War on Iraq


Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Secret War: How the CIA Defeated Saddam Hussein
CIA's Golden Victory - US Bribed Iraqi Military Leaders
Republican Guard generals betrayed Saddam Hussein in return for huge payments in cash and gold. In so doing, they allowed the Allies to seize Baghdad virtually without a fight. Resistance around the capital from six Republican Guard divisions just melted away because the senior commander of Saddam's elite troops defected and ordered his men to give up or go home. He was spirited away by a United States Apache helicopter to a secret location. The astonishing revelations of the double-dealing at the heart of Saddam's inner circle expose the immense contribution made to the coalition campaign by undercover squads of SAS special forces. Working hand-in-hand with MI6 and CIA paramilitaries they were responsible for buying off factions of Saddam's henchmen. The Joint Special Operations Task Forces have been operating undercover since before the war, contacting Iraqi military, intelligence and secret police leaders to make them change sides. The teams carried suitcases full of gold bullion, US dollars, Swiss francs and euros to buy off regime leaders, and threatened to kill those who refused to cooperate.

Russian Ambassador: U.S. Bribed Generals to Surrender
Ambassador Vladimir Titirenko: "I am confident that the Iraqi generals entered into a secret deal with the Americans to refrain from resistance in exchange for sparing their lives."

posted by Hal Dunn 11:21 AM

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Revealed: How the road to war was paved with lies
(Raymond Whitaker, The Independent, 27 April 2003)
The case for invading Iraq to remove its weapons of mass destruction was based on selective use of intelligence, exaggeration, use of sources known to be discredited and outright fabrication . . . A high-level UK source said last night that intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic were furious that briefings they gave political leaders were distorted in the rush to war with Iraq. "They ignored intelligence assessments which said Iraq was not a threat," . . . On nuclear weapons, the British Government claimed that the former regime sought uranium feed material from the government of Niger in west Africa. This was based on letters later described by the International Atomic Energy Agency as crude forgeries. . . . A CIA report on the likelihood that Saddam would use weapons of mass destruction was partially declassified including the conclusion that the chances of Iraq using chemical weapons were "very low" for the "foreseeable future". . . . Some American officials have all but conceded that the weapons of mass destruction campaign was simply a means to an end – a "global show of American power and democracy", as ABC News in the US put it. "We were not lying," it was told by one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis." . . . Robin Cook, who as Foreign Secretary would have received high-level security briefings, said last week that "it was difficult to believe that Saddam had the capacity to hit us". Mr Cook resigned from the Government on the eve of war, but was still in the Cabinet as Leader of the House when it released highly contentious dossiers to bolster its case. . . . Mr Powell and Mr Bush both repeated last week that Iraq had WMDs. But one official said privately that "in the end, history and the American people will judge the US not by whether its officials found canisters of poison gas or vials of some biological agent [but] by whether this war marked the beginning of the end for the terrorists who hate America".

posted by Lorenzo 5:28 PM

Baghdad Did Not Fall - It Was Handed Over
(Jalal Ghazi, Pacific News Service, April 14, 2003)
Arabic media are speculating that a "safqa" -- Arabic for a secret deal -- was arranged between the United States and the Baath regime to hand over Baghdad. Although nobody can pinpoint the exact terms, there are three clear outcomes. First, the lives of many American and British forces as well as most senior Baath officials were spared. Second, Baghdad itself did not turn into the bloodbath widely anticipated by military experts. Third, the war was shortened dramatically, saving the region -- especially Saudi Arabia -- from catastrophic consequences. . . . The following clues, gleaned from Arabic and U.S. media, suggest why the fall of Baghdad was premeditated. . . . None of the seven rescued POWs was hurt. . . . American tanks rolled into Baghdad with very little resistance while Basra, nowhere near as heavily fortified as Baghdad, sustained almost three weeks of fierce resistance. . . . Baath forces refrained from destroying a single bridge in Baghdad . . . only a handful of Iraq's oil fields were set on fire, leaving the vast majority intact almost in accordance with Bush's demands.

posted by Lorenzo 4:59 PM

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Oil War --Sefan B. Herpel
Does the war on Iraq conclude with the US taking Iraq's oil, selling it, and keeping the money? No way. It's much more complicated than that.

According to some theories, Saddam Hussein's goal was to acquire nukes and dominate Middle East oil. This would give him the power to advance Iraq's political interests. With this power over such a sizable percentage of the world's oil, he could threaten to halt the export of oil as a form of blackmail over Arabs, Europe, and the US.

Hussein's goal may have been a long shot, but according to Kenneth Pollack, a former Clinton administration official, it was to use the acquisition of nuclear weapons to be able to "call the shots in a grand Arab coalition" of Middle Eastern states. Pollack believed that if Saddam were to fulfill his goal of "dominance of the Gulf oil region and its oil supplies," that "would constitute a dire threat to US national security."

Maybe not "national security," but it could be a threat to economic security. Pollack goes so far as to claim that if Saddam had attained that kind of dominance over the other oil-producing states in the Middle East, the result could be a "new Great Depression."

Saudi Arabia is our key oil ally, but it is in danger of being unable to remain cooperative on oil pricing and supply, in part because of recent actions of Iraq. Iran and Iraq have accused Saudi Arabia of seeking higher production rates to accommodate the economic interests of the US, Japan, and Europe at the expense of the needs of local populations.

Iraq has periodically withheld the sale of some of its oil, keeping it out of the market, in attempts to drive crude prices higher. Over the past year, Iraq became a swing producer, turning its taps on and off at will. Saudi Arabia has proven willing to provide replacement supplies to the market when Iraqi exports have been reduced. Saudi Arabia's role has been extremely important in avoiding greater market volatility and in countering Iraq's efforts to take advantage of the oil market's structure.

But the US cannot depend on Saudi Arabia to continue these efforts. Many Arabs are upset with US bias in the Arab-Israeli conflict and they've applied pressure on the Saudi government to discontinue these favors to the US. Hussein designed a clever public-relations campaign to link Arab oil policy with the Arab-Israeli conflict and has stirred up more anti-American sentiment. Among young Palestinians, Saddam had been seen as a champion of the Palestinian cause.

The UN and multilateral sanctions imposed on Iraq created a policy dilemma for the US. Sanctions, such as those prohibiting foreign investment in Iraq, have had a severe effect on potential Iraqi oil production. Relaxing these sanctions would quickly add capacity to world oil markets. However, it might also allow Hussein to boast of his "victory" against the US, fuel his ambitions, and strengthen his regime. Hussein could then use oil revenues to build weapons of mass destruction, making him even more powerful in the region.

Influential people like Dick Cheney and James Baker have warned that volatile oil markets in the Middle East are highly likely and the potential for serious energy shortages is great. If left unsolved, these energy problems could "undermine our economy, our standard of living, and our national security." Oil security, yes. Economic security, yes. But, I'm not so sure it's accurate to invoke the magic words: "national security."

The Bush administration saw the choices as either relax sanctions on Iraq or go to war with them. To remove Hussein by force and replace him with a friendly regime offered some clear advantages over relaxation of sanctions. War could simultaneously eliminate our principal oil adversary and create a new oil ally to supplement or perhaps replace the questionable Saudis. Iraqi oil can be tapped and brought to market without fear that it would strengthen an unfriendly regime and lead to greater use of oil as an economic weapon against the West.

posted by Hal Dunn 9:09 PM

Saturday, April 19, 2003

The saving of one little boy must not be a cover for the crime of this war
(John Pilger, The Independent, 20 April 2003)
Iraq is the "test case", says the Bush regime, which every day sails closer to Mussolini's definition of fascism: the merger of a militarist state with corporate power. Iraq is a test case for western liberals, too. As the suffering mounts in that stricken country, with Red Cross doctors describing "incredible'' levels of civilian casualties, the choice of the next conquest, Syria or Iran, is "debated'' on the BBC, as if it were a World Cup venue. . . . The Pentagon's deliberate destruction of Iraq's civilian infrastructure, such as power sources and water and sewage plants, together with the imposition of an embargo as barbaric as a medieval siege, produced a degree of suffering never fully comprehended in the West. Documented evidence was available, volumes of it; by the late 1990s, more than 6,000 infants were dying every month, and the two senior United Nations officials responsible for humanitarian relief in Iraq, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, resigned, protesting the embargo's hidden agenda. Halliday called it "genocide". . . . Imagine: what did Commander Andrew McKendrick's 30 missiles hit? How many people did they kill or maim in a population nearly half of which are children? Maybe, Commander, you targeted a palace with gold taps in the bathroom, or a "command and control facility", as the Americans and Geoffrey Hoon like to lie. Or perhaps each of your missiles had a sensory device that could distinguish George Bush's "evil-doers'' from toddlers. What is certain is that your targets did not include the Ministry of Oil. . . . One child, Ali Ismaeel Abbas, the boy who lost his parents and his arms in a missile attack, has been flown to a modern hospital in Kuwait. Publicity has saved him. Tony Blair says he will "do everything he can'' to help him. This must be the ultimate insult to the memory of all the children of Iraq who have died violently in Blair's war, and as a result of the embargo that Blair enthusiastically endorsed. The saving of Ali substitutes a media spectacle of charity for our right to knowledge of the extent of the crime committed against the young in our name. Let us now see the pictures of the "truckload of dozens of dismembered women and children'' that the Red Cross doctors saw. . . . One report says that more than 3,000 Iraqis were killed within 24 hours or less. Or are the vindicators saying that the lives of one set of human beings have less value than those recognisable to us? Devaluation of human life has always been essential to the pursuit of imperial power, from the Congo to Vietnam, from Chechnya to Iraq. . . . We must not forget that a British defence secretary has announced, for the first time, that his government is prepared to launch an attack with nuclear weapons. He echoes Bush, of course. An ascendant mafia now rules the United States, and the Prime Minister is in thrall to it. Together, they empty noble words – liberation, freedom and democracy – of their true meaning. The unspoken truth is that behind the bloody conquest of Iraq is the conquest of us all: of our minds, our humanity and our self-respect at the very least. If we say and do nothing, victory over us is assured.

posted by Lorenzo 8:51 PM

Robert Fisk: For the people on the streets, this is not liberation but a new colonial oppression
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 17 April 2003)
It's going wrong, faster than anyone could have imagined. The army of "liberation" has already turned into the army of occupation. The Shias are threatening to fight the Americans, to create their own war of "liberation". . . . The Americans have now issued a "Message to the Citizens of Baghdad", a document as colonial in spirit as it is insensitive in tone. . . . So now – with neither electricity nor running water – the millions of Iraqis here are ordered to stay in their homes from dusk to dawn. Lockdown. It's a form of imprisonment. In their own country. Written by the command of the 1st US Marine Division, it's a curfew in all but name. . . . "If I was an Iraqi and I read that," an Arab woman shouted at me, "I would become a suicide bomber." And all across Baghdad you hear the same thing, from Shia Muslim clerics to Sunni businessmen, that the Americans have come only for oil, and that soon – very soon – a guerrilla resistance must start. No doubt the Americans will claim that these attacks are "remnants" of Saddam's regime or "criminal elements". But that will not be the case. . . . Why, Iraqis are asking, did the United States allow the entire Iraqi cabinet to escape? And they're right. . . . President Bush promised that America was campaigning for human rights in Iraq, that the guilty, the war criminals, would be brought to trial. The 60 secret police headquarters in Baghdad are empty, even the three-square-mile compound headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service. . . . I have been to many of them. But there is no evidence even that a single British or US forensic officer has visited the sites to sift the wealth of documents lying there or talk to the ex-prisoners returning to their former places of torment. Is this idleness. Or is this wilful? . . . Then there's the fires that have consumed every one of the city's ministries – save, of course, for the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Oil – as well as UN offices, embassies and shopping malls. I have counted a total of 35 ministries now gutted by fire and the number goes on rising. . . . Yesterday I found myself at the Ministry of Oil, assiduously guarded by US troops, some of whom were holding clothes over their mouths because of the clouds of smoke swirling down on them from the neighbouring Ministry of Agricultural Irrigation. Hard to believe, isn't it, that they were unaware that someone was setting fire to the next building? . . . something is terribly wrong when US soldiers are ordered simply to watch vast ministries being burnt by mobs and do nothing about it. . . . Because there is also something dangerous – and deeply disturbing – about the crowds setting light to the buildings of Baghdad, including the great libraries and state archives. For they are not looters. . . . people in Baghdad don't believe Saddam's former supporters are starting these fires. And neither do I. . . . The looters make money from their rampages but the arsonists have to be paid. The passengers in those buses are clearly being directed to their targets. If Saddam had pre-paid them, they wouldn't start the fires. The moment he disappeared, they would have pocketed the money and forgotten the whole project. . . . So who are they, this army of arsonists? . . . What was he frightened of? Who was he working for? In whose interest is it to destroy the entire physical infrastructure of the state, with its cultural heritage? Why didn't the Americans stop this? . . . As I said, something is going terribly wrong in Baghdad and something is going on which demands that serious questions be asked of the United States government. Why, for example, did Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defence, claim last week that there was no widespread looting or destruction in Baghdad? His statement was a lie. But why did he make it? . . . So the people of Baghdad are asking who is behind the destruction of their cultural heritage: the looting of the archaeological treasures from the national museum; the burning of the entire Ottoman, Royal and State archives; the Koranic library; and the vast infrastructure of the nation we claim we are going to create for them. . . . Why, they ask, do they still have no electricity and no water? In whose interest is it for Iraq to be deconstructed, divided, burnt, de-historied, destroyed? Why are they issued with orders for a curfew by their so-called liberators? . . . It's easy for a reporter to predict doom, especially after a brutal war that lacked all international legitimacy. But catastrophe usually waits for optimists in the Middle East, especially for false optimists who invade oil-rich nations with ideological excuses and high-flown moral claims and accusations, such as weapons of mass destruction, which are still unproved. So I'll make an awful prediction. That America's war of "liberation" is over. Iraq's war of liberation from the Americans is about to begin. In other words, the real and frightening story starts now.

posted by Lorenzo 3:45 PM

Guerrilla News Network: S-11 Redux
So, in the face of our media's shameless propaganda campaign, we have taken it upon ourselves to intuit what the intentions and goals of this war truly are. In what is surely a departure from our traditional NewsVideo format, Guerrilla News Network presents S-11 Redux: (Channel) Surfing the Apocalypse. Culled from over 20 hours of television footage recorded over a one month period and across 13 networks, S-11 Redux is a sound-bite blitzkrieg that challenges the messages we have been fed from our mainstream media and the government it serves. Be warned - this video moves quickly and will require at least two viewings to digest its full impact. You may never be able to look at S-11 and its post-impact coverage the same way, ever again.

[Comment: The link above will take you to both broadband and lowband versions of this powerful collection of news clips ... and, yes, there are both PC and Mac versions available as well. This is really worth watching. Highly Recommended.]

posted by Lorenzo 3:29 PM


(The Memory Hole)
On 9 April 2003, the London Evening Standard's front page contained a blurry image supposedly showing a throng of Iraqis in Baghdad celebrating the toppling of Saddam Hussein. What we are really looking at is an incredibly ham-fisted attempt at photo manipulation. . . . The source of the image is footage from the BBC. The Standard's paperboys were obviously allowed to clone and blur the image in numerous ways to make it look like a gigantic crowd. This was first exposed on the UK Indymedia site. A user named Gnu posted the image below, which highlights some of the most obvious signs of fakery. . . . Naturally, The Memory Hole is incensed at this blatant lie--drastically altering a news image in order to present as reality something that never occurred. Yet at the same time we're doubled over in laughter at the sheer incompetence of this hack job. Truly, Stalin's propagandists were doing the same thing better in 1918.

