<$BlogRSDUrl$>

30.12.03

Danger: almanacs

Be on the look-out for people - especially suspicious-looking people - carrying almanacs.


What "relative calm"?

According to EI, during the period of "relative calm" recently broken by the suicide bombing in Petah Tikva, 117 Palestinians - including 23 children - were killed, hundreds were injured, and nearly 500 homes were demolished.

What "relative calm"? Only if you happened not to be Palestinian.

I wonder if the puerile minds responsible for pushing such a dishonest and hypocritical phrase would describe as "relative calm" a day-to-day existence in which they had to watch their own children be cut down and blown up by foreign occupation soldiers and their own houses - their lives' works - ground into dust and chunks of concrete.

But, as these "journalists" are white Westerners, comfortably producing drivel for an equally comfortable white Western audience, I don't suppose there will be much opportunity for these defenders of truth to ever experience the joys and pleasures offered by the "relative calm".


28.12.03

Bremer rebuts Blair's lie of "secret Iraqi WMD labs"

US viceroy Paul Bremer is finally doing something useful - exposing the newest lie by the shifty and beady-eyed Tony Blair:
The supposed danger from Saddam Hussein's WMD was central to the Government's case for war in Iraq, but despite months of work, the Iraq Survey Group, headed by David Kay, has all but given up hope of finding them. Mr Blair has remained undaunted, insisting that the evidence would eventually turn up, and told British troops in his Christmas message that the information on laboratories showed Saddam had attempted to "conceal weapons".

But when the claim was put to Mr Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, he said it was not true. ...

"I don't know where those words come from, but that is not what David Kay has said," Mr Bremer told ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby programme. "I have read his report, so I don't know who said that ... It sounds like someone who doesn't agree with the policy sets up a red herring, then knocks it down."
But in accordance with the increasingly important Anglo-American principle of incompetence in all matters relating to Iraq, it turns out that the admission was unintentional:
Mr Bremer changed tack when told the statement was by America's staunchest ally. "There is actually a lot of evidence that had been made public," he said, adding that the group had found "clear evidence of biological and chemical programmes ongoing ... and clear evidence of violation of UN Security Council resolutions relating to rockets".
So, according to Bremer, there is no evidence of concealed Iraqi WMD and frightful laboratories - except when Blair says that there is.

This is an interesting belief - that our rulers have the power to bring WMDs and related production facilities in and out of existence simply by uttering a few words. Kind of like god and how the world was created. Unfortunately, while this concept of genesis and existence may be fine for religions - not very big on things like proof, rationalism, logic and evidence - it is a pretty outrageous method of public governance.

Meanwhile, Bremer spouts off the now-standard line that the war was justified whether or not WMD ever turn up. This attitude is simply disgusting. Let's be very clear: the issue of WMD as a justification for this war of aggression matters very much. It is essentially a question of whether the rulers of liberal democratic states should have the power to lead around their publics like sheep and lie to them whenever they feel like it, or whether they should not have such powers. Should rulers be held accountable for their public pronouncements, or should they be allowed to make any kind of preposterous claim, not backed up by any kind of evidence, and manipulate public opinion with impunity?

Let us recall the type of statements that we were subjected to before this debacle. Bush knew that Iraq was swimming in a sea of WMD. There was no doubt - he was certain. Blair did make the claim that Britain was at risk from Iraqi weapons. No uncertainty there either. Now we have come to find out that these two leaders, and their respective governments, were not at all certain and did not "know" any of the things that they "knew" before the war. Most importantly, they were aware of their ignorance on these points. In other words, they lied about what they knew, and thus about the rationale they put forward. There is no other way to put it, at least not if one is interested in being honest about the matter (and this includes "liberals" who simply cannot conceive that their government would lie to them and, in fact, has already done so numerous times over the past year).

People who now say that the war was "justified" even if no WMD are found or that the claims put forward by Bush and Blair before the invasion are "irrelevant" or "behind us" are strong believers in the "public as sheep" philosophy. They think that it is perfectly acceptable for leaders to mislead and lie to publics when there is some kind of "greater good" - which these rulers alone define and which they never clearly spell out - at stake. This ideological position has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with authoritarianism.

Whether or not one demands an answer to what Bush and Blair actually knew about Iraqi WMD before the war depends on whether one is content to be a sheep or not.


State interference in education - America's "Gleichschaltung"

Almost immediately after Hitler took power in Germany, the Nazis announced a policy of "Gleichschaltung" - the "bringing into line" of all facets of public life in accordance with Nazi ideology and policy. Labor, political activity, civic institutions and, importantly, education were subordinated to the Nazi state and its aims. The goals behind this policy, closely related, were to make the state all powerful and to crush individual - i.e., dissident - thought and activity.

I don't need to say that the US is not Nazi Germany. This is obvious. Which raises the question of why we are now seeing moves to enforce a kind of "Gleichschaltung" within the American higher educational system:
The proposal, which passed the House this fall on voice vote, would create an advisory board of political appointees to keep tabs on federally financed international studies programs at colleges and universities. The bill could affect any university, including those in Oregon, that requests funding under Title VI of the higher education act.

"This vehicle could be a disaster for American education," said Gilbert Merkx, vice provost for international affairs at Duke University. He and others are concerned that the board will politicize decisions regarding which universities receive financial support for their research.

Critics say the oversight is necessary to restore ideological balance in the programs, which were created by the federal government in 1958 to develop expert knowledge about regions of the world. The programs are charged with training specialists for government, industry and education in areas as diverse as China's economy, Africa's cultures and languages such as Dari and Pashto.

Opponents of the board, including groups that represent the majority of U.S. colleges and universities and the American Association of University Professors, say the legislation opens the door for politics to influence what and how professors teach.
...

The bill charges the seven-member board with advising the secretary of education and Congress on ways to improve international studies to better meet national security needs and to encourage students to work for the government.

The education secretary, a Cabinet member, would appoint three members to the board -- two of whom must represent agencies responsible for national security, such as the Department of Homeland Security. The House speaker and Senate president pro tem each would appoint two members, upon the recommendation of the majority and minority leaders in each chamber.

"It will be a creature of the administration, whichever administration it is," said Jon Mandaville, a Porrtland
[sic] State University history professor.
One of the main proponents of this intellectual commissariat is Stanley Kurtz, a member of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University whose articles are frequently cited on Daniel Pipes' McCarthyist-style CampusWatch website.

Kurtz has the curious notion that the federal government should restrict academic freedom in order to promote it:
"Unless steps are taken to balance university faculties with members who both support and oppose American foreign policy, the very purpose of free speech and academic freedom will have been defeated," Kurtz testified to a House committee.
It is difficult to know what to make of this gibberish. Does Kurtz think that the "purpose" of free speech is simply to endorse official US policy or that the "purpose" of academic freedom is to invent intellectual justifications for whatever cockeyed scheme certain elected officials would like to implement? What happens if we go to the trouble of "balancing" university faculties - and then our hand-picked yes-men change their minds? Would they be fired? Should we really be afraid of having independent institutions within the US which criticize and oppose official policy? What of the possibility that Kurtz's ideas and preferred policies - what he likes to call "American foreign policy" - already receive a fair hearing on America's campuses but simply cannot withstand critical scrutiny? And why should we expect America's institutions of higher learning to conform to the official US line? Might it not be a good idea for American officials - for once - to begin listening to what region-studies experts have to say?

