Iraqis embrace democracy

The Iraqi Provincial Election is now in progress. News reports so far, indicate a huge turn out from the 14 million registered voters, following a very active campaign process.   This time around, the Sunni population is participating, which is a huge breakthrough.

As mandated by the Iraqi constitution 25% of the candidates are women.

The significance of this for the entire region, just can’t be underestimated. The entire Arab world is looking on, as well as the people of Iran.  Indeed it is of enormous significance for the entire Muslim world.

Obama (who voted against the surge) will now be able to preside over a gradual US troop withdrawal. I guess he can just ignore his previous statements about the situation in Iraq being hopeless, along wth  his proud record of having voted against the war.

60 Responses to “Iraqis embrace democracy”

  1. 1 byork

    Analysis of the voting patterns and results will be interesting when they’re available. Obama has applauded the provincial elections, their relatively peaceful nature and significance, but it must be said that had he had his way as an opponent of the war they would not be taking place as free, competitve, multi-party elections – rather, Saddam Hussein would again be receiving 99.9 percent of the vote.

    A report from Gulf News suggests that there is greatly increased participation in these elections by women and by Sunni Arabs compared to the 2005 federal election. The greater Sunni participation can only further isolate the jihadists. According to the Gulf News report, some Sunni-dominated areas suffered as a result of not having a voice in parliament as a result of the previous Sunni lack of participation in the 2005 election. They want a bigger voice and the means of attaining it has been there for quite a few years now. Sunnis also want to decrease the influence of the jihadists. How this translates into electoral outcomes will be known soon.

    It will be particularly interesting to look at the secular candidates.I saw a special report on BBC World about the election and they interviewed a blacksmith. He was generally cynical, even saying that they have gone from bad to worse, but he would nonetheless vote. (Why they chose someone like him is in itself indicative of BBC/CNN defeatism). When asked, he said he wanted a more secular system – he said he had nothing against religion but wanted government to be less influenced by religious-based parties. He said he would vote for the Communist candidate in his area. (Under Saddam, there would not have been any Communist candidate, of course).

    As keza pointed out, 25% of positions are mandated for women – again, it will be interesting to see how many are elected.I do like to rub it in the face of the opponents of the Iraq war: this latest step forward for Iraqi democracy was only possible because the US and other allies of the Iraqi people’s struggle against fascism for democracy was successful. Those who ranted about how the US would never allow democracy, how they would merely instal a new dictator, how the Iraqis weren’t ready for it yet (ie, the internal contradictions had not yet developed sufficiently, or that the entrenched tribal and ethnic divisions would not allow for democracy), blah blah blah, look appropriately discredited and silly.

    No further correspondence entered into by me, unless it’s specifically about analysis of the results. Rock on Iraq!

  2. 2 keza

    Here’s a report from the LA Times which includes comments from a range of Iraqi voters on their voting intentions and feelings about the election.

    Some examples:

    Ali Alwan, a government employee at a polling station in Fallujah: “I walked four kilometers (2.5 miles) to get here. It’s a bit far, but I feel good. I will vote for the honest people who will serve this oppressed city.”

    Ajil Abid Hummadi, a lawyer in Samawah: “I believe strongly in the political process and that these elections will improve many aspects of our life. I chose the slate of the Communist Party. Its candidates are qualified and good people. Many candidates asked me to vote for them in a friendly way, but at the end, it is my choice.”

    Ahmed Makhi Badr, an election worker in Najaf: “I volunteered to do this for freedom, and to serve democracy.”

    There are varying degrees of optimism about how well this next crop of elected representatives will serve the Iraqi people, but it’s clear that the mood is one of enthusiasm for participating in the democratic process and strong opposition to violent sectarianism.

    There has been so much talk (from both the conservative right and from the pseudo-left) of Iraqis not being ready for democracy, of democracy being “a Western thing”, of Iraqi democracy being “imposed” by the US and therefore a fraud.  But millions of Iraqis have once again left their homes and turned out to vote, often having to walk long distances, under difficult conditions.  It’s not like here where we just stroll a few hundred yards, often only doing so because we don’t want to be fined for not voting (for our non-Aussie readers: voting in Australia is compulsory). 

    (The whole question of why, after several hundred years of democracy, we now find the entire process so uninspiring, deserves a thread of its own. However, it certainly has nothing to do with not valuing democracy, human rights and the immense freedoms which we really do have, compared to most people on the planet.  Once liberal democracy becomes similarly uninspiring and run-of-the-mill for the Iraqis, we know that like us, they will be ready for more and have achieved things which were unimaginable under Saddam).

    Yes, in the current election they will vote for a slew of groups who are similar to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. But that’s their choice, and over time they will refine thesir choices.  There is no going back.  Islamist groups  with reactionary ideas cannot afford to even consider trying to take away these hard-won democratic rights and freedoms. Watch out Mullahs in Iran – your population is watching.!  Mubarek and the other Arab autocrats must be feeling similarly threatened.

    I remember watching footage of the independence referendum in East Timor (which we should remember was followed by the most horrendous massacre of the Timorese people by Indonesian forces).  The East Timorese people went through hell just to reach remote polling booths.  If anything demonstrated the “democratic impulse” in practice, that did.

    People everywhere want the right to choose, no matter how frightening it can be.

  3. 3 Syd Walker

    I can’t believe you guys believe this stuff.
    Do you realize how many Israqis have lost their lives since the illegal attack in 2003? Do you know hopw many have been forced to leave the country? Do you realize the long-term impact of the poisoning of Iraq with deleted uranium? Are you completely nuts? Or do you do favours for some variant of western spook outfit.
    Sorry to be so blunt, but really. War apologists make me feel that way.

  4. 4 Arthur

    Syd, your careful phrasing “how many Iraqis have lost their lives” indicates you are aware the overwhelming majority of those killed were the result of mass murder attacks on the Iraqi people by Iraqi fascists. You understood perfectly well the daily reports of hundreds killed by terrorist bombings in market places, schools etc. You know.If you were under the delusion that they were killed by the “illegal attack” you would instead have said something like:”Do you realize how many Iraqis were killed by the invaders”.So you are in fact, whether you admit it to yourself or not, an apologist not just for war, but for mass murder of civilians by fascists.

    This isn’t something abstract. If you had your way, the troops would have pulled out when the elected Iraqi government still needed them to stop the massacres, there would have been no “surge” and much larger numbers would have been killed.

    In fact if you had you way there would have been no “illegal attack” at all, the murderous fascist regime would have continued for many more years and when it finally collapsed the country would have exploded in a much more violent civil war among Sunni and Shia Arabs and Kurds, with regional intervention from at least Turkey, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia supporting various sides and millions killed as in the series of Congolese wars following the Rwanda genocide.

    You would have held candle light vigils and said “never again” just as happened with Rwanda.

  5. 5 Syd Walker

    The invasion of Iraq was illegal.

    Its consequences are the occupiers’ responsibility.

    You can’t attack another coutnry, occupy it, turn it into a disaster zone then claim it’s not your fault.

    Not unless you are one of the apologists for Israel and its poodle states in the ‘west’. In that case, you can serve up any nonsense seems to work on the day. And they (you?) do…

    No response on the use of depleted uranium in Iraq, I notice. That too hard to spin, even for you Arthur?
    How about “it’s an advanced form of population control” or “it’s good for their teeth”?

  6. 6 Arthur

    So, your apology for mass murder by the fascists is that it is the fault of those who illegally overthrew them.

    Throw in some shouting against “apologists for Israel” despite our actual stand in support of the Palestinians.

    Mutter to yourself about depleted uranium.It will help you to sleep at night despite knowing that you are an apologist for mass murder of civilians.

    But how do you imagine it will help you convince anyone else? Or have you simply given up on that?

  7. 7 Syd Walker

    Are you capable of writing a paragraph of political analysis aout the middle east that does not include an inappropriate reference to the word ‘fascist’, Arthur?

    As for your convoluted analysis that you seem to construe as ‘support’ for the Palestinian cause, with supporters like that the Palestinians don’t need enemies.

    I imagine your prediction following Israel’s latest assault on Gaza will prove, in the fullness of time, to be as inaccurate as your predictions following Israel’s 2006 mass murder of the Lebanese.