[Click on the above link to see the doctored photo.]

posted by Lorenzo 10:11 AM

Friday, April 18, 2003

A History Erased
(Robert Scheer, AlterNet, April 15, 2003)
How telling that U.S. forces so carefully protected Iraq's oil fields while ignoring the looting of Baghdad's internationally renowned museum. . . . The notion that Iraq even has history – let alone that 7,000 years ago this land was the cradle of civilization – is not likely to occur to the neocolonialists running a brawny young nation barely more than 200 years old. . . . To Donald Rumsfeld, the widespread looting that has ravaged hospitals, libraries and museums in Iraq was simply further proof the U.S. invasion of this fractured Muslim country represents liberation. "Freedom's untidy," he said. "And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes." Translation: You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. . . . Eager to rebuild their country after years of misrule, will Iraqis really swallow the shameless plans of Bush insiders to privatize Iraqi oil while the administration awards billions of dollars in contracts to U.S. companies? . . . . Why have the media bought the administration's propaganda that we come to Iraq with clean hands and virgin swords to slay the dragon of Saddam Hussein, when the U.S. did so much to keep him in power? Surely, even embedded journalists recall that it was Reagan administration special envoy Rumsfeld who met with Hussein in the 1980s to guarantee U.S. support for Iraq's war with Iran. . . . . Once again, we're deep in the "nation-building" game that Bush the candidate railed against in 2000. Having blundered in, guns blazing, we should now play to win the peace, slowly backing out and inviting a true multinational rebuilding effort with support from the U.N. and Muslim countries. . . . . And for heaven's sake, can we remember in our next preemptive invasion to assign at least a few of our tanks to protect the hospitals and museums?

posted by Lorenzo 8:54 PM

Thursday, April 17, 2003

What have we really won in Iraq?
The goal of protecting the US from weapons of mass destruction somehow took a public-relations turn and morphed into a goal to free the Iraqis from a dictator and bring democracy to their nation. Whether the US finds WMD that posed any serious threat to anyone is yet to be seen. However, proof of state-sponsored terrorist groups within Iraq might be more likely. Maybe. The US has now toppled a dictator, but there are many others just as bad, such as the equally dictatorial regimes in Burma, North Korea, Cuba, China, Libya, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia. Is it our job to get all the bad guys that exist?

If our goal is now democracy in Iraq, how will it be accomplished? If possible at all, it could take five years and even that's a long shot. What if there was democracy in the region? What would free elections look like? I'm afraid Americans might not like the results. Shi'a Muslims comprise over 60 percent of the Iraqi population, which means the elected leaders might be similar to Iran's religious mullahs. Or maybe the Iraqis will elect someone more like Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. If several candidates split the votes of Shiites and Kurds, it would allow the Sunni Muslim minority to unite behind a former Baath Party official. Oh great. Democracy in the Arab world might not be pretty in the eyes of most Americans. After all, radical Islamic leaders and violent terrorists are quite popular in the region. Free elections in the Middle East might mean lots of President bin Ladens and Prime Minister Saddam Husseins.

Now that the US has set a precedent of pre-emptive strikes based of potential threats, imagine what will happen if other nations adopt Bush's kill-first, ask-questions-later policy. Nearly every nation on the planet faces a threat, real or contrived. Will nuclear-armed India launch a pre-emptive strike against its bitter rival Pakistan, or vice versa? What if belligerent North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, or an Iranian government that is reportedly close to acquiring nuclear weapons, suddenly sense a threat to their national security? What if Australia says it has the right to launch pre-emptive anti-terror strikes against other nations in the region? Oooops, too late. It already happened: Australian Prime Minister John Howard sparked outrage throughout Southeast Asia when he did exactly that. Let's hope the doctrine of pre-emptive strike doesn't pose a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein ever did. Let's hope the Iraq War's legacy doesn't include only the death of thousands of innocent people, more embittered, anti-American Arabs in search of revenge, another frustrating foray into nation-building, massive economic costs for the American people, and a framework for expanded, global war.

Over 100 coalition soldiers were killed, wounded or taken captive. An uncounted, and perhaps uncountable, number of innocent Iraqi men, women, and children were killed or maimed, and a nation of 23 million people lies in smoldering ruins as looters pick through the rubble. U.S. taxpayers will soon fork over $80 billion for a "down payment" on the war, and the ensuing occupation and reconstruction could cost hundreds of billions of dollars. An expanded war -- perhaps targeting Syria or Iran -- remains a distinct possibility.

So even as President Bush prepares to declare victory over Iraq, it seems fair to ask: What, specifically, has the United States won?

posted by Hal Dunn 10:34 AM

Robert Fisk: For the people on the streets, this is not liberation but a new colonial oppression
America's war of 'liberation' may be over. But Iraq's war of liberation from the Americans is just about to begin
The Independent - 17 April 2003
It's going wrong, faster than anyone could have imagined. The army of "liberation" has already turned into the army of occupation. The Shias are threatening to fight the Americans, to create their own war of "liberation". At night on every one of the Shia Muslim barricades in Sadr City, there are 14 men with automatic rifles. Even the US Marines in Baghdad are talking of the insults being flung at them. "Go away! Get out of my face!" an American soldier screamed at an Iraqi trying to push towards the wire surrounding an infantry unit in the capital yesterday. I watched the man's face suffuse with rage. "God is Great! God is Great!" the Iraqi retorted. "Fuck you!" The Americans have now issued a "Message to the Citizens of Baghdad", a document as colonial in spirit as it is insensitive in tone. "Please avoid leaving your homes during the night hours after evening prayers and before the call to morning prayers," it tells the people of the city. "During this time, terrorist forces associated with the former regime of Saddam Hussein, as well as various criminal elements, are known to move through the area ... please do not leave your homes during this time. During all hours, please approach Coalition military positions with extreme caution ..." So now – with neither electricity nor running water – the millions of Iraqis here are ordered to stay in their homes from dusk to dawn. Lockdown. It's a form of imprisonment. In their own country. Written by the command of the 1st US Marine Division, it's a curfew in all but name. "If I was an Iraqi and I read that," an Arab woman shouted at me, "I would become a suicide bomber." And all across Baghdad you hear the same thing, from Shia Muslim clerics to Sunni businessmen, that the Americans have come only for oil, and that soon – very soon – a guerrilla resistance must start. No doubt the Americans will claim that these attacks are "remnants" of Saddam's regime or "criminal elements". But that will not be the case.

posted by A Curmudgeon 9:06 AM

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

There is really on one source of reliable information on this war - and it's coming from Russian spies
(John Sutherland, The Guardian, April 7, 2003)
You don't factor news into your model, but intelligence. There is a surfeit of war news, but reliable intelligence is hard to come by. The canny trader in these parlous days has a first port of call - GRU (Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravleniye), the espionage arm of the Russian military. . . . GRU is the most sophisticated agency of its kind in the world. And, since Glasnost, the most transparent. GRU has thousands of agents worldwide (especially in countries such as Iraq, where Russia has traditional trade links). Intelligence has always been a top priority for Ivan. The number of agents operated by the GRU during the Soviet era was six times the number of agents operated by the KGB. . . . . Russia, superpower that it was, still has spy satellites, state-of-the-art interception technology and (unlike the CIA) men on the ground. The beauty of GRU is that it does not (like the CIA) report directly to the leadership but to the Russian ministry of defence. In its wisdom, it makes its analyses publicly available. These are digested as daily bulletins on www.iraqwar.ru. . . . . The Russians have a contrarian view on the current conflict. What was it Kissinger said about the Iran-Iraq war - "Ideally we'd like both sides to lose"? That's what the Kremlin thinks about Operation Free Iraq. . . . . From its neutral stance, GRU offers detailed, top-grade, and wholly unspun analysis. The bulletins are in Russian (bilingualism is suddenly in demand on Wall Street). You can get English translations a day later on Venik's Aviation website (www.aeronautics.ru).

posted by Lorenzo 9:44 PM

This is Only the Beginning
(Uri Avnery, Media Monitors Network)
A depressing thought: the Iraq war proves that in the year 2003 AD, the world has not essentially changed since 2003 BC. A military power can attack a weak nation, conquer its territory and plunder its resources. There is no world law, no world moral order. Might is right. . . . This is a classical colonial war. Iraq is becoming an American colony, to remain so for a long time. . . . The pretexts come from the old colonialist phrase-book. A country is conquered in order to "liberate" the natives from their cruel tyrants. Their resources are stolen, in order to raise their standard of living, give an (elementary) education to their children, keep a colonial administration that will teach them democracy.
. . . This is also a divine mission. The missionaries always come with the army, and sometimes even precede it. The cross and the canon, religion and oppression, the church and the plunder of resources go very well together. . . . The only super-power in the world has attacked a little country of 26 million people, starved for years by sanctions. A mighty and well-fed army, equipped with the most sophisticated arms the world has ever seen, confronted an army that has been largely disarmed before the fighting even started. . . . Decent hunters do not shoot at sitting ducks. But that is exactly what happened in Iraq. . . . in order to support the claim that the aim of the war was to "liberate" the Iraqi people, it was essential to show the Iraqi population welcoming the liberators with joy. Television delivered the goods. . . . Nothing easier: simply fill the frame with a hundred jumping and shouting people, in order to create the impression the a whole country is jumping and shouting. Nobody will ask: Who the hell are they? Where did they come from? Who called them together? Did they get anything in return? Aren't they, by chance, the same people who jumped and shouted a few days ago "with our soul and blood we will redeem you, Saddam?" And where are the other 5 million inhabitants of Baghdad? What do they think and feel? . . . One thing is certain: the Americans did not conquer Iraq in order to leave. They intend to remain there for a long time, even if they succeed in setting up a puppet government. They came to control the oil sources and the Arab region, and for these purposes they will stay on. . . . But even if they should wish to leave, they would not be able to do so. Without an American dictatorship taking the place of Saddam's, Iraq would fall apart. The old ethnic, religious, regional and tribal divisions would only deepen if an American-appointed puppet government were to establish "democracy". . . . The mob-rule that found its expression in the orgy of violence and looting under the auspices of the US army, including the looting of hospitals, is a bad omen indeed. (It is the height of chutzpah, when the US commanders, who have destroyed the civilian infra-structure, say that law and orders must be restored by the Iraqis themselves. Thus, millions are abandoned to anarchy.) . . . There is no nationalist Arab force able to offer a solution to the millions of young people from Casablanca to Kuwait city. No new Nasser enflames their imagination. But there is a religious Muslim force that provides comfort, answers, identity and self-respect. It also provides a weapon for removing the invaders and compelling the West to listen to Arab aspirations: terrorism. . . . Saddam never used terrorism. Nothing outside Iraq interested him, except if there was a to enlarge its territory . He was completely occupied with survival. The American pretense of having attacked Iraq in order to rout terrorism was a blatant and deliberate lie. And now, Ahmad thinks, after the last of the Arab armies has shown its impotence in the face of American might, there remains only the alternative of guerilla war and terror attacks.

posted by Lorenzo 11:32 AM

Too true to be funny
War continues in Iraq. They're calling it Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were going to call it Operation Iraqi Liberation until they realized that spells 'OIL.'
--Jay Leno

posted by Lorenzo 11:31 AM

What's behind the U.S. war on Iraq
What's driving this war is President Bush's Manichaean view of the world and messianic vision of himself, the dangerously grandiose perception of American power held by his saber-rattling advisers, and the irresistible lure of Iraq's enormous oil reserves.
--Bob Herbert

posted by Lorenzo 11:30 AM

Monday, April 14, 2003

Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut
We celebrate the dawn of hope for the Iraqi people. We are delighted by the end of any tyranny. The scenes from Iraq are heartening in their depiction of the human love of freedom. It is one of the great days in history, even if it turns out to be only a day. Caution is warranted, even as we celebrate.

Governments are the most inept of all human institutions. While we celebrate the end of Hussein and the happiness of the Iraqi people, we must also keep in mind who it is that will be trying to win the peace and bring freedom to that country—politicians and bureaucrats. Can our political leaders and government servants rise above the inherent natures of their professions, and break the historical cycle of state incompetence? It hasn't worked in Afghanistan, and even if—against the odds—it does work in Iraq, that will not mean that it will also work in Syria, Libya, or Iran—the next targets on the list....
What then are we to make of today's success in Iraq? Winning a war and toppling tyrants is not the same thing as bringing peace and freedom. War is a competition of governments versus governments. In war, a less incompetent state will usually beat a more incompetent one. This proves little in terms of government efficiency. Peace and freedom, on the other hand, present different challenges from war. A government's fall does not ensure the dawn of peace. Where uniformed soldiers of the state lay down their arms, non-uniformed fanatics or disgruntled political gangsters may pick them up to employ as guerrillas....
The prospects for freedom face even greater obstacles. Governments may sometimes secure freedom, but they more often suppress it, even ours. This is our government attempting to do something that is alien to a government's nature. Governments are not about freedom. They are about force. We cannot impose freedom on the Shia, the Sunnis, and the Kurds. These groups must grasp freedom for themselves. And if their reach exceeds their grasp, we may get the blame—no matter how much the Iraqi people are cheering America today.

Finally, we must appreciate why our government proved less incompetent than that of Iraq. Our military and our weapons were better not because Americans are inherently superior to Iraqis, but because our greater freedom has made possible the wealth and technological innovations our government has just displayed on the battlefield. Our politicians created the enemies we now fight. They inspired the terrorism they are now using as an excuse to curtail our freedom. The war we have just fought, and the wars our leaders are promising to start, impose financial costs that will retard our economy and expand our national debt. Our own freedom must inevitably suffer. A broken clock is right twice a day, and sometimes a blind squirrel finds a nut. But if our government brings true freedom to Iraq, it will be against the trend of history, and will provide scant justification for continuing to overthrow tyrants in other countries and risking our freedom at home.

posted by Hal Dunn 10:26 AM

When Civilized Nations Conduct Uncivilized Behavior
By J.J. Johnson - The Sierra Timess
The War in Iraq is being called an Anglo-American invasion. For all intents and purposes, the nations providing troops and military hardware were all founded on Christian principles. As we were taught in school from a young age, 'Christendom' went hand in hand with 'civilization' or 'civilized' people. So while U.S. Forces apparently took care not to bomb the Museum of Antiquity, someone in charge felt comfortable letting savages loot the place. Approximately 170,000 items (many priceless) were destroyed. Say what you want, but it is impossible to justify this among civilized people. Don't blow it off by blaming Saddam Hussien. He's history, remember. And during his 'evil' tenure, somehow, someway - those artifacts withstood his iron fist. You see, those historical items didn't belong to Saddam. We're talking Old Testament, beginning of human history/cradle of human civilization stuff. Our history, people. Everyone's history. The kind of stuff our people helped find and preserve. The kind of stuff we fussed at the Taliban for breaking. "[W]e didn't allow it. It happened," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on NBC News' Meet the Press Sunday. "And that's what happens when you go from a dictatorship with repressed order, police state, to something that is going to be different. There's a transition period, and no one is in control."

