ON THE GROUND NEWSLETTER:
Columbia College Chicago September 17, 2002

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Contents

1. Announcements:

  • from the anti-war movement @ Columbia

2. Two Documents Key To Understanding The War On Iraq:

  • "Rebuilding America's Defenses" - Project for the New American Century,
  • "Rogue States" by Noam Chomsky - Z Magazine, April 1998

3. 10 Reasons Why Many Gulf War Veterans Oppose Re-Invading Iraq

  • by an anonymous Gulf-War Veteran - AlterNet, September 9, 2002
4. Sept.11 Memorials
  • RAWA statement on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy.
  • excerpt from Andrew Greeley in the Chicago Sun-Times

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1. Announcements

Ontheground Meeting This Wednesday 9/18 Wednesday 2:00 PM 623 S Wabash Lobby Sorry about the late notice.

Tabling - Volunteers Needed For The First Week Of Classes We want to table all the first week of classes so that freshmen and newcomers will be infested with the idea that Columbia is a "really political" school. haha. If you are interested in sitting at a table that says "NO WAR IN IRAQ!" for a few hours and talking to a lot of kids send a message to Brea at ontheground@care2.com.

Caution: 2001 A screening of Columbia College's own Suree Towfighnia's excellent new video about NYC and the attacks of last year. 10/7, 6:00 PM The Documentary Center - 1104 S Wabash, Suite 407E

All Day Teach-In Against War 10/14, 10:00AM to 6:00PM Hokin Annex If you have ideas or questions about this contact aaroncynic@hotmail.com

Reading & Discussion Group: Palestinian Poetry And Oral History No time or place scheduled yet Over the summer Brea and I have put together a very loose framework for an experimental, collectively self-taught, free class on Palestinian history and literature. If you would like to get in on this email either breatree@care2.com or spencerkingman@riseup.net. or I suppose you could call me at 773 955 9291 but I don't know how to check my messages yet.

There Are Also Large Chicago Demonstrations Planned For 9/29, The Anniversary Of The Intifada, And 10/6, The Anniversary Of The Bombing Of Afghanistan.

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2. Two Documents Key To Understanding The War On Iraq

The "New American Century"...

A document has been uncovered that outlines the full scope of this administration's war plans. They extended globally, and even into space, long before September 11. You can read this plan, entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century" at New American Century OR (because it is 90 pages long)* you can read the Scotland Sunday Herald's summary at http://www.sundayherald.com/27735. Either way, this should chill your blood.
*and also because it seems to have been "disappeared" from the Internet - webmaster)

Rogue States

This important article by Noam Chomsky, written in 1998 after Operation Desert Fox for Z Magazine and reprinted as the second chapter in his book of the same title explains the the concept of the rogue state as apples to Iraq, the U.S., and international law. You will find it at http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/articles/z9804-rogue.html

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3. 10 Reasons Why Many Gulf War Veterans Oppose Re-Invading Iraq

    By Anonymous, AlterNet
    September 9, 2002

http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=14067

With all the war fever about re-invading Iraq, the press and politicians are ignoring the opinion of the veterans of our last war in the Gulf. But we veterans were there, and we have unique and critical first-hand knowledge of the course and consequences of warfare in Iraq. Our opinions should be solicited and heard before troops deploy for battle, not after they have returned wounded, ill or in body bags.

Another invasion of Iraq in 2002 will be very different from the invasion of 1991. The war's mission has changed in the intervening years, from removing Iraq from Kuwait to removing the entire Iraqi government and military establishment from power. Because the goal of the U.S. military has changed, the Iraqi army may retreat to the cities, where they may face better odds than in the desert.

During the open desert tank battles of '91, U.S. tanks out-classed and out-fought obsolete Iraqi tanks, and U.S. infantry captured tens of thousands of poorly supplied Iraqi soldiers operating without command and control from Baghdad. But in the urban warfare scenario of 2002, pitched infantry skirmishes and ambushes in cities may present a more level battlefield for Iraqi troops fighting in their hometowns. The Iraqi military can be expected to fight for each block within each city with the most ruthless means available. When faced with the impending overrun of their nation, the Iraqi military didn't hesitate to use chemical weapons against Iran.

