Call me a discriminating prick if you like, but they usually have no family in Iraq when they whisper the words. "Rumsfeld is my master." So, they're opinions are redundant because they can yap all they want while they live in the west.
Pro-Bush Iraqis that are inside Iraq...
...well, they just crazy...
...or living in the Green Zone, or a member of the government...
...or all of the above. I don't mind them as much as Iraqis that would give their first-born to John Bolton and their second to his moustache. And ain't that a creepy thought.
It's the hypocrites that continue saying things are getting better while not having any real information or without qualifying their undying praise for the dark side that swallow the cake for me.
Any critical thinking Iraqi that has any politics would be my friend. If you think things happen in a vacuum and live in a fantasy world that has crowned King Bush the wonderful liberator of Iraq, I would rather talk about the European championship or how you like your eggs or something.
Neocon Iraqis are a scary thing indeed.
In an indication of further democratic reforms in the dictatorship of Egypt, Saddam Mubarak hired people to beat the living shit out of opposition members on the eve of a vote on election reform. And it's important to point out these supposed reforms are nothing more than a smokescreen that will serve as pretending real reform was actually taking place...as a sort of proxy-alibi for Bush's support. Together they form a dynamic duo denying reality. Bush and Co. says to Saddam Mubarak, "If you look like you're reforming, we'll say you are and then continue propping you up with billions of dollars."
Meanwhile, Saddam Mubarak says, "what better way to show you're reforming than to beat some women and tear their clothes off."
Women protesters in particular seemed to be targeted for beatings by both plainclothes state security agents and pro-Mubarak supporters, according to a report on Associated Press.
One woman was seen being punched and having her clothes torn off by Mubarak loyalists in Cairo, AP reported.
Here's Alaa's first-hand account of the terrifying incident. Saddam Mubarak pulled no punches on members of the opposition. In fact, he threw them in droves with the police standing idle and watching it all happen. Abu Aardvark sheds more light on the targeting of women in these attacks by the NDP. This is infuriating me. This is American tax payer money at use.
If you're waiting for democracy in Egypt. Please don't hold your breath. These beatings of protestors and arrests of opposition members are common in dictatorships. But at least Saddam Mubarak has a peace treaty with Israel. And for all those beatings and arrests, dawg'onit he's our sonofabitch dictator...and he's worth every penny of the billions American taxpayers pay to prop up his unlawful and undemocratic regime each and every year for the past couple of decades.
Americans like their dictators marinated in the blood of their people. See Uzbekistan and the Egyptian examples. Putting window-dressing on it all and trying to pass off weak criticisms like those given by the Bush administration as affecting actual reality on the ground only insults the intelligence of the victimized. The fact that Laura Bush was praising Saddam Mubarak for his supposed step toward reform borders the absurd. Oh, and don't forget the countless other dictators and ruthless autocrats the US has supported. Even OG Saddam was America's sonofabitch all buddy buddy while being lubricated by WMD courtesy of his man Rummy back in the day. Shall we have an American Dictator Count? A little "our sonofabitches" refresher perhaps?
Maybe the cob-webs can be cleared away with such introspection.
Updating the updates : Alaa has mentioned in comments below that the server was on over-load and Egyptian authorities never did block the site. That's good news, I think.
Update: The first-hand account has been blocked by America's darling dictator, Saddam Mubarak . Let's see if the words will come back or not. Oh, and Billmon nails it as usual.
Update II: Alaa's first-hand account is there again...with photos. Let freedom reign. /sarcasm
Peace in Iraq 'will take at least five years to impose'
David Bowie, Five Years
Pushing thru the market square, so many mothers sighing
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying
I heard telephones, opera house, favourite melodies
I saw boys, toys electric irons and t.v.’s
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there
And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people
I never thought I’d need so many people
A girl my age went off her head, hit some tiny children
If the black hadn’t a-pulled her off, I think she would have killed them
A soldier with a broken arm, fixed his stare to the wheels of a cadillac
A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest, and a queer threw up at the sight of that
I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour, drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine, don’t think
You knew you were in this song
And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to walk
We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got
We’ve got five years, what a surprise
Five years, stuck on my eyes
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got
We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got
We’ve got five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got
After 200 Years, Darth Dubya's Crew Tries to Further Change the Face of Democracy by Reverting to the Dark Side
Why erase 200 years of history for those crazies in Washington to attempt to pull off this insanity?
