Saturday, November 11, 2006

Weeping For His Mother

Boy weeping beside his mother's body baquba hospital mortuary November 11 2006
He is weeping because the body you see is that of his mother. He is waiting for help to take her body for burial. She was killed in the suicide bombing of the police station in Zaghinya today. One other person was killed in that bombing.

In that part of the country he will know who to blame, and upon whom to seek revenge. It will not be a fellow Iraqi. It will not be one of the largely mythical "foreigner Jihadis." It will be one of the hated American soldiers whose presence caused her death.

Just GO.

Ali

Friday, November 10, 2006

Boo Fucking Hoo

Out-of-Work GOP Aides Face Tough Road Ahead

By Kate Ackley
Roll Call Staff

November 9, 2006

The hundreds of Republican staffers — not to mention more than a few Members — who will lose their jobs in the next few weeks are going to face a hostile marketplace on K Street as unemployed Republicans flood the market.

Tuesday’s election results sent at least 20 incumbents in the House and Senate packing and flipped control of the House to Democrats. It also flipped a decade-long trend of Republicans as the darlings of the lobbying sector. While GOP aides are flooding the town with their résumés, it’s now plugged-in Democratic aides whom companies and firms really have an eye for. ………

You can read about the parasites plight in full here.

Try to restrain your tears. The report in Rollcall is a heap of alarmist crap. There are lots and lots of job openings for people like them right here or if they're the "go getting" type just send them this direct link to the job application form.

markfromireland

In Which An Annoyed Gorilla Asks A Question of His Friends

OK. Which one of you jokers gave my email addy to Mrs. Rumsfeld?

markfromireland

This Is The Only Time Our Children Can Play

You can click the picture to see it in its real size. This picture was taken today in Baghdad. During the curfew time. There is a curfew every Friday now. It is there so that even more people are not killed as they gather to pray.

I am a primary school teacher. I am the first of my family to be able to read or write. I am a widow for two years for which I have to thank an American soldier. My husband was shot by this murdering foreigner as he came home bringing bread. He was not armed. He did not even know how to shoot. His commander a lieutenant came to my home and spoke to me. I did not want to let him in but the interpreter told me that I and my children would be punished if I did not let this foreign murderer into my home. He spoke only of his feelings. Was I supposed to care about his feelings? Then he tried to give me money. I told him to leave and take his traitor interpreter with him.

I have three children. Friday curfew is the only time I dare let my children out to play. We have an arrangement that men in our neighbourhood (I am NOT going to tell you where I live) take it in turns to bring our children to school. A group of armed men first a group of armed men to each side. A group of armed men behind. My children are growing up without a father and surrounded by armed men. It is hard for my children to be locked in all the time. It is hard for me to be locked in with them all the time!

Soon I and my children are going away. We are going to join Maryam. (I am NOT going to tell you where that is either) But I know we will be safer there and the refugee camp needs more teachers so I will have work we will have food and safety and I will know that my children can run around and play like children should.

Zeynab

A Work Of Compassion

some of the victims of American compassion being buriedThe men you are seeing carrying yet another one of the victims of the predator empire's compassion work for Sheikh al-Sudani. He and his sons live in poverty in al-Thawra. Since the time of Saddam he has gone to the mortuaries, the police stations, the garbage tips, and collected the bodies of the dead. Like in the time of Saddam under the rule of the predator empire the familyies of the murdered often dare not claim the body. For fear that they will be next.

He gives all a decent burial. He does not care what sect or religion they belonged to. He cares only that their body be given a decent burial and that their family can come to him. Search his records and know that at least their loved one was buried with respect and decency.

He and his family are now very poor. They do not care. They and their work are supported now completely by charities.

Their have been many attempts to kill them.

We have a saying in Iraq since shortly after the predator empire's troops arrived. "The student is gone the master has arrived." May God protect the Sheikh and his work of compassion.

Ali

Summary for Today and Thursday

Here is a summary of events reported around Iraq by the following newspapers and or radio stations in the Arabic language:

  1. Al Sabah al Jadid (newspaper - Baghdad)
  2. Al Taakhi (newspaper- Baghdad)
  3. Hawlati (newspaper - Al Sulaimaniyah)
  4. Al Mannarah (newspaper -Basrah)
  5. Radio Annas (Baghdad)


Baghdad and Anbar

Three U.S. soldiers killed, fourth wounded in , Nov 10, (VOI): Three U.S. forces were killed and a fourth was wounded in armed operations in Baghdad and the western Iraqi province of Anbar, the U.S. army said.

