from an email i got:
Aside from spreading word, below are a couple things people can do to support - and explore - the idea of reparations, called for by some of the progressive Iraqi civil society groups I mention in the article - and housed under a broader tent called ‘The Right to Heal’ … which is going for something far beyond charity or “government compensation” towards a mutual solidarity vision.
To support the Right to Heal Initiative, please take these two actions:
1) Submit a photo of yourself holding a sign explaining in a few sentences why you support any/all of the Right to Heal demands (see below for a list of some of them) along with the hashtag #righttoheal. Submit by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) Sign this letter in support of the request for a thematic hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights - an important Organization of American States commission that hears human rights concerns concerning countries throughout the Americas - to address our demands. If you are an organization that would like to endorse this letter and/or this initiative as a whole please email email@example.com.
The Right to Heal Initiative supports Iraqi civil society in its call for reparations and accountability from the US government; it must begin to repair the damages, such as environmental damage that has an apparent link to increasing rates of cancer and birth defects. Concretely, first steps towards this could mean:
Isn’t it amazing how rhetoric shapes politics? Simple words and images. If you’ve studied US foreign policy specifically in terms of the Middle East and South and Central Asia, you’ll notice how the Western media has maintained a very strong and even strangely hypnotic kind of control over consumers when it comes to the notion of “danger.” It’s full of sensationalism and trigger-happy as well as trigger-paranoid narrow-minded discourse. After 9/11, the most “dangerous” places in the world were Iraq and Afghanistan. US and its allies deployed troops in both regions, killed thousands and thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, plunged itself into an economic failure, and unwillingly realized only recently that its decision was a flawed, hypocritical one.
Now the rhetoric has shifted its focus on Iran and Pakistan. Two countries that have been under aggressive and relentless US foreign policy for the past decade. With sanctions imposed on Iran and drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan, USA continues to increases its violent pressure on both states. What’s amazing is how there’s very little opposition from American viewers; the majority plays easily into media’s aim to create a phantom Muslim enemy. An enemy that is, statistically speaking, so small and negligent that it barely exists as an “imminent” threat. Putting power politics aside, what does that say about Western media? It highlights its purposeful, malicious bias that perpetuates violence and bigotry against Muslims but it’s more than just that: Western media operates like a machine. It facilitates war.
Do you remember this from 1945? Look closer.
“Kill Japs, Kill Japs, then kill more Japs.” We all remember what happened then.
It’s just incredibly saddening. I grew up thinking words are obsolete, that human sensibility could see through the loopholes and inconsistencies of political rhetoric but when you have media so passionate about exaggeration and dishonesty, and people who are not only unaware but unmoved by tragedies proven over and over again, piles and piles of dead children and women and old people, it’s easy for war to happen - again. It’s convenient even. Because it satisfies that fear put into you. That “enemy” is dead, your politicians tell you. Then they create another enemy. It’s time to kill that “enemy” too.
Words are everything. Western media insists that it is “fair” and “neutral” but it contradicts itself by analyzing international relations without discussing actual politics. Yesterday everyone was worried about nonexistent WMD in Iraq and Afghanistan; today they’re worried about Iran and Pakistan.
And you know what could possibly happen after that. Everyone knows.
Question: Do you believe there has ever existed a country in which every single person—man, woman, and child—deserved to die?
Unless you’re a racist asshole, the answer should be: “No.”
And yet some people really do think that way. Just last Thanksgiving I had to sit and listen to my own father (who has never served in the military, by the way) shoot off at the mouth about how we “need to just kill all the Muslims.”
What’s worse is, a lot of people seem to feel that way. To my deep shame, I had to sit there with my girlfriend and listen while members of my own family agreed with this horseshit.
As the only person in the room who’d actually been to the Middle East, met a great many Muslims and befriended a few, and served in our botched War On Terror, I felt I had a responsibility to speak up. So I said a few things that should have been obvious. How genocide is wrong. How religious intolerance is wrong. That almost all the people I met Over There were good, decent people who just want to live their lives in peace without getting bombs dropped on them, and that really doesn’t seem like too much to ask for.
The men grumbled, mentioned again that I’m the token Hippie of the family, and I think my Dad muttered something about how I must have picked up these crazy ideas in college or during my time living in San Francisco. As if I’d said something utterly senseless and he had to find an excuse for my obvious wrongheadedness. At this point my aunts rushed in to change the subject.
They’re very good at changing the subject. To this day I haven’t been able to have an honest conversation about Iraq with my family. Haven’t been able, or perhaps haven’t been allowed to.
Getting back to the point: I may have picked an extreme example, but the problem is that most Americans—and probably most people throughout the world—are raised to think this way. When we send children to their history classes and teach them about past wars, we always describe those wars in terms of The Good Guys vs. The Bad Guys. Us vs. Them. But the world is far more complicated than that. Unless, of course, you believe that every single German soldier killed in World War Two was a mass-murdering Nazi with no respect for human life.
