“The Guardian” links anti-Western terrorism to the West’s support of dictators

Writing in the The Guardian last Thursday, Seamus Milne explicitly linked the rise of anti-Western terrorism to US policy in South-West Asia:

Decades of oil-hungry backing for despots, from Iran to Oman, Egypt to Saudi Arabia, along with the failure of Arab nationalism to complete the decolonisation of the region, fuelled first the rise of Islamism and then the eruption of al-Qaida-style terror more than a decade ago.

The article was based on the Egyptian Government’s continued co-operation with Israel to keep the people of the Gaza strip oppressed.

From the wider international perspective, it is precisely this western embrace of repressive and unrepresentative regimes such as Egypt’s, along with unwavering backing for Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land, that is at the heart of the crisis in the Middle East and Muslim world.

Of course, The Guardian can’t break away from its oppostion to the overthrow of the fascist dictator Sadaam Hussein, even though that overthrow has led to a representative democracy being set up in Iraq:

the disastrous US-led response was to expand the western presence still further, with new and yet more destructive invasions and occupations, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

However, this might not be important. Milne immediately goes on to say:

the Bush administration’s brief flirtation with democratisation in client states such as Egypt was quickly abandoned once it became clear who was likely to be elected.

The fact that plenty of pseudo-left liberals adopted Kissingerite language and attitudes, claiming that Bush’s destabilisation of Iraq was a shameful failure of US policy, means that it’s not just Bush who’s to blame here. However, if liberals are now going to start demanding democracy in places like Egypt, there’s a chance to agitate for democratic revolutions again. If the liberals can get over the fact that this means – as Milne points out – that the Islamic Brotherhood would almost certainly win a free election in Egypt, then maybe some progress can be made in getting Westerners to support democracy again.

62 Responses to ““The Guardian” links anti-Western terrorism to the West’s support of dictators”

  1. 1 Jin

    ‘Democracy’? Hamas backs democratic representation and was democratically elected (unlike Bush, who stole two elections) – and was declared terrorist by the US on the grounds that it wants to destroy the patently undemocratic Israeli apartheid entity, whose ruling Likud party is committed to the destruction of Palestine in its charter.

    The US hegemon’s client states have only limited self-rule whether they are democracies or dictatorships. Even when Australia attempted to vote for Palestine twice last November in the UN it was peremptorily told to change its vote by the US. Egypt is being assisted by US engineers to build its end of the Gaza concentration camp – with $3b a year in US military aid, Egypt knows which side its bread is buttered on.

    Look for change in Egypt coming from the trade union movement there. There were several strikes confronting the regime in the past year. ‘Liberals’ outside that nation can lust after regime change all they like, but it’s not them who have to face the guns and beatings of the goons of the hated Mubarak US puppet regime – I anticipate in the next few years a ‘Pyramid’ colour revolution on twitter nonetheless 🙂

    Are you offering support to the neocon idealist dreams for ‘democratisation’ of the ME on the basis of still-occupied extremely unstable Iraq which has just banned 14 politicians from standing for election on the basis of their Baath party membership? perhaps we should consider regime change in the absurdly undemocratic US first before cheerleading for more of its strategic conquests in the ME.

  2. 2 keza

    Did you oppose the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Jin? Your remark about 14 ex Baathists being banned from standing for election suggests just a little sympathy for the old regime there.

    It’s difficult to believe that you’re truly in favour of democracy in that region when you seem so unable to appreciate the enormous importance of the dismantling of the fascist regime in Iraq. Of course ex Baathists are currently excluded from running for election or holding important public office, that’s no indication that democracy has failed in Iraq. Quite the opposite. Ex Nazis were banned from office in post war Germany too.

    I’m hoping that the next round of elections in Iraq will further destabilise the regime in Iran. The Shia population there will undoubtedly see it as further evidence that Islam and democracy are not incompatible.

    The maturing of Iraqi democracy will also impact on the Arab autocracies, especially Egypt. It will become increasingly difficult for them to maintain their refusal to allow free elections and freedom of speech in the face of democracy in Mesoptamia.

    What the US did in Iraq was precisely the opposite of its old policy of supporting the dictatorships and autocracies in that region. Any genuine democrat should be happy about that.

  3. 3 jim sharp

    dmocracy is far more than elections. we’ve had elections in oz for over a century now & curently there’s a north korean art exhibition at brisbane’s GOMA & because our boozh-wah dictators & S/T’s acquiesce with the imperiums axis of evil doctrine. the N.K artists have been refused visa’s to attend on the grounds that they’re nowt but propagandists & for some odd reason S/T’s as failed to even notice this! which makes me think any “genuine” democrat wud be unhappy about

  4. 4 PhilB

    The Guardian is correct.

    When the U.S. pulls out of Iraq as it must,it will pack up its sham democracy with the rest of its hard wear.A whole new line of thugs will take over, not necessarily Baathists of course, but none the less it will slide back into ‘business as usual’.But it will be their business not ours.

    Already the anti war movement is gaining traction especially in the U.K. and while we all Pontificate over the future of the M.E., momentum is growing to pull the troops out of Afghanistan.The only revolution going on here, well not revolution so much, but the revelation really.That this whole fiasco started by Bush and Blair, will have ramifications for generations to come.My eldest brother is a decorated, wounded, Viet Nam Vet.Pox on the revolution.

  5. 5 youngmarxist

    Hi Jin, thanks for stopping by.

    Seems pretty clear we’re going to continue to disagree on Iraq – fair enough. However, we here do sincerely want Palestinian independence, a cause I know is pretty close to your heart. So at least on the issue of Egypt, we have grounds to agree.