The invaders army also said in their statement that a Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died on Thursday from wounds sustained in action while operating in al-Anbar Province.

This takes the death toll among U.S. soldiers in November to 24 soldiers.

Talafar

Colonel Karim Jassem, commander of the 3rd regiment- 2nd brigade and five of his bodyguards were killed in a car bombing. 5 other soldiers were killed. Six soldiers were wounded and not expected to survive. A further four people were killed in a second car bombing.
Yusifiyah:

A family of 12 including women were killed by gunmen who smashed their way into their home in al-Yusifiyah (between Baghdad and Karbalaa,) according to Razzaq Ali the gunmen fled the scene immediately.

Yesterday's Main Incidents

Baghdad:

At least 11 Iraqis were killed and 39 others wounded in four separate car bomb explosions in Baghdad.

Two civilians were killed and 17 others were wounded on Thursday morning when an explosive charge went off amid a crowd of job-seeking day laborers in central Baghdad.
The body of an Iraqi army officer was found dumped in a pile of garbage in central Baghdad.

An Iraqi police officer and his bodyguard were killed by gunmen in central Baghdad.
An Iraqi soldier was killed and four others wounded in east Baghdad by a roadside bomb targeting their patrol.

Interior ministry forces claim to have killed 90 gunmen, detained 73 others and freed two kidnapped people during the first week of November.

(Abbas who also writes here was at the last such meeting and asked the spokesman how many of the detained and killed were recognised by their colleagues as being in the employ of the Interior Ministry. The spokesman became angry and refused to answer. Abbas and his family has now moved in with me.)

One civilian was killed and three others wounded by mortar shells in Kazemiya.
A university student was murdered by gunmen near Diala Bridge in south Baghdad. A tortured body was found in Jarf an-Naddaf.

Five civilians were wounded by mortar shells in Baladiyat.

Kut:
Four Iraqi policemen were wounded by a bomb targeting their patrol in Wassit.

Mosul:

Four people one of them a policeman, were killed and eight were wounded by a car bomb in a market.

Two civilians were caught in crossfire and wounded during shooting between a police patrol and resistance gunmen.

An Iraqi army officer and his wife were killed by unknown gunmen in in the afternoon.

Ali

Mission Accompli ..... glug glug glug

Mission accomplished glug glug glug ......
markfromireland

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Keep Your Compassion

One of the victims of American compassion
We love our children and want them to live.
— Keep your compassion.

Ali

It's The War Stupid

UK Independent front page November 9 2006
The UK Independent's Front Page Today
markfromireland

Pretzeldent Chimpanzduck

The Chimp's evolution
markfromireland

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Swinging Chimp

Swinging chimp and friend
markfromireland

Just One Of Today's Casualties

Child killed in BaquobaOne of today's victims of the American war against my people. Baquoba hospital morgue November 8th 2006.

Ali

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Do Not Care How You Vote

7 year old child killed Baghdad todayAdil was shot by gunmen in al-karkh today. He was seven years old. His sister Zeynab was killed by the same gunmen. She was five.

They were the innocent victims of the American imperial project. America wants Iraq weak, divided, dependent, a place for bases, and a source of oil. From Iraq, America believes, she can "definitively dominate" the entire Middle East

America believes she has the right to dominate.

Nothing in the American election will change this. The Democrats are marginally less barbaric than the Republicans it is true. They are marginally less incompetent than the Republicans, that is true also. But when it comes to how they treat Arabs they are just as imperialistic, just as corrupt, just as racist as the Republicans.

I do not care which American imperialist sits in the White House. I do not care which American imperialist party controls the American legislature. I do not care about their squabbles over which corrupt and racist American corporation gets to simultaneously loot both my country and the American treasury. It is irrelevant.

I do not care if, or how, you vote.

All that I care about is that American imperial troops are in my homeland. All that I care about is that they be expelled. There is only one language that America has ever spoken to me and to my people. And that is the language of contempt of racism of violence of pain of greed and of blood.

I do not doubt that there are many good Americans who are sincerely apalled at what is happening, at what is being done to my people by their country.

But there are not enough of them to make a difference. Just as there were not enough "good Germans" to make a difference.

