Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

local events mark the anniversary of the Iraq war

17. March 2009 • Chuck Warpehoski
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The sixth anniversary of the Iraq War is coming up this weekend, and Michigan Peaceworks, Veterans for Peace, and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice are planning events to mark the event.

The main event is a rally Don’t backpedal on Iraq: Rally to Call for our Troops to in Iraq to be Sent Home now! event on Saturday, March 21 at 1:00 p.m. at the U of M Student Union, intersection of State St. and S. University St. in Ann Arbor. Speakers will include Retired Major Phillip Estes and University of Michigan Professor Tom Weisskopf, and there will be hot cocoa!

There will also be a film showing of Taxi to the Dark Side on Wednesday, March 18, at 7pm at 3437 Mason Hall, U of Michigan Campus, Ann Arbor, and a student art show on Friday, March 20 from 7pm – 10pm in the basement of Cafe Ambrosia, 326 Maynard, Ann Arbor.

A bit later this month is a showing of Why We Fight on March 31 at 7:00 at Memorial Christian Church, 730 Tappan.

  1. The website is reporting casualty totals approaching 100,000 Iraqi innocent civilian deaths due to political violence since Operation Iraqi Freedom began six years ago. U.S. Armed Forces killed in action are approaching 5,000. The financial cost of this war is $10 billion per month and 600 billion dollars overall.

    Despite this, I feel that the war was the top accomplishment of the Bush administration for a number of reasons.

    From a defense and foreign policy perspective Iraq is one of the most strategic areas of the world. Iraq had been a longtime ally of the former Soviet Union and later Russia. Now its government is pro-Western in orientation. The U.S. has made an initial investment of $500 million to construct intelligence bases in Iraq to monitor threats to Middle East peace. Iraq has the oil-producing Gulf states to the south of it, Russia to the north and Iran to the east, not to mention Israel to the west. Iraq itself is one of the world’s largest oil producers.

    The most important accomplishment the U.S. can be proud of is the benefit bestowed on the longsuffering Iraqi people. Iraq had a brutal totalitarian regime that murdered hundreds of thousands of its own citizens and engaged in campaign of genocide against ethnic Kurds as well as the Shiite Moslem minority in Iraq. Today it has a democratic form of government that includes a Kurdish president and Shiite prime minister.

    President Obama has not only continued the Amercan presence but retained Robert Gates, its chief architect.

    I am proud of our troops, our military leadership and our two presidents for standing up for and pursuing the goal of long-term peace and social justice in that region.

       —Junior    Mar. 21 '09 - 11:54PM    #
  2. Yes, in pursuit of “peace and social justice”, the resulting casualties from this unprovoked war and occupation continue to climb. How very Orwellian.

    Junior, I didn’t think your ode to imperialism would play well in this liberal town but perhaps everyone is too busy watching the videos the new sheriff released or mulling over the demise of the local newspaper.

       —Michael Schils    Mar. 23 '09 - 08:51PM    #
  3. Do readers really want the President to carry through on his latest promises? He is currently promising to keep up to 50,000 U.S. troops indefinitely occupying Iraq, although they will not be called “combat” troops.

    He is also adding tens of thousands to troops to the occupation of Afghanistan, another of his promises.

       —The Colonel    Mar. 23 '09 - 09:13PM    #
  4. President Obama of course will support a continued American troop presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a very clever manner of ensuring that these two pro-Western democracies will steer a course toward peace and social justice in lieu of Marxism or Islamic fundamentalism.

    The deft ploy of not identifying combat troops as such became in vogue during the early years of the Vietnam War when hundreds of American “military advisors” were being reportedly killed in Indochina, leading a suspicious U.S. press corps to conclude that at least several American soldiers were involved in combat action. The chief architect of the Vietnam War was former Ann Arbor resident Robert S. McNamara.

    President Obama is not foolish. The presence of American troops in Iraq shall guarantee that rebel forces will never gain a foothold that will endanger the viability of the current government. If the Nixon administration had taken the same course of action following the 1973 cease fire in Vietnam that nation of South Vietnam might still be around today. Instaed we saw the 1975 collapse of three pro-U.S. regimes in Indochina. Today’s headlines illustrate the fact there are war crimes trials for mass murder against the same Khmer Rouge leaders that pro-Western forces fought in the 1960s and 70’s and some of these leaders are still in power in regions of Cambodia.
    Many Americans saw the Viet Cong, North Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge as liberating heroes instead of murderous thugs. History has shown the latter to be true. President Obama will not allow America to make another mistake like Indochina with respect to Iraq.