If we are truly doing all this to 'liberate' the Iraqi people, then for the sake of all that's civilized water & sanitation, electricity, food and medical should now be the priority over oil fields, or hunting down 'regime' figures on a deck of cards. If I were President, this isn't an issue that would be 'smirked' away on the White House lawn. I'd have someone's head for this.

posted by A Curmudgeon 6:58 AM

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Saddam statue destruction was a carefully staged Pentagon media event

The area above circled in red is where U.S. Marines, the press, and a small number of Iraqis gathered to pull down the statue of Saddam Hussein. No more that 150 people were involved. The plaza was empty and sealed off by the Marines. It all occurred just opposite the Palestine Hotel where the international media are based. This was a carefully staged media event. The pro-American Iraqis involved were members of Ahmed Chalabi's Free Iraqi Forces Militia, which was recently flown into Iraq by the Pentagon. The toppling of the statue was promoted as a massive uprising ... does this event look massive to you?

posted by Lorenzo 5:05 PM

Large traces of Iraqi, world history wiped out
(K S Dakshina Murthy, Al Jazeera, 14 April 2003)
"They have looted or destroyed 170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years...They were worth billions of dollars," she said, sobbing. . . . Twenty eight galleries of the museum and vaults with thick steel doors were ransacked through Thursday and Friday with almost no intervention by the US troops. A 4000-year-old copper visage of an Akkadian king, golden bowls, colossal statues and ancient manuscripts were all looted and destroyed. . . . The museum housed items from ancient Babylon and Nineveh, Sumerian statues, Assyrian reliefs and 5,000-year-old tablets bearing some of the earliest known writing. There were also gold and silver helmets and cups from the Ur cemetery. . . . On the eve of the invasion in March, archaeologists around the world had warned the US government it had a responsibility to ensure the safety of Iraq’s heritage, of the remnants of the Mesopotamian civilization. To no avail. . . . The museum deputy director blamed the US troops for failing to heed appeals from museum staff to protect it from looters. "The Americans were supposed to protect the museum. If they had just one tank and two soldiers nothing like this would have happened," she said. "I hold the American troops responsible for what happened to this museum."

posted by Lorenzo 4:38 PM

Anti-US protest in Baghdad
(Al Jazeera, 14 April 2003)
A noisy crowd of Iraqis gathered around Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel and raised anti-American slogans on Sunday, signaling that the popular mood in the besieged capital was fast turning against the US troops. . . . Fed up with the anarchy and looting as also the breakdown of essential services ever since the start of the war, the protestors yelled that the US troops were doing nothing to help restore normal life in the city. . . . “They are guarding oil facilities, but have not done anything as yet to restore essential services like power and water, “ alleged Ali Zuhair. Another of the protestors said that the “Americans were interested only in oil.” . . . As everyone in the crowd expressed their collective dismay over the anarchy, one university teacher said he had witnessed some US soldiers encouraging the looters to plunder a university. . . . “I saw for myself how the US troops goaded Iraqis to loot and burn the University of Technology,” claimed the professor Shakir Aziz. . . . Southern Iraq’s prestigious university has suffered terrible losses in the anarchy that followed the war. Looters over ran it and computers, air conditioning units and furniture were carried away before the mobs set large parts of the campus on fire. . . . As in Basra, many in Baghdad have begun to eye the foreign troops more as villains than “liberators.” . . . “The last few days have been worse than all my days under Saddam,” insisted Ahmed al-Khatib, an elderly resident.

posted by Lorenzo 4:33 PM

Robert Fisk: A civilisation torn to pieces
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 13 April 2003)
Baghdad, reports Robert Fisk, is a city at war with itself, at the mercy of thieves and gunmen. And, in the city's most important museum, something truly terrible has taken place . . . They lie across the floor in tens of thousands of pieces, the priceless antiquities of Iraq's history. The looters had gone from shelf to shelf, systematically pulling down the statues and pots and amphorae of the Assyrians and the Babylonians, the Sumerians, the Medes, the Persians and the Greeks and hurling them on to the concrete. . . . Our feet crunched on the wreckage of 5,000-year-old marble plinths and stone statuary and pots that had endured every siege of Baghdad, every invasion of Iraq throughout history ­ only to be destroyed when America came to "liberate" the city. . . . Not since the Taliban embarked on their orgy of destruction against the Buddhas of Bamiyan and the statues in the museum of Kabul ­ perhaps not since the Second World War or earlier ­ have so many archaeological treasures been wantonly and systematically smashed to pieces. . . . And what were the Americans doing as the new rulers of Baghdad? Why, yesterday morning they were recruiting Saddam Hussein's hated former policemen to restore law and order on their behalf. The last army to do anything like this was Mountbatten's force in South-east Asia, which employed the defeated Japanese army to control the streets of Saigon ­ with their bayonets fixed ­ after the recapture of Indo-China in 1945. . . . But "liberation" has already turned into occupation. Faced by a crowd of angry Iraqis in Firdos Square demanding a new Iraqi government "for our protection and security and peace", US Marines, who should have been providing that protection, stood shoulder to shoulder facing them, guns at the ready. . . . Baghdad is already a city at war with itself, at the mercy of gunmen and thieves. . . . There is no electricity in Baghdad ­ as there is no water and no law and no order ­ and so we stumbled in the darkness of the museum basement, tripping over toppled statues and stumbling into broken winged bulls. When I shone my torch over one far shelf, I drew in my breath. Every pot and jar ­ "3,500 BC" it said on one shelf corner ­ had been bashed to pieces. . . . Americans allow the mobs to destroy the priceless heritage of ancient Mesopotamia. And all this happened while US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, was sneering at the press for claiming that anarchy had broken out in Baghdad. . . . A glass case that had once held 40,000-year-old stone and flint objects had been smashed open. It lay empty. No one knows what happened to the Assyrian reliefs from the royal palace of Khorsabad, nor the 5,000-year-old seals nor the 4,500-year-old gold leaf earrings once buried with Sumerian princesses. . . . I contacted the civil affairs unit of the US Marines in Saadun Street and gave them the exact location of the museum and the condition of its contents. A captain told me that "we're probably going to get down there". Too late. Iraq's history had already been trashed by the looters whom the Americans unleashed on the city during their "liberation". . . . "You are American!" a woman shouted at me in English yesterday morning, wrongly assuming I was from the US. "Go back to your country. Get out of here. You are not wanted here. We hated Saddam and now we are hating Bush because he is destroying our city." It was a mercy she could not visit the Museum of Antiquity to see for herself that the very heritage of her country ­ as well as her city ­ has been destroyed.

posted by Lorenzo 4:15 PM

Liberation by murder: Baghdad falls to American invasion
(James Conachy, 10 April 2003)
What the media has chosen not to focus its lenses on are those, the vast majority, who are not cheering or applauding—the countless thousands who cannot cheer because they are either gravely wounded or dead, and the tens of thousands who have lost loved ones and are benumbed with grief. . . . It may never be known how many Iraqis were killed.... It would have to be over 10,000 uniformed Iraqis and more if you include irregulars.” Dana Dillion, a military analyst for the Heritage Foundation, commented: “It’s difficult to verify, especially when you’re dropping bombs on people and you don’t go and count the bodies. . . . At least 2,000 Iraqis were killed in clashes from April 3 to April 4 at the approaches to and within Baghdad’s international airport. The American military claims as many as 3,000 Iraqis were killed on April 5 during a three-hour assault through southwestern Baghdad by tanks from the Third Infantry Division. At least 1,000 Iraqis are believed to have been killed on April 7 during the US tank assault on the Republican presidential palace on the banks of the Tigris. . . . The casualties among Iraqi civilians have been horrific. Journalists for Arab television networks and newspapers, the British Guardian and Independent and the Washington Post have all testified that large numbers of civilians were killed and wounded by the US and British forces as they crush resistance in Baghdad, Basra and other Iraqi cities and towns. The US military, in particular, has indiscriminately bombed civilian areas and targeted civilian vehicles. . . . A dispatch filed April 8 for the Washington Post by correspondent Anthony Shadid cited a wounded man at Baghdad’s Kindi hospital, who said, “I’m a civilian. My car was attacked. They attacked my car.” Another man wounded by shrapnel in an artillery barrage during the April 5 attack on southern Baghdad stated: "We didn’t do anything to them. I was 100 percent sure they would not shoot at a civilian. Now I’m 100 percent sure they will." A man from the southern suburb of Yamama accused US forces of “firing at any car, any person.” The hospital was reportedly stacking bodies on top of one another in its morgue. . . . According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 100 civilian casualties per hour were being brought into Baghdad hospitals following the April 5 US armored assault. Morphine and other medicines were running out, staff were exhausted and operating facilities were stretched to the limit. The WHO reported amputations being performed without adequate anesthesia. . . . Outside Baghdad, similar reports of carnage have been filed. A correspondent for the Saudi Arabian-based Arab News interviewed a wounded resident of the small town of Sanawa on April 8: “One Iraqi soldier will enter a neighborhood and fire a few shots at a fighter plane, and they [the US aircraft] will respond with a barrage of shots killing as many as 50 civilians in the effort to get him.” A local resident, Sami Osama, was allegedly shot dead when he did not stop on a verbal command "given in English" by US troops. . . . On top of the loss of life inflicted on the Iraqi people, many of their cities and towns have been devastated. The power generation and communication infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged. Water and drainage mains have been ruptured, cutting off water supplies and flooding suburbs with raw sewage. Bridges, highways and hundreds of government and civilian buildings have been reduced to rubble, along with hundreds of houses and office buildings. . . . There is little doubt that large sections of Iraqi society will emerge from the invasion deeply traumatized. . . . The war against Iraq is an atrocity. The Iraqis did not welcome the American and British troops as liberators, but rather fought them for what they were—invaders seeking to impose colonial rule on the country. The response of the Bush administration and the Pentagon, with the support of the British and Australian governments, which sent troops to participate, was to order a bloodbath. . . . The world has witnessed the US utilizing its overwhelming military superiority to massacre Iraqi soldiers and civilians, lay waste to the country’s cities, and kill international journalists attempting to document its crimes. The scene of jubilant American troops in Baghdad, hoisting the stars and stripes over statues and buildings, is both ugly and tragic.

posted by Lorenzo 4:03 PM

The crudely colonial nature of this enterprise can no longer be disguised
(Seumas Milne, The Guardian, April 10, 2003)
Nor does the comparative ease with which US and British forces have bombed and blasted their way through Iraq in any way strengthen the case for their war of aggression, as some seem to have convinced themselves. Not even the smallest part of the anti-war argument rested on any illusion that a broken-backed third world regime could win a set-piece military confrontation with the most technologically advanced fighting force in history. Rather, the surprise has been the extent of the resistance and bravery of many fighters, who have confronted tanks with AK 47 rifles and died in their thousands. . . . In reality, the course of the conflict has strengthened the case against a war supposedly launched to rid Iraq of "weapons of mass destruction" - but which has now morphed into a crusade for regime change as evidence for the original pretext has so embarrassingly not materialised. . . . What cannot now be disguised, as US marines swagger around the Iraqi capital swathing toppled statues of Saddam Hussein with the stars and stripes and declaring "we own Baghdad", is the crudely colonial nature of this enterprise. Any day now, the pro-Israeli retired US general Jay Garner is due to take over the running of Iraq, with plans to replace the Iraqi dinar with the dollar, parcel out contracts to US companies and set the free market parameters for the future "interim Iraqi administration". . . . The wider global impact of this war was spelled out by North Korea's foreign ministry this week. "The Iraqi war shows," it declared, with unerring logic, "that to allow disarmament through inspections does not help avert a war, but rather sparks it", concluding that "only a tremendous military deterrent force" can prevent attacks on states the US dislikes. . . . The risk must now be that we will all pay bitterly for the reckless arrogance of the US and British governments.

posted by Lorenzo 4:02 PM

The Bloodlust of Christopher Hitchens
This will be no war -- there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention. The president will give an order. It will be rapid, accurate and dazzling ... It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on.
--Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair, JAN 28, 2003

posted by Lorenzo 4:02 PM

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Let America Be America the Liberator Again!
By Stephen Schwartz - FrontPageMagazine.com | April 11, 2003
Iraq is free. The dictatorship has fallen. The process that began with the end of Marcos, the fall of the Berlin wall, and other democratic victories has reached the last redoubt of tyrant and terror. The time has now come to address the overall nature of the American mission in liberating the Arab and Muslim countries. Let me be clear: I do not think victory in Iraq means we must wage war on Iran and Saudi Arabia. Rather, I believe democratization in Iraq will provide a powerful incentive to the consolidation of democracy in Iran and the commencement of a transition to a new social order in Arabia. The ideology known as Khomeinism is in full decline. The people of Iran, overwhelmingly young and forward-looking, supported by important Shi’a Muslim clerics, wish to end the period of religious rule that Khomeini initiated. The reformist clerics put it well: the experiment failed, and it is now time to craft a new political system in Iran that will separate religion from the state, and which will be based on popular sovereignty. But the menace of Saudi-backed Wahhabism remains. Al-Qaida represents Wahhabism in its purest form. Wahhabism, the official sect in Saudi Arabia, is a fundamentalist, violent movement that rejects all existing Islam as unbelief – especially Islamic spirituality – as well as seeking the ultimate destruction of Shi’a Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism. Wahhabism is not an old Islamic tradition, and the House of Sa’ud, contrary to Western beliefs, does not enjoy a major historic claim to rulership over Arabia.

...After that came the oil, and the oil money, and with what seemed to be limitless resources, the Wahhabi-Saudi alliance began, in the late 1970s, a serious attempt to take over world Islam. The result was a series of conflicts in Afghanistan and elsewhere, that culminated in the emergence of al-Qaida, and, finally, the horrific events of September 11th. Today, as it did before September 11th, the Wahhabi religious bureaucracy and the Saudi state foster Islamic extremist ideology, and the terrorism enabled by it. When bombs go off in Israel, in Indonesia, in Kenya, and elsewhere, and when terrorists strike at the democratic coalition forces in Iraq, the main source of money is, without exception, found in Saudi Arabia.

****Intersting read - amazing that the American government chooses to ignore the history of the Saudi state and the suspicion of their involvement in 9/11...*****

posted by A Curmudgeon 11:19 AM

Thursday, April 10, 2003

War Profiteers
by Rep. Ron Paul, MD - LewRockwell.com - April 9, 2003
The president asked Congress last week to authorize new funding for the war in Iraq, which was not paid for in the wasteful budget recently passed in the House of Representatives. You might assume that Congress would simply approve legislation that pays for military supplies and hardware, troop wages, ammunition, fuel, food, and the like. In other words, the bread and butter items that our troops need to prosecute the war in Iraq. But nothing is simple in Washington. Congress could not resist the opportunity to put its hands in taxpayers' pockets by adding 20 billion dollars in completely unrelated spending to the final bill. In essence, Congress is so addicted to spending that it will use any opportunity, even a war, to spend money for every conceivable reason – however unrelated to the war in Iraq. We must understand that America is in a financial crisis. Tax revenues are down due to the faltering economy, but congressional spending has exploded by more than 22% in just two years. As a result, annual deficits have risen rapidly, and the national debt now approaches 6.5 trillion dollars. Almost all of this new spending has been completely unrelated to homeland defense or national security concerns. The same old failed domestic agencies and special-interest pork programs have received the bulk of the dollars. While Congress should fund constitutional federal functions like national defense, our very solvency as a nation is being threatened by unconstitutional spending. Here are some examples of what ended up in the "war funding" bill:

- $3.2 billion for an airline bailout – even though the airlines always seem to be troubled and always feel they deserve tax money. If we bail out the airlines, why not the hotels, restaurants, and rental car agencies that have been affected by 9-11 and the war in Iraq? Why not every industry that's suffering?;
- $125 million for congressional security, to make sure members are safe even if the country is not;
- $11 million for salaries and expenses for the House of Representatives, who already approved a pay raise for themselves last fall;
- $250 million for Department of Agriculture grants;
- $69 million for something called the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust;
- $5.5 million for the Library of Congress;
- $6.8 million for the Congressional Research Service and General Accounting Office;
- $100,000 for the U.S. Court of International Trade.
The bill also includes $8 billion in foreign aid, which is especially egregious given the state of the American economy. How can we ask taxpayers to send billions abroad with things so tough for many here at home? The $8 billion includes:
- $1 billion in "economic assistance" for Turkey, even though they refused to let America use its bases to stage our assault on Iraq and have only grudgingly allowed use of its airspace;
- $700 million for Jordan;
- $500 million for Egypt;
- $127 million for Afghanistan;
- $1 billion in for Israel;
- $175 million for Pakistan;
- $170 million to train the "Afghan National Army";
- $406 million for Jordan;
And the list goes on and on. All of this is of course in addition to the standard foreign aid we send these nations and many others every year. These are just some examples of how Congress takes every possible opportunity to spend your money, even when it should be focused on the war in Iraq. Was it really too much to ask for a clean bill to fund the president's request, a bill unencumbered by pork handouts and useless foreign aid? Apparently not even war can prevent Congress from shamelessly sticking its hands in your pockets while cloaking itself in "support the troops' rhetoric. Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

posted by A Curmudgeon 8:41 AM

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Killing the few to liberate the many is a line most Iraqis reject
(Iason Athanasiadis, Al-Jazeera, 9 April 2003)
The killing of at least seven Iraqi civilians, all women and children, at a US checkpoint has prompted renewed speculation that the Anglo-American forces are losing the battle for ‘hearts and minds’ in Iraq . . . The victims, women and children, were shot dead by US troops at a roadblock on Monday, in what appears to be the first case of killed Iraqi civilians going uncontested by the Pentagon. . . . US authorities backtracked fast Tuesday after making initial statements that laid them open to charges of insensitivity in which they blamed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s government for the killings. . . . The US media sounded warning bells Tuesday as it warned of the impact the killing by US troops of civilians will have on public opinion in Iraq and the Middle East. . . . "Even if accidental, such events, like the deaths of civilians in Baghdad attributed to errant US bombs, can incur large political costs both in and outside Iraq," the Washington Post said. . . . The New York Times concurred, stating that, ".... billions around the globe are seeing and hearing reports that women and children were gunned down yesterday while riding in a civilian van at an American checkpoint. . . . And US promises of an investigation "will mean very little in the Arab world, particularly if such scenes become routine. If that happens, the political war for Iraq could be lost even before the military one is won, said the Times. . . . The incident may be a sign of things to come, as an unsteady coalition struggles to control a resentful local population. . . . This has left US and British soldiers on the ground grappling with the difficulty of trying to build bridges with a rattled local population even as they continue to fight elements of that same population which oppose them militarily. . . . In Baghdad, suffering under one of the fiercest aerial bombardments of modern times, reports are emerging that a blitz-like spirit of resistance is developing among people. The consensus among people there is that the current conflict is mostly about occupying Iraq rather than its much-publicised liberation. . . . But budding resentment at what is perceived as a hostile, invading force is not just limited to Iraqi civilians but to significant majorities throughout the Arab world’s populations and elites. . . . In a sharp interview to an Austrian daily on Tuesday, President Assad pointed out that the current campaign in Iraq "will cause trouble around the entire world, not only here. And it will ruin their own interests, both economic and other," he said in reference to the US. . . . Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has also expressed concerns that the war in Iraq would spiral out of control. Following a graphic warning last September from Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa where he predicted that war in Iraq would ‘open the gates of hell in the region,’ Mubarak announced on Monday that “If there is one [Osama] bin Laden today, there will be 100 Bin Ladens after this war.”

posted by Lorenzo 12:03 PM

Are Christian evangelists eyeing Iraq?
(Ruben Banerjee, Al-Jazeera, 9 April 2003)
In its war against Iraq, the United States-led axis has purportedly been aiming to win over the “hearts and minds” of the Iraqi people. . . . But some US-based Christian evangelists are readying themselves to take it a step further. . . . Dedicated workers of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Samaritan’s Purse — two of the biggest evangelical Christian missions in the US — are reportedly waiting on the Jordanian border for the signal to enter the battle-scarred country. . . . The missionaries say that they plan to address the physical and spiritual needs of the Iraqi population. . . . But attempts to preach Christianity in Iraq where Muslims constitute 98 per cent of the population has set off alarm bells. . . . Even the Bush Administration is cleverly distancing itself from the missionary plans, lest they make the war against Iraq seem like the crusade against Islam many Muslims already believe it is. . . . “It is not the White House responsibility to determine which groups provide aid,” explained Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman at a press-briefing on Friday. . . . Rev.Franklin Graham [son of Billy Graham!] of the Samaritan’s Purse had particularly courted controversy with his inflammatory remarks against Islam in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center. . . . In an interview to an American television channel, Rev.Graham called Islam “a very evil and wicked religion.” . . . But notwithstanding their strong views against Islam, both the organisations enjoy strong links with the US President. While the Southern Baptists are among the most loyal of Bush’s political constituents, Rev Graham led a prayer at the President’s inauguration.

posted by Lorenzo 11:56 AM

Anarchy amid the euphoria
(K S Dakshina Murthy, Al Jazeera, 9 April 2003)
The jubilation, looting and lawlessness that has filled the vacuum caused by the collapse of the Saddam Hussein government looks like an early indication of what lies ahead for Iraq. . . . In Basra where 'control' was proclaimed earlier in the week, a contingent came came upon a mob in the process of stoning a man to death. . . . They were beating him with sticks, punching him," a soldier said. "They shouted he broke into our friend's shop'. . . . The looting of banks, hotels and other official or semi-official buildings is going on unabated, while residents have resorted to vigilante justice against looters who target private houses or shops. One estimate says there may have been "about a dozen" lynchings of thieves in Basra since its capture. . . . The invading troops had been instructed to “win over local people”. At the same time, they had to maintain a semblance of law. As it turns out, they just watched as people let out their steam by taking the opportunity to loot and where possible wreaking revenge on loyalists of the previous government. . . . The military will continue to have a sizeable presence under Gen. Tommy Franks and will maintain order until an interim Iraqi government can be set up. . . . But nothing much beyond this has been finalised. . . . In the meantime, the law of the jungle prevails. As a middle-aged former policeman in Basra says, “ No authority now. No law now. No anything. Thieves everywhere. Everyone is afraid, because no safety. If there is no authority, there will be revolution."

posted by Lorenzo 11:41 AM

Dead Al Jazeera correspondent deliberately targeted
(Al-Jazeera, 9 April 2003)
Colleagues of the Al-Jazeera correspondent killed on Tuesday when two US missiles struck the Baghdad offices of the Qatar-based channel have said they believe they were deliberately targeted. . . . " I will not be objective about this because we have been dragged into this conflict," said Tayseer Alouni. "We were targeted because the Americans don't want the world to see the crimes they are committing against the Iraqi people." . . . Another cameraman, Zuheir Iraqi, was slightly hurt in his neck by shrapnel. . . . They were both standing on the roof getting ready for a live broadcast amid intensifying bombardment of the city when the building was hit by two missiles, according to Tayseer Allouni, another Al Jazeera correspondent. . . . Shortly afterwards, US warplanes returned to hit the neighbouring Abu Dhabi TV offices. . . . Another of Jazeera's Baghdad correspondents Majed Abdel Hadi called the US missile strike and Ayoub's death a "crime". . . . “I knew Tariq for 10 years,” said Yasser Abu Hilalah, Al Jazeera correspondent in Amman. “He was very brave, professional and a hard worker,” he added. “Al-Jazeera office is located in a residential area and there is no way that the attack was a mistake.” . . . Earlier, Abdel-Hadi told our presenter that the Al-Jazeera office was “deliberately targeted… and it is not the first time. Our Kabul office was hit by four (US) missiles,” he said. US warplanes hit the Afghanistan office of Al-Jazeera in 2001, just 10 minutes after its correspondents had received warning of an impending attack. . . . Last week, the hotel where Al-Jazeera correspondents in the southern Iraqi city of Basra were staying was also hit by four bombs that did not explode. . . . This proves that the US is trying to cover the crimes it commits in its war on Iraq. Targeting witnesses is the biggest crime,” said Abdel-Hadi. . . . Two more journalists died and four others were injured when a US tank round later hit the Palestine Hotel where at least 200 international correspondents, including Al-Jazeera reporters, are staying. . . . A Reuters journalist, Taras Protsyuk, 35, a Ukrainian national, who was married with an eight-year-old son, was among the dead. . . . "Taras's death, and the injuries sustained by the others, were so unnecessary," said Reuters' editor in chief Geert Linnebank. . . . He called into question the "judgement of advancing US troops who have known all along that this hotel is the main base for almost all foreign journalists in Baghdad." . . . BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar cast doubt on the US line saying he heard no gunfire from the hotel prior to it being hit.

posted by Lorenzo 11:36 AM

Gulf War Syndrome II - U.S. Troops Already Getting Sick, Bush Cuts Benefits Anyway
(Steve Rosenfield, TomPaine.com, April 9, 2003)
Soldiers now fighting in Iraq are being exposed to battlefield hazards that have been associated with the 'Gulf War Syndrome' that afflicts a quarter-million veterans of the 1991 war, said a former Central Command Army officer in Operation Desert Storm. . . . Part of the threat today includes greater exposure to battlefield byproducts of 'depleted uranium' munitions used in combat . . . Their concern comes as troops are engaged in the most intensive fighting of the Iraq War. . . . "People are sick over there already," said Dr. Doug Rokke, former director of the Army's depleted uranium (DU)project. "It's not just uranium. You've got all the complex organics and inorganics [compounds] that are released in those fires and detonations. And they're sucking this in.... You've got the whole toxic wasteland." . . . Rokke said today's troops have been fighting on land polluted with chemical, biological and radioactive weapon residue from the first Gulf War and its aftermath. In this setting, troops have been exposed not only to sandstorms, which degrade the lungs, but to oil fires and waste created by the use of uranium projectiles in tanks, aircraft, machine guns and missiles. . . . "That's why people started getting sick right away, when they started going in months ago with respiratory, diarrhea and rashes – horrible skin conditions," Rokke said. "That's coming back on and they have been treating them at various medical facilities. And one of the doctors at one of the major Army medical facilities – he and I talk almost every day – and he is madder than hell." . . . What Rokke and other outspoken Desert Storm veterans fear is today's troops are being exposed to many of the same battlefield conditions that they believe are responsible for 'Gulf War Syndrome.' These illnesses have left 221,000 veterans on medical disability and another 51,000 seeking that status from the Veterans Administration as of May 2002. . . . When Rokke sees images of soldiers and civilians driving past burning Iraqi trucks that have been destroyed by tank fire, or soldiers or civilians inspecting buildings destroyed by missiles, and these people are not wearing respirators, he says they all risk radiation poisoning, which can have lifelong consequences. . . . Meanwhile, in political circles, the White House has dismissed DU issues.

posted by Lorenzo 10:49 AM

On to Damascus?
By Patrick J. Buchanan - © 2003 Creators Syndicate, Inc. - April 9, 2003
Tony Blair has assured his countrymen the United States does not intend to attack Syria or Iran. Colin Powell has assured the Muslim world the United States does not intend to attack Syria or Iran. But did the British prime minister or U.S. secretary of state clear their statements with Richard Perle? For the War Party has blood in its nostrils and is headed for Damascus. Speaking at UCLA, for Americans for Victory over Terrorism, a War Party front, ex-CIA Director James Woolsey declared that this war is about far more than the liberation of Iraq. We are fighting "World War IV," said Woolsey, "a war that will last longer than World Wars I or II." Our enemies are not just al-Qaida, but the religious rulers of Iran and the "fascists" of Iraq and Syria. "As we move toward a new Middle East," Woolsey added, "we will make a lot of people very nervous." Who, exactly? Egypt and Saudi Arabia. "We want you nervous," said Woolsey to these two erstwhile allies. "We want you to realize that now, for the fourth time in 100 years, this country and its allies are on the march and that we are on the side of those whom you – the Mubaraks, the Saudi Royal family – most fear. We're on the side of your own people." "World War IV" is a term popularized by militant Zionist Norman Podhoretz, who has been shrieking for war on no fewer than six or seven Arab countries. But why should anyone care what Woolsey says? Because James Woolsey is slated for a position of power in the U.S. reconstruction of Iraq. Moreover, Woolsey echoes John Bolton at State and Israel's Ariel Sharon, who has also been howling for the United States to take down Iran and Syria, as soon as Baghdad falls. This is the neocons' hour of power, and they do not intend to lose this chance to remake the Middle East in their own image. Indeed, before the battle of Baghdad had even begun, the battle over who will rule Iraq was underway.

posted by A Curmudgeon 10:28 AM

Republicans Want Terror Law Made Permanent
WASHINGTON, April 8 - Working with the Bush administration, Congressional Republicans are maneuvering to make permanent the sweeping antiterrorism powers granted to federal law enforcement agents after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, officials said today.

The move is likely to touch off strong objections from many Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress who believe that the Patriot Act, as the legislation that grew out of the attacks is known, has already given the government too much power to spy on Americans.

When it passed in October 2001, moderates and civil libertarians in Congress agreed to support it only by making many critical provisions temporary. Those provisions will expire, or "sunset," at the end of 2005 unless Congress re-authorizes them..

The landmark legislation expanded the government's power to use eavesdropping, surveillance, access to financial and computer records and other tools to track terrorist suspects.

When it passed in October 2001, moderates and civil libertarians in Congress agreed to support it only by making many critical provisions temporary. Those provisions will expire, or "sunset," at the end of 2005 unless Congress re-authorizes them.

But Republicans in the Senate in recent days have discussed a proposal, written by Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, that would repeal the sunset provisions and make the law's new powers permanent, officials said. Republicans may seek to move on the proposal this week by trying to attaching it to another antiterrorism bill that would make it easier for the government to use secret surveillance warrants against "lone wolf" terrorism suspects.

