DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, April 4, 2006
Iraq Before and After "LIBERATION"!!
: The first two photos [only one shown -- zig]
are Iraqi female students in 1963-1964; the third photo is Iraqi female students in 2006!! In other words the Iraqi women before and after "liberation"...
You can imagine the condition in Iraq through these photos. Iraq was the most developed and liberated country in the Middle East and among the Islam World although the Iraqis were devoted Moslems; yet they knew the real Islam not the Iranian imported Islam... I have no more comments.. Waiting yours... (see below "A Baghdad policeman's advice", another entry by The Woman I Was, the blogger at An Iraqi Tear.)
Bring 'em on
: Two U.S. soldiers were killed on Thursday when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle in south-central Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. No further details were immediately available.
Bring 'em on
: A roadside bomb hit a U-S military convoy wounding one soldier.
"US planes bombed a house in Aziziyah area of Ramadi city centre, killing 13 civilians,"
Ali al-Obeidi, a medic at the Ramadi hospital sais, adding that four people were wounded.
U.S. troops accused of killing children in missile strike in Ramadi: Local television footage showed the body of a boy lying in the rubble of a house. Hospital and police officials gave death tolls ranging from five to 13, with up to another 15 wounded.
Muhannad al-Fahadawi, a doctor at the main hospital, said two girls and a boy aged 8 were among at least 11 people he believed had been killed in the violence. A teenage girl was shown to reporters being treated for wounds in the hospital.
In an e-mail response, U.S. military spokesman Sergeant Doug Anderson said: "There were no Coalition or civilian casualties."
Describing the incident, he said: "Coalition forces responded to an insurgent attack in central Ramadi today. Marines ... were attacked multiple times with rocket-propelled grenades, medium machinegun fire and small arms fire from a building...
"Coalition forces responded with small arms fire, heavy machinegun fire, grenades and precision-guided munitions."
"The American troops struck a house with two missiles in Maysaloon Street, then followed them with a third," said one man at the scene, who declined to be named for fear of reprisal.
"They brought the house down on people's heads."
"Is this the democracy that Bush wants? This is terrorism," he said, venting popular anger at U.S. President George W. Bush.
US military announces death of soldier in non-combat incident.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Two contractors working in Iraq for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers killed and two others wounded in separate roadside bombing incidents, one on Tuesday and one Wednesday.
The contractors were killed when the vehicles they were riding in were struck by improvised explosive devices, according to a news release. Two other Corps of Engineers contractor employees were also injured, one in each incident, the news release states. [One of these incidents likely is the one described in yesterday's post under "American security contractors shot dead an Iraqi ambulance crewman" --- zig]
Body of a Bosnian man who died in Iraq was mistakenly sent to Australia after a mixup at a Kuwait mortuary.
His family said they were still waiting for the remains of Juso Sinanovic, a 47 year-old carpenter from northern Bosnia, who died of natural causes on April 17.
It has been confirmed that the Fijian security officer who died in Iraq last night was employed by the Armor Group Limited
. He is the fourth employee of the company to be killed in Iraq in Iraq since Sunday while fighting rebels in war-torn Baghdad. Another Fijian security guard reportedly killed in Iraq
, bringing to eight the number of Fijians who have died there in the past fortnight. The guard's father told Radio Fiji that his son was shot dead on Wednesday night.
At least nine people killed and 46 injured in suicide bomb attack outside a courthouse in Baghdad.
The bomber exploded his device near a convoy of police vehicles on a main road in the mainly-Shia Sadr City area. Two police officers were injured but all other casualties were civilians, according to police officials.
Suicide bomb attack in Baghdad kills ten people and wounds at least 52.
Police first said the Baghdad blast was caused by a car bomb targeting a three-car police convoy in the area, but later said it was caused by a man with explosives hidden beneath his clothing.
Drive-by shootings in Baghdad kill an army officer, a driver for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry and a civilian.
Iraq's Interior Ministry updates number of Iraqis whose bullet-ridden bodies were found in the country on Wednesday to 43
, many of them in the capital.
Shootings in Baghdad and other areas kill four Iraqis, including a Shiite tribal leader and an Iraqi army officer.
U.S. forces reportedly were involved in two other attacks.
An average of 35 to 50 bodies, most of them with gunshot wounds, brought to Baghdad's main morgue every day.
Gunmen kill a brigadier in the Defense Ministry, in the capital's Yarmouk district.
Gunmen kill civilian in Balad, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad.
Four Iraqi soldiers, kidnapped late Tuesday, publicly executed early Wednesday morning in the centre of Ramadi. IHA Video
Shotlist: Shots of the executed soldiers' bodies on ground. People showing soldiers' identity cards to cameraTikrit:
Gunmen gun down a tailor in Tikrit.
(near) Gunmen kill Iraqi soldier near Tikrit.
Gunmen kidnap leading businessman in Tikrit.
A policeman and a civilian were killed when they tried to rescue him.
Police find 16 bodies in Tikrit.
All were found shot in the head and police said they were unable to identify them.
Five people killed and three wounded due to tribal quarrel between two tribes near Musayib, 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad.
(near) Bodies of three people bearing signs of torture with bullet wounds in their bodies found near Falluja.
Bomb explodes on the Kirkuk-Taza road while a patrol vehicle for the Iraqi Army was on duty.
The bomb blast caused injuries to three Iraqi soldiers who were rushed to a near- by hospital.
Unknown gunmen attack Iraqi Army and Multi-National Force (MNF) patrol in western Kirkuk
injuring one Iraqi soldier, who was sent to the hospital after the attack.
Kirkuk witnesses several road-side bomb blasts
but the incidents did not record any injuries or casualties.
Gunmen break into house in the town of Suwayra, south of Baghdad, killing two brothers from the same family
, and seriously wounding their mother and sister, police said.
Gunmen kill tribal leader along with his driver in Yusufiya, 15 km (9 miles) south of Baghdad.
U.S. military says close to capturing Zarqawi
, after discovering documents and the unedited copy of a video he released last week.
Zarqawi was throwing all his resources into attacks in Baghdad and was probably somewhere close to the capital, U.S. military spokesman Major-General Rick Lynch told a news conference. "We believe it is only a matter of time until Zarqawi is taken down. It's not if, but when," he said.
"He's willing to pull his people from outside the perimeter of Baghdad into Baghdad to go full out on operations inside of Baghdad. Which leads us to believe his personal location is probably somewhere close to those operations. Zarqawi is zooming in on Baghdad, we are zooming in on Zarqawi."
At his weekly media briefing, Lynch showed brief clips from what he said was the unedited video showing Zarqawi, wearing New Balance running shoes, struggling to handle the machine gun he was shown firing in the version posted on the Internet and aired on television. [This supposed "full version" of the Zarqawi video was first mentioned in the Marine Corps Times April 28 article SpecOps unit nearly nabs Zarqawi -- zig]
Another clip appears to show his aides grabbing the gun's hot muzzle and fumbling with it after he had finished.
Each clip lasted only a few seconds and Lynch did not say how much more footage there was.
"So what you saw on the Internet was what he wanted the world to see 'look at me. I am a capable leader of a capable organization and we are indeed declaring war against democracy in Iraq'," Lynch said.
"What he didn't show you were the clips that I showed you: wearing New Balance sneakers with his uniform, surrounded by supposedly competent subordinates who grab the hot barrel of a just-fired machine gun, ... a warrior leader, Zarqawi, who doesn't understand how to operate his weapons system.
"It makes you wonder." [It most certainly does! --- zig]
"They drowned my friend"- Latest of UK scandals in Iraq
: Speaking to a court martial in Colchester, Essex, Aiad Salim Hanon, 25, a welder and self-confessed fellow thief from Basra, said that he and a group of looters were stopped by British occupying troops in May 2003, punched repeatedly, beaten and kicked before being forced into a canal.
"We were very hungry,"
"It was wrong but we had no other option."
"First when he (soldier) caught me, he hit me on the eye and then he hit me on the arm," Hanon told the seven-strong military panel through an interpreter, after swearing an oath of allegiance on the Qur'an.
Hanon, who admitted that he stole to feed his family, said of the Guardsmen:
"They made us get off the vehicle and untied our hands. All had guns. They told us, 'Come on, swim', and they cocked their weapons and pointed to the river. We went in. We had no other choice. We went to swim."
Hanon, who cannot read or write, described to the court martial in Colchester the last desperate moments in the life of his 15-year-old friend Ahmed Jabber Kareem, an asthmatic who could not swim.
Hanon, among three other Iraqis who were trying to steal from a garage before they were caught by British troops, described the death of Kareem, saying he vanished under the water without making a sound, holding up his arms above his head in a final gesture, after struggling for about two minutes in the strong tide of the Shatt Al-Basra canal, while soldiers threw bricks at him and two other looters, who managed to escape death.
"He was shorter than me. Once we were in the water, he just raised his hands and was under water, and then raised them again above his head. Then he vanished," Hanon, who was giving evidence at the court martial of the soldiers, all accused of manslaughter, said to questions of the prosecution counsel.
"Before we were near to the water they (the soldiers) kept on throwing bricks at us, so we went farther and there was mud beneath our feet. After the mud we had to get into the water."
Asked by Orlando Pownall, QC, for the prosecution, what he thought would have happened if they had refused, he said:
"I don't know, I think they might have killed us.
Hanon said that one of the soldiers had tried to help Kareem but was pulled back by his colleagues.
"One of the soldiers took off his clothes, he wanted to jump into the water, but the others did not let him," he told the panel.
"I saw him with my own eyes taking off his clothes. I saw him wanting to jump but the others stopped him and pushed him towards the armored vehicle."
The four Guardsmen, Color Sergeant Carle Selman, 39, of the Coldstream Guards but attached to the Scots Guards, and three men of the Irish Guards: Lance Corporal James Cooke, 22, Guardsman Joseph McCleary, 24, and Guardsman Martin McGing, 22, all deny the manslaughter of Ahmed.
Hanon, accompanied by Kareem's uncle, reported the incident to the British authorities two days later, saying he was told "I would get compensation for the injuries and for the beating."
The trial continues.
When exiled Iraqi artist Suad al-Attar saw her home city being pulverised by British and American bombs in March 2003
it broke her heart. And her internationally acclaimed body of work based on fantasy, legend and dreams changed to include grimmer images.
The central image of her latest exhibition at Leighton House Museum in London is a big picture of Baghdad in flames entitled "My Burning City", a reworking of her 1991 "My Colourful City", and based on iconic photographs of the bombing.
"This was my city. These were my people -- Iraqis. They had suffered for so long and now they were suffering again," she said in an interview on Wednesday at the show's opening.
One of the most celebrated of contemporary Middle Eastern artists, Attar set out to disturb with powerful paintings showing screaming mouths and severed limbs, a far cry from her dreamy, mystical works from the past.
When asked if she thinks Iraqis are better or worse off under the new administration she draws her fingers across her lips as a sign of silence.
Bush impeachment gains momentum
: 36 US House Representatives have signed on as sponsors or co-sponsors of H. Res 635, which would create a Select Committee to look into the grounds for recommending President Bush's impeachment, Atlanta Progressive News has learned. The two latest co-sponsors, as of Friday, were US Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) and US Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA).