Empires react to one thing and to one thing only. Loss. Loss of power. Loss of money. Loss of blood. I do not forget and I do not forgive that the Democrats voted to support this war of conquest. I do not forget and I do not forgive that they care only that it was not "done right." You have smashed your way into my home. You have set fire to my holy places. You have sent Clinton's lieing whore to tell me that my children's groans as they die of hunger and of cancer are "worth it." You have sent Bush's lieing whore to tell me that the screams of my children as they writhe on the ground dieing are the "birth pangs" of the New Middle East. I do not care how you vote.

I care only that you be forced to leave my home.


Abbas,

Ahmad,

Ali,

Ali (al-Basrawi),

Fatima,

Hassan,

Hussayn,

Laith,

Omar,

Sagib,

Thalit,

Yassir,

Zeynab.

Monday, November 06, 2006

This Is Foolishness

It is also very annoying:

Pakistani women burn american Flag call Saddam hero of Islam

Saddam was a tool of the West in particular he was a tool of the Americans for years. He cared for his own power and for nothing else. He cared nothing for Islam and pretended to be a Muslim only when it suited his puprpose. It was Saddam who fearful of the Americans offered to be the Zionist colony's "most faithful friend."

Saddam is not now, never was, and never will be, a "Hero of Islam". He is now, always was, and always will be a secularist. For these ladys (who are in Pakistan not in Iraq) to claim he is a "Hero of Islam" is to debase Islam and themselves. Our detestation of the American empire and its crusade against us should not lead us to become like the Americans. We should not, as they do, tell one lie after another changing the lie every day the better to deceive the listener. As Muslims we know the truth. As Muslims we know that the truth is the greatest weapon we have as we defend ourselves against the American empire's desire to place it's foot on the neck of every Muslim. In their eagerness for an effective demonstration these ladys have forgotten that . They should be ashamed.

Ali

Mr Howard Is Confident

Now that I have a reliable internet connection I have been amusing myself reading the online newspapers in countries that have walking target practice subjects troops illegally occupying my country. The Australians, are among that number. They have a particularly fine record of bribing Sadam's officials, selling contaminated food to Iraq, shooting the bodyguards of Iraqi ministers and innocent civilians and then telling numerous lies about it. This article from the Australian Daily Telegraph amused me greatly.

Saddam verdict 'won't endanger troops'

By Sandra O'Malley

November 06, 2006 12:00

PRIME Minister John Howard is confident Australian troops in Iraq won't be at greater risk because of the death sentence brought down on former dictator Saddam Hussein.

............

Mr Howard doesn't believe the verdict means Australian troops in Iraq could be bigger targets.

"I don't believe that the verdict will have any particular impact on the safety or otherwise of Australian troops," he said to the Nine Network.

"I don't know what the general reaction will be, violence in Iraq will go on, but is at stake here is a principle and a style of government."

He is correct that there is a principle involved. But wrong about everything else. The principle involved is my right as a human being, as an Iraqi, not to have armies of foreign war criminals bomb shoot and loot their way into my home. The principle involved is my right as a human being, as an Iraqi, not to have armies of foreign war criminals exceed Saddam's governments crimes. The principle involved is the right of the Iraqi people to resist the foreign invaders. As to "Mr Howard doesn't believe the verdict means Australian troops in Iraq could be bigger targets." They don't need to be bigger targets. They and their American masters are already at a very hittable size. It would be better for them not to be targets at all. This is easily achievable. Leave my country now.

Ali

Have ever justice and hypocrisy been so obscenely joined?

Now that I have a reliable internet connection I have been amusing myself reading the online newspapers in countries that have walking target practice subjects troops illegally occupying my country. The Australians, are among that number. They have a particularly fine record of bribing Sadam's officials, selling contaminated food to Iraq, shooting the bodyguards of Iraqi ministers and innocent civilians and then telling numerous lies about it. This article from the Australian Daily Telegraph amused me greatly.

Saddam verdict 'won't endanger troops'

By Sandra O'Malley

November 06, 2006 12:00

PRIME Minister John Howard is confident Australian troops in Iraq won't be at greater risk because of the death sentence brought down on former dictator Saddam Hussein.

............

Mr Howard doesn't believe the verdict means Australian troops in Iraq could be bigger targets.