Many Democrats have grown increasingly frustrated by what they see as a lack of information from the Justice Department on how its agents are using their newfound powers, and they say they need more time to determine whether agents are abusing those powers.

posted by Paul West 10:10 AM

Killing a child: 'I did what I had to do'
Reuters - The Sydney Morning Herald - April 8 2003, 12:49 PM
When a young Iraqi boy stooped to pick up a rocket propelled grenade off the body of a dead paramilitary, US Army Private Nick Boggs made his decision. He unloaded machinegun fire and the boy, whom he puts at about 10 years old, fell dead on a garbage-strewn stretch of waste land at Karbala. Boggs, a softly spoken 21-year-old former hunting guide from Alaska, says he knew when he joined the army 18 months ago he might someday have to make a decision like that. He hoped it would never come and, although he has no regrets about opening fire, it is clear he'd rather it wasn't a child he killed. "I did what I had to do. I don't have a big problem with it but anyone who shoots a little kid has to feel something," he said after fierce weekend fighting in this Shi'ite Muslim holy city that left dozens of Iraqis and one American soldier dead. As US troops take the Iraq war out of the desert and into the main cities, they are increasingly seeing children in their line of fire. Many are innocent civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time and military officers concede that some may have been killed in artillery or mortar fire, or shot down by soldiers whose judgment is impaired in the "fog of war". But others are apparently being used as fighters or more often as scouts and weapons collectors. US officers and soldiers say that turns them into legitimate targets. "I think they're cowards," Boggs said of the parents or Fedayeen paramilitaries who send out children to the battlefield. "I think they thought we wouldn't shoot kids. But we showed them we don't care. We are going to do what we have to do to stay alive and keep ourselves safe." The boy he killed was with another child of around the same age when they reached for the RPG and came under fire. Boggs thinks the second boy was also hit but other soldiers think he escaped and that he dragged his friend's dead body away. Boggs' platoon leader, Lieutenant Jason Davis, said the young soldier struggles with what happened even if he had no choice but to shoot. "Does it haunt him? Absolutely. It haunts me and I didn't even pull the trigger," he said. "It blows my mind that they can put their children into that kind of situation." Although Boggs plays down suggestions he was upset by the incident, he also says his view of combat has changed since Saturday, when his platoon came under intense RPG and rifle fire from the moment they entered Karbala until way after nightfall. Before - like many young soldiers - he says he was anxious to get his first "kill" in a war. Now, he seems more mature. "It's not about killing people. It's about accomplishing a mission ... When we talk, we don't say how scared we were. But we found out how you feel when an RPG hits the wall just up from you and you think 'Damn, I could have been right there'," he said.

posted by A Curmudgeon 9:40 AM

Iraq is a trial run - Chomsky interviewed by Frontline
by Noam Chomsky and VK Ramachandran; Frontline India; April 02, 2003
Noam Chomsky , University Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founder of the modern science of linguistics and political activist, is a powerhouse of anti-imperialist activism in the United States today. On March 21, a crowded and typical - and uniquely Chomskyan - day of political protest and scientific academic research, he spoke from his office for half an hour to V. K. Ramachandran on the current attack on Iraq.

V. K. Ramachandran :Does the present aggression on Iraq represent a continuation of United States' international policy in recent years or a qualitatively new stage in that policy?

Noam Chomsky : It represents a significantly new phase. It is not without precedent, but significantly new nevertheless. This should be seen as a trial run. Iraq is seen as an extremely easy and totally defenceless target. It is assumed, probably correctly, that the society will collapse, that the soldiers will go in and that the U.S. will be in control, and will establish the regime of its choice and military bases. They will then go on to the harder cases that will follow. The next case could be the Andean region, it could be Iran, it could be others. The trial run is to try and establish what the U.S. calls a "new norm" in international relations. The new norm is "preventive war" (notice that new norms are established only by the United States). So, for example, when India invaded East Pakistan to terminate horrendous massacres, it did not establish a new norm of humanitarian intervention, because India is the wrong country, and besides, the U.S. was strenuously opposed to that action. This is not pre-emptive war; there is a crucial difference. Pre-emptive war has a meaning, it means that, for example, if planes are flying across the Atlantic to bomb the United States, the United States is permitted to shoot them down even before they bomb and may be permitted to attack the air bases from which they came. Pre-emptive war is a response to ongoing or imminent attack.

posted by A Curmudgeon 9:30 AM

Have Iraqi leaders made their way to Syria?
This question brings into focus a large 1,600-room luxury resort with a private sandy beach in the Mediterranean coastal town of Latakiya (also spelled "Latakia") called Cote d'Azur De Cham Resort, prepaid and chartered in toto by Baghdad. People living there may include Hussein or his sons, but this is not confirmed, says News24 quoting DEBKA military sources in Jerusalem. Top Iraqi officials are reported to have been hiding there since March 23, four days after the US-led coalition invaded Iraq. They are guarded by a Syrian commando unit armed with anti-air missiles while Syrian naval missile boats secure the port. DEBKA sources also report that the Iraqi troops sent to reinforce Baghdad's international airport are members of the Iraqi 26th Brigade's special commando unit, whose sole task is to defend the lives of Hussein and immediate family members. These commandos take orders from no one but the Iraqi ruler and his sons, who are unlikely to have stripped themselves of this protection if they were still present in the capital.

Two weeks after the Gulf war started, the Saddam regime looked to be in bad shape. Its primary military props, Special Republic Guards divisions, Fedayeen suicide squads and Iraqi intelligence's special commando units were clearly losing their grip. Iraqi elite units were letting key positions drop into the hands of the coalition forces already dangerously close to Baghdad, The SRG, Baghdad Division, did nothing to stop allied forces crossing the Tigris bridges from west to east although it was their job to blow them up and prevent the allied advance. Available information suggests that Saddam Hussein and his sons departed Baghdad some days ago. But "where, how and why" are the unanswered question.

Sify News: Saddam hiding in a Mediterranean resort?

News24: Saddam 'may have quit Iraq'

DEBKAfile: Is Saddam in Syria?

posted by Hal Dunn 9:18 AM

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Police Attack Calif. Anti-War Protesters
OAKLAND, Calif. - Police opened fire with non-lethal projectiles at an anti-war protest at the Port of Oakland on Monday, injuring at least a dozen demonstrators and six longshoremen standing nearby.

Most of the 500 demonstrators were dispersed peacefully, but police shot the projectiles at two gates when protesters refused to move and some of them allegedly threw rocks and bolts. The longshoremen, pinned against a fence, were caught in the line of fire.

Police spokeswoman Danielle Ashford said officers fired bean-bag rounds and wooden dowels. They also used "sting balls," which send out a spray of BB-sized rubber pellets and a cloud of tear gas and feel like a bee sting when they hit someone.

Demonstrators said they targeted the port because at least one company there is handling war supplies. They said it was the first time they had been fired upon in Bay area protests since the Iraq war began last month.

"Oakland police are being the most aggressive of any department I've seen in the Bay area since the war began," said protester Damien McAnany, a database manager. "The San Francisco Police Department never used any of this stuff against us."

About 200 of the port demonstrators later marched to the federal building in Oakland, blocking a street and chanting: "Out of the office and into the streets! U.S. out of the Middle East!" They were joined by Oakland City Council members Jane Bruner and Jean Quan.

"They should not have been using the wooden bullets," Bruner said. "Given what's happening in the world today, we're going to be seeing more of this. And we should be prepared to handle it."

Oakland Police said at least 31 people were arrested.

posted by Paul West 5:33 PM

Bush Regime Guilty of War Crimes
“The United States is now embarrassed because it could not confirm the presence of WMD in Iraq,” said Dr. Hassan Krayyim, a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. . . . Shortly after US troops entered the Iraqi capital, they were ordered to take off their NBC suits. . . . Krayyim ruled out the possibility that Iraq would use WMD even if it possesses such weapons. “Iraq does not have a political interest in that because the Iraqi government wants to quash the justification which the US used for waging its war,” he said. . . . In the meantime, US President George Bush has authorised the use of tear gas in Iraq, which could be a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention that states that “each state party undertakes not to use riot control agents as a method of warfare.” . . . The use of cluster bombs drew criticism from human rights organizations against the US. “Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the high toll of civilian casualties and the use of cluster bombs in US military attacks in heavily populated areas,” AI said in a statement on April 2. . . . On April 1, at least 33 civilians including many children, were reportedly killed and around 300 injured in US attacks on the town of al-Hilla. . . . "The use of cluster bombs in an attack on a civilian area of al-Hilla constitutes an indiscriminate attack and a grave violation of international humanitarian law," the leading human rights organization stated.

posted by Lorenzo 3:35 PM

U.S. Troops Murder Al Jazeera Reporter
Al-Jazeera correspondent Tariq Ayoub was killed on Tuesday when two US missiles struck the Baghdad offices of the Qatar-based channel. . . . Two more journalists died and four others were injured when a US tank round later hit the Palestine Hotel where at least 200 international correspondents, including Al-Jazeera reporters, are staying. . . . They were both standing on the roof getting ready for a live broadcast amid intensifying bombardment of the city when the building was hit by two missiles . . . "I will not be objective about this because we have been dragged into this conflict," he said, visibly upset. "We were targeted because the Americans don't want the world to see the crimes they are committing against the Iraqi people." . . . Ayoub, aged 35, was married with one daughter. He travelled to Baghdad only five days ago to join the Al-Jazeera team from the channel's Amman office where he had worked as a financial correspondent for three years. Originally from Palestine, he had also worked for the Jordan Times and the international news agency Associated Press. . . . “Al-Jazeera team has no role in the war. We are only witnesses and are reporting objectively. This proves that the US is trying to cover the crimes it commits in its war on Iraq. Targeting witnesses is the biggest crime,” said Abdel-Hadi. . . . The European Union said after the incident that it would call on the US to keep journalists out of the firing line. . . . A Reuters journalist, Taras Protsyuk, 35, a Ukrainian national, who who was married with an eight-year-old son, died today after his hotel was struck by a US tank round. . . . He called into question the "judgement of advancing US troops who have known all along that this hotel is the main base for almost all foreign journalists in Baghdad."

posted by Lorenzo 3:31 PM

Monday, April 07, 2003

Red Cross: Iraq Wounded Too High to Count
Associated Press GENEVA - The number of casualties in Baghdad is so high that hospitals have stopped counting the number of people treated, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday.

"No one is able to keep accurate statistics of the admitted and transferred war wounded any longer as one emergency arrival follows the other in the hospitals of Baghdad," the ICRC said in a statement.

"Ambulances are picking up the wounded and running them to the triage areas and on to hospitals," it said. "Some of the wounded try to reach the nearest hospitals by foot."

The neutral Swiss-run organization — the main aid agency left in Iraq -gave no estimates on the number of deaths and did not confirm U.S. Central Command estimates that between 2,000 and 3,000 Iraqi fighters were killed in Saturday's foray into Baghdad by American armored vehicles.

posted by Paul West 9:49 PM

Does the West understand how this hated war is altering the Arab world?
By Fergal Keane - The Independent - 29 March 2003
Al-Jazeera has changed everything ? the agenda is no longer dominated by Western news outlets or state-controlled media
This is the incoherent account of an incoherent week. It started in Ruwayshid, in Jordan, near the Iraqi border. It continued amid the hundreds of reporters imprisoned in the luxury hotels of Amman and ended up here in Cairo. I've just come from a huge demonstration against the war. It took place after Friday prayers at the Al-Azhar mosque. So the voices of my week have a competing music: the anger of the Arab street and the whingeing of the correspondents forced to follow the war on cable television. If there is a pattern, it is one familiar to all who report on war and its consequences. Long, long periods of tedium and waiting, interspersed with short bursts of frantic activity. So regard the following as the snapshots of life on the war's edge. We are close to it but we do not feel the bombs trembling the ground or the cries of the wounded. It is a strange feeling. I sense that all around me a new history is being written, wrenched from the hearts of people across this region. But try to capture it on film and you falter. Yes there are the crowds with their banners, the cries of "Death to America" and "Down with Bush and Blair". But the story we cannot reach is happening as a kind of internal, very personal revolution. I caught a glimpse of it at the Abu Sayef café in Ruwayshid. It was the first night of Donald Rumsfeld's "shock and awe". Baghdad was being bombed and Al-Jazeera was carrying the spectacle live.

Paul Wolfowitz and Mr Rumsfeld imagine an Arab world remade in the image of the West. With the voices of the street still ringing in my ears, I would suggest the new Arab world may be anything but friendly to their vision. Far from it.

posted by A Curmudgeon 8:39 AM

Shock and Awe thru the camera lens...

Stuff you WILL NOT see on the evening broadcast from the government's Information Ministry (formerly known as the free press)...

posted by A Curmudgeon 7:29 AM

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Red Cross horrified by number of dead civilians
(CTV.ca, April 3, 2003)
Red Cross doctors who visited southern Iraq this week saw "incredible" levels of civilian casualties including a truckload of dismembered women and children, a spokesman said Thursday from Baghdad. . . . "We saw that a truck was delivering dozens of totally dismembered dead bodies of women and children. It was an awful sight. It was really very difficult to believe this was happening." . . . Huguenin said the dead and injured in Hilla came from the village of Nasiriyah, where there has been heavy fighting between American troops and Iraqi soldiers, and appeared to be the result of "bombs, projectiles." . . . "In the case of Hilla, everybody had very serious wounds and many, many of them small kids and women. We had small toddlers of two or three years of age who had lost their legs, their arms. We have called this a horror." At least 400 people were taken to the Hilla hospital over a period of two days, he said -- far beyond its capacity. . . . Red Cross staff are also concerned about what may be happening in other smaller centres south of Baghdad. . . . The Red Cross expects the humanitarian crisis in Iraq to grow and is calling for donations to help cope.

posted by Lorenzo 2:05 PM

Puzzling Questions Arise from Bush's Campaign of Fear by Ralph Nader
commondreams.org - With the chicken hawk-driven war on Iraq in high gear, Bush and Cheney have learned that the best way to silence the Democratic Party, distract from their miserable domestic outrages and provide the corporate and rich classes with favors is to envelop our nation in fear. Using false or distorted statements, contrary to the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies, to exaggerate Iraqi threats, weapons and terrorist (al-Qaeda) connections as reasons for the war, their invasion and prolonged occupation may produce greater risks of stateless terrorism in the U.S. Last fall, the CIA informed Congress of just this higher probability resulting from an Iraqi invasion. Watching reports describing our draft-dodging President as totally immersed in the scope and details of his Iraqi invasion, a number of puzzling questions arise:

posted by Paul West 8:24 AM

Civilian Casualties 'Horrifying'; Truck Delivered Dismembered Women, Children
commondreams.org (Canadian Press) OTTAWA - Red Cross doctors who visited southern Iraq this week saw "incredible" levels of civilian casualties including a truckload of dismembered women and children, a spokesman said yesterday from Baghdad.

Roland Huguenin, one of six International Red Cross workers in the Iraqi capital, said doctors were horrified by the casualties they found in the hospital in Hilla, about 160 kilometres south of Baghdad.

"There has been an incredible number of casualties with very, very serious wounds in the region of Hilla," Huguenin said in a interview by satellite telephone.

