Tuesday, July 20, 2010






Turning to the US, KSBW reports that Iraq War veteran Tremayne Wilson created some form of disturbance today in Sacremento and was in "a standoff with police." If he's a struggling veteran (he may or may not be -- he might have just had a bad day), it's one more indication that the VA leadership needs to get serious about helping veterans.

I did not mean to shout, just drive
Just get us out, dead or alive
The road's too long to mention
Lord, it's something to see
Laid down by the Good Intentions Paving Company
All the way to think we've been playing at, darling
I can see that you're wearing your staying-hat, darling
For the time being, all is well
Won't you love me a spell?
This is blindness, beyond all conceiving
While behind us, the road is leaving
And leaving, and falling back
Like a rope gone slack
-- "Good Intentions Paving Co." written by Joanna Newsom, from her album Have One On Me (which Kat reviewed here)
Blindness beyond all conceiving describes support for returning to a draft in the US. US House Rep Charlie Rangel has proposed reinstating the draft several times since the start of the Iraq War, most recently he began proposing it last month. In a July 15th press release, Rangel explained his position, "What troubles me most about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the total indifference to the suffering and loss of life among our brave young soldiers on the battlefield. The reason is that so few families have a stake in the war which is being fought by other people's children. The test for Congress, particularly for those members who support the war, is to require all who enjoy the benefits of our democracy to contribute to the defense of the country. All of America's children should share the risk of being placed in harm's way. In other words, if you support the war, you should support a compulsary military draft."
We disagree with the return of the draft and have covered that repeatedly over the years. But Rangel's proposal raises the issue for those newer to the story. Rangel believes sincerely that the draft would drive home the costs of war. We'll note his sincerity and then dismiss the entire idea. The burden would not be "shared" and it never has been. If you doubt that, let's go to Jessica Lange at the September 2005 DC peace rally (Democracy Now!, link has video, audio and text):
And who are these men? Who are these men? Let's talk for a minute about these masters of war, these same men that are sending our sons and our daughters, our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers to fight an undeclared and unconstitutional and unwinnable war for them. Let's talk about their service records. Karl Rove did not serve. Paul Wolfowitz did not serve. Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams, Newt Gingrich did not serve. Jeb Bush did not serve. The list goes on and on. And we know George W. did not really serve.
The draft would bring shared sacrifice? When has that ever happened? Ava and I noted the above quote in a piece for Third about, among other things, radio host Nicole Sandler advocating for the return of the draft to Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan (Cindy is opposed to the idea). It was amazing to hear Sandler go on and on about how the wars are wrong and must be stopped and . . . her answer . . . was to return the draft. Sandler's answer wasn't to call out Barack Obama, the War Hawk overseeing the wars. That was too much for her. But, hey, start drafting Americans, she's all on board for that.
There are a ton of myths about the draft. Reality on the draft, the peace movement of the 'sixties' was successful in overturning the draft. It's one of the great successes and a success that the War Hawks immediately began chipping away at. It was Peanut Head Jimmy Carter -- our man of 'peace' -- who returned registration for the draft. In fact, Ronald Reagan's appeal to some young voters had to do with his 1980 campaign promise to repeal the registration. Only the very young ever believed Reagan on that because -- press lapping at his crotch aside -- he never could deliver a line worth s**t. (If you doubt that, check out any speech or his ghastly performance in Bette Davis' Dark Victory.) Carter brought back registration for the draft and Reagan lied that he'd stop it. Except for Emilio Estevez, I'm finding it hard to think of anyone who ever spoke out against that nonsense with any passion or elequence. Certainly politicians of either side of the War Party didn't speak out against it. Since Peanut Head brought back registration, the Oval Office has been occupied by 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats and none of them have bothered to stop the registration.
Though the elimination of the draft was a victory of the peace movement, the draft did not spur the peace movement. This is a lie that a number of crazies and lazies repeat. The crazies because, well, they're crazy. The lazies because, look at Tom Hayden, they're lazy. Real work has always frightened Tom-Tom which is why he dropped the Iraq War like a hot potato when he realized he'd wrung it of all the p.r. value he could. For those who don't want to do the work, the draft becomes the EZ Bake answer. It's what you can hide behind in good times and bad -- as 2003 to the present indicates -- it's what you can bemoan, "Oh, if only we had the draft, if only we had it, oh, we'd have people in the streets, oh, if only."
The draft, we're lied to, would force a shared sacrifice. But everyone didn't get drafted, did they? Oops. Well then, when you don't have war stories, do like the idiot Tom Hayden and fall back on draft physical 'war stories.' The peace movement, Tom-Tom wanted you to know, was fueled by those invasive physicals. In the July 5, 2007 snapshot, we were noting how stupidity was contagious and Tom's latest starry-eyed groupie Richard C. Paddock (Los Angeles Times) needed to learn to think before penning that, "In the 1960s, the possibility of being drafted at the age of 18 -- before they could even vote in those days -- compelled students to decide where they stood on Vietnam." The sixties? No quotes? When were the biggest rallies and marches against the war? In the early 1970s. Facts is hard when you're spoonfed by Tom Hayden. And, as we noted, "students" weren't at risk of being drafted. First of all, there was a student deferrment (ask Dick Cheney or Tom Hayden). Second, female students -- females period -- were not drafted. So this nonsense EZ Bake 'answer' was never based on reality. Women made up easily half of the peace movement in the 'sixties' and were never at risk of a draft. Junior high kids protested the war and sixth to eighth graders boys weren't at risk of being drafted for many, many years. As Rebecca noted of Tom and Paddock's insane claims, "but we did make up easily half of the peace movement, women did. and this nonsense that a draft was what caused campus action because 'students' were afraid of being drafted or because 'students' had to go through an invasive medical visit (the military's physical) is crap. that's not reality. and don't talk to me about an invasive medical visit if you haven't ever had to pull up your legs and use those damn stirrups." Amen.
There are so many myths and lies about the draft. There are people who think, for example, the draft started after WWII (we were speaking to a group this morning and this came up). No. December 6, 1941 is when Pearl Harbor (base in Hawaii) is bombed by Japanese planes. December 7, 1941 is when the US enters World War II. We're dropping back to the opening of Abbott & Costello's Buck Privates, released January 31, 1941 (months before the US entered the war) which opens with a newsreel.
News Announcer: September 14, 1940. Congress passes the first peace time Selective Service Training Act in the history of the nation. President Roosevelt signs the Draft Bill, and effical step in national defense. Impressive ceremony. Secretary of War [Henry L.] Stimson is blindfolded, draws the first number from 9000 sealed capsules.
Over a year prior to the US entering WWII, the draft was passed, signed by FDR and it began. "Secretary of War" is what the Secretary of Defense post used to be named and what it should still be named. The draft has never ended a war but the draft and standing armies may have allowed for wars. Certainly that was the case in 1940. Stimson was a Republican. FDR brought him to the administration because he was going to put the US into WWII (with or without Pearl Harbor). Stimson had been Secretary of War once before -- during WWI. He was brought back July 10, 1940 to prepare for war with Germany.
The draft didn't stop WWII. The draft didn't stop the Korean War. During Vietnam, a large number of factors -- societal, cultural, demographic and movement-building ones -- helped create resistance to the war as did the very nature of the conflict which was based on lies and which depended upon daily lies to keep that war going. Insulting women of all ages who were never at risk of being drafted, insulting the men over the draft age or ineligble for the draft due to any number of reasons (and there were many disabled activists in the peace movement), and insulting young children in junior high who were at no immediate risk of a draft by claiming that their motivation was due to the fact that they might be drafted is insane. It's also, in terms of the women, sexist. But we're used to Tom's sexism. It got him kicked out of the Red Family, after all. In his vanity monument Reunions (a 507-page autobigoraphy -- that's basically 100 pages for each decade of his largely dull life -- though had he owned up to the extramarital activities he was carrying on as he wrote it, he might have spiced things up a bit), he glosses over his expulsion. His ego prevented him -- as we all remember -- from joining another commune. He had to 'start' one of his own (women did the work). Accused of manipulating people (a charge that floats through all of Tom-Tom's life) and of using the group as a springboard for his own publicity (a charge he leaves out of his book -- one of many), Tom in print declares that the collective had turned "into a cult." He never confronted his sexism, he never owned up to his opportunism. The fact that all these years later, he would strip women of their credit in the peace movement by insisting that 'students fear of being drafted' fueled the peace movement is an ugly but natural outcome in the ugly life of Tom Hayden. Pockmarks of the soul, indeed. There is no sincerity to Tom Hayden at all as the Tom Hayden Workout/Cashout made clear: Marry a famous and wealthy woman, use all of her money and fame to run for public office, cheat on her, chip away at her self-esteem daily, insult her looks, tell her she's getting old, cheat on her some more, attack her daughter (who caught on to you long before her mother did), poll to see if your wife is a liability to your political ambitions, when she finds out about the poll, demand alimony and a property settlement through various forms of veiled blackmail. The cool-down, of course, is retire to obscurity. In contrast to Hayden, Charlie Rangel is sincere; however, he is mistaken that a draft would bring the costs home. The same types of people who eluded the draft during Vietnam would elude it today. And since sexism runs through the fables of the 'sixties,' let's note that Matthew Rothschild's guest on this week's Progressive Radio is Susan Douglas who critiques media for In These Times and has a new book entitled Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work Is Done.
We'll close with the following from A.N.S.W.E.R.:

Statement from Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition

Badly losing the war in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus has decided to promote a violent civil war in Afghan villages.

That is the true intent of the new so-called Local Defense Initiatives that Petraeus forced down the throat of Afghanistan's puppet president Hamid Karzai. The new plan is a variant of the Community Defense Initiative that Gen. Stanley McChrystal tried to impose on Afghanistan after Obama selected him to lead the expanded war effort in 2009.

The Petraeus strategy calls for putting 10,000 job-hungry Afghan villagers on the Pentagon payroll. They will be given money and guns so that they can form militias and shoot and kill other members of their village who are asserted to be either pro-Taliban or opposed to the U.S./NATO occupation.

The new strategy further underscores the criminal role of the Pentagon generals. Petraeus is consciously fomenting civil war and ethnic rivalry just as he did in Iraq. Gen. James Mattis, Petraeus' new boss at Central Command, when speaking to a crowd in San Diego in 2005 about his experience in Afghanistan, said "it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot 'em."

President Obama and his military team recognize that it is less damaging at home, where there is almost no support for this endless occupation, to foment civil war in Afghanistan and pay desperate Afghans to slaughter each other as a means of reducing U.S. casualties.

U.S. taxpayers who are experiencing devastating cuts in state and local budgets, layoffs of municipal workers, soaring tuition hikes in public colleges—all because of budget shortfalls—will see billions of their tax dollars go to fund the occupation of Afghanistan and pay the salaries of poor Afghans so that they can shoot other poor Afghans. This is a classic divide-and-conquer tactic used historically by all colonial powers to break up a united resistance by the people whose lands they occupy.

The Obama administration and its generals are borrowing a page from Nixon and Kissinger's murderous "Vietnamization" plan, which became the announced policy in 1969. Since there was a rising tide of anti-war sentiment at home, Nixon and the Pentagon wanted the Vietnamese to kill each other in greater numbers as a way of diminishing U.S. war dead.

Millions of Vietnamese died during the war, as did 58,000 U.S. service members. The U.S. strategy succeeded in creating an ocean of human suffering, but it failed to alter the outcome. The Vietnamese, like the Afghan people, were unwilling to live under foreign occupation.

ANSWER Coalition organizers and volunteers have in recent months been working around the country to support the growing numbers of soldiers, marines, veterans and military families who are speaking out against the war in Afghanistan. We are reaching more and more active duty service members and recently returned veterans who know that this colonial-type war is based on lies by the politicians and the Pentagon Brass. The ANSWER Coalition affiliate March Forward! is reaching out to soldiers, marines and veterans.

We urge you to support this work by checking out March Forward's Ten point program and signing up for email updates at www.MarchForward.org.

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