29 October 2007

Seattle Protest Against the "War" October 2007

I went to the UFPJ rally and march in Seattle this past weekend. It was a great event. The numbers weren't as great as I would have liked them to be, but the people who showed up were passionate and genuine in their desire for peace and for the creation of a better society and a better world. There was a caravan from Olympia, I am not sure about the specific numbers. The Olympian quoted 200. Here's a link to the Olympian article, which includes a couple of choice quotes from me as well as a picture of me. Diane Huber did a decent job reporting on the Olympia Caravan. But I wish she would have fleshed out more of my conversation with her in the article. I talked with her for a while. It was a good conversation. She seemed genuinely interested and possibly even sympathetic with the anti-occupation cause... What I wish that she would have included in the article were my thoughts about the necessity of impeachment. Impeachment (of certain prominent Executive Branch officials) for any malfeasance that has occurred during the Bush Administration is vital to the healthy and wholesome future of the USA - as well as to the creation of a stable social environment in Iraq.

Secondly, an unjust and belligerent military occupation of another country is unacceptable. It is time to begin a safe and responsible withdrawal of all military personnel from Iraq.

Here's a sample of some of the photos I took from Saturday. You can find more here (flickr) and here (dotmac):

October 2007 Seattle Protest - U.S. Out of Iraq

Mourn Iraqi Deaths


Stop Soldier Abuse

Downtown Seattle

25 October 2007

Jack Miles on Iraq: Faulty Occupation

I want to plug this well-written article, by Jack Miles, on the deteriorating political situation in Iraq. Support our troops by bringing them home. The occupation of Iraq by the American Military is unwelcome and unjust.
Endgame for Iraqi Oil?
The Sovereignty Showdown in Iraq
By Jack Miles

The oil game in Iraq may be almost up. On September 29th, like a landlord serving notice, the government of Iraq announced that the next annual renewal of the United Nations Security Council mandate for a multinational force in Iraq -- the only legal basis for a continuation of the American occupation -- will be the last. That was, it seems, the first shoe to fall. The second may be an announcement terminating the little-noticed, but crucial companion Security Council mandate governing the disposition of Iraq's oil revenues.

By December 31, 2008, according to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the government of Iraq intends to have replaced the existing mandate for a multinational security force with a conventional bilateral security agreement with the United States, an agreement of the sort that Washington has with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries in the Middle East. The Security Council has always paired the annual renewal of its mandate for the multinational force with the renewal of a second mandate for the management of Iraqi oil revenues. This happens through the "Development Fund for Iraq," a kind of escrow account set up by the occupying powers after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime and recognized in 2003 by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483. The oil game will be up if and when Iraq announces that this mandate, too, will be terminated at a date certain in favor of resource-development agreements that -- like the envisioned security agreement -- match those of other states in the region.

The game will be up because, as Antonia Juhasz pointed out last March in a New York Times op-ed, "Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?":
"Iraq's neighbors Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia…. have outlawed foreign control over oil development. They all hire international oil companies as contractors to provide specific services as needed, for a limited duration, and without giving the foreign company any direct interest in the oil produced."
By contrast, the oil legislation now pending in the Iraqi parliament awards foreign oil companies coveted, long-term, 20-35 year contracts of just the sort that neighboring oil-producers have rejected for decades. It also places the Iraqi oil industry under the control of an appointed body that would include representatives of international oil companies as full voting members.

The news that the duly elected government of Iraq is exercising its limited sovereignty to set a date for termination of the American occupation radically undercuts all discussion in Congress or by American presidential candidates of how soon the U.S. occupation of Iraq may "safely" end.
[keep reading!]

24 October 2007

LTE, Surge, Occupation, Iraq, Baird

I sent a Letter to the Editors of my local newspaper, The Olympian, today. I have been meaning to send a letter on this topic for about 3 or 4 weeks now, but I have been struggling to find focus for it. I think it's because of the emotions that are involved. There is a lot of frustration and aggravation. My Representative to the US Congress, Brian Baird, after a visit to Iraq, has decided to come out in support of the Bush Administration "Surge" in troop levels and plan for Further Occupation. I am disappointed, heartbroken...really sad.