"We saw that a truck was delivering dozens of totally dismembered dead bodies of women and children. It was an awful sight. It was really very difficult to believe this was happening."

posted by Paul West 8:14 AM

Bill in Oregon Seeks to Jail War Protesters as Terrorists
commondreams.org (Reuters) PORTLAND, Oregon - PORTLAND, Oregon -- An Oregon antiterrorism bill would jail street-blocking protesters for at least 25 years in what critics consider a thinly veiled effort to discourage antiwar demonstrations.

The bill has met strong opposition, but lawmakers expect a debate on the definition of terrorism and the value of free speech before a vote by the state Senate judiciary committee, whose chairman, Republican John Minnis, wrote the proposal.

Senate Bill 742 identifies a terrorist as a person who ''plans or participates in an act that is intended, by at least one of its participants, to disrupt'' business, transportation, schools, government, or free assembly.

The bill's few public supporters say police need stronger laws to break up protests that have created havoc in cities like Portland, where thousands of people have marched and demonstrated against war in Iraq since last fall.

''We need some additional tools to control protests that shut down the city,'' said Lars Larson, a conservative radio talk-show host who has stumped for the bill.

posted by Paul West 8:10 AM

King's Legacy: Americans Must Choose Between War and Social Progress
commondreams.org - Thirty-five years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.

Exactly one year before, on April 4, 1967, he had made one of the most fateful speeches of his life, denouncing the Vietnam War and calling on young men to resist the draft.

". . . I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitating its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube," he said.

"So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such."

These words proved to be prophetic. But as true as they were then, they are many times truer today. While George W. Bush was requesting $75 billion from Congress as a first installment for the war in Iraq, state governments were slashing billions from education and health care spending for the poor.

No one knows how much this war and subsequent occupation of Iraq will cost. Estimates of just the budgetary costs run into the hundreds of billions over the next few years. If we take into account the damage to our already fragile economy, it could reach trillions over the next decade.

posted by Paul West 8:07 AM

Gorbachev Says U.S. Attack Big Mistake, Unjustified
OTSU, Japan (Reuters) - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who gave tacit approval for the 1991 Gulf War, said on Thursday the U.S. attack on Iraq was a major mistake that would do huge damage to international relations and security.

Gorbachev, who was president of the Soviet Union when the first Gulf War broke out in January 1991, told reporters at an international water conference in Japan that it seemed the United States was trying to make the world its own province.

"I believe not only that this war is unjustified, it is a major political mistake," Gorbachev said.

"It will do tremendous damage to international relations and to world security," he said.

"It is an attempt to teach a lesson to all other states and shows that the U.S. administration is trying to make the world its own province."

posted by Paul West 7:40 AM

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Inside my CIA diaries: Spooky Tales of Spooks
WASHINGTON—Let me open my CIA diaries and tell you what I know. It's not pretty. This is the land of broken dreams and scummy Third World bars, of coked-up informants and "intelligence" so patently absurd you don't know whether to laugh or cry when you see it flash around the world as fact, becoming the official version of events. Becoming history. It's dirty and dismal, full of banal self-interest and not to be believed. What I learned first-hand — sometimes like a punch in my Mary Sunshine face — during years as a foreign correspondent explains why I am not surprised by what is happening in Iraq.

posted by Hal Dunn 6:14 PM

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Arundhati Roy: A Strange Kind of Freedom
(Arundhati Roy, The Guardian, April 2, 2003)
On the steel torsos of their missiles, adolescent American soldiers scrawl colourful messages in childish handwriting: For Saddam, from the Fat Boy Posse. A building goes down. A marketplace. A home. A girl who loves a boy. A child who only ever wanted to play with his older brother's marbles. . . . According to a New York Times/CBS News survey, 42 per cent of the American public believes that Saddam Hussein is directly responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. And an ABC news poll says that 55 per cent of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein directly supports al-Qaida. What percentage of America's armed forces believe these fabrications is anybody's guess. . . . The phenomenal logistics of Operation Iraqi Freedom make it a universe unto itself. It doesn't need to justify its existence any more. It exists. It is. . . . in an act of cowardice that must surely be unrivalled in history, the "Allies"/"Coalition of the Willing"(better known as the Coalition of the Bullied and Bought) - sent in an invading army! . . . Operation Iraqi Freedom? I don't think so. It's more like Operation Let's Run a Race, but First Let Me Break Your Knees. . . . Faced with the richest, best-equipped, most powerful armed forces the world has ever seen, Iraq has shown spectacular courage and has even managed to put up what actually amounts to a defence. . . . When the Arab TV station al-Jazeera shows civilian casualties it's denounced as "emotive" Arab propaganda aimed at orchestrating hostility towards the "Allies", as though Iraqis are dying only in order to make the "Allies" look bad. Even French television has come in for some stick for similar reasons. But the awed, breathless footage of aircraft carriers, stealth bombers and cruise missiles arcing across the desert sky on American and British TV is described as the "terrible beauty" of war. . . . So, here's the moral maths as it stands: 200,000 Iraqis estimated to have been killed in the first Gulf war. Hundreds of thousands dead because of the economic sanctions. (At least that lot has been saved from Saddam Hussein.) More being killed every day. Tens of thousands of US soldiers who fought the 1991 war officially declared "disabled" by a disease called the Gulf war syndrome, believed in part to be caused by exposure to depleted uranium. It hasn't stopped the "Allies" from continuing to use depleted uranium. . . . Contracts for the "reconstruction" of Iraq we're told, in discussions on the business news, could jump-start the world economy. It's funny how the interests of American corporations are so often, so successfully and so deliberately confused with the interests of the world economy. While the American people will end up paying for the war, oil companies, weapons manufacturers, arms dealers, and corporations involved in "reconstruction" work will make direct gains from the war. Many of them are old friends and former employers of the Bush/ Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice cabal. Bush has already asked Congress for $75bn. Contracts for "re-construction" are already being negotiated. The news doesn't hit the stands because much of the US corporate media is owned and managed by the same interests. . . . Already the internet is buzzing with elaborate lists of American and British government products and companies that should be boycotted. Apart from the usual targets, Coke, Pepsi and McDonald's - government agencies such as USAID, the British department for international development, British and American banks, Arthur Anderson, Merrill Lynch, American Express, corporations such as Bechtel, General Electric, and companies such as Reebok, Nike and Gap - could find themselves under siege. . . . It's become clear that the war against terror is not really about terror, and the war on Iraq not only about oil. It's about a superpower's self-destructive impulse towards supremacy, stranglehold, global hegemony. . . . In most parts of the world, the invasion of Iraq is being seen as a racist war. The real danger of a racist war unleashed by racist regimes is that it engenders racism in everybody - perpetrators, victims, spectators. It sets the parameters for the debate, it lays out a grid for a particular way of thinking. There is a tidal wave of hatred for the US rising from the ancient heart of the world. In Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, Australia. I encounter it every day. . . . More than one third of America's citizens have survived the relentless propaganda they've been subjected to, and many thousands are actively fighting their own government. In the ultra-patriotic climate that prevails in the US, that's as brave as any Iraqi fighting for his or her homeland. . . . Most courageous of all, are the hundreds of thousands of American people on the streets of America's great cities - Washington, New York, Chicago, San Francisco. The fact is that the only institution in the world today that is more powerful than the American government, is American civil society. American citizens have a huge responsibility riding on their shoulders. . . . Despite the pall of gloom that hangs over us today, I'd like to file a cautious plea for hope: in times of war, one wants one's weakest enemy at the helm of his forces. And President George W Bush is certainly that. Any other even averagely intelligent US president would have probably done the very same things, but would have managed to smoke-up the glass and confuse the opposition. Perhaps even carry the UN with him. Bush's tactless imprudence and his brazen belief that he can run the world with his riot squad, has done the opposite. He has achieved what writers, activists and scholars have striven to achieve for decades. He has exposed the ducts. He has placed on full public view the working parts, the nuts and bolts of the apocalyptic apparatus of the American empire. . . . Now that the blueprint (The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire) has been put into mass circulation, it could be disabled quicker than the pundits predicted.

posted by Lorenzo 7:01 PM

War leaders may face war crimes charges
(Al Jazeera, 25 March 2003)
The majority of international law experts say that the US, Britain and Australia are acting in breach of global legal instruments in attacking Iraq without a United Nations resolution, and risk facing serious criminal charges. . . . The countries taking part in the war against Iraq are in breach of international law because they are acting without a further Security Council Resolution, argues British lawyer, Rabinder Singh. . . . Ramsey Clark, the former US Attorney General, is also on record as saying that "a military attack on Iraq is obviously criminal; completely inconsistent with urgent needs of the peoples of the United Nations; unjustifiable on any legal or moral ground; irrational in light of the known facts; out of proportion to other existing threats of war and violence; and a dangerous adventure risking continuing conflict throughout the region and far beyond for years to come." . . . "Before the US government can claim to be acting in self-defence, it must present compelling evidence that terrorist groups linked to Hussein, or Hussein himself, are both willing and able to launch an imminent attack on the American homeland," Professor Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale. . . . This is not just a theoretical legal debate. The legality, or lack of it, may have very serious consequences for political and military leaders in the US, UK, and Australia. A group of US law professors opposed to a possible war on Iraq warned US President George W. Bush in February that he and senior government officials could be prosecuted for war crimes. . . . Canada-based Lawyers Against the War said in its letter dated 20 January 2003 that they "will pursue all responsible government officials on charges of murder and crimes against humanity in both the Canadian and the international criminal courts." . . . But Michael Ratner, president of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, one of the leading signatories to the letter to Bush said although Washington was not a party to the ICC, United States' officials could still be prosecuted under the Geneva Convention. "War crimes under that convention can be prosecuted wherever the perpetrators are found."

posted by Lorenzo 12:49 PM

US Marines turn fire on civilians at the bridge of death
(Mark Franchetti, Nasiriya, The Times (London), March 30, 2003)
Amid the wreckage I counted 12 dead civilians, lying in the road or in nearby ditches. All had been trying to leave this southern town overnight, probably for fear of being killed by US helicopter attacks and heavy artillery. . . . Their mistake had been to flee over a bridge that is crucial to the coalition's supply lines and to run into a group of shell-shocked young American marines with orders to shoot anything that moved. . . . One man's body was still in flames. It gave out a hissing sound. Tucked away in his breast pocket, thick wads of banknotes were turning to ashes. His savings, perhaps. . . . Down the road, a little girl, no older than five and dressed in a pretty orange and gold dress, lay dead in a ditch next to the body of a man who may have been her father. Half his head was missing. . . . Nearby, in a battered old Volga, peppered with ammunition holes, an Iraqi woman - perhaps the girl's mother - was dead, slumped in the back seat. A US Abrams tank nicknamed Ghetto Fabulous drove past the bodies. . . . As I walked away, Lieutenant Matt Martin, whose third child, Isabella, was born while he was on board ship en route to the Gulf, appeared beside me. "Did you see all that?" he asked, his eyes filled with tears. "Did you see that little baby girl? I carried her body and buried it as best I could but I had no time. It really gets to me to see children being killed like this" . . . Martin's distress was in contrast to the bitter satisfaction of some of his fellow marines as they surveyed the scene. "The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy," said Corporal Ryan Dupre. "I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him." . . . "It's a bad situation," said First Sergeant James Thompson, who was running around with a 9mm pistol in his hand. "We don't know who is shooting at us. They are even using women as scouts. The women come out waving at us, or with their hands raised. We freeze, but the next minute we can see how she is looking at our positions and giving them away to the fighters hiding behind a street corner. It's very difficult to distinguish between the fighters and civilians." . . . Across the square, genuine civilians were running for their lives. Many, including some children, were gunned down in the crossfire. In a surreal scene, a father and mother stood out on a balcony with their children in their arms to give them a better view of the battle raging below. A few minutes later several US mortar shells landed in front of their house. In all probability, the family is dead. When I reached the stricken AAV, the scene was mayhem. The heavy, thick rear ramp had been blown open. There were pools of blood and bits of flesh everywhere. A severed leg, still wearing a desert boot, lay on what was left of the ramp among playing cards, a magazine, cans of Coke and a small bloodstained teddy bear. "They are f****** dead, they are dead. Oh my God. Get in there. Get in there now and pull them out," shouted a gunner in a state verging on hysterical. . . . There was panic and confusion as a group of young marines, shouting and cursing orders at one another, pulled out a maimed body. Two men struggled to lift the body on a stretcher and into the back of a Hummer, but it would not fit inside, so the stretcher remained almost upright, the dead man's leg, partly blown away, dangling in the air. . . . Before last week the overwhelming majority of these young men had never been in combat. Few had even seen a dead body. Now, their faces had changed. Anger and fear were fuelled by rumours that the bodies of American soldiers had been dragged through Nasiriya's streets. Some marines cried in the arms of friends, others sought comfort in the Bible. . . . Though civilians on foot passed by safely, the policy was to shoot anything that moved on wheels. Inevitably, terrified civilians drove at speed to escape: marines took that speed to be a threat and hit out. During the night, our teeth on edge, we listened a dozen times as the AVVs' machineguns opened fire, cutting through cars and trucks like paper. . . . Next morning I saw the result of this order - the dead civilians, the little girl in the orange and gold dress. . . . Suddenly, some of the young men who had crossed into Iraq with me reminded me now of their fathers' generation, the trigger-happy grunts of Vietnam. Covered in the mud from the violent storms, they were drained and dangerously aggressive. . . . "I was shooting down a street when suddenly a woman came out and casually began to cross the street with a child no older than 10," said Gunnery Sergeant John Merriman, another Gulf war veteran. "At first I froze on seeing the civilian woman. She then crossed back again with the child and went behind a wall. Within less than a minute a guy with an RPG came out and fired at us from behind the same wall. This happened a second time so I thought, 'Okay, I get it. Let her come out again'. . . . She did and this time I took her out with my M-16."

posted by Lorenzo 10:48 AM

MP Galloway Urges British Troops to Disobey Orders
(John Deane, Scotsman.com, 1 April 2003)
Anti-war Labour MP George Galloway today defended an interview in which he branded Tony Blair and George Bush as “wolves” for committing the “crime” of military action against Iraq. . . . Mr Galloway today stood by his comments, arguing that the war was illegal – and urged British soldiers to refuse to obey “illegal orders.” . . . Turning his attention to Mr Blair and President Bush, he went on: “They have lied to the British Air Force and Navy when they said the battle of Iraq would be very quick and easy. . . . “They attacked Iraq like wolves. They attacked civilians.” . . . He added: “It is better for Blair and Bush to stop this crime and this catastrophe. It is time for them to return to the UN Security Council and give diplomacy a chance.” . . . The MP rejected suggestions that his interview amounted to an act of treachery. . . . He said: “As for being a traitor, the people who have betrayed this country are those who have sold it to a foreign power and who have been the miserable surrogates of a bigger power for reasons very few people in Britain can understand.” . . . He added: “Given that I believe this invasion is illegal, it follows that the only people fighting legally are the Iraqis, who are defending their country.”