The empire has no clothes.
Read about it here too.
The lies that led to war
A leaked British memo, and other documents, make it clear that Bush intended all along to invade Iraq -- and lied about it to the American people. The full gravity of his offense has not yet sunk in.
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By Juan Cole
May 19, 2005 | When Newsweek's source admitted that he had misidentified the government document in which he had seen an account of Quran desecration at Guantánamo prison, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita exploded, "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?"
Di Rita could have said the same things about his bosses in the Bush administration.
Tens of thousands of people are dead in Iraq, including more than 1,600 U.S. soldiers and Marines, because of false allegations made by President George W. Bush and Di Rita's more immediate boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and equally imaginary active nuclear weapons program. Bush, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeatedly made unfounded allegations that led to the continuing disaster in Iraq, much of which is now an economic and military no man's land beset by bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and political gridlock.
And we now know, thanks to a leaked British memo concerning the head of British intelligence, that the Bush administration -- contrary to its explicit denials -- had already made up its mind to attack Iraq and "fixed" those bogus allegations to support its decision. In short, Bush and his top officials lied about Iraq.
Going to war is the most serious decision a president can make. It should never be approached in a cavalier fashion. American lives, the prestige and influence of the country, international relations, the health of its defenses, and the future of the next generation are at stake. Yet every single piece of evidence we now have confirms that George W. Bush, who was obsessed with unseating Saddam Hussein even before 9/11, recklessly used the opportunity presented by the terror attacks to march the country to war, fixing the intelligence to justify his decision, and lying to the American people about the reasons for the war. In other times, this might have been an impeachable offense.
The media circus around the Newsweek story arrived in time to further divert attention from the explosive British memorandum. Although the leaked Downing Street memo, published by the London Times on May 1, revealed the deeply dishonest and manipulative way that the Bush administration took the United States (and the United Kingdom) to war against Iraq, the American press corps studiously ignored it for two weeks.
The memo reported a July 2002 meeting of key British Cabinet and other officials, held when Sir Richard Dearlove, head of the British intelligence service, MI6, returned from a trip to Washington. It revealed that the decision to go to war had already been made by that point: "Military action was now seen as inevitable," the notes by British national security aide Matthew Rycrof revealed. Dearlove reported, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
Members of the British Cabinet were worried by the news, the memo shows, since they knew that the case against Iraq was tissue-thin in international law and that there were several more egregious sinners in the weapons area than Iraq. Because the United Kingdom, unlike the United States, is a member of the International Criminal Court, its officials had to worry about being tried for war crimes if they became involved in an illegal war of aggression launched by Bush and lacking U.N. Security Council sanction. Prime Minister Tony Blair put his hopes in a ploy. He thought that Bush should arrange for the United Nations to demand a return to Iraq of weapons inspectors, with the hope that Saddam Hussein would refuse, thus creating a legal justification for war acceptable to the international community.
On May 6, Knight Ridder reporters Warren Strobel and John Walcott said that a former high official in the U.S. government told them that Dearlove's remarks were "an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during his visit. This past Monday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan finally responded to the leaked document but denied that he had read it. Regarding the allegation that Bush fixed the intelligence around the Iraq war policy he said, "The suggestion is just flat-out wrong. Anyone who wants to know how the intelligence was used only has to go back and read everything that was said in public about the lead-up to the war."
It is hard to see how this absurdly vague methodology could actually refute the memo's charges or, indeed, to know what exactly McClellan was driving at. He added, "The president of the United States, in a very public way, reached out to people across the world, went to the United Nations, and tried to resolve this in a diplomatic manner." But as the memo makes clear, that "reaching out" was fraudulent, a smoke screen to cover a decision that had already been made. Bush went to the United Nations reluctantly and against the advice of the Cheney and Rumsfeld faction, mainly as a way of giving Saddam an ultimatum that would form the basis for a war.
