Sunday, July 17, 2005

What's being reported outside the US (focusing on Iraq)

Raed of Raed in the Middle has some very bad news. His brother Khalid of the blog Tell Me a Secret has been abducted by the new Iraqi mukhabarat.

The above is an excerpt from the latest at Baghdad Burning by Riverbend. We're doing our what's being reported outside the US media and this entry is focusing on Iraq.

Micah e-mails "Scores killed in Iraq bombing wave" (Aljazeera):

More than 110 Iraqis have been killed and 300 wounded in a three-day
bombing blitz in what al-Qaida's Iraq wing has declared is a campaign
to seize Baghdad.
Three car bombs, all claimed by al-Qaida in Iraq, rocked
Baghdad on Sunday, police sources said.
One attack, at a police checkpoint in the east of the city, killed three people and wounded 14. The second, at a checkpoint in the south, killed one and wounded three. A third, near an election commission headquarters, killed five and wounded seven, the commission said.
Iraq has often experienced several attacks a day since the government took
power in April. But US generals had said things were improving, with just six
car bombs countrywide last week, the fewest in nearly three months.

Micah also notes "Report: US sought to influence Iraq poll"(Aljazeera):

President George Bush's administration sought to influence the outcome of
Iraq's January elections, using covert operations to avoid a landslide by Shia
Muslims close to Iran, a US magazine reports.
The New Yorker magazine reported on Sunday that the Bush administration debated last year whether to give direct support to former Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, a Shia favoured by US officials, and other parties seen as close to the United States.
But the plan was opposed by non-governmental organisations
brought in to help with the elections, and then Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage put an end to the project, according to the article.
Covert support
In the same period, however, "the White House promulgated a highly
classified presidential 'finding' authorising the CIA to provide money and other
support covertly to political candidates in certain countries who, in the
administration's view, were seeking to spread democracy", the magazine said,
citing former military and intelligence officials.
A UN official said the US was keen to see Allawi re-elected "The finding was general," a recently retired high-level CIA official told the New Yorker. "But there's no doubt that Baghdad was a stop on the way."

Via Watching America, Molly e-mails Ali Laidi's "'Bush Fell Into' bin Laden's Trap" (France's Le Figaro):

Except for the most excited Allah fanatics, the objective for the very
large majority of al-Qaeda's top leaders is not to unfurl the green flag of
Islam over the Palais Bourbon or the Capitol, but to put an end to Western
influence over Arab-Muslim territory, to substitute it with a theocratic society
that would likely be dark, closed and anti-democratic. Bin Laden has always
presented himself to the Arabs as the best guarantee of the sovereignty of this
region and the most faithful protector of the values it incarnates. Values that,
according to Islamist militants, are seriously threatened by competition from
the Westerners who currently dominate the world.
A complex world shaken by two contrary forces: that which pushes for the integration of peoples and nations and that, on the other hand, which leads to a fragmentation of cultures.
The political scientist James Rosenau talks of "fragmegration." His colleague
Benjamin Barber evokes the struggle of jihad against MacWorld which opposes
those who dream of a world without borders, even uniform, that is to say
strongly tinged by Americanization, to those who are fighting to preserve their
In this globalized world, the domain of the fight extends to
identifying values. Competition touches every aspect of life. Just as
competition incarnates the essence of liberalism, hypercompetition is the
essence of globalization. This hyperconfrontation affects regional blocs that
are being constituted little by little and which correspond more or less to the
geography of the continents: Europe, North America, and Asia.
In the great Middle East, so dear to George W. Bush, people feel like they are not in charge of their own destiny. That is why they wish to regain their place in History.
They thus manifest their right to choose their social model and their values.
Bin Laden understood that well and manipulates Islam to fan the flames.
In reaction, we have become autistic to the point of not understanding the new
international stakes that arose immediately following the end of the iron
curtain. Playing the game of extremists by placing terrorism on a solely
religious level leads us to an impasse. In addition to the reinforcement of
security measures, if we really want to eradicate this scourge, it is necessary
to carry out a geopolitical analysis of the phenomenon.
For the West, the question is the following: is it ready to limit its influence over others in order to build a world that respects the plurality of different value

Robert e-mails Patrick Cockburn's "US electoral interference in Iraq alleged" (The New Zealand Herald):
United States President George W Bush authorised covert intervention in Iraq's
January elections by using behind-the-scenes operatives, in an effort to
engineer an Iraqi government allied to the US and not dominated by Shia parties,
according to an article in the New Yorker today. Investigative journalist
Seymour Hersh writes that the White House secretly tried to influence the
elections by undertaking operations "off the books". This was after the
President had been frustrated in his support for a CIA operation to spend money
on political candidates anywhere in the world who were seeking to spread
democracy. In practice this would have allowed the CIA to give financial aid to
the candidacy of Iyad Allawi, the interim Iraqi Prime Minister, appointed by the
US in June 2004. The plan was dropped because of the opposition of Nancy Pelosi,
the House minority leader. The US was compelled to agree to an open election in
Iraq after it became apparent in the autumn of 2003 that direct rule by Paul
Bremer, the US viceroy in Iraq, had provoked a vicious and escalating guerrilla

