Month: March, 2008

Al-Qaeda in Iraq

I’m posting this mainly in response to a conversation I had on Easter with a relative who is a gentle, intelligent retired physician living a few dozen miles outside Washington, DC. Like some conversations on such topics don’t, our dialogue remained friendly. He mentioned he’s likely to vote for McCain in November, which led to my observation that McCain disturbs me because I think he’s unnecessarily bellicose and, among other things, he doesn’t know the difference between Shias and Sunnis, an ignorance particularly disturbing as it pertained to Iraq. This then led, a few sentences later, to said relative — a man whom I very much care for and respect — observing that, if the presumptions under which we invaded Iraq were unsound, then how come we’re now fighting al-Qaeda on a daily basis there?

As I understand it, al-Qaeda has become a franchise, a brand that can be adopted by whosoever fits the al-Qaeda mold — or for that matter, whosoever just wants to use the name. The Iraqi group even distinguishes itself from Bin Laden’s group by their full name, Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Scratching around for some more information, I found a short article from the BBC that talks about the franchise model. It turns out the idea is older than I realized — old enough to even be included in assessments prior to the Iraq invasion.

I also came across a really interesting piece that Andrew Tilghman wrote about al-Qaeda in Iraq for Washington Monthly last October (2007).

The Myth of AQI

Tilghman divides the Iraqi insurgency into three main groups: loyalists from Saddam’s army, Sunnis wanting a religious-based government in Iraq, and al-Qaeda in Iraq, whose interests are not in Iraq per se, but the creation of a far larger Islamic caliphate.

That last one sounds like the guys who would be the target of the expressed US mission, right? However, the group did not exist until 2003, after US troops invaded and, as Tilghman notes, although founder Musab al-Zarqawi may have had ties to Osama Bin Laden (that’s “hotly disputed”) and much of the power structure of al-Qaeda in Iraq is from outside the country, intelligence indicates the “rank and file” of the group are mostly radicalized Iraqis. That is, radicalized Iraqis who were radicalized by the invasion of their country by a foreign military.

One could say, then, that the purpose of the US invasion of Iraq was to thwart the group whose creation was a direct result of the invasion.

Offhand, I can think of a simpler way to have done all that thwarting. But I’m not the President.

Here’s the kicker, though. Tilghman also reports that al-Qaeda in Iraq is thought to be responsible for only eight to fifteen percent of the violence in the country, and may comprise only five percent or so of the overall insurgency. Although Tilghman cites sources who say that widely divergent assessments indicate nobody has a crystal clear idea of what’s going on, Tilghman himself puts his money behind the assessment of Malcolm Nance, author of The Terrorists of Iraq. According to Tilghman, Nance has twenty-years of intelligence experience, proficiency in Arabic, and has worked with military and intelligence units tracking al-Qaeda inside Iraq.

Nance says that al-Qaeda in Iraq is probably about 850 people, fewer than attend my high school at any given time. Nance calls it “a microscopic terrorist organization.”

Meanwhile, the other night, I caught a blurb of an interview with a US soldier deployed in Iraq, talking about a victory against al-Qaeda.

I had to wonder exactly what that meant, and whose idea it was that he say it the way that he did.

Tilghman’s article comments broadly on the processes by which al-Qaeda in Iraq gets blamed for stuff. I recommend it highly. You can read it side by side with the article on McCain, and see that his Sunni/Shia gaffe arose from the assertion that “al-Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they’re moving back into Iraq.” I think Tilghman offers material that’s worth having booted up in one’s mind as one listens to our leaders, and even our soldiers, on the news.

And you know, if you have friends or relatives who believe that the main thing that’s going on over there is us versus Bin Laden, maybe it’s worth having booted up in their minds, too.


The Elders

I found this fascinating. In 1999, Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel suggested a formal collaboration between world leaders who might be considered as “The Elders” of humanity (the exoteric elders, at any rate). Well, it turns out Nelson Mandela liked the idea, and assembled the group, which includes the likes of Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Ela Bhatt, Mary Robinson, and Kofi Annan. The Elders’ goals, broadly, are:

1.) Offering a catalyst for the peaceful resolution of conflict.

2.) Seeking new approaches to seemingly intractable global issues. [Note that Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus is also an “Elder.”]