"I don't believe that the verdict will have any particular impact on the safety or otherwise of Australian troops," he said to the Nine Network.

"I don't know what the general reaction will be, violence in Iraq will go on, but is at stake here is a principle and a style of government."

He is correct that there is a principle involved. But wrong about everything else. The principle involved is my right as a human being, as an Iraqi, not to have armies of foreign war criminals bomb shoot and loot their way into my home. The principle involved is my right as a human being, as an Iraqi, not to have armies of foreign war criminals exceed Saddam's governments crimes. The principle involved is the right of the Iraqi people to resist the foreign invaders. As to "Mr Howard doesn't believe the verdict means Australian troops in Iraq could be bigger targets." They don't need to be bigger targets. It would be better for them not to be targets at all. This is easily achievable. Leave my country now.

Ali

When All Else Fails...

A final note. I just read somewhere that some of the families of dead American soldiers are visiting the Iraqi north to see ‘what their sons and daughters died for’. If that’s the goal of the visit, then, “Ladies and gentlemen- to your right is the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to your left is the Dawry refinery… Each of you get this, a gift bag containing a 3 by 3 color poster of Al Sayid Muqtada Al Sadr (Long May He Live And Prosper), an Ayatollah Sistani t-shirt and a map of Iran, to scale, redrawn with the Islamic Republic of South Iraq. Also… Hey you! You- the female in the back- is that a lock of hair I see? Cover it up or stay home."

And that is what they died for.

The full text of Riverbend¨'s latest positing can be found here.

markfromireland

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Head and Heart

Rhetorical Questions:
Did anyone think Saddam would be found innocent?
Did anyone think Saddam would receive anything other than the death penalty?

Take a look at the image below:

Composite 4 panel image of demonstrations for and against Saddam's death

Key to the graphic (going clockwise):

  1. Policemen celebrate the news of the death sentence.
  2. Iraqi Shi'ites celebrate the news of the death sentence. The posters are of Muqtada al-Sadr and his father who was murdered at Saddam's orders
  3. Sadr city residents celebrate the news of the death sentence.
  4. Tikrit residents protest the news of the death sentence.

There's really not much I can, or indeed should, say here. While I know and love Iraq, I'm not Iraqi, it's not my place to tell Iraqis what to do. The people of Iraq have suffered, are suffering, and will continue to suffer, far too much because meddling foreigners, chiefly the United States, want to dictate what they do and say in their own country. So I'll confine myself to saying what I believe:

Saddam is a bad man. In fact he is genuinely evil. His hands are dripping with Iraqi blood. If ever there were a man who deserves death Saddam deserves it. I wish I could be there to watch as the noose is put around his neck and he is slowly hoisted into the air. I want to watch him die, and I know having seen similar hangings, that it is a slow and painful way to die. I want him to die slowly and painfully for all the evil he has wrought. I want him to die slowly and painfully for all the pain and despair he brought to friends whom I love. That's what my heart tells me.

My head and my conscience tell me something different. First as a Catholic it is an article of my faith that the death penalty is always wrong. That it arrogates unto man something that is properly left to God. I have always believed that. Secondly even a monster like Saddam Hussein is entitled to a fair trial. He didn't get one. There's no doubt what the verdict of a fair trial would have been. There's no excuse for his actions and there's no excuse for not giving him a fair trial. The measure of how civilised a country's legal system is, is the extent to which it protects everyone accused of a crime. The strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, the monsters and the benevolent. This trial was a show trial organised by and for the occupation. It was not organised to benefit the Iraqi people and it will not benefit them.

I do not and cannot condemn any Iraqi celebrating today. Were I an Iraqi, had I or my people suffered as the people of Iraq have suffered under this man of blood I too would be celebrating.

But I would still be wrong to do so. God put us here to celebrate life not to celebrate death.

markfromireland

Scoping Out The Opposition



Ali

Bush & Blair: The Iraq And Afghan Fantasies

Bush & Blair: The Iraq fantasy

Neither will admit that Iraq is a disaster. But while their state of denial may cost votes in Washington and London, on the frontline in the Middle East, it continues to cost lives

By Patrick Cockburn Published: 05 November 2006

"When does the incompetence end and the crime begin?" asked an appalled German Chancellor in the First World War when the German army commander said he intended to resume his bloody and doomed assaults on the French fortress city of Verdun.

