Sunday, January 30, 2005

Iraq Veterans Against the War Kicked Off Their Amazing Tour in Boston Today

Axis of Logic

By Les Blough, EditorJan 30, 2005, 18:44

Today, January 30, 2005, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) kicked off their Iraq Veterans Tour in Massachusetts with a powerful, moving and inspiring presentation to a packed house at historic Fanueil Hall in Downtown Boston. We were there to learn more and to cover the story. Throughout the 2 hour presentation, I noted that there were few dry eyes among about 800 members who attended.

As we passed out flyers outside famous Quincy Market prior to the event, I also noted that a very high percentage of passersby expressed gratitude for our work and commented about their opposition to the war in Iraq. This was a striking change from the reception we have experienced in the past at such protests. Based upon this very limited experience and impressions gained through media and daily correspondence, it appears that a sea-change is occurring in the United States as more and more people become disgusted with the great misadventure that is the Bush/Neocon war on the people of Iraq.

The IVAW Tour is sponsored by Military Families Speak Out and Bring The Troops Home Now, Veterans for Peace, and locally by United for Justice With Peace. The tour is comprised of a coalition of dozens of campus, youth, community, and labor organizations.

Nancy Lessin, Co-Founder with Charley Richardson of Military Families Speak Out chaired the meeting and began by introducing Chuck Turner, who stands apart as the courageous and effective member of the Boston City Council. Councilman Turner was greeted and thanked for his help in organising the event. He opened the meeting with a riveting message about how money is being diverted from education, health care and the needs of the community for the war in Iraq. He spoke of the losses to schools and the entire infrastructure of public education in the U.S. for the advantages of a wealthy elite and their dreams of empire.

Kelly Dougherty, 26, spent 10 months in Iraq as a Sergeant with her National Guard unit, the 220th Military Police Company. She is a cofounder of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

"When we first arrived in Iraq, part of what struck me was the poverty and desperation of the Iraqi people... I believe that as long as the U.S. continues to occupy Iraq, the Iraqis will continue to fight against us."

Kelly said that at the end of her tour she saw even greater poverty than that which was caused by the 1991 invasion and 10 years of devastating sanctions on Iraq. She spoke of how she served in the National Guard in Colorado for 8 years before being activated to go to Iraq. She told of how prior to the war in Iraq, her unit served the United States in national disasters such as the Columbine High School tragedy. She spoke of the losses of National Guard service to the American people because they are being diverted to the war on the Iraqi people

Michael Hoffman, 25, was a Lance Corporal in a Marine Corps artillery battery during the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and is a cofounder of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

"On the way to Baghdad, I saw bodies by the road, many in civilian clothing. Every time a car got near my Humvee, everyone inside braced themselves, not knowing if gunfire would suddenly erupt out of it. When your enemy is unclear, everyone becomes your enemy."

Michael spoke of the senseless killing of Iraqi people and the wasted lives of young men and women who have been sent there to fight. His message was singular and clear: Support the troops by bringing them home now.

A young man and veteran of the war in Iraq spoke of his duties as a chaplain’s assistant and of his twin brother, killed in action in Iraq. He told what it is like to "look loved ones in the eye and tell them their son or daughter won’t be coming home". He spoke tenderly of his loss of his twin brother and asked what why he fought and died.

A 17 year old young woman spoke tearfully of her father who was activated to serve in Iraq and read one of his poetic letters to her and her mother about waking in a military camp to the sounds of sparrows singing, mixed with the sounds of war machinery. Breaking down time and again throughout her talk, she talked about how much she misses him and how much he wants only to come home.

A sister in the Lucey Family from Belchertown, MA told the heart-breaking story of her brother who served in the Marine Corps in Iraq. She said he went to Iraq as a vibrant young man with dreams of obtaining an education, a career and a future. She described him as a child who was in the Cub Scouts and loved to play sports. He came home to a wonderful reunion with his family and "everything seemed normal". Her brother went back to school to complete his education, but "he wasn’t the same". She said that she first noticed a change in him at their first Christmas after he returned. In a conversation with her, he broke down, threw dogtags on the floor and cried out, "You don’t understand. I’m a murderer!" He was unable to sleep nights, developed anxiety and began to drink heavily. He and his family sought help for him with the VA and other medical providers but were unable to obtain assistance. While she and her mother were working at a camp for disadvantaged children in Maine, her father called them to tell them that her brother committed suicide in their home. She pointed out that there are many veterans of this war like her brother who are not counted in the body and casualty counts. But they are casualties of the war in Iraq, nonetheless.

The young sister’s story was followed by her father, Mr. Lucey who lost his only son in the war. He spoke against the war based on lies and for the purpose of stealing the oil reserves from the Iraqi people.

Rose Gentle, one of the founders of Military Families Against the War told how her son, Gordon Gentle was killed in Iraq on June 28th, 2004.

A young woman with a 2 year old child told of how her 46 year old mother was activated from the reserves and sent to Iraq for 545 days. "545 days is a long time", she said. She spoke of her mother’s letters in which she tells how she does not believe the U.S. military is serving any good purpose in Iraq and how she wants only to come home. She told of how she misses her mother and wants her to come home to her 2 grandchildren. In a recent letter her mother told her that she is afraid she will never her daughter and grandchildren again.

Another member of Military Families Speak Out described the deceit and manipulation used by Military Recruiters in our schools and communities. She spoke of her son who served and her nephew who is in Iraq right now, fearing for his life.

There were other tearful stories from these young people who courageously toured the U.K. and now the U.S. with a single, heart-felt message: "Bring the troops home now, after 1430 of them have been killed, thousands wounded and 100,000 innocent Iraqis dead. Bring the troops home now before one more has lost his or her life in a war that is being waged in the interest of a wealthy few and for the failing U.S. empire. Read other stories of soldiers and their families who oppose the war in Iraq at Military Families Speak Out

The Axis of Logic Group urges every reader to attend this important tour when it comes to a community near you and to support Iraq Veterans Against the War with your donations.

© Copyright 2005 by

The IVAW Mission (Iraq Veterans Against the War)

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is a group of veterans who have served since September 11th, 2001 including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. We are committed to saving lives and ending the violence in Iraq by an immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces. We also believe that the governments that sponsored these wars are indebted to the men and women who were forced to fight them and must give their Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen the benefits that are owed to them upon their return home.

We welcome all active duty, national guard, reservists, and recent veterans into our ranks. Confidentiality can be assured. To join IVAW please send an email to join IVAW

The IVAW Tour schedule in Massachusetts:

Sun Jan 30 Fanueil Hall, Boston 3-5pm

Mon Jan 31 Salem State College 11am-1pm

Mon Jan 31 Endicott College, Beverly 2-5pm

Mon Jan 31 Lynn, MA 6:30-9:30pm

Tues Feb 1 South End, Boston 3:30-6pm

Tues Feb 1 M.I.T. Cambridge 4:30-6pm

Tues Feb 1 Roxbury 7-9pm

Tues Feb 1 Bridgewater State College 7-9pm

Wed Feb 2 UMass Lowell Noon-2pmWed Feb 2

UMass Boston 2:30-5pm

Wed Feb 2 Tufts, Somerville 7-9pm

Wed Feb 2 Northeastern Univ, Boston 7-9pm

Thu Feb 3 B.U. Law School 5-6:30pm

Thu Feb 3 Chelsea 7:30-9:30pm

Fri Feb 4 Roxbury Community College 11:30am-1pm

Fri Feb 4 Harvard Univ, Cambridge 4-6pm

Fri Feb 4 Watertown 7-9pmSun Feb 6 Boston 11am-Noon

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Platoon Sgt shot while trying to get out the vote in Iraq.

When was the last time you heard of someone being killed for doorbelling to get out the vote? And this is what our troops mission in Iraq has become, door knocking to get out the vote, and risking being shot for their efforts?

"On campaign trail, a single shot

Before sniper struck, platoon leader was encouraging Iraqis to vote"

read entire article at...copyright

MSNBC - On campaign trail, a single shot
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Letter to Congress on Increasing U.S. Ground Forces

Letter to Congress on Increasing U.S. Ground Forces

January 28, 2005

Dear Senator Frist, Senator Reid, Speaker Hastert, and Representative Pelosi:

The United States military is too small for the responsibilities we are asking it to assume. Those responsibilities are real and important. They are not going away. The United States will not and should not become less engaged in the world in the years to come. But our national security, global peace and stability, and the defense and promotion of freedom in the post-9/11 world require a larger military force than we have today. The administration has unfortunately resisted increasing our ground forces to the size needed to meet today's (and tomorrow's) missions and challenges.

