Friday, March 17, 2006
Thus, people unable to speak or understand Arabic or Persian are now able to get news directly from the Middle East. You are no longer forced to rely on people who can read Arabic to give you the information, as you can watch or read the news yourself and make up your own mind. Between the Mosaic and MidEastWire daily Iraq news feeds, www.dahrjamailiraq.com is now a daily source of fresh news directly from major Middle Eastern news agencies, all translated into English.
*How to watch Mosaic:*
Please watch the quicktime stream while reviewing the information about the broadcasters linked to from the DahrJamailIraq website. Mosaic represents a diversity of media sources from state controlled to US funded to private networks affiliated with political factions. Mosaic is best understood, appreciated and digested within the context of the specific news outlets being watched.
You can see the News Broadcasts here.
And subscribe to our Mosaic RSS feed here.
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
** Website by jeffpflueger.com **
Note: All of Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches are republished on this site with the kind, explicit permission of Dahr.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
CIVIC PRESS RELEASE: U.S./Iraqi Troops Must Respect Civilian Lives in Targeting InsurgentsPRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
U.S./Iraqi Troops Must Respect Civilian Lives in Targeting Insurgents
Humanitarian organization says new U.S. air campaign in Iraq dangerous to civilians
Washington, DC, March 16, 2006 - Following news of a surge in U.S. air power in Iraq, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) today called on the U.S. and Iraqi military to review their procedures for assessing harm to civilians both before and after air strikes.
U.S. forces today launched their most extensive air operations since 2003 against insurgent strongholds north of Baghdad. CIVIC cautioned that the use of air power in urban areas carries with it a high risk of civilian casualties, despite the use of precision weapons. Just yesterday, a U.S. air strike aimed at insurgents near Balad killed civilians, including children. “The use of air power makes it harder to distinguish between civilians and combatants in densely populated areas like Samarra,” said Sarah Holewinski, executive director of CIVIC. “If the goal of rounding up insurgents is to make Iraq safe for its people, minimizing harm to civilians must be higher priority.”
Under the law of armed conflict, military operations must use all feasible means to minimize loss of civilian life and property, and attacks must be withheld if expected to cause civilian loss disproportionate to a concrete military goal. During the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Human Rights Watch reported that “haste” in U.S. led aerial attacks against moving objects – such as the insurgents now being targeted – contributed to unnecessary civilian casualties, as did attacks on individual Iraqi leaders – all of which failed to hit their intended targets.
CIVIC urged U.S. and Iraqi planners to adequately assess the risk to civilians before launching air attacks and to include in post-attack reports any harm to civilians. The Pentagon should also implement a mechanism to record the number of civilian casualties incurred by U.S. forces. Currently, the U.S. government does not keep an official count of civilian casualties in Iraq, making the evaluation and improvement of those procedures all the more difficult. “The U.S. cannot be seen as credibly minimizing civilian casualties if it does not keep the data to back up that claim,” said Holewinski.
CIVIC is a Washington-based organization founded by the late Marla Ruzicka, who was killed by a suicide bomb in Baghdad while advocating for victims of war in Iraq. CIVIC believes that civilians killed or injured in conflict should be counted and their families compensated by the governments involved, and is working in conflict zones to identify and help the families of civilian casualties.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Notes on the tactical debate on AfghanistanThe mass media in this country has decided that the only debate about Canada’s role in Afghanistan is a discussion of the tactics being used. The Department of National Defence is happy that the discussion is that shallow. It deflects opposition and confuses a rather simple issue. Unfortunately, some in the peace movement have jumped into this discussion providing an undue legitimacy to the debate. Peacekeeping in support of the warlords is no better than combat in support of the warlords. The issue is support for the warlords, not the tactical choices made by Canadian soldiers and generals. These warlord groups are seen as the enemies of the Afghan people. Any support for them is an attack on the democratic aspirations of the majority of the population there.
To read the annual reports about Afghanistan from Human Rights Watch you may think you are stuck in a time warp. Each and every year the point is the same: "Despite the (Taliban) insurgency’s growing strength, the majority of Afghans cited the numerous regional warlords as the greatest source of insecurity".
HRW report 2005 :
"Political repression, human rights abuses, and criminal activity by warlords—the leaders of militias and remnants of past Afghan military forces, who were brought to power with the assistance of the United States after the Taliban’s defeat—are consistently listed as the chief concerns of most Afghans."
HRW report 2004 :
"Life outside of Kabul is dominated by military faction leaders—Afghanistan's warlords. In most areas outside the capital, independent political movements and media have been stifled: in many areas it is impossible to form political groups or freely publish newspapers or broadcast radio without incurring the wrath of local warlord leaders. Women and girls especially are suffering from insecurity and lack of protection. In some areas, security and human rights conditions have actually gotten worse, and most warlords have become more entrenched. "
HRW Report 2003 :
In the parliamentary elections of October 18th 2005 more than 60% of those elected are known warlords and Taliban commanders who are making a killing from the opium trade which is bringing $2-3 billion to Afghanistan annually. This governmental structure was set in the December 2001 meeting between Hamid Karzai, US officials and representatives of the warlord groups. In the following years the power of the warlords has become further entrenched. What therefore will the tactical debate clear up? Even if Canadian soldiers can change their hats and become peacekeepers in Afghanistan they will remain under the policy framework decided on in Bonn. To make a decision to no longer support the warlords Stephen Harper would have to publicly do the following: 1. Denounce US policy in Afghanistan 2. Denounce NATO policy in support of the US 3. End official support for the current Afghan government There is not a shred of hope that Stephen Harper would commit to any of the above. Canadian soldiers will remain in danger until they are brought home because they are supporting a corrupt and violent government. How they support that government is irrelevant. The democratic hopes of the Afghan people will not be realized by a set of policies decided upon by the Bush administration.
Clean Air Alliance: Securing Toronto's Electricity FutureToronto is one of the largest cities in North America that has no significant electricity generation capacity within its own vicinity – the city generates just 1.2% of the power used within its boundaries while using close to 20% of the power produced in Ontario.
Currently, the central city south of Eglinton (between Hwy. 427 and Victoria Park) receives almost its entire electricity supply via two Hydro One transmission corridors. This leaves the city highly reliant on large centralized supply sources outside of the city, such as the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations and the giant Nanticoke coal-fired station on Lake Erie.
This tenuous power situation has led to two proposals to build new generation facilities on the eastern waterfront:
The Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) is a joint venture of Ontario Power Generation and TransCanada that is proposing to build a 550 megawatt (MW) combined-cycle natural gas power plant near the site of the mothballed Hearn Generating Station.
The Toronto Waterfront Clean Energy Centre (TWCEC) is a joint project of Toronto Hydro and Constellation Energy that is proposing to build a 291 MW simple-cycle natural gas plant within the existing Hearn structure.
Our new Air Quality Issues fact sheet, Meeting Toronto’s Electricity Supply Needs: A comparison of the Portlands Energy Centre and the Toronto Waterfront Clean Energy Centre, looks at these two proposals in terms of energy efficiency; air emissions; contribution towards the phase-out of coal-burning at Nanticoke; and contribution towards increasing Toronto’s security of electricity supply.
We recommend that energy efficiency and conservation initiatives that are part of both proposals be aggressively pursued no matter which one actually proceeds, and that the City of Toronto work with Enwave Energy Corporation to ensure that the new plant can be made as efficient as possible by serving a district heating and/or cooling system through co- or tri-generation technology.
We also recommend that the Ontario Power Authority consider both the net emission reductions and power replacement potential of the proposals vis-à-vis the Nanticoke Generating Station, Canada’s No. 1 air polluter and a major contributor to smog throughout Southern Ontario.
The fact sheet is available for viewing on our website at www.cleanairalliance.org.
Communications & Membership Manager
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 245
The Ontario Clean Air Alliance is a coalition of health, environmental and consumer organizations, faith communities, unions, utilities, municipalities and individuals working for cleaner air through a coal phase-out and the shift to a renewable electricity future. Our partner organizations represent more than six million Ontarians.
