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Monday, July 29, 2013

FOR THE USA—THE BAGHDAD OF DREAMS, IS THE REALITY OF HADITHA


A plan by US military planners for the
A plan by US military planners for the "Tigris Woods Golf and Country Club" in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. Photograph: US Army/AP -- the story of our persistent dreams in 2008
 
In the summer of 2003, when President Bush mounted an aircraft carrier to declare “mission accomplished” in Iraq, my sister-in-law had begun to peruse travel brochures offering scenic tours of the new Iraq.  "See their special brand of pyramid, in the ancient Fertile Crescent, with all modern amenities."   She is an excellent horsewoman, cares well for husband, kids and grandkids, but certainly not a student of recent history. 

Ten years later there are more daily bombs than destination boutiques in Baghdad—only half the city it used to be.   Our troops have cleared out with some of their weapons, having mothballed many of our military bases; yet so much violent baggage left behind, and carried back home.  The only tours, were our soldiers revolving “stop loss” tours of duty.   The advertised super-modern golf-hotel complex was never built.  The most giant fortified embassy in the world is now our monument in Baghdad.  Will any U.S. citizens ever routinely visit there again, outside its walls, in our lifetime?  
Soldiers were deployed throughout Iraq, in untenable occupations, unwelcome, trying to bargain between Sunni and Shiite factions, to gain some foothold by favors and firepower, never knowing who was real friend or enemy.  Fleeting allegiances only guaranteed to end in further bloodshed.  It drove the people crazy.  It drove our troops crazy.  The sad story of Haditha is one among too many.

his is from a “CBS 60 Minutes” 3-18-07 interview of Sgt. Frank Wuterich.
Haditha is a town of 70,000, in Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni resistance, where, among the residents, anti-American passions run high. In the months before Wuterich's unit arrived, other Marines there were suffering some of the heaviest causalities in all of Iraq, including the bombing of an armored vehicle that killed 14 Marines. Days before that, six Marines in Haditha were ambushed, tortured and killed. The enemy put it on the Internet where Wuterich and his men saw the bodies and the dog tags of their dead comrades.
 
The incident of 11-19-05 was first reported by Marine press release, in this way, “Bomb kills 15 Civilians and a Marine in Restive Province.”  Six months after the event the story began to change.

Sgt. Wuterich, who’d yet to have combat experience, was in command that day when an IED exploded one of the vehicles in his convoy, killing one of his men, seriously injuring 3 others.  A white taxi with 5 Iraqi youth inside was nearby.  Then, according to conflicting accounts, those 5 were shot either running away or standing in surrender posture hands behind heads; his men thought they were under threat, or just charged into surrounding houses, killing 19 Iraqi civilians, including 10 women and children, a man with a cane, and one in a wheelchair.  “The death certificates Colonel Watt [an investigator] examined were chillingly succinct: well-aimed shots to the head and chest.” Multiple Marine cover-ups and trial delays for the 8 Marines eventually charged, ensued.
 
Scene of  Haditha 11-19-05, apparently taken by soldier cell phone, shows white taxi and several dead Iraq civilians--Wikipedia photo

CBS continues--
 Wuterich finished his Iraq tour and, before he was charged, he was promoted by the Marine Corps. He's back home on a base in the U.S., and when 60 Minutes visited, he and his wife Marisol were planning a birthday party for one of their two daughters. Not long after, Marisol gave birth to a third little girl. Wuterich's enlistment is up, but he's being kept in the military, at a desk job, until his court martial.

"What I did that day, the decisions that I made, I would make those decisions today," he says.
"What I'm talking about is the tactical decisions. It doesn't sit well with me that women and children died that day," Wuterich says.
"There is nothing that I can possibly say to make up or make well the deaths of those women and children and I am absolutely sorry that that happened that day."


What was Wuterich thinking when he went to bed that night?
"That I'm not sure I want to go to sleep tonight, because I don't know what I'm going to dream."

Wuterich walks now a free man [as do the other Marines involved], not serving any time for his conviction, divorced by his wife by the time CBS updated this report on 8-17-07.  It’s probable that the conflict of that day in Haditha lives on within him.  For the families of those 24 Iraqi civilians of Haditha killed, the same is true.

Survivors of the Marine attack on the village of Haditha, Iraq---photo by Andrea Bruce for The New York Times


For a good summation of this tragedy of occupation violence, see this surprising article.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/world/middleeast/united-states-marines-haditha-interviews-found-in-iraq-junkyard.html?pagewanted=all

Added update 7-31-13, as can be added almost every single day.
Wave of Car Bombs Kills Dozens in Iraq
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/30/world/middleeast/iraq.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimesworld   Excerpt---
"Militants among the minority Sunnis have been emboldened by the civil war in neighboring Syria, where the Sunni majority has been trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is dominated by his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiism."


Illumination by Kathy Brahney

********************************
 

Our Novena begins this Thursday, from Aug. 1st to Aug. 9th, with prayer below said every day at all Holy Trinity Parish gatherings and liturgies.  May many more church communities join in.




Lord Jesus Christ,
 
You filled your servant Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter
with a deep love for you, his family and
all people.
During a time of contempt for God and
humankind you bestowed on him
unerring discernment and integrity.
In faith, he followed his conscience, and
said a decisive NO to the Nazi regime
and unjust war.
Thus he sacrificed his life.
We pray that you may glorify your
servant Franz, so that many people may
be encouraged by him and grow in love
for you and all people.
May his example shine out in our time,
and may you grant all people the
strength to stand up for justice, peace
and human dignity.
For yours is the glory and honor with
the Father and the Holy Spirit now and
forever. Amen.
(Prayer from the Diocese of Linz, Austria)



 


 

Monday, July 22, 2013

THE PLANTATION-IZATION OF DETROIT


This is the changed hands church, recently The Promise Land Church, now in foreclosure, that one sees vacant spires, in Poletown to the south passing by on I-94
 
“The Detroit bankruptcy filing will be a test case for how far a major U.S. city can go in dealing with a chronic problem facing many local and state governments: unsustainable pension costs.”  This is how one of the sub-headlines leads into an article in the 7-20-13 WSJ.  But what about unsustainable banking and investors costs?  As a story in their paper yesterday noted, Bank of America is likely to get 75 cents on their dollar, while Detroit’s pensioners, 10 cents on theirs.  Are the ‘entitlements’ of banks and stockholders always more morally and fiscally valid than those of common workers? 
The city was not even allowed to face its fiscal crisis on its own terms.  If bad mistakes were made by many over decades of shifting auto industry, let the citizens of Detroit figure out how to fix it, and who to ask for help.  Let them do their own bankruptcy, if necessary.  Are there no Detroit management teams and lawyers equal to the task? 
 


nstead, we have the plantation-ization of Detroit’s 80% African American population.   [Stockton, CA, the previous largest U.S. bankrupt city, had no emergency manager.]  Detroit’s restructuring is imposed by a Republican state government, local power usurped by an emergency manager and his corporate law firm, Jones Day {a global company that employs more than 2,400 lawyers in 37 cities on five continents}.  These are the outsiders who will now make the decisions [and millions in legal fees] on how this once magnificent city will be sold off, and re-branded.

America is on collision course to become the most well-to-do, heavily class-divided society in modern history—rich and relatively poor, with disappearing middle class.  A monarchy of 1%, dependent on 99% serfdom.  Promises no longer have meaning unless they’re made within the plutocracy.  The bankruptcy of Detroit reflects a bankruptcy of our merciless egotistical economic system. 
 
White flight and globalization blight helped doom Detroit.  Sons and daughter of slaves, and many other immigrants, were recruited to build Detroit big, and then there was a race of the promoters to abscond to other places, leaving the Johnny-come-latelies to turn out the lights.
  What does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Mk 8:36
 

Abandoned confessionals in anonymous vacant Detroit church--photo by Zach Fein
Unconfessed sins are oft-repeated; there are plenty of "mea culpas" to go around.
 
