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3/31/2003

Checkpoint overreaction

      2:21 pm

    Just as predicted previously, the high strung soldiers are reaching the breaking point. Isn’t it already too much to shoot just the driver to stop a van, or its tires? But seven people aboard, including children, that’s really tragic and awful, not to mention the propoganda fallout to come.

    From Yahoo/AP:

    WASHINGTON - U.S. troops killed seven Iraqi women and children at a checkpoint Monday when the Iraqis’ van would not stop as ordered, a military official said.

    Especially tragic in light of the recent quote from Captain Carter, (from the next blog entry below):

    “I’m not going to trust any civilian vehicle,” said Carter, of Watkinsville, Ga. “If you see any hostile intent, take it out.”

    These incidents are like emotionally charged snapshops of a larger onslaught. How many thousands of Iraqi soldiers are being mowed down from the skys, blown to pieces from falling explosives? Don’t they have familys who will miss them just as the lost US and British soldiers do? Does anyone care about that?

    Good and evil just depends on which side of the border you’re from. This invasion must seem very barbaric to those Iraqi soldiers and people down below. Military victory for the invading army looks inevitable despite the setbacks, and unfortunately the Iraqis are obviously commited to defending their homeland. Duty and honor. In the end this loyalty will lead to a greater loss of human life of all sides. The invasion is immoral and wrong. The resistance will make the damage worse. Everyone will be the worse for the fighting.

    We still haven’t learned the simple lesson: there are no winners in war.

    3/30/2003

    No More Mr. Nice Guy

        5:05 am

      The paradoxical goals of invading a foreign country and simultaneously respecting the lives of the civilians is becoming more difficult to achieve. A few errant bombs have already hit marketplaces, and many civilians have been shot as they encroach on the space of the invading military. Both sides naturally point the finger and the camera at the other, but a more realistic appraisal is that waging war and protecting civilians have limited compatibility, though of course every effort must be made nevertheless.

      As the United States has initiated this conflict, they will carry some of the responsibility even for the desperate and cruel strategies of their foes, who have been backed into a corner and face certain death at the hands of a far superior military force. The expectation of a quick surrender was wishful thinking, and so the fighting will become increasingly dirty as the stench of death reminds everyone how high the stakes actually are.

      The liberating/invading army is already lowering their standards for protecting civilians, and this trend will probably continue unless the previously expected mass surrender and friendly welcome miraculously materializes

      From AP/Yahoo

      Capt. Chris Carter, Ivings’ commander, told his men not to take chances.

      “I’m not going to trust any civilian vehicle,” said Carter, of Watkinsville, Ga. “If you see any hostile intent, take it out.”

      This type of thinking could lead to costly errors in judgement and far further complications. If the Iraqi population sees the invading force as reckless with civilians, a further loss of credibility and an increased level of sporadic civilian resistance will ensue.

      A decision needs to be clearly made and maintained: will the invading army hold the civilians responsible for the acts of the Iraqi government or not? Will the Iraqis be conquered or liberated? Perhaps these rhetorical distinctions will all fade away as irrelevant idealism in the madness of battle. The troops are not being welcomed. The only practical solution to the problem of respecting the lives of civilians is to withdraw all troops and go home.

      From an ethical point of view, the humiliation of abandoning a war strategy based on the failed premise of mass surrenders and a welcoming population may be preferable to a bloody victory. In a era of terrorist reprisals for civilian casualties, it may be the practical decision as well.

      3/29/2003

      Support the troops - bring ‘em home now

          3:00 am

        Asking young soldiers to shoot at people who believe themselves to be defending their homeland against a foreign invasion is a huge burden to place upon them, physically and mentally, especially when they’ve been raised listening to storys of justice and democracy and human rights.