In fact, Kurtz and his fellow would-be commissars (e.g., Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz) are interested in other things than "ideological diversity". One thing they are interested in is defending Israel. Over the past two decades, academics in the US, Palestine, and Israel have turned a very bright light on the foundation of the state of Israel and its policies in the Middle East. The ethnic cleansing of 1947-48, Israel's wars of aggression in the region, and its long-term deliberate mistreatment and oppression of the Palestinians (among other things) are all getting more and more serious attention. We are beginning, in other words, to get a history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, rather than the generally accepted myths that have dominated discourse concerning Israel and the Middle East over the past 50 years. American universities are seen as the source of agitation on behalf of Palestinian rights within the US (including on the part of far-rightist Israelis like Sharansky). For ideological devotees like Kurtz and Pipes, this is a very troubling development - one, apparently, which calls for measures bordering on the fascist.

But preventative enforced ignorance is only part of the equation. There is also a "positive" component to this scheme. Kurtz and others are also interested in producing reasonably adequate - functional - administrators of what he might call the "democratic American empire".

It is possible to see how Kurtz's proposed intellectual commissariat - which would help ensure the education of administrators who were both competent in the necessary skills and ideologically sound - fits into his vision of American empire in his essay "Democratic Imperialism: A Blueprint":
There are at least two possible solutions to the problem of Arab nationalist reaction - the Iraqi immigrant returnees and what we might call "blended rule" (a combination of direct and indirect rule).
...

It will take time to educate and train a modernizing and liberal elite.
...

As a way to encourage democratization, an extended American occupation of Iraq would be just policy. Would a long-term occupation also be wise policy? That is the more difficult question. Since democratization will be more lengthy and difficult in Iraq than in postwar Japan, America will have to marshal its will and resources for a stressful and challenging enterprise. If the Iraqi returnees turn out to be poor democratizers, or if America finds it difficult to exercise great and lasting influence without quite seeming to do so, the chances of an Arab nationalist reaction or internal American divisions are high.
Thus, Kurtz's autocratic vision has two goals. One is to educate New American Students to supply the intellectual and "moral" guidance for the Iraqi colony and train the "liberalizing elite" that will "civilize" the country (and whatever other states the US might choose to bring into its empire at a later time). The other is aimed at the domestic US situation - the prevention of "internal American divisions" by ensuring that the people most likely to lead any real dissidence are effectively silenced by being made jobless.

(An aside: Kurtz's deep intellectual dishonesty is also made clear numerous times in his essay, but I will mention only two here. Although Kurtz's main thesis is that the British imperial project laid the foundations of democracy in the later independent India, he never once (in over 7,000 words) mentions Pakistan. Of course, Pakistan was also part of the British-controlled India, but Kurtz's analysis seemingly isn't powerful enough to take this inconvenient fact into consideration. Hello, Mr. Kurtz? How does the history of the undemocratic - and increasingly problematic - Pakistan since its independence fit into your rosy vision of the successful "democratic imperialism"?)

Opponents of America's move towards empire often do not grasp what its proponents have long understood - that situations are not unchangeable and that people can be led. People like Kurtz know this, and they know that the surest means of effecting a radical kind of change (over the long term, to be sure, but this is how they see things in any event) is through education. This new assault on academic freedom must be seen as part of the larger "Gleichschaltung" which is going on in American society and which is already visible in the realms of politics (e.g., the redistricting debacle in Texas), media consolidation, and finance (tax cuts that greatly favor the wealthy over the poor) - all of which are deliberate far-right projects to maintain a long-term/permanent hold on power and reshape American society to serve their interests and aims. Yet, in the long run, the attack against education may turn out to be the most important. For while the others are aimed at establishing and strengthening the aristocracy of the American empire, only control of education will ensure that it works.


20.12.03

Disruption of service

I'm going to be away for a week or so. So, for the two readers of this site (and any poor, unfortunate soul who has come along by chance), please patronize some of the other fine commentators to your right.