The Bush administration, and some credulous or loyal members of the press, have long tried to blame U.S. intelligence services for exaggerating the Iraq threat and thus misleading the president into going to war. That position was always weak, and it is now revealed as laughable. President Bush was not misled by shoddy intelligence. Rather, he insisted on getting the intelligence that would support the war on which he had already decided. A good half of Americans, opinion polls show, now believe that the president actively lied to them about Iraq. In another, less cynical, flag-waving and intimidated age, this conclusion would provoke a scandal. The question would be, What did George W. Bush decide about Iraq, and when did he decide it?
The leaked British document demonstrates that the moment of decision was far earlier than the Bush administration publicly admitted. On Aug. 7, just weeks after the Dearlove visit to Washington, Cheney said in California that no decision had been made on Iraq. When Bush met with Saudi ambassador Bandar bin Sultan on Aug. 26, 2002, CNN reported that White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told the press, "The president stressed that he has made no decisions, that he will continue to engage in consultations with Saudi Arabia and other nations about steps in the Middle East, steps in Iraq." On Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney was interviewed by Tim Russert on "Meet the Press." Russert asked, "Will militarily this be a cakewalk? Two, how long would we be there and how much would it cost?" Cheney replied, "First of all, no decision's been made yet to launch a military operation."
The administration continued the charade that no decision had been taken through the end of 2002 and into 2003. In a White House press conference on Dec. 17, 2002, a questioner asked Fleischer, "The L.A. Times today published a poll that found that 72 percent of Americans, including 60 percent of Republicans, said the president has not provided enough evidence to justify starting a war with Iraq. Is the president losing the public relations battle here in the United States?"
"Well, one, I think that I'll just state what is well known," Fleischer replied. "The president will not make any decision about war and peace and the possibility of putting some of our nation's best men and women in harm's way on the basis of a poll. He will do it on the basis of his judgment as commander in chief and what it will take to save and protect American lives in the event that he reaches the conclusion Saddam Hussein will indeed engage in war against the United States or provide terrorists with weapons to engage in war against the United States, just like on September 11th with the attack. And if he reaches that judgment, he will do so because the information he has and the judgment he makes suggest that, not because of a poll."
The British memo is only the most decisive in a long list of documents that make it inescapably clear that Bush had decided to go to war long before. Indeed, Bush had decided as early as his presidential campaign in the year 2000 that he would find a way to fight an Iraq war to unseat Saddam. I was in the studio with Arab-American journalist Osama Siblani on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" program on March 11, 2005, when Siblani reported a May 2000 encounter he had with then-candidate Bush in a hotel in Troy, Mich. "He told me just straight to my face, among 12 or maybe 13 Republicans at that time here in Michigan at the hotel. I think it was on May 17, 2000, even before he became the nominee for the Republicans. He told me that he was going to take him out, when we talked about Saddam Hussein in Iraq." According to Siblani, Bush added that "he wanted to go to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, and he considered the regime an imminent and gathering threat against the United States." Siblani points out that Bush at that point was privy to no classified intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs and had already made up his mind on the issue.
Siblani's account of Bush's stance is virtually identical to the impressions Dearlove brought back from Washington a little over two years later: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD." Iraq had long played the great white whale to W.'s Ahab, and the chance to move decisively against Saddam was intrinsic to his presidential ambitions.
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill described to Ron Susskind in "The Price of Loyalty" the first Bush national security meeting of principals on Jan. 30, 2001. He writes that after Bush announced he would simply disengage from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and "unleash Sharon," he made it clear that Iraq would be a priority. "The hour almost up, Bush had assignments for everyone ... Rumsfeld and [Joint Chiefs chair Gen. H. Hugh] Shelton, he said, 'should examine our military options.' That included rebuilding the military coalition from the 1991 Gulf War, examining 'how it might look' to use U.S. ground forces in the north and the south of Iraq ... Ten days in, and it was about Iraq." Bush hit the ground running with regard to Iraq, shunting aside key U.S. foreign-policy goals -- such as a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict -- in favor of exploring military options against Saddam Hussein. O'Neill reports a sense at the meeting that the reluctance to commit ground forces to an Asian war, a legacy of the Vietnam War, had ended with the advent of the Bush presidency.