    The strategic significance of Afghanistan cannot likewise be understated. With respect to authorizing military action there, even isolationist Congressman Ron Paul voted for such action.

    American involvement in Afghanistan has gone back almost 30 years to late 1979 when the former Soviet Union dispatched many tens of thousands of Red Army troops into that nation to aid beleaguered Communist leader Babrak Karmal. Two prior Communist heads of state there had been assassinated. The “Brezhnev Doctrine” of offering military aid to any Marxist regime in trouble was instituted and the Red Army commenced a brutal occupation of the Afghan people and land. The Soviet Union also began to arm Balochi tribesmen in Pakistan to the south in neighboring Pakistan to continue their guerilla war there in what was seen as an attempt by the Soviet Union to obtain a badly needed base on the Indian Ocean.

    President Carter responded to the Afghan occupation by instituting sanctions against the Soviet Union. The U.S. withdrew from the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics in protest. The Reagan administration commenced massive covert aid to the Afghan rebels, including assault rifles, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-tank weapons to fight Soviet-backed Afghan army units and Red Army forces. The amount of aid directed to Afgahn rebels was estimated to be 10 times that given to Nicaraguan rebels.

    The war in Kabul was won.

    Obama is right.Stay in Afghanistan

       —Junior    Mar. 29 '09 - 12:48AM    #
  5. well put but rotate our troops. send fresh troops every month and send those who served a couple of months back to the states. and so forth.

       —alberto perez    May. 21 '09 - 02:18AM    #
  6. The U.S.Senate today overwhelmingly voted to authorize a $91.3 billion military aid package to ramp up the war in Afghanistan. Pres. Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

       —Mark Koroi    May. 22 '09 - 07:01AM    #
  7. Earlier today a federal court jury sentenced U.S. Army PFC Steven Green to life without parole for the murder of four members of an Iraqi family in the “Triangle of Death” in Iraq. Green and members of his unit were involved in the rape of 14-year old Abeer Qassim Al-Janabi; they later shot her, doused her body with kerosene and set her on fire. All of the charged servicemen are now in prison, but only Green received life in prison, the others will be eligible for parole in ten years and cooperated with authorities for leniency.

    Green’s father applauded the jury’s rejection of the death penalty.

    The Green defense team successfully argued against the death penalty by emphasizing the extreme stress the servicemen in the unit were under and the fact they had been consuming liquor prior to the killings.

    The incident served as the inspiration for the $5 miilion film “Redacted”, produced by Mark Cuban.

       —Mark Koroi    May. 22 '09 - 08:02AM    #
  8. RE:#4&5, I wonder if you both would be so enthusiastic over Obama’s continued fighting of Bush’s wars if it were your own sons and daughters who were being sent to the front lines.

    Besides continuing Bush’s wars of aggression, Obama recently flip-flopped on his campaign promise of “transparency” by reversing the commitment U.S. officials made to release the torture photos that the Pentagon has kept hidden for some five years. Obama has also recently backtracked on his promise to end military tribunals for detainees and is now considering reinstating the Military Commissions Act.

    The “change we can believe in” doesn’t look like much of a change at all.

       —Michael Schils    May. 22 '09 - 08:03PM    #
  9. Robert Gates has done a fine job as defense secretary. He has been above partisan politics and decried the egotism of Washington insiders.

       —Kerry D.    May. 23 '09 - 07:48PM    #
  10. Today is Memorial Day. Let us honor those who have served in Iraq.

       —Mark Koroi    May. 26 '09 - 05:04AM    #
  11. If we honor those who voluntarily participate in an unnecessary war, then doesn’t that have the effect of encouraging the participation in future unnecessary wars? Of course some who have served may have bought the WMD ruse and may have actually signed up thinking they were protecting our freedom. In which case I admire their willingness to risk their life for their country, but I regret that they were deceived into doing so.

       —Michael Schils    May. 26 '09 - 09:02PM    #
  12. Irrespective of politics, our troops go where they are told. They merit the respect of all U.S. citizens.

       —Kerry D.    May. 27 '09 - 02:22AM    #
  13. Those who refuse to do what they are told because they feel what they are being ordered to do is immoral, earn my respect even more. Specialist Victor Agosto of the U.S. Army is refusing orders to deploy to Afghanistan, saying, “I’m not willing to participate in this occupation, knowing it is completely wrong.”

    On one of the Counseling Statements issued by the Army, Agosto wrote, “There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan. The occupation is immoral and unjust. It does not make the American people any safer. It has the opposite effect.”