        From BBC

        One Marine told me: “I’ve had enough of being fired at from all directions, I just want to go home".
        Even if Saddam Hussain is assasinated or bombed to death soon and the Iraqi reqime should quickly collapse, it appears the population will not welcome the invading soldiers as liberators. After Bagdad is taken (if?), chaos, potshots, and endless small skirmishes will likely continue for some time. How many thousands of soldiers will be stationed in Iraq and for how long?

        It is easy to oppose war in general for ethical and humanitarian reasons. Killing human beings is morally wrong - that perspective is simple. This war in particular has further ethical problems, as it began with an unprovoked assault without UN support (and we must remember without the blessing of the Pope).

        What the future will bring is uncertain, but what Pandora’s box is telling me is that this war could fail not simply in ethical terms but also in practical terms. A might makes right victory might be as costly as defeat. The intensity of the resistance indicates that the Iraqis don’t want to be liberated by America. And who wants to govern an angry and resentful population?

        3/28/2003

        wind

            3:52 pm

          hear him now he speaks, sounds come out
          explosions now and louder sounds, could this be truth?
          weeks pass, this war blows on
          dirty windy sand, bloodless maps
          stick to the plan

          answer my question can you?

          time cannot be forced to speak
          or to remain silent

          life has not passed judgement on you

          Predator and Prey

              3:18 pm

            Now the metaphor is hunting. Lord Bush will be passing judgement on war criminals in between expeditions to hunt them down. All is well. All is right. The divine order of the universe has assumed a perverse form of hideous amusement.

            We are all dreaming… Dreaming about hunting… Hunting people…

            Bush Remixed remixed

                9:17 am

              Re-release of our audio masterpeace, Bush Remixed.
              George Bush’s war announcement set to music with sounds. This version has more military background sounds and improved vocal arrangement.

              Bush’s words are rearranged to enhance the message which is set to a heavy beat with jets and helicopter sounds. Very intense. Under 3 minutes long. The quality is great. You can listen or download here. If anyone knows people in radio please pass the news about this on to them. This could also be used creatively in anti-war protest documentaries as part of a soundtrack.

              Brings to light the inconsistency between the stated goal of minimizing civilian causualties and “decisive force".

              3/27/2003

              The Rhetoric of War

                  7:30 am

                Us versus them and the distortions of human consciousness.

                Did you hear the military debriefing? How shocking the simplicity of these people, the outrage with which they comment upon Iraqi Geneva convention violations and the apparent blindness to equivalent American violations. Even in our moment of greatest disagreements our commonality is there for all to see

                If only these leaders could image the madness that would ensue if America were to be invaded by a foreign force calling for regime change and insisting upon disarmament, bombing major cities and television stations, and shooting radioactive munitions into the environment.

                You can be sure that every standard of warefare (? admitedly a strange concept!) would be abandoned even more quickly than the long U.S. history of constitutional and legal rights was abandoned in the post 9-11 fear wave. Weapons of mass destruction would certainly be used to defend America. The American soldier equivalents of the current Iraqi “thugs” would be regarded as heros and any and all outrageous tactics would be ignored or applauded.

                Unfortunately as the fever of war deepens so many minds join the war song. Have you ever seen a wild pack of dogs hunting, or heard their high pitched howls? They circle and terrorize their panic stricken victims, excited by the approaching kill, enraptured by their own disturbing melody.

                The talk of liberating innocent civilians will give way to further demonization of the enemy, and once the slaughter is complete, the beautiful words will return.

                If you really believe that this killing is necessary to protect America from future terrorism, at least try to imagine how it would feel to have the shoe on the other foot, to live in a city under bombardment by an enraged enemy whose patience has run out, who speaks of your coming freedom in a language you can’t and don’t want to understand.

                The us and them world view, so necessary to justify war, is misleading and incomplete. We as human beings have always had more in common that we have apart, though unfortunately, this commonality does not protect us from each other’s weapons and hatred. These fragile bodies cannot withstand the madness of the human mind and modern technology.

                3/26/2003

                Electromagnetic pulse?