An Iraq war might have been a hard sell, even for the skilled and highly manipulative Bush team. But Sept. 11 ensured that they could get congressional approval and public support for a war. Americans were angry and willing to lash out in any direction specified by the president. Former terrorism czar Richard Clarke related that on the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, Bush "grabbed a few of us and closed the door to the conference room. 'Look,' he told us, 'I know you have a lot to do and all ... but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way...'" When Clarke protested that it was clearly an al-Qaida operation, Bush insisted, "Just look. I want to know any shred ... Look into Iraq, Saddam." According to Clarke, Bush said it "testily."
Clarke reveals that Rumsfeld was already, on the afternoon of Sept. 12, "talking about broadening the objectives of our response and 'getting Iraq.'" Although early accounts of National Security Council meetings after the attacks highlighted the role of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in pressing for an immediate war on Iraq, it has become increasingly clear that he was only one such voice, and hardly the most senior.
Astonishingly, the Bush administration almost took the United States to war against Iraq in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11. We know about this episode from the public account of Sir Christopher Meyer, then the U.K. ambassador in Washington. Meyer reported that in the two weeks after Sept. 11, the Bush national security team argued back and forth over whether to attack Iraq or Afghanistan. It appears from his account that Bush was leaning toward the Iraq option.
Meyer spoke again about the matter to Vanity Fair for its May 2004 report, "The Path to War." Soon after Sept. 11, Meyer went to a dinner at the White House, "attended also by Colin Powell, [and] Condi Rice," where "Bush made clear that he was determined to topple Saddam. 'Rumors were already flying that Bush would use 9/11 as a pretext to attack Iraq,' Meyer remembers." When British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Washington on Sept. 20, 2001, he was alarmed. If Blair had consulted MI6 about the relative merits of the Afghanistan and Iraq options, we can only imagine what well-informed British intelligence officers in Pakistan were cabling London about the dangers of leaving bin Laden and al-Qaida in place while plunging into a potential quagmire in Iraq. Fears that London was a major al-Qaida target would have underlined the risks to the United Kingdom of an "Iraq first" policy in Washington.
Meyer told Vanity Fair, "Blair came with a very strong message -- don't get distracted; the priorities were al-Qaida, Afghanistan, the Taliban." He must have been terrified that the Bush administration would abandon London to al-Qaida while pursuing the great white whale of Iraq. But he managed to help persuade Bush. Meyer reports, "Bush said, 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.'" Meyer also said, in spring 2004, that it was clear "that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions." In short, Meyer strongly implies that Blair persuaded Bush to make war on al-Qaida in Afghanistan first by promising him British support for a later Iraq campaign.
That the Afghanistan war went so well quickly enabled Bush to begin planning for an attack on Iraq. Bob Woodward reports in "Plan of Attack" that Bush asked Cheney for an Iraq war plan on Nov. 21. On Nov. 26 the Independent reported that Bush had called Saddam Hussein "evil" and demanded that he accept U.N. weapons inspectors. On Nov. 27 Howard Fineman of Newsweek reported a conversation with Bush aboard Air Force One in the wake of the successful Afghanistan campaign. "He wants to avoid the more profound mistakes his dad made...: his failure, at the end of the Gulf War, to stop -- once and for all -- Saddam Hussein in Iraq from threatening the world with weapons of mass destruction."
Nov. 27, 2001, was a significant date. Gen. Tommy Franks in his memoirs reveals that he received an unexpected call from Rumsfeld. "General Franks, the president wants us to look at options for Iraq." Franks knew exactly what the call portended. "Son of a bitch, I thought. No rest for the weary." There would be another war. The die had already been cast.
On Dec. 31 Newsweek reported, "In principle, Bush and his national-security team have decided that Saddam has to go, U.S. officials say. 'The question is not if the United States is going to hit Iraq; the question is when,' says a senior American envoy in the Middle East." The article notes Bush's oft-stated caution that no final decision had been made, but dismisses it on the basis of insider information. The main credit for this article was given to Christopher Dickey and John Barry, but Sami Kohen is listed as reporting from Turkey. Since a U.S. ambassador is quoted, and Kohen was the only one of the coauthors in the Middle East, he is likely the one who got the quote. Was his source Ambassador W. Robert Pearson?