posted by Lorenzo 10:31 AM

Robert Fisk: The monster of Baghdad is now the hero of Arabia
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 1 April 2003)
This is now a nationalist war against the most obvious kind of imperial power . . . So it's a "truly remarkable achievement'', is it? General Tommy Franks says so. Everything is going "according to plan'', according to the British. So it's an achievement that the British still have not "liberated" Basra. It is "according to plan" that the Iraqis should be able to launch a scud missile from the Faw peninsula – supposedly under "British control" for more than a week. It is an achievement, truly remarkable of course, that the Americans lose an Apache helicopter to the gun of an Iraqi peasant, spend four days trying to cross the river bridges at Nasiriyah and are then confronted by their first suicide bomber at Najaf. . . . Sitting in Baghdad, listening to the God-awful propaganda rhetoric of the Iraqis but watching the often promiscuous American and British air attacks, I have a suspicion that what's gone wrong has nothing to do with plans. Indeed, I suspect there is no real overall plan. Because I rather think that this war's foundations were based not on military planning but on ideology. . . . Long ago, as we know, the right wing pro-Israeli lobbyists around Bush planned the overthrow of Saddam. This would destroy the most powerful Arab state in the Middle East – Israel's chief of staff, Shoal Mofaz, demanded that the war should start even earlier – and allow the map of the region to be changed forever. Powell stated just this a month ago. . . . Oil was not mentioned, although it is the dominating factor in this illegitimate conflict – no wonder General Franks admitted that his first concern, prior to the war, was the "protection'' of the southern Iraqi oil fields. So it was to be "liberation" and "democracy". How boldly we crossed the border. With what lordly aims we invaded Iraq. . . . Unless the masses rise up as Bush and Blair hope, this is now a nationalist war against the most obvious kind of imperial power. Without Iraqi support, how can General Franks run a military dictatorship or find Iraqis willing to serve him or run the oilfields? The Americans can win the war. But if their project fails they will have lost. . . . Yet there is one achievement we should note. The ghastly Saddam, the most revolting dictator in the Arab world, who does indeed use heinous torture and has indeed used gas, is now leading a country that is fighting the world's only superpower and that has done so for almost two weeks without surrendering. Yes, General Tommy Franks has accomplished one "truly remarkable achievement''. He has turned the monster of Baghdad into the hero of the Arab world and allowed Iraqis to teach every opponent of America how to fight their enemy.

posted by Lorenzo 10:27 AM

Robert Fisk: 'It was an outrage, an obscenity'
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 27 March 2003)
It was an outrage, an obscenity. The severed hand on the metal door, the swamp of blood and mud across the road, the human brains inside a garage, the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still-smouldering car. . . . Two missiles from an American jet killed them all – by my estimate, more than 20 Iraqi civilians, torn to pieces before they could be 'liberated' by the nation that destroyed their lives. Who dares, I ask myself, to call this 'collateral damage'? . . . Everyone I spoke to heard the plane. One man, so shocked by the headless corpses he had just seen, could say only two words. "Roar, flash," he kept saying and then closed his eyes so tight that the muscles rippled between them. . . . How should one record so terrible an event? . . . Abu Hassan and Malek Hammoud were preparing lunch for customers at the Nasser restaurant on the north side of Abu Taleb Street. The missile that killed them landed next to the westbound carriageway, its blast tearing away the front of the café and cutting the two men – the first 48, the second only 18 – to pieces. A fellow worker led me through the rubble. "This is all that is left of them now," he said, holding out before me an oven pan dripping with blood. . . . "I found Ta'ar in pieces over there," he told me. His head was blown off. "That's his hand." A group of young men and a woman took me into the street and there, a scene from any horror film, was Ta'ar's hand, cut off at the wrist, his four fingers and thumb grasping a piece of iron roofing. His young colleague, Sermed, died the same instant. His brains lay piled a few feet away, a pale red and grey mess behind a burnt car. . . . Of course, the pilot who killed the innocent yesterday could not see his victims. Pilots fire through computer-aligned co-ordinates, and the sandstorm would have hidden the street from his vision. But when one of Malek Hammoud's friends asked me how the Americans could so blithely kill those they claimed to want to liberate, he didn't want to learn about the science of avionics or weapons delivery systems. . . . The truth is that nowhere is safe in Baghdad, and as the Americans and British close their siege in the next few days or hours, that simple message will become ever more real and ever more bloody. . . . We may put on the hairshirt of morality in explaining why these people should die. They died because of 11 September, we may say, because of President Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction", because of human rights abuses, because of our desperate desire to "liberate" them all. Let us not confuse the issue with oil. Either way, I'll bet we are told President Saddam is ultimately responsible for their deaths. We shan't mention the pilot, of course.

posted by Lorenzo 10:11 AM

Iraqi POW humiliated

US officials blasted Iraq for showing the US POWs on TV. However, they allowed US TV and media to take this picture of a humiliated Iraqi civilian, taken as a POW (Alquds Alarabi, 3/26/07).

posted by Lorenzo 10:00 AM

Robert Fisk: This is the reality of war. We bomb. They suffer
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 23 March 2003)
Donald Rumsfeld says the American attack on Baghdad is "as targeted an air campaign as has ever existed" but he should not try telling that to five-year-old Doha Suheil. She looked at me yesterday morning, drip feed attached to her nose, a deep frown over her small face as she tried vainly to move the left side of her body. The cruise missile that exploded close to her home in the Radwaniyeh suburb of Baghdad blasted shrapnel into her tiny legs ­ they were bound up with gauze ­ and, far more seriously, into her spine. Now she has lost all movement in her left leg. . . . There is something sick, obscene about these hospital visits. We bomb. They suffer. Then we turn up and take pictures of their wounded children. . . . So let's forget, for a moment, the cheap propaganda of the regime and the equally cheap moralising of Messrs Rumsfeld and Bush, and take a trip around the Al-Mustansaniya College Hospital. . . . I was just getting out of the taxi when there was a big explosion and I fell down and found my blood everywhere," she told me. "It was on my arms, my legs, my chest." Amel Hassan still has multiple shrapnel wounds in her chest. . . . Her five-year-old daughter Wahed lies in the next bed, whimpering with pain. She had climbed out of the taxi first and was almost at her aunt's front door when the explosion cut her down. Her feet are still bleeding although the blood has clotted around her toes and is staunched by the bandages on her ankles and lower legs. Two little boys are in the next room. Sade Selim is 11; his brother Omar is 14. Both have shrapnel wounds to their legs and chest. . . . And all this, I asked myself yesterday, was all this for 11 September 2001? All this was to "strike back" at our attackers, albeit that Doha Suheil, Wahed Hassan and Imam Ali have nothing ­ absolutely nothing ­ to do with those crimes against humanity, any more than has the awful Saddam? Who decided, I wonder, that these children, these young women, should suffer for 11 September? . . . And yesterday, a doctor found himself asked by a British radio reporter – yes, you've guessed it – "Do you think, doctor, that some of these people could have been hit by Iraqi anti-aircraft fire?" . . . Should we laugh or cry at this? Should we always blame "them" for their own wounds? Certainly we should ask why those cruise missiles exploded where they did, at least 320 in Baghdad alone, courtesy of the USS Kitty Hawk. . . . Dr Habib Al-Hezai, whose FRCS was gained at Edinburgh University, counted 101 patients of the total 207 wounded in the raids in his hospital alone, of whom 85 were civilians – 20 of them women and six of them children – and 16 soldiers. A young man and a child of 12 had died under surgery. No one will say how many soldiers were killed during the actual attack. . . . There were beacons of fire across Baghdad and the sky was lowering with smoke, the buttressed, rampart-like palace – sheets of flame soaring from its walls – looked like a medieval castle ablaze; Tsesiphon destroyed, Mesopotamia at the moment of its destruction as it has been seen for many times over so many thousands of years. . . . Xenophon struck south of here, Alexander to the north. The Mongols sacked Baghdad. The caliphs came. And then the Ottomans and then the British. All departed. Now come the Americans. It's not about legitimacy. It's about something much more seductive, something Saddam himself understands all too well, a special kind of power, the same power that every conqueror of Iraq wished to demonstrate as he smashed his way into the land of this ancient civilisation.

posted by Lorenzo 9:52 AM

'This remains George Bush's war' . . . World opinion rallies against an attack
(The Guardian, March 20, 2003)

Abd al-Bari Atwan Al-Quds al Arabi, London, March 19
"The great people of Iraq, while having suffered from their regime's injustice, will not surrender to a foreign invasion. They may acquiesce for a limited period, but afterward they will rise up in defence of their national soil, national dignity, and long and proud national history."

Peter FitzSimons Sydney Morning Herald, March 20
"We [who are opposed to the war] are first and foremost those who resent headlines like the one carried on the top of the front page of the Herald yesterday - 'Australia chooses war' - for the simple reason that Australia bloody well did no such thing. In our view John Howard chose this war, and we want it on the record that the vast majority of us are against it ...

"So bitter is [the] division in Australia at the moment that all of us who are against this war find ourselves being accused of being 'pro-Saddam' and all the rest. We are not that. But in a contest of evils, we feel that by far the greatest danger lies in tearing the world asunder and can't help but feel that, wherever he is, Osama bin Laden could surely not be more delighted with the way things are heading.

"Mostly, though, there is this. As we tuck our children into beds at night, we can't help but wonder just what it would be like to be a family in Baghdad doing the same. We do not want this war. And we are outraged that it has come to this."

El Pais Spain, editorial, March 19
"[Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar's] affirmation that 'we have done everything possible for peace' is an insult to the intelligence. The war was decided on long ago, as was Spain's involvement in it. [Mr Aznar] does not believe that this conflict will be the most important crisis since the fall of the Berlin wall, he just wants a front row seat in the new division of power. Nor does Mr Aznar have an answer for the growing concern of Spanish society at its participation in an unjustified and unjustifiable war that does nothing to help the Spanish."

Stefan Kornelius Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany, March 19
"The President of the United States stands quite alone, personally responsible for a world shattering decision over war and peace, a man to whom tremendous power was given and who is now abusing that power ...

"Mr Bush stands alone and his loneliness will get worse if the war claims many victims, lasts for a long time, and leads to all the horrific scenarios predicted by the soothsayers. Even if Mr Bush is successful, even if Iraq quickly capitulates and Saddam Hussein's coterie disappears for ever - not even then will Bush's legitimacy and America's authority be restored.

"The war to depose President Saddam was not forced on America. The quest for security and stability in the world did not require an invasion of the Arab peninsula. In fact it forbade it. However much we may wish President Saddam out of power, this remains Mr Bush's war."

Le Monde France, editorial, March 19
"America and the UK's entry into war against Iraq ... is a tremendous diplomatic defeat for the Bush administration ... Washington was wrong in misjudging the firmness of Paris's intentions, wrong on Turkey's attitude, wrong on the state of public opinion, wrong on its ability to bring pressure to bear on the 'small' members of the security council. The US was wrong about the role it thought it could make the UN play ... The effect has been more negative than positive, ending in a political and diplomatic failure, whatever the outcome of this unfortunate affair."

posted by Lorenzo 9:32 AM

Seen at MiddleEast.org
The American 'Red' Indians, and in more modern times the Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians -- not to mention today's Palestinians -- know very well what it is like to be 'liberated' by the Americans. How super historically ironic that the Iraqis are being decimated by 'Apaches' and 'Tomahawks'.

posted by Lorenzo 8:53 AM

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

[blogger opinion] Worrying about Iraq, rather than al-Qaida is about the same as if the Allies in 1938 had declared war on Mussolini's Italy, but ignored Hitler's Germany. We are turning our backs on the greater danger, and pretending not to recognize that an attack on Baghdad could spark the wake-up call to the terrorists sleeping in our midst. Mubarak: Iraq War Will Produce 100 Bin Ladens. This week, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak warned that the war against Iraq would create "a hundred bin Ladens"; so bitter are Arabs and Muslims about the US and UK over Iraq.

On the other hand. Hussein is no choir boy, and is a possible threat to many. And recent reports claim that troops have rooted out a terrorist training camp for Ansar Al Islam in northern Iraq with the possibly of chemical or biological weapons evidence. Also, Iraqi plots, including a plan to contaminate water supplies to Jordanian and U.S. troops on the border with Iraq.

Saddam Hussein is known for gouging out the eyes and cutting out the tongues of resisters -- and their children, as well as drilling holes in people's hands and pouring acid into the holes. Not to mention the rapes and tortures. The Iraqi regime is executing people, shooting people crossing bridges, and they use human shields because they know their opponents won't deliberately harm the innocent shields. The Iraqi regime is killing more innocent men, women, and children in Iraq now that the country has been attacked by US and UK forces. Many Iraqi people are angry at the invading force, but most are not as angry as they are with the dictator. A few are even brave enough to welcome the troops, in defiance of the Iraqi regime.

There are no good guys here. Foreign invaders are attempting to "liberate" folks that may or may not want to be liberated. Despite the questions, there are possible noble intentions to "help" Iraqis by removing their brutal dictator. But, with the odds against democratic success in Iraq and with the death and destruction of innocent life in Iraq, it's a long shot that much good can come of this war for the citizens of Iraq. But, we can hope. Hope for the best for the future of Iraq. And hope for the best for reducing (not increasing) terrorism.

As someone totally opposed to this war, I can only hope that I was wrong. And, as hard as it is to even think -- to hope that Bush is right. I sure hope I'm wrong about the war on Iraq. I want to be very, very, very wrong. I hope the Pentagon's Defense Science Board is wrong. I hope General Wesley Clark is wrong. I hope CIA Director, George Tenet is wrong. I hope Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni is wrong. I hope former national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft is wrong.

Some Iraqis see the possibility of hope in their future with the removal of the dictator. According to a 21-year-old unemployed man in Nassiriya, "most residents of Nassiriya want to get rid of Saddam's government. They only want to get rid of the regime, no matter who gets rid of it -- whether America, Britain, anybody." Nassiriya Citizens Afraid to Rise Against Saddam.
Iraqis from the southern city of Nassiriya say most of the town's citizens oppose President Saddam Hussein, but bad memories of a suppressed 1991 revolt keeps them from rising up against Saddam this time.

posted by Hal Dunn 8:12 PM

Emperor George: What has become of American values and idealism? All swept away in this thoroughly un-American war
guardian.co.uk - This war is un-American. That's an unlikely word to use, I know: it has an unhappy provenance, associated forever with the McCarthyite hunt for reds under the beds, purging anyone suspected of "un-American activities". Besides, for many outside the US, the problem with this war is not that it's un-American - but all too American.

But that does an injustice to the US and its history. It assumes that the Bush administration represents all America, at all times, when in fact the opposite is true. For this administration, and this war, are not typical of the US. On the contrary, on almost every measure, they are exceptions to the American rule.

The US was, after all, a country founded in a rebellion against imperialism. Born in a war against a hated colonial oppressor, in the form of George III, it still sees itself as the instinctive friend of all who struggle to kick out a foreign occupier - and the last nation on earth to play the role of outside ruler.

Not for it the Greek, Roman or British path. For most of the last century, the US steered well clear of the institutions of formal empire (the Philipines was a lamentable exception). Responsibility was thrust upon it after 1945 in Germany and Japan. But as a matter of deliberate intent, America sought neither viceroys ruling over faraway lands nor a world map coloured with the stars and stripes. Influence, yes; puppets and proxies, yes. But formal imperial rule, never.