Because of these significant differences, here are 10 reasons why, as a Gulf War combat veteran, I oppose a second Gulf War as a costly and preventable mistake.

  1. U.S. troops are vulnerable to Iraqi chemical and biological warfare agents -- if Iraq is capable of using them. The gas masks, detection alarms and protection suits don't work, according to internal Deepartment of Defense documents uncovered during investigations by the U.S. General Accounting Office. This leaves U.S. troops highly vulnerable to chemical and biological attack. U.S. chemical and biological warfare agent casualties in 2002 could be significantly higher than in 1991. Only a few months ago, the Pentagon sent out a press release stating 140,000 U.S. soldiers were exposed to low-levels chemical agents near Khamisiyah, Iraq during the Gulf War. While these soldiers appeared to return home healthy, many tens of thousands face long-term disabling medical problems that are difficult to treat.
  2. Scientific evidence shows that even low-level chemical exposures are dangerous. According to a recent National Academy of Sciences report (Gulf War and Health, September 2000), low-levels of chemical warfare agents cause long-term medical problems. This conclusion is based on research resulting from the sarin attack in Japan in 1995.
  3. Research shows long-term adverse side effects from mandatory vaccines given to U.S. soldiers deploying to the war zone. According to the product label insert made by BioPort in Michigan, the sole producer, the experimental anthrax vaccine has caused several deaths. The National Academy of Sciences this year concluded there are some risks to the hotly debated vaccine.
  4. The Gulf War battlefield remains radioactive and toxic. Scientific research funded by the military and released two years ago links exposure to depleted uranium (DU) ammunition with cancer in rats. Solid depleted uranium bullets, ranging in size from 25mm to 120mm, are used by U.S. tanks, helicopters and planes to attack enemy tanks and armored personnel carriers. The Gulf War battlefield is already littered with more than 300 tons of radioactive dust and shrapnel from the 1991 Gulf War. Another war will only increase the radioactive and toxic contamination among U.S. soldiers. As of today, U.S. troops are not fully trained about the hazards of depleted uranium contamination, even though Congress enacted a law in 1998 requiring extensive training, especially for medical personnel.
  5. Research shows long-term adverse side effects from mandatory pills given to U.S. soldiers deploying to the war zone. According to testimony before Congress(Rand Corporation, 1999), the experimental pyridostigmine bromide (PB) anti-chemical warfare agent pills "can't be ruled out" as linked to Gulf War illness. During the war, soldiers were told to take one pill every eight hours. After the chemical alarms sounded, some soldiers, out of legitimate fear for their lives, took more than the prescribed amount. To date, the long-term consequences of PB pills remain largely unknown.
  6. The Iraqi civilian opposition was abandoned by U.S. troops in the first Gulf War. After U.S. troops had liberated Kuwait and conquered southern Iraq at the end of February 1991, former President George H.W. Bush encouraged the Iraqi opposition, mainly civilians, to rise up against the Iraqi dictatorship in March 1991. However, former President Bush left the rebels twisting in the wind to be ruthlessly killed by the Iraqi army's Republican Guard flying helicopters allowed by the cease-fire arranged by U.S. military and political leaders. U.S. troops in southern Iraq in March 1991 were ordered not to interfere. How can U.S. troops or Iraqi rebels be confident this won't happen again? Long oppressed by the Iraqi military, what will the civilian population do if Iraq is liberated? The American public won't support a long-term occupation and high casualties.
  7. Many post-cease-fire military actions of the first Gulf War were deplorable. In March 1991, the Iraqi army was in a full route inside Iraq. Against orders, former General Barry McCaffrey slaughtered thousands of retreating Iraqi soldiers after the cease-fire (documented in the article, "Overwhelming Force," by Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, 2000). Many U.S. soldiers returned home with serious objections about the course and consequences of such actions, including
    • the horrific carnage of the "highway of death," littered with hundreds of destroyed cars, tanks and human remains (see "Prayer at Rumayla" by Gulf War veteran Charles Sheehan-Miles, Xlibris, 2001). Will there be another massacre of Iraqi soldiers? Will Iraqi troops slaughter U.S. soldiers in retaliation,
    • killing U.S. prisoners or retreating U.S. soldiers? And will the press be allowed onto the battlefield to record what really happens?