Former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida says in his memoirs, "Intelligence Matters," that on Feb. 19, 2002, he visited the U.S. Central Command. Franks revealed to him that the command was no longer engaged in a war in Afghanistan. Graham was taken aback. Franks told the stunned senator, "Military and intelligence personnel are being re-deployed to prepare for an action in Iraq." The implementation phase had already begun.
In April 2002, Tony Blair went to see Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch. Vanity Fair reports that Blair stressed the need to get the backing of the United Nations for an Iraq war if he was going to swing Parliament behind it.
This long-term obsession of George W. Bush, then, was the background of the meeting in Washington with Dearlove in July 2002. Although Dearlove reported on a change of mood, such that the Iraq war was now a sure thing, he was probably actually observing that Bush had moved it to the front burner. By late July or very early August 2002, according to Vanity Fair, Blair had called Bush. A senior White House official who saw the transcript remarked, "The way it read was that, come what may, Saddam was going to go; they said they were going forward, they were going to take out the regime, and they were doing the right thing." Blair, he said, did not need any convincing. Both Blair and Bush would go on telling the public for months afterward that no final decision had been made about going to war.
It was also in midsummer 2002 that Franks asked Rumsfeld for $750 million to begin making preparations in Kuwait toward an Iraq war. The request, reported in Woodward's "Plan of Attack," provoked a good deal of controversy. Many in Congress felt that no specific appropriation had been made for such preparations, and the money was essentially taken from Afghanistan appropriations without congressional approval.
From Bush's meeting in May 2000 with Osama Siblani and 12 Republicans in a hotel room in Troy, Mich., until July 2002, his obsession with attacking Iraq never wavered. His first national security meeting was all about Iraq. He seriously considered attacking Iraq before Afghanistan after Sept. 11, and Blair had to argue him into the Afghanistan war. He had Rumsfeld ask Gen. Franks for an Iraq war plan on Nov. 27, 2001. The sense that Dearlove had, that the die had been inexorably cast by July 2002, was entirely correct.
But it is no positive reflection on the head of MI6 that he had not been able to discern that the die had been cast long before. The Downing Street memo is remarkable only for the frankness with which it acknowledges the illegality of the planned war and Bush's policy of "fixing" the intelligence around the policy. That the decision was made first, and various pretexts advanced for it in the aftermath, is now clear to the public.
Why has there not been more outrage in the United States at these revelations? Many Americans may have chosen to overlook the lies and deceptions the Bush administration used to justify the war because they still believe the Iraq war might have made them at least somewhat safer. When they realize that this hope, too, is unfounded, and that in fact the war has greatly increased the threat of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, their wrath may be visited on the president and the political party that has brought America the biggest foreign-policy disaster since Vietnam.
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About the writerSound Off
Juan Cole is a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan and the author of "Sacred Space and Holy War" (IB Tauris, 2002).
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Afraid to tell the truth
A secret memo publicized in Britain confirms the lies on which Bush based his Iraq policy. Why has it received so little notice in the U.S. press?
By Joe Conason
Oh, then there's this. So, there's not going to be a "drawdown" of troops at the end of this year? And there's going to be a reversal of the Iraqi government's wish to put an end to mosque raids? Hm...who's in control here? It seems as though the occupying forces are barely holding on to control for the fledgling government. And what is the fledgling government doing? Mainly stealing from Iraq and raising sectarian tension while not helping improve security one damn bit.
Can you tell that I'm angry? Well, Bright Eyes does a good job of summarizing my anger. And while I may not be able to express myself too well at the moment, I can defer you to those that do.
Iraq is a bloody no man's land. America has failed to win the war. But has it lost it?
Ten US troops were killed in action across Iraq last week. The fighting is now sustained and ferocious. Patrick Cockburn, winner of the Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism, reports from the frontline of America's war on terror
15 May 2005
"The battlefield is a great place for liars," Stonewall Jackson once said on viewing the aftermath of a battle in the American civil war.
