My Reply to a Letter from US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on the Iraq War
I wrote back on February 3 in this space that I had called Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) regarding an anti-war resolution passed by the local Ann Arbor Democratic Party organization in January 2007. I got this letter in the mail from her today:
UNITED STATES SENATE
Washington, DC 20510-2204
March 12, 2007
…for contacting me about the war in Iraq. I share your deeply-held concerns and appreciate hearing your views on this important matter.
In 2002, I was one of only 23 Senators to vote against the Iraq War Resolution. The decision to go to war is one that should be made with great trepidation when out country is at risk and all other options have been exhausted. From day one, the reasoning for this war has been flawed and inconsistent. Our men and women in uniform deserve better.
I believe it is a serious mistake to increase the number of American troops in Iraq. We must do everything we can to support those serving out country. Sending more Americans into combat without a strategy for success will not improve the situation on the ground in Iraq, and it will not bring our armed forces home any sooner. I joined 56 of my colleagues in voting for a bipartisan resolution opposing the President’s escalation war plan, and I am extremely disappointed that it was filibustered by the minority in the Senate.
A free and stable Iraq can only be secured by the Iraqis. They must embrace responsibility for their collective future and decide that living and dying at the hands of sectarian violence is not the future that they want for their children or grandchildren. We cannot substitute American troops for Iraqi resolve.
I am supporting legislation, recently introduced by Senator Harry Reid, that will require the President to begin phased redeployment within 120 days, and a full redeployment of all American combat troops in Iraq by March 31, 2008. We can no longer follow the same failed strategy in Iraq. I remain committed to changing the course that has been set and bringing our service men and women home safely.
Thank you again for contacting me. I hope you will join me in keeping our soldiers and their families, as well as the people in Iraq, in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Please contact me again when I may be of assistance to you or your family
United States Senator
Having met Senator Stabenow in October, 2006 in Ann Arbor and having briefly discussed with her, her support for the atrocious “Military Commissions Act,” I think it is fair to say that she does not share all of my concerns.
“Our men and women in uniform deserve better.” This is very odd and specious reasoning. In a democratic society, the nation doesn’t exist to serve the military, rather the reverse. If a violent gang was overrunning a neighborhood and destroying it, killing and torturing hundreds of people, we wouldn’t put up signs saying “support our Mafia” or “bring home our Crips”. We wouldn’t say, “our gang members deserve better”.
“A free and stable Iraq can only be secured by the Iraqis”. If this is true, it certainly cannot be accomplished while the country is under hostile foreign domination. No Iraqi government can be regarded as anything but a Quisling, puppet front for the US under the current occupation. The Iraqis didn’t smash their country to ruins, we did. And we then emplaced by force a factionalized and corrupt government and instituted a reign of terror perhaps even worse than Saddam’s, killing, raping, torturing and imprisoning without trial tens of thousands of people. The Iraqis, and the US occupation, even use some of the same prisons, torture facilities, “rape rooms” and execution chambers as the old Iraqi regime.
All the service men and women are not going to be brought home safely. Delaying the withdrawal for another year or more will condemn thousands more Americans, and tens of thousands more Iraqis, to mental trauma, crippling injury, and death. If we wait until the Green Zone collapses and is overrun, thousands of Americans may be held prisoner and be tortured in concentration camps as happened to the French after the surrender at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. As it stands, US forces will have to fight their way out under difficult circumstances even if they started withdrawing today. The sooner the US forces are withdrawn, the better for Iraq and the US both.
There is no mention here in Stabenow’s letter of negotiation. Like it or not, we must negotiate with our enemies. That’s with whom one has negotiations to end a war. Not only is this the best way to salvage something from a disaster, it also provides useful information about the resistance leadership, capabilities, and intentions.