Afghanistan: Many Questions, No AnswersIn this short article, Ralph Surette, a Nova Scotia journalist living in Yarmouth County, asks some questions about Canada's role in Afghanistan.
He begins with: "What are we doing in Afghanistan? Do we know? Are we afraid to ask? The lack of public debate over this indicates that we are. It's not a good sign."
And referring to Gen. Rick Hillier's reasons of "we have to fight them over there so we won't have to fight them over here", Surette goes on to say:
"These non-explanations about Afghanistan link up with another set of hanging questions: about our military build-up, in which our venerable peacekeeping role has been jettisoned (we're now 36th as a provider of troops to UN peacekeeping operations) in favour of aggressive combat missions integrated with the U.S. military."
He further asserts that we should "talk about this".
Read full article here.
Now, consider the infinite loop this President and his top advisors have set us journeying along, as de la Vega lays it out. Tom
Reprogramming the Infinite Loop
The NSA Spying Debate
By Elizabeth de la Vega
It has now been three months since the Bush administration reluctantly admitted that it has been conducting warrantless surveillance on American citizens, despite the explicit prohibitions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Since then, the public has been treated to endless and, unfortunately, fruitless discussion about the issue. We have experts and scholars earnestly responding, and responding yet again, to administration arguments (both legal and factual) that can best be described as protean, internally inconsistent, and occasionally evanescent. We have the administration refusing to explain the program, but enjoining everyone to "trust them." And we have legislators trying to "fix" a problem that is undefined by proposing new laws that the administration doesn't want. We are, in short, trapped in an infinite loop.
In computer parlance, an infinite loop is a coding sequence that has no effective exit because of a flaw in the program. It's a bit like trying to call your HMO with what you think is the flu and having a recording guide you through a series of numbers that land you back at the initial message welcoming you to the system. Of course, you can end that phone loop simply by hanging up. The only way to permanently extract yourself from an infinite loop in a computer program, however, is to find the programming defect. Press the refresh key, check the power chord, buy a new computer -- none of these fixes will work as long as the fundamental flaw in the program is ignored.
If you have any doubt that the NSA spying "debate" is trapped in an infinite loop, you need only review two pieces of evidence. The first, which we'll call "Exhibit A," is an article, dated March 8, 2006, entitled "Gonzales: NSA Program Doesn't Need a Law." Aha, you say, a mere headline. But this is what the article says: "The Attorney General made clear Wednesday, March 8, that the White House is not seeking congressional action to inscribe the National Security Agency's monitoring into U.S. law."
How, you wonder, could that be true? Since December, the President, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, have said that FISA is outdated, not sufficiently agile, ineffective against terrorists, and too paper-intensive. Perhaps the AP reporter misinterpreted Gonzales' remarks…
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
Iraq Parliament Ends in DeadlockThe first session of Iraq's new parliament has concluded with no real business conducted as Shia, Sunnis, Kurds and others remain deadlocked over the posts of speaker, president, prime minister and cabinet members.
UN Arms Policy 'A Failure'The UN has been criticised for failing to enforce fully any of the arms embargoes it has imposed in the last ten years. A report released on Wednesday by the Control Arms Campaign says that every one of the 13 Security Council embargoes in the last 10 years has been routinely violated and only a handful of offenders have been successfully prosecuted.The campaign is an initiative of Oxfam International, Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms.
Statement from the National Council of Arab AmericansThe National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) condemns in the strongest possible terms the piracy capture and kidnapping of the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Ahmed Saadat, along with four of his comrades and many others, on March 14, 2006.
Israeli occupation forces stormed the Palestinian detention compound in Jericho, Palestine, where Saadat and his comrades were being held, with complicity by the governments of the United States and Britain. Minutes before the assault, U.S. and British personnel vacated the compound allowing the attacks to take place. The detainees were all unarmed and under the presumed oversight of U.S. and British "observers." The assault resulted in at least 3 deaths, scores of injuries, and the confinement of about 800 children in their school for many hours.
In 2002, the Palestinian Authority (PA) entered into a treaty with the U.S. and Britain and committed to placing Saadat, four of his comrades, and Fouad Shobaki, then special military assistant to Yasser Arafat, under the supervision of a joint U.S.-British force that would oversee the Jericho compound. Ever since then, the PA under both Arafat and Abbas has defied the Palestinian High Court ruling to release Saadat and his comrades. It claimed that Saadat's detention is aimed at protecting him and his comrades from Israeli assassination if they were to be released.
In addition to the clearly complicit U.S.-British role and responsibility, we also condemn the role of the PA for allowing this assault to take place repudiating expressed calls to provide protection. The PA, as has been revealed, had been notified earlier that U.S. and British personnel were planning to vacate the compound, hence setting the stage for the attack. Yet no action was taken.
The NCA supports the Palestinian people's call for holding the entire PA apparatus, particularly Mahmoud Abbbas, responsible and echoes the demand for full accountability.
Over many decades, the Palestinian people have been at the receiving end of a vicious Israeli colonial onslaught with support by successive Western policies, particularly that of the US. This latest attack is but a continuation of these murderous policies designed to deprive the Palestinians of their leaders. In August 2001, Israel murdered the Palestinian leader Abu Ali Mustafa, then-Secretary General of the PFLP, in his Ramallah office. Over the years, it has assassinated great many Palestinian leaders, writers, journalists, clergy, unionists, and popular activists from all political orientations, such as Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
This assault to break the Palestinian people, coupled with the brutal occupation of Iraq and the evolving plans to destabilize Syria and Lebanon, are fundamental anchors of the US-Israeli policy towards full control of the region. We view this new development as a clear first step by the Israeli- American- British axis with complicity from PA circles to create new conditions on the ground to reverse the outcome of the latest Palestinian election and promote an internal Palestinian conflict.
The NCA once again reaffirms the link between the struggle against the war in Iraq and the struggle for Palestinian liberation and return. As the Palestinian and Iraqi people march forward against oppression and occupation, the anti-war movement in the US must, at the very least, stand in their support.
We call on our community and all to turn out in the largest possible numbers in the upcoming anti-war protests this weekend, March 18, to declare to the world that despite all odds the Arab people are destined to be free.
March 18-20 Global Days of Action
On Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19, 2006, locally co-ordinated demonstrations will take place in cities and towns across the U.S. and around the world, including in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Seattle, Toronto, Mississauga and many, many more.
Evangelicals in Texas Hope to Bring Gospel to MuslimsI've just come across this little 'gem' on a Cristian press site, quite by accident, while surfing the web:
Evangelical Christians in Texas are being mobilized to bring the gospel to Muslims across America. Recently, a Virginia-based ministry called Truth for Muslims sent literature to 50,000 households nationwide, explaining the differences between Islam and Christianity.
Read more at: Agape Press
Truth for Muslims is a group of Evangelicals who are "concerned about the influence of Islam in America", and want to "bring a comprehensive, biblical response to Islam in America".
What do you think about the efforts of these God-fearing people to save the souls of Muslims and preserve the 'Christianity-based' core of American society?
Palestinians Bitter over Jericho RaidPalestinians have reacted with anger at the Israeli attack on the Jericho prison and demanded international protection against similar raids in the future. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President on Wednesday called the Jericho raid "an ugly crime which cannot be forgiven" and "a violation of all the agreements".
Bolton Compares Iran Threat to 9/11The American ambassador to the United Nations has compared the threat from Iran's nuclear programmes to the September 11 attacks on the United States. "Just like September 11, only with nuclear weapons this time, that's the threat. I think that is the threat," John Bolton told ABC News's Nightline programme on Wednesday.
Yep, the U.S. is beating the war-drums ever louder.
Explosion Hit Turkish CityAn explosion has blown out the windows of a British-based bank and neighbouring businesses in the south-eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. Police Chief Zeki Catalkaya said no one was killed or injured in the explosion, which took place in front of an HSBC branch in the city on Wednesday.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Electronic Iraq Launches Special Section Commemorating Slain Peacemaker, Contributor, Tom FoxOn March 10, 2006, the body of Tom Fox was discovered in a Baghdad neighbourhood. Fox had been working in Iraq since 2004, documenting detainee abuse, advocating for the human rights of all Iraqis, accompanying refugees and protesting the occupation. He kept a blog and was a contributor to Electronic Iraq.