 
For a good examination of one of the many episodes of power and money mis-management that has plagued Detroit, please read the late, beloved Jeanie Wylie-Kellerman's Poletown: Community Betrayed, available at the St. Clair Co. Library and at Amazon
 
 
Illumination by Kathy Brahney


Monday, July 15, 2013

IT'S BETTER TO LIGHT UP A FEW IRS FORMS, THAN TO CURSE THE DARKNESS OF WAR

{The story of Haditha, Iraq--delayed another week, to bring you this short report.}

There were six to eight of us gathered in the green-space that divides the road between our St. Clair County library and courthouse.  It was almost noon on July 3rd the day before the holiday, as one of our signs declared, We pray for Peace, Why pay for War?  And another: Independence from War Tax Day—Check your W-4 on July 4th to Convert War Tax to Peace Tax April 15th.

We prayed the Our Father first, being spontaneously joined by an acquaintance of Lyn Chabot as we held hands.  Then we sang “Amazing Grace” led by my wife Ande’s guitar, followed by Lyn and I burning IRS 1099 and W-4 forms letting the ashes drop into a glass bowl of blue water.

This symbolized our efforts to minimize prepayment of federal income taxes that go to war, and redirecting some of that to community service, job creation, and peace projects near in the Blue Water area, or farther away—whatever conscience inspires on April 15th.   But not having paid so much through the year, will leave some tax due to refuse, and redirect.

Much more smart money to flow in this type of direction--with ever greater focus and inspiration
This is a civil disobedience, with the tax payer advising the IRS openly, of the purpose to not pay all the tax due [amount an individual decision]—redirecting to peaceful enterprise.  The IRS will send letters, and there’s some cost to this discipleship, but help is available on the details from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.

The wind complicated the burning of the forms, we could have used a sound system to make our presence better known.  Some people did stop, listen and took our literature; two did join in for a while.  But it will take perhaps 1040 citizens of our area, resisting and redirecting their tax money in this way to make significant difference.  We want to keep the positive message, of moving more and more of the {an average over the 40 years I've studied this issue} 50% of federal income tax that goes to war --- > towards investment in the common good.

either conservatives nor liberals are happy with the powerful moneyed politics that leads our country.   The common citizen is not being listened to.  We must learn to vote with our money, as the powerful do.  April 15th becomes the new second Tuesday in November.  This tax redirection is one of a number of lifestyle changes that people can make to better participate in a real community-responsible democracy. 

 
 
From Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya, Syria, and so many other wars, our money is being badly used.  Gandhi said, “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty, as cooperation with the good.”  For the Christian especially the question is—when you’ve rendered fully to God what is God’s, what is left for Caesar’s wars?



 

 



Friends Committee for National Legislation includes the separate Medicare insurance fund income taxes in its figures, War Resisters League does not.   http://fcnl.org/assets/flyer/FCNL_Taxes12.pdf
 

 

Monday, July 8, 2013

RETURN, FLIGHT FROM IRAQ--DEMOCRACY DWINDLES ON ALL SIDES


This is something I wrote, never published, in the worst days of our Iraq War.  A May 31, 2013 Michigan Catholic news item notes, "Iraq has witnessed the emigration of more than half of its native Christians since the American-led invasion of the country in 2003."  In the past two months violence there is on the upsurge, with more than 2000 deaths many see related to the surge of war hostility in Syria.  The words of Pope Paul II below are instructive.  When will we ever learn.
{note how Doonesberry, Fox News, and Michigan Catholic tell the same story}
 
October 14, 2005

 Dear Editor,
       
            Does anyone else see the amazing inconsistency in the Iraqi and American authorities declaring four days of national imposed holiday / martial law in order to have an election on a new democratic constitution?  The AP story on 10-14-05 opens, “U.S. Marines handed out thousands of fliers and copies of Iraq’s new constitution Thursday, urging people to vote in this Sunni Arab town [Haditha] that only a week ago was the target of U.S. airstrikes.”  [Haditha has been a place of great tragedy that illustrates well the human cost of wars of occupation—more on this in next week’s posting]     Instead of campaign rallies they’re given bombardments. The best one can say is at least they now have some semblance of voting holiday there, while here in the USA we have no day off for our national elections. 
      

ur own democracy, and our respect for life, dies every day we stay in Iraq.  The tens of thousands that have died, and are dying there, take their daily toll on our country’s soul.  We invaded, not for democracy, but to preserve the lifestyle and predominance of the privileged few, a lifestyle built on the over-consumption of oil, and the over-production and use of the weaponry that protects this appetite. 