The same could be said of the disastrous policies of George Bush and Tony Blair in Iraq. At least 3,000 Iraqis and 100 American soldiers are dying every month. The failure of the US and Britain at every level in Iraq is obvious to all. But the White House and Downing Street have lived in a state of permanent denial. On the Downing Street website are listed 10 "Big Issues" affecting the Prime Minister, but Iraq is not one of them.

[snip].

Hostility to the American and British troops has a direct and lethal consequence for the soldiers on the ground. The same poll shows that 92 per cent of Sunni and 62 per cent of Shia approve of attacks on US-led forces. This is the real explanation for the strength of the insurgency: it is widely popular.

For the past three-and-a-half years in Iraq, one needed to close both eyes very hard or live in Baghdad's Green Zone not to see that the occupation was detested by most Iraqis. At places where US Humvees had been blown up or US soldiers killed or wounded there were usually Iraqis dancing for joy.

Supposedly, the centrepiece of American and British policy is to stay "until the job is done" and hand over to Iraqi army and police who will cope with powerful militias like the Mehdi Army. But in police stations in many parts of southern Iraq, photographs pinned to the wall include one of British armoured vehicles erupting in flames, beside a portrait of Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Mehdi Army.

[snip]

But the refusal to admit, as the British army commander Sir Richard Dannatt pointed out, that the occupation generates resistance in Iraq, means that no new and more successful policy can be devised. It is this that is criminal. And it is all the worse because the rational explanation for Mr Bush's persistence in bankrupt policies in Iraq is that he has always given priority to domestic politics. Holding power in Washington was more important than real success in Baghdad.

[snip]

In each case reality was always different. Nobody in Iraq thought Saddam was the leader of the resistance, and his capture had no effect on the insurgency. The return of sovereignty had little meaning: last week the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, admitted that he could not move a company of Iraqi troops without US permission.

Fallujah was very publicly stormed by the US Marines in November 2004, but a few days later the insurgents, in an operation hardly mentioned by the administration, captured the much larger city of Mosul in northern Iraq, seizing arms worth $40m (£21m). The elections and referendum in 2005 deeply divided Iraq's communities along sectarian and ethnic lines, and led directly to civil war in central Iraq.

[snip]

I used to think how absurd it was for me to risk my life by visiting the Green Zone, the entrances to which were among the most bombed targets in Iraq, to see diplomats who claimed that the butchery in Iraq was much exaggerated. But when I asked them if they would like to come and have lunch in my hotel outside the zone, they always threw up their hands in horror and said their security men would never allow it.

The fantasy picture of Iraq purveyed by Mr Bush and Mr Blair is now being exposed. The Potemkin village they constructed to divert attention from what was really happening in Iraq is finally going up in flames.

But it is too late for the Iraqis, Americans and British who died because they were unwitting actors in this fiction, carefully concocted by the White House and Downing Street to show progress where there is frustration, and victory where there is only defeat.

Full text of article can be found here:


Bush & Blair: The Afghan fantasy

Neither will admit that Afghanistan is a struggle. But their denial is costing the lives of civilians and troops on the frontline

By Raymond Whitaker Published: 05 November 2006

"Some of the guys think we shouldn't be here, but most of us support it," a Royal Marine told me as we patrolled near Lashkar Gah, the capital of Afghanistan's Helmand province. A huge sun was setting behind the mud walls of Mukhtar, a desperately poor village outside the town which houses refugees from less stable areas.

"We know what we're doing here: supporting the Afghan people," the marine went on. He did not say it, but the implication was that this was different from Iraq, where British troops must be wondering about their mission after the chief of the army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said they should leave "soon".

British officers in Helmand, from the commander, Brigadier Jerry Thomas, down, are relentlessly on-message about the purpose of their deployment, now six months old. They have not come to this hot, dusty southern province to fight the Taliban, they say, though if the insurgents want a fight, they will get it. Instead the measure of the mission's success or failure will be whether hearts and minds can be won in the "Afghan development zone". This is a triangle in the centre of Helmand whose points are Lashkar Gah, Gereshk, the main commercial centre, and Camp Bastion, the main British base.

[snip]

In Camp Bastion I passed a group of emaciated members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who had just been brought out of Now Zad, a town in the north of Helmand where British troops were never originally intended to go. Their hollow-eyed stares were a testament to the bitter fighting in which they and the Third Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, were engaged during the summer, when small detachments in places like Now Zad, Musa Qala and Sangin fought off wave after wave of Taliban attacks.

[snip]

A recent ICM poll for the BBC found that 63 per cent thought they were there to help the Afghan government fight the Taliban. Nearly half, 46 per cent, believed the purpose was to stop the flow of drugs - Helmand is not only the largest province in Afghanistan, it is responsible for 42 per cent of the country's opium production. Half the heroin on British streets comes from Helmand.

These are not the primary purpose of the deployment, however. And the poll found that 53 per cent of respondents opposed British military operations in Afghanistan. But 26-year-old Marines Cpl Ross Jones, of 42 Commando, took issue with the findings. "When you get around here and see what a difference you could make, you see it very differently," he said. "We get the full picture: it's very hard for people back home to imagine what it's like."

[snip]

Any Taliban fighter who could see Camp Bastion, with its Apache attack helicopters and hundreds of fighting troops, would be daunted. But Bastion was deliberately sited out in the desert, and has never been attacked. The British presence in Lashkar Gah and Gereshk is much more modest. In both the troops are based in heavily fortified compounds no larger than the grounds of a Home Counties hospital.

[snip]

The plan masks many uncertainties, however. On the way to a meeting at which Governor Daud was due to address mullahs and village leaders to urge them to discourage opium poppy planting, we passed a blackened hole by the side of the road. This was where Gary Wright, the only Marine lost so far, was killed by a suicide bomber in the first such death suffered by British forces in Helmand.

This sinister new threat has caused the Marines to maintain a lower profile in the centre of the two main towns, where the aim is that Afghan security forces will be in control, though officers admit the police in particular are "a disaster".

And the next big test for British forces might not be far away. The Afghan government is shaping up for a new poppy eradication campaign, possibly as early as next month, and despite the desire of British commanders to avoid losing local support by being associated with destroying farmers' livelihoods, they could be drawn in.

[snip]

"To those looking for a fight, I always say: 'Be careful what you wish for,'" said the head of 42 Commando, Colonel Matt Holmes.

Full text of article can be found here.


markfromireland

Long and bumpy road to building a 'new' Iraq - Hisahiko Okazaki

Long and bumpy road to building a 'new' Iraq

Hisahiko Okazaki / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun

The situation in Iraq seems truly bad. The clearest indication of this is the rising death toll of U.S. troops. In March, the figure fell to about one a day, casting a ray of hope that the terrorism in Iraq was finally abating. The tolls, however, started to increase shortly afterward. In October, U.S. military deaths stood at more than 100. As well, the number of Iraqi civilian fatalities is reportedly far higher than that of U.S. military personnel.

There are no signs of the situation changing for the better.

Under the circumstances, there is no hope in the foreseeable future of a rise in investment and business activities in Iraq, or a surge in oil production--the base of the country's economy.

Areas such as Anbar Province in the western region have reportedly plunged into a state of nearly intractable lawlessness.

Making condemnations in retrospect as to why things have evolved so abominably is quite easy to do.

Some may say it was wrong to start a war without ascertaining whether weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq and to what extent the Al-Qaida terrorist networks were implicated in the Iraqi situation. One could also say that it was wrong for Washington to give credence to theories that the Iraqi military would likely revolt against Saddam Hussein once the United States began its invasion of Iraq. Or, some could say it was wrong for the United States to employ forces in the initial stage of the war that were excessively small in scale, contrary to warnings by U.S. Army leaders.

===

Beyond anybody's guess

All of these arguments are probably valid.

Misjudgments like the ones in the Iraq war, however, are mostly unavoidable in any military operation. Yet the realities of this war seem to be horrible enough that anyone could have predicted them.

In fact, U.S. President George W. Bush said in an address in May that things unimaginable in civilized countries have been taking place in Iraq, apparently admitting that the current state of affairs in Iraq is beyond the range of his expectations.

The problem is what should be done in the face of this situation.

[snip]

There is a possibility that a worst-case scenario in Iraq could prove to be far more dreadful than one in Afghanistan.

[snip]

From a long-range, historical point of view, what the United States has done and is still doing in Iraq is bringing a cataclysmic change to a "human ecology," or the totality of interrelationships of people and their political systems, in the Middle East.