The United States has suffered a stinging strategic defeat in Iraq. There were unforced, critical errors. There were no substantial stockpiles of weaponized NBC agents found, thus undermining the pretext for the war and undercutting any tenuous basis in international law expounded to the UN by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell. Disbanding the Iraqi army rather than continuing to pay them to remain in their barracks was an idiotic mistake. And the de-Baathification law, while laudable in purpose, served to marginalize, alienate, impoverish and radicalize the middle-class and intelligentsia, paving the way for very nasty, regressive and atavistic factions to take power.
The United States accomplished its stated war aims in Iraq some time ago. There were few illicit weapons found in Iraq. And Saddam is dead. Yet the US stays on. There is no further strategic objective there to “win”. The United States can either withdraw in as good order as possible now, or stay in Iraq and Afghanistan until it “loses”.
Stabenow once again presents a moral inversion in her closing paragraph where she encourages “thoughts and prayers,” for “our soldiers and their families, as well as the people of Iraq”. The people of Iraq didn’t do anything to the US to deserve 4 years of bombing, rape, and torture. Why do they deserve second billing in our prayers only after those who are oppressing, raping, and murdering them?
Stabenow and the other right-wing Democrats want the US public to believe they are moving to end the war even though, in fact, they are moving to fund it for at least another year, and laying the groundwork for a permanent US occupation “to fight terror”. Will they fight jealousy, envy, rage, grief and sorrow as well?
It is the US troops in Iraq and the men who sent them there who are the “evildoers” as far as initiating an illegal aggressive war on the basis of lies and propaganda. Do they really deserve our sympathy, or our support? Or should the responsible civilian and military leaders of the US forces be tried for war crimes such as “waging an aggressive war,” “genocide” and “crimes against humanity”?
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
More is slowly trickling out about how the US Army, including four general officers, allegedly lied and covered up the death of US Army Ranger Cpl. Pat Tillman in Afghanistan three years ago. Here’s part of what CNN had to say today:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The family of Cpl. Pat Tillman said Monday the Army investigation into the former NFL player’s death by friendly fire in Afghanistan suggests a “conspiracy” and vowed to pursue a congressional investigation into how the death was handled.
Military officials had said earlier that nine officers, including four generals, will face “corrective action” for making critical mistakes in the aftermath of Tillman’s death.
The NFL player was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 after giving up a professional football career to fight as an Army Ranger.
In their statement, the Tillman family said they were not satisfied with the Army report.
“In our opinion, this attempt to impose closure by slapping the wrists of a few officers and enlisted men is just another bureaucratic entrenchment,” the family statement said. “Once again, we are being used as props in a Pentagon public relations exercise.”
The family statement also charged that the decision to award Tillman the Silver Star “appears more than anything to be part of a cynical design to conceal the real events from the family and the public, while exploiting the death of our beloved Pat as a recruitment poster.”
Looking at how the Army allegedly lied and manipulated the press and public emotion regarding Cpl. Tillman and Pfc. Jessica Lynch, one suspects that these are not isolated incidents; lying and manipulation have become acceptable tactics under the rubric of “psyops”, or “psychological operations”. Speaking of lies, lies, propaganda, and more lies, I’ve called the offices of US Rep. John Dingell twice asking about the status of the hundreds of women and children taken prisoner at Kufa Farms after the Najaf Massacre, but have received no reply or response.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
US declares ‘War on Love’; France invaded
President denounces France, Italy, Brazil as “Axis of Love”
2007-03-15 17:41:00 UCT
by Henry Edward Hardy
US President-for-Life George W. Bush today declared war on France, saying:
“We have fought the War on Terror, and been victorious. Today nobody dares to be scared of anything, no matter how bad it may be.
“But our task is not done. There is another, even stronger emotion which represents a threat to our nation. I am referring to ‘loverism’. Our war on love begins with France, but it does not end there. We will pursue the loverists wherever they may seek to spread their deadly loverism.
“He (Jacques Chirac) is what we would call a prime suspect … If he thinks he can hide from the United States, and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.”