                    5:44 am

                  Not a nuke but a mircowave device, whatever that is: AP

                  “Meanwhile, the Air Force used an experimental bomb to try to knock out Iraq’s state-run television. Officials declined to describe the weapon, though they have said in recent months that they were developing a bomb that would emit an electromagnetic pulse to disrupt computers, communications and other equipment.”

                  3/25/2003

                  The Contract

                      4:35 pm

                    Now the spoils of war are already being bickered over even before the Iraqi corpses become stiff with rigamortis. Gas will soon be under $20 a barrel and there will be plenty of rebuilding contracts for the big corporations to get the economy moving. What a sick world.

                    What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? – Mark 8:36

                    3/24/2003

                        4:28 pm

                      Sorry for the hiatus in blogs. I will return. (General MacAuthur)

                      shock and awe

                          4:25 pm

                        Actually, this was one of their better ruses. I was actually taken in. But now I see, they are actually “heros” for not doing “shock and awe". How humanitarian they are! They are being so careful. I’ve forgotten all about how they should never have invaded in the first place!

                            4:19 pm

                          How strange how people primarily only see the suffering of the people they identify with. Not so long ago the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were also displayed on video.

                          Remember: “they are not prisoners of war, but ‘unlawful combatants’". Isn’t language wonderful?

                              4:17 pm

                            lots of things to say, so little time.

                            here are some topics:

                            1. the death of democracy: all things must pass

                            2. resistance is futile: the meaning of non-violence

                            3. Birth pain: is there hope?

                            4. Topics: why always with the colon?

                            Rules of War

                                1:25 pm

                              The letter of the law but not the intent.

                              I was struck by the ironic juxtaposition - the captured American soldiers on TV with their faces blocked out, and then the images of bombs exploding inside a city of 5 million people. Iraq is accused of violating the Geneva convention by displaying prisoners of war, and the news networks don’t want to cooperate by rebroadcasting their faces. Yet the explosions aren’t questioned. Certainly bombing a large city, however precise the munitions, is going to hurt a lot of innocent people, clearly violating the intent of the Geneva conventions.

                              How strange how people primarily only see the suffering of the people they identify with. Not so long ago the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were also displayed on video.

                              Does one have to take sides in a war? Isn’t is possible to be concerned for soldiers on both sides in a war? For example, is it possible to be concerned for the well being of these captured Americans, and the fighting invading troops as well, even knowing that they are part of a mission which amoung other things will likely bring death to thousands of soldiers in Iraq? Likewise is it possible to be concerned for Iraqi troops, knowing that they are trying to kill American and other invading troops?

                              Many people supporting the war focus myopically on Saddam Hussain, and how evil he is. But what about all these people in between the U.S. Army and Saddam Hussain? In part the evaluation depends on your perspective. If you believe the United States is liberating the oppressed people of Iraq, then you might condemn the Iraqi soldiers as supporting the wrong side, and you may even quickly find yourself hating them for killing people you idealize as heroic liberators. On the other hand, you might go on to reason that the Iraqi soldiers are oppressed and face a very difficult choice between merciless punishment from the Iraqi leadership for disobedience and merciless punishment from the invading army for obiedience.

                              Certainly in the confusion of war many will not have the advertised opportunity to surrender. I have already seen an image on the internet showing dead Iraqi soldiers in a foxhole still holding a stick with a white flag, of course, all images are suspect but the point is well taken. In the chaos of war this could easily happen. After the reported fake surrender trickery that cost some British troops their lives I suspect these accidents will happen more often.

                              War is the result of an incomplete negotiation between leaders. The soldiers are part of a continuation of an argument for dominance. Beyond that though, they remain human beings, though we might prefer to demonize them as they act out the madness of war.

                              So which side should one support? The third alternative: both sides. Stop the war now, and bring all the troops home before anyone else gets hurt. With conservation, Americans could easily reduce their use of petroleum products by 25% with a lot less effort than this war involves. Give peace another chance.

