The reported drawdown in American troops from Iraq has been portrayed as a "withdrawal of the U.S." from Iraq, but it is really just a pretend end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The removal of combat forces still leaves 50,000 so-called "military trainers" in the country, a huge number of American troops compared to eight years ago, when there weren't any in Iraq at all.
Iraq's Ministry of Interior recently released a civilian casualty count for the month of July. Their report accounted for the lost lives of 535 Iraqis, making this past month the most violent since June 2008. This escalation in violence can be attributed in part to a situation which Jeremy Scahill, writer of the ground breaking novel, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army and correspondent for Democracy Now! explains as an unstable country. Iraq is as "unstable as it has ever been," Scahill says. "They [Iraqis] can't form a government. The vast majority of people don't have consistent access to potable water, to electricity, to gasoline... Iraq is a disaster right now."
Three former American soldiers who served in Iraq are going public about the realities of the U.S. military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they claim routine acts of excessive violence upon local citizens stem from the U.S. chain of command. Former Army Specialists Josh Stieber, Ray Corcoles and Ethan McCord say that they thought they were going to Iraq to help the Iraqi people and advance freedom and democracy.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released updated figures for the number of civilian contractors killed in American war zones since September 1, 2001. A minimum of 1,688 civilians have died, and there have been over 37,000 injuries reported among people working for U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan -- but the DOL acknowledges that the report is incomplete.
"Love is worth fighting for." That's how Lt. Dan Choi ended his remarks this weekend about his journey from West Point to Iraq to discharge under the continuing Pentagon policy of "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT). It really made me think about this deeply flawed policy I have opposed privately over the years. Because, as Lt. Choi distilled it so well, love is worth fighting for.
He is one of only eight people in his graduating class at West Point who majored in Arabic, and so his story also brought home to me the gap between the rhetoric about the "global war on terror" (GWOT) and the reality, in a particular way. Since I left the government over four years ago, I have been speaking out about misplaced priorities involving terrorism, civil liberties, and human rights.
U.S. Army officials have barred a reporter with the military newspaper Stars and Stripes "from embedding with a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division that is attempting to secure the violent city of Mosul" in Iraq. In the refusal letter to Stars and Stripes reporter Heath Druzin, an Army public affairs officer wrote that "Mr.