So we write to ask you and your colleagues in the legislative branch to take the steps necessary to increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps. While estimates vary about just how large an increase is required, and Congress will make its own determination as to size and structure, it is our judgment that we should aim for an increase in the active duty Army and Marine Corps, together, of at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years.

There is abundant evidence that the demands of the ongoing missions in the greater Middle East, along with our continuing defense and alliance commitments elsewhere in the world, are close to exhausting current U.S. ground forces. For example, just late last month, Lieutenant General James Helmly, chief of the Army Reserve, reported that "overuse" in Iraq and Afghanistan could be leading to a "broken force." Yet after almost two years in Iraq and almost three years in Afghanistan, it should be evident that our engagement in the greater Middle East is truly, in Condoleezza Rice's term, a "generational commitment." The only way to fulfill the military aspect of this commitment is by increasing the size of the force available to our civilian leadership.

The administration has been reluctant to adapt to this new reality. We understand the dangers of continued federal deficits, and the fiscal difficulty of increasing the number of troops. But the defense of the United States is the first priority of the government. This nation can afford a robust defense posture along with a strong fiscal posture. And we can afford both the necessary number of ground troops and what is needed for transformation of the military.

In sum: We can afford the military we need. As a nation, we are spending a smaller percentage of our GDP on the military than at any time during the Cold War. We do not propose returning to a Cold War-size or shape force structure. We do insist that we act responsibly to create the military we need to fight the war on terror and fulfill our other responsibilities around the world.

The men and women of our military have performed magnificently over the last few years. We are more proud of them than we can say. But many of them would be the first to say that the armed forces are too small. And we would say that surely we should be doing more to honor the contract between America and those who serve her in war. Reserves were meant to be reserves, not regulars. Our regulars and reserves are not only proving themselves as warriors, but as humanitarians and builders of emerging democracies. Our armed forces, active and reserve, are once again proving their value to the nation. We can honor their sacrifices by giving them the manpower and the materiel they need.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution places the power and the duty to raise and support the military forces of the United States in the hands of the Congress. That is why we, the undersigned, a bipartisan group with diverse policy views, have come together to call upon you to act. You will be serving your country well if you insist on providing the military manpower we need to meet America's obligations, and to help ensure success in carrying out our foreign policy objectives in a dangerous, but also hopeful, world.


Peter Beinart Jeffrey Bergner Daniel Blumenthal

Max Boot Eliot Cohen Ivo H. Daalder

Thomas Donnelly Michele Flournoy Frank F. Gaffney, Jr.

Reuel Marc Gerecht Lt. Gen. Buster C. Glosson (USAF, retired)

Bruce P. Jackson Frederick Kagan Robert Kagan

Craig Kennedy Paul Kennedy Col. Robert Killebrew (USA, retired)

William Kristol Will Marshall Clifford May

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey (USA, retired) Daniel McKivergan

Joshua Muravchik Steven J. Nider Michael O'Hanlon

Mackubin Thomas Owens Ralph Peters Danielle Pletka

Stephen P. Rosen Major Gen. Robert H. Scales (USA, retired)

Randy Scheunemann Gary Schmitt

Walter Slocombe James B. Steinberg

Project for the New American Century
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Republican Press Release: What if it was All a Big Mistake? Right on! Left turn?

Am I surprised or what? A Republican from Texas, no less, has serious doubts! Thank you Rep. Ron Paul, it takes courage in this administration to speak to common sense above and beyond the acceptable party line only repetitious propaganda. Thank you for caring more about the country than the political party, and waking up to find this article this morning does my weary soul some there a tiny shred of hope after all that as a country we can wake up to common sense, and squarely take on the illusion created by this administration. Hope for America? Hope for our troops? Hope for a return to common sense?

What If (It Was All a Big Mistake)?

By Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)

Wednesday 26 January 2005

Delivered to the U.S. House of Representatives.

America's policy of foreign intervention, while still debated in the early 20th century, is today accepted as conventional wisdom by both political parties. But what if the overall policy is a colossal mistake, a major error in judgment? Not just bad judgment regarding when and where to impose ourselves, but the entire premise that we have a moral right to meddle in the affairs of others? Think of the untold harm done by years of fighting - hundreds of thousands of American casualties, hundreds of thousands of foreign civilian casualties, and unbelievable human and economic costs. What if it was all needlessly borne by the American people? If we do conclude that grave foreign policy errors have been made, a very serious question must be asked: What would it take to change our policy to one more compatible with a true republic's goal of peace, commerce, and friendship with all nations? Is it not possible that Washington's admonition to avoid entangling alliances is sound advice even today?


If we're willing to consider a different foreign policy, we should ask ourselves a few questions:

1. What if the policies of foreign intervention, entangling alliances, policing the world, nation building, and spreading our values through force are deeply flawed?

2. What if it is true that Saddam Hussein never had weapons of mass destruction?

3. What if it is true that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were never allies?

4. What if it is true that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein did nothing to enhance our national security?

5. What if our current policy in the Middle East leads to the overthrow of our client oil states in the region?

6. What if the American people really knew that more than 20,000 American troops have suffered serious casualties or died in the Iraq war, and 9% of our forces already have been made incapable of returning to battle?

7. What if it turns out there are many more guerrilla fighters in Iraq than our government admits?

8. What if there really have been 100,000 civilian Iraqi casualties, as some claim, and what is an acceptable price for "doing good?"

9. What if Rumsfeld is replaced for the wrong reasons, and things become worse under a Defense Secretary who demands more troops and an expansion of the war?

10. What if we discover that, when they do vote, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis support Islamic (Sharia) law over western secular law, and want our troops removed?

11. What if those who correctly warned of the disaster awaiting us in Iraq are never asked for their opinion of what should be done now?

12. What if the only solution for Iraq is to divide the country into three separate regions, recognizing the principle of self-determination while rejecting the artificial boundaries created in 1918 by non-Iraqis?

13. What if it turns out radical Muslims don't hate us for our freedoms, but rather for our policies in the Middle East that directly affected Arabs and Muslims?

14. What if the invasion and occupation of Iraq actually distracted from pursuing and capturing Osama bin Laden?

15. What if we discover that democracy can't be spread with force of arms?

16. What if democracy is deeply flawed, and instead we should be talking about liberty, property rights, free markets, the rule of law, localized government, weak centralized government, and self-determination promoted through persuasion, not force?

17. What if Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda actually welcomed our invasion and occupation of Arab/Muslim Iraq as proof of their accusations against us, and it served as a magnificent recruiting tool for them?

18. What if our policy greatly increased and prolonged our vulnerability to terrorists and guerilla attacks both at home and abroad?

19. What if the Pentagon, as reported by its Defense Science Board, actually recognized the dangers of our policy before the invasion, and their warnings were ignored or denied?

20. What if the argument that by fighting over there, we won't have to fight here, is wrong, and the opposite is true?

21. What if we can never be safer by giving up some of our freedoms?

22. What if the principle of pre-emptive war is adopted by Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and others, "justified" by current U.S. policy?

23. What if pre-emptive war and pre-emptive guilt stem from the same flawed policy of authoritarianism, though we fail to recognize it?

24. What if Pakistan is not a trustworthy ally, and turns on us when conditions deteriorate?

25. What if plans are being laid to provoke Syria and/or Iran into actions that would be used to justify a military response and pre-emptive war against them?

26. What if our policy of democratization of the Middle East fails, and ends up fueling a Russian-Chinese alliance that we regret - an alliance not achieved even at the height of the Cold War?

27. What if the policy forbidding profiling at our borders and airports is deeply flawed?

28. What if presuming the guilt of a suspected terrorist without a trial leads to the total undermining of constitutional protections for American citizens when arrested?

29. What if we discover the army is too small to continue policies of pre-emption and nation-building? What if a military draft is the only way to mobilize enough troops?

30. What if the "stop-loss" program is actually an egregious violation of trust and a breach of contract between the government and soldiers? What if it actually is a backdoor draft, leading to unbridled cynicism and rebellion against a voluntary army and generating support for a draft of both men and women? Will lying to troops lead to rebellion and anger toward the political leadership running the war?

31. What if the Pentagon's legal task-force opinion that the President is not bound by international or federal law regarding torture stands unchallenged, and sets a precedent which ultimately harms Americans, while totally disregarding the moral, practical, and legal arguments against such a policy?

32. What if the intelligence reform legislation - which gives us bigger, more expensive bureaucracy - doesn't bolster our security, and distracts us from the real problem of revamping our interventionist foreign policy?