    It’s fairly clear that one of the obstacles to Palestinian liberation is the Egyptian regime. Palestinian democracy in a free country would be a terrible thing for Mubarak and his clique – if the Palestinians after decades of oppression and exile can find a way to democracy, then why shouldn’t the traditional leader of the Arab world? The Hamas government in Gaza is particularly frightening to it, given that it’s basically the same movement as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, about the only viable challenger to the Egyptian dictatorship. For this reason, Egypt (as you know) has an interest in helping the Israelis to oppress the Palestinians.

    When arguing in support of the Iraq war, one thing I found cropping up from people who thought of themselves as liberals was the “Kissingerite” idea that the Iraq invasion was terrible, not on grounds of morals or self-determination, but because it de-stablised Iraq. This is exactly the mantra chanted by those right-wingers who propped up Sadaam (and the other Arab fascists like him) for so many decades.

    I agree the main thrust for democracy in Egypt will have to come from the people there, and I hope one of the main agents will be the trade-union movement. However we in the West can either help them or get in the way. If liberals in the West are affected by the “stability” syndrome, then they’ll be getting in the way. I think it’s in the interests of Egyptian democracy (and Palestinian liberation) for that not to happen.

    If liberals do start talking about “stability” in Egypt that will have to be countered by talk of freedom and democracy. Despite our stark differences on Iraq, if we both agree that an Egyptian revolution is a good thing, we should be thinking of ways to spread those ideas among Westerners, I think.

    PhilB, you seem to be dead against the idea of democratic revolution in the Middle East? If so, we have little to discuss. I’d suggest, however, that a movement that had millions of people turn out to march in 2003, and now can barely attract a few hundred people to its rallies, isn’t showing signs of gaining traction. Long live the democratic revolutions around the world, I say.

  6. 6 Jin

    I agree with PhilB. Democratisation is a local process, it is not one that can be forced on a country at the point of a gun by corrupt, venal imperialists, who were responsible for installing the puppet dictatorships including Saddam (our boys) in the first place. There is not one regime save Iran in the ME which is not a vassal state of the US.

    Name just one democracy the US has created through its strategic interventions, just one.

    Representative democracies are enabled when economic and social equity is promoted, when education is available to all, when women can choose their lives. Externally imposed sanctions, interventions and wars are inimical to these.

    Prior to the Iran/Iraq war provoked and funded by the US/UK, despite the vicious Baath party, Iraq was the most equitable, modern society in the region – more women were university educated, religious radicalism was minimised and it had the best economic prospects. In my view, had there not been US interventions, the nation would have democratised by itself. I suspect this would have proved a threat to the Israeli ethnic supremacist state as well as the Saudi dictator buds of the US, especially considering that Iraq has the one third of the remaining world sweet crude supplies. But as an independent (non US vassal) democracy, for the west, Iraq would have upset the strategic balance (cold war was still on).

    As far as Egypt goes – it is the people there who will decide their own future. If we in the west want to encourage the process, the best thing would be if the west stopped fuelling the arms race in the region – at present despite the energy riches, most ME countries are in debt to the west to pay for their arsenals. This moneygoround, where profits which should be spent on community development, education and so on which naturally lead to democratisation, currently end up back in greasy imperialist hands to fund more weapons development and bolster up failing western capitalist economies where armaments are the most profitable or second most profitable export, must end.

    While we’re at it, check out Australia’s current trade balance with the US – we are now looking at a trade deficit of $11.2b thanks to the ‘free’ trade agreement. What proportion of that deficit is due to our weapons purchases from them? Anyone know?

  7. 7 PhilB

    January 12, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I don’t have any problem with democracy in the M.E. or any where else,I just believe it can’t be forced on another country by us, at the point of a gun.Jin I love your venal imperialist line, I will take the liberty and use it sometime.We (the west) have form for enforcing our concept of democracy on others, and the irony is, as we are trying to transform the M.E. into what we once were.Although it is only small potatoes at the moment,we are slowly turning into a police state our selves,with the apparatus that is supposed to protect us, our own police.A subject for another time perhaps?

    Your contention that the anti war movement is losing traction was true some time ago, but a lot has happened since the invasion of Iraq.The body bags are coming home in ever increasing numbers than before, and you do not need to be a ‘West point dux of the class General’to see we are losing the war on the ground in Afghanistan.The American military is the best Taliban recruitment agency money can buy.

    I just hope that saner minds prevail in this conflict before it gets out of hand.The thought of the extremists getting hold of the Pakistan nuclear arsenal fills me with dread and foreboding.Oh yes we will leave Afghanistan,like thieves into the night.I remember Bin Laden being interviewed some time ago when he said “We can’t beat the west militarily in the short term, but we can bankrupt them” and that is exactly what they are doing.

  8. 8 keza

    “Name just one democracy the US has created through its strategic interventions, just one.

    Iraq! You guys may not be able to make sense of it, but it’s idiotic to deny empirical evidence because it conflicts with a cherished theory.

    There are in fact good strategic reasons for why the US has promoted democracy in Iraq instead of continuing with its old policy of supporting the continuation of dictatorship and autocracy in the region. But I’m not going to go into these here.

    (For a quick primer, you could look at Strange Times blog archive categories: “Iraq”,
    “democratic revolution” and “Israel/Palestine” and /or read an article written by me, and published in the Australian, a couple of years ago:

    Drain the Swamps where Terror Breeds )

    The US also played a role in the democratisation of Germany after WW2 and also Japan. It’s not unheard of for the US to have been on the right side, you know. And yes, it was ‘at the point of a gun” … but the thing is, the gun was pointed at fascists. You need to think about that.

