Monday, August 30, 2010

Iraq and the things that make no sense

With Luke's words ringing in my ears I asked myself how could there be some guy in the sky watching over this mess? How was there a God who was fine with Luke being killed, fine with the dead, burnt bodies of Iraqis I drove past on my way to Basra? How was he fine with the people who waved crying at us hoping we'd throw some rations and water into their desperate lives?
I went to see the padre. Sitting with this devout Christian in the cradle of civilisation, I had the most honest conversation I had ever had about religion. I'd never had the courage to say these things out loud before, but the Padre made it easy. He listened to my angry words and I knew it was okay for me to not believe. For the rest of the tour I spoke to the lads about it constantly, and as Saddam's empire came tumbling down so did any belief I had in God.

The above is from Iraq War veteran Adnan Sarwar's "Serving in Iraq killed my faith in God" (Guardian) and "Luke" is Luke Allsopp who served with Sarwar in the British military. We're going to stay with the theme of Iraq and religion a bit longer by noting a report by DPA, "Iraq demands the return of a rare Jewish scroll from Israel." If the basic facts are correct (they may be, they may not be -- DPA is wrong as to the number of Jews in Iraq in 2003 -- they woefully undercount the Jewish population which I don't believe hit a dozen utnil some time in 2006), Israel is in possession of a Torah which the Tourism Ministry of Iraq is stating ought to be returned.

It ought to be?

No. This has none of the complexities of the earlier call by the Iraqi government for Jewish documents. In the earlier case, the US, after the 2003 invasion, had discovered a large number of records that were kept by the Iraqi government on Jews in Iraq -- it was spying on them. They brought the records back to the US to preserve them -- they had been submerged in water when the US found them. Iraq demanded them back. The dispute was between Iraq and the US, between the occupied and the occupier. As I noted at Third, I was surprised the Israeli government did not step in on that. If they had and had made a claim on the documents, there would have been reasons to dispute claims. However, the US was the occupier and the documents were taken out of the country.

Iraq felt no need to protect the Jewish citizens from targeting by various thugs since the invasion began. The Jewish population was targeted and was wiped out either by violence or by fleeing. To now assert that they have some right to Hebrew artifacts? Bulls**t. They have no right. Nor do they or did they ever belong to Iraq.

These are not documents that the Iraqi government kept. These are religious artifacts and they belong to the people of that religion. The scroll is in Israel and in Israel is where it should remain. Iraq did not protect the Jewish population, it allowed it to be decimated. It has no claim or right to the scroll.

Iraq is created in 1932. The scroll predates the creation of the country by centuries. Having no Jewish population today, the fact that they would even assert a right to the scroll is rather offensive. And that's before you even wiegh into consideration the fact that Iraq's unable to keep their treasures, artifacts and museums open to the public.

Again, when the issue of the US having Iraqi government records on Jewish people arose, I did not weigh in with an opinion. That was an occupier/occupied issue and, with Israel making no claim to the records, it was a rather straight forward issue. This one's rather straight forward as well but not to Iraq's benefit.

Let's stay with the theme of things that make no sense and move over to the thankfully former US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill. As he was winding down his tragic and misguided post, Hill wanted to insist that he had done good, he had. We'd call him a filthy liar were it not for the fact that he was so stupid it was always difficult to determine whether he could discern fact from fiction.

Speaking to Steve Inskeep (NPR's Morning Edition) August 11th, he wanted to cite Iraqi oil deals as "progress." It was a claim he'd return to in his August 13th press briefing:

There have been numerous security challenges that continue to exist, and I'm sure you all saw the horrific news this morning, this suicide bombing in front of a military installation in which scores of people were killed. So Iraq, I think, as I've often said, offers no refuge for those in need of instant gratification. It requires you to stay at it. But I do believe that there's some real progress there. As we speak, major oil companies are beginning to actually put drill bits in the ground. Iraq will, I think, emerge as one of the major oil producers of the world. It will have significance for really the rest of the world. I think that part of the picture is really coming into focus and I think the Iraqis are really making some progress.

He went on to add later in the briefing:

Yeah, the oil law – I've got to tell you, I mean, I got there in April of '09 and everyone talked about the hydrocarbons law, the oil law. And I saw kind of a virtual stalemate in the Council of Representatives, and I supported the approach of just going ahead and doing contracts – that is, doing – not – these are not ownership contracts; these are oil service contracts. And the Iraqi Government, I think, has made a very credible effort on that. They've also reached over to the Kurds and they've addressed some of the issues there, where the Kurds had wanted to export some of the oil directly.

Hassan Hafidh (Dow Jones) reports that the Ministry of Oil is declaring the contract between the KRG and RWE AG for natural gas to be "nil and void." They state the contract isn't legal and that the KRG didn't have the authority to make the deal. Tell us more lies, Chrissy Hill.

Here's the KRG press release from last week announcing the deal:

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq ( – Prime Minister Barham Salih today announced the signing of a Cooperation Agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government and RWE.