33. What if we suddenly discover we are the aggressors, and we are losing an unwinnable guerrilla war?

34. What if we discover, too late, that we can't afford this war - and that our policies have led to a dollar collapse, rampant inflation, high interest rates, and a severe economic downturn?

read entire article at:

t r u t h o u t - Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) | What If (It Was All a Big Mistake)?
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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Mother of Soldier Slain in Iraq Speaks Out

Mother of Soldier Slain in Iraq Speaks Out

by Kay Liss

She held up family photos of her son Casey as a toddler, at his confirmation, as a 21-year-old in boot camp and then, the photo that appeared in The New York Times last April, of his coffin, his brother kissing it to say goodbye.

Many in the audience at Skidompha Library in Damariscotta on Tuesday night were unable to hold back tears along with Cindy Sheehan, mother of a slain American soldier in the Iraq War. Sheehan has been traveling around the country speaking out against the war and was invited to speak here by the newly formed Peace and Justice Coalition of Lincoln County and Citizens Offering New Alternatives (CONA), with participation from Veterans for Peace and the Maine Green Independent Party.

Opening her heart-wrenching talk, she said, “I am not a political expert or a pundit. I’m just a broken-hearted mother.” Sheehan said she hoped she wouldn’t offend anyone in the audience, but her purpose in speaking out was to raise awareness of “the travesty of this war” and to help bring the troops home.

She presented a brief biography of her son, born in 1979 in Vacaville, Calif., an Eagle Scout and altar boy who said when he grew up he wanted to serve and help people. He was in his third year in college when he decided to join the army, professing an interest in becoming a warrant officer in the OCS.

Sheehan said she was “flabbergasted” at his decision, because he was so devoted to peace, but respected it. She remarked a number of times in her talk that serving the country in the military is “an honorable profession,” and that she is proud of her son, who was a hero, but that it is this war that she feels is so wrong.

Casey became a Humvee mechanic, and was in Iraq for only two weeks when he volunteered for a very dangerous mission. His convoy was attacked and he was one of six soldiers killed on April 4 of 2004.

Her grief was almost unbearable, but then she said, “I knew I had to do something to try to stop this illegal and immoral war to prevent more soldiers from dying. People are dying every day, soldiers - but also innocent Iraqis that our government doesn’t even count.”

Sheehan co-founded an organization Gold Star Families for Peace, which is made up of parents, siblings and other family members of soldiers who have died in the Iraq War. Gold Star Mothers was an organization that began during the Second World War for mothers of slain soldiers. It has been a tradition for mothers to put gold stars in their windows if their son (or now daughter) had been killed in war, but the activist connotation is more a recent evolution.

However, Sheehan said she hadn’t been aware until after starting the organization that there was a group during the Vietnam War called Gold Star Moms, which also formed in protest against that war.

One of the things she would like to change is how military recruiters go about their business, going into poor neighborhoods and preying on those who cannot afford to go to college, and offering them “the world.”

“Many kids go into the military because they can’t afford college,” she said. “I think there should be some way to help these kids.” Also, recruiters should give a more honest picture of what being in the military entails, she added.

She said she doesn’t want to “just complain,” so offered other suggestions to get involved: to write to or try to speak personally to political representatives was particularly important. She said having an audience recently with California Senator Barbara Boxer, who had been against the war from the beginning, has probably made a difference in the senator’s recent increased level of statements against the war.

Sheehan urged everyone to become more aware of what is really going on in Iraq, to read articles on websites like and She said she hears from soldiers as to what is really going on, “and they are not building schools and sewer systems as the government is telling us. They are just out there killing and trying not to be killed.”

She said the mainstream media really “failed us” in the rush to war, and since then, has not been reporting much on the mistakes the U.S. occupation has made, such as disbanding the Iraq army and taking away jobs from citizens and giving them to outside contractors, creating animosity and anger toward the Americans. The tragic problem of inadequate armor for the troops, which is the reason her son and many other soldiers have died or been wounded, is another travesty not mentioned enough.

Her speaking out has not endeared her to her community, she said. “I am a pariah in my own town. My best friend won’t even talk to me anymore,” she said. Everyone had compassion for her when her son died, but they don’t seem to like the idea of her protesting the war. She said she has also been vilified in the press, accused of taking advantage of her family’s tragedy.

Sheehan has be en on a number of television shows, including Good Morning America, NBC and ABC. She has an article (“The Dangerous Gold Star Families”) currently on about her group’s recent attempt to talk to someone at the Pentagon, only to be rebuffed by police outside the gates.

“The time for being nice is over. We have to let our leaders know what we think. We have to help vets who have been wounded, and we have to help kids find alternatives to being recruited to go to this war. We have to put this war in peoples’ faces to get them to see.

“I know Casey would want me to be doing this.”

The website for Cindy Sheehan’s Gold Star Families for Peace is

Mother of Soldier Slain in Iraq Speaks Out
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My online Neo Pets = My many, many blogs, feed me, feed me.

Wow, been feeding all my other blogs, and overlooking this one. Well ya know, if the President would just shape up, I wouldn't be so busy with all the other blogs. Enough about that, see my other blogs for stuff like that. Here is where I try to post family stuff. Which is not to say that the war deeply affects our family, but once in a while, I gotta take a light's such serious business, the war, the troops, Iraq, our country.

So Lance, the cat, has made himself at home, is doing real well, adapting well and has rather taken charge of the house. Now Jake, on the other hand, is just still pouting over the whole business. We put a pillow and the food dish for Lance on top of the freezer on the porch. He likes that cause he jumps up there and can lord it over Jake, who looks at me with those sad eyes and an expression of "Why, Why, why me, what did I ever do to you?".

When I take ol' Jakers for a walk or better yet a drive, he is all excited once again and knows I love him best. Lance doesn't seem to know though, that Jake comes first, he thinks he comes first. Now Lance follows me around everywhere, including when I walk Jake...what kind of cat follows you around like a dog does? But no car rides for Lance. That is special only for Jakers.

Our small village entertainment: We threw old bread out for the birds, well, okay, the crows then. There are a lot of crows that live around here and they won't let the smaller birds get to the bread. We threw out three loaves, not torn up. So Jake goes over and sniffs them and decides they are not edible for him. But he somehow thinks they are his, so he sits down in the road and stands guard. The crows won't come down with Jake sitting right there. We are watching out the windows, and it's getting pretty amusing as Jake takes his job of guarding the bread loaves very seriously, it seems.

Along come some of the other dogs that live on our street, sniff the bread and decide it's not for them either, and walk off. Jake continues guarding the loaves. The crows hover all around but won't fly down to snatch the bread. After a while, another stranger dog (means doesn't live around here) came along, sniffed the bread, decided it was for him and picked it up in his mouth and walked off with it. Well Jake is seriously offended and puzzled and looks at the stranger dog and then back at the loaves and is confused about what to do. If he leaves his guard spot the crows will fly down, but he also wants to retreive the bread loaf from the stranger dog.

In his confusion, he decides to get up and go after the stranger dog, and the crows start circling downward. The stranger dog drops the loaf about 50 feet down the road, decides he doesn't want it after all. Jake, meanwhile has drifted over to the neighbor's place across the street as one of them has come out of the building and Jake knows they give him real and fun food treats. While he is over there begging for a goodie, the crows then spot the loaf the stranger dog dropped and see that Jake is occupied, so they swoop down and start having a feast. We are watching out the windows, laughing and being thoroughly entertained, wondering what Jake will do when he turns around and sees the crows are at the bread loaf.

Sure enough, Jake turns, sees the crows, dashes after them and chases them off, picks up the bread loaf and isn't sure what to do with it. He wanders back to the other two loaves, wanders back to the neighbors with the loaf in his mouth, wanders back home, just carrying that loaf of bread and not sure what to do with it. He decides then, that the best thing to do is to bury it. So he digs a hole and buries one loaf. Meanwhile the other two loaves are sitting on the road and the crows are still hovering, waiting. We are by this time laughing as we watch from the windows as this drama of nature unfolds. Lance has taken an interest by now and has been running from window to window trying to keep up with the birds.

It had all the markings of being a long afternoon's entertainment for us dull, boring people in our dull, boring village. The neighbors decided to take a walk, and Jake usually accompanies them, so he was delighted to go for a walk, and after all that careful sentry work guarding the bread loaves from the crows, he just walked off as if it never happened, and the crows then were free to feast. But no, two more stranger dogs came along, sniffed and decided to eat the two remaining loaves which they proceeded to do in short order, leaving nothing for the crows.

And that is life in the Village.

Now, about me and my blogs. I have, let's see now, 8 blogs at blogger, and 6 blogs here at blog-drive, 1 blog at live journal, 1 blog at blog city, another blog at bloglines, another at msn spaces, so that is 18 blogs. Plus I have also a few websites that I have built. And I have a list of about 6 more places where I could build other blogs. So ...... that is tooo many blogs, for sure, and I have to feed them all. That is why I call them my online neopets, cause I have to feed them and some get fed every day and some don't get fed for weeks at a time and lately, some don't get fed at all.

