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The most successful tyranny is not the one
that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the
awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable
that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." - Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural
It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. --Voltaire--
consciousness is freedom
Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the "past." People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the "Future." [Cassiopaea 09-28-02]
March 30, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions....The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen." If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!
Robert Fisk: In Baghdad, Blood & Bandages For The InnocentThe piece of metal is only a foot high, but the numbers on it hold the clue to the latest atrocity in Baghdad. At least 62 civilians had died by yesterday afternoon, and the coding on that hunk of metal contains the identity of the culprit. The Americans and British were doing their best yesterday to suggest that an Iraqi anti-aircraft missile destroyed those dozens of lives, adding that they were "still investigating" the carnage. But the coding is in Western style, not in Arabic. And many of the survivors heard the plane.
In the Al-Noor hospital yesterday morning, there were appalling scenes of pain and suffering. A two-year-old girl, Saida Jaffar, swaddled in bandages, a tube into her nose, another into her stomach. All I could see of her was her forehead, two small eyes and a chin. Beside her, blood and flies covered a heap of old bandages and swabs. Not far away, lying on a dirty bed, was three-year-old Mohamed Amaid, his face, stomach, hands and feet all tied tightly in bandages. A great black mass of congealed blood lay at the bottom of his bed.
This is a hospital without computers, with only the most primitive of X-ray machines. But the missile was guided by computers and that vital shard of fuselage was computer-coded. It can be easily verified and checked by the Americans – if they choose to do so. It reads: 30003-704ASB 7492. The letter "B" is scratched and could be an "H". This is believed to be the serial number. It is followed by a further code which arms manufacturers usually refer to as the weapon's "Lot" number. It reads: MFR 96214 09.
The piece of metal bearing the codings was retrieved only minutes after the missile exploded on Friday evening, by an old man whose home is only 100 yards from the 6ft crater. Even the Iraqi authorities do not know that it exists. The missile sprayed hunks of metal through the crowds – mainly women and children – and through the cheap brick walls of local homes, amputating limbs and heads. Three brothers, the eldest 21 and the youngest 12, for example, were cut down inside the living room of their brick hut on the main road opposite the market. Two doors away, two sisters were killed in an identical manner. "We have never seen anything like these wounds before," Dr Ahmed, an anaesthetist at the Al-Noor hospital told me later. "These people have been punctured by dozens of bits of metal." He was right. One old man I visited in a hospital ward had 24 holes in the back of his legs and buttocks, some as big as pound coins. An X-ray photograph handed to me by one of his doctors clearly showed at least 35 slivers of metal still embedded in his body
Like the Sha'ab highway massacre on Thursday – when at least 21 Iraqi civilians were killed or burned to death by two missiles fired by an American jet – Shu'ale is a poor, Shia Muslim neighbourhood of single-storey corrugated iron and cement food stores and two-room brick homes. These are the very people whom Messrs Bush and Blair expected to rise in insurrection against Saddam. But the anger in the slums was directed at the Americans and British yesterday, by old women and bereaved fathers and brothers who spoke without hesitation – and without the presence of the otherwise ubiquitous government "minders".
"This is a crime," a woman muttered at me angrily. "Yes, I know they say they are targeting the military. But can you see soldiers here? Can you see missiles?" The answer has to be in the negative. A few journalists did report seeing a Scud missile on a transporter near the Sha'ab area on Thursday and there were anti-aircraft guns around Shu'ale. At one point yesterday morning, I heard an American jet race over the scene of the massacre and just caught sight of a ground-to-air missile that was vainly chasing it, its contrail soaring over the slum houses in the dark blue sky. An anti-aircraft battery – manufactured circa 1942 – also began firing into the air a few blocks away. But even if the Iraqis do position or move their munitions close to the suburbs, does that justify the Americans firing into those packed civilian neighbourhoods, into areas which they know contain crowded main roads and markets – and during the hours of daylight?
Last week's attack on the Sha'ab highway was carried out on a main road at midday during a sandstorm – when dozens of civilians are bound to be killed, whatever the pilot thought he was aiming at. "I had five sons and now I have only two – and how do I know that even they will survive?" a bespectacled middle-aged man said in the bare concrete back room of his home yesterday. "One of my boys was hit in the kidneys and heart. His chest was full of shrapnel; it came right through the windows. Now all I can say is that I am sad that I am alive." A neighbour interrupted to say that he saw the plane with his own eyes. "I saw the side of the aircraft and I noticed it changed course after it fired the missile."