Before the Iraq war, the Sunnis, a minority in the country, were at the core of the bureaucracy and military of Iraq. The Sunni-centered government managed to maintain security both domestically and externally, while the strong-arm government was potent enough to suppress religious protests and maintain secularism, effectively prohibiting activities of Islamic extremists.

That regime, which was fairly stable in its own way, has ended.

Before the war, Iran was surrounded by archrivals -- Iraq in the west and the Taliban government in the east. U.S. forces broke down both the Hussein and Taliban regimes and liberated Iraqi Shiites, paving the way for the creation of pro-Iran forces in Iraq. This means Iran has now found itself blessed with a windfall, obtaining a position as a power of pivotal significance in Middle Eastern affairs.

One factor behind the sharp increases in oil prices, which are conducive to boosting Iran's influence, is undoubtedly the situation in Iraq.

These are all consequences of the U.S. interventions in the Middle East.

[snip]

===

Ideals vs realities

Americans, particularly those called neoconservatives or neocons, dreamed of creating a new human ecology in the Middle East on the basis of the principles of freedom and democracy. Their dream itself can undoubtedly be considered a lofty goal.

The success in accomplishing such goals in Japan and Germany after World War II was due largely to the fact that both countries had experiences of democracy that flourished in the 1920s, prior to rampant militarism in Japan and Nazism in Germany, so that their postwar democratization was just a resurrection of the prewar democracy. It is now known that attempts to create a new human ecology of democracy on soil lacking legacies of democracy are bound to take time and efforts immeasurably greater than in the cases of Japan and Germany.

To cite the instance of Afghanistan again, it is unlikely that a new breed of human ecology can be established there before the girls currently attending primary and middle schools become adults and their children also receive education in a similar way, with freedom and democracy kept intact. The process will therefore most likely take one generation, or roughly 30 years, to bear fruit.

So what should the United States do in light of such outlooks? It is, of course, a decision the United States will make on its own.

In regard to the proverb, "Onlookers see more of the game than the players do," I would like to say that Washington needs to thoroughly change the current war direction and formulate a new posture across party lines with the cooperation of middle-roaders among Democrats so as to hammer out a new policy based on a long-range strategy.

To cut back on U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the process would be highly desirable. However, if, unfortunately, that turns out to be impossible in light of the current situation, the United States will have no choice but to keep troops stationed there for the next few years, which may even require augmenting its standing forces.

While the issues mentioned above should be left up to the people of the United States, what can Japan do as Washington's ally?

What is of foremost importance is to bear in mind that the United States will certainly be driven into a serious position in domestic politics and foreign policy, as well as fiscal conditions, for a considerably long time in the future.

Finding fault with our friend over what has already been done is of little use.

When then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi went on his final official trip to Washington, a U.S. newspaper carried an article that began with the words, "Japan remains a friend in word and deed." It stated that even though some claimed the United States had alienated the rest of the world, Japan had remained its true friend. Koizumi's legacy of boosted mutual trust between the two countries should be kept unmarred.

===

Sharing the burden

Member states of NATO, despite grumbling about Washington for one reason or another, are extending assistance to the United States in response to its requests for new batches of troops to be deployed in Afghanistan and Lebanon.

Japan, for its part, should also help the United States by taking on part of its burdens, in one form or another. The Air Self-Defense Force's logistic support for the U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, as well as the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling support activities for backing antiterrorism operations in the Indian Ocean, should be continued and increased, if necessary.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is better advised to take a further step forward in consolidating even more firmly the basis of Japan-U.S. relations.

Should the Cabinet agree to exercise the right of collective self-defense regarding MSDF activities in the Indian Ocean--allowing it to engage in not only refueling operations but also stage joint-patrolling activities with the United States on both high seas on the oil-transport route and international sea lanes to the Persian Gulf--the alliance between Japan and the United States would certainly be strengthened drastically.

Doing so would be greatly beneficial to ensuring the nation's long-term security and prosperity, as well as contributing to the peace and stability of the Asian region as a whole.

Okazaki served as Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Thailand. He is currently a guest research fellow at the Yomiuri Research Institute.
(Nov. 5, 2006)

Long and bumpy road to building a 'new' Iraq - The Yomiuri Shimbun


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VIEW: The meaning of victory in Iraq — Dilip Hiro

A pragmatic Baker visualises Washington abandoning its long-term goal of democracy in the Middle East, and suggests that "victory" be defined as "achieving representative government, not necessarily democracy"

Until recently the words "Vietnam" and "quagmire" were unmentionable in the Bush White House's discourse on the Iraq war. But, the stream of bad news from Iraq turned into a flood with the onset of the holy month of Ramadan, and opinion polls point toward the Republicans' loss of the House of Representatives.

