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Archive | March, 2010

Santa Fe, NM

WELCOME TO HELL
Life Under Siege in Gaza

MOHAMMED OMER
Award-winning independent journalist from the Gaza Strip, and author of the Rafah Today blog

Followed by a conversation with
DAHR JAMAIL
Journalist,author and co-recipient with Mohammed of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism

Unitarian Congregation
107 West Barcelona Rd
Santa Fe, NM

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Sponsored by Another Jewish Voice Santa Fe and the Middle East Peace and Justice Alliance
Endorsed by Veterans for Peace Santa Fe Chapter, Santa Fe Women in Black

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Soldier of Conscience Granted Clemency, Released

Sgt. Travis Bishop. (Photo: via Travis Bishop)

Sgt. Travis Bishop. (Photo: via Travis Bishop)

Last August, Travis Bishop refused to serve in Afghanistan. Having filed for Conscientious Objector (CO) status, Bishop, based at Fort Hood, Texas, in the US Army’s 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, was court-martialed and sentenced to 12 months in a military brig. He was released from the brig today.

Bishop served his time in Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Lewis, Washington. This military brig is notorious for being a particularly difficult jail to serve time.

While in the brig, Bishop was recognized by Amnesty International and received support from hundreds of people from around the world who wrote letters of encouragement to him and wrote letters to Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, the commanding general of Fort Hood, asking for Travis to be released from prison.

During his court-martial at Fort Hood last August, Bishop was tried by the military for his stand against an occupation he believes is “illegal.” He insisted that it would be unethical for him to deploy to support an occupation he opposed on both moral and legal grounds, thus his decision to file for CO status. A CO is someone who refuses to participate in combat based on religious or ethical grounds, and can be given an honorable discharge by the military.

In February, Bishop was granted a three-month reduction in his sentence by General Cone as a result of a successful clemency application.

In a letter to Truthout from prison, Bishop wrote this of his being granted clemency:

“Three months clemency. Wow. I am truly astonished. Great for me? Sure. Great for future resisters? Even more so. I cannot believe that I told the Army “No,” refused to deploy, pleaded not guilty, and then indicted the entire system and blamed my command in court, and still merited clemency.” Continue Reading →

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Operation Enduring Occupation

Plain Speak

The 2008 National Defense Strategy reads:

US interests include protecting the nation and our allies from attack or coercion, promoting international security to reduce conflict and foster economic growth, and securing the global commons and with them access to world markets and resources. To pursue these interests, the US has developed military capabilities and alliances and coalitions, participated in and supported international security and economic institutions, used diplomacy and soft power to shape the behavior of individual states and the international system, and using force when necessary. These tools help inform the strategic framework with which the United States plans for the future, and help us achieve our ends.

It adds:

… Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing or equaling the power of the US. To accomplish this, the US will require bases and stations within and beyond western Europe and Northeast Asia.

In light of such clear objectives, it is highly unlikely that the US government will allow a truly sovereign Iraq, unfettered by US troops either within its borders or monitoring it from abroad, anytime soon.

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the Iraqi and US governments indicate an ongoing US presence past both the August 2010 deadline to remove all combat troops, and the 2011 deadline to remove the remaining troops. Continue Reading →

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The New ‘Forgotten’ War

Iraq occupation falls into media shadows

 

The Western world that slaughtered Iraq and Iraqis, through 13 years of sanctions and seven years of occupation, is now turning its back on the victims. What has remained of Iraq is still being devastated by bombings, assassinations, corruption, millions of evictions and continued infrastructure destruction. Yet the world that caused all this is trying to draw a rosy picture of the situation in Iraq.”

-Maki Al-Nazzal, Iraqi political analyst

 

As Afghanistan has taken center stage in U.S. corporate media, with President Barack Obama announcing two major escalations of the war in recent months, the U.S. occupation of Iraq has fallen into the media shadows.

But while U.S. forces have begun to slowly pull back in Iraq, approximately 130,000 American troops and 114,000 private contractors still remain in the country (Congressional Research Service, 12/14/09)-along with an embassy the size of Vatican City. Upwards of 400 Iraqi civilians still die in a typical month (Iraq Body Count, 12/31/09), and fallout from the occupation that is now responsible, by some estimates, for 1 million Iraqi deaths (Extra!, 1/2/08) continues to severely impact Iraqis in ways that go uncovered by the U.S. press.

From early on in the occupation of Iraq, one of the most pressing concerns for Iraqis-besides ending the occupation and a desperate need for security-has been basic infrastructure. The average home in Iraq today, over six and a half years into the occupation, operates on less than six hours of electricity per day (AP, 9/7/09). “A water shortage described as the most critical since the earliest days of Iraq’s civilization is threatening to leave up to 2 million people in the south of the country without electricity and almost as many without drinking water,” the Guardian (8/26/09) reported; waterborne diseases and dysentery are rampant. The ongoing lack of power and clean drinking water has even led Iraqis to take to the streets in Baghdad (AP, 10/11/09), chanting, “No water, no electricity in the country of oil and the two rivers.”

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