Lloyd e-mails Trevor Royle's "Pressure grows on Britain to timetable withdrawal from Iraq"
(Scotland's The Sunday Herald):

The deaths of three British soldiers from the Staffordshire Regiment’s battle
group in the al-Amara area is a stark reminder of the dangers facing the
garrison in Iraq and is bound to add fuel to the debate about ending their
deployment sooner than later.
[. . .]
Their very presence becomes an incitement as they become part of the problem. Senior commanders are fully aware of that conundrum, and it comes as no surprise that they have spent the past few months agonising over the choices available to them.
Getting the balance right has concentrated minds, hence the leaked documents revealing an exit strategy. The timing is poignant for another pressing reason – the legality of the conflict and the official position of personnel serving in Iraq.
An infantry commander put the problem into a neat but troubling perspective when he posed the rhetorical question: "Are my soldiers heroes or potential criminals?"
During his battalion's deployment last year, there had been more than 100
shooting incidents in which Iraqis had been killed. In his view, these were
necessary but regrettable incidents and in each case he could justify his
soldiers' actions.
However, there are lingering doubts, which surfaced again
last week when six former chiefs of the defence staff raised serious, but as yet
unresolved, questions about the legal rights and obligations of personnel
serving in Iraq.

Skip e-mails to note "Resistance in Iraq legitimate: Sadr" (AFP story at Australia's ABC):

Violent resistance to foreign troops in Iraq is "legitimate", Shiite radical
leader Moqtada Sadr said in an interview with British television to be broadcast
on Monday.
More than 110 Iraqis have been killed and 300 wounded in a
three-day suicide bombing blitz.
Iraqis should not be provoked by the
coalition "occupation", Sadr told the BBC's Newsnight program in his first
interview with a Western news organisation.
He added: "Resistance is
legitimate at all levels be it religious, intellectual and so on.
"The first
person who would acknowledge this is the so-called American President [George W]
Bush who said: 'If my country is occupied, I will fight'."

Dominick e-mails to note Haider Fathi's "Iraq hammered by plague of suicide bombings" (The Irish Examiner):

NEW suicide bombings killed at least 22 people in the Baghdad area
yesterday, while relatives struggled to identify charred bodies from a fiery
suicide attack near a Shi'ite mosque in Musayyib that killed more than 90
The government raised the death toll from Saturday’s attack in the town
south of the Iraqi capital to "more than 90", making it the second deadliest
single terrorist bombing since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in April 2003.
More than 150 people were wounded.
The US military announced that two American soldiers died in separate
attacks over the weekend. At least 1,767 members of the US military have died
since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press

Pru e-mails to note "Tariq Ali on politics and the bombs" (the UK's Socialist Worker):

In the wake of the attacks in London, veteran anti-war activist Tariq Ali
spoke on Iraq, Vietnam, terrorism and resistance
Dear friends, we meet in sad times. Before I start talking about the subject of this evening's meeting, I think it's important to speak a few words about what we're living through at the moment.
What we're living through is an attack, by a group of terrorists, on
ordinary working people in London. It is not behaviour that anyone on the left
can support.
But why did these attacks happen? That is the key question
which the entire media and the entire political class in this country is trying
to ignore. They are trying to ignore it because the government and the main
opposition party know perfectly well why it happened. They have a guilty
It happened, without any doubt, because Tony Blair decided to
lock himself in a coital embrace with the US president, from which he could not
be easily dislodged. He decided to take a sceptical public into a war it did not
Opposition to this war was not confined to anti-war campaigners or
the left, it existed in the upper reaches of the establishment. The week after
Baghdad fell, a senior foreign office intelligence figure, who was national
security adviser to 10 Downing Street, wrote a letter to the Financial
He explained why the war was wrong, how we were stampeded into
the war by lies, and why going to war was placing Britain itself at
London mayor Ken Livingstone has taken to quoting Winston Churchill
these days. We've been here before. Why can't they think of anyone else to
quote? Whenever there's a crisis it's back to the Second World War.
Ken himself, on a platform with myself and others, once said that one reason he was
opposed to the war was that it endangered the lives of citizens in London. He
was right then and he should get a grip on himself.
Unless you give people a political explanation for what has happened, the only other explanation is a civilisational one, which the prime minister gave--barbarians versus
Blair says this, his wretched cabinet members have been repeating it, and even Bush has picked up a few phrases.
We have to be very clear. If the killing of innocent civilians in London is barbaric, and it is, how do you define the killing of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians?
In the dominant culture of the West there is a deep-seated belief that the lives of
Western civilians are somehow worth more than those living in other parts of the
world -- especially those parts being bombed and occupied by the West.
This brings me to the subject of this evening. Are there war crimes being committed
in Iraq? The answer is yes. If the media in Britain gave a quarter of the
coverage that they devoted to the London bombings to what is being done to
ordinary civilians in Iraq you would have a gigantic, uncontrollable anti-war
Iraq brings back memories of Vietnam on a number of levels. In
Vietnam, as in Iraq today, many politicians said, "It will soon be over, and we
will bring our troops home by Christmas."
Older members of the audience may remember General Westmoreland, the US military commander in Vietnam. Every year he used to say, "The boys will be back this Christmas."
Another of the generals in Vietnam gave a statement contradicting the politicians and his fellow officers, saying, "If they want us to control this situation we could be
here ten years." At least he spoke the truth.
Another similarity is the wanton destruction of cities and human life. Over 100,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq. You can contrast that to the number of occupation troops that have died, about 2,000.
In Vietnam the ratio was the same. By the end of the Vietnam war 50,000 US soldiers had died and two million Vietnamese.
The big difference is that the people leading the struggle against the US in Vietnam
described themselves as Communists and were, in their own fashion, part of that