3.) Sharing wisdom: reaching out to grassroots Elders and to the next generation of leaders. Listening helpfully to amplify voices for good all over the world.

The Elders currently have two campaigns: one is a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The other is aimed to address the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. To the latter end, Desmond Tutu, Graca Machel, Jimmy Carter, and Lakhdar Brahimi visited Sudan, and have drawn up a plan of action to galvanize global support. They are also planning a “mission” to the Middle East, to examine the “interlocking conflicts” there.

A characteristic common among Elders is that they are neither obliged, nor pledged to the service of any interest except human welfare. Consequently, they “can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever action needs to be taken.”

To my mind, it’s unprecedented that such a group with such a mission be assembled and working so openly… And one definitely gets a better feeling about these folks teaming up to foster human welfare than considering the same agenda as undertaken by, say, the Council on Foreign Relations, or the Bilderbergers.

It’s really pretty exciting, if you ask me.

However, offhand I would add that I think an increasingly peaceful Earth will become increasingly realistic as the billions of people consent to concern themselves with the troubles beyond their front door. And, that that simple decision, just to be aware, could do a tremendous amount of good relative to the effort involved, because a conscious populace helps keep ruling leaders accountable, and might garner support for efforts such as the Elders.

After all, leaders are always outnumbered by those whom they lead, and thus — and often to no small extent — they garner their power from what has been invested in them, or abdicated to them, by the people who surround them.

Anyway, have a look for yourself.

I recommend the transcript of the press conference which followed the release of the Sudan report.

Might the Catholic Church One Day Be Transformed?

This is a letter sent out by James Burch, Coordinating Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit of Northern Virginia, a reformist and highly innovative Catholic group.

I’m passing along at my own initiative, not his behest, because I think it’s exciting to think about voices such as these traveling up the ranks in this vast religious organization. I stir at the message in this letter, that the revolutionary voices exist in the ranks of the Church, seeking leverage. I think the whole thing is exciting, and merits support!

The Catholic Diocese of One Spirit

April 20, 2005

(This is one in a series of pastoral letters put out by the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit. There is no obligation on the part of ordained members or others who feel themselves a part of this diocese to believe all that is written here, or in the way that it is written. This is offered by the current Coordinating Bishop of this diocese as a validly alternative Catholic Christian viewpoint, which readers may use to philosophically engage this topic.)

The election of Joseph Ratzinger as the Roman Catholic Church’s new Pope Benedict XVI is a conclusive sign that the leadership engine of the church’s train is only remotely connected to the people in that train. Catholic theology, brought to a higher level of fruition in the Second Vatican Council, teaches that the people of God are themselves the Church. The Church is not the hierarchy … though you would never know that truth based on the distance between the hierarchy and the people today and on the hierarchy’s totally un-Christian chokehold on power.

Pope John Paul II, a man of many talents and a singular and most conservative experience of spirituality (rather than an admirer of God’s many beautiful expressions in peoples, cultures and perspectives), singularly appointed all but two of those who chose his successor. He stacked the deck with those of his own limited vision. He also appointed approximately 90% of the world’s Roman Catholic bishops over his 26 year “reign”. The dioceses over which these appointed bishops “ruled” had virtually no say whatsoever regarding who would be their “leader”. The “laity” (the word “lay” literally means “uninformed”, as in “a lay opinion”) had no say at all, zilch, nada, zero. The priests in each diocese – themselves products of a dictatorial, paternalistic, authoritarian leadership structure – had input that was so cursory as to be virtually non-existent.

This was not always the case. The word “pontiff” comes from two Latin words meaning “bridge” and “builder”. In early centuries of the church – after the concept of a “pope” had evolved into being more than just another bishop – the pope was considered the “bridge-builder”, the one who kept the peace and who brought different factions together. It was considered inappropriate for him to take a position that would fracture Christian unity. Today, thanks to the last couple of hundred years, he is considered by his appointed leadership to be virtually a spiritual dictator. In the early 19th century, only a handful of bishops were appointed by Rome; the great majority were either elected by their dioceses or appointed by the civil authorities in their countries. To counter some abuses that were occurring with civil appointments, Rome did not reform the democratic process for the selection of bishops but rather usurped to itself the practice (it is not a “right”) of appointing whomever it chose. The result has been a complete disenfranchisement between the “leadership” and the Roman Catholic people. These appointed bishops might as well be from Mars. It is as if the United States of America somewhere along the line had initiated the rule that only residents of Key West are allowed to be President, and that that President appointed only Key West residents as senators for all states, congressmen from all districts across the US, and governors of the various states. Sound ridiculous? Well, that is how the Roman Catholic Church propagates its leadership today.