New York, NY (PRWEB) March 15, 2006 -- On March 10, 2006, the body of Tom Fox was discovered in a Baghdad neighborhood. Fox was in Iraq with the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) -- an organization that calls on Christians to "devote the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war." Fox had been working in Iraq since 2004, documenting detainee abuse, advocating for the human rights of all Iraqis, accompanying refugees and protesting the occupation. He kept a blog and was a contributor to Electronic Iraq.
On November 26th, 2005, Fox and three colleagues -- Jim Loney, Harmeet Sooden and Norman Kember -- were abducted in Baghdad. Four days later their images appeared on a video broadcast by Al Jazeera. Demands were made and deadlines were set. Two more videos were aired in January 2006, one showing Tom Fox and his British colleague Norman Kember shackled and wearing orange jumpsuits. A fourth video aired in March and showed all of the hostages except Fox. Three days later, Fox was confirmed dead.
In a special section of BY TOPIC, Electronic Iraq has assembled some of his writings and pieces others are writing about him so that his convictions, experiences, and the effects of his work can be better understood. Tom Fox will be mourned and not forgotten, not least of all because of the light he took from the darkness of post 9/11 America to the children and people of Iraq.
Visit the special BY TOPIC section for Tom Fox on Electronic Iraq
About Electronic Iraq :
Electronic Iraq -- found at http://electronicIraq.net -- is a supplementary news portal from the people who brought you the Electronic Intifada (founded 2001) and veteran antiwar campaigners Voices in the Wilderness (founded 1996).
Electronic Iraq was launched on 8 February 2003 to offer a humanitarian perspective during the then-looming conflict, as the U.S. government made clear its determination to go to war against Iraq.
It was the alternative news moonshot. Before, during, and after the US "Shock and Awe" bombing campaign, eIraq writers from Voices in the Wilderness' Iraq Peace Team reported on what they saw and heard via available Internet and a satellite modem connection. Visitors got a never before seen glimpse of war and its aftermath through the eyes of peace activists based at ground zero.
Post war, eIraq's work continues, documenting the US occupation and the rebuilding of Iraq, offering a range of reportage that includes News & Analysis; Opinion/Editorial; Iraq Diaries; International Law; Aid & Development; The Media; Art, Music & Culture; and Action & Activism.
Iraqi Women Fight to Be HeardOn April 5, 2003, Vivian Salim's husband, her two young sons and her little daughter were killed by U.S. forces as they were fleeing in their car when intense fighting took place in their neighbourhood. They were trying to escape to a safer place.
The U.S. military never acknowledged their terrible mistake, never offered Salim any help and never apologised to her for her loss.
Now, three years later, Vivian Salim is part of a delegation of six other Iraqi women, who have been invited by the women's peace group CODEPINK to come to the United States to tell their stories and push for an end to the occupation of their country. The other delegates are doctors, engineers, journalists and humanitarian aid workers. One delegate, Anwar kadhim Jwad, is also a widow whose husband and children were killed by U.S. soldiers at an unmarked roadblock.
But when Vivian Salim traveled across the long and dangerous desert road from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan on February 2 to obtain a two-week visa from the U.S. Embassy, her visa application was rejected. The consular officer told her that she failed to show convincing evidence that she would return to Iraq. When the CODEPINK staff called the state department to object, they were told that Salim did not have "sufficient family ties that would compel her to return." Anwar Kadhim Jawad, the other delegate whose family was killed by U.S. soldiers, was also rejected for lack of sufficient family ties.
Read more about the tragic story of these women here (The Tyee.ca)
The Green Guide: "A Consumer Reports for the Eco-Conscious"What products should you buy organic and why? Which fish are safe to eat? Can you keep your home clean without chemicals? How can you be green in home furnishings and home improvements? The Green Guide answers these questions and so much more. Click here to find out more.
The Green Guide is the go-to source for green home tips, product reviews, environmental health and wellness information, and green living advice. Get well-researched, credible answers to your most important questions about everyday health and environmental issues for yourself and your family. Learn more about The Green Guide's special offer by clicking here.
The Dems: Still Ducking on IraqAri Berman reports in the latest issue of The Nation, "On the advice of top party consultants, the Democrats in the run-up to the 2006 midterm vote are either ignoring Iraq and shifting to domestic issues (the strategy in the 2002 midterm elections) or supporting the war while criticizing Bush's handling of it (the strategy in the 2004 presidential election)."
The political problem with this, as Berman puts it: "Fiddling while Iraq burns will likely only reinforce Republican stereotypes of Democrats as calculating, gutless and unable to develop a strong and sensible foreign policy that will protect Americans in a post-9/11 world."
United Nations Democracy TalksAkaash Maharaj is the Canadian participant at the UN meetings in Jordan. These meetings are aimed at bolstering democracy and security in the Middle East.
Akaash is publishing a daily account of developments through his blog. He believes that greater public scrutiny makes for better and more accountable politics. Please visit his blog and send him your thoughts.
Held under the authority of the UN's International Leadership Institute, the initiative is bringing together elected MPs from across the Middle East, and exposing them to democratic leaders from Europe and North America. The programme looks to help the MPs broaden their understanding of democracy, to increase their capacity to uphold the rule of law in their countries, and to develop non-violent strategies for conflict resolution in the region.
Akaash's focus at the talks is on freedom of expression, diplomacy and international law, and peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Visit his blog and send him your thoughts.
"We've never been more aware of the importance of democracy across the world to the well-being of each of us across our country. Working together, Canadians can make our country a better place by making the world a better place." - The Hon David Peterson, PC, QC
Action: Sign Petition to Stop Funding for Permanent US Bases in IraqThere is an amendment in the House to try to cut off funding for the construction of permanent military bases in Iraq. The vote will take place either tonight or tomorrow.
The Bush regime never cared about WMDs, mass graves, the Iraqi people, or freedom. The only thing on the march is Halliburton's construction of 14 enduring thorns in the heart of the Middle East which can ONLY lead to an endless and growing insurgency.
ACTION PAGE - Click HERE to sign the petition!
You have heard the President say, "When the Iraqis step up, we will step down." You don't believe that and neither do the Iraqi people. And when they DO step up, as the are doing even now with roadside IED bombs, it will be to do one thing and one thing only, to tell us to finally get OUT of their country.
Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know.
Action: Sign Petition to Say 'No' to Oil Drilling in the ANWRLike an undisciplined five year old child who is always trying to get away with something the instant you aren't paying attention, AGAIN they are trying to sneak ANWR drilling into ANOTHER Senate bill.
On Thursday, March 16, the Senate will be confronted with an amendment to the Senate budget bill to allow invasion of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Again we must tell them, NO MEANS NO!
ACTION PAGE! Click here to sign petition!
While they muzzle their own scientists who warn that we may already be past the tipping point of a planetary climate catastrophe, the latest news is that the Arctic sea ice pack has failed to re-form for the second year in a row. The latest report is that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have hit another new record. And at the same time just this week was the most massive pipeline oil spill ever, covering two acres of fragile tundra, which is not what we would call a "small" footprint.
U.N. Overrules U.S. On Human RightsMembers of the United Nations shrugged at U.S. opposition and overwhelmingly approved a new Human Rights Council, attempting to strengthen the world body's machinery to deal with major human rights offenders.
Joining the United States in opposing the resolution were Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau.
Read CBS report here.
Popular Sleep Medication May Prompt Sleep EatingEveryone knows about sleep walking, but sleep eating? And sleep driving? This is too bizarre, but apparently some people don't just walk in their sleep, they eat as well, with some reports saying that some people also drive while 'asleep'. These noctunal activities may be the side effects of the popular sleep medication Ambien, according to researchers.
Read about this CBS Health News here.
Remembering the Iraq War's Pollyanna PunditsThree years after the Bush-Blair invasion of Iraq, FAIR recalls the optimistic punditry of the mainstream media. It is interesting to read how wrong they all were in their premature rejoicing and laudatory commentaries.
"The Final Word Is Hooray!"
