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Monday, April 19, 2004
  The Bremer Paradox

"Events of the past two weeks show that Iraq still faces security threats and needs outside help to deal with them," Mr. Bremer said. "It is clear that Iraqi forces will not be able, on their own, to deal with these threats by June 30 when an Iraqi government assumes sovereignty. Instead, Iraq and troops from many countries, including the United States, will be partners in providing the security Iraqis need."

So let me get this straight - according to Bremer US troops are needed in Iraq to prevent attacks on the US troops stationed in Iraq.

Posted by Daism |  
Saturday, April 17, 2004
  Comical Harry

Harry Hatchett has lost the plot. According to Harry, dissenters are the ones who support the establishment line. He made this ridiculous posting today, Betrayal? They saved dissent, in which he claims that the true dissenters are the "pro-war left" (whatever that means), and it was people like Charles Kennedy and Tony Benn who had "fallen in line". Failing to realise he was being a tad controversial, he proceeded to delete all the comments made by people who....er....dissented from his opinion.
One of the offending comments criticised his use of the word "nihilism" to describe the left. I merely suggested that perhaps the reason that the views of the "pro-war left" differed from the views of the left anywhere else in the world was not because they are dissenters, but because they are in fact right-wing views.
According to Harry, these points are "irrelevant comments that have nothing to do with the original post. "

One thing to be said for Harry is that he has a great sense of irony.

Posted by Daism |  
  George Bush has legitimised terrorism

By allowing Israel to annex Palestinian land, "Every claim by Osama bin Laden, every statement that the United States represents Zionism and supports the theft of Arab lands will now have been proved true to millions of Arabs, even those who had no time for Bin Laden. What better recruiting sergeant could Bin Laden have than George Bush." Robert Fisk article [link].

If Mr Sharon is "historic" and "courageous", then the murderers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be able to claim the same. Mr Bush legitimised "terrorism" this week - and everyone who loses a limb or a life can thank him for his yellow streak. And, I fear, they can thank Mr Blair for his cowardice too.

Posted by Daism |  
Thursday, April 15, 2004
  At last something Rumsfeld has said that I agree with

"A small band of terrorists are not going to be permitted to determine the fate of the 25 million Iraqi people,"

The neo-cons should let Iraqis determine their own fate.

Posted by Daism |  
  David Edwards' simple test

David Edwards (Medialens co-editor) proposes a simple test for the integrity of journalists.

Applying the test to Jon Snow (Channel 4 news), he writes:

I think there's a simple test we can conduct to get an idea of Jon Snow's performance. We just need to ask: Is he a respected, well-liked journalist with a reputation for honest, objective reporting? The answer, of course, is yes.
If he were doing his job properly, by April last year, for example, he would have been ceaselessly reviled for constantly challenging the honesty of the government and monotonously questioning the existence of WMD in Iraq, for constantly harping on and on abut Iraqis supposedly killed by Western sanctions, and he would have been condemned by Blair, Straw and co as a fanatical, naive apologist for Saddam's crimes.

That's a useful rule of thumb, I think.

Posted by Daism |  
  Johann Hari has doubts

Johann confessed today that he had a week of doubt about whether he was right about Iraq. It seems that, after a week in the wilderness, he convinced himself that he was right after all for two reasons: (1) a dubious prediction that Saddam would have killed 70,000 people in the last year had we not intervened, and (2) his often cited exiled Iraqi friends convinced him that Iraqis would once again welcome the occupiers once they had water and electricity.

The first point strikes me as being pretty sick. If that's to be used as a justification for the war, he seems to be saying that it's ok that the coalition killed tens of thousands because deaths haven't yet exceeded the 70,000 benchmark. And that's assuming the estimate is reliable.
Looking at reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, there's no mention of such a high figure. In fact political murders under Saddam Hussein throughout the nineties appear to run into hundreds per year (nowhere near Johann's figure). I think there must be many people waiting for him to justify that figure.
By contrast, according to Iraq Body Count, the invasion and occupation have so far caused 10,000 reported civilian deaths. Since the coalition doesn't do body counts, who know's what the true figure is. I'd guess, including non-reported civilian deaths, it's about double that. Including military deaths, possibly double again. I guess we'll never know...(in itself a tragedy of this whole dirty business).
In any case, in that light Hari's first justification is absurd.

Hari's second point is one he makes over and over: he has Iraqi friends who convince him that invading Iraq was the only way. Without knowing anything about his friends, this is a bit of a tricky one. However, it strikes me as not the most reliable way to decide the rights and wrongs of going to war since exiles are always going to be deeply emotionally involved. I think if we talked to Iranians who had it cosy under the Shah (the tiny minority that did) and who are now exiles in the west, I would imagine that many of them would advocate invading Iran. A similar story with exiled Cubans.
The crux of it anyway, is that Hari would justify invading a country because he felt, with virtually no evidence, that the people of that country would welcome being invaded. Again, an untenable position.

Posted by Daism |  
  Mark Thomas on trial

Mark Thomas was on trial today for allegedly causing 80 pounds worth of criminal damage to a minibus [Independent story by Ciar Byrne]. He and three others chained themselves to the minibus which was carrying delegates from BAE Systems to the Defence Systems Exhibitions International (DSEI) in London's Docklands last September.
What more evidence to we need that the extablishment of this country supports profit over people? Mark's attempt to prevent the killing and maiming of unpeople throughout the world results in him (rather than the people proliferating the arms trade) being put on trial for scratching the bumber of a car. Good luck Mark!

Posted by Daism |  
Monday, April 12, 2004

A great quotation on advertising posted today on the Medialens chat board:

“My name is Octave… I’m an advertising executive… I pollute the universe. I’m the guy who sells you shit. Who makes you dream of things you’ll never have… when, after painstakingly saving, you manage to buy the car of your dreams… I will already have made it look out of date. I’m three trends ahead, and I make sure you’re always frustrated… No one in my profession actually wants you to be happy, because happy people don’t spend.” (Frederic Beigbeder, £6.99, 2002, Picador, London, p. 5)

Posted by Daism |  
  Email exchange between David Edwards (Medialens) and Alan Rusbridger (Guardian editor)

It's revealing that Rusbridger seems more concerned about competing with rivals than providing balanced news reports.

DE: Alan

Your front cover today [of US Marines carrying an injured colleague] was so wrong. This should have been the picture [of a dead Iraq child from Aljazeera] - no words, just this. A dead Iraqi child captures perfectly the nature of the West's relationship with Iraq over the past 15 years - war, bombing, sanctions, more war...

Who has paid the price?

Best wishes


AR: You have t advantage over me.... Have been away and have not seen t paper and don't know what's on the front page! Happy easter. AR

DE: Your paper shows US troops carrying an injured colleague. The Indy shows an Iraqi beating a dead body beside a burnt out convoy. I find the emphasis amazing given that 450 Iraqis lie dead in Falljua alone, and 10 Iraqis are dying for every 1 "coalition" loss.

Best wishes


AR: But there again compare this morning's guardian (death toll hits 600) with indie (british hostage freed) or times and tel (british hostage freed in iraq). Swings and easter roundabouts.... AR

DE: Yes, swings and roundabouts, but in the same ballpark. What's been staggering is the level of media indifference to the slaughter of vast numbers of Iraqis. It's like a superpower army is waging high-tech war on city slums - so what! Amazing! The plight of a dozen or so Western hostages has been given far more, and far more emotive, coverage.

On March 12, your leader read: "It was like a modern version of the gruesome wartime images painted by Goya. A Spanish commuter train torn apart. A headless body lying on its front. A three-year-old child burned from head to foot. Amputated legs and arms scattered on station platforms, pieces of human flesh on the road..." and so on.