In the meantime:

Read Matt Taibbi's column:
The threat that the Grahams of the world pose isn't merely that they are cynical hucksters who steal money and influence from the spiritually desperate. It's that they preach servility and unworthiness. People who buy into what they preach are unable, as Bertrand Russell put it, to "stare the world frankly in the face." Our country is as stupid as it is because so many of its citizens are afraid to look at it.
Mark your calendars for the Kean report:
The head of an independent commission investigating the September 11 attacks yesterday said that they could and should have been prevented, and that the officials responsible for the failure should be fired.

His full report is not due to be published before May, but the comments by the commission's chairman, Thomas Kean, suggest its conclusions are likely to be politically explosive.
Expect crappier mass media service and an increasing stranglehold by far-rightists over information sources:
"News Corporation has a history of taking significant risks and introducing new and innovative media services," FCC Chairman Michael Powell said. "Enhanced competition will increase pressure to improve service and lower prices for both cable and satellite television subscribers."
Right - the jackass who owns Fox is now taking over a major satellite TV provider, and this is supposed to represent "enhanced competition"? Only a mental midget - or someone who thinks that manipulation of the public and flat-out lies are great things - would ever say that Faux was an "innovative" media service.

And remember - it's not a wall they're building in Palestine:

(Reuters photo)

They never built a "wall" in Berlin, either. It was an "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart" there. Funny how inventing a nice-sounding name can't change the reality of things.


19.12.03

Report: Kay to leave mission early

The Guardian reports that David Kay, the US's man in Iraq hunting for WMD (you remember those, don't you? Nasty things, actually-existing weapons, capable of killing millions of Americans in an instant - the reason the US went to war?), will be leaving his post before the end of his assignment.

I suppose this will be about all the admission we'll ever get from the Bush administration that the whole WMD thing was complete bullshit.

Especially considering that we have a president who cannot distinguish between things that exist and things that do not exist:
DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still -

PRESIDENT BUSH: So what's the difference?
Yeah, what is the difference between any two completely different things, really? Windmills, dragons; apples, oranges; Saddam, Osama - it's all the same, no difference at all.

Who wouldn't be excited about 4 more years of this?


16.12.03

The "Crystal Ball Award" goes to...

... Representative Ray LaHood (R-"Predicting" the Future).

LaHood on 1 December:
U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood held his thumb and forefinger slightly apart and said, "We're this close" to catching Saddam Hussein.

Once that's accomplished, Iraqi resistance will fall apart, said the five-term Republican congressman from Peoria who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

A member of The Pantagraph editorial board -- not really expecting an answer -- asked LaHood for more details, saying, "Do you know something we don't?"

"Yes I do," replied LaHood.
Saddam was captured on 14 December.

Is LaHood talented... or what?

We'll see if his other prediction comes true.

(Link via Hesiod)


Saddam should face justice in an international court

Frankly, I'm surprised that the guy is still alive. After the "decapitation strikes" that began the war and all of the public pronouncements by administration officials to the effect that Saddam would be encountered with extreme prejudice, it seemed like we would have had a case of "dead men tell no tales". It would not have been too difficult - an armed enemy combatant "resisting arrest" would have been plausible and very convenient.

But US soldiers caught Saddam alive. Now what? How and where does this genocidal dictator face justice?

The only option for a fair trial - fair in the senses of providing justice to the victims, the accused and to history - is an international court (such as an ad hoc tribunal established under a broad international aegis). Here's why:

1) There is no functioning judiciary in Iraq. In fact, there is no judiciary whatsoever. The presence of some lawyers and judges not constitute a judiciary. Legal norms and standards of justice are also prerequisites. There is no "Iraqi law" to speak of at the moment - no constitution, no history of precedent of non-totalitarian legal decisions, no functional standards.

2) Impartiality of judges is next to impossible. If Saddam's terror state was as pervasive as virtually all observers agree that it was, then finding impartial judges will be impossible in any event. Potential judges with the degree of competence required for a case of this importance will either have been accomplices in with the Saddamist system (and should thus also be facing justice, not meting it out) or will have been its victims. Neither victims nor perpetrators can provide impartial decisions concerning an accused with whom they are connected.