    Also from the article,

    If Agosto continues to refuse orders, he almost assuredly will face court martial, and likely jail time.

    When IPS asked Agosto if he is willing to take whatever consequences the Army is prepared to mete out, he replied, “Yes. I’m fully prepared for this. I have concluded that the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan] are not going to be ended by politicians or people at the top. They are not responsive to the people, they are responsive to corporate America.”

    Agosto added, “The only way to make them responsive to the needs of the people is if soldiers won’t fight their wars, and if soldiers won’t fight their wars, the wars won’t happen. I hope I’m setting an example for other soldiers.”


    Agosto’s case is not unique. The group Courage to Resist, based in Oakland, California, actively engages in assisting soldiers who refuse to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan.

    “Although the efforts of Courage to Resist are primarily focused on supporting public GI resisters, the organization also strives to provide political, emotional, and material support to all military objectors critical of our government’s current policies of empire,” reads a portion of the group’s mission statement.

    It has been said that men go into combat because they fear the scorn of their peers more than death or dismemberment. I admire those who have the courage to refuse.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

       —Michael Schils    May. 27 '09 - 07:30PM    #
  14. Support Our Troops —
    Bring Them Home Now

       —yaab    May. 28 '09 - 03:49AM    #
  15. Re: Post 13 – I disagree Michael, disobeying a lawful order in a time of war (or at any time) is not anything to admire. You don’t get to pick and choose your battles (literally) once you join up. If the order is legal you carry it out, period. He volunteered, he was ordered to report, he disobeyed a lawful direct order. May he break small rocks into little pebbles for the duration and learn the folly and selfishness of his ways.

       —Thomas Cook    May. 30 '09 - 05:46AM    #
  16. Victor Agosto considers the order to deploy to be illegal. To prosecute him, the Army will have to show that the order was legal, and the Army has not done so yet.

    He volunteered and served the time he enlisted for, but then the Army kept him beyond his contract with the stop-loss program, and ordered him to Afghanistan.

    He enlisted to fight in legal and necessary wars. Once he found out that such was not the case, he followed his conscience and refused to do what he felt was wrong. With more like him, our imperialist occupations would not be possible.

       —Michael Schils    May. 30 '09 - 07:22AM    #
  17. The U.S. House today passed an Obama administration-supported bill for $106 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;there was bitter opposition by anti-war Democrats and only a handfful of Democrats suppoted the legislation.

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 17 '09 - 06:32AM    #
  18. That should have been a handful of Republicans – five in all – voted for the funding legislation.

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 17 '09 - 06:35AM    #
  19. Re Post#17: This is great news!!

    Obama since getting re-elected has betrayed his prior anti-war stance and become hawkish on both Iraq and Afghanistan. The reins of power of being commander-in-chief has transformed Barack to the true enforcer of worldwide democracy that we dreamed John McCain would have been if elected.

    Here’s to you Barack! – the true leader of the free world.

       —Junior    Jun. 20 '09 - 11:02PM    #
  20. This just in a few minutes ago – 63 dead and over 200 injured in a Shi’ite mosque bombibg in Iraq today in the city of Kirkuk. This is the deadliest attack in months in Iraq.

    Some blame the increase in violence on certain iraqi cities are due to American troop pullbacks fron those regions.

    It is clear American military forces advance peace in Iraq.

       —Junior    Jun. 20 '09 - 11:19PM    #
  21. Junior,

    You mean when American GI’s aren’t shooting civilians at roadblocks on the off chance they might be suicide drivers (shoot first-ask questions later)? What you are saying about the American Military’s presence reducing violence in the recent period does not take into account who destabilized the country in the first place. The US blockade and subsequent invasion destroyed the country; why should we be surprised when sectarian violence breaks out when the occupier leaves?
       —Chuck L.    Jun. 20 '09 - 11:43PM    #
  22. There has been a lot of local interest in the Iran elections, including several rallies in the Diag yesterday. Could someone post the link from Ann Arbor Chronicle?

       —Guzu    Jun. 22 '09 - 09:31PM    #
  23. Re Post#7: The English-language documentary “Flowers for Abeer” was released on YouTube last week in Spanish, Arabic, French and Italian language subtitle versions.

    The film covers the recruiting efforts of the U.S. intelligence and military communities directed toward Arab-Americans at that festival in apparent violation of the organizers published guidelines. This recruitment was for the ostensible purpose of assisting in the American occupation of Iraq.

    The production has received worldwide attention.