So I have been having difficulty writing this letter. Composing a short succinct, direct and to-the-point letter to the editors of my local paper has eluded me. But this morning the impetus struck, and somewhat hastily, as will be obvious after reading the letter I sent (below), I played around with it and drafted a letter, which I sent. Then I had to bike very fast to get to work on time. I made it in about 15 minutes, which included a 3-5 minute pit-stop at the bakery. It's a 3 1/2 mile ride. You do the math. I was going fast. (oh okay, it's about 20 mph.)

So that's a little bit of my day. Here's a letter that I sent to the local paper. I definitely could have taken a few deep breaths and a walk around the block before making a final edit prior to sending. I'll work on that... Anyway, I hope it gets the point across, and that it's not too hard to read. Sorry for the punctuation and other errors:
I attended Representative Brian Baird's September 21st Town Hall Meeting at Capital High School. I am concerned about Rep. Baird's change of direction, his explicit support for the surge. He reported having difficulty finding Iraqis who supported the surge. He didn't mention talking to ordinary Iraqis. In fact he didn't mention discussing the surge or occupation with any Iraqis in opposition.

Representative Baird claimed that withdrawal would result in a "bloodbath." I also, can imagine the spike in violence that a hastily executed withdrawal might cause. But it's also a possible that violence could be lessened, if the USA were to commence, in good faith, upon a responsible and complete, phased, withdrawal, say, over the course of one year. This idea of a responsible withdrawal was something that Rep. Baird did not seem to consider, nor has he indicated consideration in correspondence with him since the Town Hall Meeting.

The invasion was unnecessary. There was no threat, posed by WMD or otherwise, prior to the invasion. Supposed evidence of a WMD threat has reasonably been shown to have been contrived. The management of the occupation has been incompetent. The failures can be traced to the topmost command in Washington D.C.. Instead of supporting the Bush Administration policy, I want my Representative to represent me, and to support two things. One, hold the Bush Administration, and associated entities, to account for any malfeasance relating to the invasion and occupation. Two, I want a responsible withdrawal of US forces from Iraq to commence immediately.

23 October 2007

Dolores Huerta Quote

Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez in 1962:
"I quit because I couldn't stand seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children."

17 October 2007


Town Hall Meeting with Brian BairdI attended a Town Hall Meeting with Brian Baird, who is my Representative to the US House of Representatives. The Town Hall Meeting was announced after a mass of dissent toward the Representative's change of direction regarding the surge in troop levels and the occupation of Iraq.

According to Rep. Baird, after "working very hard" to find Iraqis who support the surge, he was successful in finding 13 people. Two were MPs. 11 were Sheiks from a specific area of Iraq. But the Representative found no support amongst ordinary, common Iraqis for either the surge or the occupation.

Letter from Representative BairdI was disappointed and aggrieved to hear of Rep. Baird's change of direction. I recently received a letter from the Representative, which has prompted me to become more active in expressing my opinion on this matter.

I would like to say that I agree with Baird, insofar as I feel that the US has a responsibility to stabilize, to remedy, to repair Iraq. The US pre-emptive attack was without warrant. There was no justification for the invasion. I allege that the "facts" regarding evidence of WMD threat were "fixed" to meet the policy of the invasion (www.downingstreetmemo.com).

But culpability for an aggressive and belligerent military action is a separate, though very closely related issue. Holding our leaders accountable for fraud or any other potential malfeasance would be helpful in the stabilization of Iraq.

But more importantly there must be a change in the mission. The mission must be changed from being anti-insurgency to providing for the basic security of all Iraqis and beginning reconstruction and rebuilding of the infrastructure (by military personnel.) Reconstruction must be on par with current standards in the domestic USA. Water, sewage, electricity, schools, hospitals, roads, etc. all must be repaired to at least prewar standards.