They understood the importance of winning over the
American population to the anti-war movement. There is no similar organisation
leading the resistance in Iraq.
There isn't even a single organisation, there are many--nationalist, secular and, increasingly, religious. They have no idea how to intervene politically in global politics.
One reason we don’t have a single resistance organisation is the decision of the Iraqi Communist Party to join the occupation, instead of opposing it, which is a
The other big difference between Vietnam and Iraq, is that during
the Vietnam War the majority of the British population supported the war. I
remember the figures well, at the peak of our movement we had 38 percent of the
population supporting us.
In the US right until the end the majority supported the government. The minority kept increasing, and eventually that minority captured the ranks of ordinary GIs. When the GIs demonstrated against the war with their uniforms and medals, some on crutches, the establishment realised they could not carry on.
The Vietnamese made a special effort to talk to black troops. I was in Vietnam and saw their propaganda. It asked, "Why are you defending your ruling system? What has it done for you?" You began to see the number of desertions by black GIs grow from a trickle until you had a special group called Black GIs Against the War.
Their slogan was: "I ain’t gonna go to Vietnam, because Vietnam is where I am. Hell no, I ain't gonna go."
The raising of consciousness was because of what they found when they got
back to the US -- racism and appalling social conditions. In 1968 a wave of
riots swept US cities.
Many of the riot leaders were black GIs who knew how to use weapons.
During the Vietnam War we set up a War Crimes Tribunal. One
reason was that Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertand Russell said that war crimes were
being committed in Vietnam.
We were attacked by the media and told it was fantasy. But six months later they were forced to accept that the My Lai massacre had taken place, because the US journalist Seymour Hersh had got hold of the evidence and published it. Suddenly everyone was talking about atrocities.
Today there is publicly available information about US soldiers
shooting Iraqi prisoners dead. When they are asked why they did it they say, "We
were being kind to them, they were wounded and we were putting them out of their
They have humiliated prisoners in Abu Ghraib, which is well known,
but they also have torture centres in Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt where they send
people to be tortured by specialists.
We know that they have made it their policy to urinate and shit on prisoners to humiliate them.
This is how colonials behave. They don't know any other way, because there isn't any other way if you are occupying someone’s country. It's the logic of colonial
occupation. There is continuity in what empires do.
I remember the French occupation of Algeria. The French used to call the Algerians filthy terrorists because they bombed cafes in Algiers.
The Algerian National Liberation Front used to reply, "We do what we have to do to drive you out of our country. If you don't want us to bomb cafes where you and your friends sit, then please lend us a few fighter bombers and we can bomb your barracks."
Throughout the Vietnam War the US denounced the Vietnamese when they planted bombs in the capital, Saigon. But the resistance had to do this to make the country ungovernable.
It is not a pretty thing. But the character of the occupation determines the
nature of the resistance -- this is true in every single instance.
We in the anti-war movement shouldn't lose our nerve
when things happen, such as the bombing in London.
The people who carried out these bombings are not part of our world, but they are angered by what they've seen. One argument that's been taking place is with those who say, "We hadn't attacked Iraq when 9/11 took place."
But that was an attack on the US empire by people who were almost its former employees -- people who had worked with the US in Afghanistan.
And they said why they carried it out -- because of the US presence in Saudi Arabia. It is the Western presence in the Arab world that causes these problems. Unless there is a political solution, the terror will go on.
I notice George Galloway is in the audience tonight.
I’d like to say something publicly to George Galloway -- your presence in the House of Commons is one of the biggest weapons we have in this country.
I know how the media goes after people in this country. They did it to me in the 1960s, they did it to Arthur Scargill during the Miners' Strike, they did it to Ken Livingstone when he was running the GLC, they did it to Tony Benn when he ran for the leadership of the Labour Party and now they are doing it to George.
When the Sun publishes a picture of George, with a headline saying this is the
most vile man in Britain, he should be proud. It shows that the political point
we are making cannot be answered.
We may have our own opinions on Blair, his hairpiece or his wife's shopping habits, but we attack his politics.
The ideas we have put forward -- the link between the bombing and the war on Iraq -- is more or less common sense on the streets throughout Britain. People who might not even like us are saying, "If we hadn't gone to Iraq, they might not have
bombed us."
That's why the establishment have united around the idea that
this has nothing to do with Iraq. We have to be clear -- it does have something
to do with Iraq and, unless we pull out, it may happen again.
Tariq Ali was speaking at Marxism 2005. CDs of this and other meetings can be ordered from Bookmarks. Phone 020 7637 1848 or go to
© Copyright Socialist Worker
(unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to
the original and leave this notice in place.

Pru also notes "'This is about Iraq, Mr Blair' -- father of soldier killed in Iraq speaks out" (also from the UK's Socialist Worker):

Peter Brierley, who lost his son Shaun in Iraq in 2003, spoke to Socialist
Worker after addressing a 1,000-strong vigil organised by the Stop the War
Coalition on the Saturday after the London bombings:
"I really empathise with the victims and their families. Their suffering affects me as much as the loss of my own son. The same is true of people suffering in Iraq.
"The London bombing has nothing to do with Muslims hating non-Muslims. But I do have to tell Mr Blair that it is to do with the hatred stoked up by the illegal Iraq
"Withdrawing our troops from Iraq won't get rid of terrorism overnight.
But it will make it less likely, and I now believe it is the right thing to do
to start making the world safer.
"When my son was killed I believed the war
was right. But from what we have learnt since I know it was wrong.
"What was a personal tragedy for me and my family has become part of a greater tragedy that now includes the bombings in London and the daily bombings in Iraq.
"I work in the bus industry and I'd call on everyone to be vigilant. I hope those
responsible are caught quickly.
"But our best defence is the multiethnic nature of Britain standing together for peace and for a drastic change in foreign policy."
Join the Vigil for Peace, at 2pm, Sunday 17 July, Russell
Square, London. Called by the Stop the War Coalition
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you
include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

Gareth e-mails Andrew Grice's "Role in Iraq war 'has made Britain a target for attacks'" (the UK's The Independent):

Tony Blair's role as George Bush's partner in the war on terror has put Britain
at greater risk of attack, a respected think-tank warned today.
The Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, said that Britain's support for the US did not mean it was an equal partner but a "pillion passenger compelled to leave the steering to the ally in the driving seat".
The think-tank concluded that "the UK is at particular risk because it is the
closest ally of the United States, has deployed armed forces in the military
campaigns ... in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and has taken a leading role in
international intelligence, police and judicial co-operation against al-Qa'ida
and in efforts to suppress its finances," it said.
Chatham House warned that Iraq had created difficulties for the UK and the coalition. "It gave a boost to the al-Qa'ida network's propaganda, recruitment and fundraising, caused a major split in the coalition, provided an ideal targeting and training area for al-Qa'ida-linked terrorists, and deflected resources that could have been deployed to assist the Karzai government [in Afghanistan] and bring Bin Laden to justice," it said.

Note, for those wondering why certain links proposed re: London don't make it up (and I believe everyone who's written has gotten an e-mail reply on this), UK community members suggest something, it goes up. But Gareth has noted (and he's give permission for this to be noted here)
that England doesn't need to be turned into "a country of fear monkeys" which is what he and other UK members feel some of the press attempts to do (they're especially critical of the New York Times' coverage). If an event happened in New Mexico, we'd give Francisco and any other members there the choice in selecting links (Francisco has already noted that he lives in New Mexico in posted comments at this site in case anyone's wondering if I just gave out his location).
We're not a CSI web site (nor would I want to take part in one -- link goes to Ava and my review of CSI Miami) so the daily details of "We've just discovered this . . ." which are quickly followed by corrections and clarifications are of little use to any informed discussion though they do attempt to press the panic button. We have noted Matthew Rothschild and others on the topic because they're conveying something other than drama and melodrama; however, in terms of mainstream news (and "news") organizations, the say goes to the UK members. (As it would to community members in any region that a similar event occurred.)

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