3) Saddam's crimes went beyond the state of Iraq. They are both international in scope and violated numerous international treaties to which the state of Iraq is party. Thus, the victims of the Saddam regime comprise more than citizens of Iraq. Juan Cole notes that Iran may file a complaint at the World Court. Hundreds of thousands of Iranian citizens died in a war of Iraqi aggression in the 1980s which also saw the use of chemical weapons. International apparatuses are necessary to consider and properly provide justice for international crimes.

4) Fully public, transparent, and impartial proceedings are needed to get a full picture of Saddam's crimes and those of his accomplices and/or enablers. This concerns the historical record. The fact is that Saddam Hussein is no ordinary criminal - he was the totalitarian head of state of an entire country. It is clear that one man could not have dominated 23 million people singlehandedly. Saddam's own testimony will be crucial in reconstructing at least the upper levels of administration of this brutal system.

It is also clear that the Saddamist Iraq received considerable international support for its crimes. This aspect must also be fully investigated. Accessories to genocide, mass murder, breaches of international law and crimes against humanity must also face justice.

It is at this point that all of the right-wing and/or pro-war wingnuts who claim to have developed an acute concern for human rights must put up or shut up. Is your concern for human rights based on principle - or is it motivated by a hypocritical and petty nationalism? People who honestly despise Saddam Hussein for his human rights violations will also despise Saddam's enablers. There is already evidence that certain people in the Bush administration dealt with Saddam and helped restore official US-Iraq relations in 1984 while aware of the fact that the Iraqi army had already been using chemical weapons against Iran. There is also evidence that the Reagan and Bush administrations continued to push for close ties with the Iraqi government even after the 1988 Anfal campaign against the Kurds - in which at least 5,000 people were killed with chemical weapons - was widely known.

How involved or complicit was the US (and other countries, such as France and Russia) with Saddam's crimes? To what extent did international support allow Saddamist Iraq to commit all of the crimes against humanity of which it is accused? Saddam's trial is the logical opportunity to sort these matters out. But since there are very real questions concerning the US's role in enabling the Saddam government to commit its crimes, the US administration clearly has a conflict of interest that must preclude it from having effective say over whatever court is set up.

Only an international trial has a chance of bringing full justice to everyone involved and setting the historical record straight.

ADDITION: Confer the Guardian's leader on the UK's role as an occupying power. Also, various experts provide their opinion. The International Criminal Court is not an option.


14.12.03

Saddam caught

First off, this is very good news. It's good news that he was caught alive, and not martyred like his idiot sons. It's good news that he will be brought to justice (not Texas justice). It'd be better if he were sent to an internationally recognized war crimes court, instead of the kangaroo court he'll probably be sent to. But overall, it looks like the Coalition finally did something right.

But let me be the first to piss in the Coalition's corn flakes by pointing out, like I did when his sons were killed, that it'll do squat to diminish the resistance--and we'll have to look for a new bogey man to explain why our boys are getting killed.


13.12.03

EU constitution talks collapse

The EU summit in Brussels to approve the union's new constitution has collapsed.

The main sticking point was voting rights. Poland and Spain wanted to maintain the current undemocratic and disproportional system, which gives them (populations 38 million and 41 million, respectively) 27 votes, in comparison with the 29 wielded each by Germany (population 82 million) and France (60 million). The more democratic proposal for passing legislation - a simple majority of countries with at least 60% of the total EU population - was rejected by Poland and Spain.

The proposed voting formula provided safeguards for the smaller countries of the EU and hardly represented a means of "domination" of Germany, the UK, France and Italy. The requirement of a simple majority of countries (putting, for example, Luxembourg on the same level as Germany) offset the percentage of population required to approve proposals (and even if the big four European countries always voted as a bloc, their total population of approximately 258 million wouldn't give them enough leverage to always pass or block legislation in any event). If Poland and Spain had genuinely been interested in representing smaller countries against the tyranny of the larger ones, they could have worked within the proposed system to get other smaller countries (e.g., Greece, Portugal, Belgium, the Scandanavian states) on their side to block discriminatory legislation. Presenting arguments and building ad hoc coalitions - isn't that the liberal idea of parliamentary democracy?

