Archive for the 'Iraq' Category



‘Blair Rich’ Project

Speaking at the annual Al Smith charity dinner — safely distant from the mother country, where he has become a national embarrassment, never mentioned in polite society — Blair eagerly trafficked in the ludicrous trope that views “Islamic extremism” as one huge, all-powerful, amorphous yet somehow monolithic mass, comprising — as Mitt Romney once put it with blazing ignorance — “Shi’a and Sunni … Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.” In the minds of would-be he-men like Blair and Romney, this amalgamation of conflicting sects and completely disparate groups is a single, mighty Saracen sword aimed at the heart of Western civilization: a threat that must be stopped at all costs — or, rather, at the cost of other people’s blood and treasure.

Chris Floyd’s piece on Tony Blair is the best I have read for a while.

 

Thoughts:

 

  1. Blair will do anything for the sake of fame and adoration
  2. The Quartet Envoy that lectures on history knows nothing about history: did not know what Sykes-Picot was.

And Mr Blair was totally out-foxed by one young woman who asked him whether Iraq was heading towards another ‘Sykes-Picot’.

  1. War criminal
  2. Successor scarcely different

On Balance

Tyranny in Iraq was worth defeating

– Dick Cheney.

You bet your big bare ass it was, Dick. Indeed, if this Jim Holt character in the London Review of Books is to believed, it would appear that, on balance, the programme to liberate Iraqis has gone according to plan.

The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics – dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration – could scarcely have been more effective. The costs – a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) – are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.

Hosannah! For a minute there, I was worried that Dick Cheney’s fevered and unceasing dream of freedom and opportunity for all was all going horribly pear-shaped. Fortunately, our emperors in their infinite wisdom had already figured that a million or so deaths was a price worth paying on the Iraqis’ part for our access to their oil. Actually, they probably didn’t factor the Iraqi deaths into their cost-benefit analysis. They were so concerned with delivering democracy that they probably forgot.

But anyway, which side of the culture war are you on: are you a cargo-pant and t-shirt wearing warrior for democracy, or a mullah-worshipping cringer for Islamo-fascism?

Oil Me Up, I’m Goin’ In

You might have thought that failed jazz musician Alan Greenspan’s words about oil and Iraq:

“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

implied some sort of criticism of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Not so, as he helpfully clarifies in this Wall Street Journal interview:

Tell me about your views on the importance of deposing Saddam.

My view of the second Gulf War was that getting Saddam out of there was very important, but had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, it had to do with oil. My view of Saddam over the 20 years … was that he was very critically moving towards control of the Strait of Hormuz and as a consequence of that, control of the oil market. His purpose would be very much similar to [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez’s actions and I think it would be very dangerous for us. So getting him out to me seemed a very important priority.

So, there you have it. Raving lunatic and eternal outsider Alan Greenspan says Iraqi civilians needed bombing because the US needed to exercise control of the oil market.  Crazy bastard.  What next? The US needs to bomb Iran to exercise control of the oil market? He should keep his flights of fancy to his sax playing.

On a side note, the idea that it was ‘largely about oil’ tends to obscure the fact that oil is largely about other things.

Wouldn’t It Be Great If It Was Like This All The Time?

Oh frabjous day. After receiving advice from Jeffrey Donaldson and Martin McGuinness…

Representatives from Sunni and Shia groups in Iraq agreed on a road map to peace based on the experience in Northern Ireland after four days of secret talks in Finland, reconciliation group the Crisis Management Initiative said last night.

Point 5 of the agreed 12-point plan:

End international interference.

No doubt Dick Cheney is fully signed up to that one. Why, word has it that a White House Declaration, based on the Downing Street Declaration of 1993 which provided the basis for the Northern Ireland peace process, is in the final stages of being drafted. It will say something like:

On this basis, (the President) reiterates, on behalf of the US Administration, that they have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Iraq.

Peace in our time, I tell you. In other news, Charles Manson is said to be the bookies’ hot favourite to win the next series of Celebrity Love Island.

Support

The aftermath of Sean’s apparent breakdown from Iraq War Syndrome or something on Eastenders last night prompted me to post the following:

Will Get Fooled Again

And I’m like, Dude, these people don’t understand what you’re saying…. They used to say a lot, ‘Oh, they’ll understand when the gun is in their face.’

The Nation has a long report by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian on the brutality of the US occupation of Iraq, based on interviews conducted by with 50 US veterans.

Several interviewees said that, on occasion, these killings were justified by framing innocents as terrorists, typically following incidents when American troops fired on crowds of unarmed Iraqis. The troops would detain those who survived, accusing them of being insurgents, and plant AK-47s next to the bodies of those they had killed to make it seem as if the civilian dead were combatants. “It would always be an AK because they have so many of these weapons lying around,” said Specialist Aoun. Cavalry scout Joe Hatcher, 26, of San Diego, said 9-millimeter handguns and even shovels–to make it look like the noncombatant was digging a hole to plant an IED–were used as well.

Democracy Now! has interviews with some of the interviewees for the Nation report. One of them was involved in the invasion from day one:

And at that point in time I had a lot of reservations, because I was looking around, and I saw 150,000 troops making their way to Baghdad in the open desert, and here’s President Bush, and he’s accusing Saddam Hussein of having a massive stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, possibly a nuclear weapon, saying that he’s a homicidal dictator addicted to these weapons and we have to stop him now. And I was thinking to myself, I said, you know, what would be a better time for Saddam Hussein to use these weapons? He has 150,000 troops in the southern Iraqi desert, and he could launch these weapons on us directly and kill nobody but us.

Also on Iraq, an apparent criticism made by Martin Woollacott in Saturday’s Guardian of Eric Hobsbawm’s new book caught the eye. I haven’t read the book yet, but I was intrigued by the wording of the criticism. It says:

He does not examine the case that Iraq had a democratic tradition and a real national identity which, given a better-managed intervention, might have come to the fore.

This appears to suppose that a concentration of power actually existed that would have, at some point, been in a position to ‘better-manage’ the ‘intervention’; also, that the agents most likely to comprise this concentration of power would have had a real interest in a ‘better-managed intervention’.

The terms here are so open-ended that they are difficult to apply to some historically realistic alternative course of events. An ‘intervention’ could be anything from a series of diplomatic meetings to intensive bombing campaigns, and successful management -as any manager knows- depends upon the goal and objectives set forth, so it could entail a chicken in every pot, or a death in every household, or perhaps even both.

To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you imagine war with the states you have, not the states you would like to have. So within the range of reasonable potential alternatives, I see no reason to imagine that things would have turned out significantly different. For instance, an Al Gore administration may have waffled more vigorously, but, when it came down to attending to strategic interests, it would probably have bombed just as hard:

We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century. They feed on the free flow of information and technology. They actually take advantage of the freer movement of people, information and ideas.

And they will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen.

There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us.

Bill Clinton, in 1998.

The most important difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, when it comes to foreign policy, is probably that the latter are better at portraying their urge to destroy as part of a moral quest in which ‘liberals’ have a specific interest. If the Bush-Cheney administration somehow does not get round to launching a bombing campaign against Iran before the end of its term, it is a fairly safe bet that a Democrat administration will pick up where they left off, only with even heftier backing from mass media outlets.

Oh, and watch some of this – War Made Easy:


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