  8. No one has been held accountable for arming Iraq with chemical and biological weapons from 1980 to 1990. A recent news article reported that top aides for former presidents Reagan and Bush armed Iraq with these weapons during Iraq's war against Iran between 1980 and 1988 ("Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas," New York Times, Aug. 18, 2002). Some of these former George H.W. Bush aides now work for President George W. Bush. These advisors did nothing to stop the sale of the chemical agents to Iraq, did nothing to stop the use of the agents by Iraq, and did nothing to tell the world about Iraq's crimes, even when the world learned Iraq used poison gas against civilians. These top political aides have remained silent for more than 14 years, and many refused to comment on the recent news reports.
  9. U.S. allies in Europe oppose invading Iraq. They have refused to supply soldiers, funding or logistical support. Some of the serious U.S. battlefield casualties from 1991 were sent to U.S. military hospitals in Germany. Where will our casualties be flown to for emergency care if Germany follows through on its policy to remain neutral and not allow the use of German airspace? This contrasts sharply with the more than 30 nations allied with the U.S. during Desert Storm in 1991. Today, the U.S. has no Arab allies. In 1991, the U.S. forgave billions in outstanding loans owed by Egypt to buy its support. Now Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations oppose a second invasion of Iraq. If something goes wrong, where will U.S. troops retreat if Saudi Arabia won't allow U.S. troops within its borders? We must avoid another Gallipoli.
  10. The Department of Veterans Affairs will not be able to care for additional casualties because VA can't even take care of current VA patients. Most veterans now wait six months to see a VA doctor, and most veterans wait more than six months to receive a decision on a VA disability claim. Many of those waiting in line are Gulf War veterans, many with unusual illnesses. According to VA, of the nearly 700,000 veterans who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, more than 300,000 have sought VA healthcare, and more than 200,000 have filed VA disability claims. Two weeks ago, President Bush slashed $275 million from the healthcare budget of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Although the Iraqi government is a corrupt dictatorship that must eventually be removed, current proposals to remove the government by deploying hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops are deeply flawed. A premature attack against Iraq, especially when the public opposes it, would be a horrible mistake. Since 1990, more than 400 U.S. soldiers have died in the Gulf War theater of operations. Untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, both soldiers and civilians, also died. A second invasion of Iraq for one man is not worth one more life; let's use common sense and avert a second Gulf War.

The author is a Gulf War combat veteran.

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4. Sept.11 Memorials

Revolutionary Association Of Afghan Women - Statement On The Anniversary Of The September 11. (www.rawa.org)

Fundamentalism is the Enemy of All Civilized Humanity

RAWA joins with the rest of the civilized world in remembering the innocent lives lost on September 11th, as well as all those others lost to terrorism and oppression throughout the world. It is with great sadness that RAWA sees other people experiencing the pain that the women, children and men of Afghanistan have long suffered at the hands of fundamentalist terrorists.

For ten long years the people of Afghanistan -Afghan women in particular- have been crushed and brutalized, first under the chains and atrocities of the "Northern Alliance" fundamentalists, then under those of the Taliban. During all this period, the governments of the Western powers were bent on finding ways to "work with" these criminals. These Western governments did not lose much sleep over the daily grind of abject misery our people were enduring under the domination of these terrorist bands. To them it did not matter so very much that human rights and democratic principles were being trampled on a daily basis in an inconceivable manner. What was important was to "work with" the religio-fascists to have Central Asian oil pipelines extended to accessible ports of shipment.

Immediately after the September 11 tragedy American military might moved into action to punish its erstwhile hirelings. A captive, bleeding, devastated, hungry, pauperized, drought-stricken and ill-starred Afghanistan was bombed into oblivion by the most advanced and sophisticated weaponry ever created in human history. Innocent lives, many more than those who lost their lives in the September 11 atrocity, were taken. Even joyous wedding gatherings were not spared. The Taliban regime and its al-Qaeda support were toppled without any significant dent in their human combat resources. What was not done away with was the sinister shadow of terrorist threat over the whole world and its alter ego, fundamentalist terrorism.

Neither opium cultivation nor warlordism have been eradicated in Afghanistan. There is neither peace nor stability in this tormented country, nor has there been any relief from the scourges of extreme pauperization, prostitution, and wanton plunder. Women feel much more insecure than in the past. The bitter fact that even the personal security of the President of the country cannot be maintained without recourse to foreign bodyguards and the recent terrorist acts in our country speak eloquent volumes about the chaotic and terrorist-ridden situation of the country. Why is it so? Why has the thunderous uproar in the aftermath of September 11 resulted in nothing? For the following reasons which RAWA has reiterated time and again:

1. For the people of Afghanistan, it is "out of the frying pan, into the fire". Instead of the Taliban terrorists, Jihadi terrorists of the "Northern Alliance" have been installed in power. The Jihadi and the Taliban fundamentalists share a common ideology; their differences are the usual differences between brethren-in-creed.

2. For the past more or less twenty years, Osama bin Laden has had Afghan fundamentalists on his payroll and has been paying their leaders considerable stipends. He and Mullah Omar, together with a band of followers equipped with the necessary communication resources, can live for many years under the protection of different fundamentalist bands in Afghanistan and Pakistan and continue to plot against the people of Afghanistan and the rest of humankind.

3. The Taliban and the al-Qaeda phenomena, as manifestations of an ideology and a political culture infesting an Islamic country, could only have been uprooted by a popular insurrection and the strengthening and coming to power of secular democratic forces. Such a purge cannot be effected solely with the physical elimination of the likes of Osama and Mullah Omar.

The "Northern Alliance" can never sincerely want the total elimination of the Taliban and the al-Qaeda, as such elimination would mean the end of the raison d'Ítre of the backing and support extended to them by foreign forces presently dominant in the country. This was the rationale behind RAWA's slogan for the overthrow of the Taliban and al-Qaeda through popular insurrection. Unfortunately, before such popular insurrection could come about, the Taliban and al-Qaeda forfeited their positions to the "brethren of the 'Northern Alliance'" without suffering any crippling decimation.

With their second occupation of Kabul, the "Northern Alliance" thwarted any hopes for a radical, meaningful change. They are themselves now the source and root of insecurity, the disgraceful police atmosphere of the Loya Jirga, rampant terrorism, gagging of democracy, atrocious violations of human rights, mounting pauperization, prostitution and corruption, the flourishing of poppy cultivation, failure of beginning to reconstruct, and a host of further unlisted evils, too many to enumerate.

Oppression and crimes against women are rife in different forms throughout the country. RAWA has always maintained that the fundamentalists' rabid hatred of women as equal human beings -be they fundamentalists of the Jihadi brand or of the Taliban one- is not due merely to their unhealthy upbringing or morbid mind frame, but emanates from their religio-fascistic ideological world outlook. As long as such an ideology exists, propped up by military forces available at its disposal, neither crazed misogyny nor a myriad of shameful social evils associated with it can be eradicated. This is not a problem that can be dealt with by the creation of a "Ministry of Women's Affairs" nor by the presence of a couple of token women in high government positions. To hope for the attainment of freedom, democracy and equality within the framework of a corrupt, religion-based, ethno-chauvinistic system is either self-delusion or hypocrisy -or both.

We find no happiness in the fact that RAWA's predictions in regard to the consequences of the re-domination of the "Northern Alliance" have once again been borne out. Those who claimed that the "Northern Alliance" were better than, and therefore preferable to, the Taliban must wake up and apologise to our people for their noxious sermons. The establishment of democracy and social justice can be possible only with the overthrow of fundamentalist domination as a prime precondition. This cannot be achieved without an organised and irreconcilable campaign of the women masses against fundamentalism, its agents and apologists.

Some politically bankrupt entities who have no shame in grovelling to the "Northern Alliance" in the hope of securing positions and feathering their nests, label RAWA as "Maoist" and "radical" because of our decisive and irreconcilable stances and viewpoints. But does the current situation in the country prove the fallacy of RAWA's positions or do they give a slap in the face to the ladies and gentleman with the penchant for being colluding and mealy-mouthed? The assassinations of a vice president and a cabinet minister and the ban on investigating these murders, the discovery of mass graves, the banning of women singers and artists and showing of dancing on TV, the censorship of the media, arbitrary fatwas of kofr and apostasy against women, gang rapes of even expatriate women working for international NGOs, the disgusting campaign of making an idol out of Ahmad Shah Masoud, are these not enough to bring home the realisation that indulgence and permissiveness towards rabid dogs only serve to make them more ferocious?

RAWA's experience in fighting fundamentalism, particularly during the past 10 years, motivates us to be all the more persistent in our attempts to mobilise women even in the most remote corners of our country. At the same time, we shall not desist from pursuing an irreconcilable policy towards fundamentalism and standing in solidarity with all pro-democracy forces. We staunchly believe that in addition to causing the tragic deaths of over 3,000 innocent Americans and non-Americans and the sorrow and bereavement of tens of thousands more, the monstrous terrorist attack of September 11 showed the world what a nefarious pestilence fundamentalism is; it showed the world the sort of inferno the peoples of Afghanistan, Iran, Algeria, Sudan and other such countries live in.

Fundamentalism is the mortal enemy of civilised humanity; to address it demands the consolidated action of all freedom-loving nations of the world. The present "world anti-terrorism coalition" has been debased by innumerable ambiguities and impurities of purpose, motivation and objectives. The contradictions between world powers will spell its doom. Therefore, it behoves anti-fundamentalist individuals and organisations working for social justice the world over to draw together without hesitation to contain and ultimately stamp out, once and for all, the vermin of fundamentalism, so that the tragedy of September 11 will never be repeated, neither in America nor anywhere else.

RAWA takes pride in the fact that up till now we have been able to establish contact with a considerable number of anti-terrorist organisations on all five continents and enjoy their moral and material support. However, for the purpose of waging a swifter and more encompassing fight against terrorism, it is necessary for such solidarity to be expanded and strengthened. In this connection we shake the hands of all freedom-loving individuals and organisations.

We would like to avail ourselves of this opportunity to once again extend our heartfelt condolences to all those who lost their loved ones in the savage calamity of September 11, as well as to the friends and families of those innocent compatriots -for all we know, anti-Taliban and anti-"Northern Alliance"- who were blown to shreds by American aerial bombardment. We sincerely hope that a vast number of those who are bereaved and grieving for their loved ones will, sooner or later, join the ranks of the legions mobilising against fundamentalist fascism in their respective countries and on an international level.

No to Al-Qaeda, No to the Taliban, No to the "Northern Alliance"! Long Live a Free, Democratic and Blossoming Afghanistan! Victory in the Decisive War to the Very End of Afghan Women Against Fundamentalism and for Democracy! Long Live International Solidarity Against Fundamentalist Terrorism!

Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) September 11, 2002

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And One More Thing To Remember About Sept.11... from an article by Andrew Greeley in the Chicago Sun Times [and by the way, "enormous resilience" is not unique to NYC, as any quick glance at Palestinian and Iraqi society will prove.]

"...most of the positive social behavior that saved so many lives was not organized by any formal agency, much less by any command-and-control mechanism. People saved themselves. Other people converged from all over the city to help. As [Professor Kathleen Tierney at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association] says, 'The response to the September 11 tragedy was so effective precisely because it was not centrally directed and controlled. Instead it was flexible, adaptive and focused on handling problems as they emerged... When September 11 demonstrated the enormous resilience in our civil society, why is disaster response now being characterized in militaristic terms?'"

[The same applies to the days and weeks after, the process of mourning and debate. People, at least in Manhattan, didn't need the media or the government to tell them how to feel. The Union Square vigil was unorganized. It was merely public space. and yet what happened there was maybe the most beautiful thing to come out of this whole year.--spencer.]

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Web Info For On The Ground Anti-War Group:

This is not the organizing listserv! To join the organizing listerv (6 msg/wk) send an email to: ONTHEGROUND-SUBSCRIBE@TOPICA.COM

EMAIL: ONTHEGROUND@CARE2.COM

WEBSITE: ONTHEGROUND.OKCANCEL.ORG

MESSAGEBOARD (NEW): PUB38.EZBOARD.COM/BCCONTHEGROUND

to join or quit this newsletter email: spencerkingman@riseup.net

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CCC On The Ground September 17, 2002