Pope John Paul II warned us of the absolute futility of war to bring any good, even to the victors, in his letter Centesimus Annus in 1991 at the time of our first Iraq war.  "No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war." The common citizens of our nation are much worse off because of the U.S. government’s dependency on war [Eisenhower called it a military industrial complex] as sole provider of security, while the poor here and abroad repeatedly suffer death and destruction. 

            It does not have to be this way.  If everyone of us in this land, once a source of democracy, that is against this war (and we are 60% according to surveys, or 70% or more if truth were told) decides to spend two hours a day in work and prayer, to stop this war and start the peacemaking, each from our own points of creative leverage, then our war of invasion in Iraq would end within six months.  International efforts at real disarmament and conflict resolution could then begin in Iraq--and here at home.  When Jesus said, “Put away the sword!” he wasn’t talking to the enemy, but first to his own disciples.

Yours truly,

Michael McCarthy PA-C


War is as predictable as a wildfire in Arizona {19 killed in a sudden shift of wind}.  The only thing certain is that the evil and suffering caused in this war, is the clever bad seed for the next.
       We've just celebrated our "Declaration of Independence," July 4th-- our hope for a people's democracy, not a corporate plutocracy.  Without an informed involved public this hope dies.  We have much work and praying to do.

June 18, 2013--Zeinab,her daughters and grandchildren fled to Syria 10 years ago to escape sectarian violence in Iraq but are back in Basrah because of heavy fighting and increasing violence against women in Syria
 
Iraq refugee references
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/iraqs.christian.population.halved.since.2003/7204.htm
http://www.christianpost.com/news/iraqi-christian-refugees-seeking-asylum-unable-to-enter-us-63424/

And a truly remarkable story of the difficulty of all Iraqis to enter America--
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/499/taking-names


Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, July 1, 2013

INDEPENDENCE FROM WAR TAX DAY—BEGIN TO CONVERT WAR TAX TO PEACE TAX


Cross of war complicity--from Port Huron Post Office demonstration 4-15-06

 Once we’ve fully rendered to God, what is left for Caesar’s wars?
As we march onward towards war in Syria--
On July 4th we lament our country’s increasing dependency on wars without end—a war economy with 50% of our federal tax for war, while 26% of Port Huron is poor.  Therefore a few of us from interfaith backgrounds begin to examine how our federal tax monies perpetuate war.

We will meet July 3rd, 11 am, in the space between the St. Clair County Courthouse and the Library, to conduct a short public vigil, advocating work and prayer to turn our IRS dollars from war tax to peace tax.  We will burn some of our W-4, 1099, 1040 forms as a symbol of our converting part of federal war dollars into peace investment.
The first step is a spiritual and material change of heart—those who can afford, trying to make less money [in this way liable for less war tax], dedicating more of the time gained to family, Christian works of mercy, working for justice and the common good.

Each of us needs to reflect on how we dedicate our time and money.  For many of us $1000’s of our IRS dollars go towards war every year.
To pay still less for war, change your IRS W-4 and 1099 forms in such a way as to withhold some of the potential war tax money due, and re-direct it to peace, and to serve community needs.  For more information on the details and consequences of this step towards civil disobedience, more closely following our almighty all-merciful God, please contact the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee [nwtrcc.org, 800 269 7464].

Check your W-4 on July 4th, to convert War Tax to Peace Tax on April 15th.

WE PRAY FOR PEACE, WHY PAY FOR WAR?

Noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with the good.  – Dr. Martin Luther King
From a previous "Iraq Peace Bonds" campaign in 2007--IRS dollars re-directed to our public library



To some, peace merely means the liberty to take advantage of other people without fear of retaliation or interference. ... And to practically everybody peace simple means the absence of any physical violence that might cast a shadow over lives devoted to the satisfaction of their selfish appetites for comfort and pleasure.  ... So instead of loving what you think is peace, love other people and love God above all.    -- Thomas Merton, from p. 122 of New Seeds of Contemplation