Moratorium - Five Years of War
19 Mar 08

cheerful crowd

A rainy, soggy day. We moved the Granny Clothes-Washing into a dry area because of all the paper "shirts" and "pants" that were (allegedly) "hanging to be washed." People showed up in fair numbers anyway, but as most of the day's actions were small, local ones, so it'll be difficult to ever get a real count. These were folks who hung around after the speeches at the Clothes-Washing to get cars to honk.

underneath

Underneath the City Hall arch facing the Clothespin on the other side of the street. President Bush gave a speech today describing the Iraq War:

The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around -- it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror. For the terrorists, Iraq was supposed to be the place where al-Qaeda rallied Arab masses to drive America out. Instead, Iraq has become the place where Arabs joined with Americans to drive al-Qaeda out. In Iraq, we are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology, and his murderous network. The significance of this development cannot be overstated.

something going on

[This picture was taken right after someone made a great point to the camera.]

With casualties going back up, it's not at all clear that the situation has been turned around. The situation is better than it was a year ago, but that's not saying much. And again, as we've done so very many times before, we get an example of mind-reading on the President's part. "....Iraq was supposed to be the place where al-Qaeda rallied Arab masses...." Huh? Where does anyone get this idea? Seems to me the strategic objective of al-Qaeda-in-Iraq was simply to do whatever ever damage they could to Americans and to gain some combat experience in the bargain. They've successfully done that. Their own dealings with Iraqis ticked off the Iraqis so much that Iraqis joined with the Americans to fight al-Qaeda-in-Iraq, but that occurred before the Surge started. "In fact, the significance is highly debatable."

getting signatures

"Like a tourniquet," the troop increase "has stopped the bleeding," Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a former Army Ranger and senior member of the Armed Services Committee, reported last week after his 11th trip to Iraq. What he has not seen, Reed said, are the surgery and recovery that would begin to heal the wound that Iraq has become. And even U.S. officials acknowledge that the "surge" has not led to the political reconciliation the administration had hoped for.

steps

Fred Kaplan writes on Slate: "[I]sn't the surge working? Well, it depends what you mean by 'working.' In recent months, casualties--American and Iraqi--dropped substantially. However, three points need to be made. First, casualties are rising once more, though not to 2006 levels. Second, while the surge was certainly a factor in reducing casualties, it was far from the only factor. There were also the alliances of convenience between U.S. forces and Sunni tribesmen against the common foe of al-Qaida in Iraq (an alliance that preceded the surge); the moratorium on violence called by Muqtada Sadr and his Shiite militia (a policy that may be suspended as the Sunni militias grow stronger); and the fact that many areas of Iraq had already been ethnically cleansed.

outside Schwartz's office

[This and the following pictures were taken outside Representative Allyson Schwartz' office in Jenkintown]

"More to the point, as Gen. David Petraeus has said many times, there is no military solution to Iraq. The surge has always been a means to an end--a device to create a 'breathing space' of security in Baghdad so that Iraq's political factions can reach an accommodation. Without a political settlement, the surge--for that matter, the entire U.S. military presence, the blood we have shed, the treasure we have spent--will prove to be little more than a pause."

across the street

Juan Cole writes on Salon: "Each year of George W. Bush's war in Iraq has been represented by a thematic falsehood. That Iraq is now calm or more stable is only the latest in a series of such whoppers, which the mainstream press eagerly repeats. . . .

"The most famous falsehoods connected to the war were those deployed by the president and his close advisors to justify the invasion. But each of the subsequent years since U.S. troops barreled toward Baghdad in March 2003 has been marked by propaganda campaigns just as mendacious. Here are five big lies from the Bush administration that have shaped perceptions of the Iraq war.

more

"Year 1's big lie was that the rising violence in Iraq was nothing out of the ordinary. . . .

"In Year 2 the falsehood was that Iraq was becoming a shining model of democracy under America's caring ministrations. . . .

"In Year 3, the Bush administration blamed almost everything that was going wrong on one shadowy figure: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. . . .

"In Year 4, as major sectors of Iraq descended into hell, Bush's big lie consisted of denying that the country had fallen into civil war. . . .

"Year 5, the past year, has been one of troop escalation, or the 'surge.' (Calling the policy a 'surge' rather than an 'escalation' is emblematic of the administration's propaganda.) The big lie is that Iraq is now calm, that the surge has worked, and that victory is within reach."

group photo

Not sure what's next for UFPJ-DVN. Someone suggested we observe the fifth anniversary of "Mission Accomplished" day, with GW Bush impersonators running about in flight suits. We'll meet on 6:30pm, 27 March to evaluate and discuss today at WILPF HQ, 1213 Race St Phila.