Remembering the Iraq War's Pollyanna pundits
Weeks after the invasion of Iraq began, Fox News Channel host Brit Hume delivered a scathing speech critiquing the media's supposedly pessimistic assessment of the Iraq War.
"The majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong," Hume complained in the April 2003 speech (Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/25/04). "They didn't get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong."
Hume was perhaps correct--but almost entirely in the opposite sense. Days or weeks into the war, commentators and reporters made premature declarations of victory, offered predictions about lasting political effects and called on the critics of the war to apologize. Three years later, the Iraq War grinds on at the cost of at least tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.
Around the same time as Hume's speech, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas declared (4/16/03): "All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking."
Gathered here are some of the most notable media comments from the early days of the Iraq War.
"Iraq Is All but Won; Now What?"
(Los Angeles Times headline, 4/10/03)
"Now that the combat phase of the war in Iraq is officially over, what begins is a debate throughout the entire U.S. government over America's unrivaled power and how best to use it."
(CBS reporter Joie Chen, 5/4/03)
"Congress returns to Washington this week to a world very different from the one members left two weeks ago. The war in Iraq is essentially over and domestic issues are regaining attention."
(NPR's Bob Edwards, 4/28/03)
"Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."
(Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, 4/27/03)
"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are Upper Westside liberals, and a few people here in Washington."
(Charles Krauthammer, Inside Washington, WUSA-TV, 4/19/03)
"We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back."
(Newsweek's Howard Fineman--MSNBC, 5/7/03)
"We're all neo-cons now."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)
"The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war."
(Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes, 4/10/03)
"Oh, it was breathtaking. I mean I was almost starting to think that we had become inured to everything that we'd seen of this war over the past three weeks; all this sort of saturation. And finally, when we saw that it was such a just true, genuine expression. It was reminiscent, I think, of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And just sort of that pure emotional expression, not choreographed, not stage-managed, the way so many things these days seem to be. Really breathtaking."
(Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, appearing on Fox News Channel on 4/9/03, discussing the pulling down of a Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, an event later revealed to have been a U.S. military PSYOPS operation [stunt]--Los Angeles Times, 7/3/04)
"The war winds down, politics heats up.... Picture perfect. Part Spider-Man, part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan. The president seizes the moment on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific."
(PBS's Gwen Ifill, 5/2/03, on George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech)
"We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple. We're not like the Brits."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 5/1/03)
"He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, on Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' speech, 5/1/03)
Neutralizing the Opposition
"Why don't the damn Democrats give the president his day? He won today. He did well today."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)
"What's he going to talk about a year from now, the fact that the war went too well and it's over? I mean, don't these things sort of lose their--Isn't there a fresh date on some of these debate points?"
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, speaking about Howard Dean--4/9/03)
"If image is everything, how can the Democratic presidential hopefuls compete with a president fresh from a war victory?"
(CNN's Judy Woodruff, 5/5/03)
"It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context..... And the silence, I think, is that it's clear that nobody can do anything about it. There isn't anybody who can stop him. The Democrats can't oppose--cannot oppose him politically."
(Washington Post reporter Jeff Birnbaum-- Fox News Channel, 5/2/03)
Nagging the "Naysayers"
"Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"
(Fox News Channel's Alan Colmes, 4/25/03)
I really like this one. Wonder if anyone's taken him up on that dinner?
"I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?"
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 1/29/03)
These are so good! Read more here
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Al-Qaida 'Plotted Green Zone Attack'Security officials foiled an al-Qaida plot that would have put hundreds of its men at critical guard posts around Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, the Iraqi interior minister has told The Associated Press. A senior Defence Ministry official confirmed the plot on Tuesday and said the 421 al-Qaida fighters involved were actually recruited to storm the US and British embassies and take hostages.
Canadian Analyst Says Current Strategy Making Matters Worse in AfghanistanPeggy Mason says that the U.S.-led war-fighting coalition, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), is undermining UN efforts to create a viable peace process in Afghanistan, and undermining the goal of creating a secure environment for rebuilding that troubled country.
Analyst says current strategy making matters worse
Special to Globe and Mail Update
March 7, 2006
Much like in Iraq, the post-conflict security situation in Afghanistan has been badly mishandled with combat operations aimed at rooting out terrorists undermining — rather than building — the security of ordinary Afghans and foreign forces alike.
In modern complex peace operations, the essence of the military mission is to find the proper balance between persuasion and coercion — between consent and the use of force.
It may now be too late to properly apply the lessons learned at such high cost in the evolution of modern complex peace operations from Somalia, through the Balkans, to Sierra Leone, East Timor, to the Democratic Republic of Congo — the list is a long one.
But with Canadian forces daily facing catastrophic injury and death in a mission most Canadians just do not understand, we will not find our way out of the Afghanistan quagmire unless we get back to the fundamentals of modern complex peace operations.
Consent and coercion in modern complex peace operations
The insistence of the international community on a peace process as the starting point for any post-conflict peacekeeping effort is a very pragmatic one. The aim is not to go to war with the parties — however well-armed the international force may be — but to help them build the democratic institutions and processes that will enable them to manage societal conflicts in a non-violent way. A robust force can deter violations of the peace agreement, and effectively address them when they occur and thus build confidence in the peace process.
But this presumes that all or most of the key players want peace more than war, so that individual spoilers can be effectively isolated and dealt with, under the Chapter VII mandate.
Viewed from this perspective, the role of the military component of modern peace operations can be seen as quite analogous to classic military counterinsurgency efforts where the aim is to win over the locals so as to deny the terrorists a base of support. The re-establishment of effective governance, in political, military and law and order terms — a key aim of complex peace implementation processes — will also have the effect of denying, or at least inhibiting, terrorist operations.
The US, peace operations and the global war on terror
The American approach to fighting terrorism conflates three distinct types of activities — war-fighting, peacekeeping and anti-terrorist police operations, arguably to the detriment of all three.
In Afghanistan, rather than a war-fighting phase followed by a post-conflict stabilization phase, the U.S.-led war-fighting, anti-terrorist coalition, dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), continued in the countryside while the NATO-led peace support operation — ISAF — was deployed to Kabul. The American component of the war-fighters operated on the basis of overwhelming force, made deals with local warlords as they saw fit and paid scant heed in the process to international rules on the treatment of prisoners.
Their objective — the elimination of the Taliban and al-Qaeda — proceeded according to a military plan intended primarily to serve the perceived security interests of the United States and its allies.
Only the NATO-led force had a mandate from the UN Security Council and it was to help the fledgling Afghan government build a safe and secure environment for the Afghan people, initially in and around Kabul and then further afield, as resources permitted.
But war-fighting and peace-support operations are fundamentally incompatible. The inevitable result of combining the two is to fatally undermine the ability of the security assistance component to actually support the peace process by gradually building the foundation of security on which virtually everything else depends.
Equally problematic, war-fighting is a lousy way to win the most essential battle in the fight against terrorism — the battle for local support, without which terrorists simply cannot function. This is because combat operations — especially American-led ones — often undermine the security of innocent locals — who all too easily become collateral damage in a war not of their choosing. The result is the worst of both worlds — more terrorists and less security for locals and foreign forces alike.
It all comes back to the conceptual basis for modern complex, post-conflict peace operations — that the process is fundamentally a political one requiring a comprehensive political solution. That means bringing as many factions into the peace process as possible, not a priori ruling out entire groups because they are on the wrong side of the "war on terror."
This is surely the most fundamental lesson to be gleaned from the British experience in Northern Ireland, followed closely by the need to respect basic precepts of international law on due process and the use of force if local "hearts and minds" are to be won over, not hopelessly alienated.
The UN believes that the vast majority of Taliban supporters want a negotiated settlement. The Americans seem to have at least partially come around to this way of thinking, with Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld openly musing last summer about the need to negotiate with at least some of the Taliban, while at the same time pushing for stepped-up efforts to get NATO to expand into the southern provinces, to allow for a reduction in the number of American coalition forces.
The Canadian response
Against this backdrop of failed American-led efforts to pacify through war, of expanding NATO-led ISAF efforts to build local security and a stated intention of the UN to bring about new negotiations with the Taliban, here comes Canada, a country whose highly competent military has a well-deserved reputation for pursuing a peace support mandate with vigor, competence and fairness.
And what does Canada do?
Whatever the real intention, the course of action adopted by the former Martin government on the advice of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Rick Hillier seems certain to ensure that ordinary Afghans — just like ordinary Canadians — will find it almost impossible to distinguish between the war-fighters and the peacebuilding forces.
We send a new contingent of special forces (JTF2) to fight alongside the Americans. We take over command of the multinational brigade portion of the American-led, war-fighting coalition, Operation Enduring Freedom.
And we situate our humanitarian assistance effort — the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team — under the OEF. We are told this is all a precursor to the OEF multinational brigade transferring (at some as yet undisclosed time) to NATO command, as if new ISAF shoulder patches were going to erase all local memories of past activities by the coalition forces.
And, incredibly, the independent American component of the coalition will not be transitioning to NATO command, so there will still be two different, conflicting, military mandates even after Canadian and other soldiers from the multinational brigade transfer to the NATO force.
Had the international community seized the window of opportunity afforded by the initial rout of the Taliban four years ago and thrown its weight behind a comprehensive peace negotiation, backed up by the promise of a country-wide NATO stabilization force, the task of bringing security to Afghanistan would still have been monumental, given the warlords, the dependence on opium production and the long history of factionalism.
But four years on, with the security situation on the ground in Southern Afghanistan getting worse by the day, as the tactics of suicide bombers that were honed in Iraq are now increasingly being used to devastating effect in Afghanistan, the stabilization task is immeasurably more difficult.
The dangers now inherent in any effort to win over the locals was illustrated in dramatic fashion by the hatchet attack Saturday against one of a group of Canadian soldiers attending a traditional community meeting with the local elders called a shura.
The Canadian tactics of removing their helmets and laying down their weapons to show good faith are part and parcel of a necessary confidence-building process. But such actions leave the Canadians incredibly vulnerable to the terrorists whose aim is to head off any possibility of a rapprochement between the Canadians and the locals by making it too dangerous for Canada — and the incoming NATO forces — to use these "soft" methods of building local support.
If Canada wants to be part of the solution, instead of just another country caught in the quagmire, we need to do some hard thinking about what an achievable mandate should look like.
This is a debate that is long overdue in NATO, in part because of the continuing reluctance of Foreign Ministers, still raw from the Iraq debate, to question the American tactics, but equally because of the sheer numbers of forces that would likely be required to deploy a credible security assistance force country-wide.
Peggy Mason is a faculty member at The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. The views expressed here are her own.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
From Belgrade to BaghdadThe price of getting Milosevic wrong was paid on 9/11 and in Iraq, according to Tom Gallagher.
"Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Serbia and Yugoslavia found dead in his cell in The Hague on 11 March 2006, was an unscrupulous opportunist whose brazen defiance of western democratic states and the United Nations in the 1990s ended in only a narrow defeat. He showed how precarious and shallow was the peace following the long cold war, even in the heart of Europe. He recognised the weakness of the democratic world, its complacency and even moral abdication in the face of the flagrant manipulation of nationalism, and its unwillingness to take risks to defend the Bosnian state and its largest group, the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) from massacre and ethnic cleansing.
Gallagher further posits that: "The Bosniaks' abandonment in turn envenomed Islamist radicals, who were driven (as their testimonies, and studies like that of Evan Kohlmann, confirm) to take revenge by their attacks in the United States on 9/11."
Read Tom Gallagher's piece for Open Democracy here.
Iraqis Find 85 Bodies in 24-Hour PeriodIn the past 24 hours, Iraqi police have found the bodies of at least 85 people killed by execution-style shootings - a gruesome wave of apparent sectarian reprisal slayings, officials said Tuesday. Read about it here.
Krugman: 'Mc Cain is Not a Moderate'Paul Krugman of the New York Times says it's time for some straight talk about John McCain. He isn't a moderate. He's much less of a maverick than you'd think. And he isn't the straight talker he claims to be.
Read Paul Krugman's Op-Ed piece here.
NASA Puts Its Weight Behind Warming SignsA new study by NASA confirms accelerated global warming and predicts an irreversible decline of the Greenland ice sheet by the end of this century. A NASA researcher also said: "A few months ago this press release might have been seriously edited or not approved." The Bush administration recently changed its policy of censoring climate change news. Read about it here.
Death of the World's RiversThe world's great rivers are drying up at an alarming rate, with devastating consequences for humanity, animals and the future of the planet. One-fifth of all freshwater fish species either face extinction or are already extinct.
Read about it here.
Video: Tribute to the Canadian SoldiersThis video was forwarded by my friend Patricia whose boyfriend is serving in Afghanistan. It is a tribute to those who have fallen, and those who are still serving. It is short, yet haunting, with photos including those who have died, set to the moving background of a soldier's song.
Watch it here: http://media.putfile.com/a-soldiers-tribute
Europe Questions Muslim ImmigrationIt's not only extreme right wing Europeans who wrestle with the issues posed by Muslim immigration. "Is this our future?" The question posed on posters of a veiled woman in the streets of Vienna could be asked in a fair number of European countries. That it's the argument of a campaign conducted by the Austrian extreme right seems almost secondary, for, beyond the politically correct postures and speeches, it's the question all Europe is asking itself today, without putting it so crudely, about Muslim immigration.
Read more here.
Juan Cole | 80 Killed, Over 200 Wounded in Black SundayIn this article, Juan Cole provides a collection of reports and commentary on the situation in Iraq. Read article here.
White House Focused on Regime Change in IranAs the dispute over its nuclear program arrives at the UN Security Council today, Iran has vaulted to the front of the US national security agenda amid Bush administration plans for a sustained campaign against the ayatollahs of Tehran.
Read more on truthout.org
Iraq Dispatches: Iraq: Permanent US ColonyIraq: Permanent US Colony
By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 14 March 2006
Why does the Bush Administration refuse to discuss withdrawing occupation forces from Iraq? Why is Halliburton, who landed the no-bid contracts to construct and maintain US military bases in Iraq, posting higher profits than ever before in its 86-year history?
Why do these bases in Iraq resemble self-contained cities as much as military outposts?
Why are we hearing such ludicrous and outrageous statements from the highest ranking military general in the United States, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, who when asked how things were going in Iraq on March 9th in an interview on "Meet the Press" said, "I'd say they're going well. I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it, but I would say they're going very, very well from everything you look at."
I wonder if there is a training school, or at least talking point memos for these Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because Pace's predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers, told Senator John McCain last September that "In a sense, things are going well [in Iraq]."
General Pace also praised the Iraqi military, saying, "Now there are over 100 [Iraqi] battalions in the field."
Wow! General Pace must have waved his magic wand and materialized all these 99 new Iraqi battalions that are diligently keeping things safe and secure in occupied Iraq. Because according to the top US general in Iraq, General George Casey, not long ago there was only one Iraqi battalion (about 500-600 soldiers) capable of fighting on its own in Iraq.
During a late-September 2005 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Casey acknowledged that the Pentagon estimate of three Iraqi battalions last June had shrunk to one in September. That is less than six months ago.
I thought it would be a good idea to find someone who is qualified to discuss how feasible it would be to train 99 Iraqi battalions in less than six months, as Pace now claims has occurred.
I decided that someone who was in the US Army for 26 years and who worked in eight conflict areas, starting in Vietnam and ending with Haiti, would be qualified. If he had served in two parachute infantry units, three Ranger units, two Special Forces Groups and in Delta Force that would be helpful as well. And just to make sure, if he taught tactics at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama and Military Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, thus knowing a thing or two about training soldiers, that would be a bonus.
That person is Stan Goff.
"This is utter bullshit," was Goff's remark about the Pace claim of having 100 Iraqi battalions when I asked him to comment, "He must be counting the resistance among his forces."
Goff adds, "That dip-shit [Pace] is saying he has 60,000 trained and disciplined people under arms ... 65,000 with all the staffs ... and almost 100,000 with the support units they would require. To train and oversee them would require thousands of American advisors. It must suck for a career Marine to be used so blatantly as a PR flak."
Goff mentioned that Pace "and everyone else" knows that the Iraqi forces, "however many there are," are heavily cross-infiltrated.
"He [Pace] is saying that the Bush administration is going to empower a pro-Iranian government with 100 ready battalions, when this administration was handed this particular government as the booby prize in exchange for Sistani pulling their cookies out of the fire during the joint rebellions in Najaf and Fallujah," added Goff.
Further discrediting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Goff said, "To train 99 [battalions] since last September is a claim only the average American might swallow. The right question to ask is, where are they? Where are they headquartered, and where are they in operation? Claiming operations security doesn't count, unless they believe they can hide 100 units of 600 people each in Iraq ... from other Iraqis ... who are often related to them."
He concludes, "These guys have become accustomed to saying any damn thing, then counting on ignorance and apathy at home - along with hundreds of Democrats who need spine transplants - to get away with it. You can quote me on any of that."
There's a good reason why Pace and others are busy spewing smoke - it's to hide the fact that there are no plans to leave Iraq.
While we're addressing propaganda, we mustn't leave out our brilliant military strategist and warrior for protecting human rights, the illustrious Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
On March 8th, Rice delivered the opening remarks on the release of her Department's "2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices".
The introduction to the report says: "In Iraq, 2005 was a year of major progress for democracy, democratic rights and freedom. There was a steady growth of NGOs and other civil society associations that promote human rights."
This report is submitted to Congress by the State Department. I've often wondered if our politicians are just this ignorant, or simply horrifically misinformed like so many Americans. This report, perhaps, answers the latter.
My point is, if there is a concerted effort by high-ranking officials of the Bush administration to portray things in Iraq as going well, then why are there permanent bases being constructed in Iraq?
This media smokescreen from the likes of Pace, Rice and even "sharp-shooter" Cheney, who recently said things in Iraq are "improving steadily," conveniently leads the American people toward believing there will eventually be a withdrawal of American soldiers.
But the problem with smokescreens is that pesky thing called "reality."
And in Iraq, the reality is that people like Pace, Rice, Cheney and their ever-eloquent front man aren't telling the American public about their true plans for Iraq.
One example that provides some insight into their agenda is the US "Embassy" which is under construction in the infamous "Green Zone."
As you read this, a controversial Kuwait-based construction firm is building a $592 million US embassy in Baghdad. When the dust settles, this compound will be the largest and most secure diplomatic compound in the world.
The headquarters, I mean "Embassy," will be a self-sustaining cluster of 21 buildings reinforced 2.5 times the usual standards, with some walls to be as thick as 15 feet.
Plans are for over 1,000 US "government officials" to staff and reside there. Lucky for them, they will have access to the gym, swimming pool, barber and beauty shops, food court and commissary. There will also be a large-scale barracks for troops, a school, locker rooms, a warehouse, a vehicle maintenance garage, and six apartment buildings with a total of 619 one-bedroom units. And luckily for the "government officials," their water, electricity and sewage treatment plants will all be independent from Baghdad's city utilities. The total site will be two-thirds the
area of the National Mall in Washington, DC."
I wonder if any liberated Iraqis will have access to their swimming pool?
And unlike the Iraqi infrastructure, which is in total shambles and functioning below pre-invasion levels in nearly every area, the US "Embassy" is being constructed right on time. The US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee recently called this an "impressive" feat, considering the construction is taking place in one of the most violent and volatile spots on the planet.
Then there are the permanent military bases.
To give you an idea of what these look like in Iraq, let's start with Camp Anaconda, near Balad. Occupying 15 square miles of Iraq, the base boasts two swimming pools (not the plastic inflatable type), a gym, mini-golf course and first-run movie theater.
The 20,000 soldiers who live at the Balad Air Base, less than 1,000 of whom ever leave the base, can inspect new iPod accessories in one of the two base exchanges, which have piles of the latest electronics and racks of CDs to choose from. One of the PX managers recently boasted that every day he was selling 15 televisions to soldiers.
At Camp Anaconda, located in al-Anbar province where resistance is fierce, the occupation forces live in air-conditioned units where plans are being drawn up to run internet, cable television and overseas telephone access to them.
The thousands of civilian contractors live at the base in a section called "KBR-land," and there is a hospital where doctors carry out 400 surgeries every month on wounded troops.
Air Force officials on the base claim the runway there is one of the busiest in the world, where unmanned Predator drones take off carrying their Hellfire missiles, along with F-16's, C-130's, helicopters, and countless others, as the base houses over 250 aircraft.
If troops aren't up for the rather lavish dinners served by "Third Country Nationals" from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh who work for slave wages, they can visit the Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeye's or Subway, then wash it down with a mocha from the Starbucks.
There are several other gigantic bases in Iraq besides camp Anaconda, such as Camp Victory near Baghdad Airport, which - according to a reporter for Mother Jones magazine - when complete will be twice the size of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. The Kosovo base is currently one of the largest overseas bases built since the war in Vietnam.
Camp Liberty is adjacent to Camp Victory - where soldiers even compete in their own triathlons. "The course, longer than 140 total miles, spanned several bases in the greater Camp Victory area in west Baghdad," says a news article on a DOD web site.
Mr. Bush refuses to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq because he doesn't intend to withdraw. He doesn't intend to because he's following a larger plan for the US in the Middle East.
Less than two weeks after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, US military officials announced the intention to maintain at least four large bases in Iraq that could be used in the future.
These are located near Baghdad International Airport (where the triathlon was), Tallil (near Nasiriyah, in the south), one in the Kurdish north at either Irbil or Qayyarah (they are only 50 kilometers apart) and one in western al-Anbar province at Al-Asad. Of course, let's not forget the aforementioned Camp Anaconda in Balad.
More recently, on May 22 of last year, US military commanders announced that they would consolidate troops into four large air bases. It was announced at this time that while buildings were being made of
concrete instead of the usual metal trailers and tin-sheathed buildings, military officers working on the plan "said the consolidation plan was not meant to establish a permanent US military presence in Iraq."
The US has at least four of these massive bases in Iraq. Billions of dollars have been spent in their construction, and they are in about the same locations where they were mentioned they would be by military planners back before Mr. Bush declared that major combat operations were over in Iraq.
It appears as though "mission accomplished" in
Iraq was not necessarily referring to guarding the Ministry of Oil and occupying the country indefinitely (or finding WMDs, disrupting al-Qaeda, or liberating Iraqis, blah-blah-blah), but to having a military beach-head in the heart of the Middle East.
Note that while US officials don't dare say the word "permanent" when referring to military bases in Iraq, they will say "permanent access." An article entitled "Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq," which was a front-page story in the New York Times on April 19, 2003, reads: "There will probably never be an announcement of permanent stationing of troops. Not permanent basing, but permanent access is all that is required, officials say."
Why all of this? Why these obviously permanent bases? Why the beach-head?
A quick glance at US government military strategy documents is even more revealing.
"Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States," reads the 2002 National Security Strategy.
To accomplish this, the US will "require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia."
Another interesting document is "Joint Vision 2020" from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose "vision" is "Dedicated individuals and innovative organizations transforming the joint force of the 21st Century to achieve full spectrum dominance [bold type theirs]: persuasive in peace, decisive in war, preeminent in any form of conflict [italics theirs]."
US policymakers have replaced the Cold War with the Long War for Global Empire and Unchallenged Military Hegemony. This is the lens through which we must view Iraq to better understand why there are permanent US bases there.
In the Quadrennial Defense Review Report released on February 6, 2006, there is a stated ambition to fight "multiple, overlapping wars" and to "ensure that all major and emerging powers are integrated as constructive actors and stakeholders into the international system." The report goes on to say that the US will "also seek to ensure that no foreign power can dictate terms of regional or global security. It will attempt to dissuade any military competitor from developing disruptive or other capabilities that could enable regional hegemony or hostile action against the United States or other friendly countries, and it will seek to deter aggression or coercion. Should deterrence fail, the United States would deny a hostile power its strategic and operational objectives."
In sum, what is the purpose of permanent US military garrisons in Iraq and the implicit goals of these government documents?
(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the DahrJamailIraq website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media. Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.
More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
** Website by jeffpflueger.com **
Note: All of Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches are re-posted on this site with kind, explicit permission by the author.
As the Houston Chronicle put it in an editorial, after the email burst into public view on-line and brought Fassihi's "objectivity" into question in a modest firestorm of comment and criticism: "Though the missive apparently does not contradict her reportage, it is blunt, bleak and opinionated in a way that mainstream coverage generally avoids." And that, it turned out, was, for many, a negative. Fassihi's WSJ editor, Paul Steiger, when queried by the New York Post, "supported" her with a classic defense of the status quo: "Ms. Fassihi's private opinions [as seen in the email] have in no way distorted her coverage, which has been a model of intelligent and courageous reporting, and scrupulous accuracy and fairness."
It's worth considering, though, why Fassihi had to write this to friends and not to her editor to be published for the rest of us. Why was this story relegated to the world of "private opinion" and evidently not fit for American readers? We have to assume, after all, that editors back in New York or Washington or Chicago or Los Angeles deal daily with the difficult dilemma of ensuring their reporters' safety and so would have found Fassihi's comments no surprise. But amid all the news that's fit to print, news that would make sense of Iraqi reportage clearly wasn't in September 2004.
At the time, journalistic critic Jay Rosen at his PressThink blog put the matter this way: "What makes the piece resonate (for some of us) is the simple question: why can't this be the journalism, this testifying e-mail? Why can't reporters on the ground occasionally speak to the ‘public' like this one occasionally spoke to her friends?"
In England what has become known as "hotel journalism" has been argued about bluntly and at length in the press. In the United States, however, the situation remains -- with a few honorable exceptions, including Under the Gun, Fassihi's recent, sad goodbye to all that (she's been reassigned to Lebanon) -- largely unchanged. TV journalists still get up nightly on those picturesque Baghdad balconies never saying that they weren't the ones who went out that day to get the information they may be "reporting"; the most basic conditions under which reporters work in Iraq -- now far worse than when Fassihi wrote her email -- are seldom alluded to in news accounts, nor is there much sense that most of Iraq remains largely beyond our view. It's true that news junkies here have gained a sense of what reporting conditions in Iraq for westerners are really like, but most Americans probably have no idea. How could they, given the lack of coverage?
That's why the following report by Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley (where I teach every spring), is so valuable. Appearing in the April 6 issue of the New York Review of Books, and available here thanks to the kindness of that magazine's editors, it offers a vivid, rolling, roiling description of journalistic life, such as it is, in Baghdad today. Its length -- and it is long --is meant to make up for everything that is so seldom published on the subject. Guarantee: You won't think about those daily reports from Iraq quite the same way again. Tom
Baghdad: The Besieged Press
By Orville Schell
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
Canadian Peace Alliance: Call to Action on March 18On the 3rd anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, March 18, 2006
Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan
Let the War Resisters Stay in Canada
The Canadian Peace Alliance is calling on its member groups, individuals and supporters to mobilize for a pan-Canadian day of action against the wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and in support of US military war resisters on Saturday, March 18, 2006.
March 18 is the third anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq and once again people all over the world will be marching to end the occupation. The pretexts used to justify the war in Iraq have been proven false, only to be replaced by new lies from the occupiers that they are bringing democracy, freedom and security to people in Iraq. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reconstruction in Iraq is at a standstill and the continued presence of the US/UK forces is creating more violence each day. Most people in Iraq see the US as unwanted occupiers of their country. A poll conducted by the British military and released to the Sunday Telegraph reveals only 1% of Iraqis think that the foreign occupiers are bringing security to Iraq and more than 82% are strongly opposed to the presence of outside forces.
In Canada hundreds of thousands marched to demand that we not get officially involved in the Iraq quagmire yet the Government of Canada continues to support the US agenda in Afghanistan. More than 1500 of our soldiers are being sent there to become embroiled in an increasingly hostile and unwinnable war. Government officials even admit the futility of the operation. Canadian Major General Andrew Lesley recently stated that "Every time you kill an angry young man overseas, you're creating 15 more who will come after you", therefore Canada should be prepared "for 20 years of war". Our soldiers are being sent to a violent war that is getting worse by the day with no end in sight.
The Government of Canada has increased its support for the US administration by issuing an International Policy Statement (IPS) that outlines a role for Canada as henchman to US hawks. The IPS states, "Today's front lines stretch from the streets of Kabul to the rail lines of Madrid to our own Canadian cities. The Government has made a commitment to respond to potential threats to Canadian security before they reach our shores." This is the same logic used by the Bush administration to justify preventive war.
All the while, US soldiers who choose to exercise their right and obligation under international law not to participate in the illegal war in Iraq, are seeking to remain in this country. Canadians opposed the war against Iraq, and now demand that war resisters from the US military be allowed to stay in Canada.
End the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan! Let the war resisters stay. Demonstrate March 18th.
The Canadian Peace Alliance is Canada’s largest peace network with more than 140 member groups representing 4 million people.
www.acp-cpa.ca * firstname.lastname@example.org * 416-588-5555
Satire: Things You have to Believe to be a Republican TodayI don't remember where I saw this little bit of political satire (perhaps on another blog?), but I like it enough to pass it on here, for those who may not have seen it.
Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:
Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing UN resolutions against Iran.
A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.
Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.
A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.
HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.
Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense.
A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.
Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for your recovery.
You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft could tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.
What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.
Friends don't let friends vote Republican.
Feel free to pass this on.
In an attempt to thwart the spread of bird flu,
George W. Bush has bombed the Canary Islands.
An American Liberal's Comment on the 2008 GOP RaceThe American blog Liberal Comment has an interesting entry about the 2008 Republican Party leadership race. Toby writes:
"And so it begins. The Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which took place in Memphis this weekend, was the first official indication that the curtain is rapidly descending on the George W. Bush era. With no natural successor to lead the GOP, half a dozen candidates have already, for all intents and purposes, thrown their hats into the ring. In as much as any Republican with national ambitions can be described as a moderate these days, John McCain is the torchbearer for the moderate wing ... "(3/12/2006 8:58:11 PM)
Read Toby's full entry, "Handicapping the 2008 GOP Horserace".
US 'Pushing for Iran Regime Change'The US administration is starting to push for regime change in Iran through confrontation rather than diplomacy, according to an American newspaper.
Read about it here.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Haiti: Facts, Background, Updates, ArticlesHaiti Fact Sheet - March, 2006
The country of Haiti is located in the Caribbean a short distance form Cuba. Haiti shares an island with the neighbouring country of the Dominican Republic. With an area of 27,750 square kilometres Haiti is about one half the size of Nova Scotia or about one-fortieth the size of Ontario.
Haiti is a mountainous country with a population of almost 8 million people largely dependent on agriculture for their livelihood and survival. Crops include coffee, mangoes, rice, and sugar. There are also some mining and hydropower resources. Haiti acts as a conduit point for some of the cocaine travelling from Colombia to Europe and the USA.
A small percentage of Haitians live in wealth while 80% of the people suffer in abject poverty. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. Extensive deforestation during the past century has lead to soil erosion and floods placing addition burdens on the land and its people.
There is widespread unemployment in the country and many lack basic necessities such as potable water. The HIV rate is high, as is the infant mortality rate. Both public health and the economy have become more problematic as dependence on outside sources for food has developed in recent years.
After a revolution by the predominantly slave population, Haiti declared it’s independence from France in 1804. The constitution was established in 1987 and a democratically elected government soon followed. On the two hundredth anniversary of the independence, democracy and constitutional rule was overthrown in February 2004 by a coup. The elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was forced into exile at that time. Since then, thousands of his supporters have been killed, jailed, or forced into exile. The social and human rights situation has deteriorated in the past two years.