                              War Costs

                                  8:00 am

                                Bush plans to estimate the costs of the Iraq War.

                                This is extremely complex and far beyond his (and probably anyone’s) abilities.

                                No one can predict all of the tremendous collateral costs, but here are some that Bush will overlook:

                              • The image of a just America has been devasted around the world. However certain and justified the Bush administration feels about this war, they failed to convince some major players: Russia, China, Germany, France, the Pope, along with high percentages of the world’s population.
                              • Resentment against America as a bullying superpower has increased dramatically worldwide. Whether you agree or disagree with this perspective the fact remains that this perception has very real impacts on America including efforts to prevent terrorist attacks. The most important thing America needs in these efforts is the good will of the world. This is what is being sacrificed. The cost of a serious terrorist attack are off the scale, and could potentially collapse or seriously damage the global economy.
                              • The United States military is again using DU radioactive projectiles. As the half-life of depleted uranium is 4.5 billion years, the potential damage to unknown peoples of future generations over such a span of time is unknowable but potentially enormous.
                              • Another generation of children is being taught that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict, and being exposed to a public execution of a world leader, and to images of the bombardment of a large city. Have you seen the stories lately about Saddam Hussain’s unhappy childhood and the editorial commentaries linking that to his ethical vacuum?
                              • Another generation of soldiers will experience killing human beings and the psycological damage that goes along with that. Many people overlook this, believing that killing while in uniform is different than murder in other forms. But “I follow orders” is not going to remove the mental trauma that comes from shooting strangers, especially as an uninvited guest. Remember, as bad as Saddam Hussain is, his troops are not volunteers. While war may result in their untimely death, they should not be demonized. Their death is also a tremendous cost of this war. Certainly many of these soldiers that will die could have played a helpful role in the reconstruction of Iraq that will follow.
                              • These are just a few of the costs that are beyond calculation and yet are significant. But perhaps greater than all of these is the introduction of the pre-emptive doctrine, a script for global suicide in a nuclear age. If India or Pakistan should adopt such concepts, we will all suffer the repercussions.

                                3/22/2003

                                Copenhagen Anti-War Demonstrations

                                    11:47 am

                                  Several large peace demonstrations over the last few days in Copenhagen. Today over 10,000 marched against the invasion. See the slideshow. The evening of the 20th there was a great demonstration in the town square. Everyone had lights - it was really great to see so many people speaking up for peace - unfortunately the camera didn’t come along. It was an amazing sight.

                                  3/19/2003

                                  Shock and Awe

                                      5:05 am

                                    Even when the leaders don’t seem to listen they do, though sometimes with tragic consequences.

                                    Nixon’s secret bombing campaign of Cambodia was his criminal attempt to both win the war abroad and the war at home, by reducing the Vietnam war’s requirements for U.S. troops. He heard the protestors - he just had his own solution.

                                    The current administrations “shock and awe” plan, certain to be devastating to Iraqi civilians, could in part be born out the the political requirement the Bush administration faces of winning the war as quickly as possible before all political support further erodes.

                                    They are starting this attack with a dangerously low level of public support, both at home and abroad. The biggest coordinated global peace demonstrations the world has ever seen have already occured, before the (major) bombing campaign has begun, and even the Pope has publically opposed this attack.

                                    But the fools push on. The consequences? Time will be critical. The war must be nearly won and over by the time the causualty count begins to mount or is reported. Unfortunately, in order to achieve this aim, the safety of civilians in Iraq will be have to be further ignored. A “shock and awe” bombing campaign and civilian safety are incompatible, however smart the bombs may be. Bush may have no quarrel with the Iraqi people, but that won’t save them when the bombs starting exploding.

