Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A tale of two columnists

Two columnists tackle Iraq today. One for a right wing outlet (the Washington Times) the other for a 'liberal' paper (New York Times). Who really embarrasses themselves? It would be great if we could say Diana West who writes for the Washington Times. But that's not the case. From the opening of her "In Iraq, soldiers still suffering and dying" (The Jamestown Sun):

The first I heard about what happened to Lt. Col. Timothy Karcher, the last U.S. commander of Sadr City who recently signed over jurisdiction to Iraqis, was from a reader. He e-mailed me about my last column, which argued that "allies" don't declare victory over each other (as Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki declared "victory" over the United States), and the sooner we realize Iraq isn’t our "ally," the better. It also bemoaned the U.S. military’s deference to Iraq, quoting top brass beginning with Gen. Raymond Odierno and including Lt. Col. Karcher, in their execution of what I, myself, consider a futile U.S. policy to Westernize Islamic cultures.
"I appreciate your fervor and feelings about Mr. al-Maliki's comments, but I must say that your biting commentary regarding the quote from Lt. Col Karcher has driven me to reply," he wrote. "You may not be aware," he continued, "but since signing over jurisdiction to the Iraqis, Lt. Col. Karcher suffered a roadside bomb attack and lost both legs. One of his men, Sgt. Timothy David of Beaverton, Mich. -- a veteran of six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan -- was killed by a second EFP."

West notes she was not aware and then explains that Timothy David died in the June 28th attack ("two days before Iraq's 'victory' celebration") and that Timothy Karcher is still at Walter Reed. West explains she wasn't aware of it until her reader pointed it out. She goes on to explore a few topics and does so with more spine than many a centrist columnist playing left.

Contrast that with the latest garbage from Thomas Friedman. And before we go further, does anyone really believe for a moment that when a reader writes him to point something out or correct him that he does anything other than immediately delete? Does anyone really believe Mr. Know It All would ever open a column (or even close one) that way West has?

The Idiot Friedman's column is entitled "Goodbye Iraq, and Good Luck" and just from the title you're aware that The World Is Flat And My Ass Is Huge Thomas Friedman can't address reality with any depth but can continue to offer breezy, facile snap readings with little-to-no bearing on reality.

Tommy packed his bag at night pre-flight, caught a military flight to Kirkuk and he was always high as a kite. He's a dumb ass, burning up his fuse out there alone. In Kirkuk, the US military meets with "provincial leaders" ("Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians") and Tommy declares, "It's my lucky day." (It's never the readers' lucky day when Friedman has a new column.) Why? Because while various leaders offered what they needed, one (Rebwar Talabani) declared, "I want to tell a joke."

I think Thomas Friedman may have misheard. The leader may have said, "I want to talk to a joke." Regardless, the joke recounts a man who suffered under Saddam Hussein (no one suffers under the US occupation in Friedman's world -- that's the subtext of the column and the reason he includes the joke). The man is illiterate and he goes to a worker who, for money, writes letters. (No, it's not a very realistic joke.) The man tells the worker his decades of suffering and the worker writes it up. The man reads over it and declares, "That is so beautifully done. I had no idea all this happened to me."

Rebwar Talabani told the joke but you know Thomas Friedman's got to 'improve' on it, patronizing ass that he is:

Talabani's joke seemed to have been directed as much to his fellow Iraqis as to Admiral Mullen. My translation: "Everyone here has a history, and it's mostly painful. We Iraqis love to tell our histories. And the more we do, the better they get. But with you Americans leaving, we need to decide: Do we keep telling our stories, or do we figure out how to settle our differences?"

"The better they get"? The suffering is better to Thomas Friedman? "We love to tell our histories?"

The joke could easily about technocrats (the worker) and what the average citizen has to go through and/or is at the mercy of. The joke doesn't imply any of the "Do we keep telling our stories, or do we figure out how to settle our differences?" I belive the term for what gas bag Friedman has done is: Projection.

It's an insulting column throughout (and it's interesting how he fails to explain he was supposed to go beyond Kirkuk -- in fact, straight to Baghdad -- but was prevented from that due to a sandstorm).

"I am amazed in talking to U.S. Army officers heere as to how much they've learned from and about Iraiqs." What? The US doesn't interact with anyone but the thugs put in place and the collaborators. They have no idea -- outside a house raid -- what the average Iraqi is like. Thomas Friedman is a dumb ass.

Then he sells the illegal war and illegal occupation as a good thing because, despite "some shameful legacies here of torture and Abu Ghraib, . . . we also left a million acts of kindness" and allowed the Iraqis the 'joy' of seeing "the melting pot of U.S. soldiers around them".

Oh joy. Lucky, lucky Iraqis.

Thomas Friedman been selling this illegal war over and over and it's disgusting. The left wants to get riled up every few months over right-winger William Kristol. They whined and carped over his employment at the New York Times and now at the Washington Post but Kristol goes on TV and everyone knows he's a right winger. Thomas Friedman's the clear and present danger. He's a quack who has justified illegal war and global policies that hurt multiple peoples around the world. And he's still brought on as a 'respectable' and, yes, 'left' voice. Cleaning house is never fun. But it is required. And it's amazing that Kristol, a right-winger, takes up so much of ire when he's doing what the right does while Thomas Friedman pretends to be left day after day and does great damage as a result. Most people don't follow every detail. They turn on the TV and there's Thomas Friedman. Name's familiar. He's left? Oh. Okay, what's he's saying. Well, I don't agree but I don't know all the issues, maybe he's right . . . .

That's how people like Friedman do real danger and he should have been loudly called out over the previous years but it's as if Judith Miller took all the heat off him and, even after she left, no one could be bothered.

