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My Reply to a Letter from US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on the Iraq War

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

Henry Hardy

[address elided]

Thank you…

…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

[signed] Debbie

Debbie Stabenow

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”?

Follow-up on Resolution calling for Ending the Iraq War by Ann Arbor Democratic Party

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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30 March, 2007 Posted by | Ann Arbor, archives, democrat, democratic, Iraq, letters, media, Michigan, military, news, politics, scanlyze, Stabenow, US Senate, USA, war crimes | 1 Comment

A Marine’s Poem leads to US Representative David Obey’s anti-liberal tirade


Survivor’s Guilt

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-
free

–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

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10 March, 2007 Posted by | Bush, David Obey, democrat, democratic, idiots, Iraq, liberal, marines, media, military, news, poetry, politics, protest, scanlyze, tirade, US House of Representatives, video | 3 Comments

Letter to the youth of America

Next year, some of you will die. Horribly. In the war.

Not all of you. But the draft will start again, and your generation will be drenched in blood.

You will become victims, and victimizers.

You will kill, rape, pillage.

You will laugh, cry, and die calling for your mother.

Your friends will be taken away, and never return. Or their body will come back, but they won’t. Someone else will be there in their place, looking through the prison of their eyes at a world which no longer makes sense.

I went to a pancake breakfast this morning honoring the senior member of the US House of Representatives, John Dingell. The event was a fundraiser for the University of Michigan College Democrats at a local brewpub in Ann Arbor, MI. There were easily more than a hundred people there, including the mayor, state legislators, council members and a former congressman.

John Dingell is a great politician. He looks right at you (unless he wants you to vanish) and he is a very good listener. He remembers names and faces and events with great precision. His father sat in Congress before him, and he’s been there more than 50 years now.

He gave a nice speech recognizing the usefulness of the flying squads of students who helped in swing districts when the Demos swept the governorship and legislative bodies. He spoke nicely about the local officials there. He said not word one about Iraq.

Then his wife Debbie spoke. More platitudes, less substance even than John.

When the mic went back to the student MC, I said loudly Tell us about your plan to stop the war, John!

People started shushing me and saying be quiet.

I said, While we have been happily stuffing our faces and congratulating ourselves, another 8 people have died in Iraq. Two were children. That’s right, your pancakes are drenched in the blood of the children of Iraq!

Some guy was grabbing me and pulling on me and I told him Let go of me or I will call the police and ask that you be charged with assault and battery. There was a minor-to-medium uproar (which is to say, no chairs or fists flying).

Dingell got kind of red in the face and looked pissed but he came back to the mic and said I’ll answer that.

Dingell said that he had met with Bush before the war and told him to his face that the war would be a disaster, that there was no planning for the post-war situation. He voted against the war authorization. He had done all he could within the Congress against the war. But there were divisions within the Democratic caucus. He said there was no simple solution to the war. He said if you have a better idea I’d like to hear it.

I said I do have a better idea. (people shouting)

He said if I had a better idea he wanted to hear it.

I said are you [the students] going to let me speak or will you carry on like a bunch of Young Republicans?

Yes, Congressman there is a simple answer, you just don’t want to acknowledge it. Don’t vote for any more war appropriations! You must not vote for a two-year appropriation for an illegal aggressive war which was authorized based on lies, lies, propaganda, and more lies. Tell us you won’t vote to pay for war any more!

He said that Bush was the worst President of his lifetime, perhaps of all time. He said I think something to the effect that his [Bush’s] people are amateurs. (very noisy at this point much chaos)

I didn’t persist and they ended the event. Several people including one councilperson and some party officials came to thank me for what I said and a few students also said they respected my right to speak out but most of them wouldn’t meet my eye. They were all mostly wearing identical blue tee shirts which said, “Democrats make better lovers” on the front and “who ever heard of a good piece of elephant” on the back. Way to go dudes and dudesses. When I was a teenager it was about peace and love. Now its about tits and ass, apparently.

You people are so square (the students I mean, not the old radicals turned politicians) if you rubbed your head you would cut yourself on the corners. We old radicals are still trying to deal with this mess of neocons left by Reagan and Nixon, why don’t you rebel and give us a hand a bit. Having everyone look and act the same, that is not democracy, that is fascism. It is also very boring.

People think Iraq is as bad as it can get, but it isn’t, not nearly. It is not even near as bad as Korea or the Second Indochina War (what people call in the US, the Viet Nam War). The US has lost 3,135 killed in Iraq so far. In Korea or Viet Nam, that figure was over 50 thousand. And most of those dead will be you, the students, who will be enslaved by the draft and forced to become war criminals and murderers.

You must demand today that John Dingell and the rest of the US Congress stop voting money for this illegal war, or else tomorrow it will be you and your friends who will be murdering and dying in a foreign land where everyone hates you, and you hate yourself as well.

Please wake up and demand an end to funding this war before it escalates still further.

If you want to support someone, don’t fund sending them somewhere to be killed!

Continued funding for this war is both stupid and evil. It must stop now.

More Action Necessary?
Kicking Ass Ann Arbor
University of Michigan College Democrats

Oh, BTW if someone has video of the event they could send me, I’d love to post it here as well as get a better transcript of what was said rather than my approximate paraphrases above.

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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17 February, 2007 Posted by | America, Ann Arbor, appropriations, breakfast, Bush, college, Congress, Constitution, democrat, democratic, Dingell, dissent, draft, essay, events, funding, fundraiser, government, House of Representatives, Iraq, media, Michigan, military, news, pancakes, peace, politics, protest, scanlyze, students, university, University of Michigan, US Congress, US Constitution, USA, war, youth | 14 Comments