Bush said that military operations against France were continuing as he spoke, although he acknowledged that, “France had surrendered before our troops had arrived,” he added that the French had deployed a secret weapon labeled WMD, or “Women of Massive Doudounes.”
“Our troops are taking hold of the situation with both hands, and we expect them to be victorious before sunrise,” said the President.
Regarding France, Italy, and Brazil, Mr. Bush said,
“States like these, and their loverist allies, constitute an axis of love, disrobing to threaten the war-loving people of the world. By seeking women of massive doudounes, these regimes raise a hard and growing danger. They could provide these women to loverists, giving them the means to match their affections. They could seduce our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.”
Invest in deadly weapons
And those little cotton flags
Invest in wooden caskets
In guns and body bags
You´re invested in oppression
Investing in corruption
Invest in every tyranny
And the whole world´s destruction…
There´s a war on our democracy
A war on our dissent
There´s a war inside religion
And what Jesus might have meant
There´s a war on mother nature
A war upon the seas
There´s a war upon the forests
On the birds and the bees
There´s a war on education
A war on information
A war between the sexes
And every nation
A war on our compassion
A war on understanding
A war on love and life itself
It´s war that they´re demanding…
Sting, This War
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
I stare at this paper and don’t know what to say
I don’t feel right saying “happy memorial day”
I don’t find anything happy in the price you’ve paid
We’re both just pawns when this game called
war gets played
My body came home but my spirit just stayed
That hot Iraqi day when you were slayed
Watching my back so I could sleep unafraid I
heard the explosion from where I laid
And instantly I watched the skies go grey
I watched my life just float away
How could things go this way
You were my brother in arms and you took my place
But not like the way that car bomb took your face
And blew off your limbs
When I think about it my head starts to spin
I get noxious when I think of your family
I want to tell them I truly am sorry
I’m sorry your son died protecting me
This isn’t the way things were meant to be
You see that day your son took my duty
Your brother sacrificed four 4 hours of sleep
So he could go guard a gate for me
Your fiancée took my fate from me
I’m sorry your father took my place for me
I’m sorry I can spend memorial day with my family
Today should have been a memorial for me
At least then the survivor could have lived guilt-
–Cpl. Cloy Richards
When Tina Richards, the mother of Corporal Cloy Richards, who is returning to Iraq for a third tour, encountered Representative David Obey (D-WI), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Richards mentioned her son was a Marine who was returning to Iraq and that she had just been to Obey’s office to drop off her son’s poem, “Survivor’s Guilt”.
Obey became infuriated and went into a tirade against, “idiot liberals” who call for an immediate cutoff of war funding:
It doesn’t. The President wants to continue the war. We’re trying to use the supplemental to end the war, but you can’t end the war by going against the supplemental. It’s time these idiot liberals understand that. There’s a big difference between funding the troops and ending the war. I’m not gonna deny body armor. I’m not gonna deny funding for veterans hospitals, defense hospitals, so you can help people with medical problems, that’s what you’re gonna do if you’re going against that bill.
When Tina Richards and the other members of the Occupation Project, an anti-war group, suggested that all that was necessary was not to pass any more war appropriations, Obey seemed to become unhinged, accusing one man of “smoking something illegal” and pointing to his empty inner coat pocket and almost-shouting, “do you see a magic wand?”
Obey’s office has been one of several around the country where anti-war sit-in’s and other forms of non-violent protest have been taking place.
Obey’s Tirade youtube link from Grassroots America
See also: Congressman’s video blunder shows Democrats split on war Washington Times
Tina Richards, A Mother of a US Soldier Crosses Paths With Rep. David Obey Al-Jazeerah
Protests target state’s lawmakers: Activists urge Obey, Kohl to vote against funding for war Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
Murder and Mystery in Medieval Cambridge:
Mistress of the Art of Death
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007
reviewed by Henry Edward Hardy
Mistress of the Art of Death (G. P. Putnam, 2007) is an engrossing yarn of skullduggery and forensic pathology in 12th-Century Cambridge, England. The protagonist is one Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar or “Dr. Trotula”, a physician and “doctor to the dead” from Salerno in the Kingdom of Sicily.