The great general meant that the confusion of battle is such that anybody can claim anything during a war and hope to get away with it. But even by the standards of other conflicts, Iraq has been particularly fertile in lies. Going by the claims of President George Bush, the war should long be over since his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech on 1 May 2003. In fact most of the 1,600 US dead and 12,000 wounded have become casualties in the following two years.
The ferocious resistance encountered last week by the 1,000-strong US marine task force trying to fight its way into villages around the towns of Qaim and Obeidi in western Iraq shows that the war is far from over. So far nine marines have been killed in the week-long campaign, while another US soldier was killed and four wounded in central Iraq on Friday. Meanwhile, a car bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in central Baghdad yesterday, killing at least five Iraqis and injuring 12.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the leader of one of the Kurdish parties, confidently told a meeting in Brasilia last week that there is war in only three or four out of 18 Iraqi provinces. Back in Baghdad Mr Talabani, an experienced guerrilla leader, has deployed no fewer than 3,000 Kurdish soldiers or peshmerga around his residence in case of attack. One visitor was amused to hear the newly elected President interrupt his own relentlessly upbeat account of government achievements to snap orders to his aides on the correct positioning of troops and heavy weapons around his house.
There is no doubt that the US has failed to win the war. Much of Iraq is a bloody no man's land. The army has not been able to secure the short highway to the airport, though it is the most important road in the country, linking the US civil headquarters in the Green Zone with its military HQ at Camp Victory.
Ironically, the extent of US failure to control Iraq is masked by the fact that it is too dangerous for the foreign media to venture out of central Baghdad. Some have retreated to the supposed safety of the Green Zone. Mr Bush can claim that no news is good news, though in fact the precise opposite is true.
Embedded journalism fosters false optimism. It means reporters are only present where American troops are active, though US forces seldom venture into much of Iraq. Embedded correspondents bravely covered the storming of Fallujah by US marines last November and rightly portrayed it as a US military success. But the outside world remained largely unaware, because no reporters were present with US forces, that at the same moment an insurgent offensive had captured most of Mosul, a city five times larger than Fallujah.
Why has the vastly expensive and heavily equipped US army failed militarily in Iraq? After the crescendo of violence over the past month there should be no doubts that the US has not quashed the insurgents whom for two years American military spokesmen have portrayed as a hunted remnant of Saddam Hussein's regime assisted by foreign fighters.
The failure was in part political. Immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein polls showed that Iraqis were evenly divided on whether they had been liberated or occupied. Eighteen months later the great majority both of Sunni and Shia said they had been occupied, and they did not like it. Every time I visited a spot where an American soldier had been killed or a US vehicle destroyed there were crowds of young men and children screaming their delight. "I am a poor man but I am going home to cook a chicken to celebrate," said one man as he stood by the spot marked with the blood of an American soldier who had just been shot to death.
Many of the resistance groups are bigoted Sunni Arab fanatics who see Shia as well as US soldiers as infidels whom it is a religious duty to kill. Others are led by officers from Saddam's brutal security forces. But Washington never appreciated the fact that the US occupation was so unpopular that even the most unsavoury groups received popular support.
From the start, there was something dysfunctional about the American armed forces. They could not adapt themselves to Iraq. Their massive firepower meant they won any set-piece battle, but it also meant that they accidentally killed so many Iraqi civilians that they were the recruiting sergeants of the resistance. The army denied counting Iraqi civilian dead, which might be helpful in dealing with American public opinion. But Iraqis knew how many of their people were dying.
The US war machine was over-armed. I once saw a unit trying to restore order at a petrol station where there was a fist fight between Iraqi drivers over queue-jumping (given that people sometimes sleep two nights in their cars waiting to fill a tank, tempers were understandably frayed). In one corner was a massive howitzer, its barrel capable of hurling a shell 30km, which the soldiers had brought along for this minor policing exercise.