President George Bush conceded that Iraqi insurgents' increased violence was comparable to the Tet offensive in South Vietnam. In January 1968, Vietcong guerrillas in South Vietnam and North Vietnamese troops jointly attacked US and South Vietnamese targets. Their offensive undermined Pentagon claims that the US was in control of the situation and drained Americans' confidence in President Lyndon Johnson. Instead of seeking re-election, he retired from politics.

Intent on the US not losing the war, Bush manoeuvres to present an imminent change in his policy of "staying the course" as a tactical shift.

Nonetheless, as Richard Haass, former director of US State Department's policy planning under Colin Powell, put it, "a tipping point" has been reached in American politics with regard to Iraq. If Bush's change of direction ends willy-nilly as an ignominious withdrawal of US troops, then the Middle East and the rest of the world will lose their awe of the sole superpower's military might.

October 2006 was lethal for the US military in Iraq, with 105 troops killed. Meanwhile, Iraqi civilian deaths run at nearly a hundred a day. Polls show two-thirds of Americans regard the war as going "somewhat or very badly." In response, the White House leaked the information that top officials are setting political and military benchmarks for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. "The New York Times" reported that the "benchmarks" pertain to disarming militias, halting sectarian violence and shouldering more responsibility for security.

[snip]

The definition of "victory" has undergone a sea change since Bush's declaration of "Mission Accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003. From the beginning the Bush administration had Iraq in its sights. At the first meeting of the newly constituted National Security Council on January 30, 2001, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld offered an assessment of the broader US goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, according to "The Price of Loyalty," published in 2004 by Ron Suskind.

"Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that is aligned with US interests," Rumsfeld said. "It would change everything in the region and beyond. It would demonstrate what US policy is all about."

American neo-conservatives and their exiled Iraqi allies fed a dire assessment of Saddam's regime into a White House that was set on invading Iraq regardless of the facts on the ground.

[snip]

More than three years later, however, Washington devises frantic plans to ensure that Iraq does not degenerate into a failed state, endangering the region's stability as well as US security. Bush now aims for nothing more than a "stable Iraq able to defend itself". A pragmatic Baker visualises Washington abandoning its long-term goal of democracy in the Middle East, and suggests that "victory" be defined as "achieving representative government, not necessarily democracy".

Opening the previously strong public sector of Iraq to foreign companies by denationalising 200 state-owned companies reduced the stake that Iraqis had in their own economy and increased unemployment. At the first hint of denationalisation, however, Iraq National Oil Company employees resorted to large-scale sabotage from which the industry has yet to recover. So Washington shied away from privatising Iraq's petroleum industry.

While OPEC continues to exempt Iraq from its quota system - a policy dating back to time of United Nations sanctions on Iraq to reduce Iraqis' suffering - Baghdad has no intention of leaving OPEC. Given the perilous lack of security in Iraq, no major foreign oil companies, American or not, now eye Iraq's hydrocarbon resources.

Politically, the mayhem created by the Anglo-American invasion and its aftermath has set back the cause of non-Iraq Arabs who pushed for political reform at home before 2003.

[snip]

Within Iraq, the key question is: Can federated Iraq be established without ethnic-sectarian cleansing? The answer has to be no. The four major cities - Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk - accounting for more than half the national population are ethnically and religiously mixed. The only realistic solution could be housing segregation in these cities.

The most effective way for Shiite and Kurdish leaders to win over reluctant Sunni counterparts on accepting a federal Iraq would be to agree to a formula of allocating oil income to each of the 18 provinces according to population and echoing the Sunnis' hostility to the presence of the American troops. With Muqtada al Sadr's Shiite followers sharing Sunni hatred of the US forces, chances of the Iraqi government allowing the Pentagon long-term military bases on its soil are minimal.

[snip]

So the odds are that Bush will preside over a messy retreat from Iraq, leaving behind a country in the throes of a civil war likely to suck in its neighbours, and eroding further Washington's already low standing in the region.

VIEW: The meaning of victory in Iraq -Dilip Hiro


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