Instead, these two states opted to throw a monkeywrench into the whole EU integration venture in a bid to hang on to a measure of power they do not deserve. But a rejection of democratic means is not really surprising for these two countries and especially Poland, whose leading ideological currents for the past half century have been Stalinism - hardly democratic - and a particularly hardline strain of Roman Catholicism - an ideology which, considering the persistent silence of its overall head and His inability or lack of desire to meet with constituents, is even less democratic.

Poland seems to think it is doing a favor to the EU by joining. But this is hardly the case:
Spain... is a big recipient of EU funds, and... Poland... will be one of the biggest recipients for years to come.
Who wouldn't want a system that let you keep extracting government subsisidies courtesy of German and French taxpayers? Who said socialism was dead?

It would be best if the EU could just dump Poland at this point. This would both get rid of dead weight and send a message to Spain to stop trying to cock up a system that was being established while it still in the middle of its fascist experiment. Poland could continue to be the US's quisling, but without a structure that it could wreck from the inside. It could take advantage of the "golden boy" relations it currently has with the US, which might last until a conflict of interest landed it in the same doghouse that France, Russia, and Germany are in right now (how about some "freedom kielbasa" to go with your eggs, Mr. Miller?). Or it could start a "New European Union", annoint itself as the head (after god and the pope, of course), and see how many European states would prefer to join NEU over the "old" EU.

But it doesn't seem as if this course of action is possible at this point. Instead, it seems as if France and Germany, along with other pro-integration states, might move to develop a parallel or "fast" track towards integration. This will almost certainly hurt the EU and its political significance in the short- to medium-term and possibly for much longer.


11.12.03

The Baker mission

TPM has an interesting post from a "former high-level Democratic executive branch appointee" on the Baker mission.


Flying the Unfriendly Skies

Sorry, its bad, but I just had to.

So the Iraqis down their second US plane. Its a c-17 transport this time. No injuries or spectacular explosions. One wonders if this is the same crew that took down the DHL jet.

In either case, this is the second plane to come down, and it follows on the heels of another recent, successful helicopter strike. Seems like just about everything that could go right for the resistance, is going right.


What's wrong with this picture?

Remember the childrens puzzles, the picture where you have to pick out everything that's "wrong" in the picture?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- About 300 of 700 members of the new Iraqi army have resigned, citing unhappiness with terms, conditions and pay and with instructions of commanding officers, a representative of the U.S.-led coalition said Thursday.
The CNN headline pegs one thing: "Coalition: Nearly half of new Iraqi army has quit." But whats even "wronger" with this picture? The "new Iraqi Army" only had 700 "members"? What the fuck? 700 people? Total? Thats not an army, Mr Simpson!


10.12.03

More "collateral damage" - US army kills 6 Afghan children

A US military operation in Afghanistan has left 6 children and two adults dead. The victims were crushed to death when a wall collapsed during the attack on Friday. Nine other children had been killed on Saturday.

Incredibly, a US army spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Hilferty, blamed the victims for their deaths:
"...if non-combatants surround themselves with thousands of weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and howitzers and mortars in a compound known to be used by a terrorist, we are not completely responsible for the consequences," he said.
Does Hilferty really believe that a bunch of children "surrounded themselves" with weapons and ammunition? Unbelievable.


Reports: Israeli army training US asssassination squads

Julian Borger of the Guardian and Sy Hersh add reports to the growing file of US-Israel cooperation on the occupation of Iraq. Here we see that the US is setting up assassination squads for counterinsurgency activity in Iraq and that the Israeli army is training them.