That said, I just don't know if the military option is feasible in providing for the reconstruction and re-stabilization of Iraqi civil society. I don't know if the US military is the right entity for the job...

Here's a copy of a letter I just wrote to Representative Baird:
Dear Representative Baird,

I received a letter from your office in acknowledgment of my attendance at a recent town hall meeting, which you sponsored in Olympia Washington. I am glad that I was able to attend, and I appreciate your support for civic engagement. I hope you were able to hear and listen to the views and opinions of your constituents despite the somewhat hostile environment in the Capital High School Performance Center Auditorium that night. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for two and a half hours, until 9:30 p.m., so I didn't get to hear the rest of the comments, or your responses to them.

I care about the USA and also that the actions of the USA genuinely and accurately reflect what I think and feel to be the best aspects of the character of Americans. I believe that Americans are capable of great hospitality - even compassion, I believe that Americans are generous and that we have an interest in equitable and fair relations amongst all people. After all, America was born out of dissent over unfair taxation - taxation without representation - that was essentially a colonial power's effort to exploit its "subjects."

So I am writing to you with an eye toward the past, as well as toward the future, when I express my concern and disapproval over your change of direction in regard to your policy on Iraq. I am concerned that America is becoming that colonial/imperial force that the founders of our own government rejected.

I am also dissatisfied with the content of your letter of acknowledgment. At the Town Hall Meeting I expressed (in a handwritten statement on a note card that was delivered to your staffers) my concern that you hadn't considered the possibility of a gradual withdrawal. It sounded to me like you opposed a withdrawal that would be sudden and shocking (like the invasion) which would likely result in a major security vacuum and further violence - a "bloodbath."

But if the withdrawal were to take place over the course of one year, allowing the security situation to fill in organically as the US forces withdraw gradually, I think there is the potential to prevent much violence. So much of the violence in Iraq is the result of the US presence.

I agree with you that the US has an obligation to work toward a stabilized Iraq. I am concerned that the military option is not the best option. For one, it seems that the military mission is vague. Is it to destroy insurgency? Well, how can our military personnel destroy something which they cannot identify?

I think that the mission must be changed. It must be changed to this: provide basic defense for the Iraqi Civilians, begin reconstruction immediately, and in earnest. Increase troop levels if needed. Rebuild the infrastructure to current US standards. Give the Iraqis something to feel pride in. Restore the water, sewage, electricity, roads, schools and hospitals to pre-war standards.

Make that the mission and those the goals for the occupation. And set certain criteria to enable the withdrawal.

Without that change in mission, and without holding the Bush Administration accountable, and to the standards of Justice, then there is no other reasonable option, in my mind (as well as in the minds of the vast majority of my fellow constituents) but to commence immediately upon a safe and responsible complete withdrawal.

Thank you, Mr. Representative, for taking the time and making the effort to read and understand my comments.

Robert Whitlock
I am still trying to draft a letter to the editor of the Olympian. Hopefully these ruminations will assist that effort. Stay tuned.

15 October 2007

Bush Style Destruction

I want to point out an interesting article by a self described Reagan Conservative - and an economist - who happens to also be anti-war and decidedly anti-Bush Administration:
go to original
"How Bush Changed My Life"
by David R. Henderson
Until 9/11. Like almost everyone else in America and, indeed, most people in the world, I was outraged by the 19 criminals who murdered 3,000 innocent victims. But when George Bush said, on that very same day, "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward … and freedom will be defended," I smelled a rat. In saying that freedom was attacked, Bush was saying something about the motives of the attackers, even though he couldn't have known that soon what their motives were. So it seemed to me that Bush was trying to set the groundwork for a war rather than trying to go after the higher-ups behind the perpetrators. I turned out to be right. In response to 9/11, George Bush made war on Afghanistan and, depending on which audience he and Dick Cheney were speaking to, a response to 9/11 was part of their motive in attacking Iraq.