Meanwhile, at least twelve (12) US cities, including Arcata, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, each in California; Woodstock in New York; and Battleboro, Brookfield, Dummerston, Marlboro, Newfane, Putney, and Rockingham, each in Vermont, have passed resolutions calling for Bush's impeachment, according to a running tally at www.impeachpac.org/resolutions.
In addition, the State Legislatures in California, Illinois, and Vermont are each considering impeachment resolutions, which, if passed, could fast track the impeachment issue to the US House.
Over 17% of US House Democrats now support the impeachment probe; over 8% of all US House Representatives now support the probe.
A Baghdad policeman's advice
: Today (...) the phone began ringing again.. I did not answer (...) the phone rang again and again; deciding to answer I discovered it was my son..
He was trying to tell me something but not finding the word.. Then he said, "mom please hear me well and try to help me.. I lost my mobile and the money"…
Then he explained the story:
He was on his way to Ghazaliya to see a friend whose father was attacked; he escaped the attempt but after the "unknown gunmen who were wearing police uniform!! wounded him seriously". Close to the Central Children Hospital, a joint police-national guard check point stopped him.. (Such check points used to stop him several times a day because his car number plate reads Salah Al-Deen; cars having the plates Salah Al-Deen- the birthplace of Saddam, Mosul, Diyala and Anbar; the Sunni governorates stopped by the check points and you can imagine what would be happen to a driver being alone) and my son was alone.
A policeman asked him if he is Sunni or Shiite.. From his spoken accent my son discovered that he was from the south so he was Shiite; my son answer was (I am a Shitte).. The next question "why is your car carrying this number?" my son told him that he bought the car from Baghdad and he is from Kararda (mostly Shiite area in Baghdad). They asked him to leave the car; a national guard pretended searching the car and in front of my son eyes he put a grenade in side the car; the policeman came and found the grenade.
What is this? He asked my son who answered: tell me exactly what do you want?
Another policeman who was searching the car told him: look I found this book in your car with the name Omer (a Sunni name).. Who is Omer? A student in my class, my son answered.
"F,, Omer and every Sunni; be a good Shiite and curse Omer and the Sunnis" the policeman adviced him.. Then the first policeman told him, "I will forget the grenade if you will give me your money and the mobile".
My son had with him $200, he was going to pay the internet server and the wages of his private teacher.. The policeman took the $200 and his $430 worthy N70 Nokia mobile that he bought days ago..
What could we do?
Nothing but thanking AlMighty Allah that they let him go...
--- profile of The Woman I Was, the blogger at An Iraqi Tear: “I am an Iraqi single mother who managed to survive the wars and the sanctions; yet I could not manage living under the occupation; writing is a resort to forget the idea of leaving Iraq.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Lt. Gen. William E. Odom: Why America must get out of Iraq now
: Withdraw immediately or stay the present course? That is the key question about the war in Iraq today. American public opinion is now decidedly against the war. From liberal New England, where citizens pass town-hall resolutions calling for withdrawal, to the conservative South and West, where more than half of "red state" citizens oppose the war, Americans want out. That sentiment is understandable.
The prewar dream of a liberal Iraqi democracy friendly to the United States is no longer credible. No Iraqi leader with enough power and legitimacy to control the country will be pro-American. Still, U.S. President George W. Bush says the United States must stay the course. Why? Let's consider his administration's most popular arguments for not leaving Iraq.
If we leave, there will be a civil war.
In reality, a civil war in Iraq began just weeks after U.S. forces toppled Saddam. Any close observer could see that then; today, only the blind deny it. Even President Bush, who is normally impervious to uncomfortable facts, recently admitted that Iraq has peered into the abyss of civil war. He ought to look a little closer. Iraqis are fighting Iraqis. Insurgents have killed far more Iraqis than Americans. That's civil war.
Withdrawal will encourage the terrorists.
True, but that is the price we are doomed to pay. Our continued occupation of Iraq also encourages the killers-precisely because our invasion made Iraq safe for them. Our occupation also left the surviving Baathists with one choice: Surrender, or ally with al Qaeda. They chose the latter. Staying the course will not change this fact. Pulling out will most likely result in Sunni groups' turning against al Qaeda and its sympathizers, driving them out of Iraq entirely.
Before U.S. forces stand down, Iraqi security forces must stand up.
The problem in Iraq is not military competency; it is political consolidation. Iraq has a large officer corps with plenty of combat experience from the Iran-Iraq war. Moktada al-Sadr's Shiite militia fights well today without U.S. advisors, as do Kurdish pesh merga units. The problem is loyalty. To whom can officers and troops afford to give their loyalty? The political camps in Iraq are still shifting. So every Iraqi soldier and officer today risks choosing the wrong side. As a result, most choose to retain as much latitude as possible to switch allegiances. All the U.S. military trainers in the world cannot remove that reality. But political consolidation will. It should by now be clear that political power can only be established via Iraqi guns and civil war, not through elections or U.S. colonialism by ventriloquism.
Setting a withdrawal deadline will damage the morale of U.S. troops.
Hiding behind the argument of troop morale shows no willingness to accept the responsibilities of command. The truth is, most wars would stop early if soldiers had the choice of whether or not to continue. This is certainly true in Iraq, where a withdrawal is likely to raise morale among U.S. forces. A recent Zogby poll suggests that most U.S. troops would welcome an early withdrawal deadline. But the strategic question of how to extract the United States from the Iraq disaster is not a matter to be decided by soldiers. Carl von Clausewitz spoke of two kinds of courage: first, bravery in the face of mortal danger; second, the willingness to accept personal responsibility for command decisions. The former is expected of the troops. The latter must be demanded of high-level commanders, including the president.