Adelia and her companions, Simon, a Jewish Italian “fixer” and Mansur, an Algerian eunuch, are sent on a mission by the King of Sicily to the aid of the Jews of Cambridge. This is not the Cambridge of the eponymous University. This is an earlier Cambridge, a prosperous merchant town with a small port, several Roman roads, a native wool industry and a Jewish quarter.
Adelia and her companions must redeem the Jews of Cambridge, who are interned in the local Royal Castle while under suspicion of murder and child crucifixion. She must gain the trust of the local people while investigating the awful murders and fending off the mostly unwelcome attentions of the local knights and crusaders.
The recreation of medieval life is serviceable, but as the author notes in an afterword there are a number of anachronisms. The town itself wasn’t known as “Cambridge” until hundreds of years after the time depicted. Nor would the term “doctor” have been used at that time for a physician or surgeon.
Trotula of Salerno was the reputed author of an authoritative text on women’s medicine, the Diseases of Women (Passionibus Mulierum Curandorum), also known as the Trotula Major. It is disappointing that Franklin did not acknowledge in the afterword, and odd that most reviewers have not noted, that the protagonist was based on the character of an historical author and scholar.
Mistress of the Art of Death starts with a curious sort of “over the shoulder” first person plural: “Here they come. From down the road we can hear harnesses jingling and see dust rising into the warm spring sky”. This seemed promising but likely to be a difficult conceit to carry throughout, and indeed the narrative soon assumes the more usual third person singular, only to return to the curious “we” form at the end. One suspects the heavy axe of an editor has been at work here to condense and commercialize what was probably once a bloodier, scarier, and less broadly accessible novel.
The character of Adelia presented here is that of a modern woman, scientific, irreligious, compassionate, egalitarian, and humanitarian. We don’t have the sense here that this “Dr. Trotula” would subscribe to the view presented in the Trotula Major that women are more susceptible to disease due to the “curse of Eve” resulting from the apple in the Garden of Eden. The character of the protagonist is being twisted to conform to a set of modern (or post-modern) sensibilities which would have been peculiar even to the enlightened Eleanor of Aquitaine or Empress Maud. When the book overreaches to appeal to modern sensibilities it produces a jarring effect which disturbs the “willing suspension of disbelief”
When Roger Picot, a knight of the Crusades and the erstwhile love interest, opines about what the crusades are achieving, the author is not talking only about the medieval crusades, but giving an allegory of the Iraq war: “They’re inspiring such a hatred amongst Arabs who used to hate each other that they’re combining the greatest force against Christianity the world has ever seen. It’s called Islam.”
Mistress of the Art of Death is particularly redolent of Ivanhoe, written by Sir Walter Scott and published in 1819. This novel chronicles the adventures of a young Saxon noble, Ivanhoe, in 12th century England. In Ivanhoe the essential dramatic conflict is the same as in Mistress of the Art of Death: Jews are accused of murder and witchcraft and held in the castle while the protagonist must solve the mystery while protecting the weak and innocent around themselves, as well as guarding their own reputation.
The character of King Henry Plantagenet in Mistress of the Art of Death is given sympathetic treatment as a democratically-minded monarch who falls prey to occasional carpet-chewing fits of madness. It is interesting to compare the more subtle and devious depiction of Henry in the play A Lion In Winter by James Goldman which was made into the sublime 1968 movie with Peter O’Toole as Henry and Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Mistress of the Art of Death is a well-written and engaging book which offers a peephole into the goodness and depravity, enlightenment and ignorance of an imagined world of England, 900 years ago.
A version of this article appeared previously in Current Magazine and on Electric Current.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy