Below are three articles. The first two are serious and highly commendable reading.
"Since 9 April 2003, the US has been trying to foment sectarian tendencies. This may explain the tensions we see today. Doctrinal differences within Islam were never a big deal. Islam is open to many interpretations after all. Shias and Sunnis are more united by religion than divided by interpretation. Islam has also been a uniting force for Kurds and Arabs. This is not something that occupiers wished to encourage. The occupiers adopted a policy of divide and rule. The US had only one post-war scenario, and it was based on pitting Sunni against Shia. The moment the occupation was complete, the countdown to civil war began. The media spoke of parallels between Lebanon and Iraq. And every single incident in the country was portrayed as having sectarian origins. Meanwhile, the country became a stage for account settling. Anyone with an axe to grind -- Iran, Syria, Al-Qaeda, to mention just a few -- got involved. Israel, many claim, has been involved in the assassination of the country's top professionals. As the violence spread, it became harder to draw the line between legitimate resistance and acts of wilful mayhem. Terrorists chose their targets in cold blood. Their aim was to divide the Iraqis, to drive a wedge between Sunni and Shia, and to bring the country to its knees. The turbulence in Al-Madaen and the bombings of the Shia mausoleums were not random acts; people who don't want the Iraqis to remain united carefully planned them. Do we have a civil war in Iraq? To this moment, the answer is no. Rampant violence? Yes. Innocent victims? Certainly. Political vacuum? Without doubt. But no civil war. Iraqi politics is being mishandled, for our politicians have so far failed to step up to their responsibilities. Iraq needs leaders who can reassure the public and keep the nation together. Neighbours can help by encouraging unity rather than sedition. The US has taken us down a road of sectarian strife and now its troops are standing by, waiting to see what's next. This doesn't look good. The scene of political division is quite alarming. The scene of leaders jockeying for power is actually dismal. It's been two months since the elections, and yet we cannot get a government together.What we have in this country is not civil war, but a lack of credible leadership. We all are aware of the plots against our country, and some of our best minds have already advised caution and restraint. What we need to do is defuse the situation. We know that regional and international powers are trying to divide us, and we need to prove them wrong. We need to rebuild this country. We can do it. We can present an Iraqi model, just as the Americans said. We can offer a model of democracy, freedom and human rights. It's all up to us." Divide and rule by Sawsan Al-Assaf 16 - 22 March 2006
"Is Iraq heading toward disintegration? The question is asked frequently by observers, never mind their attitude toward Iraq and Iraqis. The question implies more fundamental ones: is Iraq an artificial state? Or is it built on certain necessary foundations? If these foundations are no longer valid, should Iraq disintegrate?Iraq as a state and a civilization has existed well back in history. Deep-rooted civilizations, be they in the north, middle or south, came into being not because some power interest required them to but as a result of natural evolution. Even in modern history, when the Ottoman Empire introduced the villayet system it could not separate the three villayets of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Indeed, the British occupation formed the new Iraqi state according to these lines after cutting out some of its territories. One should remember that after signing the Sykes-Picot treaty, the British found that it was not realistic and changed their minds. This was not an accidental decision. The British strategists and political officers who controlled Iraq found that for economic and strategic reasons Iraq should be formed in the way it was. They realized that the north of Iraq could not subsist without the riches of the south and the south could not be defended without the natural boundaries of the north. I believe all these factors are still valid today. ......." Not because of our blue eyes by Saad N. Jawad, March 30, 2006
And the third one fits the Arabic proverb: "The worst aspect of a tragedy .. is that it induces humor شرّ البلية ما يُـضحِك" "So, who’s responsible for the current violence in Iraq? Who’s responsible for Americans’ disdain of the war? Depends on who you talk to. Rumsfeld blames the U.S. press for not reporting more happy stories. Cheney cites the Iraq-al Qaeda connection which led up to 9/11 to justify the invasion. (He’s obviously been inhaling gunpowder, again.) Perhaps Bush has the freshest take on who to pin the blame on: Saddam Hussein. Ayup. This is all Saddam’s fault. Speaking, last week, before Freedom House, Bush was delusional even by his standards. “The enemies of a free Iraq are employing the same tactics Saddam used, killing and terrorizing the Iraqi people in an effort to foment sectarian division,” Bush declared. Uh, no. But, oh, Hell. The facts be damned. “Iraq is a nation that is physically and emotionally scarred by three decades of Saddam’s tyranny,” Bush felt compelled to blurt. Bush put rose-colored glasses on his “straw-man” argument and let ‘er rip: “Today, some Americans ask whether removing Saddam caused the divisions and instability we’re now seeing. In fact, much of the animosity and violence we now see is the legacy of Saddam Hussein. He is a tyrant who exacerbated sectarian divisions to keep himself in power. Iraq is a nation with many ethnic and religious and sectarian and regional and tribal divisions. Before Saddam Hussein, Iraqis from different communities managed to live together. Even today, many Iraqi tribes have both Sunni and Shia branches. And in many small towns with mixed populations, there’s often only one mosque where Sunni and Shia worship together. Intermarriage is also common with mixed families that include Arabs and Kurds and Sunnis and Shia and Turkmen, Assyrians, and Chaldeans.” He’s been reading “The Arabian Nights” again as history. Although he admitted “The kidnappings and brutal executions and beheadings are very disturbing,” (‘ya think?) he thought we were making great progress. Then, assuming the role of School Marm-in-Chief, he admonished the current Iraqi government: “I want the Iraqi people to hear I’ve got great confidence in their capacity to self govern,” Bush said. “I also want the Iraqi people to hear — it’s about time you get a unity government going. In other words, Americans understand you’re newcomers to the political arena. But pretty soon its time to shut her down and get governing (sic). .....” Sugar plumbs and depleted uraniumMarch 31, 2006
Sheik al-Hafeed and others took issue with Western characterizations of attacks on coalition troops as terrorism, citing the U.S. war of independence from Britain as one example of citizens taking up arms to eject foreign occupiers. Rather than condemn such a struggle, the sheik quipped, "Americans celebrate it as the Fourth of July, Independence Day."
Sheik Ahmad Abdulgafour al-Samarai, minister of Sunni religious affairs in the outgoing government, agreed, saying that the definition of terrorism included not only the kidnapping and killing of noncombatants by guerrilla groups, "but when the occupation forces kill (civilians), this also is terrorism."
John Chuckman, When the Violent Enforce the Peace; America's Brutal Tactics in Iraq: From several ex-soldiers comes a vivid image of America's house-to-house methods of searching for "insurgents." A small block of C-4 plastique is fixed to the front door of a house, the door is blown in, and several armored giants rush through the shock and smoke with their automatic weapons at the ready. Women and children are held to one side at gunpoint, while any men are taken roughly for questioning. In most cases, the men have nothing worthwhile to say, but they and other members of their families are left with a terrifying experience they will never forget.
These violent procedures have been repeated thousands of times, both in Iraq and in the mountain villages of Afghanistan. Could this be part of what Condoleezza Rice meant when she said recently in Britain that despite "thousands of tactical mistakes", America's basic strategy was sound? Can you imagine her saying the same thing if Washington-area police blew her door down and stormed into her home in Chevy Chase or whatever other exclusive area she lives, perhaps looking for drug dealers or murderers, suspecting her home because she is black?
The trigger-happy nature of Americans at check points is a well-established fact. These boys, many of them having joined up for benefits like money for college, do not want to be in these places, and they are irritated by the strange tongues and cultures and the blazing heat and sandstorms. They simply shoot first and ask questions after. ...
There have been dozens of pictures on the Internet of whole families obliterated in their cars by American soldiers. Children have been pumped full of holes. A kidnapped Italian journalist almost lost her life on her short journey back to freedom. The brave Italian secret service agent who had secured her freedom and was accompanying her to freedom was pumped full of holes. Yet this car and its contents were well known and had been identified to American forces.
A number of British soldiers, Britain's pathetic Blair being America's only true ally in the phony coalition America's press never fails to name, have gone on record about American tactics. These include several senior officers, an unprecedented criticism of an ally during war. What they have said to the press is that American tactics are brutal and thoughtless, almost certain in the long run to produce more enemies than friends. Few forces in the world have more genuine experience than Britain's after decades in Northern Ireland, yet all their advice is treated with contempt by arrogant American commanders and politicians.
As I have written before, if you want the rule of law, you cannot stand outside the law and claim its moral support. (emphasis added)
Ron Jacobs, A Review of Anthony Arnove's "Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal" - Leaving Iraq Now is the Only Sensible Solution: Coherent. That's the one word review of Anthony Arnove's latest book, Iraq:The Logic of Withdrawal. Incoherent. That's what Washington's policy in Iraq seems to be. What makes Arnove's book so important is that he dissects that policy and proves that the war in Iraq is not an incoherent bumble that's gone awry. In fact, as Arnove makes abundantly clear, it's US foreign policy as it's always been. This remains the case even in the light of Condoleeza Rice's admission of thousands of tactical errors. After all, Ms. Rice didn't admit that the war itself was an error, only the manner in which it is fought.
Alexander Cockburn, Did Oprah Pick Another Fibber? Truth and Fiction in Elie Wiesel's Night: Is Frey or Wiesel the Bigger Moral Poseur: When in trouble, head for Auschwitz, preferably in the company of Elie Wiesel. It's as foolproof a character reference as is available today, at least within the Judeo-Christian sphere of moral influence. One can easily see why Oprah Winfrey and her advisers saw an Auschwitz excursion in the company of Wiesel as a sure-fire antidote to salve the wounds sustained by Oprah's Book Club when it turned out that James Frey had faked significant slabs of his own supposedly autobiographical saga of moral regeneration, A Million Little Pieces. [ . . . ]
Commentary on Wiesel in the Hebrew-language press in Israel following the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 was been more robust than the statutory honorifics printed in the United States. ...
Mustafa El-Labbad, Scenarios of an American strike: Despite the fact that Iran remains in accordance with international law, as well as the charters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that allow for the enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes, and the fact that it is signatory to the Additional Protocol that allows for surprise inspection of nuclear facilities, Iran did not succeed in confronting American pressure on member states in the IAEA board of governors, which led to the referral of Iran to the UN Security Council for action. If the fundamental legal principle is normally that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty, in the case of Iran the logic is reversed: Iran, the accused, is guilty until proven innocent beyond all shadows of doubt.
The basis of the US case against Iran is that Iran does not need a nuclear programme while it has immense reserves of oil and gas. ...
... Military wars are no longer followed by media wars. The media has become theatre of operations wherein wars are often won or lost in advance. Based on previous American experience, strategic media communications in the case of Iran will be split into three stages. First will be building the groundwork, emphasising the "evil" nature of the Iranian regime. This stage is currently underway. Second will be expanding the crisis within America and abroad, internationalising what is a US- Iranian confrontation. This stage will be accompanied by the imposition of economic sanctions on Tehran. The third and final stage will be to choose the appropriate timing for war. When this moment comes, the media will correlate step- by-step with the military, and any international initiatives to solve the problem peacefully will be derided and defeated.
Juan Cole, The Neocon Imaginary Middle East: Again - Speaking of political frauds, the Web site Newshog has nailed Kenneth R. Timmerman for falsely alleging that Iran has bought nuclear warheads from North Korea. In fact, Jane's Defense Weekly reported that Iran bought some ancient missile from Pyongyang, and there was never any question of a warhead. Timmerman is taken seriously by the White House, Congress, and the US press but in fact has no credibility as an Iran expert (at IC we like our Iran experts to know Persian, the way you'd expect an expert on France to know French; we're funny that way).
Faiza Al-Arji, Each of us is holding his shroud by his hands, awaiting death…: People are in grave pain and sadness, saying that these are the worst days since Baghdad fell, these are the most dangerous stages, and the darkest for us… Who can help them to stop the bloodshed, to stop the violence and street fights between quarreling parties, some of whom are perhaps honest people defending Iraq, its land, and its people, and the others are surely just militias and criminal mercenaries, who care about nothing but to receive some dollars; people who lost their principals and ethics, agreeing to become destruction tools against their country and people, to achieve Iraq's enemy's goal in shredding the country, and keeping foreign military bases in it, indefinitely…
Daud Salman in Baghdad, Food Rations Cut Hurting Poor: Despite rising poverty, the government has decided to cut the food ration budget from four to three billion US dollars in 2006, as the country shifts from a socialist to a free market economy.
The Iraqi government has provided subsidies on basic food items such as flour and sugar for decades. The United Nations expanded the programme when the country was under crippling economic sanctions.
The ministry of labour and social affairs reported in January that more than two million Iraqi families are living below the poverty line and that poverty had risen by 30 per cent since the US-led invasion in April 2003.
Truth About Iraqis, Condi Rice insults the Iraqi people: Three years after the war, with tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths on her hands and the knowledge her lies helped destroy Iraq, Condi Rice has admitted making mistakes in Iraq:
"I know we've made tactical errors - thousands of them, I'm sure," ...
Yes, Rice, those thousands of mistakes are why thousands of Iraqis lie buried in makeshift graves, why thousands of other Iraqis lie unburied in the wasteland, and why thousands have been found bound and executed.
Those thousands of mistakes are also why we have death squads which your military trained (was this one of the mistakes?) roaming the countryside picking off who they consider to be threat - Sunni, Shia, Turkmen, Christian, no matter.
Let me explain the thousands of mistakes a bit more carefully.
Mistake: Believing anything the US government said about Iraq Mistake: Believing the invasion of Iraq was for liberty and freedom of the Iraqi people. Mistake: Believing the invasion of Iraq was to protect the liberty and freedom of the American people. Mistake: Believing the US government ever had any semblance of intelligence when dealing with Iraq. Mistake: Believing that the Iraqi people would not rise up and fight the tyranny of the imperialist mercenaries come to wreak havoc in our country. Mistake: Believing that the Resistance is foreign-bred. Damn the foreigners. Mistake: Believing the US military is not racist. Mistake: Believing the US military has not engaged in widespread atrocities, violations of the Geneva conventions and crimes against humanity. Mistake: Believing the US military will try its personnel for crimes and equivocally sentence them. Mistake: Believing the US military will not cover up its crimes. Mistake: Believing the US military does not engage in My Lai in Iraq each and every day. Mistake: Believing Iraq is better off today. Mistake: Believing Iraq has a representative government. Mistake: Believing that Iraq's elections (a farce in no greater words) is a sign of blossoming democracy.
C'mon, Condi, be man enough and list the mistakes.
Charles Sullivan, Ignorance by Content and Omission: No thinking person should take any government at its word, especially this one. Governments lie in part because they represent special interest groups rather than the ordinary citizens that comprise the great majority. Most governments fear and loath its citizens because they are clandestinely betraying them. The less transparent the government, the more it has to hide. Lying is the only recourse that undemocratic governments have to make the citizens support and implement their hidden agendas. ...
Little by little the minds of the people have been poisoned by propaganda and it is called nourishment. As a result the more noble traits of our culture are incrementally dying. Through the judicious use of lies and distortions the people are deceived into supporting the atrocities of war and conquest that are committed in their name. Historical context reveals the unmistakable patterns that make these behaviors readily visible and renders them understandable to the present moment. The lack of historical perspective leaves one vulnerable to the lies and distortions that have always characterized our government. Of course, this historical context is not taught in our schools for reasons that should be obvious.
The effects of this pervasive propaganda are visible all around us. We see it in the flag-draped coffins that arrive home every week from Iraq. We see it in the faces of the Iraqi children whose families were decimated by those whose sole concern is privatized wealth. We witness it in our dilapidated schools and national infrastructure. It is visible in the elderly without health care, the millions of nameless poor that are forced to live in abject poverty so that Bush could execute his war. The flies are buzzing around the dung heap. This is nothing new. People have always been deceived by their governments, regardless of which party is in power. You see, the underlying cause is capitalism and privatized wealth. So be careful about what you admit into your mind. It may be hazardous to your health.
Rice Don't take Iraq errors 'literally': "The important thing is to get the big strategic decisions right, and that I am confident that the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqi people an opportunity for peace and for democracy is the right decision."
BBC faces protests over 'Iraq bias': The Stop the War Coalition is organising protests outside BBC studios and offices around the country in response to what it believes is the corporation's pro-government stance on the war in Iraq.
BBC premises will be targeted by nationwide demonstrations on Tuesday April 4, at sites including Broadcasting House in London and BBC offices in Manchester, Leeds and Bristol in protest at what the group calls the BBC's "general pro-government bias of much of their reporting on the war".
The corporation's failure to give national coverage to the March 18 demonstration in London, where protesters called for British troops to be sent home from Iraq, is also cited as a reason for the planned protests.
During the demonstrations on Tuesday BBC workers will be handed a copy of a letter sent to the director general, Mark Thompson, by the coalition complaining that the lack of coverage given to the March 18 rally "represents an abandonment of the BBC's charter obligations to impartiality and fairness on matters of political controversy".
"Defence secretary John Reid was afforded the opportunity to attack the demonstration's purpose on the Today programme on the morning of March 18 - thereby incidentally establishing its news-worthiness - without any representative of the organisers, or any alternative view, being given a chance to comment," said the letter to Mr Thompson.
The letter also asks for a meeting with the director general, but no response from the BBC has been received.
Wayne Madsen Report, April 1, 2006 -- : Apparently, the U.S. military's policy prohibiting gays from serving does not extend to George W. Bush's senior White House staff: Well-placed White House insiders report that newly-appointed White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten would be ineligible from serving in the military under its current policy.
Ted Lang, MSM Dirty Tricks: [W]henever a right or freedom protected by the Bill of Rights is being assaulted, guess who is behind it. Think of the pulled Rachel Corrie play in New York; think of the pulled Ed Asner interview on CNN; think of the demoted Harvard professor; think of the constantly proposed "hate crimes" legislation and author David Irving; think of the pulled Downing Street Memo report; think of the pulled investigation and prosecution of the "Weehawken Five;" and think of the pulled World Trade Center buildings and 3,000 of our fellow American citizens.
mohammed ali, On the Occupation’s Third Anniversary: What did Iraqis Gain from the ‘Liberation’?: Iraqis have never experienced such dire life in which the economy lies in total ruins; the scientific, literary administrative and technical cadre has all but escaped for their lives and the process of liquidation of the military/security cadre is on-going along with the respected social and political personalities carried out in accordance with the victim’s national identity card. Killing, kidnapping, arresting, torture, deformation of victims’ bodies which are subsequently thrown in the streets is common. The arrest of tens of thousands of innocent ordinary Iraqis with no accusation or charges and for periods ranging between two to three years is a mandated government policy, so it seems. The forever worsening in human rights has now reached its lowest ever in the history of Iraq (according to the International Organisation for Human Rights published in March 2006), so much for ‘liberating Iraq from tyranny’. Social services are non-existent, the electricity shortage is the lowest it has ever reached including during the criminal sanction imposed upon the Iraq people for more than 13 years by the same powers which now occupy Iraq. Drinking water is in a life-threatening deficiency and so is the health services, Iraq’s most envied social service once upon a time; and even rubbish collection has been hit hard if not completely ceased and now leading to the spread of serious disease.
On May 1st, 2003, President Bush declared from the USS Abraham Lincoln that ‘major combat operations in Iraq have ended’. What he did not speak of is what his government was bringing to the Iraqi people.
No security, no economy, no public services, no nothing; the new Iraq is indeed torn between crimes committed by the occupation and crimes committed by the government’s own militias.
(Unabridged) Robert Fisk, A lesson from the Holocaust for us all: At a second-hand book stall in the Rue Monsieur le Prince in Paris a few days ago, I came across the second volume of Victor Klemperer's diaries. The first volume, recounting his relentless, horrifying degradation as a German Jew in the first eight years of Hitler's rule - from 1933 to 1941 - I had bought in Pakistan just before America's 2001 bombardment of Afghanistan.
It was a strange experience - while sipping tea amid the relics of the Raj, roses struggling across the lawn beside me, an old British military cemetery at the end of the road - to read of Klemperer's efforts to survive in Dresden with his wife Eva as the Nazis closed in on his Jewish neighbours. Even more intriguing was to find that the infinitely heroic Klemperer, a cousin of the great conductor, showed great compassion for the Palestinian Arabs of the 1930s who feared that they would lose their homeland to a Jewish state.
"I cannot help myself," Klemperer writes on 2 November 1933, nine months after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. "I sympathise with the Arabs who are in revolt (in Palestine), whose land is being 'bought'. A Red Indian fate, says Eva."
