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Not the popular dodging of the Vietnam War, but the almost universally condemned dodging during World War Two – where war opposition was mostly limited to pro-fascists, crypto-isolationists, absolute pacifists, and dogmatic Trotskyists.  This man, Noboru Taguma nicknamed “Sonny Boy,” did not fit into any of these categories, and I suspect that few would begrudge his position today, even if they disagree with it.  In fact, he didn’t really oppose the war.

An excerpt (But go through the link to read the whole excellent piece):

When Noboru received his draft notice after being in the camps for two years, he refused. He did not need a college degree or a sophisticated understanding of the Constitution to take an impressive stand for the rights of citizenship and to demand some respect for his parents. If his parents were freed from the camps and allowed to go back to their farm in California, he would serve proudly, but until then, he refused. He was one of the first Nisei to refuse the draft. Even though James Omura, later defender of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, suggested that these first Nisei were rash in their arguments and too disorganized to make a difference, Taguma did not back down. The JACL leaders, most notably Min Yasui and Joe Grant Masaoka, came to see Noboru Taguma and the other first four resisters in an effort to convince them to give up the fight. As Taguma recalled, “the JACL say, sacrifice your life to prove your loyalty.” But that was just crazy in Noboru’s mind. “We were loyal to America,” he said, “but the government itself was un-loyal to us.” With the support of his father, who urged him to stick with whatever decision he made, Noboru Taguma resisted the draft and later renounced his citizenship in an effort to bring the family together and to get them to Tule Lake – a little closer to home than Granada, Colorado. Despite the fact that Taguma’s efforts to reunite the family did not work out as planned, and despite the fact that the JACL did not recognize his principled resistance until 2002, Taguma knew that he did the right thing in standing up against injustice during the war.

Salt of the Earth, and among those few who can claim credit for having pulled us away from the brink of self-destruction, just by being who he was.

Addendum:  Thanks to Mitch who found a link to Taguma’s obit, and a pdf of his letter to, I guess whatever was the contemporary counterpart to the Selective Service Administration.  There’s also a photo of Taguma through Mitch’s link in the thread.

CNN is reporting that Libyan rebels have entered Tripoli and that the small arms fire is intense throughout the city.  There are reports that “sleeper cells” of rebels came alive as the rebel front reached the city outskirts, that one of Ghadhafi’s son has been arrested, and that Moammar Ghadhafi himself has fled to Algeria.

Whether the tide has moved as far as suggested remains to be seen.  And will the next government be any better?

No report on whether NATO bombings continue anywhere in Libya.

CNN also reports that there are “large movements of troops by both sides outside the city,” so the taking of Tripoli might not be the very end.  And Tripoli is not taken yet.  But it does look like the regime is crumbling, with reports of defections and fleeing of the country.

More as I get it.

Addendum:  More details.

And the map above, which I think will be bigger if you click on it, comes from the BBC coverage.

Listening to the television, they are reporting that the second Ghadhafi son has been arrested.

Second addendum:  I’m trying to find videos uploaded by Tripoli residents which aren’t being played on mainstream media.  This is the only one I’ve found.  Some sort of religious gathering and you can hear occasional gunfire in the background.

Third addendum:  I referenced an earlier rumor that Ghadhafi fled to Algeria.  CNN aired an unconfirmed report that he was captured trying to slip into Tunisia.

Fourth addendum:  CNN says there is no statement from any rebel forces of Ghadhafi’s capture.

Fifth addendum:  AP says that oil prices should fall once Ghadhafi is out.

Sixth addendum:  Annoying moment of CNN coverage where a reporter says, “People who have been her for much longer than me are wondering if Ghadhafi has a surprise up his sleeve.”

I think the reporter has seen a few too many James Bond movies where the desperate villain has one last master stroke in the form of some doomsday weapon or something – a blow delivered as he clutches his white Persian cat with his black leather glove.

Seventh addendum:  The NYT is reporting that NATO’s involvement in recent days has clearly been well above and beyond the mere protection of innocents.

Eighth addendum:  So far the Obama Administration is playing it pretty cautious in terms of the outcome, in the absence of clear information of what is happening.  But Republicans seem terrified at the prospect that Obama might get any kind of credit if this plays out for the better, and they’re wigging out again.

Ninth addendum:  It seems that Gadhafi was so focused on the threats from the east of Tripoli, he failed to take seriously a threat from the mountains to his west.  But according to this article, their numbers snowballed from towns as they approached Tripoli.  What may have been a factor which is missing from the article was the clandestine organization of opposition within Tripoli just waiting for the right moment.  With the rebels to the east stalled with heavy fighting, it was the western rebels who may have tipped the balance.

Oil prices are already dropping.  Kind of hard to argue that oil wasn’t at least a factor in western involvement.

Tenth addendum:  You can keep up with events in Libya here.  It looks like there is still fighting in Tripoli, with rebels controlling “95 percent” of the city.  But the fierce fighting has residents indoors rather than celebrating anything yet.  They also report heavy fighting near the Tunisia border.  More defections to the rebels.  Kadhafi is believed to have remained in the country.  The rebel flag is being flown over the embassy in Algeria.  Numerous governments are contacting the rebels.

Eleventh addendum:  Shadows of the end of the First Gulf War – NATO aircraft intercepted a SCUD missile fired from Sirat City.  As it can have no strategic value at this point, it’s probably aimed at morale.  It may even be punitive.

In the meantime, here’s a slideshow of images from Reuters of recent events in Libya.

And here’s some pushback on the Republican narrative.

Twelfth addendum:  Neither of Gadhafi’s sons is in rebel hands.  The one in house arrest escaped, and the eldest either escaped or was never captured to begin with.  He showed up at a hotel housing journalists and pledged to crush the rebellion.

Weird.  Maybe that Persian cat scenario isn’t so far-fetched.

August 19, 1991 – General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev faced a military coup and was placed under house arrest, in my opinion signifying the moment the Soviet collapse became inevitable.  I sort of held my breath for a couple of days there.

I was living in a flat on the corner of Army (Now Caesar Chavez) and Church Streets in San Francisco.  We had a patio on the roof and the fog came in pretty quickly as I was listening to the events as described on KPFA.  I looked down at the traffic, and everybody just going about their lives as normal.  I’ve already posted about the my childhood nuclear war fears – induced by various readings and watching the film On The Beach while home from school sick.  I was not alive at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Nobody, not even the alternative media, was discussing the events of summer, 1991 as a possible chain reaction which could lead to the end of all life on Earth.  I tried not to focus on it that way, but the three days of that coup had me on edge.  I was relieved when the “Gang of Eight” was defeated several days later, and for once in my life I didn’t care the least about the political implications.

I never had any of the dreams again, and I’ve never since – maybe due to a false sense of security – had the feeling that complete annihilation of the human race is a likely possibility, at least not through hot war.  Someone might do something stupid, and maybe the last victims of a nuclear bomb are yet to be born.  But as of 20 years ago, I don’t have that sense of foreboding which led me to be arrested in civil disobedience on different occasions.

It was always speculative to me.  These people actually lived the nightmare.

Driving home from Eureka this afternoon I listened to the speech.  At first I listened through KGOE, but the liberal talk show host Karel kept injecting his sarcastic commentary (he is among the portion of the left which opposes the intervention) and it was hard to hear the speech itself.  So I switched to one of the right wing stations until I couldn’t get it anymore, and then I realized it would probably be on NPR (quick note – NPR is obviously trying to play for Republican sympathy – two out of the three post-game analysis came from Republicans who said pretty much the same thing).  The speech did in fact formally outline the Obama Doctrine – a revival of JFK of sorts.  I break the doctrine (as it differs from the Bush doctrine) into three points.

1.  Multi-lateralism

2.  Humanitarian based intervention (“values” he referenced several times in addition to interests)

3.  Military engagement which is only a subset of the overall policy objectives and not totally ultimate goals based (nuance).

This is a very liberal doctrine of interventionism.  Basically, Obama deliberated with his advisers, and opted for what the warrior women pushed, and through some remarkable diplomacy obtained the right combo of support and abstentions from other countries (getting Russia and China to abstain at the UN Security Council, getting the Arab League behind it, and the ultimate coup of getting Ankara behind NATO involvement).  Yes, Russia and Turkey will trot out obligatory objections, but it’s for constituency cover.  Clinton and team put together something no Republican administration could have accomplished.  Qater and the United Arab Emirates are participating in the enforcement of UN resolution.  There are no mass demonstrations, domestically nor abroad.  The left is divided and tentative.  So is the right.

The concept of humanitarian intervention is revived from the Kennedy doctrine.  Since then we’ve always spoken in terms of “vital US interests” and the like.  But Obama’s people saw a unique opportunity here to prevent carnage of a city numbered at 700,000 residents, and they got some help from Gaddafy himself who promised “no mercy, no pity” going “house to house, door to door.”  It may secretly be about oil or whatever.  But the stated objective is the prevention of genocide, and the difficulty opponents have from both left and right is that there is little doubt that the attacks which began a week ago last Saturday prevented a massacre of unthinkable scale.

On NPR tonight, the House Armed Services Committee Chair (I think his name is Mike Rogers or Mike Jones – I’ll look it up later) lamented that Obama focused on the humanitarian basis and left out the WMDs in Gaddafy’s arsenal.  Go figure!  This is an anomaly in that the whole humanitarian military intervention basis sub-doctrine is opposed by many conservatives – not just the isolationist culture-war quasi-libertarian Tea Party folk, but even some of the military industrial complex elite spokespeople who want to emphasize military and economic interests.  They don’t like Obama’s frame.  They hate it in fact.

(More below the fold)

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The UN Security Council voted to establish a “no fly zone” in Libya.  I know Obama had been pushing this, and I would really like to know how he got Germany, Russia, and China to abstain rather than veto.  Obama has his international cover.

Gadhafi made it easier by talking like a psycho.

The United Nations authorized military strikes to curb Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, hours after he threatened to storm the rebel bastion of Benghazi overnight, showing “no mercy, no pity.”

“We will come. House by house, room by room,” Gaddafi said in a radio address to the eastern city late on Thursday.

With a Rwanda type massacre in the works, I actually have mixed feelings.  Unlike some who post here, I am not a pacifist.  I do respect pacifism.  But I do believe that war which violates national sovereignty is sometimes justified under three conditions:

1.  National defense against attack.

2.  Defense of a fellow nation under attack.

3.  Prevention of genocide.

I would have supported WWII to prevent the Holocaust.  In retrospect, I would have supported military action to prevent Kmer Rouge’s “year zero” genocide, and perhaps Rwanda.

The “no fly zone” strategy was effective in Serbia.  Much less so in Iraq.  I have no idea how it’ll play out here.  Will it drag us in further to a long term war, or can the coalition tip things in favor of the opposition.  Do we even have the capacity for a third war front, justified or otherwise?  Is it even going to happen in time to prevent Gaddafi’s attack on Benghazi?

But please, spare me the “it’s all about oil” cliches.  It’s such an oversimplification that it’s not even really true anymore if it’s true.  The motives to fight the Nazis a half century ago weren’t all pure either, nor are most ventures of any sort.  Mass genocide is indeed bad for most business, but that’s really beside the point.  The question for me is whether this intervention will save lives.

Is the violation of national sovereignty principles and the perpetuation of the notion of the US (even in coalition with other countries) as the perpetual cop of the world a greater or lesser evil than the pending massacre?  You tell me.

Addendum: A very powerful photo slide show on Libya.

So last night I was driving home from a long day in Eureka.  I was listening to KGOE, which plays some Air America offerings.  Mike Malloy was ranting and is pretty much giving up on Obama.  There was a nice story about some protestors with a sign in Norway directed to Obama with regard to the Nobel Peace Prize which read, “you won it, now earn it.”  Then they started in on the Medicare buy-in compromise, when I reached the Main Street exit of Fortuna and lost the signal.  It dawned on me that when driving at night I always lose the signal as I reach Fortuna.  Is conservative Fortuna jamming the frequency?


I switched stations.  Gene Burns on KGO was discussing something boring.  A few notches to the left at 780 a.m. is KOH, a station out of Reno with all conservative broadcasting.  I used to listen to it often when I lived out on Red Rock Road in Benbow.  Back then Michael Reagan had the time spot, but last night there was a soft-spoken but dogmatic host named “Roger.”  He went through a litany of grievances, crowed in sanguine manner about Obama’s poll numbers being in the tank, and complained about…. the war in Afghanistan.  He complained that we are in a war which has no clear goals and will potentially be endless.  The war in Iraq made more sense, but now Obama is “starting” a war in a country which has no democratic traditions to build on.

Huh.  I’d like to know if he was raising the same points two years ago.  Any conservatives out there listen to him?


The defeat of health care reform this week is about as depressing as the Bush wins of 2000 and 2004.  Lieberman pretty much killed it single-handedly, and today said he would even filibuster an “irritant” such as a triggered public option.  He says, “If they say that it’s unlikely to be [pulled] then it’s unnecessary.”  He’s right about that.

But now he’s even “troubled” about the Medicare buy-in proposal.  I think Snowe and the Republicans finally caught up with him and explained how dangerous a slippery slope that one could be, especially if it made Medicare more solvent.  Someone would figure out that lowering the age even further would do more.

Well, there’s a little bit of noise gathering in the House.  Grijalva and other progressives are hinting that they may just sink the bill.  And in fact the Democratic leadership is talking about skipping conference and going straight to the House floor for a vote.  Grijalva says he and others won’t look kindly on that, but hesitates to make any firm threats until he’s seen what comes out of the Senate.