All during the many days of commentary on the Catholic Church by the news media (during which, by the way, almost exclusively conservative commentators were interviewed, and virtually all men to the exclusion of women), there was much bemoaning of the virtual abandonment of the Roman Catholic Church by Europeans (who go to church only in the single digits) and Americans (only 27% of American Catholics go regularly to church services). This was seen not as a failure of the Church to provide any kind of intellectual and pastoral stimulation, but rather as a form of spiritual depravity of the people.

Anyone who really knows these non-church-going Americans and Europeans knows that they are, by and large, extraordinarily decent people. They care about becoming more loving people; they care about others; especially those who have less; and they have a finely-tuned sense to seek personal happiness. Yet they are condemned and tsskd-tsskd by men in red dresses as being morally untethered.

On the other hand, much was made of the spread of Roman Catholicism in the developing nations of South America and Africa. These are the “good” people, close to God, not caught up in the nasty consumerism and selfishness of the Western mentality. This is the future of the Church, the model for humanity, the hope for salvation of the immoral Western culture.

The reality is that this is just more rationalization from Church leaders who do not want their privileged status to change. They are, in fact, incapable of seeing anything other than through their own tinted glasses. They have created their own plush surroundings, and they like it a lot. Don’t expect voluntary surrender (note the election of Pope Benedict XVI).

The Roman Catholic Church has always been a lover of the poor, and the greatest aid to the poor for all of recorded history. Because of this, people who have little or nothing – who are totally unconcerned with dogmas, doctrines and moral commands – flock to the Church, seeing its genuine love for them. But what happens inevitably is that the poor over time become affluent and educated, as most have done in Europe and America. They are then no longer a recipient of the Church’s love for the poor, but have moved into the category of the New Sheep needing to be morally directed and intellectually constrained. And they go out the back door as fast as the new poor are coming in the Church’s front door.

Does anyone really doubt that as South America and Africa become more affluent and educated, their populations will also follow the historic paths of America and Europe?

This enormous gap between a Roman Catholic leadership run self-servingly wild and a populace being pabulum-fed is destroying the Church. Not until parishes are controlled by the people themselves, until bishops are chosen by their own dioceses, until the heavy hand of dictatorial edict is lifted, until spirituality is seen by the Church as not just filling pews but of enlightening minds – will the Roman Catholic Church really flourish. There is a long, long, long way to go. Sheer numbers do not commitments make.

Women priests, married priests, rational acceptance of contraception/divorce/gay people/etc., less infatuation with sexual practices of the populace, practical respect for the primacy of conscience (taught as fundamental Catholic theology for centuries, but now relegated to textbooks instead of practical life) – all these are secondary matters. The most fundamental teaching of Jesus – the recognition of the presence of God in every thing and in every person, and the deep respect and honor that goes with that recognition – is missing. And it is essential to Jesus, if not to “Christianity” as it is lived today.

There are now, within the Catholic Church (the “Catholic Church” being more than the “Roman” Catholic Church), thousands upon thousands of baptized individuals – ordained and not – who have been blessed to conclude correctly that they do not need the permission or the validation of this leadership class, so self-aggrandizingly aloof, to be what they are, the people of God. There are many non-geographic Catholic, but NOT Roman, dioceses, headed by Catholic bishops with apostolic succession just like their Roman counterparts, which have dispensed with the non-essentials, in favor of living a practical, Jesus-led, truly “Catholic” life (Catholic fundamental theology is that we are made in the image and likeness of God, that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, and that we are sanctified) in this magnificent universe given to us by God to experience the deepest reality of Who We Are. You will see more and more of this in the years to come..