Even more devastating is Klemperer's critique of Zionism - which he does not ameliorate even after Hitler's Holocaust of the Jews of Europe begins. "To me," he writes in June of 1934, "the Zionists, who want to go back to the Jewish state of AD70 ... are just as offensive as the Nazis. With their nosing after blood, their ancient 'cultural roots', their partly canting, partly obtuse winding back of the world they are altogether a match for the National Socialists..."
Yet Klemperer's day-by-day account of the Holocaust, the cruelty of the local Dresden Gestapo, the suicide of Jews as they are ordered to join the transports east, his early knowledge of Auschwitz - Klemperer got word of this most infamous of extermination camps as early as March 1942, although he did not realise the scale of the mass murders there until the closing months of the war - fill one with rage that anyone could still deny the reality of the Jewish genocide.
Reading these diaries as the RER train takes me out to Charles de Gaulle airport - through the 1930s art deco architecture of Drancy station where French Jews were taken by their own police force before transportation to Auschwitz - I wish President Ahmadinejad of Iran could travel with me.
For Ahmadinejad it was who called the Jewish Holocaust a "myth", who ostentatiously called for a conference - in Tehran, of course - to find out the truth about the genocide of six million Jews, which any sane historian acknowledges to be one of the terrible realities of the 20th century, along, of course, with the Holocaust of one and a half million Armenians in 1915.
The best reply to Ahmadinejad's childish nonsense came from ex-president Khatami of Iran, the only honourable Middle East leader of our time, whose refusal to countenance violence by his own supporters inevitably and sadly led to the demise of his "civil society" at the hands of more ruthless clerical opponents. "The death of even one Jew is a crime," Khatami said, thus destroying in one sentence the lie that his successor was trying to propagate.
Indeed, his words symbolised something more important: that the importance and the evil of the Holocaust do not depend on the Jewish identity of the victims. The awesome, wickedness of the Holocaust lies in the fact that the victims were human beings - just like you and me.
How do we then persuade the Muslims of the Middle East of this simple truth? I thought that the letter which the head of the Iranian Jewish Committee, Haroun Yashayaie, wrote to Ahmadinejad provided part of the answer. "The Holocaust is not a myth any more than the genocide imposed by Saddam (Hussein) on Halabja or the massacre by (Ariel) Sharon of Palestinians and Lebanese in the camps of Sabra and Chatila," Yashayaie - who represents Iran's 25,000 Jews - said.
Note here how there is no attempt to enumerate the comparisons. Six million murdered Jews is a numerically far greater crime than the thousands of Kurds gassed at Halabja or the 1,700 Palestinians murdered by Israel's Lebanese Phalangist allies at Sabra and Chatila in 1982. But Yashayaie's letter was drawing a different kind of parallel: the pain that the denial of history causes to the survivors.
I have heard Israelis deny their army's involvement in the Sabra and Chatila massacres - despite Israel's own official enquiry which proved that Ariel Sharon sent the murderers into the camps - and I remember how the CIA initially urged US embassies to blame Iran for the gassings at Halabja.
Indeed, it is easy to find examples of one of the most egregious lies uttered against the 750,000 Palestinians who fled their land in 1948: that they were ordered by Arab radio stations to flee their homes until the Jews had been "driven into the sea" - when they would return to take back their property. Israeli academic researchers have themselves proved that no such radio broadcasts were ever made, that the Palestinians fled - victims of what we would today call ethnic cleansing - after a series of massacres by Israeli forces, especially in the village of Deir Yassin, just outside Jerusalem.
So what is there to learn from the second volume of Klemperer's diaries? Just after he received word from the Gestapo that he and Eva were to be transported east to their deaths, the RAF raided Dresden and, amid the tens of thousands of civilians which the February 1945 firestorm consumed, the Gestapo archives also went up in flames. All record of the Klemperers' existence was turned to ash, like the Jews who preceded them to Auschwitz. So the couple took off their Jewish stars and wandered Germany as refugees without papers until they found salvation after the Nazi surrender.
Just before their rescue, they showed compassion to three distraught German soldiers who were lost in the forests of their homeland. And even during their worst ordeals, as they waited for the doorbell to ring and the Gestapo to arrive to search their Dresden home and notify them of their fate, Klemperer was able to write in his diary a sentence which every journalist and historian should learn by heart: "There is no remedy against the truth of language."