    I love this talk of Saddam’s fascism being all the fault of the US! Get over it. Saddam Hussein was an out and out fascist of the most extreme type. Democracy was not possible in Iraq while he and the Baath party ran the show. Before making absurd remarks like that, you need to become historically literate.

    Before the liberation of Iraq, it was fascism which was imposed at the point of a gun, and that gun was pointing at the people. Go ask the Kurds, or the Marsh Arabs, or almost any non-Sunni-Baathist Iraqi. If democracy has been “imposed” in Iraq, it has been imposed on the previous, tiny ruling minority. And I’m all in favour of that.

    You really should make up your mind. You oppose the US (correctly) when it supports dictators. Shouldn’t it follow logically that you’d be glad when it does something different (even if you don’t understand why)? I could almost form the impression that you don’t want democracy to succeed in Iraq because that would mess up your theory of how the world works.

  9. 9 PhilB

    January 12, 2010 at 5:10 pm
    “Iraq! You guys may not be able to make sense of it, but it’s idiotic to deny empirical evidence because it conflicts with a cherished theory.”

    There is nothing idiotic about denying that the adventure into Iraq,or Afghanistan was/is a failure.However having said that, you are like anyone, entitled to your opinion.At the end of the day for every link you can point me too that buttress’s your argument,I have no doubt, I can find any number with a contrary view.But this will get us no where and adding idiotic into the mix does not help.

    It is not a secret that the U.S. stabilized Germany and Japan in the aftermath of WW2.As an aside, my own father was wounded at the “D Day” landings and his brother was captured by the Japanese in Singapore.I am only sorry they did not save a ‘Big-boy’ for Berlin,it may have saved thousands of lives of the righteous, oh yes then it was US. But I digress.

    The U.S.A. has at times been a force for good in the world,I may look like a cabbage but I’m not green as they say but, the degree of that good depends on who is running the country at the time.If an Eisenhower or Truman had been in power at the time of the stouch with Saddam Hussein, I may have been inclined to be on your side,BUT what we had is an imbecile as POTUS who will go down in history as the worse President outside of Nixon, to grace the halls of the White House.This point needs no further examination.

    There are hundreds of Saddam Hussein’s in this world,using your theory on “How the world works” Why don’t we attack China preemptively? after all, it’s dollars to dough nuts they will attack Taiwan sooner or later.Or we could punish them retrospectively for Tibet.Mugabe is a tyrant.Cuba, oh no we’ve had our “Bay of pigs” already I could go on.

    So what do we do about it? Well I’m just a retired old plumber, I will leave it to the Dr Kissinger’s of the world.The only difference between him and I is though, I can tell the difference between excreta, and clay.

  10. 10 jim sharp

    marx once said something like: boozh-wah elections are traditional fetters which traditionally fetter the workers to the establishment & reading the acquiescents here is like voting!

  11. 11 keza


    Tell me why you think Iraq has been a failure? Is it because Iraq was “destabilised” and didn’t make a smooth transition to a modern liberal democracy? I agree that it’s been a bloody revolution there and that it will be some time before democracy becomes the norm. I’m no fan of the backward ideology espoused by the various Islamist political parties there, I’m aware of the corruption … and all the rest of it. But that doesn’t stop me thinking that what we’re seeing is wonderful (in fact, revolutionary) change in that country.

    The bourgeois revolutions in the rest of the word were no dinner parties either. And perhaps you should pause for a minute and think about the Civil War in the US which freed the slaves. Iraq has been a picnic, compared to that. But perhaps the slaves should have been left to liberate themselves???

    Anyway, I don’t think that there was any way that Iraq could have moved smoothly from decades of fascism to democracy. I also think that any attempted revolution against Baathism would have been unimaginably more bloody than what happened as a result of the US intervention.

    So I’d like to know why you think it is all a terrible failure.

    With regard to Afghanistan, I agree that it’s been (largely) a disaster. I’d put that down to the fact that the US went in there in a very half hearted manner and basically just backed a bunch of war lords, instead of destabilisng the place and unlaunching a proper democratic revolution, as they did in Iraq.

    Your throwaway remark asking me why I don’t support attacks against other dictators is a bit silly. I probably would support international intervention against some of them (eg Mugabe), but unfortunately the US is still not prepared to go that far in places like Zimbabwe which don’t have the strategic significance of Iraq (the reactionary isolationist right, in conjunction with many so-called leftists have an impact too).

    But, while I’d support intervention in some places, it’s obviously inappropriate in most cases. China? Don’t be silly. I’m not even going to discuss it.

    Iran? Well it looks as if the people there are getting ready to do the job themslves, and the regime itself is split, falling apart at the seams. None of us at Strange Times have ever supported the idea of US intervention in Iran …. nor did we expect that the US breast beating was anything other than… well, breast beating.

    I don’t follow your remark about Kissinger. His position on US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan is similar to yours. Are you indicating that you know this, but have better motives … or something????

    I disagree that GWB will go down as the worst president in history. I think people said similar things about Abraham Lincoln (and they weren’t just southerners …. Lincoln has a *very* hard time of it, and like Bush was forced to lie about his real aims etc etc). Of course Bush was not in Lincoln’s league, but I think you may be surprised at what “the imbecile” turns out to have achieved.

  12. 12 Jin

    keza, the jury is still out on whether Iraq will make the transition to democracy.

    At present, a bloodbath is averted by the presence of US troops, but after the US leaves, it’s unlikely the current pseudo-democracy will survive. I say pseudo-democracy because there’s no political campaigns because the candidate would be killed and no campaign offices as they’d be bombed.

    Once the US leaves, Sunnis, whose clans have suffered ethnic cleansing during the occupation of the Coalition of the Killing at the hands of Shites (who as a result control 60% of the ‘parliament’), will be looking for revenge.

    You don’t seem to be familiar with the history of Iraq. Prior to the CIA fostered 1963 Baathist coup and execution of leader Abdul Karim Qasim, Iraq had a nascent democracy. (Similarly the US had previously assisted in the removal of the democratically elected Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 and installed the evil US friendly Shah.)

    You can read a potted account of events by ME expert Prof. Juan Cole here:



    “Agents in the Ba’th Party headquarters in Baghdad had for years kept Washington au courant on the party’s personnel and organization, its secret communications and sources of funds, and its penetrations of military and civilian hierarchies in several countries…

    CIA sources were in a perfect position to follow each step of Ba’th preparations for the Iraqi coup, which focused on making contacts with military and civilian leaders in Baghdad. The CIA’s major source, in an ideal catbird seat, reported the exact time of the coup and provided a list of the new cabinet members.

    …To call an upcoming coup requires the CIA to have sources within the group of plotters. Yet, from a diplomatic point of view, having secret contacts with plotters implies at least unofficial complicity in the plot.”

    OSS and CIA intelligence analyst Harry Rositzke, ‘The CIA’s Secret Operations: Espionage, Counterespionage, and Covert Action’ (Boulder, CO: 1977), 109-110.

    ‘Jamal Atasi was a member of the Syrian cabinet at the time and privy to Ba’ath Party discussions.

    “When we discovered this thing we began to argue with them. They would assert that their cooperation with the CIA and the US to overthrow ‘Abd al-Karim Qasim and take over power—they would compare this to how Lenin arrived in a German train to carry out his revolution, saying they had arrived in an American train. But in reality—and even in the case of the takeover in Syria—there was a push from the West and in particular from the United States for the Ba’th to seize power and monopolize it and push away all the other elements and forces [i.e., both the communists and the Nasserists].[1]”‘

    Interview with Jamal Atasi, Damascus 22 July 1991 in Malik Mufti, Sovereign Creations: Pan-Arabism and Political Order in Syria and Iraq (Ithaca, New York, 1996), 144.

    ‘the September 1963 Al-Ahram (Egypt’s very popular paper) cited Jordan’s King Hussein’s assertions that the CIA met repeatedly with the Ba’ath party before the coup and supplied them with the lists of “communists” whom the Ba’ath party brutally purged after the takeover.’


    “The U.S. involvement in the coup against Kassem [General Abdel Karim Kassem] in Iraq in 1963 was substantial. There is evidence that CIA agents were in touch with army officials who were involved in the coup.

    There is evidence that they [CIA] supplied the conspirators with lists of people who had to be eliminated immediately in order to ensure success. The relationship between the Americans and the Ba’ath Party at that moment in time was very close indeed. And that continued for some time after the coup.

    I have documented over 700 people who were eliminated, mostly on an individual basis, after the 1963 coup. And they were eliminated based on lists supplied by the CIA to the Ba’ath Party. So the CIA and the Ba’ath were in the business of eliminating communists and leftists who were dangerous to the Ba’ath’s takeover.

    And what gave the whole program of acquiring unconventional weapons an impetus was in the 1970s. The main aim of the West was to pry Saddam away from Russia. And in order to do that , they were bribing him. They were giving him everything he wanted. In the 1980s, the reasons changed [for helping Saddam]. …Khomeini appeared on the scene and the West decided that Saddam was the lesser of two evils. And they continued to support him and give him what he wanted. In this case, including credit.”

    Said K. Aburish, a former Iraqi government official, on Public Broadcasting System’s (PBS) program Frontline: The Survival of Saddam on Jan. 25, 2000.

    “Forty years ago the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under President John F. Kennedy, conducted its own regime change in Baghdad, carried out in collaboration with Saddam Hussein.

    As its instrument the CIA had chosen the authoritarian and anti-Communist Ba’ath Party, in 1963 still a relatively small political faction influential in the Iraqi army. According to the former Ba’athist leader Hani Fkaiki, among party members colluding with the CIA in 1962 and 1963 was Saddam Hussein, then a 25-year-old who had fled to Cairo after taking part in a failed assassination of Kassem in 1958.”

    Roger Morris, “A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making”, New York Times on Mar 14, 2003.

    PhilB, before the US decides which of its previous ‘friends’ it should attack next under the pretext of ‘democratisation’ but really aimed at maintaining vassal states, a steady flow of blood-drenched dollars into its sordid coffers and slowing of the inevitable and happy decline of its destructive, selfish global hegemony, it should transform its own vapid, plutocratic system.

    P.S. Please feel free to quote me 🙂

  13. 13 Arthur

    This is just bizarre! US imperialism supported the fascist Baathist coup in Iraq and helped establish the islamo-fascist Al Queda in Afghanistan “therefore we should be opposed to them reversing a catastrophically stupid policy”. This absurd argument reflects how deeply right wing the pseudoleft “anti-imperialists” really are. An openly pro-imperialist right-winger putting forward that argument would merely be illogical. There is no logic in sticking to a bankrupt policy when its blown up in your face. But for somebody to pretend to be left or anti-imperialist with that argument goes far beyond illogic. It indicates no interest in rational analysis whatever but simply parrotting the sillier stuff coming out of the leftovers from the old US foreign policy establishment that was overwhelmingly opposed to the liberation of Iraq and increasingly keen on abandoning Afghanistan but has even less capability to organize a mass mobilization against government policy than it has to maintain its previous grip on government policy in the face of the results of the policies they built their careers on.

    Even more bizarre is the idea that repeating and documenting the well known fact that the Baathists were fascists backed by the CIA would somehow be seen as convincing reply to people saying they want to suppress fascists by force. Its fascinating that anyone could convince themselves with this sort of argument, but surely it cannot be difficult to understand why it hasn’t actually mobilized any mass anti-war movement and never could. What on earth motivates people to keep plugging away with this stuff?

  14. 14 keza

    Yes, there really is a complete lack of internal logic in what Jin “argues” above.

    (1) The US conspired to help the Baath fascists come to power and stall the development of Iraqi democracy. That was terrible and should be condemned.

    (2) Later the US went into Iraq and overthrew these same fascists. That was terrible and should be opposed.

    How does (2) follow from (1)? Surely you can’t simultaneously agree with both those propositions.

    And may I ask whether you not only believe that when the US leaves Iraq there will be a bloodbath, but that the US should leave as soon as possible?

    And if remnant fascists and jihadists go around blowing up people in order to try to prevent elections should they be fought with all the armed might which can be used? Or would it be better for all, if such people still ran the place and maintained the “peace of fascism”?

    I don’t agree with you of course, that these thugs will win the day. I reckon that like people everywhere, the Iraqi people want their freedom and now that they have the opportunity they will seize it and defend it.

  15. 15 Jin

    Arthur, what is your understanding of ‘imperialism’?

    Are you aware that aggression toward countries unless it is for self-defence is illegal under the UN Charter? that the US invasion of Iraq was launched under false pretences and had nothing to do with self-defence? that the people of Iraq did not request liberation from the US after 9/11 and have been begging the US to leave since the fraudulent invasion? (also recalling that resistance groups aided by the CIA during the 90s period of hideous US sanctions did request liberation twice and were disastrously betrayed.)

    Are you an adherent to the dangerous assumption typically held by fascists and imperialists that the ends justifies the means?

    What gives the US the right to determine which countries should be ‘liberated’, even if that was the hegemon’s real goal?

    Why are you convinced that the current pseudo-democracy will ‘stick’ after the US troops depart? where is your ‘rational analysis’ supporting your view?

  16. 16 PhilB

    Keza, Jin has obviously done her (I presume Jin is a women I apologize if I am wrong) homework and her research is not as far as I would have gone, but she has put more information than necessary to prove her case.And I am in full agreement with her comments.

    To put it simply why Iraq was a failure.

    1. It was none of our business from the start.

    2. The trade off from the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraq’s and of our own military personnel in the west, will never be worth the platitudes of the people that got us into this mess in the first place, because from where I’m sitting that’s all they have achieved.The elections were a sham, and every sentient being with an opinion on Iraq knows it.The M.E. is full of thousands of graves, dug over periods of hundreds of years, full of Europeans and others, sacrificed on the lofty ideals of good intentions.When the Americans pull out, they will take the democracy with them.

    My point about the other despots in the world is not silly, well it has about the same depth as your comment of ‘ídiotic’ because I disagree with your analysis that Iraq was a success.It clearly isn’t and it is you that is wrong.I was trying to make a point, I obviously failed.

    Iran. Because the U.S. has blundered its way across the M.E. to bring it Coca Cola, mums home baked apple pie, and endless repeats of television shows like my three sons to the plebes,It hasn’t occurred to them, the Arabs just might not be interested.Moreover if they are it may be prudent to deliver it through normal trade partnering, and not delivered in Abraham’s tanks.They have ruined any leverage they had with moderates because of their position on Israel and consequently ,Iran, may just get the bomb.Now I don’t like that scenario, but as an independent sovereign state, they are as entitled to it as Israel is entitled to theirs.As far as a revolution, well that’s fine by me,’viva the revolution’ but again it must be theirs not ours.

    As to George Bush, my God you can’t be serious? This man has not only made the U.S. the most hated nation on the planet, he has tried his best to send it bankrupt.The man was an ignoramus of the highest order, even his own were treating him like the village idiot in the end.This little quirk in our history of Bush being elected to the most powerful position on the planet will have intellectuals on all sides of politics, baffled for a hundred years.

    You know I have to laugh at all this nonsense about democracy in the M.E.We can’t even come to terms with our own home grown Aboriginal problem.It has taken us 200 years to say sorry to them for what we have done, and in some cases still doing I might add.We can’t even get that right, what chance the Arabs?

    The world is running out of water, global warming is a threat and the consequences of that are out of the comprehension of most people,I know it is mine. The Australian continent is as dry as dust,we may still yet slide into another financial crash to make the last one look tame, yada, yada, yada,I know “Lets have another war” Well you’ll excuse me if I don’t turn up.

    Finally, Obama will need the wisdom of Solomon to get his nation out of the mess it is in, Bush and the neo cons should be arrested and brought before the Hague for what they have done.The irony that Obama may yet be forced into a confrontation with Iran, and with his forces strewn all over the planet,may be a nut to hard to crack.I hope I am wrong.

  17. 17 Arthur

    Jin, you haven’t responded AT ALL to the points made against you but instead tried to change the subject with a series of questions. Try again.

  18. 18 Jin


    I don’t respond to strawmen and ad hominem. I await your responses to my questions.

  19. 19 PhilB

    marx once said something like: boozh-wah elections are traditional fetters which traditionally fetter the workers to the establishment & reading the acquiescents here is like voting!”

    Indeed!Of course it has not been lost on me since I was able to vote, That the boozzh-wah ze will never have any trouble finding half the working class, to beat up on the other half.This has and always will be their downfall.

  20. 20 keza

    Oh dear, oh dear …..

    Jin so you “don’t respond to “strawmen and ad hominem” …. sounds sophisticated, but what precisely are these strawman arguments and ad hominem attacks that you won’t respond to? Please identify them. Without doing that you lay yourself open to charges of just having avoided what Arthur and I have said in response to you. I asked you to explain what appeared to me to be an internal inconsistency in your thinking. To reply with a two line comment suggesting that you know something about the rules of argument but without putting any of these to use, is a bit of a joke.

    Instead of addressing any of what I said in my most recent comment you just move on to a new issue. Namely that the invasion of Iraq was not in accordance with the UN charter. And then you raise a number of related issues. That might be fair enough, but only after you’ve attempted to respond to what has been said about your other arguments and various questions asked of you.

    I’ll be a bit more “polite” than you, and actually write a brief response to your change of topic. The questions I’m responding below were asked of Arthur, but I’ll take the liberty of giving you my response to them. His answers, may of course be somewhat different.

    1. “It was against international law”. No matter … this doesn’t in any way mean that you don’t have to make a case for opposing the war. Something being “against the law” doesn’t make it automatically wrong. Every revolution in history has been against the law! In fact laws only develop “after the fact”, that is, after something has been won, often by violence and the breaking of previous laws. There is no way that any system of laws can hold for all time and become the rubric for deciding right and wrong. The question of whether it was right or wrong (good or bad) for the US to invade Iraq is still something you have to decide. I argue that it was a good thing because as far as I can see, the US invaded the place and imposed democracy on a bunch of fascists at the point of a gun. You need to argue that either that wasn’t what happened, or that even if it was, you still think it was wrong (and give reasons, in both cases).

    (2) I’m not an advocate of “the ends justify the means”. That’s the stuff of abstract ethics courses ….. is there any way to move from “‘is’ to ‘ought’ “, “would you kill these 3 people, (or your own child)in order to save x number of others”? and so on. It’s all classroom discussion. Morality doesn’t stand outside of history as some sort of abstract edifice.

    (3) “What gives the US the right to determine which countries should be ‘liberated’, even if that was the hegemon’s real goal?”

    The argument has nothing to do with “what gives the US the right” because nothing (in the abstract) does. The question at issue is whether you oppose or support the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the US, whether you can come up with a better and possible historical scenario, whether you think Iraq and the world would have been better off if there had been no US intervention there. This requires presenting a coherent case for your view based on some historical analysis and an examination of current reality. The simple inductive argument that US imperialism has always supported horrible dictatorships, therefore this just must be the case in Iraq, just won’t cut it. That sort of argument would be entirely unnaceptable in any clear thinking class.

    (4) “The Iraqi people didn’t request liberation” !! . Do you suppose that they didn’t want it? I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that they did. Or do you think that some humans are happy under fascism? For god’s sake, how were they supposed to “request” it? Their actions in rising up, immediately after the Gulf War (at which time they were of course betrayed by the US, as you know), the expressed enthusiasm for the invasion by the Kurds in the north are pretty good empirical indications. Btw the Kurdish Peshmerger fought alongside US troops, when the US finally did invade. (And just to identify another spurious argument, while I’m at it …. the fact that the US betrayed the Shia uprising after the Gulf War, can’t possibly be used as an argument against the reversal of that policy in 2003, as you suggest in your comment above. Based on your general and very basic mindset (oppose what the US supports, and support what the US opposes), I strongly suspect that had the US backed that uprising , you’d have opposed it anyway. So it’s rather hypocritical (or at least confused) that you express some sort of outrage at the US for not having invaded Iraq back in 1991!)

    (5) “Iraq was no direct threat to the USA.’ So what? Would you deny them liberation for that reason?

    (6) “the war was launched under false pretenses”. Again, so what? Why does this mean that the liberation of Iraq was a bad thing?

    I can understand why the last two points would have made you suspicious initially. But you still need to look at what happened, rather than remain blinded by your theory that the US can only ever oppose democratic change. There are in fact, clear tactical reasons for the launching of the war on false pretences. The Bush regime would never have been able to sell the idea of launching a war to liberate Iraq without some sort of casus belli suggesting that Iraq was an imminent threat to US security. This was particularly necessary in order to win support from its conservative foreign policy establishment (the likes of Kissinger and Snowcroft), and to achieve congressional funding. It wasn’t possible for the Bush administration to make the case for anything other than a short, quick war. The assumption on which most of the foreign policy establishment supported the war was that Saddam would be quickly overthrown, and a more US-friendly regime installed. They were surprised when this didn’t happen and instead the entire Baathist regime was dismantled, and Iraq totally destabilised. Like you, they thought that Bush must be an imbecile.

    But in fact, Bush (or rather his advisers) knew, that the long term complete defeat of terrorism depended crucially on launching a process aimed at democratizing and modernising the entire region, and that Iraq was the best starting point strategically. Give the Iraqis democracy, and the rest of the region will want it.

