We've all been here before, but perhaps not quite so soberly or aware. David Swanson is being interviewed on WPFW, and he is telling Verna Avery Brown that today is about "putting a face on the war".
Are we ready to see those faces?
Keep coming back and we'll discuss it. I will be updating regularly.
Cindy Sheehan is speaking with Verna now. They are discussing the need to withdraw troops immediately. "George Bush is lying; we know he is lying."
The first person to testify is Dr. Paul Pillar. He is a Vietnam Vet, a Phd in Philosophy. He will discuss his perspective:
The early aspirations we had are not going to happen; that is a reality. These things follow:
Short-term is important. Two variables stand out: Iraqi leadership reflects a whole generation of Iraqi leaders stunted under Hussein. The second is untoward incidents--terrorist incidents--these escalate tensions between Sunni and Shi'ia.
He brings up the fact that power and water were not secured and that is a huge factor.
Pillar doing an intense analysis of the "what-ifs"--no outcome is going to be totally effective. If Shi-as take ver the south...Sunnis the north...Kurds have their place, etc. it will not hold together.
He thinks we will see something that looks more like Lebanon. With militias.
We should also look at what has been successful in Afghanistan.
Pete de Fazio just pointed out that the Republicans are now talking about having an open floor discussion about the Iraq War. Slightly cynical applause ensued in this room.
Pillar: The significance of the borders has been overplayed the administration--faulting Syria, Iran, etc...it is true Iran is indicating support for insurgencies but there is no evidence they are involved. Saudis are worried about what will come back at them--especially jihadists who are from Saudi Arabia. They are already focusing on the border issue.
Rep. John Olver asked about Kirkuk. Pillar said this is the highest emotional conflict--over oil.
Lynne Woolsey: "The President is dancing around starting to withdraw the troops, right around the elections. Would the troops left there now be more vulnerable? In regards to permanent bases, they think they're there for a long time. These bases are cities. We can say they are not permanent; how can we assure they will not be?"
Pillar: I'm not a military analyst. But the war judgement, what goes through the minds of the troops and what their actual mission is--that's a huge question. All the Pentagon plans he knows about are looking obsolete. But the cost we are paying in being seen as a military occupier is too high.
Faiza is angry that the other Members of Congress are not here. "If I were supporting the war, they would be here." She is a civil engineer, and has two boys. She is telling the story of her son going missing four days. They had to pay money to release him--they left Iraq and are living in Jordan now.
She is saying that Bremer divided Iraq. Faiza is telling what it is like in Iraq right now. They used to live in a mixed culture. The occupation created sectarianism. Bremer divided Iraq. The north for the Kurds, the middle for the Sunnis, the south for the Shi'as. She says "we never heard of such a thing before."