Lastly, let me recommend 2 movies for ya to watch. 1) Open Waters, it's an independent film and very unusual...different and we enjoyed watching it. 2) The Village, M. Night Shymalan which we enjoyed watching this one because the ending surprised us and it's nice to be surprised. There wasn't much in the way of clues along the movie to tell us what to expect for the ending, which is why it was a surprise. We liked it. Now, if you watch these two movies, let me know what you think, ok?

Till next time.............this is Gram offering up a gem.......
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It's another anniversary for us today, Jan 27 and I'm including a photo of me from our last year anniversary get away retreat, to a tree house in Cannon Beach, Oregon. It was so serene, peaceful and quiet. Of course January is not the high tourist season in Oregon, so it tends to be quieter in the winter months anyway. This year we are not spending $$ on get away locally, we are starting a special account to save for an anniversary trip to Europe! I'm excited. Daughter and her husband have been to Europe couple of times now, Son has been and another daughter with her family lives in Germany now. Europe, here we come!  Posted by Hello
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Anniversary Getaway Photo

It's another anniversary for us today, Jan 27 and I'm including a photo of me from our last year anniversary get away retreat, to a tree house in Cannon Beach, Oregon. It was so serene, peaceful and quiet. Of course January is not the high tourist season in Oregon, so it tends to be quieter in the winter months anyway. This year we are not spending $$ on get away locally, we are starting a special account to save for an anniversary trip to Europe! I'm excited. Daughter and her husband have been to Europe couple of times now, Son has been and another daughter with her family lives in Germany now. Europe, here we come! Posted by Hello
by Lietta Ruger
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

U.S. Rep Schakowsky; "It is time for our soldiers to start the journey home.", Press release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Nadeam Elshami

January 24, 2005 202/226-6903 or 703/869-9020 (Cell Phone)

Schakowsky on U.S. Troops in Iraq :

"It is time for our soldiers to start the journey home."

CHICAGO , IL - U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) today released the following statement on U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq :

"The time has come for the United States to withdraw our troops from the battlefield of a war that should never have been waged. There was no real justification for sending our brave young men a women to fight in Iraq, and there is even less reason to keep them there now to die in ever increasing numbers.

"Under false pretenses, the Bush Administration took our nation to war against a country that did not pose imminent threat to our security. In Iraq today, over 1,300 U.S. soldiers and an estimated 100,000 civilians are dead. This war is costing an average of $1.6 billion taxpayer dollars every week, while the mission remains vague, the troops overstretched and under-armored, friendly Iraqis chafe at our presence and unfriendly Iraqis bomb our convoys and enclaves. Neither democracy in Iraq nor security at home has been achieved. Instead, Iraq has become, in a gruesome self-fulfilling prophecy, the ground zero for terrorism that it was not when President Bush chose to invade.

"There are those who argue that the U.S. is obligated to 'fix' Iraq now that we have broken it. Unfortunately, the Administration has left us with no good options whatsoever. The worst choice, however, would be to continue to do more of the same, and watch the body count grow. It is clear that for stability to replace chaos, a political and not a military resolution is required.

"A political process has begun, admittedly fragile, and it is time for the United States to leave. Once the January 30 elections are concluded, the new Iraqi government takes responsibility for forging its own path toward stability and democracy. The U.S. should provide financial and material assistance for that effort and encourage the international community to help.

"The results may not be what the President envisioned or anyone wanted. Some experts warn of civil war. Many worry for the Christian community and for the women. These are very real concerns that, sadly, weren't even considered when the U.S. invaded, and even after 'mission accomplished' was declared by President Bush. We should do what we can diplomatically to address vulnerable populations, yet, as long as U.S. forces are on the ground, a lasting peace and stable Iraq cannot be achieved. All of us care deeply about our brave soldiers who are doing the very best they can under near impossible conditions. It is time to bring them home."


Leslie Combs
District Director
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
5533 N. Broadway, Chicago IL 60640
phone: 773-506-7100 fax: 773-506-9202


provided by Military Families Speak Out

Dear Military Families,
Below is a press release issued on January 24, 2005 by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky from Chicago, Illinois titled "It Is Time For Our Soldiers To Start The Journey Home." Feel free to share this with your family, friends, community and with your local, state and federal elected officials.
In Peace and Solidarity,
Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson
for Military Families Speak Out

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Wife of a soldier blogs her feelings on learning of 2nd deployment to Iraq

My daughter blogs, (yes, I encouraged her to start one and she has developed quite a following). Two weeks ago she learned that her husband, my son-in-law and father to my grandchildren, is under orders to redeploy to Iraq within the next short few months. This will be his 2nd deployment to Iraq. My daughter shared her heart on feelings in the below blog entry. I have her permission to share it here and at my other blogs. Her honesty is more poignant than what I can write in expressing how strangled I feel to be able to do so little to prevent my darlings from having to endure this a second time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Soldiers deploying, we can talk about it now. It is OFFICIAL!

My mood today is: Heartbroken

Okay well this is my story and it is long so get ready to listen to my novel(lol)

As most of you know I met my DH(dear hubby) when he was in the military stationed in WA. He got out of the military for me, cuase I would not move with him to go to our next duty station which would of been OK. So after the military he worked at a warehouse making really good money for three years.

But the cost of living was KILLING us, our rent was 855 a month plus electric phone and our food bill was 300-400 a month. Needless to say we needed to find something smaller and somewhere cheapter to raise our family.

My hubby and I had moved to a different town, a SMALL town. We had just left a BIG city to move closer to family and to also have our choldren in a little town. Not in the hussle and bussle of the very very BIG city.....We thought my hubby could get a good paying job real quick with his warehouse experience and I would start school and things would be great. But the warehouse jobs there were given to people who knew someone that knew someone. And I enrolled for school but like always something comes up that defers me going.

So we spent a year there my hubby drove six hours every week to work and spend the week in our BIG city(he is a very hard working man), then after about three months of that he quit. I got a job working and he stayed home with the children. And let me say it changed my hubby and our marriage for the better. He really got a reality check of what women go through staying at home and raising TWO little ones under the age of three. And having an older child also to help with school work and functions. He cooked, cleaned, changed diapers, laundry, EVERYTHING.....He did this for about 6 months. Then one day he said babe I am going to go look for a job and and I said great honey. He drove over to our local MALL and spoke with a recruiter, and had come home with a HUGE azz stack of papers he had to sign....He walked in the door and said we need to sit down and talk.

So I am thinking what is with all these papers, and he blurts out I AM RE-JOINING the military!

I didn't want to sign these papers till I came home and talked to you about it. I was SHOCKED. I mean we just had 9-11 and we were going to be going to WAR! I really didn;t know what to say to him. He said babe I have to do this. So after we sat there talking I said if this is what you want to do then I am behind you 100%, he then said you will GO ANYWHERE with me(lol) and I said YES I will move anywhere you get stationed.

SO he signed all the papers that night, went back the next day and started re-entering the military.

We then found out he got Europe as his duty station and we were all VERY EXCITED, especially our eldest daughter and of course I was also.

So my hubby had a month of going to Seattle and doing all the neccessary paperwork and then we found out he would be leaving in Feb. So as the month approached I was growing more and more concerned with THIS WAR that was shaping up to take place. He said babe, this is something we knew when I joined again. I told him yes, but I am not ready to deal with all this. He said don't worry I will be in Germany and you guys will be there right after me.

Well one we were not there right after him, my daughter's father held us for an entire 18 months waiting. So my hubby got to Germany and then found out they were deploying to Iraq.

I cried the entire day. My mom came down(thank GOD) and it was awful, even worse was my daughter's father refused to sign her passport papers and we all did not get to say our GOODBYES to daddy. So my hubby went off to WAR alone without seeing his family.

I then spent the next 18 MONTHS trying to kiss my daughter's father azz to get him to sign her paper and he refused the entire time. It is a long story, but the important thing is he fianlly came to his senses and signed it. Now we are here with daddy and everyone is so much better off.

Now after struggling so many months to make it here to be with daddy we found out this past week that he will be returning to IRAQ. We only so many months to spend with him now. He has to go to the feild 3 of these months so needless to say our time is VERY VERY SHORT.

I thought this time around I would be able to handle all this deployment news, I would be ready for it all BUT I SEE I AM NOT ready for all this news.

I am laready seeing hubby is thinking about it, he is talking alot more about when he was there the 1st time, he is wanting to just sit at home and watch movies cuddling. He doesn't want to go back but he has too.