Plane-spotting has become an all-embracing part of life in Baghdad. And to the reader who thoughtfully asked last week if I could see with my own eyes the American aircraft over the city, I have to say that in at least 65 raids by aircraft, I have not – despite my tiger-like eyes – actually seen one plane. I hear them, especially at night, but they are flying at supersonic speed; during the day, they are usually above the clouds of black smoke that wash over the city. I have, just once, spotted a cruise missile – the cruise or Tomahawk rockets fly at only around 400mph – and I saw it passing down a boulevard towards the Tigris river. But the grey smoke that shoots out of the city like the fingers of a dead hand is unmistakeable, along with the concussion of sound. And – when they can be found – the computer codings on the bomb fragments reveal their own story. As the codes on the Shu'ale missile surely must.
All morning yesterday, the Americans were at it again, blasting away at targets on the perimeter of Baghdad – where the outer defences of the city are being dug by Iraqi troops – and in the centre. An air-fired rocket exploded on the roof of the Iraqi Ministry of Information, destroying a clutch of satellite dishes. One office building from which I was watching the bombardment literally swayed for several seconds during one long raid. Even in the Al-Noor hospital, the walls were shaking yesterday as the survivors of the market slaughter struggled for survival.
Hussein Mnati is 52 and just stared at me – his face pitted with metal fragments – as bombs blasted the city. A 20-year-old man was sitting up in the next bed, the blood-soaked stump of his left arm plastered over with bandages. Only 12 hours ago, he had a left arm, a left hand, fingers. Now he blankly recorded his memories. "I was in the market and I didn't feel anything," he told me. "The rocket came and I was to the right of it and then an ambulance took me to hospital."
Whether or not his amputation was dulled by painkillers, he wanted to talk. When I asked him his name, he sat upright in bed and shouted at me: "My name is Saddam Hussein Jassem." Comment: Again I say that the US military commanders and politicians are sick, pathetic, evil people, to pour salt on the wounds of the Iraqi innocents by blaming their own people for causing this carnage is despicable.
Delusions of Power They considered themselves tough-minded realists, and regarded doubters as fuzzy-minded whiners. They silenced those who questioned their premises, even though the skeptics included many of the government's own analysts. They were supremely confident — and yet with shocking speed everything they had said was proved awesomely wrong.
No, I'm not talking about the war; I'm talking about the energy task force that Dick Cheney led back in 2001. Yet there are some disturbing parallels. Right now, pundits are wondering how Mr. Cheney — who confidently predicted that our soldiers would be "greeted as liberators" — could have been so mistaken. But a devastating new report on the California energy crisis reminds us that Mr. Cheney has been equally confident, and equally wrong, about other issues.
In spring 2001 the lights were going out all over California. There were blackouts and brownouts, and the price of electricity was soaring. The Cheney task force was convened in the midst of that crisis. It concluded, in brief, that the energy crisis was a long-term problem caused by meddling bureaucrats and pesky environmentalists, who weren't letting big companies do what needed to be done. The solution? Scrap environmental rules, and give the energy industry multibillion-dollar subsidies.
Along the way, Mr. Cheney sneeringly dismissed energy conservation as a mere "sign of personal virtue" and scorned California officials who called for price controls and said the crisis was being exacerbated by market manipulation. To be fair, Mr. Cheney's mocking attitude on that last point was shared by almost everyone in politics and the media — and yes, I am patting myself on the back for getting it right.
For we now know that everything Mr. Cheney said was wrong.
In fact, the California energy crisis had nothing to do with environmental restrictions, and a lot to do with market manipulation. In 2001 the evidence for manipulation was basically circumstantial. But now we have a new report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which until now has discounted claims of market manipulation. No more: the new report concludes that market manipulation was pervasive, and offers a mountain of direct evidence, including phone conversations, e-mail and memos. There's no longer any doubt: California's power shortages were largely artificial, created by energy companies to drive up prices and profits.
Oh, and what ended the crisis? Key factors included energy conservation and price controls. Meanwhile, what happened to that long-term shortage of capacity, which required scrapping environmental rules and providing lots of corporate welfare? Within months after the Cheney report's release, stock analysts were downgrading energy companies because of a looming long-term-capacity glut.
In short, Mr. Cheney and his tough-minded realists were blowing smoke: their report described a fantasy world that bore no relation to reality. How did they get it so wrong?
One answer is that Mr. Cheney made sure that his task force included only like-minded men: as far as we can tell, he didn't consult with anyone except energy executives. So the task force was subject to what military types call "incestuous amplification," defined by Jane's Defense Weekly as "a condition in warfare where one only listens to those who are already in lock-step agreement, reinforcing set beliefs and creating a situation ripe for miscalculation."
Another answer is that Mr. Cheney basically drew his advice about how to end the energy crisis from the very companies creating the crisis, for fun and profit. But was he in on the joke?
We may never know what really went on in the energy task force since the Bush administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep us from finding out. At first the nonpartisan General Accounting Office, which is supposed to act as an internal watchdog, seemed determined to pursue the matter. But after the midterm election, according to the newsletter The Hill, Congressional Republicans approached the agency's head and threatened to slash his budget unless he backed off.
And therein lies the broader moral. In the last two years Mr. Cheney and other top officials have gotten it wrong again and again — on energy, on the economy, on the budget. But political muscle has insulated them from any adverse consequences. So they, and the country, don't learn from their mistakes — and the mistakes keep getting bigger.
Russian Military Expert: USA Tests Highly Devastating Weapons in Iraq The USA is testing in Iraq new samples of exceptionally devastating weapons, a Russian military expert said Monday on the condition of anonymity. According to him, excessive use of force is a very soft word for characterising the USA's and Britain's activities in Iraq. "Bomb strikes at towns and the countryside can be compared only to the devastating power of weapons of mass destruction," said the expert.
In his opinion, the US
blows can hardly be called "pinpoint" or "selective" - the latest
bombing of Basrah killed 77 peaceful residents, and in Baghdad,
bombs and shells hit an orphanage and the university building.
Besides, two American Tomahawk cruise missiles fell down on Turkish
territory, this preceded by a "unintentional" strike at
Iran. The expert drew attention
to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's statement that Baghdad is
violating international law by an alleged misuse of the civilians
as a live shield. "Rumsfeld has meanwhile ignored," continued the
expert, "that the American aviation is violating the same norms by
bombing the population in places of permanent
March 29, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions....The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen." If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!
I would cut Bush to pieces with my teeth Rasoul Hammed Najeed stood outside his home sobbing uncontrollably for his five-year-old son, who was killed while playing near a busy Baghdad vegetable market when an air raid struck. "After this crime, I wish I could see [US President George Bush] in order to cut him to pieces with my teeth," he cried. Another man, identified as Saad Abd Qasim, stood as if in a trance, unable to speak. Friends said his wife, his child and the wife of his son had been among the 50 to 60 people Iraqis say were killed in the raid.
"We heard a plane flying over us. We saw a rocket coming in our direction, and then we heard the explosion. My shop was shaken but, thank God, I am safe," Eyad Abadi, 30, said. The raid took place in the run-down, working-class district of Shula in north-west Baghdad, inhabited mostly by Shi'ite Muslims. Most of the one-storey shops in the immediate area were demolished. The ground was covered with blood and broken glass. Reporter Hassan Hafidh said he saw 10 corpses. Abu Dhabi television said US cruise missiles may have hit the market.
The US military blamed another, earlier explosion in a Baghdad residential area last week on an errant Iraqi missile. It had no immediate comment on Friday's hit on Shula. There were scenes of panic and confusion at the nearby Al-Noor Hospital as relatives tried to locate or comfort injured loved ones. "Is this the humanity that Bush is talking about? He has no mercy at all. May God make him fail," said Ali Kadhin, whose three-year-old son was badly injured in the attack. Dr Osama Sakhari said he had counted 55 people killed and more than 47 wounded in the raid. Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said at least 58 people had been killed. Dr Sakhari said he had counted 15 children among the dead - one had died in his arms. "I ask Bush and Blair to imagine how they would feel if their child died in their arms," he said.
The paramilitary force,
whom Rumsfeld says are formerly imprisoned criminals, is called
Fedayeen Saddam. He says the name, which means "men of sacrifice,"
is "a lie" because their purpose is actually to make martyrs of
innocent Iraqis. Comment:
makes martyrs of innocent Iraqis also.
Witnesses who gathered shortly after the explosion at 1:45 a.m. local time could see a twisted piece of metal on the esplanade near the shoreline about the size of a wastebasket and bearing the number "5420" in red. The words "place" and "protractor" could also be made out on a shard. Emergency workers put fragments into bags that they took away for analysis.
