By Matthew Rothschild on May 01, 2006

A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq sure picked a weird day to put a smiley face on the situation over there.

“All indications now are that the acts of violence—ethnosectarian violence is decreasing,” said Major General Rick Lynch from Baghdad on Thursday, according to the New York Times.

I’m not sure what all those indications are that Major General Lynch was referring to.

I doubt he was referring to the fact that on that very day, the sister of Iraq’s vice president was gunned down in a drive-by killing.

Or the fact that in the previous 10 weeks, casualties have gone up 90 percent.

Or the fact that over the past 12 months, more than 8,100 Iraqis have been killed, according to the AP, and “there are increasing cases of civilians being kidnapped, killed, and dumped in public places.”

Or the fact that in March alone, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed.

Or the fact that the insurgency shows no sign of abating.

The U.S. Government Accounting Office acknowledged that “in some Sunni areas, support the for the insurgents has increased.”

As if to prove this point, the day after Major General Lynch spoke, there was a huge battle in Baquba, with hundreds of insurgents engaged in the fight. Thirty Iraqis died, according to the BBC.

This drip, drip, drip shows how “unsustainable” the U.S. occupation is, as Russ Feingold has put it.

Feingold just introduced an amendment to redeploy U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of December.

Others in Congress are also speaking up, like Lynn Woolsey, and Barbara Lee, and Maxine Waters, and Dennis Kucinich, and Tom Allen, and Jim McGovern, and John Conyers, and Peter DeFazio, and John Olver.

They all participated in an end-the-war forum on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

One person who testified there was a former Marine named Charlie Anderson, who is now with Iraq Veterans Against the War. After he fired his weapon during an ambush, Anderson says he was told by his platoon sergeant, “Do not shoot unless your death is imminent.” The reason? The platoon was running out of ammunition.

“Can you imagine that?” Anderson said. “The mighty U.S. military, the greatest fighting force in the world, essentially rationing bullets.”

And now Major General Lynch is rationing the truth, as well.

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Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.

On November 20 every year for the last fifteen years, transgender people gather for vigil ceremonies to acknowledge...

Yesterday the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would approve construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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