Canada Haiti Action Network
Interview with Patrick Elie. Seven Oaks - February 27, 2006 (Canada)
Interview with Patrick Elie by Vancouver Haiti activist Anthony Fenton
University of Miami Law School human rights report (author Thomas Griffin), November 2004
* Statement by Louis Joinet, Haiti expert of the UN Human Rights Commission, November 29, 2005
Extensive archive of articles on human rights in Haiti
There are two excellent articles on the Global Research website:
1) Michael Keefer's "Fraud and Scandal in Haiti's Presidential Election" which places the current elections squarely in the historical context of infringements of Haiti's sovereignty:
2) Stephen Lendeman's “Haiti: René Preval’s Impossible Task”.
The Consequences of Irresponsible Media: "Americans Have Lost the Right to Vote"Andi Novick of Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media writes that:
“If we had a responsible media it would be reminding us daily that a republic can only survive as long as the open market place of ideas is protected. People must be well-informed in order to make decisions about those they're entrusting to represent their interests. Our ability to exercise control over our government is dependent upon our ability to consent, or to withhold consent, through our vote. Once we lose control of our vote, the very essence of our republic is undermined."
Read Americans Have Lost the Right to Vote.
Amnesty: Brazil: Caveirão -- Rio’s real “bogeyman”News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International
AI Index: AMR 19/009/2006 13 March 2006
Brazil: Caveirão - Rio’s real “bogeyman”
11-year-old Carlos Henrique was on his way home when police stormed the Vila do João favela in July 2005. According to eyewitnesses, he was shot in the head by a bullet fired from a military-style vehicle, popularly known as the caveirão. Between May and September 2005, 11 people were killed in operations involving the caveirão.
“The caveirão has become a powerful symbol of the failings of public security policies in Rio de Janeiro. It typifies the police’s confrontational and divisive approach to Rio’s public security crisis,” said Marcelo Freixo of Global Justice at the launch of a campaign against the use of the caveirão in Brazil’s favelas.
The campaign, organized by Amnesty International, Global Justice, the Rede de Comunidades e Movimentos contra a Violência, and the Centro de Defesa de Direitos Humanos de Petrópolis will call on Rio’s state governor, Sra. Rosângela Rosinha Garotinho de Oliveira, to take forward a comprehensive reform of Rio’s security policies, particularly around favelas. Specifically, the NGOs are calling on the state authorities to stop using the caveirão to kill indiscriminately, to intimidate whole communities and to mount operations involving the excessive use of force.
“Using violence to combat violence is fundamentally counter-productive. Not only does it lead to tragic deaths of innocent bystanders, but it does not solve the problems of escalating criminal violence in Rio de Janeiro,” said Marcelo Freixo.
The caveirão has become the scourge of Rio’s favela communities. Painted black, and emblazoned with a skull impaled on a sword -- the emblem of Rio’s elite police force, the Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais, (BOPE) -- the caveirão is feared by residents in the areas it operates and has been involved in a string of human rights abuses. Local human rights organizations have received a series of shocking eyewitness reports of caveirões entering communities firing at random, while using loudspeakers to intimidate the population.
“By deploying a vehicle to aggressively and indiscriminately targets whole communities, the authorities are using the caveirão as a tool of intimidation. The police have a legitimate right to protect themselves as they go about their work but they also have a duty to protect the communities they serve,” said Tim Cahill Amnesty International’s researcher on Brazil.
The overall police strategy when dealing with Rio’s security crisis has polarised its population, and lead to a collapse of confidence in the state’s ability to protect all the city’s citizens.
Security for all will never be achieved through violence and intimidation. An inclusive public security policy based on respect for human rights must be introduced without delay. Only then will there be an end to the cycle of violence in Rio de Janeiro.
In October 2005, Global Justice launched the report “Police Violence and Public Insecurity”, which examines the root causes of violence in Rio de Janeiro today. The report concluded that state policy effectively “criminalised poverty”, concentrating violence in the city’s most vulnerable communities.
In December 2004, Amnesty International launched its report, “They come in Shooting: Policing socially excluded communities in Brazil” which places human rights abuses in the context of state neglect and social exclusion.
People from around the world - from Mongolia to Norway, India to Chile - will be joining with local NGOs to campaign against the use of the caveirão in the shanty towns of Rio de Janeiro.
For a copy of Global Justice's report “Police Violence and Public Insecurity”, please see:
For a copy of Amnesty International's report “They come in Shooting: Policing socially excluded communities in Brazil”, please "http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maaez5iaboX6LciLAxLb/"> click here (English)
All AI Documents on Brazil
You may repost this message onto other sources provided the main text is not altered in any way and both the header crediting Amnesty International and this footer remain intact. Only the list subscription message may be removed.
Past and current Amnesty news services can be found at:
Visit www.amnesty.org for information about Amnesty International and for other AI publications.
Contact email@example.com if you need to get in touch with the International Secretariat of Amnesty International.
God v God in the New Global WarIn this article, Paul Sheehan writes that the global divide of the Cold War has been replaced by an older and deeper enmity. He concludes his piece with: "..the vacuum caused by the fall of one expansionist absolutism has been filled by another expansionist absolutism, one much older, more enduring and more implacable."
Read Sheehan's Sydney Morning Herald article here.
Iraq: Nature of Conflict Changing for IraqisThe nature of the conflict is changing for Iraqis, as the third anniversary of the invasion nears. Sectarian violence which increases almost daily, not insurgency, is now the greatest threat to life, and lines are being drawn between Sunni and Shiite neighbourhoods.
...Read article about it here.
Letter to President BushBy Joseph W. DuRocher
t r u t h o u t | Letter
Saturday 04 March 2006
Forwarded from Marni Harmony, the minister of a church in Orlando. Joe is one of her parishioners.
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As a young man I was honored to serve our nation as a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the US Navy. Before me in WWII, my father defended the country spending two years in the Pacific aboard the USS Hornet (CV-14). We were patriots sworn "to protect and defend". Today I conclude that you have dishonored our service and the Constitution and principles of our oath. My dad was buried with full military honors so I cannot act for him. But for myself, I return enclosed the symbols of my years of service: the shoulder boards of my rank and my Naval Aviator's wings.
Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to "disappear" them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a US Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a "signing statement" that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.
As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition. But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists' largess. Protests are limited to your "free speech zones", out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question.
Largest Oil Spill Hits North AlaskaOfficials have discovered the Alaskan North Slope's largest ever oil spill at Prudhoe Bay. Between 760,000 and a million litres of crude leaked from a ruptured transit line onto the snow-covered tundra, according to an official estimate of the spill.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
The Campaign to Pacify Sunni Iraq
Iraq's Sovereignty Vacuum (Part 2)
By Michael Schwartz
The December elections in Iraq did not initiate a period of state building, but instead marked an expanding, many-sided conflict whose latest major horror was the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra and the carnage it triggered. All the conflicts of the present moment have metastasized and spread from the ill-fated attempt by American-led forces to pacify Sunni communities in Baghdad and in four provinces to the north and west. Today, not only is the country edging toward an ever-more virulent civil war, but the Sunni resistance is stronger than ever, registering about 100 attacks a day in January.
This original war remains the central front in the ongoing battle for domination in Iraq and, as the core conflict, it continues to cast off enough bitterness, suffering, destruction, and rebellion to guarantee its never-ending spread to new areas and groups.
More than anything else, this low-level but fierce war is responsible for the constantly diminishing reservoir of sovereignty in Iraq. If the Americans sought to establish the legitimacy of the occupation by crushing early signs of Sunni resistance, that effort has, in the end, only helped convince Iraqis of the illegitimacy of the American presence. For all its failures, however, the occupation has succeeded in one endeavor. It has managed to undermine all efforts by other parties to establish their own legitimacy and therefore to build a foundation for a new and sovereign Iraq. If one day Iraq ceases to be, splitting chaotically into several entities, the way the occupation destroyed sovereignty (along with parts of Sunni cities) will certainly come in for a major share of the blame.
The Sunni Resistance
What the world has come to call the "insurgency "in Iraq is largely located in Baghdad and the Sunni-dominated cities to the north and west of the capital. In the Kurdish north and Shia south, residents have largely been organized into local quasi-governments that are frequently at odds with the American occupation (and therefore with the central government in the capital); but -- despite notable moments of great violence -- none of these localities has mounted a sustained war against the American-led presence as the Sunnis have.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.