midst of Orange County, a staunchly conservative region with a long history of groundbreaking initiatives designed to drive out Hispanic immigrants. "Orange County is the most Mexican-hating county in the country," says Orange County Weekly syndicated columnist and investigative editor Gustavo Arellano.

The county is home to Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist, whose "citizens border patrol" now has chapters nationwide, and to the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), a major force behind 1994's Proposition 187, which sought to deprive undocumented immigrants of social services, health care, and public education.

Elected officials in other communities around the country, large and small, have also recently taken measures to show they're tough on immigration. In Phoenix, Ariz., Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio formed a 250-member citizen volunteer border posse to patrol the desert for illegal immigrants. In Hamilton, Ohio, the local sheriff billed the government of Mexico $125,000 for law enforcement expenses, imprisoned undocumented immigrants, and put up billboards showing himself in front of a jail with the legend "Illegal Aliens Here."

Despite all of the tough 'law and order' rhetoric, the police aren't too keen on this effort:

Dave Snowden, Costa Mesa's chief of police for 17 years until his retirement in 2003, worries [about] the trouble the mayor's policies will cause for the Costa Mesa Police Department. Snowden knows several cops who recently left the Costa Mesa force for jobs in more immigrant-friendly cities, and he doesn't blame them. Building and maintaining trust with undocumented immigrants has become essential to effective local police work in Southern California, Snowden says. "You need to build a confidence level in the [Hispanic] community," Snowden says, and the mayor's proposals undercut that confidence. His greatest fear is, "the broadening of this policy to where cops stop people on the street because they are a different color."

Snowden's successor as chief of police, John Hensley, recently announced his retirement, although he'll remain on the job until the city finds a replacement. Hensley won't say why he quit, but his being dubbed "Hitler Hensley" and sarcastically seig-heiled by immigration-rights activists at City Council meetings couldn't have made his job any easier, especially since Hensley, like Snowden, does not support the mayor's law enforcement proposals.

Snowden and Hensley's opinion is nearly unanimous among cops, and not just in California.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) issued a statement in December 2004 condemning such policies.

"Many leaders in the law enforcement community have serious concerns about the chilling effect any measure of this nature would have on legal and illegal aliens reporting criminal activity or assisting police in criminal investigations," IACP president Joseph Estey wrote. "We don't have the time and personnel to be immigration agents."

Just as the police have better things to do with their time, so do educators:

Chicago schools report more homeless students
The Associated Press
August 14, 2006

Chicago is seeing a big increase in the number of homeless students attending the city's public schools. Officials with the Chicago Public Schools report that 10,500 homeless students were enrolled this year, compared with 3,500 in 2000.

Homelessness is a serious problem for a community, one which is only just beginning to reveal its expanse in New Orleans. As hard hit as the city was by Katrina, does it really deserve the abuse delivered by FAUX 'Newz' by one of its 'guest' panelists?

Fox Suggests That the Citizens of New Orleans are Potential Terrorists
Reported by Melanie
August 10, 2006

Fox is tripping over itself trying to help the Bush administration terrorize the nation... Case in point: Charles Payne, of "WStreet.com" - and the only African-American who very, very regularly appears on Fox's "business" programs - was a guest today (August 10, 2006) on Your World.
According to Payne, the citizens of our own New Orleans are potential terrorists too:
...[W]e have a silent majority here that really believes in violence and believes that America's against them. You remember the ramifications from New Orleans, that a lot of dissatisfied people here could ultimately join up with the Muslims or sympathize with them.

I doubt that outrageous claim will prove valid anywhere in the United States any time soon, not even in New Orleans.

But it could prove valid in Baghdad, and Fallujah, and other Iraqis cities devastated by the imposition of the Wealthy White Christian American Corporate version of 'freedom and liberty' and affect the 'recovery' of the 'nation' of Iraq.

Just as New Orleans police too often failed to do their duty immediately after Katrina, so it is with all of those Iraqi policemen who were going to stand up so the US could stand down.

It's hard to stand up when you don't show up:

Meanwhile, back in the war........
by Steve Gilliard
August 14, 2006

Gilliard's comments follow this Kos diary excerpt:

Fallujah's police force disappears by quaoar Sun Aug 13, 2006

One day the vaunted Iraqi security forces that we are training to stand up so we can stand down were more than 2,000 strong in Fallujah. The next day -- poof! Gone with the wind. Hasta la vista baby!

This is from the Los Angeles Times. Sorry, it's not online yet:

Hundreds of newly recruited police officers in Fallujah failed to show up for work Sunday after insurgents disseminated pamphlets threatening officers who stayed on the job, according to police officials in the restive western Iraq city.

"We will kill all the policemen infidels," read the pamphlets, "whether or not they quit or are still in their jobs."

Fallujah Police Lt. Mohammed Alwan said that the force, which he estimated had increased to more than 2,000, has now shrunk to only 100. Alwan said that insurgents have killed dozens of policemen in their homes and also attacked family members in a weeks-long intimidation campaign.

A Fallujah police major, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to a fear of reprisals, said that at least 1,400 policemen had left their jobs since Friday, 400 of them police officials above the rank of officer.

I'm thinking that before Iraq has political unity, it might be a good idea to have a police force that doesn't cut and run, so to speak. Otherwise, we are likely to see a repeat of the good ole days in Fallujah:

Gilliard's observation:

Seems like the boys are back in town.

"Which boys?" one might ask - the al Zarqawi Memorial Brigade - or American neo-Nazis?

A Few Bad Men
by David Holthouse

Ten years after a scandal over neo-Nazis in the armed forces, extremists are once again worming their way into a recruit-starved military.

Before the U.S. military made Matt Buschbacher a Navy SEAL, he made himself a soldier of the Fourth Reich.

Before Forrest Fogarty attended Military Police counter-insurgency training school, he attended Nazi skinhead festivals as lead singer for the hate rock band Attack.

And before Army engineer Jon Fain joined the invasion of Iraq to fight the War on Terror, the neo-Nazi National Alliance member fantasized about fighting a war on Jews.

The armed forces are supposed to be a model of racial equality. American soldiers are supposed to be defenders of democracy. Neo-Nazis represent the opposite of these ideals. They dream of race war and revolution, and their motivations for enlisting are often quite different than serving their country.
"Join only for the training, and to better defend yourself, our people, and our culture," Fain said.
"We must have people to open doors from the inside when the time comes."
Ten years after Pentagon leaders toughened policies on extremist activities by active duty personnel -- a move that came in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing by decorated Gulf War combat veteran Timothy McVeigh and the murder of a black couple by members of a skinhead gang in the elite 82nd Airborne Division -- large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists continue to infiltrate the ranks of the world's best-trained, best-equipped fighting force.
Military recruiters and base commanders,
under intense pressure from the war in Iraq to fill the ranks,
often look the other way.
Neo-Nazis "stretch across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they're inside, and they are hard-core," Department of Defense gang detective Scott Barfield told the Intelligence Report. "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," he added. "That's a problem."

Barfield noted that commanders are far more likely to take immediate action if the soldier is stateside in a non-combat role, rather than fighting overseas.

In one recent instance, Robert Salyer, a lieutenant in the Navy and military lawyer with the Judge Advocate General Corps, was dishonorably discharged and barred from military law practice when it came to light that he was a member of the white supremacist neo-Confederate group League of the South.

And in late June, Airman First Class Andrew Dornan, who was assigned to the firing party in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, was sentenced to nine months confinement and dishonorably discharged after he posted messages glorifying Adolf Hitler on his personal webpage and threatened to detonate a bomb on a military base.

As bad as all of this is, there is a worse problem looming:

Special Forces soldiers who double as extremist operatives present a special danger, since they have commando skills gained at huge taxpayer expense -- often including urban warfare, long-range reconnaissance, and combat demolitions.

"Hate groups send their guys into the U.S. military because the U.S. military has the best weapons and training," said T.J. Leyden, a former racist skinhead and Marine who recruited inside the Marine Corps for the Hammerskins, a nationwide skinhead gang. He later renounced the neo-Nazi movement and now conducts anti-extremism training seminars on military bases.

"Right now, any white supremacist in Iraq
is getting live fire, guerilla warfare experience,"
Leyden said.
"But any white supremacist in Iraq who's a Green Beret or a Navy SEAL or Marine Recon, he's doing covert stuff that's far above and beyond convoy protection and roadblocks. And if he comes back and decides at some point down the road that it's race war time, all that training and combat experience he's received could easily turn around and bite this country in the ass."

Department of Defense investigator Barfield confirmed that threat assessment. "Today's white supremacists in the military become tomorrow's domestic terrorists once they're out," he said.

"There needs to be a tighter focus on intercepting the next Timothy McVeigh
before he becomes the next Timothy McVeigh."

Will that day of re-enacting Oklahoma City resemble the day the Hispanic janitors went on strike in Los Angeles? Will there come a day when fascist Anglo veterans decide that "jobs are for 'Merkins" and use all those taxpayer-subsidized combat skills to impose a blue-collar Reich - and in the process, do the work of the PNAC Petroleum Pirate Posse without their having to lift another law-breaking fascist finger?

Time will tell, but the omens are ominous. This isn't to say that this nightmare scenario is going to play out. There are far too many variables at work at the moment. Many recent positive developments would have to reverse to allow this to happen. But at the same time, we cannot ignore the threat that such feelings, as evidenced by the Gallop poll cited above, represent.

The goal to be included in the reversal of Bu$hCo policies has to include remaking America into the land it used to be, where everyone had the fair opportunity to improve their lives through the traditional methods.

Take a look at this video by Peter Anderson, a photo montage put to James McMurtry's We Can't Make It Here Anymore, and try to remember for yourself what this country used to be like before it became a opportunity ghost town as depicted by Anderson. With some inspiration, hard work, visionary leadership, and a sense of community, America can be that country of opportunity once again.

But if we can't rid our people of hostile racism and bigotry, that effort won't get off the ground. We will instead become as 'free' and 'liberated' as the people of Iraq - AND New Orleans.

Those freedoms, involuntarily imposed by America or its allies, are the ones the world hates us for.

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