Despite indications that a missile had struck near the rear entrance to the Sharq mall, by the Sharqiah cinema, witnesses said they did not hear air-raid sirens that would indicate an incoming missile. Some Kuwaiti officials who examined the fragments said they believed an errant American cruise missile had been fired from the Persian Gulf toward Iraq.
"It was an American cruise
missile, we know from the markings and writing on it," said a
Kuwaiti police colonel who did not give his name. "It doesn't go
up, it comes in low from the sea, and that's why there was no
alert." Another uniformed Kuwaiti official said that he, too,
believed the missile to have been American and said that it "came
from the sea." He then added that "it was a mistake" that it had
struck Kuwait. In Washington, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman,
Victoria Clarke, asked about reports that Kuwaiti officials were
blaming an American missile for the damage, said it was too early
to tell what had happened or whose missile it was.
Comment: These are the much vaunted US "precision
weapons". Of course if one could be so off course that it hits
kuwait there is no chance that any of the thousands fired daily at
Baghdad could go marginally off course, and land in a market
killing civilians, for example. No, those ones HAVE to be
Either Take a Shot or Take a Chance At the base camp of the Fifth Marine Regiment here, two sharpshooters, Sgt. Eric Schrumpf, 28, and Cpl. Mikael McIntosh, 20, sat on a sand berm and swapped combat tales while their column stood at a halt on the road toward Baghdad. For five days this week, the two men rode atop armored personnel carriers, barreling up Highway 1.
They said Iraqi fighters had often mixed in with civilians from nearby villages, jumping out of houses and cars to shoot at them, and then often running away. The marines said they had little trouble dispatching their foes, most of whom they characterized as ill trained and cowardly.
"We had a great day," Sergeant Schrumpf said. "We killed a lot of people."
Sergeant Schrumpf said that while most Iraqi soldiers had posed little danger, a small number appeared to be well trained and calm under fire. Some, the sergeant added, wore black suits, described by some Iraqis as the uniform of the Saddam Feydayeen, a militia of die-hard loyalists of Saddam Hussein.
Both marines said they were most frustrated by the practice of some Iraqi soldiers to use unarmed women and children as shields against American bullets. They called the tactic cowardly but agreed that it had been effective. Both Sergeant Schrumpf and Corporal McIntosh said they had declined several times to shoot at Iraqi soldiers out of fear they might hit civilians.
"It's a judgment call," Corporal McIntosh said. "If the risks outweigh the losses, then you don't take the shot." But in the heat of a firefight, both men conceded, when the calculus often warps, a shot not taken in one set of circumstances may suddenly present itself as a life-or-death necessity. "We dropped a few civilians," Sergeant Schrumpf said, "but what do you do?" To illustrate, the sergeant offered a pair of examples from earlier in the week.
"There was one Iraqi soldier, and 25 women and children," he said, "I didn't take the shot." But more than once, Sergeant Schrumpf said, he faced a different choice: one Iraqi soldier standing among two or three civilians. He recalled one such incident, in which he and other men in his unit opened fire. He recalled watching one of the women standing near the Iraqi soldier go down.
"I'm sorry," the
sergeant said. "But the chick was in the way."
Takoma the dolphin is Awol The US Marines have suffered an embarrassment with reports last night that one of their most prized investigators may have defected. Takoma, the Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, had been in Iraq for 48 hours when he went missing on his first operation to snoop out mines.
His handler, Petty Officer Taylor Whitaker, had proudly showed off Takoma’s skills and told how the 22-year-old dolphin was among the most pampered creatures in the American military. Takoma and his fellow mine hunters have a special diet, regular medical checks and their own sleeping quarters, which is more than can be said for the vast majority of the military whose domestic arrangements are basic, to say the least.
The wayward Takoma set out on the first mission with his comrade, Makai, watched by the cameras as the pair of dolphins somersaulted over the inflatable dinghy carrying their handlers. Takoma’s role was to sweep the way clear for the arrival of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Sir Galahad. US officials had said that dolphins, first used in Vietnam, were a far better bet than all the technology on board the flotilla of ships.
Petty Officer Whitaker had tempted fate by saying: “Why would they go missing when they have the best food and daily spruce-ups and health checks?” Two hours later Takoma had gone Awol. “Twenty-four hours is not unusual,” a nervous Petty Officer Whitaker said. “After all, he may meet some local company.”
Takoma has now been missing for 48 hours and the solitary figure of Petty Officer Whitaker could be seen yesterday patting the water, calling his name and offering his favourite fish, but there was no response. Comment: The dolphin obviously has more morals than any member of the US military forces.
BBC chiefs stress need to attribute war sources Claims and counter-claims in the media. BBC news chiefs have met to discuss the increasing problem of misinformation coming out of Iraq as staff concern grows at the series of premature claims and counter claims by military sources. As a result the corporation has reinforced the message to correspondents that they must clearly attribute information to the military when it has not been backed up by another source.
"There's been a discussion
about attribution and it's been reinforced with people that we do
have to attribute military information," said a BBC spokeswoman.
"We have to be very careful in the midst of a conflict like this
one to be very sure when we're reporting something we've not seen
with our own eyes that we attribute it," she added. On nearly every
day of the war so far there have been reports that could be seen as
favourable to coalition forces, which have later turned out to be
inaccurate.Comment: To put it in lay-man's terms; The US propaganda
machine in Iraq lies about just about everything that makes them
look like the agressive invaasion force that they
Bush and Blair hold crisis summit US President Bush and British Minister Blair came together this week for a hastily convened summit at Camp David to discuss war plans that have gone badly awry and to patch up widening disagreements over the political framework for postwar Iraq.
Appearing at a joint press conference on Thursday, the two leaders tried to put the best possible face on what is threatening to become a military debacle. None of the rosy predictions of a week ago had been fulfilled. Instead of cheering crowds, allied troops met determined resistance. The Iraqi army has not deserted en masse and the Hussein regime remains intact.
All Blair and Bush could do was reiterate the increasingly hollow assertion that the Iraqi masses were being held in check by brutality and fear. The main battles for control of the cities are yet to begin and the fighting so far has for the most part involved poorly armed Iraqi irregulars. Yet, according to Bush: “We’re now engaging the dictator’s most hardened and most desperate units.” Blair somewhat pathetically appealed for the media to recognise “the progress that has already been made.”
The prospect of a protracted, bloody and possibly inconclusive war is exacerbating tensions in Washington and London. Responding to a question about the likely length of the war, a visibly irritated Bush declared, “However long it takes. That’s the answer to your question, and that’s what you got to know. This isn’t a matter of time table, it’s a matter of victory. And the Iraqi people have got know [sic] that, see.”
Bush’s annoyance reflects disagreements over the US war strategy. The Financial Times reported: “Insiders who have spoken to senior Pentagon officials said there was growing anger directed at Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, who, the officials say, dismissed their efforts to include heavier ground forces in the field before an invasion.” Asked for a comment, Rumsfeld brushed aside the suggestion, declaring that the generals had all been “deeply involved” and had “approved” the plans.
Not so easily dismissed were the remarks of Lieutenant General William Wallace, who candidly admitted to the Washington Post on Thursday: “The enemy we’re fighting is different from the one we’d war-gamed against.” He expressed shock at the willingness of irregular fighters to engage in suicidal attacks on US heavy armour. “The attacks we’re seeing are bizarre—technical vehicles [pickups] with .50 calibre and every kind of weapon charging tanks and Bradleys [armoured vehicles].”
While repeating the Pentagon line that these irregulars were “forced to fight,” Wallace acknowledged indirectly that the US military faces a hostile population. Referring to a barrage of fire that brought down and damaged Apache helicopter gunships outside Baghdad, he said: “We’re dealing with a country in which everybody has a weapon, and when they fire them all in the air at the same time, it’s tough.”
As the Washington Post noted, Wallace, who is currently the senior US ground commander in Iraq, was expressing “what senior officers in Iraq have been saying privately for several days.” Iraqi resistance has not crumbled under the weight of a devastating bombing campaign and the generals now have to prepare for protracted urban warfare to seize and hold the major population centres. As one senior officer ominously commented: “If you’re really serious about that, you have to do it the Israeli way, with tanks and bulldozers.”
Israelis trained US troops in Jenin-style urban warfare The American military has been asking the Israeli army for advice on fighting inside cities, and studying fighting in the West Bank city of Jenin last April, unnamed United States and Israeli sources have confirmed. Reports that US troops trained with Israeli forces for street-to-street fighting have been denied.
If the US army believes the road to Baghdad lies through Jenin, there is reason for Iraqi civilians to be concerned. During fighting in the Jenin refugee camp last April, more than half the Palestinian dead were civilians. There was compelling evidence that Israeli soldiers targeted civilians, including Fadwa Jamma, a Palestinian nurse shot dead as she tried to treat a wounded man. A 14-year-old boy was killed by Israeli tank-fire in a crowded street after the curfew was lifted. A Palestinian in a wheelchair was shot dead, and his body was crushed by an Israeli tank.
Israeli soldiers prevented
ambulances from reaching the wounded and refused the Red Cross
access. Using bulldozers, the Israeli army demolished an entire
neighbourhood – home to 800 Palestinian families –
reducing it to dust and rubble. Comment: We now see the real meaning of
"liberation of the Iraqi people".
Is Basra About To Get The Dresden Treatment? The past
week's developments of the Four-Day Oil War 2 in Iraq demand that I
address what is about to very quickly become the first immense war
crime against its civilian population. This is the coming
destruction of Basra, once known as "The Venice of the Mid-East."
An ancient city is soon to be reduced to the rubble of WW2 Dresden,
under eerily similar circumstances.
in the vice Lives and careers are on the line in Iraq A
vice is slowly beginning to close on US and British political
leaders who ordered or justified the launching of war on Iraq. This
potentially fatal squeeze is the product of two opposed dynamics.
One is the dawning realisation that the war will not be over
quickly, may indeed drag on for months, and will certainly not be
the "cakewalk" predicted by Kenneth Adelman of the Pentagon's
infamous defence policy board. The other is the prospect of an
accelerating humanitarian crisis.
Even the hawkish US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, principal author of the controversial "combat lite" strategy and a man whose reputation and career are very much on the line, appears to be hesitating. The champion of the "forward-leaning" posture is now in danger of falling flat on his face. His boss, George Bush, who at Camp David this week seemed to be asleep while standing up, insists a relentless America will prevail "no matter how long it takes". Down in Tampa, that sounds like leadership. But it is actually an amazing admission that the US military behemoth no longer entirely controls the timetable or pace of a war begun at a moment and in a place of its own particular choosing.
That the Pentagon has been obliged to double its ground combat forces after only a week, and must now wait for them to deploy, is a matter for considerable political shock and awe. This military deceleration now runs directly counter to that other powerful dynamic: a quickening human tragedy. Put simply, the longer the war rages, the more acute the suffering of the Iraqi people will become. And while the regime remains undefeated, the more deeply problematic will be efforts to distribute aid and the more furious the international outcry.
The prospect of Iraqis dying in large numbers from dehydration, or malnutrition or disease is still hopefully some way off; the UN estimates a five-week food supply. But problems with refugees and tainted water supply are beginning to emerge around Basra and Nassiriya. Aid agencies, unable to enter most of the country while fighting continues, say they cannot assess the status of the population. However much money is raised, and the UN has set a $2.2bn overall target, it is useless as long as organised, safe distribution remains impractical. Last night's decision to give the UN secretary-general temporary control of a resumed oil-for-food programme and $10bn worth of uncompleted contracts will also have a merely symbolic, political importance if secure distribution routes to 45,000 outlets are not swiftly reopened.
The Iraqi regime is not helping, cynically using the plight of civilians as a propaganda tool. The US military and the US government's aid agency are not helping either by trying to direct the relief effort and thereby potentially compromising independent NGOs with far superior expertise. Yesterday's arrival of the British aid ship, Sir Galahad, at Umm Qasr, while welcome in itself, highlights another difficulty. This is Iraq's only deep-water port, the size of Dover. It will have to cope with the competing demands of military and humanitarian supplies for the duration and beyond.
Britain has earmarked
£210m for humanitarian work in a total war budget of
£3bn; the US $2.4bn, out of $74.7bn. Yet even with the best
will in the world, aid efforts will have limited impact while the
conflict continues inconclusively. This is why, with the war
lengthening and slowing, Iraq's human crisis seems certain to
intensify. This is the inexorably closing vice that has the power
to destroy thousands of innocent lives and some very prominent
analyst: US ‘conned into war’ Middle East
expert and former Central Intelligence Agency officer Robert Baer
has charged that the American-led war in Iraq is a dire mistake
based on false assumptions and faulty information, but that
President George W. Bush cannot stop now and leave Saddam Hussein
in power after the long emotional and political buildup to the
“The American people,
Congress, government and president were conned into this war, in
the full sense of the word, by neo-conservatives and hawks in
Washington who sold a false bill of goods. The president was lied
to and given erroneous information that was filtered through Iraqi
exiles who had not lived in Iraq for 20 or 30 years and had no
clear idea of realities inside Iraq. The exiles had no intention of
fighting themselves, but wanted the US to fight for them,” he
told The Daily Star Thursday in an interview.
