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25.10.04

Totally Fucked Up, Part II

The NY Times reports that 380 tons of high explosives have gone missing in Iraq:

The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

As always, we get a big dose of incompetence thrown into the mix:

The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

Even though the IAEA specifically warned about this particular cache:

The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country.

Incredible. Long-time readers of the blog may remember this entry, which cited a WaPo article about looting of "nuclear sites" in Iraq immediately after the invasion in 2003. From the earlier article:

Seven nuclear facilities in Iraq have been damaged or effectively destroyed by the looting that began in the first days of April, when U.S. ground forces thrust into Baghdad, according to U.S. investigators and others with detailed knowledge of their work.

The article goes on to list 5 of the 7 facilities, then notes:

The identities of two other sites, also said to have been looted, could not be learned.

I wonder if Al Qaqaa was one of those 2 unnamed sites.

We have major incompetence here, and it is at many levels. It appears that some mid-high level US commanders need to be relieved of their posts, because not safeguarding weapons depots is simply incomprehensible. At the administrative level, one has to wonder why a) no one "knows" anything in the administration, and b) why incompetent field commanders are allowed to remain in their positions.

The war in Iraq is not only endangering the lives of Iraqis and US soldiers, but people outside of Iraq as well. The invasion was bad enough in and of itself, but such incompetence is guaranteed to expand the war beyond Iraq's borders.


24.10.04

Totally Fucked Up

Both of our readers know that this board has long pointed out the mess that we've made of Iraq. Today's news, though, reaches a new level of totally-fucked-up-ness. 50 Iraqi soldiers killed in Iraq. Execution style.

Think about it. It's one thing to drive a suicide bomb into a group of policemen and kill a few dozen. It's a whole 'nother thing to overpower and execute 50 soldiers. It doesn't matter that they were trainees. Think about how many "insurgents" must have been involved. Who were they? How did they organize? What the fuck were they armed with?

They didn't just blow up a bus with an IED. They didn't just randomly spray a crowd with machine gun fire. They stopped the busses, pulled out the occupants, lined them up and, one-by-one, shot them in the head. Certainly, as this news gets digested, it'll be blamed on al-Zarqawi—who doesn't even exist. But the truth of the matter is it's more likely Kaiser Soze or the Predator. But so long as the country is such a mess that things like this can happen, any denials that the place is totally fucked up are...well...totally fucked up.


16.10.04

"We create our own reality"

Suskind in the NYT on how the Bush administration views reality:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

My guess is that this "senior adviser" is Perle. It sounds like the kind of self-congratulatory, arrogant bullshit he would say. It could also be Bolton. But, really, almost any prick from the Bush administration could have been responsible for this kind of statement.

A lot of social scientists these days have kind of left Marx's idea of "false consciousness" behind and adopted theories like the "rational actor" model to explain decision-making behavior. I suppose they don't want to seem condescending when it comes to explaining the often large role that ignorance plays in day-to-day decision-making processes.

Not me, though. Ignorance is out there plenty, and not all of it can be said to be unintentional. And people who don't like the supposed "condescension" of leftists, but then turn around and accept this kind of anti-fact, anti-historical and pro-raw power view of how the world works - and provide themselves and their children to be the donkeys dying and carrying out the work of these grand "history's actors" - show that there is something to this idea after all.


9.10.04

Insane Blogger vs. Israeli Government Spokesperson: Who Analyzes Faster?

Dov Weisglass, on the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, in early October 2004:

A senior aide to the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, said in an interview published Wednesday that Sharon's plan to withdraw troops and Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip had "frozen" the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and guaranteed that Israel would never have to remove 80 percent of its settlers from the occupied West Bank, with the "blessing" of the U.S. government.

The aide, Dov Weisglass -- until recently Sharon's chief of staff, his personal attorney and still one of his closest advisers -- said the primary goals of the proposal to withdraw the 8,100 Jewish settlers from Gaza were to strengthen Israel's hold on its more numerous settlements in the West Bank and to freeze the political process as a way to indefinitely block the creation of a Palestinian state.


Know-nothing blogger, early February 2004, reconstructing a dialogue between Bush and NYT buffoon Thomas Friedman:

We both know that Sharon is the same old Sharon - he plans on keeping the West Bank permanently under Israeli control, and this new Gaza stunt, even if he actually goes through with it, is simply a tactical move to further tighten the grip on the real prize.

I'm sure the anti-fact, deniers-of-history, what-they-said-is-not-what-they-said Israeli apologists are all over Weisglass's statements by now. Well, they can go fuck themselves. And while they're at it, they can come to our site to see how Israeli mouthpieces are going to be rationalizing their ghettoizing, ethnic-cleansing policies before they "misspeak" and actually say something that approaches reality. They might learn something.



8.10.04

Ritter on the Duelfer Report

Scott Ritter, forgotten expert on Iraqi "WMD", considers the Duelfer report:

One of the tragic ironies of the decision to invade Iraq is that the Iraqi WMD declaration required by security council resolution 1441, submitted by Iraq in December 2002, and summarily rejected by Bush and Blair as repackaged falsehoods, now stands as the most accurate compilation of data yet assembled regarding Iraq's WMD programmes (more so than even Duelfer's ISG report, which contains much unsubstantiated speculation). Saddam Hussein has yet to be contradicted on a single point of substantive fact.

Is there anyone else who thinks it's kind of... what's the word? sad? unbelievable? really fucked up? that a dictator like Saddam is more truthful than the leadership of the US and UK? How about the fact that a group of people who think that Stalin was a pretty neat guy - i.e., ANSWER - had to be relied on to provide any actual opposition to the war?

So-called liberals are up in arms trying to get their guy Kerry in the White House and Bush out, with good reason. Yet we do not see anywhere near this level of energy directed towards changing the system that allowed someone like Bush to become president and his little coterie of yes-men/opportunists/weaklings/neo-imperialists to assume power. We do not see very many liberal calls to change the system to strengthen what, in the final analysis, are very weak checks on executive power. The assumption seems to be that getting Bush out is enough. But what happens if Kerry is defeated, in this election or 4 years from now? What is to stop another Bush from coming along?

In many ways, the anti-Bush rhetoric and strategy is misplaced. It's misguided. The dude is a moron, yes, and he's bad for many reasons. But he's only the messenger. Bush is only the messenger of bigger problems affecting American society that go beyond him and this election.

Anyway, read the article. There's more.



4.10.04

Polish DM: Polish soldiers out of Iraq by 2005

Hahaha... less than a week after Bushy-boy was crowing during the debate about how Polish troops in Iraq were proof of the "grand coalition" he had built, the Polish defense minister has said that all of his country's soldiers will be removed from Iraq by the end of 2005.

Let's see if Bush turns his indignation from Kerry to Szmajdzinski for daring to suggest that this "coalition" is a load of bollocks.

On a related note, something else to watch for: Australia's opposition has pledged to remove its country's soldiers from Iraq if it wins next week's elections.


More than half of dead in Samarra women, children: hospital

From the WaPo:

Of the 70 dead brought to Samarra General Hospital since fighting erupted, 23 were children and 18 were women, said hospital official Abdul-Nasser Hamed Yassin, the Associated Press reported. Some residents left Samarra Sunday by floating down the Tigris River, waving white flags from boats, Reuters said.

So 41 of the 70 dead bodies at the hospital were of women and children. Yet the reporter had no problem beginning his lead paragraph in this way:

As U.S. and Iraqi troops patrolled the battered streets of Samarra, the central Iraqi city reclaimed from insurgents in two days of lopsided battle...

Assuming that we accept both of these statements are being factually correct, we can only draw the conclusion that Samarra had been held by a guerilla coalition of women and children, which could only be dislodged by a combined force of 5,000 US soldiers and Iraqi "National Guardsmen".

Of course, if we decide to maintain some kind of grip on reality, we'll probably decide that this isn't the case and that the actual guerrillas in the city - as opposed to the non-combatant kind - did what guerrillas do during a frontal assault and simply stood aside.

But this article does show the dilemma for people like Karl Vick, intrepid WaPo reporter: he is holed up at his little hotel-bunker in Baghdad, as indicated by the dateline, and is relying on AP, Reuters, and Al Arabiya to "report" the news; he hears about terrible things the US is doing in other parts of the country and he wants to report them; but he's scared - scared of getting kidnapped and having his head chopped off and scared of leading with reports that contradict the official version that a combined US-Iraqi force "reclaimed" the town of Samarra.

Unfortunately, I expect more of the same kind of reporting, where bombardment of civilian areas and killings of non-combatants are simply and unquestioningly subsumed within the struggle to "reclaim" Iraqi cities and towns.


3.10.04

Pope beatifies Karl I, Austrian kaiser and user of poison gas

So the pope has now beatified Karl I, the last kaiser of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Speaking of this saintly guy, the pope said he hoped that the emperor would "serve as an example, especially for those with political responsibilities in Europe today."

Wonder which leader he has in mind to follow these examples of Karl's behavior:

... critics claim that Karl I was an alcoholic adulterer who advocated the use of poison gas in the First World War.
...
Others accuse him of causing dozens of deaths in street fights during two attempts to regain power by force after the abolition of the monarchy.

What would Jesus do, indeed. But it gets better:

But the Vatican insists that he performed a miracle - the requirement for beatification. In 1960 a Polish nun based in Brazil was cured of severe leg sores and varicose veins after praying to him.

No wonder the BBC canceled that show with the pope - self-parody like this is hard to beat.


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