    That whole process has slowed down, unfortunately. Obama won’t push it nearly as hard. But the ball is rolling in Iraq, the regime in Iran is tottering, the people in other places are increasingly dissatisfied with autocracy, and the dream of Greater Israel has been smashed. Appearances to the contrary really are illusory. However, this is unlikely to be seen very clearly for a while.

  21. 21 PhilB

    “the dream of Greater Israel has been smashed. Appearances to the contrary really are illusory.”

    What a load of arrant nonsense.Israel has been expanding since it declared itself a state in 1948.It will keep expanding until they decide when they have enough land for their own perceived security needs. As sure as night follows day, the Gaza will be next to fall..They are making life un-bearable there for the Palestinians, and they are already leaving in droves.Their next expansion after that will include any land that guarantee’s them a future water supply notwithstanding their agreements with Jordan.And who is going to stop them?Foreign displeasure of Israel’s aggression any where in the M.E. falls on deaf ears.The Jewish lobby in the U.S. takes care of any dissent, just like they do here in Australia ,they have their branch of the Knesset right here in Canberra.

    Mubarak does nothing,Assad thinks the Golan heights are a block of flats, and the King of Jordan has a pretty wife.

    Hey Jin you’ll notice Keza maintains she doesn’t believe the end justifies the means and says,

    1. “the war was launched under false pretenses”. Again, so what?

    2. “the war was launched under false pretenses”. Again, so what?

    Old Sigmund would have a field day with that.

    So Keza you have admitted the whole war was a sham from the start?So you think you are going to sell that policy and bring people on to your mind set by starting out your very own thesis based on a load of lies?

    I don’t think so.But full marks (excuse the pun) for trying.

  22. 22 Jin

    I am against the overthrow of one lot of fascists by another lot of fascists – it’s the suffering of ordinary people who are caught in the middle which concerns me. From governments, I expect transparency and accountability – that they serve the people, not rule the people with iron fist naked or covered with velvet glove. whilst imperfect, largely due to the transgressions, non-compliance and non-participation of the western axis of greed, international criminal and humanitarian law offers a viable path toward the end of impunity of crimes against humanity and war crimes and thus the minimisation of oppression and wars, far away from the repulsive preemptive doctrine and unilateral posturing of the world’s only superpower so beloved by neocons, zionists, associated warmongers, arms dealers, mercantilists and hopeless idealists.

    What I found particularly noxious and Stalinesque about the ‘liberation’ of the people of Iraq by the cowardly Coalition of the Killing (how could one forget it was little Johnny da Rat who put his hand up first when Bush uttered the traditional bullying cry of ‘are you for us or against us’) along with the foul mass butchery of innocent humans, the destruction of their homes, the torching of the Koranic library and disgusting deliberate vandalism of other irreplaceable historical treasures was the lack of an existent post-invasion plan to take care of the people the COW professed to be ‘liberating’. The convictions of the ghoulish Cheney in March 2003 “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators” proved to be as much hogwash as the phoney WMDs cooked up by his mates.

    Hope you folk are following the news – a Dutch inquiry has just declared the invasion illegal (no more sexy weekends in Amsterdam for Bliar & Howard) and the Chilcot Commmission currently presiding in Britain seems mighty interested in what concrete plans the COW had in mind to ‘save’ the wretched people of Iraq other than immediately securing the oil wells and pipelines – bombing the smithereens out of defence threats to other nations like the water, electricity, press buildings and other civilian infrastructure contradict any vaunted aim of ‘regime change’ to free an oppressed people.

    So, the invasion was carried out via deceptions of the highest magnitude by deplorable means with no perception or planning for a viable end in the propaganderised aims. Thus the sacking of Iraq was an act of such evil I find no words strong enough to describe it.

    Yes, the Iraqi Stalin is gone, and perhaps the legacy of the illegal attack may be to shame the axis of greed into complying with international law in the long run. Yet as I’ve already said, there is no guarantee democracy will flourish after the US leaves, possibly in August, and every likelihood another strongman will rule after a bloodbath where Sunni clans exact revenge against Shi’ites. Then the whole lousy charade can begin again. I hope not, yet it doesn’t look promising to me nor to analysts I respect.

    Keza, as far as Bush’s ‘advisers’ ‘knowing’ the defeat of ‘terrorism’ depended on democratising the whole region, are you referring to Laurent Murawiec’s “Grand strategy for the Middle East” where “Iraq is the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot, Egypt the prize” for which he was expelled from the Rand Corporation?

    Had Bush genuinely been seeking a democratisation of the region, he would not have fomented rebellion against the democratically elected Hamas government – that would have set the most powerful example and redeemed the US in the eyes of the region. Now, with Netanyahoo’s refusal to limit settlement development and the illusory peace process, the dream of Greater Israel and continued genocide of Palestinians is stronger than ever. The Bush regime cabal of Clash of Civilisation, Strauss-programmed neoziocon vultures wanted strategic toeholds, vassal states, an expansion of client state Israel’s access to oil and power and to ensure strategic control of the world’s remaining, richest energy supplies in order to retain US full spectrum dominance – the fostering of democracy and limiting of hatred, poverty, occupation, oppression and other consequences of US interventions which fuel resistance, were incidental. To imagine that the rest of the region is unaware of democracy, given Turkey’s secular version and past experiences in Iran and Iraq, is patronising.

    If you get a chance, breeze through Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard. The US ain’t playin’ skittles. I also recommend a thorough reading of the online archives of Electronic Intifada and Electronic Iraq.

    Finally, a quote from Iraqi woman, Riverbend in 2007:

    “And yet, as the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation – are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse. Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq;s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.”