Withdrawal would undermine U.S. credibility in the world.
Were the United States a middling power, this case might hold some water. But for the world's only superpower, it's patently phony. A rapid reversal of our present course in Iraq would improve U.S. credibility around the world. The same argument was made against withdrawal from Vietnam. It was proved wrong then and it would be proved wrong today. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the world's opinion of the United States has plummeted, with the largest short-term drop in American history. The United States now garners as much international esteem as Russia. Withdrawing and admitting our mistake would reverse this trend. Very few countries have that kind of corrective capacity. I served as a military attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow during Richard Nixon's Watergate crisis. When Nixon resigned, several Soviet officials who had previously expressed disdain for the United States told me they were astonished. One diplomat said, "Only your country is powerful enough to do this. It would destroy my country."
Two facts, however painful, must be recognized, or we will remain perilously confused in Iraq. First, invading Iraq was not in the interests of the United States. It was in the interests of Iran and al Qaeda. For Iran, it avenged a grudge against Saddam for his invasion of the country in 1980. For al Qaeda, it made it easier to kill Americans. Second, the war has paralyzed the United States in the world diplomatically and strategically. Although relations with Europe show signs of marginal improvement, the trans-Atlantic alliance still may not survive the war. Only with a rapid withdrawal from Iraq will Washington regain diplomatic and military mobility. Tied down like Gulliver in the sands of Mesopotamia, we simply cannot attract the diplomatic and military cooperation necessary to win the real battle against terror. Getting out of Iraq is the precondition for any improvement.
In fact, getting out now may be our only chance to set things right in Iraq. For starters, if we withdraw, European politicians would be more likely to cooperate with us in a strategy for stabilizing the greater Middle East. Following a withdrawal, all the countries bordering Iraq would likely respond favorably to an offer to help stabilize the situation. The most important of these would be Iran. It dislikes al Qaeda as much as we do. It wants regional stability as much as we do. It wants to produce more oil and gas and sell it. If its leaders really want nuclear weapons, we cannot stop them. But we can engage them.
None of these prospects is possible unless we stop moving deeper into the "big sandy" of Iraq. America must withdraw now.
On the Verge of Collapse
: The British and the Americans are guarding Iraq's Persian Gulf oil platforms -- the troubled country's only real sources of revenue -- like crown jewels. But Iraqi oil is flowing sluggishly at best, while hoped-for investments haven't materialized and the Iraqi oil industry is on the verge of collapse -- both technical and political.
The HMS Bulwark [Her Majesty Elizabeth II's most state-of-the-art warship] has been bobbing at the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab River for days. With its crew of more than 600 men, the amphibious ship, outfitted with landing craft and the latest technology, has a mission in fragile spots in the Persian Gulf -- but nothing happens. The coasts of Kuwait, Iraq and Iran are dimly visible on the horizon. The sea is calm as a dozen fishing boats crisscross the waters around the ship. Sometimes the calm lasts for days.
And then, suddenly, after weeks of monotony, something does happen. Four Iranian patrol boats traveling at high speeds -- 45 knots, or about 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph) -- approach the Bulwark from the East. They're manned by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards -- not regular navy personnel. It's considered an ominous sign.
Captain Clive Johnstone sprints from his cabin to the command deck, and for a moment he loses his typically British cool. "All men without orders leave the bridge immediately!" he barks. Johnstone anxiously has his crew establish radio contact with the Iranians. It takes a few minutes to make the connection, but by then the Revolutionary Guards, or Pasdaran, have already stopped their boats -- at a point they believe marks the nautical border between Iran and Iraq.
The enemy that's making officers of the Royal Navy on the Bulwark so nervous consists of bearded men piloting small, agile, high-speed boats. Even the mightiest warship is vulnerable, as the suicide attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port city of Aden in October 2000 illustrates. In that incident, explosives hidden on a fishing boat manned by al-Qaida terrorists ripped an enormous hole -- six by 12 meters (19 by 39 feet) -- into the hull of the American destroyer, killing 17 American sailors.
Far more would be at stake if the same kind of attack were to occur here in the northern Gulf. The Bulwark lies at anchor between two giant oil platforms, the Basra and the Khawr al Amaya terminals. Two pipelines running along the ocean floor connect the platforms with the mainland 20 kilometers (12 miles) away. When both platforms operate at full capacity, they can load about 2 million barrels of oil onto waiting tankers -- about as much oil as France consumes in a day, or more than 2 percent of daily global demand. "A successful attack on one of these terminals would raise the world market price by several dollars within hours," says Commodore Bruce Williams, commander of the multinational fleet that monitors the waters off the Iraqi coast from its base on the Bulwark.
Because its northern pipeline into Turkey has been out of commission for months as a result of ongoing terrorist attacks, Iraq currently processes all its oil exports through the two terminals on the Gulf, where it earns about 80 percent of its revenues. No other country or economy in the world is quite as vulnerable at a single point. (...)
On April 24, 2004, three fishing boats approached the two loading stations. Two exploded prematurely, putting the terminals out of commission for a short time. But it was still long enough to cause $28 million in lost revenues and a jump in the global oil price from $33 to almost $40 a barrel. Terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attack [so what else is new? --- zig
Although it's difficult to imagine a comparable attack succeeding today, Commodore Williams admits that other threats exist instead. "I'm really an ecologist," says the British fleet commander. "That could come into good use here one day." According to Williams, the condition of the two terminals, especially the Khawr al Amaya platform, which was heavily damaged in the Iran-Iraq war, is deplorable and the pipelines haven't been properly serviced in years. "Much of the infrastructure needs improvement," he adds.