The US army was designed to fight a high-technology blitzkrieg, but not much else. It required large quantities of supplies and its supply lines were vulnerable to roadside bombs. Combat engineers, essentially sappers, lamented that they had received absolutely no training in doing this. Even conventional mine detectors did not work. Roadsides in Iraq are full of metal because Iraqi drivers normally dispose of soft drink cans out the window. Sappers were reduced to prodding the soil nervously with titanium rods like wizards' wands. Because of poor intelligence and excessive firepower, American operations all became exercises in collective punishment. At first the US did not realise that all Iraqi men have guns and they considered possession of a weapon a sign of hostile intention towards the occupation. They confiscated as suspicious large quantities of cash in farmers' houses, not realising that Iraqis often keep the family fortune at home in $100 bills ever since Saddam Hussein closed the banks before the Gulf war and, when they reopened, Iraqi dinar deposits were almost worthless.
The US army was also too thin on the ground. It has 145,000 men in Iraq, but reportedly only half of these are combat troops. During the heavily publicised assault on Fallujah the US forces drained the rest of Iraq of its soldiers. "We discovered the US troops had suddenly abandoned the main road between Kirkuk and Baghdad without telling anybody," said one indignant observer. "It promptly fell under the control of the insurgents."
The army acts as a sort of fire brigade, briefly effective in dousing the flames, but always moving on before they are fully extinguished. There are only about 6,000 US soldiers in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital and which has a population of three million. For the election on 30 January, US reserves arriving in Iraq were all sent to Mosul to raise the level to 15,000 to prevent any uprising in the city. They succeeded in doing so but were then promptly withdrawn.
The shortage of US forces has a political explanation. Before the war Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defence, and his neo-conservative allies derided generals who said an occupation force numbering hundreds of thousands would be necessary to hold Iraq. When they were proved wrong they dealt with failure by denying it had taken place.
There is a sense of bitterness among many US National Guardsmen that they have been shanghaied into fighting in a dangerous war. I was leaving the Green Zone one day when one came up to me and said he noticed that I had a limp and kindly offered to show me a quicker way to the main gate. As we walked along he politely asked the cause of my disability. I explained I had had polio many years ago. He sighed and said he too had had his share of bad luck. Since he looked hale and hearty this surprised me. "Yes," he said bitterly. "My bad luck was that I joined the Washington State National Guard which had not been called up since 1945. Two months later they sent me here where I stand good chance of being killed."
The solution for the White House has been to build up an Iraqi force to take the place of US soldiers. This has been the policy since the autumn of 2003 and it has repeatedly failed. In April 2004, during the first fight for Fallujah, the Iraqi army battalions either mutinied before going to the city or refused to fight against fellow Iraqis once there. In Mosul in November 2004 the 14,000 police force melted away during the insurgent offensive, abandoning 30 police stations and $40m in equipment. Now the US is trying again. By the end of next year an Iraqi army and police force totalling 300,000 should be trained and ready to fight. Already they are much more evident in the streets of Baghdad and other cities.
The problem is that the troops are often based on militias which have a sectarian or ethnic base. The best troops are Kurdish peshmerga. Shia units are often connected with the Badr Brigade which fought on the side of Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. When 14 Sunni farmers from the Dulaimi tribe were found executed in Baghdad a week ago the Interior Ministry had to deny what was widely believed, that they had been killed by a Shia police unit.
The greatest failure of the US in Iraq is not that mistakes were made but that its political system has proved incapable of redressing them. Neither Mr Rumsfeld nor his lieutenants have been sacked. Paul Wolfowitz, under-secretary of defence and architect of the war, has been promoted to the World Bank.
Almost exactly a century ago the Russian empire fought a war with Japan in the belief that a swift victory would strengthen the powers-that-be in St Petersburg. Instead the Tsar's armies met defeat. Russian generals, who said that their tactic of charging Japanese machine guns with sabre-wielding cavalry had failed only because their men had attacked with insufficient brio, held their jobs. In Iraq, American generals and their political masters of demonstrable incompetence are not fired. The US is turning out to be much less of a military and political superpower than the rest of the world had supposed.
Arresting Al Jazeera for wanting more transparency in Egyptian elections is tremendous fun for Saddam Mubarak
Judges in Egypt have refused to oversee September's presidential election unless new legislation is passed guaranteeing their independence.
They also want assurances they will be allowed to oversee all stages of the electoral process.
More than 2,000 judges backed the demands at a Cairo meeting of the judge's club, an elected body of Egypt's judiciary.