Autumn is Here

Fall is here. It arrived about three or four weeks ago - in earnest. Since the arrival of fall, those of use in the Pac. NW have experienced cooler temperatures, higher humidity, increased precipitation, lower solar insolation, etc. It is amazing, it seems like one day it is hot and dry and then all of the sudden the ground has turned into perma-moisture - not to dry out until next May or June. It's a beautiful time of year though, even in the Pac. NW. Here, there are lots of foggy mornings, and recently those of us in the South Sound have been treated to some magnificent sunsets, it seems that there is often a clearing to the West, so that the setting sun sparkles its rays across the evening atmosphere prior to setting. I consider it nature's way of saying "good day" or "goodnight"... Anyway, it's awesome.

Watershed Park
Fall Colors


07 October 2007

Joanna Macy

I want you to check out Joanna Macy's great ideas on The Great Turning. She has a great website. It's a worthwhile direction to point your browser.

Here's a flower. For hope. For Love. For the belief that we have the power and the ability to affect change for the better in our lives, and in so doing, perhaps we can affect a broader change in the larger world...


06 October 2007

Hello from Olympia

Hello from Olympia on a misty and drizzly day. Congratulations to Lt. Ehren Watada on having his appeal recognized in a civilian federal court. I hope that you're all doing well and that you have, or are working towards having, true peace in your life. Here's a couple of Oly images to share:

Percival Landing

02 October 2007

Competition and Dominance

I am playing in an Ultimate league. We are known as team Säcré Blüë. We are 0 - 3. We got routed tonight. 5 of our teammates didn't show up. But I tried to keep my head up. I don't like to let losing get me down. I am sensitive to others' emotions, and when people get down, it affects me. I worry that I am letting down the team. Which makes me feel sad and insecure. But I am a big boy, and to be honest, I really like the people on my team and I can say that the criticism that I have received has been constructive. I don't know if I have received enough though. Part of it is that I am not in top-notch shape for playing Ultimate. I haven't been jogging as much recently. I went for a run on Sunday, the first real run I took in about a month, and I am still sore today.

South Sound StadiumSo. Here we are. I was hesitant about signing up for the league because it was marketed as a "competitive" league for "moderate" to "advanced" players. I am definitely not an advanced player - and I probably won't ever be. I might be a moderate player, if I was playing in a novice league. But I was encouraged to sign up for the league anyway, partly I think because of concerns that there would not be enough people to field 4 teams. Which is not to say that I wasn't encouraged for my positive attitude or my sense of humor, for example, among the long list of my good qualities that there are to choose from.

But I was uncomfortable about the competitiveness even before league started. I am a person who does not like domination. For one, I don't like to feel like I am being dominated. I play Ultimate because it's fun and it's a good work out, and I enjoy some of the social aspects. I don't like to be dominated and I don't like to dominate. I don't have a win at all costs attitude, and I tend to be conservative in terms of my physical investment. Pulled and strained muscles have taught me that it's not always worth going all out. And I have a somewhat sensitive muscular-skeletal composition.

Anyway, I have been grappling with a personal question recently, about Ultimate and about life. Is it possible to compete without dominating? My mom is sort of a sports/life philosopher from her days on the tennis courts, maybe she has a point of view. But I talked with a few of my fellow teammates and my fellow opponents as well, Ultimateers all of us. The preliminary conclusion that was somewhat mutually arrived at was that it is possible to compete without having a domineering attitude or exhibiting the behaviors associated with domination. It is possible to compete and to have fun - and to win - without a "win at all costs" attitude.

Speaking personally, domination takes the fun out of it for me. I would prefer to have fun even if (and when) losing. I don't think that makes me a loser. If anything this is one of my more realistic, pragmatic views. I'm going to be 30 next year. Maybe I am becoming more conservative! hahaha! I think finding workable alternatives to dominating behaviors is an important part of Beautiful Purple Flowermaking the transition to a "life serving society." It can happen. I just know it.

Maybe this inner conflict is related to my belief that the ends do not justify the means...