It's a diplomatic way of describing a potentially devastating problem. Before the Iraq war, Mohammed Said, then manager of the Subeir pumping station 250 kilometers (155 miles) inland, warned against an environmental catastrophe in the Persian Gulf. He claimed that the pipelines, installed in the 1960s and 1970s, were full of holes and had defective valves, and that a reserve basin for emergencies was nonexistent. "Whenever a tanker docks at the offshore terminal and I start up the pump, I pray to God that nothing happens," he says.
U.S. profiteering on Iraq War
: Tragically, some of the architects of the Iraq War profited from the devastation unleashed on Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. If their involvement in this bloody war was treated as a criminal conspiracy, they would have been tried and sent to jail. But the war in Iraq, where some people profit and make blood-stained millions, is another story.
According to an article on Political Cortex,
warmongers aren't stopped from selling their stories about their contribution to the Iraq War. On the contrary, they are rewarded. Paul Wolfowitz was number two at the Pentagon, where the war decisions were taken with his blessings and flawed wisdom. Now he is the President of the World Bank, with a $300,000 tax-free annual salary. But this salary wasn't enough for this failed Pentagon adviser. They also paid his country club dues and provided him also with a mortgage allowance. If Wolfowitz's decisions are as bad as they were in the Iraq War, the World Bank could be in big trouble.
Another important war profiteer is Tommy Ray Franks, a U.S. retired General who led the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein and was commander-in-chief of the American occupation forces. He is now collecting $5 million for his memoirs. Reports say Camden Country, New Jersey authorities paid Franks $75,000 for one speech. Also Paul Bremer, who led the Coalition Provisional Authority following the invasion, gets as much as $40,000 per speech. He too received a $100,000 advance for his book. One must wonder what exactly can these people say about the Iraq War debacle, except not to launch a war without proof.
A private in the U.S. Army gets $3,104.00 per month. A captain receives $3,637.00 a month. A one star general makes $12,809. Each category includes an extra $625 a month for combat pay.
Several analysts say that Iraq War certainly benefited construction, oil and contract security businesses. A recent conference in Warsaw discussed the increasing privatization of war, including the growth of private military firms in war zones, especially in Iraq. These companies, accused by the International Committee of the Red Cross of violating international humanitarian laws, are increasingly taking over roles traditionally carried out by the military during war, in a booming industry worth $100bn (£56bn) a year. U.S. army investigators found that these firms were responsible for more than a third of prisoner abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison. None of them has been prosecuted. Not quite civilians nor soldiers, they fall under a legal grey area.
A handful of companies are already reaping the benefits from President Bush's invasion of Iraq. Many Americans blame Halliburton unit KBR of trying to profit from Iraq war, an adventure spurred on in large part by former Halliburton CEO and current U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. KBR has several key defense contracts in the war-torn country, including the massive open-ended master Iraq contract, known as LogCAP III, plus mandates to restore Iraq's oil fields. KBR's five-year financial data shows that revenues have exploded thanks to the post-9/11 wars, from $5.1 billion in 2002 to $10.1 billion in 2005-about half of all Halliburton revenues. The G&I business accounted for virtually all of the growth. The unit accounted for 61 percent of the company's revenues in 2003 and 80 percent of revenues in 2005. The Middle East alone accounted for $6 billion of KBR's 2005 revenues.
Although the U.S. blamed the failure of the reconstruction on the Iraqi resistance, recent reports by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction show that the vast majority of projects were derailed through incompetence, fraud and corruption. One of the many corruption cases revealed in Iraq is that of U.S. businessman Philip Bloom who pled guilty in February to conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering charges. He admitted to giving more than $2 million in cash and gifts to U.S. officials in order to obtain Iraq reconstruction contracts for companies he owns. Bloom could face up to 40 years in prison as part of a plea bargain. Another individual, Robert Stein, a former top U.S. contracting official in Iraq, also pled guilty to conspiring with Bloom and others to pocket reconstruction funds. The Washington Post said Bloom and Stein were able to exploit a "chaotic, freewheeling and cash-rich environment" in Iraq following the U.S. invasion. (...)
Commenting on the effect of the massive theft of Iraqi wealth, Alan Grayson, a Virginia attorney involved in filing lawsuits against contractors, said: "Like a colonial power, the Bush administration took Iraq's oil money, and wasted it. The Iraqis well know that. That's one reason why they're shooting at U.S. soldiers."
Those who personally profited from the U.S.-led war against Iraq got the money over the dead bodies of over 100,000 Iraqis. The several corruption scandals that have been revealed are not mere aberrations or incidental products of the invasion. Rather, they reflect the criminal essence of an unprovoked imperialist war based on provocations and lies and launched for the purpose of seizing oil resources and gaining strategic advantage over rival powers.
To pretend that the Iraqi resistance is not a violent retaliation against a much more violent military invasion is to defy reality
: In a seemingly poignant analysis of the situation in Iraq, BBC news online analyst, Jim Muir assessed Iraqi politics following the choice of Jawad Al Maliki as Prime Minister designate.
Muir's detailed analysis failed to even hint at the possibility that the unwarranted U.S.-British military occupation of Iraq is at all a factor in the growing sectarian divide, the insurgency and the grim future awaiting that country.
But the BBC and its analysts have been more considerate if compared to their U.S. media counterparts. The CNN behaves as if the virtual political deadlock in Iraq and the brewing civil war - or at least the growing prospects for one - are entirely the making of Iraqis. The U.S. military is merely an honest observer, who has pushed incessantly so that Iraqis 'get their act together' and rise above sectarian quarrels.
In fact, this was the overriding conclusion throughout much of the Western media that followed Al Maliki's emergence as the confirmed candidate for the premiership post: The Problem Is Solely Iraqi.