Which isn’t true. Your average German soldier was just another poor farm-boy, drafted into a madman’s war.
Those Soviet troops we were taught to fear during the Cold War? Again, I’d bet most of them were just poor draftees.
How about the Indian Wars? Remember cheering at the movies whenever John Wayne shot another red man? Those Native Americans were just some young men defending their homeland. Read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee sometime. If anyone was the “bad guy” in that situation, it was John Wayne for fuck’s sake.
I believe I can speak with some experience of your average “terrorist.” He’s a guy living in the middle of nowhere. He’s poorer than you can imagine. He’s got kids to feed. And one day some asshole with a bomb offers to pay him twenty dollars to dig a hole in the road. Our “terrorist” knows the man who hired him will probably plant a bomb in that hole to kill Americans, but he needs the money, and he’s afraid what will happen to him if he says no, and he doesn’t like what these American soldiers have done to his country anyhow, so he takes the job. Next thing he knows, he’s being tortured in Guantanamo Bay.
Does that poor man really sound like a homicidal maniac to you? Do you think this “terrorist” deserves to die? Yes, I understand that there are some genuinely awful men in the world who do terrible, inhuman things. I’ve met a few of those guys, too. But most of the “terrorists” I met were just poor bastards stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And if you can empathize with that “terrorist,” then what about your average law-abiding Iraqi citizen who just saw his home blown to pieces? Does it really make any difference to him if the bomber was American or Al Quaeda? Either way, his home is gone, and he’s got a right to be angry about that. You can see how he might not be very happy with us.
I spoke of “terrorists,” but I can speak even more confidently of your average American soldier. He’s a poor kid who’s been misled. He’s been taught since earliest childhood that war is noble, that war is romantic, that war is Right, especially when America goes to war. Your average American soldier is a child that has been brainwashed and handed a gun and turned loose in a hostile land. He’s a good kid tricked into doing terrible things.
God forbid he should learn the error of his ways. Soldiers who refuse orders have a way of disappearing. Just look at Private Bradley Manning. You can be sent to prison—military prison, where you’ll break big rocks into little rocks for the next few decades. Politicians and the media will vilify you. You’ll be ostracized by your fellow soldiers, your friends, even your own family. You’ll be dishonorably discharged, and not even McDonald’s will hire you. You’ll be branded a Traitor, the lowest form of human scum, and it would be better for you if you were born dead. And it goes without saying that the war you protested will go on, bloody as ever, with or without your cooperation.
So, yeah. I had my doubts about our War On Terror. But I continued to follow orders until I finally (finally!) got an opportunity to leave active duty and go back home. Perhaps some of you think that’s not enough, that I should have thrown down my rifle and my aid bag and martyred myself. That my failure to do so makes me the Bad Guy.
And if that’s the way you feel, you need to grow the hell up.
If you’re so immature that you think of war in terms of The Good Guys vs. The Bad Guys, you’re likely to think that all Iraqis are bloodthirsty terrorists, or that all American soldiers are inhuman baby-killers. And either way, you’re wrong.
We’re all adults here. We should know better.
But apparently we don’t. Just watch five minutes of Fox News and you’ll see highly paid pundits talking about war in terms of Us vs. Them. Good and Evil.
Our political leaders talk this way, too. Either they’re condescending to us, talking to us like we’re children, or they’re damn fool enough to think that way. And we’re damn fool enough to elect them.
People who talk like that are far guiltier than your average enemy soldier. It’s that sort of political language that dehumanizes people and allows us to kill thousands of people overseas and still sleep at night.
If you’re dumb enough to think that way, you need to shut the fuck up when grown folks are talking.
Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study.
Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents.
Their claims have been supported by a survey showing a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer.
As always, these are just my personal opinions and observations, feel free to message me, tell me what you think.
The reason that so many people have jumped on this bandwagon is essentially due to a misguided at best and racist at worst mindframe. I feel like it’s like a movie for some people; that African warlord kidnapping children to make an army terrorizing everything in their path. And this is your feel-good moment to do something to “stop him” …and you get a trendy bracelet in the process. Do you see what I’m getting at? The video wasn’t even as bad as many I’ve seen say from Iraq or Palestine or recently Syria, but it got so many people mobilized because it requires no effort, they didn’t have to research anything; learn about the complex history or culture or even the specifics of this man and his crimes; “omg he kidnapped 30, 000 children, and the cute little 5 year old in the video says we have to stop him!!!” Well let me tell you about a few people who killed 500, 000 children -perhaps one million civilians all together, and condemned thousands of babies to a life with deformities (kinda like the way Kony got his soldiers to mutilate people’s faces)- and guess what? You won’t even have to go 8000 miles to get these guys. They’re in your country; they’re running your country. Getting Kony is a long shot, but you can actually get these guys! In fact Amnestly International even asked for one of them to be arrested. Multiple times.