“There was already in
place among some circles in Washington an old plan to attack Iraq.
After Sept. 11, 2001 it was sold to the president, who was told
that this would be a quick, decisive, easy, almost bloodless
operation, at little expense and with no resistance by Iraqis, with
Saddam Hussein gone at a flash of the muzzle. But it has not worked
out that way. Determined Iraqis who stalled mechanized divisions in
southern Iraq are not just pockets of resistance. In its first week
the war did not go as planned.”
He fears that this will increase the bitterness felt against the US by Arabs and Muslims, who increasingly see Americans as hostile to them. He is also concerned “that young Americans now are fighting and dying in Iraq based on faulty analyses from questionable sources,” but he cannot see Bush stopping the war now. “President Bush spent nine months working the American population into a frenzy of fear and anger about Saddam Hussein, and he cannot now tell them that it was not so serious after all, that he has to stop the war and leave Saddam in power.” The best way to minimize long-term damage to the US’ standing in this region is for Washington “to make a brisk, clean transition to Iraqi or Iraqi-UN rule after the war ends, offer substantial assistance for reconstruction, leave the Iraqis alone , and turn America’s attention quickly to achieving a fair resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
China readies for future U.S. fight The Iraqi war has convinced the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership that some form of confrontation with the U.S. could come earlier than expected. Beijing has also begun to fine-tune its domestic and security policies to counter the perceived threat of U.S. "neo-imperialism." As more emphasis is being put on boosting national strength and cohesiveness, a big blow could be dealt to both economic and political reform. That the new leadership has concluded China is coming up against formidable challenges in the short to medium term is evident from recent statements by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Hu indicated earlier this year Beijing must pay more attention to global developments so that "China make good preparations before the rainstorm ... and be in a position to seize the initiative."
Wen also pointed out in the first meeting of the State Council, or cabinet, last Saturday the leadership "must keep a cool head." "We must boost our consciousness about disasters and downturns -- and think about dangers in the midst of [apparent] safety," he said. Alarm bells about a deteriorating international situation have been sounded by the CCP's secretive Leading Group on National Security (LGNS), which coordinates policies in areas including diplomacy, defense and energy. The LGNS, which is headed by Hu, has since early this month called a series of meetings to discuss ways to handle the Iraqi crisis. In the near term, of course, the focus is on the impact of rising oil prices -- and on the need to build up a strategic oil reserve that can last at least 30 days.
However, economic concerns are not the top priority. Given the likelihood oil prices will drop after the resolution of the conflict, some government economists are saying the war's impact on this year's economic performance will be insubstantial. Officials even cite the safe haven theory to predict foreign direct investment flowing into China will exceed the record $52 billion last year. Of more concern to the LGNS is the perceived expansion of American unilateralism if not neo-imperialism. As People's Daily commentator Huang Peizhao pointed out last Saturday, U.S. moves in the Middle East "have served the goal of seeking world-wide domination."
State Council think-tank member Tong Gang saw the conflict as the first salvo in Washington's bid to "build a new world order under U.S. domination." Chinese strategists think particularly if the U.S. can score a relatively quick victory over Baghdad, it will soon turn to Asia -- and begin efforts to "tame" China. It is understood the LGNS believes the U.S. will take on North Korea -- still deemed a "lips-and-teeth" ally of China's -- as early as this summer. These developments have prompted China to change its long-standing geopolitical strategy, which still held true as late as the 16th CCP Congress last November.
Until late last year, Beijing believed a confrontation with the U.S. could be delayed -- and China could through hewing to the late Deng Xiaoping's "keep a low profile" theory afford to concentrate almost exclusively on economic development. "Now, many cadres and think-tank members think Beijing should adopt a more pro-active if not aggressive policy to thwart U.S. aggression," said a Chinese source close to the diplomatic establishment. He added hard-line elements in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had advocated providing weapons to North Korea to help Pyongyang defend itself against a possible U.S. missile strike at its nuclear facilities.
Forestalling the challenge
Hu was elected president of China by the NPC this month.