                                    How many civilians will be killed? How are we to value the lifes of people in Iraq versus the lives of American citizens? If for example, the Iraqi civilian death toll were to reach 100,000, that would probably exceed the imagined future terrorist attack that Saddam is accused of secretly planning. The danger of using this sort of cost/benefit analysis with human lives is that it encourages one to abandon ethics altogether. This way of thinking may seem pragmatic, but essentially it is very dangerous, for it can be used by authoritarian leaders to justify almost anything.

                                    Essentially though, this is the position that Bush has taken: Americans must defend themselves against a potential future attack even if it means inflicting a similar attack on others to do so. The unspoken belief is that American lives are more valuable than Iraqi lives. But it may really go far beyond that. It may really be that the economic security of the U.S. is more important than Iraqi lives or American lives, for as Bush himself has acknowledged, the economy cannot sustain another terrorist attack.

                                    Unfortunately, the policy of rooting out terror by using methods that look even more terrifying is that more enemies are created and the credibility of the government is ruined. This is a short term myopic strategy. Ultimately, containment of the world’s weapons of mass destruction, many of which were created in the United States, will require both goodwill between the peoples of the world and global disarmament. War is not the way to achieve either.

                                    3/17/2003

                                    Not a card game

                                        6:54 am

                                      The human mind, through the process of abstraction, can believe just about anything.

                                      This idea helps explains how people will go to war and kill each other over differences of opinion. What human being can possibly claim to be an authority on religion? We can’t even get along. Yet we will kill and die to defend our religion against the evil one, the other one, regardless of whether our religion is the latest incarnation of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Capitalism, Nationalism, Communism, or who knows what. The common principle is the “my” in my religion and the willingness to hurt other people to defend it. Why? Because we become deeply identified with our beliefs, so much so that an attack on our beliefs is experienced psycologically as at attack on our existence.

                                      Now Bush is declaring that France had shown their cards, like in a poker game.

                                      Not chips, human beings
                                      Not poker, war

                                      “Tomorrow is a moment of truth for the world,” Bush said.

                                      Starting a war is not a moment of truth. It is a moment of tragedy and a failure of the human spirit. Blair is insisting that the UN live up to the principle of using military force to make sure nations keep their word, refering to Iraq’s acceptance of the terms ending the first Gulf War and promise to disarm. There are other principles to think about too. Where is the principle in the most heavily armed nations in the world disarming a far weaker nation called Iraq of the weapons technology it supposedly acquired, directly or indirectly, from the west itself.

                                      The principle is “might makes right".

                                      3/16/2003

                                      Copenhagen Demonstration

                                          2:55 am

                                        Slideshow of the anti-invasion demonstration in Copenhagen, Denmark, March 15, 2003. Police estimate 6,000 people participated.

                                        Anyone else have pictures from around the world?

                                        3/13/2003

                                        Shock and Awe

                                            4:28 pm

                                          They want to start the war with a “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign.

                                          This type of pronouncement is both delusional and grandious. What do they think this is, the fourth of July?

                                          “Fear and pain” is more like it. Let’s remember there are over 5 million people in Bagdad, and like people anywhere, they don’t like bombs exploding in their cities.

                                          Also, don’t forget that the Iraqi soldiers are not volunteers. They didn’t sign up for these jobs, and they don’t have any easy way out of it. Just because someone has a uniform on doesn’t mean they believe in what they’re doing. A lot of people are going to be caught in the crossfire between two huge egos. What a waste.

                                          Why not debate Saddam Hussein? How many people are going to have to die over the pride of these leaders? The U.S. Policy of bullying and humiliation - intentionally mispronouncing Saddams Husseins name, etc, has failed. Now all that’s left in their bag of tricks is escalation. Compromise is not failure. Why not try talking?

                                          Give peace another chance.

                                          3/12/2003

                                          Candlelight peace vigil around the world

                                              3:06 pm

                                            Sunday, March 16, there will be a global candlelight vigil for peace. See the details here: MoveOn.org

                                            3/11/2003

                                            Vegetarian Arguments

                                                9:07 am

                                              Arguments for vegetarianism.