And if Lieberman pushes them too far, Reid may have to reconsider reconciliation – which would make my day.

But Lieberman has jutzpa.  Look what else he’s carved out for himself.  If it passes like this and Lieberman retains that chairmanship, I may boycott all Democrats in the next election.

Nate Silver thinks I’m overreacting.


We report, you decide – Fox gets the award for the all time most loaded poll question from a major news network:  “What do you think President Obama would like to do with the extra bank bailout money — save it for an emergency, spend it on government programs that might help him politically in 2010 and 2012, or return it to taxpayers?”



Michael Walzer argues that Obama’s escalation of the Afghan war is not just prudent, but moral.  Some of his arguments are at the core of my own ambivalence about the issue.


I guess North Carolina has a provision in law which bars atheists from serving in office.  It almost kept this individual out of office.  It’s probably only been on the books this long because it hasn’t been enforced.


For those of you worried about the escalation of the Afghan war, the Department of Defense has prepared a flow chart which explains it all.  Doesn’t it make you feel better?  You can see a larger version here.

Civil War on Daily Kos.  Congressional opposition gathering forces, starting with Feingold and Grayson.  The speech starts in five minutes.  Obama is expected to announce withdrawal from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011 following the “surge” – his spokespeoples’ words.

Republicans mostly silent right now, but I expect they’ll have it together to say something tonight.

So will Obama be FDR or Johnson?  I’d really like to believe that 30 thousand troops can pull Afghanistan out of the 13th century, but I just don’t see it.  No invasion of the country, from east or west, has managed to end in anything other than catastrophe.  I guess Obama feels lucky.  I doubt the 30 thousand troops nor rural Afghan citizens feel quite so lucky.

Addendum: Well, on my way home from Eureka I listened to the speech and then randomly selected AM stations to get the right wing talk spin.  One guy, a host named “Mark” who airs on KOG 780, which comes out of Reno and can be heard in Sohum at night, called Obama a “demagogue.”  Another avoided the topic altogether and instead spent the evening turning on Huckabee for pardoning the cop killer due to what they said was a bogus religious conversion.  Others wove between the speech and other issues such as mammograms.  The conservative talking points can be reduced to three points:

1.  He waited too long to make the decision.

2. He’s not sending enough troops.

3.  He shouldn’t set timelines for withdrawal

They also didn’t like Obama’s veiled criticisms of Bush re Iraq.  And one guy I didn’t recognize actually criticized him for pushing the issue of defining victory according to specific goals as opposed to the total destruction of all organizations of terror.

Meanwhile, the left is split wide open.  Conservatives can rightly ask those Obama supporters backing the plan whether they would have supported the same policy under Bush.  They also rightly demand an admission that the “surge” in Iraq actually worked.  One silver lining is that Obama did confirm the winding down of the Iraq war with the redeployment of all combat troops.

There will be some protests.  Not as large as the initial Iraq war protests.  Routine; almost obligatory.

30,000 more troops.  Smaller than other proposals, but an escalation nevertheless.  Some items through this link, including a letter from Michael Moore and some threats from progressive House Democrats.

Will it build democracy in Afghanistan?  No.  Will it make Afghan women safer from acid throwing crazies?  Probably.  Will it defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban?  No.  Those aren’t forces which can be defeated militarily.

Watching the Republicans on television over the past week has been kind of comical.  They’ve been dodging the question entirely.  Do they want to be interpreted as supporting anything from Obama when they’re so invested in anti-Obama rhetoric?  Where will the tea partiers fall?  I’ve already debated a neo-con on Facebook who argues that Obama’s policies are all part of a Bernsteinian Marxist program of incrementalism, boosted in part by a policy of “gunboat liberalism.”  But that’s a fairly complex narrative for political purposes.

In the meantime, my sister-in-law’s 19-year-old nephew is to be deployed to Kandahar at the end of the month.  I’m not sure if he’s officially part of the surge.

Democrats seem to be scratching their heads as to why their base is unmotivated for 2010.

In my previous post about Medea Benjamin’s change of emphasis on Afghanistan, it  was suggested here and elsewhere that the Christian Science Monitor had misrepresented her words, and that her stance, as well as that of Code Pink’s, remains in favor of immediate withdrawal.

Add The SF Chronicle to the defamation.  According to comments attributed to her, she doesn’t want more troops sent, and she wants an immediate “commitment to come home.”  But she acknowledges that we need “an exit strategy” must have “several components to it.”

And they want women involved in the peace talks.  I’m not clear if they would make that a condition of troop withdrawal.


March 2020