There's been nothing comparable to this about the far worse slaughter in Falluja. And it's not by foreign terrorists - it's by +our+ alliance.

There's a real problem here - Iraqi deaths just don't matter as much as Western deaths to even our best media; it's a horribly consistent theme. A lot of their suffering, and our suffering, is rooted in this kind of prejudicial compassion. That's the whole message of Easter, isn't it?

Best wishes


Posted by Daism |  
  "Divide and rule could only tear us apart"

There's a worrying trend within the coalition of diverting attention away from attacks on Americans, and towards attacks by Iraqis on Iraqis. Both Geoff Hoon and coalition spokesman Dan Senor yesterday suggested that this was the true cause of instability. In reality this doesn't seem to be the case at all. In fact the opposite seems to be happening - there appears to be growing solidarity been the different shia factions and between the sunni and shia.

There's also been a lot of talk of the possibility of civil war if the coalition withdraws. Yet the evidence for this happening is minimal.

The Americans need an excuse for an indefinite military presence (which seems like their intention). Perhaps in stirring up animosity between Iraqis, they believe they will achieve this. This is the well known colonial tactic of divide and rule which the British used to great effect in maintaining control of the empire. Many Indians believe that the animosity between the hindus and muslims, which led to the terrible massacres during partition, was fueled by the British.

For the time being, if this is truly American policy, it looks like it has back-fired badly.

Posted by Daism |  
  Iraq, America's Lebanon

The resemblance between our invasion of Lebanon and America's invasion of Iraq is amazing. We wanted to create a new order in Lebanon; they wanted to create a new order in Iraq. Within a short time, in both cases, the Shia had woken up and the invading armies became targets of attack. We pulled out without achieving a thing and Bush is still there, mired in a sea of blood from which no good will come. If I were him, I'd send Saddam Hussein back to Iraq - he would know how to sort this mess out in no time.
Commentator in Haaretz - Israel

Posted by Daism |  
Sunday, April 11, 2004
  The courageous Americans lay seige to Falluja

"I would say more than 600 have been killed, but the number may not be absolutely accurate because many families have already buried their dead in their gardens," Rafa Hayad al-Issawi, the director of Falluja's hospital

Posted by Daism |  
Friday, April 09, 2004
  Unbelievable Straw

A year to the day after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, and Jack Straw is still blaming him for everything wrong in Iraq:

Mr Straw said "the lid of the pressure cooker has come off," but he blamed events on the Saddam regime's legacy.

"Some of the tensions and pressures which were there, and would have come out in any event, have to a degree been directed towards the coalition."

Look in the mirror Mr Straw!

Posted by Daism |  
Thursday, April 08, 2004
  US retaliation

The lack of any form of subtlety in the American response to the Falluja killings has surprised no one. But the heavy-handedness of the retaliation has surely got to be counter-productive even on American terms. 300 Iraqis killed so far in just three days, and not just militants: Al-Jazeera is showing graphic images of children killed and maimed by American violence.

According to Rumsfeld, the militants are "thugs, gangs and terrorists". So what then, according to Rumsfeld, constitutes a legitimate uprising? This whole war was supposed to be about liberation, but are the Iraqis not allowed to try to liberate themselves?

It's starting to become a little unclear just which Iraqis exactly we are supposed to be liberating. First the enemy was Saddam Hussein. After his fall it was the Saddam loyalists or just random "terrorists". The problem was the so-called Sunni triangle. Then the Shias became another enemy. As I write there are uprisings in Falluja, Ramadi, Baghdad, Karbala, Kut, Amarah, Nasiriya, and Basra. The towns of Falluja, Kut and Nasiriya are no longer under coalition control. Around 35 coalition troops have been killed in about three days and Japanese and Korean civilians have been taken hostage.
But never fear, the uprisings will surely be crushed in the manner of....errr....Saddam Hussein?

Posted by Daism |  
"When the rich wage war it's the poor who die" Jean-Paul Sartre(1951)


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