Until now. George Bush has cast off the restraint which held back America's 42 previous presidents - including his father. Now he is seeking, as an unashamed objective, to get into the empire business, aiming to rule a post-Saddam Iraq directly through an American governor-general, the retired soldier Jay Garner. As the Guardian reported yesterday, Washington's plan for Baghdad consists of 23 ministries - each one to be headed by an American. This is a form of foreign rule so direct we have not seen its like since the last days of the British empire. It represents a break with everything America has long believed in.

This is not to pretend that there is a single American ideal, still less a single US foreign policy, maintained unbroken since 1776. There are, instead, competing traditions, each able to trace its lineage to the founding of the republic. But what's striking is that George Bush's war on Iraq is at odds with every single one of them. Perhaps best known is Thomas Jefferson's call for an America which would not only refuse to rule over other nations, it would avoid meddling in their affairs altogether. He wanted no "entangling alliances". If America wished to export its brand of liberty, it should do it not through force but by the simple power of its own example. John Quincy Adams (before Bush, the only son of a president to become president), put it best when he declared that America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy". Could there be a better description of Washington's pre-emptive pursuit of Saddam Hussein?

posted by Paul West 7:48 PM

Children killed in US assault
guardian.co.uk - Dozens of Iraqi villagers were killed and injured in a ferocious American air and land assault near the Iraqi city of Babylon, hospital officials in the town said yesterday.

Reuters reporters on the scene confirmed the deaths of at least nine children, two other civilians and two Iraqi fighters at Hilla in a bombardment on Monday night and early yesterday morning.

An Iraqi hospital official said the death toll stood at 33 civilians, with more than 300 wounded.

Unedited TV footage from Babylon hospital, which was seen by the Guardian, showed the tiny corpse of a baby wrapped up like a doll in a funeral shroud and carried out of the morgue on a pink pallet.

It was laid face-to-face on the pavement against the body of a boy, who looked about 10.

Horrifically injured bodies were heaped into pick-up trucks, and were swarmed by relatives of the dead, who accompanied them for burial.

Bed after bed of injured women and children were pictured along with large pools of blood on the floor of the hospital.

"All of these are due to the American bombing to the civilian homes. Hundreds of civilians have been injured, and many have been killed," said Nazim al-Adali, an Edinburgh-trained doctor at the hospital, who appealed to his "colleagues" in England to protest against the bombings.

posted by Paul West 7:45 PM

You didn't fire a warning shot soon enough!'

A journalist's account of the killing of a car full of Iraqi civilians by US soldiers differs widely from the official military version, says Brian Whitaker

guardian.co.uk - The invasion forces suffered another self-inflicted disaster in the battle for hearts and minds yesterday when soldiers from the US 3rd infantry division shot dead Iraqi seven women and children.

The incident occurred on Route 9, near Najaf, when a car carrying 13 women and children approached a checkpoint.

A US military spokesman says the soldiers motioned the vehicle to stop but their signals were ignored. However, according to the Washington Post, Captain Ronny Johnson, who was in charge of the checkpoint, blamed his own troops for ignoring orders to fire a warning shot.

"You just fucking killed a family because you didn't fire a warning shot soon enough!", he reportedly yelled at them.

In another checkpoint incident this morning, US forces say they killed an unarmed Iraqi driver outside Shatra.

Meanwhile it has emerged - as a result of detective work on the internet by a Guardian reader - that the explosion in a Baghdad market which killed more than 60 people last Friday was indeed caused by a cruise missile and not an Iraqi anti-aircraft rocket as the US has suggested.

A metal fragment found at the scene by British journalist Robert Fisk carried various markings, including "MFR 96214 09". This, our reader pointed out in an email, is a manufacturer's identification number known as a "cage code".

posted by Paul West 7:43 PM

Critics Blast US Military's Decision to Sell Water to Penniless Iraqis
commondreams.org (New York Daily News) UMM QASR - The U.S. military came up with a solution yesterday for the penniless people of this port town begging for water: Sell it.

Despite general mayhem at distribution points - including knife fights - the Army has struck a hasty agreement with local Iraqis to expedite distribution of water to the roughly 40,000 living here.

Under the deal, the military will provide water free to locals with access to tanker trucks, who then will be allowed to sell the water for a "reasonable" fee.

"We're permitting them to charge a small fee for water," said Army Col. David Bassert.

"This provides them with an incentive to hustle and to work," said Bassert, an assistant commander with the 354th Civil Affairs Brigade.

He said he could not suggest what constitutes a reasonable fee and did not know what the truckers were charging. He said the tradition here of haggling at markets would help the system work.

"People know when they're being gouged - we'll deal with it," Bassert said.

But with the population badly in need of water, food and medical supplies, the arrangement drew its share of critics.

'This is crazy'

Several Iraqi-Americans originally from this region, who are working as interpreters and guides with the U.S. military, were incensed at what they consider an attempt to jump-start a free-market economy during a crisis.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: It appears as though we're taking capitalism to Iraq and not democracy.

posted by Paul West 7:38 PM

Rule-the-World Productions Proudly Presents . . .
Now Playing on a TV Channel Near You:
Operation Iraqi Freedom

Coming Attractions -- See our other Epic Productions, coming soon:
Operation Iranian Freedom
Operation Syrian Freedom
Operation Libyan Freedom
Operation Lebanese Freedom
Operation Pakistani Freedom
Operation Afghan Freedom III *
Operation Indonesian Freedom
Operation Saudi Arabian Freedom
Operation Algerian Freedom
Operation Egyptian Freedom
Operation Kenyan Freedom
Operation Korean Freedom
Operation Sudanese Freedom
Operation Somali Freedom

Notice: Due to conflicts of interest, we've had to cancel:
Operation American Freedom

Our Apologies: We apologize that some of our previous epics ended tragically. Operation Vietnamese Freedom didn't live up to its advance billing.

posted by Hal Dunn 7:11 PM

U.S. Appoints Friend of Israel to Rule Iraq
"The retired general named as civilian governor of occupied Iraq has visited Israel on a trip paid for by a right-wing group that strongly backs an American military presence in the Middle East. Lieutenant-General Jay Garner, the co-coordinator for civilian administration in Iraq, put his name in October 2000 to a statement blaming Palestinians for the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence and saying that a strong Israel was an important security asset to the United States. This piece of information circulated the Middle East with as much rapidity as the resignation of Richard Perle from his chairmanship of the Defense Board and the supposed trip of Vice-President Cheney’s daughter to become a human shield."
--Alexander Cockburn (CounterPunch War Diary, March 29/30, 2003)

posted by Lorenzo 12:35 PM

Something to think about
Hundreds of thousands of people are going to die, including Americans -- because if they want to take over oil in Iraq, they have to fight for it, not by missiles and by airplanes ... they have to bring troops and fight the Iraqi people and the Iraqi army. And that will be costly.
--Tariq Aziz, December 14, 2002

posted by Lorenzo 12:34 PM

Goals Dangers & Resistance To Bush's Imperial Aggression
(Joseph Gerson, ZNet, March 27, 2003)
As the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other sources report, in the traditions of British colonialism and Genghis Khan, the Bush Administration is seeking to impose "The arrangement for the twenty-first century" to ensure that "the United States will continue to be the dominant political, economic and military power in the world." . . . it is the second chapter of the Bush I-Cheney-Wolfowitz-Perle campaign for a "New World Order." Shock, awe, devastation, conquest, and occupation of Iraq are designed to send a message to the world: "Fear us. What we say goes." The audience is Beijing, Pyongyang, Moscow, and Paris, as well as Cairo, Riyadh, and Teheran. . . . ur cheer leader President, who had barely traveled outside the US before being installed in the White House by an activist right-wing Supreme Court, hopes to go down in history as the man who brought peace to the world. This is the messianic and megalomaniac dream of imperial peace, the peace of "Full Spectrum Dominance" that Genghis Khan and General Tojo would have understood. . . . The Bush Administration may be the most militarist government in our history, but it did not spring full-blown from Medusa's head. It was the Clinton Administration that first adopted the military doctrines of Full Spectrum Dominance and "Counter-proliferation," including preemptive (and potentially nuclear) military attacks. . . . it was clear that he had something else in mind: tearing up the A.B.M. treaty, rejecting the Kyoto Protocols to halt global warming, and savaging US tax laws to make the country safe for the rich and their mega corporations. Less than a month after seizing power, Bush and Cheney derailed Clinton-era disarmament negotiations with North Korea, walked away from Palestinian-Israel peace negotiations, and pressed its radical transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the ultra-wealthy through the re-writing of the tax laws. . . . The Bush Administration's "game" and "vision" are not simply about Iraq. They are about oil, the Arab World, Israel, Europe, ideology (or its advertising facade), and feeding its right-wing fundamentalist base for the 2004 Presidential election campaign. . . . on September 17, 2001 just six days after the Sept. 11 attacks and when (as now) there was no credible evidence linking the Iraqi government with Al Qaeda, President Bush authorized commencing preparations for the invasion of Iraq in addition to ordering the invasion of Afghanistan. . . . Saddam Hussein's very existence haunts these militarist. He is living evidence that it is possible to challenge US regional hegemony . . . With Saddam Hussein removed and a new client regime installed, the US will not only control the worlds second greatest concentration of oil reserves. It will be able to use those reserves to discipline Saudi Arabia and undermine OPEC. Reconsolidation of US control of Middle East oil will reinforce the role of the dollar as the global currency by ensuring that the world's oil trade continues to be in dollars rather than the Euros of increasingly independent "Old" Europe. . . . Modeling their Afghan "achievement," they seek to replace the Saudi monarchy and other Arab regimes with more inclusive and flexible, but hardly "democratic," governments that will do "Washington's" bidding. They also believe that the replacement of Arab regimes will provide even less support than do current ones for the Palestinian struggle for survival, making Palestinians "more amenable to an agreement" dictated by Sharon. . . . United States remains mired in history, exercising power in an anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable, and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might. . . . The invasion is to be followed by a US military occupation without end. This is a recipe for anti-colonial armed resistance, terrorist attacks on US forces, and growing numbers of body bags making their way from the Persian Gulf to cemeteries across the US. . . . Those who know the Arab world fear that massive Iraqi civilian casualties and the specter of predominantly "Christian" US forces following in the steps of the Crusaders and European colonists into an Arab capital could destabilize the entire Middle East with angry street demonstrations, military coups, and revolutions. . . . the CIA have warned that the US invasion of Iraq is being used as an extraordinary recruiting opportunity for Al Qaeda. . . . Regardless of the outcome of the invasion, the Bush Administration has recklessly changed the world, undermining US security forever. In little over a year, we have gone from having the sympathy of the entire world in the wake of the September 11 attacks to almost total international isolation. . . . The health care and pensions of our aging population are being sacrificed by the massive deficit spending needed to feed imperial ambitions and military-industrial allies. . . . Resistance: We were unable to prevent this war, but our education and organizing are having profound impacts on how it is being fought, how long it and the anticipated military occupation will last, and whether the Bush Administration will be able to carry its military crusade on to the Korean Peninsula, Iran, and other nations. . . . In the coming weeks, we need to hold as much public space as possible: persisting with our legal and civil disobedience demonstrations; writing letters to the editor and to our Congressional representatives; wearing anti-war buttons and black ribbons mourning the loss of Iraqi and US lives and the assault on our democracy; speaking our minds to local politicians and Presidential candidates, and holding community forums for continuing and deepening public education. . . . We need to begin articulating an alternative to imperial and corporate authoritarianism--our own vision of common security and how we can get there. And, with the 2004 Presidential and Congressional elections racing toward us, we need to be laying the groundwork for regime change at home.

posted by Lorenzo 12:34 PM

War is the climax of U.S.-Israeli partnership
(Patrick Seale, 21-03-2003)
The United States has embarked on an imperial adventure in the Middle East. This is the true meaning of the war against Iraq. The war is not about the disarmament of Iraq. That was always a hollow and cynical pretext. . . . No one with any real knowledge of the situation believed that Iraq, on its knees from two disastrous wars and from 12 years of punitive sanctions, presented any sort of "imminent threat" to anyone. . . . Nor is the war only, or even primarily, about toppling Saddam Hussain. . . . The war has bigger aims: it is about the implementation of a vast - and probably demented - strategic plan. . . . Washington is intoxicated by the vision of imposing a Pax Americana on the Arab world on the model of the imperial "order" which Britain imposed on the entire region in an earlier age. . . . With bases across the region from Oman to Central Asia, America is now seeking to recreate the British Empire at its apogee. The occupation of Iraq, a major Arab country at the strategic heart of the region, will allow the United States to control the resources of the Middle East and reshape its geopolitics to its advantage - or so the Anglo-American strategists hope. . . . But if things go badly, history may well judge the war to be a criminal enterprise . . . The fatal flaw is that this is not a purely American project. Rather it must be seen as the culmination of America's strategic partnership with Israel . . . Much of the ideological justification and political pressure for war against Iraq has come from right-wing American Zionists, many of them Jews, closely allied to Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and occupying influential positions both inside and outside the Bush administration. It is neither exaggeration, nor anti-Semitism, as they would have it, to say that this is a Bush-Sharon war against Iraq. . . . As is now widely understood, the genesis of the idea of occupying Iraq can be dated back to the mid-1990s. Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's Defence Policy Board and often described as the intellectual driving force behind President Bush's world-view, has for years been pressing U.S. and Israeli leaders to go to war against Iraq. . . . On July 8, 1996, shortly after Benyamin Netanyahu's election victory over Shimon Peres, Perle handed Netanyahu a strategy paper entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. It called for the removal of Saddam Hussain as a key Israeli objective and as a means of weakening Syria. . . . The call for an attack on Iraq was then taken up in 1997 by a right-wing American group called The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), whose members included Richard Perle; Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Eliot Abrams, Middle East director of Bush's National Security Council; Randy Scheunemann, President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq; and two influential conservative editors, William Kristol of the Weekly Standard and Norman Podhoretz of Commentary. . . . The terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 gave these advocates of American empire and of the U.S.-Israeli alliance their chance. They were able to make the inexperienced President George W. Bush, who came to power after a questionable election, the vehicle for their agenda. . . . The result is the war we are now witnessing. The ultimate objective is to change the map of the Middle East by destroying or intimidating all the enemies of the US and Israel. . . . Blair knows that Sharon, who has rubbished the Quartet's "road-map" and has devoted his life to the achievement of a "Greater Israel", has no intention of allowing the emergence of a viable Palestinian state. . . . On the contrary, he is using the crisis to continue his wholesale destruction of Palestinian society. . . . neither the White House nor the State Department has chosen to protest at the death of a young American peace activist, Rachel Corrie, crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza this week as she tried to stop the demolition of a Palestinian home. . . . After the first flush of victory, will the occupying armies be harassed by hit-and-run guerrillas, as happened to Israel after its invasion of Lebanon in 1982? Will an Iraqi "Hezbollah" emerge on the model of the resistance movement which eventually drove Israel out of south Lebanon? . . . A non-state actor like Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida, drawing inspiration and recruits from the violent anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments now sweeping the Muslim world, might take up the challenge. Occupation breeds insurrection. This is an axiom of history.

posted by Lorenzo 12:33 PM

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