This is an unprecedented show of defiance to the Egyptian government.
The Egyptian government is used to getting its own way, but now it is facing a revolt from a key branch in the state.
True democracy in Egypt? I doubt it, but let's wait and see if Saddam Mubarak will go all Uzbeki on the people or not.
Eight members of Al Jazeera's staff was arrested, further stifling any real change or transparency in the Egyptian dictatorship. The dream of holding truly democratic elections in Egypt is fading fast. Saddam Mubarak says, "Don't touch my judges!"
Why doesn't the US fund the opposition in Egypt? Is it only because of the peace treaty with Israel? How long will fake democracy last in Saddam Mubarak's Egypt?
Aljazeera has reported that Egyptian security authorities arrested eight members of its crew preparing to cover a meeting of the General Assembly of Cairo's Judges Club.
Aljazeera's correspondent Samir Omar and producer Ahmad Nour are among those arrested on Friday.
The afternoon meeting is aimed at pressing the judges' demand that they be allowed to fully monitor the presidential elections, and is expected to announce the judges' final position on the issue of supervision of the forthcoming elections.
The judges have threatened not to supervise the elections at all if they are not given full control over each step of the election process.
They have also demanded the approval of a law on the independence of judicial authorities.
And concerning the possible pardoning of Puppet Crook Chalabi by Jordan...well, King Saddam Abdullah's dictatorship needs some further fine-tuning in order for this to seem plausible. Or perhaps all he needs is a simple bribe of 300 million dollars, which I'm sure Chalabi can supply since he's probably stolen that and more from Iraq and Iraqis in the past couple of years. A peace treaty with Israel is probably going to take a while considering Iraq doesn't even have stable essential services. So, that isn't an option at the moment.
Good luck to all you crooks and puppets. You're gonna need it. Make sure those Swiss bank accounts are sealed air-tight. I've been hearing some rather sickening 1st-hand accounts of the bribery going on in Iraq at the moment. If you try to come and tell me it's not happening from both Americans, Iraqis, and other contractors...well, I'd know you'd be completely full of shit. Corruption is as bad as it has ever been. And there are people making boat-loads of money off of Iraqi suffering. It makes me sick. If there is a hell, there will be a special sub-circle for you bastards making money and gaining power in such a manner.
Ah...it feels better to get that off my chest. I've been feeling incapable of blogging as of late because I don't know what else to say about what's going on in Iraq anymore. Things are clearly spinning out of control and there is no improvement in essential services and security.
And we apparently have most of our government in place. If you ask me, this government will not last the, what, 5 months they have left. Anyway, if they do...it will suprise me.
I was inspired to sit down and try to think about solving all the world's problems again when I saw Hotel Rwanda the other day. If I come up with anything, I will let you know. It was a great film...and as I've been very interested in what happened in this low-point of civilization since 1996, it was amazing to see it brought to life. I also saw Kingdom of Heaven. I thought it was actually very good. There are some historical inaccuracies, but it still resonates the general feeling and situation quite well from what we know. I certainly believe it was fair, though. The era of the Crusades were the lowest point in the history of Christianity.
That's all for now. I am surprised I squeezed out so many words. Hehe...
Previously, Egyptians have cast only a yes or no vote on a sole candidate nominated by parliament every six years.Whereby Saddam Mubarak's margin of victory tended to be near the margin of Saddam Hussein's 99%. The former would only receive about 98% of the vote, though.
Now with the new changes, it looks like corruption will only be encouraged. How comforting.
The guidelines stipulate that a presidential candidate must either be a member of an official political party or, if running as an independent, get a minimum of 65 recommendations from elected members of the lower house, 25 from the Shura council, and 10 from local councils from at least 14 governorates.
Insisting to rescind such stipulations for entry into the presidential race shall be paramount to those that wish for real democracy in the Arab world. Making changes in the most populous Arab nation, Egypt, may prove to be difficult, but to be two-faced and insincere about what's really happening only adds more poison to the current situation. And that's the last thing we need now.
The regulations, which were first published in state-owned media on Thursday, were seen by opposition figures as putting a gag on serious contenders because all the elected bodies are dominated by Mubarak's ruling party and its supporters.
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