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 26 '09 - 10:16PM    #
  24. I should have also mentioned that the filming location of the documentary was the 13th Annual Dearborn Arab International Festival that lasted over several days in East Dearborn in June of 2008.

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 26 '09 - 10:20PM    #
  25. That video is here:

    Flowers for Abeer

    It is heart-wrenching.

       —Guzu    Jun. 27 '09 - 12:11AM    #
  26. Check out the Arab-American Chamber of Commerce home page at where this year’s recently-concluded 14th Annual Dearborn Arab International Festival is prominently featured.

    That page carries, in addition to logos of corporate sponsors, icons of the FBI, Central Intelligence Agency emblem and another American intelligence organization, with those icons hyperlinking the home pages of those respective governmental organizations.

    Not since the days of when the anti-Castro Cuban exile movement was at its peak in Florida and other southern states have I seen such an open and apparently intimate relationship between the U.S. intelligence community and an ethnic group.

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 27 '09 - 05:15AM    #
  27. “Flowers for Abeer” features an intervew with a Yemeni-American serviceman who had served with the U.S. Army in Iraq. It is good to see Arab-Americans interested in serving our nation in Iraq and wherever.

    Many Arab-Americans share the values of our government and serve our country. Those efforts should be and are appreciated.

       —Junior    Jun. 27 '09 - 10:41PM    #
  28. Those values have nothing in common with this video:

    What the troops are doing in Iraq

       —Oo-rah    Jun. 28 '09 - 01:23AM    #
  29. When is the next ICPJ event calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan? Do I understand correctly that ICPJ does advocate immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan?

       —Oo-rah    Jun. 28 '09 - 11:36PM    #
  30. Today is being celebrated as National Soverignty Day in Iraq as U.S. occupation troops have withdrawn from Iraqi cities. A festival in Baghdad has commenced.

    American forces continue to maintain a presence in Iraqi cities as trainers or logistical support to Iraqi security forces. Withdrawal of all forces in Iraq will not occur, per official schedule until 2011.

    A deadly bomb blast just occurred in Kirkuk, apparently set by Sunni Muslim forces. Some Iraqis fear the withdrawal of American forces from the cities could lead to increased sectarian violence.

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 1 '09 - 01:52AM    #
  31. Actually, it’s a “withdrawal in name only”.
    Please see:

       —Joumana    Jul. 1 '09 - 05:37AM    #
  32. Thank you, Joumana. This is not what we can call a withdrawal at all.
    Is Ann Arbor’s Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice calling for a true withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, effective immediately?

       —Guzu    Jul. 1 '09 - 09:07PM    #
  33. Nigerians are none too impressed with words of withdrawal, combined with continued war and occupation of Iraq:

    “This is what really matters to the Iraqis who continue to be victims of Americas more than 20-years old violent justice…”

    20 Years of Violent Justice to Iraq

    —From “The Guardian”, June 19, 2009, Nigeria, casting an analytical eye on Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo.

       —Guzu    Jul. 2 '09 - 02:54AM    #
  34. Iraq may be occupied, but Iran is not. Interesting article on that, in the Sunday News:

    Article against occupations and for Iranian democracy

    It’s good reading.

       —Badr    Jul. 6 '09 - 12:21AM    #
  35. even better reading, re badr’s pitch( for her own NEWS op ed?)in #34 are the Mlive responses, which indicate a well informed,articulate and increasingly vocal, local constituency on such matters.

    theodore d. katz…aka

       —goilem    Jul. 7 '09 - 03:17PM    #
  36. When exactly are all the troops leaving all of Iraq?

       —Badr    Jul. 10 '09 - 07:37PM    #
  37. an excellent op ed in today’s NEWS by a robert faber ( a former city council member) thoroughly dissected the op ed referred to in #34-35, amplifying on many of the points noted in the Mlive thread on the original( per #35)..

    it’s good reading.

    and it’s not even by
    ted d katz, aka

       —goilem    Jul. 17 '09 - 02:12AM    #
  38. Re No.36:

    The Boston Globe reported today that 1.5 million pieces of military equipment along with substantial numbers of soldiers are in the process of being removed from Iraq in what has been described as the largest movement of military equipment in the history of modern warfare.

    The Associated Press has disclosed that the U.S. servicemen death toll in Iraq is at 4,337.

    18 Iraqis were killed yesterday in bombings that occurred throughout Iraq, including a cafe in Baghdad.

    It is unclear whether this dramatic rollback of a U.S. military presence will have a deleterious effect on the stability of government rule in Iraq.

       —Kerry D.    Aug. 31 '09 - 03:54AM    #