                                              3/10/2003

                                              The decline

                                                  1:37 pm

                                                Today is the third year anniversary of the NASDAQ all time high of 5,132.52. The value today is 1,278.37. That’s a major collapse.

                                                The United States is so identified with its economy that for many years the words Capitalism and Democracy were imagined to be fundamentally linked. The dramatic instability in the markets is well mirrored in the dramatic instability in politics.

                                                At times like this, an external enemy can be a welcome friend. Without Al Queda and Saddam Hussain, and of course the world trade center catastrophy, where would W be now? Enron, WorldCom, etc… There would be a lot of explaining to do.

                                                External enemies and oil - both very dangerous addictions.

                                                Remember that there is a lot of economic arm twisting going into this “coalition of the willing” arrangement. Perhaps we should call it coalition of the subjects. Russia has even been threatened with economic sanctions! And some Americans are so furious that France isn’t supporting their war plan that they renamed french fries “freedom fries” and pour perfectly good french wine out into the street.

                                                Soon enough they’ll be pouring perfectly good blood out into the streets of Iraq. How strange to kill strangers so far away. Long distance war. The human mind is capable of so much, and yet so little.

                                                3/9/2003

                                                Precarious

                                                    7:45 am

                                                  An enourmous commitment of reasources has already been made. Elaborate alliances have been forged and hidden deals have been made. It seems as if the actual decision to start the major assault was made months ago.

                                                  Yet the coalition of the willing seems increasingly fragmented and vulnerable. The international peace movement has certainly played a major role in this. The leaders even speak more gently now, about minimizing causualties and rebuilding Iraq after the war, as if playing to a more critical audience.

                                                  Is it possible that the threatened larger war in Iraq can still be avoided?

                                                  Who is actually making the decisions? George Bush says he will decide by following his gut. I suspect a very convincing and perhaps hypnotic higher up has his ear as well.

                                                  It really is terrifying to imagine that a single man, flawed as most men are, could have the power to decide the fate of so many people, that the war could start or not based on his order. In the past months, Bush has assembled a massive force of destruction around Iraq, and now having gone through a rather elaborate but simplistic cost/benefit analysis regarding the possible outcomes, he is listening to his gut for the final answer. Should he flip the switch?

                                                  Let’s hope Rumsfeld or Cheney didn’t sneak some extra chili into the cowboys beans.

                                                  3/5/2003

                                                  A matter of scale

                                                      11:58 am

                                                    They are now reporting 300,000 troops in place and a plan for a bombing attack 10 times as intense as that used in the first Gulf War.

                                                    First, remember that everything publically announced may be fabrication directed to extract a result from Iraq or to sway domestic public opinion or international opinion or who knows what.

                                                    Having said that, let us explore the possibility that the enourmous conventional military arsenal surrounding Iraq might be considered a weapon of mass destruction.

                                                    3/4/2003

                                                    Email the UN/MoveOn.org

                                                        8:22 am

                                                      Here’s an email going around calling for signatures

                                                      Dear friend,

                                                      I’m hoping you can join me on an emergency petition from
                                                      citizens around the world to the U.N. Security Council. The
                                                      petition’s going to be delivered to the 15 member states of
                                                      the Security Council on THURSDAY, MARCH 6.

                                                      If hundreds of thousands of us sign, it could be an enormously important and powerful message – people from all over the world joining in a single call for a peaceful solution. But we really need everyone who agrees to sign up today. You can
                                                      do so easily and quickly at:

                                                      http://www.moveon.org/emergency/

                                                      The stakes couldn’t really be much higher. A war with Iraq could kill tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and inflame the Middle East. According to current plans, it would require an American occupation of the country for years to come. And it could escalate in ways that are horrifying to imagine.

                                                      We can stop this tragedy from unfolding. But we need to speak together, and we need to do so now. Let’s show the Security Council what world citizens think.

                                                      Thank you,

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