Sunday, February 21, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reports on what is following in the wake of yesterday's announcement by the National Dialogue Front that they are withdrawing from the election: "the National Council for Tribes of Iraq siad it would" withdraw from the elections. Oliver August (Times of London) reveals:

International observers have significantly lowered their expectations for the poll in recent days. Few diplomats in Baghdad now talk about "free and fair elections", since they clearly won't be. The new publicly stated goal is a "credible election", but even that seems doubtful.
Pressed to sketch out a best-case scenario, several diplomats talk of an election that, despite its flaws, is merely accepted by the people. This is far from the democracy once envisaged. The new outlook is a significant reversal. Stability and reconciliation between the sects seemed a distinct possibility until a few months ago, but the decision to disallow Mr Mutlaq's candidacy on spurious grounds has reversed Iraq’s positive momentum.

The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Iraq, Ad Melkert, tried to stamp a happy face on the process and declared today, "Generally speaking, I should say that the elections are on track in terms of their technical preparation. Still, a lot needs to be done. Security remains a big challenge to all, to the Iraqis in the first place, but also to the international community." Martin Chulov (Guardian) offers this background, "The call for a boycott was made by Saleh al-Mutlaq, an MP who leads the National Dialogue Front, a leading Sunni party. It is part of a cross-sectarian Iraqiya electoral alliance, formed to contest the 7 March ballot. Al-Mutlaq was on a list of 511 individuals banned from standing in elections because of their connection to the old Baathist regime. The list has now been reduced to 145. Ahmed Chalabi, the former Pentagon favourite, has been aggressively defending the list as part of a new de-Baathification drive through a body called the Accountability and Justice Commission." Gulf News editorializes, "It is important for any election to be fair that all the rules of contest are defined well in advance. It is wrong that candidates have been banned a few weeks before the elections. They should have known years in advance that their previous records would not allow them to hold public office and their sympathisers and supporters would be able to find candidates to represent their views without breaking the law." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) offers, ". . . Sunnis and many secularists in the Shiite community are so eager to overturn the dominance of the Shiite religious parties that have controlled Iraq's government for five years that it is unclear whether Mutlak's boycott call will have weight with many people." UAE's The National counters, "Not only does it threaten the legitimacy of the poll, but the last time Sunni parties boycotted the elections in 2005, it exacerbated a cycle of violence that almost drove the country into civil war. It is hard to fault the decision of the party's leader, Saleh al Mutlaq. He and hundreds of other banned politicians are the victims of blatant political manipulation. Regardless, they must be careful; there is more at stake than their own political careers." Leila Fadel (Washington Post) adds, "Iraqi officials said Saturday that meetings with Mutlak and his group were ongoing. Mutlak could not be reached for comment. "

Elections are March 7th. Barack Obama hid behind the elections to delay the start of his 'draw down.' And what's been accomplished? Not a thing. As was true during the Bush years, the diplomatic mission has never been there, has never had its act together and should never have been used as an excuse to keep US troops on the ground in Iraq for even one day. There has been no diplomatic accomplishment, no diplomatic success. The only thing worse than starting the illegal war has been Bush and now Barack's desire to continue it.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4376. Tonight? 4378. Today the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Two U.S. Army helicopter pilots were killed as a result of an accident near an airfield on a U.S. base in northern Iraq, Feb. 21. The aircraft made a hard landing inside the base. There were no enemy forces present and no hostile fire was reported. The accident is under investigation and release of the Soldiers’ identities are being withheld pending notification of the next of kin. The name of the deceased Soldiers will be announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Web site at The Task Force Marne command team mourns the loss of these two aviators and extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to their Families."

In other reported violence . . .


Reuters notes a Madaen house bombing in which three people were wounded, a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured two people, a Khanaqin roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 5 police officers (and wounded another), a Tikrit suicide bombing claimed the life of the bomber, 1 other person and left six people injured and a Hawija roadside bombing which injured one person.


Reuters notes an attack on pilgrims in Taji that claimed 1 life and left seven injured and a Mosul drive by in which 1 police officer was shot dead.

New content at Third:

Isaiah latest goes up after this entry and Pru notes this editorial from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Attitudes to rape are forged by the state

The results of a survey this week about rape led to much media comment—and baffled reactions about the attitudes it recorded among people in Britain.

According to the report by the Haven service for rape victims, 50 percent of the female respondents believed that victims should take some responsibility for their attack.

Large numbers of men also believed that women who have been raped were to blame in some circumstances.

Such attitudes are not a result of individual ignorance. They reflect a much wider view of women’s place in society and of systematic women’s oppression.

There is a long history of the legal system, judges, police chiefs and politicians trivialising rape or suggesting that women are to blame for it.

Until 1994 judges were obliged by law to tell juries that they should seek corroboration of the alleged crime as “women and small children tend to lie about these matters”.

These ideas continue to dominate the courts. In 2007, a judge allowed a paedophile who allegedly molested an 11-year-old girl to escape jail when the judge ruled the victim had “welcomed” his advances.

And today, although attitudes are officially more enlightened, it’s estimated that only 5 percent of women who are raped report it.

Just one in 14 reported cases result in a conviction.


As recently as last September, figures gained after a Freedom of Information request showed that some police forces failed to record over 40 percent of rape complaints.

Police in Durham said they only ruled five out of 130 rape allegations were not in fact crimes. Yet a further 83 cases were never officially recorded in the first place.

Many of the newspapers that affected surprise at the recent survey consistently portray women as mindless objects who are to be judged solely on their looks and then “won”.

For some people that encourages the attitude that women are things to be “bought”—or seized.

Others newspapers blamed women in different ways.

The Telegraph blamed the “uninhibited ‘ladette’ culture” for “fuelling a disturbing new ambivalence towards the crime of rape, particularly among women”.

The Mirror’s columnist Sue Carroll managed to use the report to attack Muslims: “A survey tells us half of women think rape victims are to blame for the crime because they wear short skirts or accept a drink…

“Who on earth did they ask, women in burqas?”

She went on to say that the issue was “mired in confusion” because of the views of “hardline feminists” and that it is “downright stupidity” to be “someone prevaricating over whether to say ‘no’ in a man’s bed”.

Is it any surprise, when such ideas are put forward as “common sense”, that many people end up blaming people who have been raped?

The continuing struggle for women’s emancipation involves an absolute assertion that, in all circumstances, no means no—and that rape victims need support, not scapegoating.

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

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