Ironically, in a "comprehensive" television report, the Qatari satellite Channel Aljazeera seemed to have reached a similar outcome. Listing the security, political and economic challenges facing Al Maliki, the pan-Arab station failed to register foreign occupation, which dominates every aspect of Iraqi life as a challenge in its own right. It matters little whether such deductions are the outcome of poor journalism or an intentional attempt to demarcate the emerging reality in Iraq without having to acknowledge time and again that military occupation is the mother of all evils. But even if the occupation is completely relegated as nuisance, the fact of the matter is that the military occupation of Iraq is the core of the ongoing tragedy.
To pretend that the Iraqi resistance is not in fact a violent retaliation against a much more violent military invasion, is to defy reality. Of course, the U.S. administration insists on doing exactly that: still speaking of a foreign espoused 'insurgency', engineered by the shadowy figure of a Jordanian terrorist, who seems to appear in so many different locations all at once. To address Iraq's economic ills without addressing 10 years of devastating sanctions, followed by a destructive war, invasion and a domineering military occupation, that was precisely set forth to deprive Iraq of its right over its own natural resources, is also to defy reality. One must be badly informed to keep on believing in Washington's hopeless slogans of liberating Iraq for the Iraqis, as a model of Arab democracy and so forth, while ignoring the most obvious fact that it was Iraq's immense economic wealth and its strategic import - among other reasons - that inspired America's Mesopotamia campaign in the first place.
How can an Iraqi government, led by Al Maliki or any other politician, confront Iraq's economic crisis, without having complete control - physical as well as political- over the oil fields, the country's most valuable assets and the backbone of its economy? How can Al Maliki and his sectarian government end the 'insurgency' without ending the occupation, provide jobs without decisive control over the country's oil and make independent decisions if its political will is hostage to the U.S. government?
Divide to rule
: With debate about dividing Iraq resurfacing this week in the US, an Iraqi scholar's argument against the country's federalization:
Iraq needs a model system of government, one that safeguards the country's unity and recognises its national, ethnic and confessional diversity. Iraq's higher national interests must be enshrined in a permanent constitution, one that protects the rights of all Iraqis and defines their obligations. Iraq's intellectual and ideological propensities, as well as its ethnic and doctrinal diversity, must become the foundation of the future state. Many seem to agree that federalism is in order, for it recognises the need to delegate power and give more authority to the provinces. But what kind of federalism is best? Will federalism be internationally acceptable? Will Iraq's regional role impose limitations on federalism? And, most importantly, will federalism bring about harmony or fragmentation?
Federalism is not a doctrine, but a form of political decentralisation. It ensures that authority is dispersed both vertically and horizontally. In other words, power will be shared between the federal authority and regional governments. Federalism should involve extensive autonomy for the provinces and an input from the provinces in the formation of federal authority. Under federalism, democracy should be exercised on all levels and with constitutional and judiciary guarantees.(...)
Since the 2002 London Conference, many Iraqi politicians have been advocating federalism without fully understanding the consequences of introducing federalism in the midst of chaos. There are nearly 32 federal systems in the world, and in all central authority maintains a strong hold on major political, military and economic decisions. Federalism as incorporated in the Iraqi constitution is not based on any known model; it can tear Iraq into pieces.
Iraqis lived under a centralised system for nearly 35 years. Why exactly should they adopt, and so suddenly, a divisive form of government? In a recent public opinion poll, over 76 per cent of Iraqis said they favoured the current system. Only five per cent said they wanted provinces to be grouped on a regional basis and 12 per cent expressed support for a geographical classification of provinces. If anything, this is an indication that Iraqis prefer to live in a united country.
Another poll held in Sunni areas posed the question: Why do you reject the constitution? Nearly 92 per cent of respondents in Al-Anbar, 83 per cent in Salaheddin, 68 per cent in Diyali, 71 per cent in Mosul, and 66 per cent in Kirkuk said they rejected the constitution because of federalism. What these people rejected was not federalism as a form of government but federalism as a prelude for partition. (...)
Many in the country oppose federalism, but with the US throwing its weight behind that form of government, federalism is looming over the country, along with possible partition. The US wants to create a weak and divided Iraq, a country depending forever on foreign presence. Unfortunately, the country is too wounded to fend for itself. The past two years have brought to the scene a multiplicity of rival groups. The Kurds are the most enthusiastic supporters of federalism, followed by Shias. Those who oppose federalism are mostly the inhabitants of western and central Iraq, who still wish to live in a united country. Iraq has not been divided yet, and the country has not yet fallen into the trap of civil war, but the ongoing turmoil has taken its toll.
The scheme to partition Iraq is a powerful one, for it has the support of the US. That scheme smacks of the divide-and-rule policies of outdated colonialism. And yet not all has been lost, for many inside and outside Iraq still want to see the country emerge united from its current ordeal.
-- Sawsan Al-Assaf is a professor at Baghdad University and head of the Political Department at the Iraq Future Studies House.
A literally concrete statement that the United States plans to be a dominant presence in Iraq for a long time
: Despite what everyone says, it's just not true that this generation of Americans is not building massive monuments to leave as our timeless legacy to our posterity.
We're just not building them here.
But in Baghdad, the United States is now building a monument to rank with Grand Coulee Dam, the Pentagon, Disney World and the Mall of America. It has elements of all four, plus a 15-foot stone wall and surface-to-air missiles.
It's the new American embassy in Iraq, the biggest U.S. embassy anywhere, maybe the biggest embassy anywhere ever. According to the Associated Press and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the embassy area will cover 104 acres -- 10 times the size of a typical U.S. embassy space, six times the size of the United Nations compound in New York, and about the area of Vatican City, which is its own country.
The embassy takes in 21 buildings, including six apartment buildings; power generator, water source and purification plant; a recreation building with swimming pool, gym and food court; five high-security entrances plus an emergency entrance/exit.
It is, to use a phrase popular with the Bush backers a while ago and less widely used now, the embassy of an empire. Expressing the deepest aspirations of the United States at this moment in history, it's kind of a cross between Caesar Augustus and Donald Trump.
It's also a clear statement -- a literally concrete statement -- that the United States plans to be a dominant presence in Iraq for a long time.
At its beginning, the giant embassy was expected to reflect a broader determination to persevere in Baghdad. In 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell told The Washington Post
, "As I build up that large embassy, I've got to also generate more international support, U.N. presence -- get the U.N. back in there in force. . . . I think NATO is more and more willing to play a role in Iraq."
That hope has largely vanished, along with the idea that the United States has a clear strategy in mind to reorder Iraq.
When you don't have a policy, you can at least have a palace. Especially when the biggest embassy in the world will be escorted by some of the biggest military bases in the world.
Four U.S. "superbases" are planned for Iraq, and Newsweek
recently described the furthest along: Balad Air Force base, 15 square miles with separate neighborhoods for different services and private contractors, an indoor golf course and a full range of fast-food options. According to The Nation
, another superbase, al-Asad, has two bus routes.
It is the official U.S. position that all this is temporary, and Newsweek
quotes spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson explaining, "What we have in Iraq are 'contingency bases,' intended to support our operations in Iraq on a temporary basis until (Operation Iraqi Freedom) is complete." (...)
Eventually, all public policy issues, internationally or at home, become issues of real estate. And when one country is building such massive presences in another country, it becomes harder to imagine that, in the president's words, "As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."
Maybe, as the Iraqis stand up, we will trade up.
But maybe someday, in an Iraqi future that seems further and further away, we won't think of our new construction projects as massive embattled outposts in a bitterly hostile country.
Maybe someday we can just think of them as gated communities -- with missiles.
Do you remember US propaganda of Saddam's "look-alike(s)"?
Saw this "sitcom
'Double-You' Bush delights media.
Reminded me of this:
Where are Saddam's look-alike(s)?
For years the US and the UK media told the public to not trust what they see on TV, and the images we see on TV or newspapers are one of many replicas of Saddam.
Books and articles published on the subject, TV stations hosted politicians and plastic-surgeons to discus "Saddam's clones" but after three years in Iraq, neither the Americans or the Iraqis captured or killed one of Saddam's replicas, not even a single person appeared to claim he played "Saddam" for some time.
Part of never ending "psy-ops" and propaganda set by the invaders to legitimize the invasion. The problem is; it is the oldest trick in the book and it works at any time in any place.
Actually the single president, king or leader I saw in my life using look-alikes is Bush.
The only hope I see for America,
is long suffering.
That is the great teacher.
It is anguish that stops
ignorance and greed.
There is hope in pain.
Somehow you have to make
sense out of all the madness.
There are always clues in what
seems to be hopeless.
The path to freedom is always narrow,
because there is no room for war.-- Mike Hastie, Vietnam Veteran, May 2, 2006
Ahmadinejad: Lost in translation
: It was October last year when we came home, flicked on the radio and listened aghast to the news that the Iranian president denied the Holocaust had happened and said the state of Israel should be wiped off the map. 'Christ,' we thought, 'this nut job's playing into their hands with this kind of rhetoric.' Since then "the Cuban missile crisis in slow motion" as one US academic has described the Iran/US imbroglio has ratcheted up to high alert with Seymour Hersch of the New Yorker
reporting that the White House is all prepared for nuclear strikes. It would take just 12 hours to deploy nuclear weapons for a bunker busting strike that would kill a million Iranians according to conservative estimates commissioned by the Pentagon. Nuclear armed planes are now on constant alert and public opinion has been framed around those mad, mad statements on Israel by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But what if the pronouncements by Ahmadinejad that cast him as this season's baddie incarnate had been a) mistranslated and b) taken out of context?
When properly translated the Iranian president actually calls for the removal of the regimes that are in power in Israel and in the USA as a goal for the future. Nowhere does he demand the elimination or annihilation of Israel. He called for greater governance for Palestine. The word map does not even feature. And the president makes plain that the Holocaust happened, but, he argues western powers have exploited the memory of the Holocaust for their own imperialistic purposes. What the mainstream ran with is complete deception.
The deception has been aided by the fact that much of the media use an 'independent' company called Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) for translating Middle Eastern languages. Memri just happens to be owned by two right-wing neo-con Israelis: Meyrav Wurmser, the wife of one of Dick Cheney's aides (and ex-special assistant to 'Strap-on' John Bolton),David Wurmser and former(?) Israeli Military Intelligence officer, Colonel Yigal Carmon. Indeed a look at Wikipedia' s incomplete staff list seems to suggest a heavy Israeli bias in staffing and at least two more ex-Israeli Military Intelligence people. Still the little red email is sure that's just a coincidence, as is the fact that the Israeli army (presumably military intelligence) has also used this mistranslation tactic in the past.
And once Ahmadinejad had been brushed with the wacko Jew destroyer tag, it was a short hop, skip and ein Sprung before he was alongside Adolf Hitler in the pantheon of baddies. Like Milosevic and Hussein before him, Ahmadinejad's Hitler comparison is as sure a sign war is imminent.
Unlike Hitler though Ahmadinejad doesn't rule Iran, nor does he control its foreign or military policy. The man in charge of all that is Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran is a theocracy, and Khamenei is the theocrat-in-chief. To give you an idea of where Ahmadinejad lies in Iran's political hierarchy, note that no one can even run for the presidency in the first place without the approval of Khamenei and the Guardian Council, a group of six clerics and six conservative jurists that are selected by Khamenei.