Juan Cole, as usual, has a good post on the topic. However, the Professor is off the mark when he states that, prior to the Borger/Hersh articles, it was "ridiculous" to see hands-on Israeli involvement in the US occupation of Iraq. For several months now, reports have been coming out which provide information on Israeli "security" and other cooperation with the US in Iraq:

- Mossad agents were reported to have "visited" Iraq in August;
- A September article examines the US military's interest in Israeli occupation tactics;
- In November, the LA Times ran a lengthy (if somewhat sanitized) piece on the issue.

Even without the reports above, it is crystal clear at this point that the US has adopted Israeli-style measures and is employing them in Iraq. Hostage-taking, the sealing off of villages and towns, indiscriminate fire within population centers, the razing of agricultural lands and buildings connected in the slightest way with guerilla attacks - all too familiar. Now we have assassination squads. If you're going to adopt certain methods, it is entirely logical that you will attempt to employ "expert consultants" with previous experience in implementing them. People see what the Israelis are doing in Palestine; they see the Americans, Israel's closest ally for the past 40 years, doing the same things in Iraq; it is difficult to draw any other conclusion.

More interesting, in my opinion, is the claim that US special forces are operating in Syrian territory:
US special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria attempting to kill foreign jihadists before they cross the border...(Borger article)
I wonder what would happen if Syrian security happened to capture one of these teams (assuming the report is accurate). My guess is a quiet back-door deal, but it could also result in a not-too-pleasant international situation.

The Hersh article examines the dynamics of the new assassination squads. How exactly will they work?
The critical issue, American and Israeli officials agree, is intelligence. There is much debate about whether targeting a large number of individuals is a practical - or politically effective - way to bring about stability in Iraq, especially given the frequent failure of American forces to obtain consistent and reliable information there.

Americans in the field are trying to solve that problem by developing a new source of information: they plan to assemble teams drawn from the upper ranks of the old Iraqi intelligence services and train them to penetrate the insurgency. The idea is for the infiltrators to provide information about individual insurgents for the Americans to act on. A former C.I.A. station chief described the strategy in simple terms: "U.S. shooters and Iraqi intelligence." He added, "There are Iraqis in the intelligence business who have a better idea, and we're tapping into them. We have to resuscitate Iraqi intelligence, holding our nose, and have Delta and agency shooters break down doors and take them" - the insurgents - "out."
More confirmation that the US plans to resurrect the Saddam-era mukhabarat to assist it in its occupation of Iraq - the same mukhabarat responsible for turning over tens of thousands of people to be brutally tortured and murdered. Concern for human rights indeed.

In fact, we get a number of statements from "experts" and others affiliated with the military on the need for a "tough-minded realism" approach to the guerilla war the US now finds itself facing, often with doses of racism thrown into the mix:
- "But I think what you're seeing is a new realism. The American tendency is to try to win all the hearts and minds. In Iraq, there are just some hearts and minds you can't win. Within the bounds of human rights, if you do make an example of certain villages it gets the attention of the others...- Col. Ralph Peters (Borger);

- "...we're too squeamish to operate in this part of the world. ...We do need a more unconventional response, but it's going to be messy." - unnamed former Pentagon official (Hersh);

- "The only way we can win is to go unconventional. We're going to have to play their game. Guerrilla versus guerrilla. Terrorism versus terrorism. We've got to scare the Iraqis into submission." - an "American who has advised the civilian authority in Baghdad" (Hersh).
Using "terrorism" to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq... is it possible to get a clearer statement on what is wrong with the US occupation in Iraq?


9.12.03

Helicopters

Another helicopter goes down.

I dont know why the Iraqis arent downing more American helicopters. What else are they working on? Here's a soldiers perspective on the helicopter in modern warfare.



Another victory for democracy

The Japanese government has decided to send soldiers to Iraq, despite overwhelming voter opposition to the plan. A recent survey found only 17% support for sending Japanese soldiers to Iraq in the near future.

I suppose this means that Koizumi may now be counted among those "brave" leaders of the states comprising the "coalition of the willing" - "brave" enough, that is, to trample all over democracy and ignore the population's opposition to this enterprise. Perhaps "Japan" - minus its people - can now be described as the leader of the "new Asia".

Meanwhile, 41 US soldiers were wounded in a suicide bombing at a base outside of Mosul. Earlier, 3 US soldiers died in a road accident north of Baghdad, and 3 Iraqi civilians died in an attack against a mosque in Baghdad.


8.12.03

US soldier killed while guarding a gas station

A US soldier has been killed in a drive-by shooting while guarding a gas station.

I'm sure that some pro-war wingnut will be happy to explain how this isn't a big deal because people are killed all the time in US cities in drive-bys. At least they've dropped the "killings-are-a-sign-of-freedom" line.

Another soldier was killed on Sunday in Mosul by a roadside bomb.


Israeli spokesperson: No difference between attacks on soldiers, civilians

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jonathan Peled on negotiations among Palestinian groups to reach a cease-fire:
Israel made it clear that it would not accept an end to violence restricted to the pre-1967 border. Jonathan Peled, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "We will only accept a comprehensive ceasefire. We can't distinguish between blood and blood. The Palestinians have to resolve this among themselves."
No truce agreement has been reached.


3.12.03

Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism

A column in the Guardian delivers the friendly reminder that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.

On another note, we see that the EU's report on anti-Semitism (warning: PDF file) has been leaked.

I have made it through all 112 pages of the report and will be posting some comments about it tomorrow. I will say for now that while the report does contain a valuable listing of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe (and, sadly, there were many in the time period under consideration), the EUMC's description of the paper as being of "poor quality" is entirely on the mark. Two points: first, the fact that the authors, Werner Bergmann and Juliane Wetzel, considered anti-Zionism as being a form of anti-Semitism is despicable.

Second, there is at least one instance of outright plagiarism in the report. Consider this passage, from footnote 32:
Just 1967 [sic] Martin Luther King Jr. emphasised: "Anti-Semitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a plot [sic] on the soul of mankind. (...) So know also this: anti-Zionist is inherently anti-Semitic, and ever will be so." Martin Luther King Jr., Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend, Saturday Review, August 1967, p. 76.
The problem with this citation is that this article by King Jr. does not exist:
The treatise, it is claimed, was published on page 76 of the August, 1967 edition of Saturday Review, and supposedly can also be read in the collection of King's work entitled, This I Believe: Selections from the Writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That the claimants never mention the publisher of this collection should have been a clear tip-off that it might not be genuine, and indeed it isn't. The book doesn't exist. As for Saturday Review, there were four issues in August of 1967. Two of the four editions contained a page 76. One of the pages 76 contains classified ads and the other contained a review of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's album. No King letter anywhere.
Tell us, Herr Bergmann und Frau Wetzel... from what anti-historical treatise did you lift this bullshit reference?


1.12.03

Caveat Emptor

Dont believe everything you read.

The story about the 46 dead fighters sounds like great news for the "coalition", such great news that the US didn't bother to verify any of the claims. The US is trying to fight a propaganda war here, and doing a piss poor job. Its not that your stories cant turn out to be bullshit in a propaganda war, but they cant be debunked the next day.

The only people who still think the US defeated anyone in Samarra are people watching Fox news. An important thing to look for is how the battles end, for what the scene is afterward. If you want to know what happened, ask the people picking up the pieces the next day. If the battle ended with the US turning tail and evacuating their convoys (which most do), and if the US is nowhere to be seen the next day when it should be doing an investigation, its a safe bet the military has no idea what the hell happened. This also underscores the fact that the US military is largely cloistered in its bases and does not venture out for security reasons.

I'm also confused as to how the Iraqis are targetting convoys using mortars. But maybe its just me.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?