Turning to England where an inquiry is going into the death of 26-year-old Iraq Baha Mousa in September 2003 while in the custody of British forces. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports:

Geoff Hoon, the former Defence Secretary, could be called to give evidence at a public inquiry into illegal techniques used by British forces in Iraq to prepare detainees for interrogation.
A list of witnesses has yet to be finalised and his name is not believed to be on the latest draft. Asked yesterday whether Mr Hoon would be called as a witness, however, Gerard Elias, QC, counsel to the inquiry, told The Times: "Possibly." A second lawyer said: "It may well be that an application will be made to call politicians. However, it is early days."

Meanwhile Iraqi Christians have been targeted throughout the illegal war but Saturday saw a new wave of attacks in Baghdad and Mosul. Amnesty International has issued "Iraq: Amnesty International condemns attacks on Christian minority:"

Amnesty International is greatly concerned by the recent spate of attacks on Christian churches in Baghdad,which killed four civilians and injured more than 30others. Amnesty International condemns such attacks and demands that those responsible cease attacking civilians.

On Sunday, 12 July2009, five Christian churches in Baghdadwere targeted in bomb attacks. The most serious attackoccurred close to the Virgin Mary Church on Palestine Street in central Baghdad early on Sundayevening, when acar bomb was detonated killing four civilians, Christians and a Muslim, and injuring at least 21other people, mostly women and children. Three other people were injured by abomb explosion outside a church in the Dora district, south of Baghdad, which also damagedthe churchbuilding.

Attacks targeting Iraqi civilians, including members of ethnic and religious minorities, have intensified in recent weeks. On 9 July two suicide bombings were carried out in Tal Afar, a predominantly Turkoman town near Mosul, which killed 34 people and injured more than 60 others. No armed group has yet claimed responsibility for these attacks.

Hundreds of people have now been killed by armed groups and many more injured in the run-up to and following the 30 June deadline for the pullout of US troops from Iraq's cities and towns as stipulated for by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a security agreement signed between Iraq and the US at the end of 2008 and which entered into force in January this year.

As direct attacks on civilians and on religious buildings these church bombings constitute war crimes. To the extent that these bombings are part of a widespread or systematic attack on the civilian population of Iraq in furtherance of an organization's policy, they would constitute crimes against humanity. War crimes and crimes against humanity are among the most serious crimes under international law.These attacks must be stopped immediately and those responsible must be brought to justice.

Public Document

For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email:

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

Michelle A. Vu's "Iraq Heightens Church Security after Bombings" (Christian Post) offers the timeline for those who missed the latest wave of attacks:

Meanwhile, Iraq's vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni Muslim, "strongly condemned" the attacks on churches in a statement posted on his Web site. He called on the country's security forces to locate the culprits and allow justice to take place.
Over the course of just 48 hours, seven Iraqi churches were bombed – starting midnight Saturday with a church in Baghdad.
Following the first bombing, another five Baghdad-area churches were bombed on Sunday – the last of which was attacked at 7 p.m. as worshippers left mass. The explosion killed four people - three Christians and one Muslim – and injured at least another 32.
Then on Monday, a church in the northern city of Mosul – which is home to Iraq's largest Christian population outside of Baghdad – was bombed. Three children were injured in the attack, caused by a detonated car bomb.

Carol Rizk's "Catholic Center condemns Baghdad church attacks" (The Daily Star) adds:

Lebanon's Catholic Media Center sounded the alarm on Tuesday saying Iraq's Christians were facing increasing injustice and were being pushed to flea their home country.
The center issued a statement "strongly" condemning acts of violence against Iraqi Christians, especially the latest attack over the weekend on six churches in Baghdad.
The statement described the ongoing brutal acts as "crimes against humanity" saying that the battered country's Christians "are Iraqi citizens who fulfill all their national duties but their rights are still being violated.
"Iraqi Christians have no protection and no guarantee of living a decent and peaceful life," it added.

Alsumaria quotes Baghdad Bishop Shlemon Warduin stating, "You see, you hear, all the people are together, we are brothers, you have seen maybe Muslims and Christians are together. We came to pray that our Lord live the eternal life for the Christian people. That the Lord give happiness for their families and consolations, and especially we pray that our Lord give peace and security for Iraq." IRIN notes:

A German NGO dealing with vulnerable and threatened communities in Iraq said the attacks were a bid to drive the remaining Christian community out of the country.
"Extremist Islamists are systematically aiming at driving out the remaining 100,000 Assyro-Chaldaic Christians from the Iraqi capital," Kamal Sido, a near-east consultant for the Society for Threatened People (GfbV), aid in a statement on 13 July.
According to GfbV, more than three-quarters of the approximately 400,000 Christians living in Baghdad have fled the city since the 2003 US-led invasion, due to either direct or indirect threats to their community.
GfbV appealed for urgent support for aid projects for Christians who have been displaced inside Iraq and for those who are refugees in neighbouring Jordan and Syria to help them either return to their homes or resettle in a third country.
According to the World Refugee Survey 2008 by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, at year's end, Syria hosted some 1.3 million Iraqi refugees, of whom about 20 percent were Christian. The US State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2008 states that 16 percent of registered Iraqi refugees in Jordan were Christians.

The following community sites updated last night:

As noted yesterday, those who don't need second-by-second, minute-by-minute coverage of the Sotomayor Circus can click here for BBC Radio. If any actual news is made in the hearing, you'll hear it there. Otherwise, you'll be informed of life beyond the circus, around the world. You won't find that on Pacifica which all about "Baby cried the day the circus came to town" passed off as news. Heath and Amanda both e-mailed wondering what Ruth listened to yesterday that provided her with the updates on the Charles Taylor trial? I believe Ruth listened to BBC Radio World Service. But "latest news" and "news bulletin" will also include coverage. And if you're following the circus or trying to, Betty continues to offer level headed coverage.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends