grassrootspeace.org

November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

Glen Rangwala's website
Traprock's work with Glen Rangwala

A war without end (17 June 2005)


Published in Labour Left Briefing (July 2005)
Glen Rangwala looks at how the US war in Iraq keeps creating more enemies.

In the six weeks since Iraq’s new government was formed, its military forces under the direction of US ‘advisers’ have been engaged in the sort of brutal purges of internal dissidents that would have brought international revulsion, condemnation and war crimes accusations had they occurred during the last decade of the Saddam regime. Life in Iraq now seems to be dominated by one military operation after another. Each begins with the same tired mottos of rooting out the insurgency, capturing yet another of the seemingly innumerable aides of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and restoring governmental control over supposedly anarchic areas. Each ends with a greater sense of hostility, an extensive trail of destruction, and the areas at issue sliding quickly back into the hands of insurgents.

Operation Lightning, which began in late May, saw 40,000 soldiers and militiamen storming through Baghdad’s districts and maintaining a system of 675 urban checkpoints to close down the city’s life for over two weeks. It was preceded by Operation Matador against the town of al-Qa’im on the Syrian border, which US spokesmen claimed killed at least 125 insurgents, although the status of those killed has not been independently confirmed. Operation New Market was launched later south of the same town. These were followed by a largescale assault – Operation Advancing Warriors -– on the northern towns of Mosul and Tal Afar. The latter was subject to one of the bloodiest assaults of the occupation in September 2004, when the population was driven out after a prolonged siege that cut off electricity and water to its inhabitants. The new authorities installed by the Americans collapsed within months.

The most recent military expedition, Operation Spear, involves US planes dropping 500 lb bombs in Iraq’s western province of al-Anbar, whilst Iraqi troops go from town to town in an attempt to establish their control. They are following much the same route that Operation River Blitz took in February. At that time, they claimed they were “breaking the back” of the insurgency once and for all. Four months later, after the US-installed governor was kidnapped and killed, and as the towns were recaptured by insurgents, the US-led forces were on the march once again.

Although many of the military assaults have Iraqi troops – many of them in effect seconded from the militias of sectarian political parties that were built up in exile – on the front line, the US exert full control over them. US trainers prepare and supply Iraqi battalions, and American advisers in counterinsurgency accompany and often direct them in their military operations. The CIA office in Iraq still has direct control over the domestic intelligence service, and has not even handed over its files to the new Iraqi government – despite all the talk from US politicians about Iraq now running itself. The planning, actions and tactics used by the Iraqi forces remain firmly within US control, although their operations now rarely include American casualties.

What has changed, however, is the political impact of the brutality used to crush the insurgency. When US troops practised torture in Abu Ghraib or mass murder in Falluja, even US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had to battle to save his job. Earlier this year, after a detailed investigation, Human Rights Watch reported how Iraqi security forces treated detainees: “routine beatings to the body using cables, hosepipes and other implements; …. kicking, slapping and punching; prolonged suspension from the wrists with the hands tied behind the back; electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body, including the earlobes and genitals; and being kept blindfolded and/or handcuffed continuously for several days.” Even though these forces were under the de facto command of Americans, the report sank without trace in the US. There are certainly political advantages to recruiting Iraqis to torture on your behalf. A New York Times investigation in May showed how US personnel in detention facilities would leave the room whilst prisoners were beaten so that they could not be implicated in the practice; they would return straight after.

The desire to take US personnel out of the front line of military assaults has meant that building up the Iraqi army has become the chief funding priority. The money apportioned to the rebuilding of Iraq is now being spent largely on building up Iraq’s military. An official at Iraq’s public works ministry, responsible for water treatment works and electricity supplies, told the BBC in April that 70% of the money originally allocated to his ministry has now been diverted to military spending. “We are crippled because we don't have enough funding,” he said. “Last year we started 15 new water treatment plants all over Iraq. This year we don't have the funds to build new ones.” Touted by Tony Blair before the war as a state that would use its resources for the benefit of its people, Iraq’s budget is instead dominated by military spending more than ever before.

Some think that this emphasis on building a strong military to take on the insurgency will bring peace to Iraq. They should instead listen to Lt. Col. Frederick P. Wellman, spokesman for the US military body tasked with training the Iraqi security forces. He told a US news agency in June that, far from crushing the insurgency, the onslaughts seem to be having the opposite effect, as those whose relatives have been killed in the US-led attacks then join the fighters. The insurgency doesn’t seem to be running out of new recruits, he claimed. “We can’t kill them all,” Wellman said. “When I kill one I create three.”

 

June 21, 2005 - page created by Charlie Jenks