Sunday, February 12, 2012

And the war drags on . . .

Ben Lando and Ali Abu Iraq (Iraq Oil Report) state that Nouri's going to increase his position via the floating port in southern Iraq. That's really not a statement, that's a prediction. Like all predictions, it could be right or it could be wrong. But based on events, it will most likely be wrong.

The pipeline to Turkey is attacked how often? And it just happened a week or so back. Oil facilities in Iraq are under frequent attack. So this floating port will most likely be a source of attacks. Nouri doesn't have friends in southern Iraq. Basra, for example, is really controlled by Moqtada al-Sadr. When Nouri attacked it in 2008, he needed the US military support. And that province controls the sea port. The other areas of Iraq are bordered by land. Basra's the only sea port.

Now in that water, what's taken place? Fights over fishing rights. Fights with Iran. Iran seizing this boat or that boath of fishers. And no one in Iran's going to be tempted by the new port? No one? That's some positive thinking there.

Also true is that Total is the second oil giant (ExxonMobil was the first) intent on bypassing Nouri and that 14 or 15 provinces Baghdad controls (Baghdad currently controls disputed Kirkuk which makes 15) by heading over to the oil rich and semi-autonmous KRG.

And the three provinces that make up the KRG? They are thought to contain 40% of Iraq's oil supplies. Kirkuk's disputed for what reason? Largely because it's oil-rich. There are other issues at play and lifelong grudges but if it were a toxic dump somebody would have walked away already. Instead everyone wants to control Kirkuk. At some point, that issue -- an issue the Rand Corporation felt was the most explosive that Iraq will face in the near future -- will have to be dealt with. Despite the Constitution's Article 140 calling for Kirkuk to be dealt with by the end of 2007 (referendum), Nouri refused to do so in his first term. Maybe he'll be able to continue to ignore the Constitution in this second term, maybe not? But at some point it gets address.

And until ownership is addressed, look for fields to be attacked there.

So nearly half of Iraq's oil is in the KRG. And the KRG, especially when compared to Nouri's control over Baghdad, is a safer area, a more advanced area. Nouri sets up a new port that will, if history is pattern, be attacked by Iraqis and by Iranians and maybe pirates who knows what else and that's all he's got. His ill temper and depsotic ways have trashed Iraq's image on the global stage. But the KRG is looking awfully good to a number of businesses.

So Nouri's 'success' with that port in terms of raising his prestige? That may end up as phony and fake as the photo op he tried to stage with the flowers and flags handed out before the cameras began clicking. And the port has its own issues. Aswat al-Iraq reports todayMP Suzan al-Saad stated that there are problmes and demands regarding Basra that must be addressed: "Some of the demands are for the services sector, as well as the start in building the Greater Fao Port."

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, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4487. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4487. Here's the screen snap.


Reuters notes a Baiji sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 gas station manager and the life of his driver, a Baquba roadside bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured and a second Baghdad roadside bombing left six people injured.

New content at Third:

Isaiah plans a comic for tomorrow. This entry went up in pieces. It is not complete. In case I get started late tomorrow, we'll go ahead note on this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) -- topics explored include an update on Mumia Abu-Jamal, Phyllis Bennis on the US government targeting Iran, and Nellie Hester Bailey evaluating the first three years of the Barack administration. She is also the host of Inside Housing on WHCR 90.3 FM Monday evenings from six to seven p.m. EST and the co-host of Black Agenda Radio with Glen Ford (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network). Pru notes Tim Sanders' "Simpsons -- double edged tale of ideal nuclear family" (Great Britian's Socialist Worker):

As The Simpsons reaches its 500th episode this month, Socialist Worker cartoonist Tim Sanders pays tribute to the show’s enduring satirical edge

If you draw some vertical lines on a blackboard and ask a group of kids who it is, of course they won’t know. But add a horizontal zigzag line at the top and someone will swiftly pipe up “Bart Simpson!”

I know because I’ve done this many times in cartoon workshops at schools. Like all successful cartoon characters, Bart has a very recognisable silhouette—as has Mickey Mouse, the Pink Panther and of course the rest of the Simpsons family.

In this sense cartoon characters work like logos—instantly recognisable in a non-verbal way, just like the Nike tick or McDonald’s arches.

But in a deeper sense cartoons are more like “anti-logos”, because a successful cartoon should be subversive, provoking questions rather than acceptance of the world as it is.

This takes us to the contradiction at the heart of satire, one that helps make it so enjoyable and effective: satire is both of the mainstream and against it. And ever since it began in 1989, The Simpsons has been a prime example of this contradiction.


It pokes fun at the rich and powerful, it undermines faith in authority and the status quo—and yet makes shedloads of cash for its owner Rupert Murdoch. On one level this is a classic case of biting the hand that feeds.

But, of course, on another it is a relationship of mutual interest. The Simpsons was the first big hit for Murdoch’s Fox Broadcasting Company. And its creator Matt Groening has not gone unrewarded.

Nevertheless the subversive nature of the Simpsons is never far from the surface. Conservatives have denounced it as anti-family on numerous

occasions—and still do to this day.

In 1992 the first President Bush infamously declared that American families should be “closer to the Waltons than the Simpsons”. But in truth it’s a lot easier to identify with Bart—“underachiever and proud of it!”—than the squeaky clean Waltons.

The key to the Simpsons’ great originality and endurance lies in its origins in US “slacker” subculture. One of Groening’s earliest creations was the comic strip “Life in Hell” about his experiences of living in Los Angeles.

It is a wonderful piece of youthful rebellion, attacking authority, school, work and even love. In Groening’s own words, it was “every baby boomer idealist’s conception of what adult existence in the 1980s had turned out to be”.


The other powerful aspect of satire is that it can tackle thorny issues in a way that drama or documentary would never be able to do.

The Simpsons and the many shows it has inspired—South Park, Family Guy, American Dad—can take up topics like racism, homophobia, or war. They can go straight to the heart of the matter—and make you laugh.

George Orwell once said that every joke is a tiny revolution. I suppose we’d have to add that some jokes are counter-revolutions. But nevertheless, the very act of laughing at the rich and powerful makes them less daunting and certainly less plausible.

Mr Burns in the Simpsons is everyone’s boss and is awful. But in the context of this satire, he’s also pathetic and weak. We can openly laugh at our bosses—providing it’s on telly.

It has been said that the Simpsons has lost its edge recently. This may well be true—it’s hard to maintain the intensity of its early days, especially when the author clearly is not living the same life as when he started out.

But I think the Simpsons has still got it. Choosing Julian Assange to appear in the 500th episode is a clever and provocative move, given the extraordinary hatred the US establishment holds for Assange. The Simpsons are still irritating the powers that be—and long may it continue to do so.

The following should be read alongside this article:

The Lost World of the Suffragettes

It's OK to censor the word 'Palestine', BBC Trust rules

Competition - win tickets to The Bomb—a partial history in two parts

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

The e-mail address for this site is