The RWE Group is a leading European utilities company headquartered in Essen, Germany. It has extensive experience in the building, modernisation, and upgrading of energy infrastructure.

Under the agreement, RWE will provide assistance to the KRG in the development of a gas transmission and distribution network (including grid planning), and training aimed at increasing technical skills of the citizens of the Kurdistan Region.

“This is a major step forward in our planning,” the Prime Minister said. “RWE will bring the know-how and insights of one of Europe’s most important gas distribution companies to Kurdistan. We will be planning and designing our local gas transmission and distribution network using the most modern techniques.”

The Prime Minister added, “Kurdistan is blessed with much gas. Before any export, our gas will be used to meet the needs of the people of the Kurdistan Region and neighboring areas. These resources are being developed for the people of Iraq in accordance with the Constitution. Gas not needed at home will be available for export.”

The KRG Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Ashti Hawrami said in London in June that the Government anticipates that the Kurdistan Region will have gas reserves of between 100 and 200 trillion standard cubic feet – more than enough to meet all domestic requirements and to generate substantial revenues for Iraq from the sale of excess gas to Turkey and Europe.

Gas from the Kurdistan Region is expected to be exported via the Nabucco pipeline, which will directly link major fields in the Caspian region and the Middle East to European consumer markets. At a meeting in Ankara this week, the Nabucco project steering committee confirmed plans to source gas from two feeder lines in Georgia and Iraq.

And, in the US, we'll close with this press release from David Swanson but I'm confused as to why some people aren't listed. If you are as well, it may be that Swanson just doesn't know that they're running. But we've highlighted a number of people -- I'm thinking of, Rebecca Williamson of Iowa, for example -- and they're not on this list. Is this open list or a closed list? Is is honestly a list noting all candidates who are running for office and pledging they won't fund the wars? I don't know. I'm confused. We're all over the country speaking, I can think of many others -- especially in Iowa -- who should be listed. Unless it's a closed list.

For Immediate Release: Saturday, August 28, 2010
Contact: David Swanson


97 Congressional Candidates Oppose War Spending

Ninety-seven congressional candidates and 34 national organizations are opposing any more funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The 97 candidates are from 29 states and Washington, D.C., and include 32 Greens, 24 Libertarians, 22 Democrats, 7 Independent Greens, 5 Independents, 4 Peace and Freedom, 1 Republican, 1 Socialist, and 1 West Virginia Green.

Eighty-four are candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, and 13 for the Senate.

Members of the Coalition Against War Spending do not all agree with each other on many topics, including their reasons for opposing war spending. But they all back this short statement:

"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans over $1 trillion in direct costs, and over $3 trillion altogether. At a time when our national debt exceeds $13 trillion, we can no longer afford these wars. It's time for Congress to reject any funding except to bring all our troops safely home."

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives:
Ken Adler, AR-01, Batesville, Green | Statement
Nick Coons, AZ-05, Tempe/Scottsdale, Libertarian | Statement
Rebecca Schneider, AZ-06, Phoenix, Democrat
Richard Grayson, AZ-06, Apache Junction, Green | Statement
Carol Wolman, CA-01, northwest corner, Green
Clint Curtis CA-04, northeast corner, Democrat | Statement
Ben Emery CA-04, Nevada City, Green
Eugene E Ruyle, CA-06, Marin/Sonoma, Peace and Freedom | Statement
Larry Allen, CA-09, Oakland, Peace and Freedom Party | Statement
Dave Heller, CA 09, Berkeley, Green | Statement
Jeremy Cloward, CA-10, Pleasant Hill, Green | Statement
Mark Williams, CA-12, San Carlos, Libertarian
Mary V. Larkin, CA-17, Monterey, Libertarian | Statement
Les Marsden, CA-19, Yosemite/Mariposa, Democrat | Statement
Randall Weissbuch, CA-26, Arcadia, Libertarian
Richard R. Castaldo, CA-30, Peace and Freedom Party
Marcy Winograd, CA-36, Los Angeles, Democrat | Video
William Hedrick, CA-44, Riverside/San Clemente, Democrat | Video
Ken Arnold, CA-46, Orange and L.A., Democrat | Statement
Mike Paster, CA-49, Fallbrook, Libertarian
Tracy Emblem, CA-50, San Diego, Democrat | Statement
Michael Benoit, CA-52, San Diego, Libertarian
Lisa Ann Green, CA-53, Venice, Green
Gary Swing, CO-01, Denver, Green | Statement
Jerell Klaver, CO-05, Manitou Springs, Libertarian | Statement
G. Scott Deshefy, CT-02, New London, Green
Doug Tudor, FL-12, Riverview et al, Democrat
Marleine Bastien, FL-17, North Miami, Democrat
Regina Thomas, GA-12, Savannah, Democrat
Laurel Lambert Schmidt, IL-03, Riverside, Green
Rob Burns
, IL-04, Green
Matt Reichel, IL-05, Chicago, Green
Bill Scheurer, IL-08, Lindenhurst, Green / Independent
Simon Ribeiro, IL-09, Evanston, Green | Statement
Rodger Jennings, IL-12, Alton, Green
Doug Marks, IL-14, Carpentersville, Libertarian | Statement
David Gill, IL-15, Democrat
Sheldon Schafer, IL-18, Peoria, Green
John Duncan, IN-04, Libertarian | Statement
John Wayne Cunningham, IN-08, Terre Haute, Libertarian | Statement
James E. "Jim" Holbert, KY-05, London, Democrat | Statement
Philip Dunkelbarger, MA-09, Westwood, Independent | Statement
Peter White, MA-10, Cape Cod, Independent
Charlie Shick, MI-03, Wyoming, Green
Anna Janek, MI-09, West Bloomfield, Republican
Diana Longrie, MN-04, Democrat | Statement
Michael Cavlan, MN-05, Minneapolis, Independent Progressive | Statement
Kevin Craig, MO-07, Springfield, Libertarian
William OBrien, MO-09, Mexico, Libertarian | Statement
Thomas Hill, NC-08, Fayetteville, Libertarian
Lon Cecil, NC-12, High Point, Libertarian
Steven Welzer, NJ-04, East Windsor, Green | Statement
Anthony Gronowicz, NY-07, New York City, Green
Jonathan Tasini, NY-15, New York City, Democrat | Statement | Video
Emin Eddie Egriu, NY-28, Buffalo, Democrat
Marc Johnston, OH-02, Blue Ash, Libertarian | Statement
Chris Henry, OR-01, Portland, Green
Michael Meo, OR-03, Portland, Green | Statement
Chris Lugo, OR-05, Oregon City, Green | Statement
Ebert G. Beeman, PA-03, Lake Erie, Libertarian | Statement
Vernon Etzel, PA-05, Oil City, Libertarian
Ed Bortz, PA-14, Pittsburgh, Green | Statement
Jake Towne, PA-15, Nazareth, Independent | Statement
David Segal, RI-01, Providence, Democrat
Robert A. Dobbs, SC-01, Myrtle Beach, Green | Statement
Eric Schechter, TN-05, Nashville, Democrat
Christopher J. Claytor, TX-03, Plano, Libertarian | Statement
James Arthur Strohm, TX-21, Austin/San Antonio/Kerrville, Libertarian | Statement
Steve Susman, TX-22, Houston, Libertarian | Statement
Martin Nitschke, TX-23, El Paso to San Antonio, Libertarian | Statement
John Jay Myers, TX-32, Dallas, Libertarian | Statement
Claudia Wright, UT-02, Salt Lake City, Democrat
Gail Parker, VA-01, Independent Green
John Kelly, VA-03, Independent Green
Janet Murphy, VA-04, Independent Green
Jeff Clark, VA-05, Independent Green
Floyd Bayne, VA-07, Independent Green | Statement
Ron Fisher, VA-08, Arlington, Independent Green
Jeremiah Heaton, VA-09, Independent
David Gillis, VA-11, Independent Green
Larry Kalb, WA-02, northwest corner, Democrat
Diana McGinness, WA-02, Bellingham, Democrat | Statement
Roy Olson, WA-09, Olympia, Green | Statement
Natale Straccuzzi, Washington D.C., Green

Candidates for U.S. Senate:
Duane Roberts, CA, Green | Statement
Gail K Lightfoot, CA, Libertarian | Statement
Marsha Feinland, CA, Peace and Freedom Party | Statement
John Finger, CO, Libertarian | Statement
Bob Kinsey, CO, Green | Statement
Richard A. Weir, NC, Green | Statement
Cecile Lawrence, NY, Green
Dan La Botz, OH, Socialist | Statement
Rick Staggenborg, OR, Green
Mel Packer, PA, Green | Statement
Bob Burr, WA, Democrat | Statement
Ben Masel, WI, Democrat (2012)
Jesse Johnson, WV, WV Green Party aka Mountain Party

American Homeless Society | Statement
Backbone Campaign
Campaign Corner: A Home for Progressive Populist Candidates | Statement
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
CODE PINK: Women for Peace
Consumers for Peace
The Democratic Activist
Down With Tyranny
End US Wars
Environmentalists Against War | Statement
Global Exchange
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Green Change | Statement
Global Peace
Independent Green Party of Virginia | Statement
Jobs for Afghans | Statement
Justice Through Music
Liberty Tree
Maine Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign
Military Families Speak Out
National Education Association Peace and Justice Caucus
Peace Majority Report
Progressive Democrats of America
Progressive Push
Proposition One Campaign
Rethink Afghanistan
Smirking Chimp
Velvet Revolution
Veterans For Peace
Voters For Peace
War Criminals Watch



NB: The candidates and organizations listed here are not endorsing each other, and many strongly disagree with each other on many issues. But all fully support the statement at the top.


The e-mail address for this site is