You struggle with yourself, you struggle to think if you can handle all this again, all the crying, all the loneliness, all the being mom and dad, the children confused about where daddy is and when he will be home, if he will even come home. You watched movies and you cry cuz your missing your partner here with you...SAFE and ALIVE. Your stress if always running high and your never gets a moments rest a good night sleeps cuz your eyes are burning from all the tears cried. Every song you hear makes you sad cuz it has to do a with a memory or a though of your hubby.

I don't know if I can do it this time. I don't want to worry my hubby with all my worries, but I know he is very afraid. He has already said outloud well at least I get to see 29! I said WTF is that all about. Your going to see 30-31 now stop it. He said babe it is worse over there now, We all know we are going to lose lives, for NOTHING......Just more things for me to now worry about. I will spend all these months prior to deployment worrying then spending the next 12+ months worrying. Having to do two deployments, like my hubby said will only put us together for one year out of almost 4 years. It is sad, but part of life as a military family. And we are re-upping so guess it will more likely happen again.....Just know that this is on the hardest things to go through and deal with. I have no earthly clue how the nam wives did it, soldiers were dying left and right, and they HAD NO CONTACT ever!

My hubby said he will be sitting down and he will have to do his goodbye letter again(one of the hardest things EVER) but he wants it done so in case something happens, I have his very last words that he would want me to have. I cry just thinking about what he has to go through. I know this news is killing him. I know he is afraid. I know he will be keeping another journal when he returns to help him get through the lonley nights and struggles he has. And I know he is taking everyday here with us and enjoying it.

This time around to me it is more scarier then the first time around. The only good thing about this deployment is that WE ARE ALL HERE with him, we get to say our goodbyes to him and put him on the plane without having to worry that we don't get to come to Germany and that we do not get to see him off. It was extrememly stressful dealing with my daughter's father, he can be very hurtful and cruel when you speak to him. So both hubby and I were having a ton more stress added on by having to deal with getting our daughter to Germany. Everyday I grew more angry that I could not be in Germany with my family, where all the information was about my husband, where there was support for us as a military family, where when my hubby stepped off the plane from being downrange all that time I could run up and hug him. But it didn't work out that way, but it will be that way this time around. We all be here with daddy seeing him off.

My emotions run high. Thinking about another year with my hubby in harms way. You take life for granited sometimes. I know I took my marriage, my husband and everything he was for granite. I so badly wanted him to be back home so I could show him how much he means to me, how much I love being married to him, how much he really does for me.

I spent the first 6 months in hardly no contact with him, they had just gotten there after we attacked Baghdad. So communication was not set up, no letters home cuz they were taking like 4 months to arrive, we had no interent nothing. It was EXTREMLY hard, the not knowing. Not knowing if he was dead or alive. I spent everyday worried about him, and we didn't have contact so it was always in the back of my mind that I would be one of the wives that gets the knock on the door. I cried everynight for about four months. I was so worried. I worked out to relieve stress and lost a lot of weight. I started a online group(which was my lifesaver) I had my mother;s 110% support and HELP, without her who knows. My daughter was the BIGGESt trooper, she is more an inspiration to me than anything. She has an undying demeanor to help and comfort. She is awesome. I would of been a nervous wreck had she not helped out in all the many many ways she did!

You are a shell of a person with the one you love in danger like that on a day to day basis, it is like your life is on hold until they come home alive. You don't want to live life cuz your hubby is another counrty fighting and could DIE. It is hard. If I were single with no kids, OMG I don't know. The lonely nights alone with nobody to be there, my kids were what kept me going, praying for my husband to live kept me going. It is hard to think ahead, but I know the pain and I know the loneliness. I am NOT LOOKING forward to this deployment, I am not looking forward to seeing my best friend leave again. I am afraid for him and all his soldiers....

I can say that the war not only brought my hubsand and I closer in many ways it bonded us for life. We could never get back the 18 months that was taken from us, but in those 18 months our love for each other grew so big and so huge. Now that he is out of harms way, we have an unspoken understanding that it is a blessing he is here with us. That is why thinking about sending him back into harms way eats at my SOUL. Inside I am dying, outside I am being a strong wife for him. I know it is killing him thinking about being away from me and our three children again, all the things he will miss out while he is gone. Not knowing where he will be going. But thank goodness I started this online journal, this is going to help me get out what I can not speak with my husband about. I do not want him to have to have all the worries and stresses he had the first time around. He needs only to worry about staying alive and doing whatever he can to survive to make it back home to his family.

Life is different now. Instead of getting up and always on the go-go-go, I sit home with my hubby and do the things he wants to, which right now is buying movies and watching them with randa and I. That and playing board games. I don't mind, I know when he deploys again I will shop like no tomorrow to not have to think about everything my husband is enduring. I just enjoy all the time everyday with him now while I have him here with me.

The first time around I didn't know what to expect, what was going on, this time around I sorta know what to expect. I am going to be invloved with our FRG and also do my own things for the wives I know here. Our children will have other kids going through the same thing. Our son will have some outlets to deal with daddy being deployed. The first deployment our little drew didn't take it all so well. And I was stuck in the little town with no outside help. So it was a struggle. he is a wonderful son, I love him dearly. But it was so very hard on him. He was so little and confused. He wanted daddy. I am afraid to even go there with how he is going to handle this all again.

Our eldest daughter, she was always worried her dad would die, she wrote a beautiful poem to him. This time around she is already talking to him, asking him questions, she will get to say goodbye and give him a hug. She handles death in her own way, but one night we were sitting there taking to her and she asked him something about dying and started crying, he held her and kissed her forehead and told her that he loves her and he will come home. She said ok, and just cried.

We haven't told the little ones yet, I am not sure when I will tell them. Maybe a couple weeks before daddy leaves so they can use to the idea.

My hubby is my world, my LIFE, my soul mate, he is the one I was meant to spend my life with. God tested us the first time around and brought him home to us, I am trusting in God again to watch over my best friend, my life partner and bring him home to his family.

I will be writing more on this as the time gets closer and as my emotions start flying high. I know I have to mentally prepare myself for this one.

I am enrolling into school to have distractions....I will keep working out to keep my stress down, and the kids will all be in school. So that is it for now. More to come.

But it is official. The guys will be returning to Iraq soon. Now we are just spending all the time we have left with our soilders enjoying them and loving them and looking at them face to face.

I love you dear sweet husband and life would not be so wonderful if you are not in it, you BETTER come home safe this time around too. I can't even begin to imagine my life without you in it! Thank God for sending me you. Your are the blessing in my life, that made it all right and have meaning. Love you with every breathe and every beat of my heart!

Bree's 30 something
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Court-Martialed Soldier Plans To Return

Court-Martialed Soldier Plans To Return

Associated Press

January 25, 2005

DAYTON, Ohio - A former Ohio Army Reserve commander court-martialed for taking Army vehicles in Kuwait so her unit could carry out its mission in Iraq said Monday she is returning to duty pending her bid for clemency.

Maj. Cathy Kaus, 47, of Dayton, said she plans to report for duty Tuesday at Fort Sill, Okla. Kaus said she is not sure what tasks she will be assigned.

"I'm very anxious to get down there and prove to them that I do have some qualities the Army needs," Kaus said. "I look at it as starting a new job."

Kaus, a 27-year veteran of the reserves, served six months in a Navy brig after being convicted of theft, abandoning military property, conspiring to abandon military property and neglect.

Her attorney, Philip Cave, said that while the court dismissed Kaus from the military - an officer's version of a dishonorable discharge - the dismissal is not final until the clemency and appeals process is complete.

Kaus was among six reservists from the Springfield, Ohio-based 656th Transportation Company who were court-martialed at a time when some U.S. troops in Iraq were complaining they had to scrounge for equipment and armor for their vehicles. Members of the unit said they needed the equipment to deliver fuel to U.S. forces in Iraq.

Messages left at Fort Sill were not immediately returned.
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Not so experienced after all; Special Operations recruitments

From blog; Today in Iraq

Sounds like Rummy is recruiting Heritage Foundation Rambos. "Internal Pentagon briefings describe Strategic Support Branch members as experienced intelligence professionals with specialized skills, 'military operations backgrounds,' and the training to "function in all environments under adverse conditions." But four special operations soldiers who provided information for this article, directly or through intermediaries, said those assigned to work with them included out-of-shape men in their fifties and recent college graduates on their first assignments. 'They arrived with shiny black kneepads and elbow pads, shiny black helmets,' said one special forces officer who served with Waldroup's men in Iraq. 'They brought M-4 rifles with all the accoutrements, scopes and high-end [satellite equipment] they didn't know how to use.' An older member of Waldroup's staff 'became an anchor because of his physical conditioning and his lack of knowledge of our tactics, techniques and procedures. The guy actually put us in danger.'" Fat-assed fifty-somethings and college kids? Sounds like Rummy’s using the same recruiting pool Bremer used to staff the Coalition Provisional Authority. And why put this super-secret outfit under command of a shady reservist when plenty of trained and motivated professionals are available? We all know the answer because we’ve seen the pattern before. The ideologues don’t like the advice they get from the professionals, so they recruit some ideologically sound True Believers and set up an alternative to the professionals. It’s the pattern they used to create the illusion of WMD when the CIA professionals disagreed, to hype their prescription drug bill when the professionals disagreed about the cost, and, most infamously, to circumvent US and international law in order to justify the use of torture.

Today in Iraq
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Rumsfeld to Bypass Munich Conference

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will not attend the Munich Security Conference in February. Some say the cancellation is likely due to a war crimes complaint against him that was filed in a German court.

Rumsfeld to Bypass Munich Conference | Germany | Deutsche Welle |
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Bush Wants $80B More for Iraq, Afghan Wars

Our inheritance to our children and grandchildren; ongoing death, carnage, destruction, disrupted and ruptured families, and perpetural debt. Nice bit of work here, a proud legacy indeed (sarcasm off)

Bush Wants $80B More for Iraq, Afghan Wars

As details of President Bush's new $80 billion request for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were emerging Tuesday, Congress' top budget analyst projected $855 billion in deficits for the next decade even without the costs of war and Bush's Social Security plan.

Yahoo! News - Front Page
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Unplugged and unembedded

"On Tuesday, Jan. 25 at noon PST, Terrence McNally will interview freelance journalist Dahr Jamail on the show Free Forum, streamed live on the web on KPFK. Jamail is an American who has been reporting from Baghdad for eight months out of the past 12. He is one of the few independent, unembedded reporters from the West currently in the country. In the interview he'll discuss the upcoming elections, who the 'insurgents' really are, media repression and how the US military prevented journalists from covering the truth about events in Fallujah.

Jamail's dispatches, posted regularly on his website, offer concise, detailed and often brutal insights into the situation in Iraq, as well as images that you won't see anywhere else.

From 'Collective Punishment,' Jan. 14: '

It's not a new tactic here in Iraq. The US military has been doing it for well over a year now. Last January 3rd, in the Al-Dora rural region on the outskirts of Baghdad, where beautiful farms of date palms and orange trees line the banks of the Tigris, I visited a farm where occupation forces had lobbed several mortars.

The military claimed they had been attacked by fighters in the area, while the locals denied any knowledge of harboring resistance fighters.

Standing in a field full of unexploded mortar rounds, a farmer explained, 'We don't know why they bomb our house and our fields. We have never resisted the Americans. There are foreign fighters who have passed through here, and I think this is who they want. But why are they bombing us?'"

AlterNet: War on Iraq: Unplugged and unembedded

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Monday, January 24, 2005


During the early weeks of the Iraq war, the television set in my office was tuned all day to CNN, with the sound muted. On the morning of April 3rd, as the Army and the Marines were closing in on Baghdad, I happened to look up at what appeared to be a disaster in the making. A small unit of American soldiers was walking along a street in Najaf when hundreds of Iraqis poured out of the buildings on either side.

Fists waving, throats taut, they pressed in on the Americans, who glanced at one another in terror. I reached for the remote and turned up the sound. The Iraqis were shrieking, frantic with rage. From the way the lens was lurching, the cameraman seemed as frightened as the soldiers. This is it, I thought. A shot will come from somewhere, the Americans will open fire, and the world will witness the My Lai massacre of the Iraq war.

At that moment, an American officer stepped through the crowd holding his rifle high over his head with the barrel pointed to the ground. Against the backdrop of the seething crowd, it was a striking gesture—almost Biblical. “Take a knee,” the officer said, impassive behind surfer sunglasses. The soldiers looked at him as if he were crazy. Then, one after another, swaying in their bulky body armor and gear, they knelt before the boiling crowd and pointed their guns at the ground. The Iraqis fell silent, and their anger subsided. The officer ordered his men to withdraw.

more at

The New Yorker: Fact
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Sunday, January 23, 2005

P-I Focus: The road to a draft goes through an unwilling Army


P-I Focus: The road to a draft goes through an unwilling Army

Sunday, January 23, 2005



If you're the U.S. Army, how do you say, "Hell No, We Won't Go?"

By proclaiming, loud, clear and often, your opposition to the draft.

Put bluntly: The U.S. Army has no desire to be large enough to implement the Bush/neocon agenda of "cauldronizing the Middle East" or anywhere else, and it will oppose by every means at its disposal, any attempt to so enlarge it.

And it is right to do so -- militarily, politically and morally.

According to an oft-documented Vietnam legend, an anonymous Army general vowed: "I'll be damned if I permit the United States Army, its institutions, its doctrine, and its traditions, to be destroyed just to win this lousy war." In Iraq, the destruction is already well under way. But if the Army is not prepared to lose in Iraq to save itself, it is ready to remain a force that cannot prevail there, let alone invade anywhere else.

Ever since the Iraq venture demonstrated, once again, that people don't always love us the way some ideologues think they should, the issue of conscription will not go away. No one wants it, aside from a few advocates of establishing a massive federal teenager-herding bureaucracy ("national service") and vaporous pundits fretting over inequality of sacrifice (while rarely addressing why anybody should be sacrificing anything, much less volunteering their own children as sacrifices).

Throughout the 2004 election, candidates of all persuasions vehemently proclaimed their opposition. The House of Representatives ostentatiously called a dead national service bill (with military and non-military "options") out of committee expressly to vote it down. Meanwhile, the Selective Service System has simply gone about the business of staffing up thousands of local boards and appeals panels, against the day it penetrates the national skull that Iraq has wrecked the U.S. Army.

Today, nine of 10 regular Army divisions are either in Iraq and Afghanistan or back and preparing for the next deployment. During fiscal year 2004, 19,301 regular soldiers were kept on active duty involuntarily, some up to 18 months past their contractual obligations through "stop-loss" orders. As of Dec. 15, 185,732 Reservists and National Guardsmen from all services are currently mobilized. They are the tip of the iceberg: As of Sept. 30, 247,181 reservists and guardsmen have been deployed in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom; 90,041 of those troops more than once. These figures do not include temporary duty, which can last for up to three months, overseas.

This misuse and overuse, which in truth began under President Clinton, has produced a situation in which mass exodus is at the very least conceivable within a year. And so the Army's latest recruiting slogan, "An Army of One," has been morphed by the troops into: "Soon as I get out, I'll Be An Army of One."

But if the Army is approaching implosion, and knows it, then why the opposition to conscription? There are a half-dozen reasons. Two are idiotic. Two make sense. And two are profoundly, profoundly moral.

The first non-reason is that unwilling conscripts can't be trusted in combat. But as an adage accurately puts it, "The Army never forces anyone to fight. They just put you down in the middle of a war and let you make up your own mind."

The second non-reason holds that war and occupation duty have gotten so complex that conscripts can't master the necessary skills in the time available. Conscripts can be as well or as poorly trained as volunteers, and a year of serious training produces a soldier capable of effective deployment. The real skill shortages develop at midlevel, among the true professionals, while entry level is entry level, no matter how you got there.

Beyond this, the Army rightly fears the effect of unpopular conscription on its "civil-military relations" and the military's place in society. It also doesn't care to get dragged into endless litigation. Were conscription reinstituted tomorrow, it would be years of misery before the service derived any benefit.

Yet another valid objection is money. People cost. So does everything else. You can't stop paying your soldiers or funding your wars. But you can stop or slow everything else. The Clinton administration reprogrammed tens of billions to pay for Balkan operations. It's happening again in Iraq. Further, in 2001 the administration eschewed a Reagan-style bow wave of Army spending in favor of studying transformation before committing to specific programs. The fiscal year 2005 defense budget, including supplementals, will surpass $500 billion while the administration is cutting furiously. The bow wave never happened. The transformation window has closed. And the Army sees its future slipping away.

The intensifying personnel crunch, plus the unique requirements of occupation duty, has forced the Army into something it swore it would never do: send women into combat as combatants. The "ground combat exclusion rule" has eroded to the point where the Army is considering de facto abolition. As for the gay ban, half of junior enlisted service members think openly gay people should be allowed to serve, yet 787 troops were discharged for homosexual conduct in fiscal year 2003. Between 1998 and 2003, hundreds of combat soldiers, nearly 200 MPs and more than a dozen linguists have been discharged. Younger officers and troops, accustomed from birth to tolerance and equality, find both policies bizarre as well as cruel. Thoughtful senior officers appear content to let the results of women's service and "don't ask, don't tell" speak for themselves.

The final reason the Army does not want a draft is a profound lesson it learned in Vietnam. You cannot use draftees to fight long, cold-blooded policy wars. Quick, permanently decisive, wars may be dangerous illusion, but short or long, if you use draftees and part-time soldiers to fight wars, they had better be hot-blooded wars in which the nation's passions are decisively engaged.

The Army knows that the war in Iraq is a war of choice fought to enforce a policy of democratizing the Middle East. It also knows utterly inadequate strategy when it sees it.

Pacifying Iraq requires securing its borders and controlling cash and information flow into and out of the country. It requires co-opting local elites and enlisting their cooperation against a common enemy in order to create reasonably loyal auxiliary troops. It also requires making examples, if not of those who refuse to cooperate, then of those who actively resist the occupation. All of this requires a lot of troops.

In February 2003, the former chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed to occupy Iraq. Shinseki wasn't wrong: 300,000 U.S. soldiers, twice the current deployment, is a barely adequate minimum. But the Army's end strength for fiscal year 2005 is 482,400 soldiers, with only another 20,000 authorized. Rather, Shinseki had publicly made clear that only a draft will generate enough soldiers to effectively occupy Iraq.

Indeed, a draft could generate so many soldiers that the Bush administration and its neocon ideologues might feel able to invade, conquer and occupy Iran and Syria, presumably to turn them, too, into democratic countries. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has so staunchly opposed a draft that neocon field marshal Bill Kristol has called, once again, for his resignation in the Weekly Standard.

Islamic fundamentalism certainly poses a significant and growing threat to the United States but it is a very diffuse threat. The Army still wants, desperately, to transform into a force that combines expeditionary mobility, enormous firepower, and aggressive spirit: capable of stopping even nuclear powers such as North Korea or Pakistan fast and very hard. The Army is unwilling to permit itself to be restructured as a large draftee force suited for conquest, occupation and forcing people to be free. To preserve a structure capable of dealing with the diffuse threats that actually face this nation, the Army finds itself bleeding in a thousand engagements in Iraq. It wins each engagement individually but collectively those victories mean nothing because they cannot be translated into permanent political success.

As in Vietnam, you control the ground you stand on but only so long as you stand there.

The Army does not seek defeat in Iraq: Defeat is abhorrent and no one wants to be maimed or killed for nothing. By all accounts, the performance of the troops has been superb but discipline and courage are not, and cannot replace, good strategy.

The Army knows victory in Iraq will leave America bankrupted and defenseless, and it dreads for the nation to pay such a price. Or as the Greek king Pyrrhus said, contemplating the losses his people had suffered to defeat the Roman Army a second time, "One more such victory, and we are undone."

This is the essence of tragedy.

Erin Solaro is a Seattle-based writer. She may be reached at

© 1998-2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

P-I Focus: The road to a draft goes through an unwilling Army
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The horror of Depleted Uranium is not limited to Iraq

Democracy Betrayed


The horror of Depleted Uranium is not limited to Iraq – it may well

be at our doorsteps. The information which some governments

are concealing is presented here.

By James Denver

Remixed Propaganda Poster by Micah Wright

'I’m horrified. The people out there – the Iraqis, the media and the troops – risk the most appalling ill health. And the radiation from depleted uranium can travel literally anywhere. It’s going to destroy the lives of thousands of children, all over the world. We all know how far radiation can travel. Radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales and in Britain you sometimes get red dust from the Sahara on your car.’

The speaker is not some alarmist doom-sayer. He is Dr Chris Busby, the British radiation expert, Fellow of the University of Liverpool in the Faculty of Medicine and UK representative on the European Committee on Radiation Risk, talking about the best kept secret of this war: the fact that, by illegally using hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) against Iraq, Britain and America have gravely endangered not only the Iraqis but the whole world. For these weapons have released deadly, carcinogenic and mutagenic, radioactive particles in such abundance that – whipped up by sandstorms and carried on trade winds – there is no corner of the globe they cannot penetrate – including Britain. For the wind has no boundaries and time is on their side: the radioactivity persists for over 4,500,000,000 years and can cause cancer, leukaemia, brain damage, kidney failure, and extreme birth defects – killing millions of every age for centuries to come. A crime against humanity which may, in the eyes of historians, rank with the worst atrocities of all time.

These weapons have released deadly, carcinogenic and mutagenic, radioactive particles in such abundance that there is no corner of the globe they cannot penetrate – including Britain.

Yet, officially, no crime has been committed. For this story is a dirty story in which the facts have been concealed from those who needed them most. It is also a story we need to know if the people of Iraq are to get the medical care they desperately need, and if our troops, returning from Iraq, are not to suffer as terribly as the veterans of other conflicts in which depleted uranium was used.

A dirty Tyson

‘Depleted’ uranium is in many ways a misnomer. For ‘depleted’ sounds weak. The only weak thing about depleted uranium is its price. It is dirt cheap, toxic, waste from nuclear power plants and bomb production. However, uranium is one of earth’s heaviest elements and DU packs a Tyson’s punch, smashing through tanks, buildings and bunkers with equal ease, spontaneously catching fire as it does so, and burning people alive. ‘Crispy critters’ is what US servicemen call those unfortunate enough to be close. And, when John Pilger encountered children killed at a greater distance he wrote: ‘The children’s skin had folded back, like parchment, revealing veins and burnt flesh that seeped blood, while the eyes, intact, stared straight ahead. I vomited.’ (Daily Mirror)

The millions of radioactive uranium oxide particles released when it burns can kill just as surely, but far more terribly. They can even be so tiny they pass through a gas mask, making protection against them impossible. Yet, small is not beautiful. For these invisible killers indiscriminately attack men, women, children and even babies in the womb – and do the gravest harm of all to children and unborn babies.

A terrible legacy

Doctors in Iraq have estimated that birth defects have increased by 2-6 times, and 3-12 times as many children have developed cancer and leukaemia since 1991. Moreover, a report published in The Lancet in 1998 said that as many as 500 children a day are dying from these sequels to war and sanctions and that the death rate for Iraqi children under 5 years of age increased from 23 per 1000 in 1989 to 166 per thousand in 1993. Overall, cases of lymphoblastic leukemia more than quadrupled with other cancers also increasing ‘at an alarming rate’. In men, lung, bladder, bronchus, skin, and stomach cancers showed the highest increase. In women, the highest increases were in breast and bladder cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.1

On hearing that DU had been used in the Gulf in 1991, the UK Atomic Energy Authority sent the Ministry of Defence a special report on the potential damage to health and the environment. It said that it could cause half a million additional cancer deaths in Iraq over 10 years. In that war the authorities only admitted to using 320 tons of DU – although the Dutch charity LAKA estimates the true figure is closer to 800 tons. Many times that may have been spread across Iraq by this year’s war. The devastating damage all this DU will do to the health and fertility of the people of Iraq now, and for generations to come, is beyond imagining.

The radioactivity persists for over 4,500,000,000 years killing millions of every age for centuries to come. This is a crime against humanity which may rank with the worst atrocities of all time.

We must also count the numberless thousands of miscarried babies. Nobody knows how many Iraqis have died in the womb since DU contaminated their world. But it is suggested that troops who were only exposed to DU for the brief period of the war were still excreting uranium in their semen 8 years later and some had 100 times the so called ‘safe limit’ of uranium in their urine. The lack of government interest in the plight of veterans of the 1991 war is reflected in a lack of academic research on the impact of DU but informal research has found a high incidence of birth defects in their children and that the wives of men who served in Iraq have three times more miscarriages than the wives of servicemen who did not go there.

Since DU darkened the land Iraq has seen birth defects which would break a heart of stone: babies with terribly foreshortened limbs, with their intestines outside their bodies, with huge bulging tumours where their eyes should be, or with a single eye – like Cyclops, or without eyes, or without limbs, and even without heads. Significantly, some of the defects are almost unknown outside textbooks showing the babies born near A-bomb test sites in the Pacific. Doctors report that many women no longer say ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’ but simply, ‘Is it normal, doctor?’ Moreover this terrible legacy will not end. The genes of their parents may have been damaged for ever, and the damaging DU dust is ever-present.

Blue on blue

What the governments of America and Britain have done to the people of Iraq they have also done to their own soldiers, in both wars. And they have done it knowingly. For the battlefields have been thick with DU and soldiers have had to enter areas heavily contaminated by bombing. Moreover, their bodies have not only been assaulted by DU but also by a vaccination regime which violated normal protocols, experimental vaccines, nerve agent pills, and organophosphate pesticides in their tents. Yet, though the hazards of DU were known, British and American troops were not warned of its dangers. Nor were they given thorough medical checks on their return – even though identifying it quickly might have made it possible to remove some of it from their body. Then, when a growing number became seriously ill, and should have been sent to top experts in radiation damage and neurotoxins, many were sent to a psychiatrist.