There are now, within the Roman Catholic Church, thousands upon thousands of deeply spiritual reformers, who are crushed by the usurpation of their church by the ultra conservatives. This reality is now clearly evident in the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. The church is now – thanks to the 26 years of appointments by John Paul II – completely dominated by a mind set that demands conformity and certainty, rather than that which honors experience, wisdom and understanding. These reformers have stuck with the Roman Catholic Church through thick and thin, because it is extremely difficult to abandon one’s cultural and familial socialization, especially when it is drilled into one’s head that such orientation is more than cultural choices; it is “God’s Will!”

However, the election of Benedict XVI will be a tipping point. It will cause the damn to break and an unprecedented number of thinking Roman Catholics will expand their concept of Catholicism to include their following their consciences, staying “Catholic” but abandoning the Roman extremism that is not life-enriching and Jesus-experiencing.

Perhaps the election of Pope Benedict XVI is just what the Church needed … just not in the way most think. They might yet clean this place up, without ever picking up a broom.

James H. Burch
Coordinating Bishop
The Catholic Diocese of One Spirit

"Shockwave!!" Auto traffic, and article.

I drive too much.

In the second-worst traffic in the US. As a matter of fact, I think that if this is the second-worst traffic in the nation logistically speaking, then it is quite likely the worst traffic overall, experientially speaking, because it is the second-worst logistical situation being executed by Washingtonians.

The nice thing is, the realization that I drive too much has led me underground, where a developing romance with the pretty great metro system unfolds.

Meanwhile, the Texas Transportation Institute publishes an annual report of US Traffic Congestion. A nice blog post about the report can be found here. Or, for the eagle-hearted, or the time-privileged, the report itself can be found here.

Current research on traffic congestion orients around issues of urban planning, public transportation use, the problems of urban sprawl, etc. But when I’m sitting in traffic, I spend a lot of time thinking about how the situation could be alleviated by basic codes of driver behavior while they’re in their cars and on the road. For example, if there’s a bottleneck up ahead, does it help the overall flow of traffic to get into the lane that goes through, right away, or is it in fact more helpful to follow the closing lane all the way down to where it tapers, and to merge? Seems to me, the latter is better for traffic, especially if all drivers accept a one-to-one entrance policy, and are smooth about this.

Or how about yielding when merging onto a freeway. Does it still make sense to lay the burden of yielding on the arriving driver alone? With traffic so fast, and entry ramps so short, shouldn’t it be a shared, cooperative responsibility? This is the lean of things on the road, but it’s not what the signs say. Nor is everybody on the same page about it.

Or this: It has long seemed to me that tailgating probably creates traffic jams, because it often forces a driver to react more dramatically to the car in front of him. If driver A slows down and driver B, behind him, is right on his bumper, then driver B is gonna have to really put on his brakes to be safe, where if he weren’t so close behind, he could be more mellow in his response because his window for figuring out what driver A’s slowing is all about would be larger.

At the same time, if everybody increased their following distance, that expands the volume occupied by the same number of cars. What’s the effect? I don’t know.

The thing is, I’d guess most people have had thoughts like this, and everybody has suffered the ardors of the simple necessity of getting yourself from one place to another. We all experience it, as millions of solitary events in these steel boxes. There’s no consensus about it. There’s no public forum!

Do I sound crochety about this? A little bit?

How about this: Have you ever been tooling along the beltway and found it turned into a parking lot for a few slogging miles, gotten to the end of it twenty or thirty minutes later expecting a spray of glass and twisted metal and body parts and huge smudges of blood and found, instead absolutely nothing? You probably assumed, as I have sometimes, that the accident was cleaned up awhile ago, and the traffic flow still hagn’t recovered — and I still don’t see why that couldn’t be the case.

But it also seems possible to me that that entire traffic jam may have arisen for almost no good reason at all, but rather as a “chaos” effect spiralling up out of a confluence events which all cause slowing. Sometimes, it seems vividly clear to me, in fact, that the only reason some traffic jams occur is because everybody believes there is one up ahead, and responds — thereby providing the primary impetus for jam itself. It’s like The Secret gone horribly awry, right there on our nation’s beltways!

Well, it turns out, this has been known by some mathematicians for awhile. At least the chaos theory part of it. Traffic jams do spiral up out of nowhere. It’s called the shockwave effect, and now it’s been reproduced experimentally in Japan.