"Equal weight should be given to economic development and national security," Yang said. "As we become more prosperous, we must concentrate our forces [on safeguarding national safety]." What is China doing to forestall the perceived U.S. challenge? Firstly, the CCP leadership is fostering nationalistic sentiments, a sure-fire way to promote much-needed cohesiveness. While not encouraging anti-U.S. demonstrations, Beijing has informed the people of what the media calls "increasingly treacherous international developments."
This explains what analysts including Beijing scholars considered the unexpectedly virulent official reaction to the start of the Iraq war. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said the U.S.-led military campaign had "trampled on the U.N. constitution and international law" and that it would lead to regional and global instability. [...] Such developments could in turn hasten a possible showdown between the two countries that harbor deep-seated mistrust of each other even in relatively tranquil times. Comment: For those that have eyes to "see", while the details are as yet unknown this agressive and impulsive attack on Iraq bears all the hallmarks of the beginning of "the end". Some are destined to be sleeping, unwitting pawns in the drama, yet many now have the opportunity to begin to "see", the choice is for each to make, but do not leave it too late:
"First they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim. Then they came to detain immigrants indefinitely solely upon the certification of the Attorney General, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.
Then they came to eavesdrop on suspects consulting with their attorneys, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a suspect. Then they came to prosecute non-citizens before secret military commissions, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a non-citizen.
Then they came to enter homes and offices for unannounced "sneak and peek" searches, and I didn't speak up because I had nothing to hide. Then they came to reinstate Cointelpro and resume the infiltration and surveillance of domestic religious and political groups, and I didn't speak up because I had stopped participating in any groups.
Then they came for anyone who objected to government policy because it aided the terrorists and gave ammunition to America's enemies, and I didn't speak up because...... I didn't speak up. Then they came for me....... and by that time no one was left to speak up." Martin Niemöller
The item was presented by Tom Fielden, Science Correspondent for BBC Radio 4, who said strategists at the Pentagon and the Joint Non-lethal Directorate in Washington are keen to use ‘non-lethal’ chemical agents in Baghdad and elsewhere. ‘… that could be something like a riot-control agent like CS gas or pepper spray or something more powerful, like the gas used in the Moscow theatre siege last year which, if you remember, did actually manage to kill 120 hostages as well as incapacitating the terrorists … that’s the kind of thinking Donald Rumsfeld has been talking about and he very much looks at the rules of engagement, if you like as they stand now, as a bit of a straitjacket to that kind of modern military thinking which could actually lead to a reduction in casualties.’
David Eisenberg of the Transatlantic Defence Analysis Basic [?] outlined the administration’s thinking: ‘Well I think when the point comes that they are fighting on the outskirts of or the streets of Baghdad, they’re gonna say we have two alternatives here; you know, we can either call down on conventional ordnance, in which case a lot of people get killed, or we can fire off a round which will contain CS Gas, Tear Gas - well, there may be some other stuff such as phanatoline derivatives that has been under development in the United States - and we will knock these people out though we won’t kill them.’
Tom Fielden stated that the
International Chemical Weapons Convention, to which the US is a
signatory, specifically prohibits the use of
Dr Alasdair Hay, Professor of Environmental Toxicology at the University of Leeds, was interviewed on the programme: ‘It will erode this Chemical Weapons Convention and I think blast a real hole in it, and that is going to affect all of us, and it may in fact provide some legitimacy for Iraq to enable it to retaliate, not just with similar agents but possibly even more lethal agents.’ The Labour MP, Alasdair Simpson, recently led an independent team of weapons inspectors to a biochemical base outside Washington that manufactures these weapons, and he was also interviewed on the programme: ‘Well, I think it’s somewhat bizarre that America clearly has an intention to use biochemical weapons that it claims to be fighting a war in order to destroy . . . as Tom Fielden said, they’re weapons that already killed 120 people in the Moscow theatre siege, and if you’re talking about using them in an urban setting where half of the people in Baghdad or Basra will be children, the likelihood is that there will be lots of casualties - there will be lots of people who will die from the use of these non-lethal weapons, and the use of them themselves is illegal.’
The BBC presenter argued
that it would be surely better to put people to sleep than kill
them. Alasdair Simpson replied: ‘I think this idea of
For Insider Trading Federal investigators have arrested an
enigmatic Wall Street wiz on insider-trading charges -- and
incredibly, he claims to be a time-traveler from the year 2256!
Sources at the Security and Exchange Commission confirm that
44-year-old Andrew Carlssin offered the bizarre explanation for his
uncanny success in the stock market after being led off in
handcuffs on January 28.
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