    I may ‘mutter’ about depleted uranium. You avoid the topic. Doesn’t fit the script, eh?

  8. 8 Arthur

    The post on Iraqi elections you are so indignant about does not use the word fascist and I myself often write about the middle east without using the term.

    It strikes me as appropriate when discussing mass murder to terrorize the people from exercising elementary democratic rights to choose their own government.

    But to avoid distraction about side issues, let’s just agree that you are an apologist for mass murder virulently hostile to and indignant about the holding of free elections in Iraq and so unused to actually being confronted with the real nature of your stand that you are unable to argue coherently but just keep muttering about depleted uranium.

    Does leaving out the reference to fascism make you feel any better?

  9. 9 Syd Walker

    Out of your cacophany of nonsense, Arthur, I’ll just try to get one small correction on the record. I did not ‘mutter’ depleted uranium. To make that clear, I’ll SHOUT DELETED URANIUM.

    All muttering is entirely a product of your imagination, which would appear to be quite vivid.
    (Do you have any justification for the use of DELETED URANIUM by the way – polluting that land for an unimaginable length of time?. Don’t you think it’s just a tad ‘fascist’ (or whatever term of abuse you reserve for very naughty behaviour).

    Incidentally, as you are such a fan of democracy, what’s your attitude to the elected Hamas Government in Gaza?

    As for naughty behaviour – including the nuttiest of religious extremism – care to comment on <a href=””>this</a>?

  10. 10 Syd Walker

    The link is THIS

  11. 11 Steve Owens

    Syd, You are not responsible for the continuation of a fascist regimen through your opposition to the invasion of Iraq. No more responsible than the current President of Iraq who was also opposed to the invasion. The current President was urging the Americans to support the hundreds of thousands of armed Iraqis who were ready to fight the Saddam regimen not the mythical unarmed Iraqis who contributors to this site regularly invoke.

    Representative organisations of the Iraqi people said NO to the invasion. After the invasion these same people (plus hundreds of thousands on the street) argued for democratic elections. I can’t see how anyone can argue against the expressed wishes of the Iraqi people (and still be credible).

    However these elections brought about a woeful government (one of the most corrupt in the world). They passed laws like Capital punishment for the crime of homosexuality. Their associated militias went on a killing spree that shocked the world.

    You are right that the Americans as the occupying power were responsible for the security of Iraqi citizens.

    Saying oops our heart was in the right place is no defence.The provincial elections are a breath of fresh air. At this time they seem to be punishing the parties that maintained the militias that did so much damage. This is a good thing.

    The Dawa party seems to have done extremely well. They are a party that maintains no militia.

    Syd what Im trying to say is listen to the people and err on the side of democracy.

  12. 12 byork

    More than 7 million Iraqis voted in the provincial elections and the New York Times’ Baghdad Bueau has released the voting figures for each of the 14 provinces:   The fascists have killed 15 people by bombing a restaurant in Diyala province in the north. To hold the US-led forces responsible for this is not just wrong, it is sick – and the people who argue that way are really not worth responding to.

  13. 13 Steve Owens

    Barry as the occupying power the US, IS responsible for civil order, or was until the hand over.If they went in without enough resources to maintain civil order well whose fault is that?If they went in against the advice of the now President of Iraq, whose fault is that?If they ignored the now Presidents plan to liberate Iraq, well whose fault is that?Of course the people committing these out rages are responsible for their actions.If you invade a country and one of the consequences is that a whole lot of loons are let loose, well its just not good enough to say that my heart was pure.

  14. 14 patrickm

    Steve;  That attempt at a snow job is pretty low! 

    Talibani is a wonderful man and he was very grateful for the no-fly-zones that the US imposed  and enforced on the Baathists when they were killing his Peshmerga and fellow Kurds.  The same no-fly-zones that your mates always opposed!  

    For you to say he was opposed to the invasion is to say nothing of real substance.  Did he, for example, believe at the time, that the US would just replace one tyrant with another?  Did he change his mind when it was apparent that they were not going to do any such thing?  Did he show his later view by supporting the continued presence of the COW troops when ‘he’ could have voted to send them home?  Did the US clearly help the Kurds and protect them from the Turks and in a very big way?  Haven’t the Turks and the Iranians and the Saudis, and the Syrians been kept (largely) at bay while the Kurds (most of all) got on with the job of building a new reality free from a huge mechanized Baathist army and only having to deal with Al Qaeda and the huge underground ‘remnant forces’ of reaction and also the emergent reactionary forces that were always lurking in the culture and going to emerge at some point? 

    Get this clear, the Iraqi people were largely unarmed.  The Kurds had their mountains but that is not an easy row to hoe either.  The masses of Shia had jack shit against the might of the Baathists.

    People who tried to stop the invasion, would (if they had been successful) have been ‘responsible for the continuation of a fascist regime!

    But don’t worry about it that’s in the past.  You all lost!  The Baathists were destroyed and the tyranny is not coming back, it’s gone with the wind.

    Lots of ‘Representative organisations of the Iraqi people said NO to the invasion.’  Maybe they believed the sort of rubbish you believed about the US wanting the oil etc. Maybe they had other reasons.  BUT after the democratic elections that the COW delivered, I too ‘can’t see how anyone can argue against the expressed wishes of the Iraqi people (and still be credible).’  But you do and always have.

    This region is a backward swamp!  Next door in Iran they don’t even bother with free and fair elections and hang sixteen-year-old girls who upset the Mullahs!  What’s to be done with the swamp? 

    In South Africa, people might point to the current very high murder and rape rate and tell the world things are worse now.   They might say ‘elections brought about a woeful government’ some might lie that it is ‘(one of the most corrupt in the world).’  But that won’t help solve the problem of how humanity had to move forward from the Apartheid state.

    No doubt (as there is now a rule of law in Iraq) you will list the gays executed in Iraq?  The real political forces in Iraq have often had ‘associated militias [that] went on a killing spree that shocked the [western] world.’  The French at the end of WW2 got up to a bit of killing despite being centuries down the revolutionary track of having dealt with the most extreme religious reactionary forces.  You would have these forces disappear in a puff of wishful thinking.  ‘You are right that the Americans as the occupying power were responsible for the security of Iraqi citizens. Saying oops our heart was in the right place is no defense.’  The anti-democrats were always going to come out to fight but you were not ever prepared to see forces united against them! Then you have the nerve to say ‘The provincial elections are a breath of fresh air. At this time they seem to be punishing the parties that maintained the militias that did so much damage. This is a good thing. The Daawa party seems to have done extremely well. They are a party that maintains no militia. Syd what I’m trying to say is listen to the people and err on the side of democracy.’  The Government parties have done quite well it seems and great progress has been made but none of it is in your name.

    But once again you have a chance.  Others on the pseudo-left still denouce the government as puppets.  Start by loudly denouncing them.  Accept that the government that has concluded the drawdown and go-home arrangements with the Bushies is supported -having done this deal- and they have not demanded any ‘troops out now’ nonsense.  Accept that Talabani welcomed the Surge that you opposed!  Stop your carping about the place being full of backward Muslims that haven’t gone through a bourgeois-democratic revolution, and instead applaud the fact that that is exactly what they are going through now.  Shout that out!

    Stop pretending you know anything about what it takes to win anything like a revolution, let alone what it takes to rip the reactionary heart out of the ME.  But at least start to support the Iraqi government as they unite the masses to defeat the most reactionary forces currently going.

    You have no doubt long since stopped being involved in ANY anti-war campaigning, yet Australians are copping casualties in Afghanistan and there is work to be done (either way).  So tell me again whose side are you on?

    If the US didn’t start with enough forces to prevent 9/11!? Sheesh, what sort of brain-dead reasoning are you prepared to stoop to?  I would have liked to see more troops but when things got tough you thought they were just making things worse and should have left then! Now you blame them for not having had enough troops!  Well then; accept the blame because you worked to see Rudd take some troops away! They didn’t ignore ‘the new President’s plan to liberate Iraq’  because that ‘very good’ man never had one.  No plan at all.

    Of course, the people committing these outrages are responsible for their actions. If you launch a revolution in Iraq “one of the consequences is that a whole lot of loons are let loose”, even you ought to get that much by now. 

    Despite the high tone, you are in the gutter!  The Iraqi people would be religiously dominated Baathist slaves today if it was up to you, and even more, gays would be being killed.  BUT IT ISN’T UP TO PSEUDO-LEFTISTS!

    Now tell us how to rid the world of Zionism!

  15. 15 Steve Owens

    Patrick, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, dated August 21, 2002 with Jalal Talibani, Mr Talabani states that “We, Iraqi opposition, do not favour invading Iraq.” He goes on to state that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution with other Iraqi forces have the troops and the popular support to topple Saddam. I have read a similar interview with the then leader of the Supreme Council and they both say that they would appreciate US support but they were opposed to a US lead invasion.

    I think that what Talabani said in 2002 constitutes a plan. Granted this plan would rely on US assistance which the US wasn’t prepared to give.

    I think that a lot of what you say about my position is an unjust characterisation. Rather than waste space here why don’t you drop me an email and we can sort stuff out.

    I did make a mistake in a previous post. Talabani doesnt talk about hundreds of thousands of fighters but tens of thousands of fighters.

  16. 16 Arthur

    Actually President Talabani helped instigate the invasion of Iraq and about 50,000 peshmerga troops participated – tying down 13 Baathist divisions in the north and liberating both Mosul and Kirkuk despite opposition from the US advisors that had been based in Kurdistan from July 2002 (with war not authorized by Congress till October 2002) who feared it would result in Turkish intervention.

    The only “advice” Talabani gave against invasion was concerning Turkey. The US said it wanted their assistance and the Kurds very wisely said no, assisting the Turks to fall into the trap of refusing passage for the US 4th infantry division and as a result not being able to intervene against the Kurds liberating Kirkuk.

    Daawa, SCIRI and the Iraqi Communist Party all made demagogic statements opposing the invasion to evade responsibility, but all of them actually supported it and cooperated in preparing for it.

    The only party in the coalition government that genuinely opposed the invasion was the Muslim Brotherhood Iraqi Islamic Party (which was nevertheless delighted to see the Baathists fall and replace them as the dominant Sunni party).

  17. 17 Steve Owens

    Patrick, you ask how many homosexuals have been executed by the government. I suspect that the answer is none but that’s not the point. The point is that homosexuals are being hunted down tortured and executed by Islamic militias that are aligned with parties in the parliament and parties in the government.

    The response of the government is to make homosexuality a capital offense. (they don’t have to execute anyone, their mates are doing that on the side)

    Arthur in the interview that I cited Talabani is clearly stating that he is opposed to an invasion of Iraq by the USA. He may well have thrown his weight behind the invasion when it became a fact on the ground but in August 2002 he was saying that he was opposed to an invasion of Iraq by the USA.

  18. 18 Steve Owens

    Arthur Ive re read the interview and Talabani is clearly talking about a US invasion of Iraq and he clearly says the he and the Iraqi opposition are against a US invasion of Iraq. He says that he would appreciate regional and international help to overthrow the dictatorship.

  19. 19 Arthur

    Steve,You haven’t “cited” in an interview or provided any link, presumably because you know that anyone actually reading it would understand what Talabani was actually saying and see through your pathetic attempt at self-justification for opposing the liberation of Iraq.

    In August 2002 they were still negotiating and the Kurds were still concerned about US (and Turkish) intentions. But preparations were already underway at the PUK’s HQ, Sulaymania.

    The Iraqi opposition were still insisting on an Iraqi led regime change (backed by US forces) with an interim Iraqi regime to be chosen by the opposition who would be presented as having carried out the regime change themselves, merely with US support. (The usual formula in US imperialist interventions).That continued right up to the London conference in November when they were unable to agree on anything and many believed the US disinformation campaign that they would replace Sadaam with a more pliable dictator through a military coup.

    The US then accepted its responsibilities as an occupying force and made no pretence that it had merely supported an internal regime change.

    It is quite clear from that interview that Talabani supported the invasion but was still unsure whether it would go ahead.

    When it did go ahead the peshmerga were in the front lines as they had been preparing to be since July.

  20. 20 Steve Owens

    Arthur thanks for providing the link. You are an amazing fellow.

    You KNOW why I didn’t provide it.

    You KNOW what Talabani means when he says the opposite.

    You KNOW that the other anti Saddam groups really supported the invasion even when they said they don’t.

    You KNOW that America is fighting for democracy even when they say it’s about something else.

    You KNOW that Israel is about to give way on a Palestinian state and that its all over bar the shouting.

    God damn I even remember when you KNEW why Vietnam invaded Kampuchea. You KNEW that they were stealing rice. What was your slogan “No blood for rice.”

    I may be the man who knows to little, but clearly you are the man who KNOWS too much.

    Hell you KNOW that the mid East is undergoing a democratic revolution. You KNOW that we must pay special attention to Israel and Eygpt.

    Well its been 5 years and nothing’s happened. Its a slow moving revolution if you ask me.

    Ive given up on you and Barry because clearly you both KNOW everything.

  21. 21 Arthur

    Steve,Yes I know why you didn’t provide the link. Your behaviour here has been pretty consistent and you have been exposed in misrepresentations many times.Nobody who reads that link could actually believe Talabani was opposed to the invasion. In fact it was an explicit denial that he had backtracked from his public invitation for US forces to be based in Iraqi Kurdistan. That is why you didn’t provide it.
    “Q. In a television interview with an American channel you stated that your party is prepared to offer bases and military installations in the area of Iraqi Kurdistan which you administer to the American forces in case they invade Iraq. In another interview with an Arab television station , you denied that . Could you clarify the issue for us and what exactly you said ?

    A. I did not issue a denial.

    Yes, I know that the Iraqi Communist Party, Daawa and SCIRI who did in fact take the stand that you pretend Talibani took actually welcomed the invasion. They made that pretty clear at the time by dancing in the streets etc and have since confirmed it by voting down every proposal for the US to be asked to leave until they are ready to do without the support of those troops.

    As for the rest, future events are always a matter of belief (including certainty) rather than knowledge. Congratulations on topping the guy shouting about DEPLETED URANIUM with your brilliant line on Vietnam invading Cambodia to steal rice and “no blood for rice”. So much more “left” sounding than simply acknowledging that the elections now being held and the defeat of the mass murderers who tried to stop them was indeed “not in your name”.

  22. 22 Syd Walker

    > Ive given up on you and Barry because clearly you both KNOW everything.
    I think the technical expression is ‘know alls’.
    Not dissimilar, come to think, from the Zionist war mongers who took over the Bush II Administration and used their power to implement insane plans to try to rearrange the middle east to Israel’s greater satisfaction. If a few million people had their lives ruined in the process, tough. That’s a small price to pay for bringing ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom’ to people whose opinion is unwanted in any case… if they happen to vote in Governments Zionists don’t like.
    Witness Gaza.

  23. 23 Steve Owens

    I cant believe that we are reading the same interview although you have linked to the one I cited.Talabani is asked about allowing US bases into Kurdistan. He says yes because these forces can help protect the Kurdish people. He then says that he is against a US invasion of Iraq. He repeats the line that he wants regional ie Iranian or International ie American help. The point of what he is saying is that he wants help not someone going behind the back of the anti Saddam forces.You say that I am involved in misrepresentation on multiple occasions. You used to just say I was a liar. How come the down grade, getting soft or what?

  24. 24 keza

    Brief note to Syd on his shouting about the use of depleted uranium  in munitions used in Iraq.

    Shouting about something like that is well …  silly. You only have to read a little bit about DU to find out that there is very little scientific evidence of serious health effects, or an increased rate of birth defects in those exposed.  People get killed by the bullets, yes (of course), but all the hype about DU is just that.. hype, designed to trigger people’s deep fear of anything to do with uranium and radiation ..scary.. scary …scary…. (Even the Chernonbyl disaster, in which people were exposed to seriously high levels of radiation has produced a far smaller death toll than was feared initially and (so far, to my knowledge), no birth defects over the two subsequent decades.  That has surprised many people (including me).

    As well as being silly, it’s an attempt to avoid the need to argue rationally about the real issues and  to resort, as you admit,  to just SHOUTING. (Well, I know you won’t regard it as “resorting”, but that really is what it anounts to).

    (If you really want to talk about horrible birth defects and horrific injuries to the people of Iraq, take a look at the consequences of Saddam’s use of chemical weapons against the Kurds. )

    There have been numerous attempts to investigate the health effects of DU, and specifically, the claims made by various health professionals to have treated people for illnesses possibly attributable to exposure to DU.  These (properly conducted )studies just do not support the widespread belief that the use of DU in weapons increases the danger over and above the obvious danger of being blown up by such weapons.  The World Health Organisation has commissioned some of these studies and,  has not been able to identify any clear risk from exposure.  Most reports of detrimental effects have turned out to be anecdotal in nature and have not controlled for confounding factors, and the normal background rate of cancer in the populations involved.

  25. 25 Syd Walker

    Hi keza
    If you read the thread, you’ll see that my ‘shouting’ was actually a witticism, because on two occasions Arthur had accused me of muttering. Oh well. Whatever. I won;t try humour any more around here…
    I am delighted by your reassurances about depleted uranium. I very much hope you are correct. As you are so familiar with the literature, would it bve too much trouble to provide some citations? Not that I don’t want to take your word for it, but I notice the Australian army doesn’t use this ordinance at present. Perhaps, with the reassurance you can provide, it can overcome this squeamishness? How about bombing central Melbourne for starters – just to show how safe and wholesome this stuff really is.
    On a similar note, what’s your well-informed view about white phosphorus, just used extensively by Israel’s war machine on the population of Gaza. Some doctors over there, according to numerous reports, seem concerned the wounds arent healing like normal burns – and fear that cancer rates may soar in future. Why not reassure us – and them – with your superior information?

  26. 26 Arthur

    The use of white phosphorous munitions against civilian populations such as the Israeli murderous assault on the people of Gaza and UN installations there is a war crime just as the Baathist chemical attacks on the Kurds were a war crime and just as the mass murder attacks by bombing the Iraqi people in market places and schools etc to prevent them choosing their own government is a war crime, for which Syd is an apologist.Depleted uranium is not radiation weapon, anti-personnel weapon or weapon of mass destruction but simply a heavy metal used for armour and armour piercing munitions as well as some civilian purposes. Its use by both Iraqi Baathist and US armed forces was perfectly legal and hysterical allegations about radiation poisoning as a result have been refuted by detailed studies from the World Health Organization.

  27. 27 Syd Walker

    Hi Arthur
    Glad to see you think the use of white phosphorus is a war crime. I had the same opinion, yet the  President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry disagrees – see Israel faces kangaroo court. Perhaps he doesn’t read Strange Times?
    As for DU, I am much reassured. Even so, I think I might give it a miss myself, given the choice.
    Why don’t you put your body where your mouth is and wear some of the stuff – like the guys who demo how safe pesticides are by drinking them, neat, from a tumbler? How about wearing DU underpants Arthur? That should protect you from being kicked in the balls by Islamofascist terrorists. How about DU condoms? (popular with the ladies).
    After you’ve done trials for a decade or two, do let the rest of us know how you get on.

  28. 28 Arthur

    I second (or third) the motion that there is no further point using Syd to illustrate the mentality of the pseudos. If he’s allowed to keep posting here people will assume we made him up.

  29. 29 keza

    Syd,  in the seventeen minutes between when Arthur posted his link to the WHO depleted uranium studies, and when you posted your message, did you  stop long enough to click on that link, read the material and consider reassessing your position? (Note, I said “reasess”, nor “change”. I’m fully aware that people who bother to think about things spend time when confronted with evidence which appears to fly in the face of their views).

    The promptness and tone of your response indicates that you aren’t prepared to consider that you might be wrong.  That makes sensible debate impossible.  Disagreement is one thing, but engaging in   flippant remarks about DU condoms, asking us to drink pesticides neat from a tumber(!), etc etc is not disagreement, it’s refusal to use reason.  If you want to be humourous, fair enough, but it has to be in the context of some sort of contenful contribution.

    This remark from you is bizarre in its degree of nonsensicality:

    “Glad to see you think the use of white phosphorus is a war crime. I had the same opinion, yet the  President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry disagrees – see Israel faces kangaroo court. Perhaps he doesn’t read Strange Times?”

    You know already that we regarded the Israeli attack on Gaza as a Zionist crime.  You’ve most certainly read my previous post EndGame in the War for Greater Israel because you’ve left a comment there.  And in his message above, Arthur referred to “the murderous assault on the people of  Gaza”  What the hell is the relevance of your remark about the stance of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry to either Arthur’s stated position on the use of white phosphorous against civilians, or our position on Israeli aggression?  It comes over as transparently dishonest (‘scuse the oxymoron), and very, very silly  attempt at an ad hominem slur.

    As Arthur said above, if you keep posting that sort of material, people could well think we’d made you up!

    Please conribute sensibly, or not at all.  I’m considering putting you on moderation, and will certainly do so if you continue to post disruptively.

  30. 30 Syd Walker

    Hi keza

    Put on on whatever you like mate. It’s not my intent to come back here, pester you and waste my time.

    How did I get to comment on this thread at all? I run a website. I’m interested in the net censorship issue. I lnked to your site because (if I recall correctly) you take a strong position on the issue.

    I checked by a day or so ago and noticed to my horror that I was, in effect, linking to a war-promoting / war justifying website. I havent read many of the articles here. I don’t pretend to fully undertstand your views or the nuances of opinion herein. I just found the arrogance encapulted by a number of posters in this thread ‘beyond satire’, to coin a phrase from John Pilger..

    For some reason, Arthur and others (possibly you?) think it’s fine to re-arrange Iraq using bombs and missiles. Iraq has – or had – a population similar in numbers to Australia. Imagine the reverse situation if you can. What if a bunch of Iraqis, more than 15 years after they began to systematically destroy Australia (ten years via bombing and sanctions, five years with boots on the ground), chattered away happily about the progress of democracy in the land down under. Yeah, OK, a few million Australians fled the country., perhaps a million killed directly. DU strewn around, but that’s OK. No harm done. It’s quite safe. Bit they sure love democracy, those ozzies. They queue to vote!

    This type of extreme cultural arrogance used to be common in places such as Eton. These days, I find its normal among Zionists. But strange, I thoughtk, to find it here.Perhaps I hadn’t understood the title?

    I hope that makes sense to you. I have no wish to make enemies unnecessarily. I don’t like arrogant, know-all war-mongering nonsense – especially not from the intelligensia. The end result is misery – usually for other people.Neocons didn;t fight wars. They just chattered about them happily. Excuse me if I’m hyper-sensitive to this behaviour, but I think the problem lies with those who seem to lack any sensitivity at all.

    Our generation had a chance to put an end to war. A right mess we’re making of it. IMO, it behoves those of us who believe this to say so.
    Have a nice day.

  31. 31 keza

    Syd, yes we have taken a strong position on the internet censorship issue. It’s exactly the sort of thing which makes us furious, because fundamental to our political position is a committment to fighting any attempt to shut people up and wind back the freedoms which we are fortunate enough to usually be able to take for granted.

    That’s why we supported the overthrow of the fascist regime in Iraq.

    I’ll reply in some detail to your comment above, tomorrow.  I do think you have been genuinely taken aback by our position – many people are.  We’re used to it and quite prepared to discuss it with anyone who is actually prepared to engage with us over the issues, rather tha just engage in name-calling.

    I don’t like putting people on moderation, especially those with whom we have some areas of agreement (eg over the internet censorship issue and justice for the Palestinians, in your case).  I’ve read your blog and  found a number of your articles on the censorship issue to be good value and very informative. (Although obviously I disgree strongly with your stance on many other issues. However I don’t have any problems in working with people over issues on which we agree, regardless of their views on other questions).

    Your most recent comment, I found to be far more reasonable than your previous ones. You”ve talked directly about what you find disturbing about my/our views in a way that opens up some possibility of real discussion, and that’s what I want.

    I’ll get back to this tomorrow, too hot and tired tonight!

  32. 32 Steve Owens

    In case anyone believes that I misrepresent people Ill let Talabani’s quotes speak for themselves.Same interview that I cited before.Talabani “We, Iraqi opposition, do not favour invading Iraq.”Talabani “We are against the concept of  the invasion senario”

  33. 33 byork

    Syd, Would you argue like that with someone who opposes your views on the internet censorship? If you did, you wouldn’t get very far with them. Rather, I suspect you would first try and understand – really understand – where they are coming from, what their actual point of view is. Then you would offer a counter-point, based on your own reasoned analysis of such things as freedom. You would also, I suspect, offer evidence to back up your view against misrepresentations. You would seek to engage with that hypothetical person, with a view to influencing them. Sadly, you just haven’t done any of that with those of us at this site who supported the overthrow of the old regime and the developing democracy in Iraq. It’s a pity – and entirely in your hands.

  34. 34 Arthur

    Barry, of course he would argue like that. His case against internet censorship goes like this:”Who are the real prime movers behind this multi-national push to foist ‘Internet filtering’ on the western world? It could be that most of them are motivated by a passionate commitment to Jesus Christ and what they understand his teachings to have been. It’s possible.
    However, the alternative possiblility I’ve raised surely merits consideration too? Do forces behind the push to censor the web include Jewish or Zionist interests and interest groups? Are they, in fact, playing a central role in the censorship push?”
    With a complaint that his insights produced no discussion on an anti-censorship list apart from an “abusive” email telling him to shut up.
    There’s no chance of him debating reasonably and no substantive points to be scored about pseudo-leftists by letting him post, since he doesn’t really pretend to be anything but what he is… a far right nutcase.

  35. 35 Syd Walker

    Hi. Sorry to be away from here all day. Only so many hours…
    Sorry to see Arthus has slipped into an ad hominem attack. You are an interate labeller, Arthur. Perhaps you worked in a bottle shop in a previous life?
    If you’d like to debate my views on censorship and what may underlie the push to censor the net, why not comment on my site? Or start another thread here and let me know?
    byork makes some good points. Yes, I probably did get too vehement too fast. Put it down to passion. I am passionately anti-war. Have been all my life. It’s distressing – and of great concern – to me to see this generation just as gullible and willing to endorse wars based on lies than our forbears, if not more.
    keza wrote:
    I’ll reply in some detail to your comment above, tomorrow. I do think you have been genuinely taken aback by our position – many people are. We’re used to it and quite prepared to discuss it with anyone who is actually prepared to engage with us over the issues, rather tha just engage in name-calling.
    Pursue this if you like keza. I’m sure both of us have plenty else to do.
    What might help me better undertsand your views is if you suggest one article (two maximum) that elucidiates exactly why you believe the Iraq invasion was a good idea. Or, if I have misunderstood your position on this, please clarify it for me.
    One question for Arthur. Are you the same Arthur who led the charge against compulsory voting a few years back? (I may have missed the exact nuance, but if it was you, you’ll know what I mean)

  36. 36 keza

    Wow! Arthur’s quite right Syd is an anti-semite.  I just read  Arthur’s link to material published on and it’s both nutty and anti-semitic. 

    I’d only seen some of his earlier anti internet censorship material and had just accepted that Syd was a bonafide opponent of internet censorship, with fairly typical pseudo-left leanings. And I noticed that he had linked to us, which I was pleased about. It obviously pays to investigate more closely.   I did take a very quick glance at Syd’s site last night and my suspicions were slightly aroused by his (at the time) most recent posting in which he was rabbitting on about Hilary Clinton having appointed some Jewish deputies.   I took immediate offence at his wording in the first sentence :

    “If they sound like Jewish law firm, it’s not entirely accidental.”

    A bit further into the article he began using the word ‘zionist’ so I decided to let it go.  It seemed like just the usual unsurprising pseudo-left stuff about  neo-cons being pro zionist, the war in Iraq being in Israel’s interests etc.  My hackles were slightly raised again when he wrote of  “the brazen dominance of Jewish neocons”, but once again I thought that it was loose use of terminology.

    I have been somewhat concerned in recent years at the “slippage” between the word “Jew” and the word “Zionist” in some pseudo-left circles.   There was an especially horrible example of it which DavidJM (youngmarxist) will remember (he eventually stepped in and stopped it).   It was on a supposedly progressive email list. One of the contributors (clearly a nutter), posted a screed, complete with anti-semitic links, in which he accused “the Jews” of being behind most child-pornography. This was posted in the context of a discussion of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. Until David spoke out, not a single person on that list had bothered to object!  I was shocked at the time, but relieved that as soon as David blew the whistle, others on the list got behind him.

    All of this speaks to the gradual rot which sets in, once  p-left  ideology gets a real grip and people become zealots.

  37. 37 Syd Walker

    > I have been somewhat concerned in recent years at the “slippage” between the word “Jew” and the word “Zionist” in some pseudo-left circles.
    Then take it up with Karl Marx,and this Marxist website: On The Jewish Question
    Or was Marx a pseudo-leftist too? Still trying to get my head around your lexicon, which appears to be non-standard, to say the least.
    As for the grossly, grossly, grossly over-used, abused, logically-incoherent and effectively meaningless term ‘anti-Semite’, I would rather be in the company of Jimmy Carter and Bishop Tutu (both accused of the this by Zionist extremists) than their detractors.

  38. 38 byork

    Thanks Arthur, for drawing attention to this. I didn’t check out his site first – a mistake on my part.Barry

  39. 39 keza

    Marx’s article On the Jewish Question is a complex discussion of the difference between political emancipation and human emancipation.   He’s attacking Bauer for (among other things) confusing the two, taking the position that political emancipation requires the abolition of religion, and for concluding from this that if the Jews want political rights then they must give up Judaism ( as a religion).

    Marx was way ahead of his time in understanding that “freedom of religion” implies the continuation of it and that “demanding atheism” is not in fact  the correct policy for those who are fighting the continuation of a relgious state and demanding a secular one.  It all looks very militant, “pure” and correct, but is absolute nonsense.

    Anyone interested in  reading an analysis of Marx’s position will find this article by Hal Draper well worth reading: Marx and the Economic Jew Stereotype. He points out that Marx’s “intemperant language” was (a) quite normal for the time (b) used by Jews themselves and (c) that to the modern naive reader it appears anti-semitic only because we live in the post-holocaust era.  (And the holocaust  really did occur Syd.  I find it sickening that you talk of freedom, justice and claim to be on the side of the people of Iraq and  Palestinie while at the same writing articles in which you rave on about the systematic murder of millions of Jews being just “official history” and at least partially fabricated or perhaps just exagerated as part of some sort of Jewish conspiracy and shadowy control of everything that happens in the world.)

    eg this lovely little piece: First they went for Canberra, now they want Berlin (and the links you include)

    Marx was in fact a firm fighter for Jewish political emancipation. If you had understood his article and had any sort of grip on Marx’s veiws more generally, you would have been able to see this.

    The only reason I’m even bothering to reply to you is that I wanted to clear up your suggestion that Marxism somehow licences anti-semitism, which by the way was not a word used during Marx’s time. Modern anti-semitism is straightforward zenophobia and has absolutely nothing to do with Marx’s discussion of the economic role of Judaism in the growth of capitalism.

    You can write whatever you want about the holocaust on your own blog, I happen to agree that the suppression of "holocaust denial" is a bad thing. But that’s just because I’m against the suppression of free speech. Let them speak and do themselves in!

    On Strange Times however, I’m only interested in engaging in debate on such topics if such discussion is part of analysis of the extraordinary capacity of pseudo-leftist zealots to lose their bearings altogether. The overt peddling of fascist or racist views won’t be tolerated here.

    Prior to WW2, it was probably the case that per head of population there was a disproportionate number of militant socialists and leftists among the Jews, who at the time were extremely cosmopolitant and internationalist in world outlook.  Zionism  was a dead duck until  the events of WW2.  Israel and the disaster for the Palestinians (and the whole region) is a legacy of Hitler’s fascism.   How dare you blame it on “the Jews”!  (That is in fact exactly what Hitler (tried) to get away with. Zenophobia, mass adoption of conspiracy theories, inculcation of fear of “the other”  is always the fascist’s best friend. And its anathema to progressive people everywhere).

    I am “arrogant” enough to be a firm anti-fascist. I  believe that people everwhere want political emancipation and that this (as Marx argues in the article you cited) must come before human emancipation.  That’s why I supported the war in Iraq. And why the recent success of the Provincial Elections there made me happy.

  40. 40 Syd Walker

    Hi Keza
    I never said or implied that Marz’s tract was a crude anti-Jewish or (not-yet-invented anti-Semitic) writing. Others have claimed that. Not me. Once again, you assume incorrectly that you know what I’m thinking and put words in my mouth.
    >>> Israel and the disaster for the Palestinians (and the whole region) is a legacy of Hitler’s fascism. How dare you blame it on “the Jews”!
    That is an interesting comment. You have misquoted me again, of course. Even so…. do you really mean to say all Jewish people are blameless when it came to establishing and then expanding and maintaining the State of Israel? In that case, perhaps, we shouldn’t blame (any) Britons for crimes committed by British imperialism – or any Iraqis for attacking Iran in 1980. Don’t let’s blame anyone. Let’s all take a free pass and forget about history.
    >  I believe that people everwhere want political emancipation and that this (as Marx argues in the article you cited) must come before human emancipation. That’s why I supported the war in Iraq.
    How many more wars would you support en route to the universal political emancipation of humankind? 1? 5? 50? 100? Just so I get some idea of the scale of the Strange Times project to support wars that will do good for other people.
    Is Australia politically emancipated? If not, by whom do suggest we should be invaded for our own good?

  41. 41 keza

    I’ve hesitated about gracing Syd’s comment (above) with a response.  But finally can’t resist.

    (1) Syd writes:

    I never said or implied that Marz’s tract was a crude anti-Jewish or (not-yet-invented anti-Semitic) writing. Others have claimed that. Not me. Once again, you assume incorrectly that you know what I’m thinking and put words in my mouth.

    I think that my assumption that that is what you were implying is indeed correct, given that you introduced Marx into the discussion  (in a previous comment) like this:

    “…take it up with Karl Marx,and this Marxist website: On The Jewish Question
    Or was Marx a pseudo-leftist too?”

    I’ll leave it to the reader to decide.

    (2) You write: 

    “ you really mean to say all Jewish people are blameless when it came to establishing and then expanding and maintaining the State of Israel? In that case, perhaps, we shouldn’t blame (any) Britons for crimes committed by British imperialism – or any Iraqis for attacking Iran in 1980. Don’t let’s blame anyone. Let’s all take a free pass and forget about history.”

    Leftwingers  don’t attribute blame (or praise) based on nationality/ethnicity and other characteristics over which people essentially have no choice.   That is bigotry.   There is a clear distinction between being Jewish and being a Zionist.  It is the Zionists who have been waging war on the Palestinians. It is not the Jews, regardless of the fact that large numbers of Jews happen to have embraced Zionism.

    3. You took exception to my comment:

    >>> Israel and the disaster for the Palestinians (and the whole region) is a legacy of Hitler’s fascism. How dare you blame it on “the Jews”!”

    and claimed that I had “put words into your mouth”.   I was responding to what I had read on your website which basically amounted to claims that the severity of the holocaust had been deliberately exaggerated by “the Jews” and that there was some sort of Jewish conspiracy preventing ‘the truth’ from coming out.   I stand by my remark that the existence of an Israeli state is a legacy of Hitler’s fascism.  About 6 million Jews were slaughtered by the nazi regime and that directly led to mass support among the Jewish people (and more broadly) for Zionism. Prior to WW2, Zionism had minimal support from Jews.  The holocaust served Zionism very well and there was no need for them to invent the holocaust or to exaggerate its awfulness. It was that awful.

    (4) You also took exception to my remark:

    >  I believe that people everwhere want political emancipation and that this (as Marx argues in the article you cited) must come before human emancipation. That’s why I supported the war in Iraq.”

    by commenting:

    How many more wars would you support en route to the universal political emancipation of humankind? 1? 5? 50? 100? Just so I get some idea of the scale of the Strange Times project to support wars that will do good for other people.

    Is Australia politically emancipated? If not, by whom do suggest we should be invaded for our own good?”

    Yes, Australia is politically emancipated in the sense that Marx was talking about in his article. If we weren’t…that is, if we were being denied basic democratic rights, subject to arbitary arrest, torture and lived in a state of fear, and if our situation was such that any attempt to liberate ourselves would result in an unimaginaly severe bloodbath and intervention from a slew of reactionary neighbouring regimes, then I would welcome our dictatorship being toppled by a foreign power intent on kickstarting a democratic revolution here.

    It is idiotic to ask how many wars I would support “en route to the universal political emancipation of humankind”.  How about I say “29.5”!?  The reality is that political emancipation is won through the barrel of a gun, it doesn’t happen by magic. 

    You say that you’re “anti-war”.   That is supposed to sound good.  But it’s worse than meaningless when the enemy is pro-war.  Being ‘anti-war’ when faced by a murderous enemy is effectively to lend support to that enemy.

    I’m not routinely in favour of foreign intervention in order to assist in the liberation of oppressed peoples. In some cases it would be counter-productive (eg in Iran) .  Zimbabwe however is crying out for foreign intervention.   Those are just two examples.

    I certainly don’t base my position on being “anti-war”.

  42. 42 Barry

    The final results of Iraq’s provincial elections have ben released and may be seen here, province by province:  

    Basically, al-Mailki’s State of Law party won in all nine Shiite provinces and proved more popular than the sectarian Shiite groups in the southern provinces. The Sunni Arab tribal leaders who united with the US and Iraqi forces against the insurgents and jihadists also did well in the Sunni provinces. Candidates supported by al-Sadr fared poorly and Sadr is now seeking to “turn a new page”,  put the past behind and look to the future within the parliamentary framework.  Of course, there will be a need now for alliances to be formed for effective local government to occur but this is the beauty of democracy.

    Okay, I’m trying my best not to gloat but: Anyone still waiting for the US to impose a new strongman? Anyone still think there is civil war? Anyone still reckon the ethnic and tribal differences are so great that democracy and proper governance are impossible? Anyone still think there’s an “embryonic national liberation movement” (a claim made by one poster to the site last year). Anyone still think the whole thing is a catastrophe? The elections have largely been ignored or under-reported by the significant defeatist media in Australia. It wasn’t meant to be like this, from their point of view, so best ignore it.But meanwhile….   

  43. 43 Syd Walker

    With continuing support from the aptly named ‘Strange Times’, the eastwards march of Western Democracy continues… see Iraqi Police get motivational speech

  44. 44 Steve Owens

    I cant remember which thread it was in but in a thread about Iraq I cited the many news reports that stated that homosexuality was an offense against Iraqi law punishable by death. I now understand that these reports were based on a misreading of paragraph 111 of the Iraqi penal code. I would like to correct my error. Homosexuals in Iraq face execution by the religious militias but thankfully not by the state it self.

  45. 45 Steve Owens

    This thread is titled Iraqis embrace democracy. Part of a democracy even an imperfect democracy is respect for the rule of law. In Iraq murder is against the law and for those charged with said crime it’s the governments role to bring them to justice no matter who they are. One law for everyone. The current government is supported by an accused murderer who has recently returned to Iraq
    Here is a story about the victims family.

  46. 46 Arthur

    Yes, Al-Sadr is a vicious thug. That’s why he was such a “resistance hero” to anti-war pseudos, and since his name is so notorious, that may be why steve doesn’t mention it.

    Incidentally the opposition to the current government now instinctively sided with by all right-thinking pseudos is of course led by the same Alawi they previously denounced as a US puppet.

    There will be a long and bitter struggle for Iraqi democracy. Pretensions of concern about it from people who sided with its worst enemies are typical of their total bankruptcy.

  47. 47 Steve Owens

    Arthur you stated that the war against Iraq would have minimal casualties.
    You stated that the war against Iraq would bring democracy.
    You stated that Democracy in Iraq would be so attractive that a democratic revolution would sweep the region.
    I dissagreed with you although Im all for extending democracy if the opportunity arises.
    Now you are stating that the struggle for democracy in Iraq will be long and bitter and I agree.
    My post raised one of the difficulties in establishing a democracy where the government seems unwilling to exercise the rule of law for seemingly political purposes.
    Please cease misrepresenting my position. I have never argued that Sadr was a hero, I am not siding with Alawi, I never sided with democracies worst enemies and I have $1.60 in my pocket so I am clearly not bankrupt.

  48. 48 Steve Owens

    Just to make my position clear, when the war broke out I was a member of Socialist Alternative and was quite happy with their anti war position. Once the invasion occurred I argued against Socialist Alternatives support of the “resistance” and resigned from that organisation in protest.
    I have also argued that any community faced with an army of occupation that was interning thousands of its members and subjecting them to torture has a right to self defense. I have also argued that any community facing death squads often dressed in police uniforms has the right to self defense.
    So I have argued against supporting the “resistance” while also arguing that people have a right to defend themselves.

  49. 49 Steve Owens
    There just because Iraqi’s embrace democracy theres no reason why judges should start embracing evidence. In any decent show trial it works best if the court relies on confessions and ignores evidence because the purpose of a show trial is to show everyone who is in charge. The more ridiculous the process the more people get the message.

  50. 50 patrickm

    Steve you obviously know that evidence is supposed to be all that can be presented to a court and that doesn’t say anything about what any particular lawyer wants to have admitted as evidence in any particular case. All properly functioning courts reject attempts to present certain material as evidence. How do you know what are the facts in this case? Let’s face it you don’t.

    Truth is you are already convinced that this is a ‘show’ trial so it must be the case that if this court rejects this particular move by the defense then they are a puppet court in the pocket of the new Iraqi monopolizer of power no less! There is thus no democracy because the PM is just another dictator! Therefore nothing has changed. The swamp is the same as ever thus we were wrong and you were right all along in opposing the armed liberation (by outside western meddlers) of the Iraqi masses from the Baathist tyranny.

    The court may be corrupt and the trial a show, I don’t know and neither do you. BUT remember you have changed and I haven’t.

    For example you want the obviously revolutionary civil war in Syria to stop being so costly to the democrats and start being more costly to the Baathists, so you want the U.S. and Turkey etc., to provide at least as much help as the revolutionary Chinese and the counter revolutionary Soviets did for the Vietnamese, all those decades ago. 10:1 casualty odds one way would be better than 100:1 the other way – though that is not going to be the case now and never was then either. We both know peoples wars are very costly undertakings that we would all rather avoid if it were at all possible.

    Now days when you hear the Syrians calling for arms via our western MSM etc and calling for the involvement of NATO you know that they need all the help they can get. Down with the Baathists is your current motto and you advocate broad based unity behind the simple demands for free and fair elections, at least as good as the Iraqi system. (just like the rest of us) Those are the demands that you are prepared to openly support. The demonstrators were demanding just that- no more than that! The demonstrators were turned into freedom fighters (who currently don’t stand a chance) by the murdering Baathists backed by gangsters like Putin, who just like the Kennedy liberals denounces foreign meddling, while providing abundant arms to the tyranny. More meddling please is your current position.

    You now believe you were wrong not to have supported the NFZ meddling that was imposed on the Sunni based ‘secular’ Baathists all those years ago, AFTER they were driven out of Kuwait and that actually means that by default you now accept that you were wrong to oppose them being driven out of Kuwait. Though that still seems too difficult for you to openly accept, but nevertheless your recent cost benefit thinking (in hind sight) are looking unsustainable as the comparable numbers start to mount in Syria. The number of dead Syrian ‘democrats’ has long ago sailed past 10,000.

    There is absolutely no end in sight to the killing and nothing for democrats to do other than organise the broadest possible united-front and build a revolutionary army prepared to accept any amount of arms and so forth from foreign meddlers. Some Syrian revolutionary democrats dream of a Libyan solution, and unfortunately that is just not on the agenda at the moment.

    In liberated Iraq there are still market-place bombers who are totally responsible for their bombs going bang! There are no demands from any ‘resistance’ that you can support or excuse in Iraq anymore! None at all, so you are quite clearly on the side of the Iraqi armed forces as they struggle against the enemies of all progressives the world over. You are on the side of people who are sorting things out by the ballot box in Libya and Egypt and you hold the same view for those leading the way in Iraq. You now want the Australian government to provide any assistance that it can to assist in this effort to stain the fingers of the whole ME, despite that governments shortcomings and the low level of that revolution!

    Perhaps the U.S. spy satellites and so forth will save many a Syrian progressives life and help destroy the lives of the Baathist oppressors. You have no objection to U.S. assets helping Syrians overthrow their tyranny. They are ME democrats because they are united behind those pretty old democratic demands. When they win some of these current allies of yours will abandon the road of democracy and struggle will go on as it is in Iraq.

    The Syrian tyranny’s heavy weapons are now being almost freely used and that is bound to bring on far more ‘meddling’, but you’re more concerned about today’s events than what events may unfold after the revolutionaries become the dominant side in the struggle. You want them to become the dominant side of the struggle and you want this ASAP. The dominant side of the struggle in Iraq was once the Baathists but they are no longer dominant and ‘the’ struggle goes on, and what was once clear is now clouded. The huge Baathist army no longer exists but residual formations have obviously emerged from the wreckage.

    I look forward to the day when the Syrian Baathist army is destroyed and no longer dominant but reformed with new formations etc. The struggle will still go on.

    BTW I bet you supported Obama organizing the killing of Osama. Now we know that the Pakistani courts are jailing for 30 years a hero involved in apprehending a mass-murderer while some in the armed forces protected Osama. I wonder how the courts in that autonomous part of Pakistan work?

    You backed a war against the Libyan tyranny and right now are glad that the US are providing material aid to the Syrian revolutionaries and want much more provided. The Egyptians are voting with purple fingers this very day and you accept that this is some measure of progress even though the Egyptians do not have anywhere near the constitutional arrangements that the Iraqis enjoy. But thankfully they are moving in that direction as we long ago predicted.

    You must know that there is no other credible theory still standing other than the revolutionary theory developed in our discussions of 2002 and put forward at this site and its predecessor. Ten years on many self declared leftists are now starting to get it. We were scoffed at back when it was not perfectly plain that the U.S. ruling elite had changed their long standing policies of opposing the political development of the countries of the ME.

    There are bound to be setbacks, for example Netanyahu’s election. The yanks can’t get Netanyahu (who the world now knows and thinks of as nothing more than an unbearable liar) to take the steps that the U.S. ruling-elite clearly want, and as their top general said a couple of years back desperately need, and it appears that nothing much will occur there till after Obama gets through November.

    Leftists now require a more nuanced understanding of what the first ten years has unleashed and how it is spreading way beyond the region for which the new policy prescription was designed.

    We are living in interesting times and your posts ought to reflect the times. I’m sure you hope you are wrong about what the Iraqi government is currently about.

  51. 51 Steve Owens

    Patrick you are correct that I don’t know the facts in this court case.
    I can only go by news reports such as the one I linked to.
    In that link it states that the defense lawyers asked for phone records to be produced to verify whether the accused was in phone communication with the witnesses. The judges refused stating that confessions of the witnesses was evidence enough. Seeing that we also know that one witness has already died during interrogation it lends weight to the claim that the trial is a farce.
    My political point was that show trials are generally farcical because they are designed not to provide justice but send a message to the general population. Just like the trial of Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia. Again I don’t know the facts but I still get a general sense that it was a show trial designed to intimidate his supporters. Thats what show trials are for. Look at the show trials for the Hitler assasination plotters. Defendants given oversized trousers and no belts to add to the comic effect. See how the regimen humiliates it’s enemies. Now thats a show trial.

  52. 52 Steve Owens

    I guess if the courts are treating both Sunni and Shia terrorists even handedly theres no problem
    So the Iraqis are left with the situation where the countries President visits the home of a man who had an Iraqi judge issue a warrant for murder. A country where hundreds of opposition figures are banned from standing for election. A country where the most prominent Sunni politician has to flee the country because of very dubious accusations and a country where an admitted Shia terrorist is allowed to walk free.

  53. 53 Steve Owens

    One more go. The whole Hashemi trial screams out show trial when you examine Hashemi’s previous political stances against the wrongs that he is charged with.
    The current wave of terrorism in Iraq is most likely done by people in Al Qaida in Iraq or by ex Baathists.
    Hashemi was never a Baathist his party was banned by the Baathists.
    Hashemi’s party was denounced by Al Qaieda in Iraq because its leader co operated with the Iterim government set up after the 2003 invasion. It initially supported the elections of 2005 and eventually supported the yes vote in the constitutional referendum.
    He has either supported politics that are the antithesis of the crimes he has been charged with or he has been a very clever double dealer.
    I also want to repeat one more point. Show trials are hallmarked by reliance on confessions and tend to be light on evidence.

  54. 54 Steve Owens
  55. 55 Steve Owens

    Seems that theres an epidemic of body gaurds confessing to murder. Dont these guys realise that the penalty for terrorim is death?
    Some of Hashemi’s gaurds have been competing with each other both claiming to have commited the same murder. What can you expect from guys who dont have the sense to accept medical attention while dying during interogation. And when are those relatives going to be arrested for photo shopping those pictures to show “injuries”

  56. 56 patrickm

    Steve there is no doubt that this sort of stuff really harms the war effort. It brings to mind Abu Ghraib, and everyone ought to know how people on this site responded to those outrages. Those who want to see the war won and the revolution advance will always oppose this type of counter- productive violence and wage a struggle against those who are harming the war effort and setting back the revolution in this manner. Those who oppose the war effort and the further extension of the revolution will also highlight these events for their purposes. Only those who are stupidly engaged in the barbarity want it hidden. I suppose you are highlighting this stuff in order to strengthen the revolution that you have quietly joined with over the last year or so. This is fair enough. Obviously the revolutionary forces must weed out those types where possible and without shattering the revolutionary united-front. We have also seen some bad stuff going on in Libya and we are going to see a lot of sectarian killing in Syria.

    Following the Iraqi led Arab Spring victories and partial victories across the entire ME most people paying close attention, especially those in the region would guess that the Assad regime and Baathism in Syria are strategically stuffed no matter how powerful they still appear and how many they are currently murdering.

    This is just as true for members of the Iraqi government, even if they also quite reasonably guess that this revolutionary civil-war for democracy in Syria will get far worse before it gets better. I believe that thinking people now accept that this struggle will only end with the Syrian revolutionaries taking charge and holding the familiar purple stained elections.

    Assad is strategically stuffed because his country was/is ruled by nothing but force and the threat of it, and the general acceptance that nothing could be done about it. Now something IS being done and its repressive leaders have become disoriented just as we saw with the Gaddafi clan. They have simply increased repression – that either;
    a) Works and things go back to how it used to be;
    b) They fail and;
    1)Assad either caves in and Syria moves on to an Iraqi level of struggle as discussed above or;
    2)Assad and his supporters at whatever speed events unfold retreat to the control of a smaller state.
    That smaller state will either fight its way into being Balkan style with massive support from across the Lebanon border, and from Iran and Russia and thus go its own way; or a war will be fought to forcibly reincorporate it thus drawing in others.

    So is the Assad violence working? The clear answer is no and thus we can rule out a). There is no indication of Assad caving-in though this could dramatically change with a big enough revolt of the armed-forces, and that is both hoped for and can not be ruled out especially given the level of defections flowing from the army to the peoples’ rebellion. Some of these recruits will ultimately prove to be poor democrats and bad eggs generally but that is to be expected as in Iraq.

    Thanks go in that case to the COW troops that prevented a terrible sectarian war from becoming far worse. Wisdom lay with the surge not with those who called for troops out. Wisdom now lies with those who believe that Iraqi political forces must now carry the fight forward while they are all still neck deep in their part of the swamp.

    In Syria Assad’s large army is shrinking. Defections from the mostly Sunni armed forces is a growing trend. There is no way to prevent the shrinkage and turn that trend around. Assad will arm more Alawites and hire more thugs but they just won’t fight as bravely as the rebels. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and general resistance of the Sunni population is growing with no way to turn that trend around so Assad will fail to hold the current Syria.
    The casualties are growing but much of Syria is very favourable territory for well trained, and well led insurgent infantry to effectively operate in. The FSA is evidently growing rapidly and the MSM is now regularly showing destroyed tanks and other armoured vehicles. The fighting has clearly shifted gears and appropriate and effective weapons are not only being supplied and arriving in all parts of the country coming in from virtually every border and they are also seizing weapons. This revolutionary army has everything going for it. It is well led; widely dispersed; and well supplied with recruits; morale appears high; and supplies are increasing. Assad is still far stronger.

    However when Assad is forced to retreat, he will still be well supplied and well supported. People will retreat with him in an ‘ethnic-cleansing’, and some on the revolutionary side will commit atrocities. It may well be that Assad has 20% support, but he won’t be able to keep that support level, or retreat with those people and establish a new country with that amount of people. The new Syria simply is not neatly separated along sectarian lines as it once was. The ethnic-cleansing of Baghdad broke out from the Sunni side then spread to both sides. Tit for tat the streets were filling with the bodies of the wrong sect! Baghdad is the model and fear of what could get out of control in Damascus. There will be no COW troops to step into this part of the swamp. Assad may well end up with 10% of the Syrian population some years on. Sectarian slaughter could be very large scale.

    After the recent events in Lebanon the western MSM is now seriously discussing the danger of a regional conflict. That is the topic that is dominating regional players discussions and has been for many months. It is taken very seriously by the Iraqi PM. The various ruling-elites around the region have been and still are extremely worried that this predictable democratic revolution as it unpredictably unfolds may somehow suck them all into a region wide war, that I believe no leaders of any of these countries actually wants. It seems to me that all the region’s external players would prefer it if the army revolted, overthrew Assad and agreed to elections in the manner of Egypt. To the extent that there are regular defections that is happening, and the prospect of a regional war falls in proportion to the growth of the FSA. But it still remains a best hope.

    Nevertheless, despite the fears of war inexorably spreading as the region’s sects lock in behind their own kind. Weapons ARE being supplied to the revolutionaries by some of these governments, the rebels now have very many friends in powerful positions in Jordan; Saudi Arabia; Turkey; Libya; and other places, who will simply not stop arming the rebels. The U.S. is putting it’s spy satellites and other assets to work for the rebels and all this is directly against the wishes of the Putin and Iranian thugs who arm Assad. The French, British and U.S. are strengthening the meddling courage of the Jordanians, and the Saudis, and (the lately gone a bit quiet) Turkish government. Russia’s ruling-elite are huffing, and Iran’s puffing; but really they are suffering yet another dragged out humiliation as the Syrian regime mass-murders itself into eventual oblivion.

    Curiously Al Qaeda, who wanted to see the region dragged into a massive ‘holy war’ can’t help speaking out in favour of the Syrian peoples’ struggle, even while they harm that struggle and are denounced for their barbarity by everyone else.

    Will the Assad regime eventually try to provoke a region wide war? I can’t see how it would ultimately serve their interests. I guess/hope that the various Lebanese leaderships would try their best to not allow their forces to get dragged in to a fight to save Assad. They are currently quite able to live with a Lebanese level of democracy – that is the basic goal of the Syrian demonstrators turned freedom fighters.

    Assad would only be using them and experience with their own civil-war and negotiations and with Assad’s thugs and revolting sectarianism generally plus self interest and wisdom might keep most of the Lebanese out. But I freely admit I may have missed something crucial and if anyone has some thoughts on this I would be very glad to hear them.

  57. 57 Steve Owens

    “The ethnic-cleansing of Baghdad broke out from the Sunni side then spread to both sides.”
    Hi Patrick I am interested in your idea above that the Sunni’s started the ethnic cleansing in Baghdad. My reading of recent history in Baghdad was that the ethnic cleansing was commenced by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

  58. 58 Steve Owens
    The section that I would like to draw your attention to is
    “In actuality, in 2005 the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Councils Badr Brigade militia took over the Interior Ministry under the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al_Jaafari and began setting up death squads and carrying out attacks on Sunnis.”
    It does matter who started this stuff as it matters who was controlling the ministries that joined in just as it matters now when government authorities ban protests in Baghdad, run secret prisons, ban candidates running for elections, arrest major political figures and torture their employees into false confessions.

  59. 59 Steve Owens

    Patrick you stated that “We have also seen some bad stuff going on in Libya…..”
    Im not sure what this bad stuff is, Juan Cole was there recently and he thought that things were pretty good

  60. 60 Steve Owens

    Anyone following the Hashemi trial?
    Theres facinating evidence given by Rasha al_Husseini.
    She was the media office manager for Hashemi.
    Strange that a Sunni terrorist like Hashemi would employ a female shia as his office manager and even stranger that she would participate in murders.
    According to her testimony she was coerced. Firstly Hashemi’s son inlaw raped her and then threatened to release film footage of the rapes if she didnt co operate.
    Is there anyone reading this that believes something like this is possible?

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