Anyway, here’s the article, FYI:

Shockwave traffic jam recreated for first time

Parenthetically, someday, I think it’s possible that we will travel to Japan and find that the “Japanese” are all, in fact, robot dopplegangers, and that the real Japanese have been living in Utopic comfort in a cozy, terraformed corner of the surface of Mars, hidden under a hologram’s camouflage. Not unlike the Chinese in the Kurt Vonnegut novel.

But regardless of the fate of the Japanese — I’d like to conclude by saying this: these days, although we set the bar pretty low in this country as to what is considered acceptable in public places, we do still have some standards. Right? We, uh, don’t chew food so recklessly that it starts to dribble back out of our mouths, half-mashed. Right? Right?

Well, I think it would be great to re-visit our habits on the road and cultivate, in mainstream dialogue, a new sense of driver etiquette — one based on some basic sense of, you know, the Golden Rule, but also rooted in reason, and research.

On "Fanboys" and "Jericho"

Two related items:

…is, or at least is supposed to be, about a group of friends who are prompted by a comrade’s terminal cancer to carpe diem by sneaking onto George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch for the premiere of The Phantom Menace.

The script was highly acclaimed when it floated around Hollywood a few years ago, and the film stars likes of Seth Rogen and Balls of Fury‘s Dan Fogler. It’s apparently in the can over at The Weinstein Company, and has been for awhile — except that Harvey Weinstein hasn’t want to release it because he thinks the “cancer subplot” is too controversial to be a commercial success. So instead, he has redacted the film, re-shot scenes, and produced a non-cancer version.

Apparently, Star Wars fans have reacted, sending 300,000 e-mails. As a result of the backlash, both versions will be released.

Fans press Weinstein on ‘Fanboys’


The last episode Jericho aired tonight on CBS. I’ll spend more time here, because while I haven’t seen Fanboys I have seen all twenty-nine episodes of Jericho, and I happen to think it’s had some of the more gripping, original and poignant serial drama I’ve seen on network TV. (Though admittedly, I have neither seen The Wire, nor Lost.)

We meet citizens of Jericho, Kansas as they putter along in the troubles endemic to modernity: a dissolving marriage, a ne’er-do-well son edging past thirty with no sign of responsible manhood, a struggling farm facing government foreclosure — until the spectre of nuclear attack blazes suddenly and soundlessly over the horizon, and everything falls into stunned silence. Thereafter, Jericho’s residents face confusion, in-fighting, lawless roads, Blackwater-esque mercenaries, food shortages, fires, spies. You name it.

It was spooky and suspenseful and it had compelling well-developed arcs of all shapes and sizes. Gradually, over the weeks, the disaster purified the characters, shunting them through one challenge after another — and, one by one, made them heroes.

The scenario deftly brought morality play to the stage without preaching. (Well, without incongruously preaching, anyhow — but one of the cool things about post-apocalyptic fiction is that it is, almost of necessity, a study of civilization itself.) There was political commentary, and it undercut the pre-fab partisan angles that have obfuscated things in our own political mainstream. Jericho met the worst fears of the post 9/11 world by holding them in the nuanced light of essential American values. “Defend yourself, and defend what is you love,” it said, “Fight the just fights. But stay in your heart. Because as soon as you give in to cruelty, or fear, or selfishness, you make your world that much less worth defending. And what you lose, you might not ever get back.”

More than anything, Jericho seemed to say that everything that we call “the world” can collapse, but if people remain decent, and brave, and reasonable and kind, then the end of the world, frankly, isn’t the end of the world!

Like any network TV show, obliged to deliver a compelling drama a week over the duration of the season, was occasionally dorky, but endearingly so, and I for one didn’t mind a lick. I grew to love the characters so much that when their actors sometimes cheesed through a scene, I forgave them the way you might forgive a bunch of your buddies awkwardly rendering play in a local theatre production.

Also, I didn’t care because it was all not only extremely charming, but exciting as hell.

It really had everything but the kitchen sink, and it really did all of it compellingly. By the time they rolled into the story arc that culminated at the end of the first season, I was rapt, voracious. Frankly, if you’re skeptical, I’d recommend you rent the first DVD and see for yourself. Watch the first four episodes or so, and see if it hasn’t hooked you by then!

As the canon goes, Jericho was canceled, the fans rallied, mailed twenty tons of nuts to the CBS offices, and eventually after a dogged grassroots campaign, the show shot seven new episodes which began airing right after the writer’s strike.

These new episodes fell heart-breakingly short of the first season. They were shallow, rushed, much more conformed to “safe” sensibilities. They had abruptly leapt into a new scenario, a logical succession to the earlier story, but radically different in tone. And they’d left much behind. These episodes were a second audition for America, and they felt like it. They felt like a frantic seven-week Hail Mary, a frenetic, showy juggle. The poise and and the pace, the mood and the depth had gone. And it got canceled again.

Why? After all that work? Well, according to media blogger Geoff Berkshire, after weighing all the evidence, it’s because too few people wanted to watch it.

But who cares? It was GOOD!

In mellower decades, promising shows were allowed to marinate over a few seasons, to find their legs, or their niche, to unfold and, thereafter, to shine. It’s often said that some now classic shows would not have survived in the current ratings climate. Today, a show either sinks or swims — right away. And Hollywood isn’t much different. Last year, Sly Stallone ventured that Rocky might have been passed over today. Rocky!

Even in the awkward second season Jericho seemed to be finding its stride in its new scenario. As a town under military occupation in the midst of a re-construction, Jericho, Kansas had become a theatre to observe Americans wrestling with circumstances that harkened to the daily trials of 24 million Iraqis. That’s fertile soil, no? Surely the haste in these seven episodes was the result of shell-shock from the first cancellation? Right? Surely these episoders were a lesser, telegraphed, version of the first season because of the pressure to “make it,” to fit an acceptable mold, to survive?

There are those who still believe that Jericho can and should live again. A new grassroots effort, “Save Jericho — The Sequel” is afoot, seeking a new home for the series. Buzz is that both SciFi and the CW may be interested. (My vote is for SciFi; I have so little interest in the CW shows that I didn’t even know that it was no longer the WB.)

But if you wanted to get involved, here is a link outlining some helpful actions.

Meanwhile, note a common theme in the two cases here:

I don’t think one has to scratch too hard to find examples where territory that might best be the domain of the artist has instead been appropriated by the ethos of the market — and while art must dare, capital is a coward. So we end up with things like a Hollywood system that is now re-making every popular horror movie from my childhood, and otherwise highly interested in brands, franchises, and adapting commercially successful stories from other media. But in the cases of Fanboys and Jericho, two original artistic visions, stymied because of marketing concerns, have been defended by popular movements that found muscle in their numbers and — constructively — flexed it.

I happen to think there is more to be said about effective grassroots organizing. And, potentially, a lot more.

In the case of Jericho, I hope the momentum persists. May this unique and now vagabond show find a new home at SciFi (and there… uh, live long, and prosper?)


Running Queries

I thought originally about describing the scope of interests which are likely to be explored here, and then decided that I didn’t want to limit this scope at all. I’d like to be, in the original sense of the word, catholic. : ) But then it occurred to me (all this just now while I was taking a bath) that it might be very useful to define some of the running queries I have, and hopefully over time build some cohesive responses to them.

So here are some of the big questions I have at the moment, which will be running queries here:

1.) What, if any, narrative can be constructed about the situation in Iraq? What is really going on there? What seem to be the most promising prospects for stable government?

2.) What can be said about where America is headed? Who are we as a people? Where do we seem to be going? What can be learned from the Presidential Administration of the past eight years? What has it revealed about the country and its leaders? What has it revealed about Americans, as a whole, and as various disparate groups sharing the same borders? What has it revealed about the relationship between power and the people in our country?

3.) What solutions can be developed to reduce the ecological footprint of industrialized civilization, and to replace oil? How can American achieve energy independence?

4.) What is the use of vision, and how can it be applied in the modern world?This can be expanded upon later, and will be! : )

IVAW "Winter Soldier" Conference: Iraq vets tell us what it’s really like

Video of the Winter Soldier conference, held March 13-16 in DC, has been uploaded to the Iraq Veterans Against the War website. From the site:

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan will feature testimony from U.S. veterans who served in those occupations, giving an accurate account of what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground.

The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan – and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists to give context to the testimony. These panels will cover everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans’ health benefits and support.

There are also blogs, and articles, but I think the video is most interesting. Highlights will no doubt follow in upcoming posts.