Only I forgot, they’re not African warlords and it’s not as romantic arresting old white dudes in suits, is it?
This story is pretty fucked up.
Marine gets no jail time in killing of 24 Iraqi civilians
Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich will not serve a jail sentence following his guilty plea in the killing of 24 Iraqis in 2005, a military judge said Tuesday.
The announcement by Lt. Col. David Jones came after Wuterich took responsibility during his sentencing hearing at Camp Pendleton for the killings in the Euphrates River town of Haditha and expressed remorse to the victims’ families.
Jones said he had planned to recommend 90 days in the brig — the maximum as requested by the prosecution — but that the plea bargain approved by Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser had called for no jail time.
Wuterich, 31, was the last of eight Marines charged in the Haditha killings to have his case resolved. Six had the charges against them dropped, and one Marine was acquitted.
As the squad leader, Wuterich ordered his Marines “to shoot first, ask questions later” as they stormed two houses on Nov. 19, 2005, after a roadside bomb had killed one Marine and injured two others.
Aw shit, you were right, capturethecastle. He didn’t even get the three stinking months.
Several analysts said they feared that the deal Monday to end Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich’s court-martial in the killing of 24 Iraqis would harden the widespread conviction in the international community that the U.S. does not hold its troops accountable for misdeeds or meet the standards of conduct it attempts to impose on other countries.
“This is only going to reinforce that sense,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, which seeks to curtail inhumane conduct in war. “This has contributed significantly to the cynicisms of people in the region about America’s rhetoric — about America standing for principles. When push comes to shove, when it comes to looking at the misconduct of their own soldiers, there is no accountability.”
Wuterich will plead guilty to a single count of negligent dereliction of duty, with a maximum sentence of three months in the brig. Other charges were dropped. Wuterich, 31, was accused of manslaughter, assault and dereliction of duty for allegedly leading his squad on a bloody rampage on the morning of Nov. 19, 2005, after a roadside bomb killed one Marine and injured two in the Euphrates River town of Haditha. Twenty-four unarmed Iraqis died.
Read More: Muslim Village
Khanda Faraj Mohammed, 27 years old, mother of three and pregnant with her fourth child was severely burned in a car bomb explosion while shopping in the market of Kirkuk in Iraq. She is being treated in a program run by Medécins Sans Frontières (MSF) that cares for Iraqi victims of violence whose injuries can not be treated inside Iraq. The program is now beginning to receive patients from Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Libya in addition to Iraqis. See more on the MSF photo blog.
Photo: © J.B. Russel
As last U.S. troops exit Iraq, they leave a troubled land behind: With little understanding of each other, Iraq and the U.S. collided in a long, brutal war that exacted a terrible price from both. They separate with very different understandings of what happened.
Photo credits: Times staff and wire photos
US soldiers killed: 4,481
Seriously wounded: 32,195
Psychological damage: 30% of US troops develop serious mental health problems within 3-4 months of returning home.
Journalists killed: 229
Iraqi Police & soldiers killed: 10,125
Estimated Iraqi civilian deaths: Between 108,000 and 150,000 although there’s criticism that that only includes deaths reported by media agencies.
Coalition deaths: 318
Private contractor deaths: 550
Approved & spent: $900 billion taxpayer money through Nov 2010.
Lost & unaccounted for: $9 billion and $549.7 million in spare parts shipped to contractors.
Lost and reported stolen: $6.6 billion dollars earmarked for Iraq reconstruction, reported on June 14, 2011 and called “the largest theft of funds in national history.”
Missing: $1 billion in equipment provided to the Iraqi security forces.
Mismanaged & wasted: $10 billion, per Feb ‘07 Congressional hearings.
Halliburton charges Pentagon has called unreasonable & unsupported: $1.4 billion
Annual air-conditioning cost in Iraq & Afghanistan: $20.2 billion
Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003: 40%
Iraqi physicians before the Invasion: 34,000. Those who left: 12,000. Those murdered: 2,000.
Wadaj Khanfar, the director of Al Jazeera, announced his resignation today after Wikileaks released documents that could prove embarassing to the news organization, the New York Times has reported.
According to the documents, Khanfar held particularly close ties with the U.S. government, to whom he promised the network would provide less critical coverage. He steps down today after running the network for eight years.
The documents allege that Khanfar censored some of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the conflict in Iraq under American pressure to sanitize its coverage, presumably to minimize anti-U.S. sentiment in the Arab world. The coverage in question was to include images of injured civilians, which were allegedly removed by Khanfar.
To an American media outlet, colluding with the government is actually a sign of respectability. Remember when the New York Times hid Bush’s warrantless wiretapping of American citizens for over a year?