Over 200,000 US troops who returned from the 1991 war are now invalided out with ailments officially attributed to service in Iraq – that’s 1 in 3. In contrast, the British government’s failure to fully assess the health of returning troops, or to monitor their health, means no one even knows how many have died or become gravely ill since their return. However, Gulf veterans’ associations say that, of 40,000 or so fighting fit men and women who saw active service, at least 572 have died prematurely since coming home and 5000 may be ill. An alarming number are thought to have taken their own lives, unable to bear the torment of the innumerable ailments which have combined to take away their career, their sexuality, their ability to have normal children, and even their ability to breathe or walk normally. As one veteran puts it, they are ‘on DU death row, waiting to die’.

Whatever other factors there may be, some of their illnesses are strikingly similar to those of Iraqis exposed to DU dust. For example, soldiers have also fathered children without eyes. And, in a group of eight servicemen whose babies lack eyes seven are known to have been directly exposed to DU dust. They too have fathered children with stunted arms, and rare abnormalities classically associated with radiation damage. They too seem prone to cancer and leukaemia. Tellingly, so are EU soldiers who served as peacekeepers in the Balkans, where DU was also used. Indeed their leukaemia rate has been so high that several EU governments have protested at the use of DU.

The vital evidence

Despite all that evidence of the harm done by DU, governments on both sides of the Atlantic have repeatedly claimed that as it emits only ‘low level’ radiation DU is harmless. Award winning scientist, Dr Rosalie Bertell who has led UN medical commissions, has studied ‘low level’ radiation for 30 years.2 She has found that uranium oxide particles have more than enough power to harm cells, and describes their pulses of radiation as hitting surrounding cells ‘like flashes of lightning’ again and again in a single second.2 Like many scientists worldwide who have studied this type of radiation, she has found that such ‘lightning strikes’ can damage DNA and cause cell mutations which lead to cancer. Moreover, these particles can be taken up by body fluids and travel through the body, damaging more than one organ. To compound all that Dr Bertell has found that this particular type of radiation can cause the body’s communication systems to break down, leading to malfunctions in many vital organs of the body and to many medical problems. A striking fact, since many veterans of the first Gulf war suffer from innumerable, seemingly unrelated, ailments.

In addition, recent research by Eric Wright, Professor of Experimental Haematology at Dundee University, and others, have shown two ways in which such radiation can do far more damage than has been thought. The first is that a cell which seems unharmed by radiation can produce cells with diverse mutations several cell generations later. (And mutations are at the root of cancer and birth defects.) This ‘radiation induced genomic instability’ is compounded by ‘the bystander effect’ by which cells mutate in unison with others which have been damaged by radiation – rather as birds swoop and turn in unison. Put together, these two mechanisms can greatly increase the damage done by a single source of radiation, such as a DU particle. Moreover, it is now clear that there are marked genetic differences in the way individuals respond to radiation – with some being far more likely to develop cancer than others. So the fact that some veterans of the first Gulf war seem relatively unharmed by their exposure to DU in no way proves that DU did not damage others.

The price of truth

That the evidence from Iraq and from our troops, and the research findings of such experts, have been ignored may be no accident. A US report, leaked in late 1995, allegedly says, ‘The potential for health effects from DU exposure is real; however it must be viewed in perspective... the financial implications of long-term disability payments and healthcare costs would be excessive.’3

Clearly, with hundreds of thousands gravely ill in Iraq and at least a quarter of a million UK and US troops seriously ill, huge disability claims might be made not only against the governments of Britain and America if the harm done by DU were acknowledged. There might also be huge claims against companies making DU weapons and some of their directors are said to be extremely close to the White House. How close they are to Downing Street is a matter for speculation, but arms sales makes a considerable contribution to British trade. So the massive whitewashing of DU over the past 12 years, and the way that governments have failed to test returning troops, seemed to disbelieve them, and washed their hands of them, may be purely to save money.

The possibility that financial considerations have led the governments of Britain and America to cynically avoid taking responsibility for the harm they have done not only to the people of Iraq but to their own troops may seem outlandish. Yet DU weapons weren’t used by the other side and no other explanation fits the evidence. For, in the days before Britain and America first used DU in war its hazards were no secret.4 One American study in 1990 said DU was ‘linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and to] chemical toxicity – causing kidney damage’. While another openly warned that exposure to these particles under battlefield conditions could lead to cancers of the lung and bone, kidney damage, non-malignant lung disease, neuro-cognitive disorders, chromosomal damage and birth defects.5

A culture of denial

In 1996 and 1997 UN Human Rights Tribunals condemned DU weapons for illegally breaking the Geneva Convention and classed them as ‘weapons of mass destruction’ ‘incompatible with international humanitarian and human rights law’. Since then, following leukaemia in European peacekeeping troops in the Balkans and Afghanistan (where DU was also used), the EU has twice called for DU weapons to be banned.

Yet, far from banning DU, America and Britain stepped up their denials of the harm from this radioactive dust as more and more troops from the first Gulf war and from action and peacekeeping in the Balkan and Afghanistan have become seriously ill. This is no coincidence. In 1997, while citing experiments, by others, in which 84 percent of dogs exposed to inhaled uranium died of cancer of the lungs, Dr Asaf Durakovic, then Professor of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Georgetown University in Washington was quoted as saying, ‘The [US government’s] Veteran Administration asked me to lie about the risks of incorporating depleted uranium in the human body.’ He concluded, ‘uranium… does cause cancer, uranium does cause mutation, and uranium does kill. If we continue with the irresponsible contamination of the biosphere, and denial of the fact that human life is endangered by the deadly isotope uranium, then we are doing disservice to ourselves, disservice to the truth, disservice to God and to all generations who follow.’ Not what the authorities wanted to hear and his research was suddenly blocked.

During 12 years of ever-growing British whitewash the authorities have abolished military hospitals, where there could have been specialized research on the effects of DU and where expertise in treating DU victims could have built up. And, not content with the insult of suggesting the gravely disabling symptoms of Gulf veterans are imaginary they have refused full pensions to many. For, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the current House of Commons briefing paper on DU hazards says ‘it is judged that any radiation effects from…possible exposures are extremely unlikely to be a contributory factor to the illnesses currently being experienced by some Gulf war veterans.’ Note how over a quarter of a million sick and dying US and UK vets are called ‘some’.

The way ahead

Britain and America not only used DU in this year’s Iraq war, they dramatically increased its use – from a minimum of 320 tons in the previous war to at minimum of 1500 tons in this one. And this time the use of DU wasn’t limited to anti-tank weapons – as it had largely been in the previous Gulf war – but was extended to the guided missiles, large bunker busters and big 2000 pound bombs used in Iraq’s cities. This means that Iraq’s cities have been blanketed in lethal particles – any one of which can cause cancer or deform a child. In addition, the use of DU in huge bombs which throw the deadly particles higher and wider in huge plumes of smoke means that billions of deadly particles have been carried high into the air – again and again and again as the bombs rained down – ready to be swept worldwide by the winds.

The Royal Society has suggested the solution is massive decontamination in Iraq. That could only scratch the surface. For decontamination is hugely expensive and, though it may reduce the risks in some of the worst areas, it cannot fully remove them. For DU is too widespread on land and water. How do you clean up every nook and cranny of a city the size of Baghdad? How can they decontaminate a whole country in which microscopic particles, which cannot be detected with a normal geiger counter, are spread from border to border? And how can they clean up all the countries downwind of Iraq – and, indeed, the world?

So there are only two things we can do to mitigate this crime against humanity. The first is to provide the best possible medical care for the people of Iraq, for our returning troops and for those who served in the last Gulf war and, through that, minimize their suffering. The second is to relegate war, and the production and sale of weapons, to the scrap heap of history – along with slavery and genocide. Then, and only then, will this crime against humanity be expunged, and the tragic deaths from this war truly bring freedom to the people of Iraq, and of the world.

Read the full article in issue 60 of Caduceus...


1. The Lancet volume 351, issue 9103, 28 February 1998.

2. Rosalie Bertell’s book Planet Earth the Latest Weapon of War was reviewed in Caduceus issue 51, page 28.

3. htm#TAB L_Research Report Summaries

4. The secret official memorandum to Brigadier General L.R.Groves from Drs Conant, Compton and Urey of War Department Manhattan district dated October 1943 is available at the website

5. L_research report summaries


Further information

The Low Level Radiation Campaign hopes to be able to arrange a limited number of private urine tests for those returning from the latest Gulf war. It can be contacted at: The Knoll, Montpelier Park, Llandrindod Wells, LD1 5LW. 01597 824771. Web:


James Denver writes and broadcasts internationally on science and technology.

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