Ahmadinejad serves the purpose of being a believable bogeyman. He'll find his Ph.D. in civil engineering and being a founding member of the Iran Tunnel Society useful if Seymour Hersch's bunker-busting nuke allegations come true.
Anglo-American dominance of international TV news about to end
: Arab and Muslim perspectives will get wider play after Al-Jazeera introduces a global television channel that will telecast news in English. Al-Jazeera International is to go on air by mid-2006, beamed from its headquarters in the Qatari capital Doha, with regional broadcast centers in London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur.
When Al-Jazeera was established in 1996, no one had even heard the phrase "war of ideas" in the context of the world of Islam. It was established to give the Arab world Arab perspectives on major global issues. That idea became quite profound in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001.
A lot has been written in the post-September 11 era on the war of ideas. However, a big chunk of it has been created in the US. Now this war will acquire a global dimension, with Al-Jazeera establishing a global "battlefield" of ideas.
When the Bush administration went into Afghanistan, it got a taste of how an Arab information medium, Al-Jazeera, would spin the coverage of the battle in that country. It did not like the coverage, which was instantly dubbed "anti-American", "heavily biased", and even "pro-Taliban or al-Qaeda".
Everyone likes to talk about the globalization of the information revolution, but that revolution has been slow in coming to news coverage, especially the television version. The world thus far has been under the oligopoly of the British Broadcasting Corp and the Cable News Network in terms of international coverage of news.
According to the German magazine Der Spiegel,
BBC World reaches 279 million households in 200 countries, while CNN International reaches 200 million households in 200 countries. Al-Jazeera International, to be funded initially by the Qatari government, expects to reach 30 million to 40 million households around the world on its launch day.
The monopoly English-language news coverage from the United States and the United Kingdom has provided an inordinate amount of leverage in news selection and, more important, in propagating government spin on issues of global import and interest.
The standard line underlying the coverage of news in the US and the UK is that it is free from the control of government. That is certainly true. However, governments in both countries have a huge say in what news items are covered and how much time is allotted to them daily, because when governments hold hearings, conferences and issues analyses, those news channels are forced to cover them because it is news.
Consequently, long presidential or prime-ministerial news conferences or lengthy coverage of major news events present the US and British perspectives to the American and British and even world audiences. But the foreign perspectives on those very same events are offered on a summarized basis. What is also not stated is the inordinate amount of tilt that is wittingly or unwittingly provided for the US or UK perspectives, simply by covering them so extensively. That automatically creates a bias in the reporting of news.
In the coverage of news, the notion of objectivity requires that the views of both sides be presented. However, by presenting "both" sides of a story, there is still ample room for editorializing by the journalist who is covering the story. Besides, being in the US or British news media, there is a natural inclination to be sympathetic to your own country's perspectives. That is a human predilection. (...)
From the perspectives of the Bush administration, the most troubling part of Al-Jazeera's coverage was that the US audience became increasingly aware of the "anti-American bias" of that channel, and how much US officials felt constrained and frustrated about not being able to counter it. The only difference was that most Americans did not get Al-Jazeera coverage first-hand. Now they are about to get that coverage in their living rooms. Consequently, the international coverage of battlefields will unquestionably undergo profound changes. (...)
The globalization of the war of ideas would pose the same type of challenges to the United States as the onslaught of democracy in a non-democratic polity. The US will have to compete hard on a global scale to promote its own version of reality and truth. Now the war of ideas will be truly democratic in the sense that there is likely to be an open competition between those who are packaging their information well but lying and those who are telling the truth, which might be ugly though still reflecting reality.
Lockheed's Flying Dud
: Last week, Lockheed Martin announced that its profits were up a hefty 60 percent in the first quarter. The company earned $591 million in profit on revenues of $9.2 billion. Now, if the company could just figure out how to put a door handle on its new $361 million F-22 fighter, its prospects would really soar.
On April 10, at Langley Air Force Base, an F-22 pilot, Capt. Brad Spears, was locked inside the cockpit of his aircraft for five hours. No one in the U.S. Air Force or from Lockheed Martin could figure out how to open the aircraft's canopy. At about 1:15 pm, chainsaw-wielding firefighters from the 1st Fighter Wing finally extracted Spears after they cut through the F-22's three-quarter inch-thick polycarbonate canopy.
Total damage to the airplane, according to sources inside the Pentagon: $1.28 million. Not only did the firefighters ruin the canopy, which cost $286,000, they also scuffed the coating on the airplane's skin which will cost about $1 million to replace.
The Pentagon currently plans to buy 181 copies of the F-22 from Lockheed Martin, the world's biggest weapons vendor. The total price tag: $65.4 billion.
The incident at Langley has many Pentagon watchers shaking their heads. Tom Christie, the former director of testing and evaluation for the DOD, calls the F-22 incident at Langley "incredible." "God knows what'll happen next," said Christie, who points out that the F-22 has about two million lines of code in its software system. "This thing is so software intensive. You can't check out every line of code."
Now, just for the sake of comparison, Windows XP, one of the most common computer operating systems, contains about 45 million lines of code. But if any of that code fails, then the computer that's running it simply stops working. It won't cause that computer to fall out of the sky. If any of the F-22's two million lines of computer code go bad, then the pilot can die, or, perhaps, just get trapped in the cockpit.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "I was just tired of being part of a machine destroying the Earth - and I'm speaking of the military-industrial complex. I wanted to be part of a force saving the Earth." --- Demond Mullins, 24 year-old New York student who after serving as an infantryman in the Baghdad area from September 2004 to September 2005 as part of a National Guard unit joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (from GI Special 4E3)