  23. 23 Arthur

    PhilB, the “so what” would contradict any claim by keza that she “always opposes any use of bad means to achieve allegedly good aims” since, as you point out, she explicitly endorses the use of false pretences (that the Iraqi regime was a direct threat to the US, had WMDs, that the invasion was legal under international law etc etc) as the only means by which the US administration could get past the foreign policy establishment’s opposition to the war. But she made no such claim and explicitly rejected your concept that one must either advocate “the ends justify the means” or oppose it. She said “Morality doesn’t stand outside of history as some sort of abstract edifice.”

    The consequences of not invading Iraq would have included 1) prolongation of the Baathist oppression and mass murder there 2) a much more devastating civil war that would also have become a regional war when the regime eventually did implode. The consequences of using the false pretences have merely been that the old foreign policy establishment (which never either launched or ended a war without false pretences), has been able to win lots of indignation among people who imagine that the government cares what they think, and consequently to slow things down (but who have been unable to reverse direction, or prevent the inevitable consequences that the whole region has been destabilized, and the prospective life of the autocracies cultivated by the old foreign policy establishment, drastically shortened. That was only done because it is necessary to end the autocratic stagnation in order for the region to stop breeding jihadi terrorists in the long run. But eliminating the autocracies is what anyone genuinely left and anti-imperialist always advocated (with no need for false pretences).

  24. 24 PhilB

    January 13, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    If I have mis-understood some point about the ‘end justifying the means’and if Keza is against that proposition then I apologize, but that’s not how it came across to me.Like most I am apt to make mistakes, it goes with the territory of the ‘heat of the blog’I will try harder.

    I make no apology of opposing the invasion of Iraq however.All of your and Keza’s points just like mine,are opinions,and just like my good self,I presume,you get your information from else where like I do.You then sprinkle in a bit of your own life’s experiences,your own perceptions, and ‘viola’ another opinion is formed.But as you know opinions and four bucks will get you a cup of coffee..

    Arthur, I am not a pacifist, and unlike most left leaning individuals, I believe there are times when a military reply is in order, with Iraq this was clearly not the case.I am not going to go over ad-nauseam the reasons, my position is patently clear.Jin has covered most of the points I would have made, with more passion.

    I do not believe anything the government tells me, it is full of shysters, charlatans, inveterate liars, and an assortment of people who are in the main, to lazy to get out of their own road.And yes you are correct, they could care less about what we think, because if they did, they wouldn’t pull the strokes they do.

    The only thing most politicians are interested in, is the next crayfish and bottle of nice plonk to wash it down with.When I see the money that is expended on these wasters of good oxygen, and then look at some poor child in a wheelchair with a disease that the money wasted on war and other enterprises could cure,I could scream.

    The real truth about the myriad of problems in the M.E. will never be truly known, my concern is and always will be, for the poor innocent women and children that get caught up in these political games.And as per usual, how many people related to our own politicians have their arse in the grass in Iraq/Afghanistan?

    I know a cheap shot. Yea right!

  25. 25 Jin


    Throw in the machinations of some very powerful private corporations who have their hooks into the US administration with vest interest in destabilisation, chicanery and profit taking of their own and the mixture is even more explosive.

    Peter Dale Scott is not fond of what he describes as Brzezinski’s brash talk and even less fond of the military’s ‘dangerously delusional, and even arguably insane’ rhetoric – these articles are well worth a squiz.


  26. 26 PhilB

    Thanks Jin I will go and have a squiz.The machinations of the company’s involved in the profit from the prosecution of these latest wars are well known.It is common knowledge Dick C has his finger in the pie of some of them.I don’t know about Bush, everything he touched went pear shape.A chook raffle in a pub comes to mind.

    Jin as an aside I was in the armed forces in the mid sixties,the propaganda was a thick then in relation to Viet Nam, as it is now about the threat of Muslim Jihadists.Substitute Gook, smack head, and commie bastards, to Sand nigger, camel jockey, and rag head,the names and war change, but its the same old rhetoric and racism.

    Of course being a Palestinian sympathizer was a recipe for disaster when I was in the Army, it was tantamount to being a traitor.I console myself moving into my dotage, that the morons that called me a bastard for my beliefs, well! most of them had never read a book before, and gave a new meaning to the word ignorant.At least I had an excuse,leaving school at 14 to go to work.As that song by Led Zeppelin goes ‘The song remains the same’

  27. 27 tom

    Jin: Re your “The Iraqi people didn’t request liberation”. With due respect and in all seriousness, where on earth are you coming from? I work with refugees – many from Iraq. Of these latter, none – repeat none, fail to express gratitude for Saddam’s overthrow. This should not be misinterpreted as an endorsement for US imperialism but is a genuine indication of their hatred of the Ba’thists and level of their oppression. Request liberation? You’ve got to be joking. Let me illustrate. Two years ago I ran a group for Iraqi men. During one session the men related two stories to indicate how things were for people under the regime. The first told of a boy who told some school mates that his father had spat on a picture of Saddam. The family disappeared – ie were eliminated. When I expressed disbelief (that is, shock, outrage) the men laughed at me with several saying this is how things were. At this stage the interpreter interjected on his own behalf to indicate that he had heard many stories like this and that what the men were telling me was entirely credible. They then told me that it was common for people who hated Saddam to praise him openly inside their own homes when his image appeared on TV. In reply to my quizzical expression I was told that the walls have ears, that people were scared.
    Perhaps Jin you may like to speculate as to how liberation may be requested in such circumstances?

  28. 28 Jin

    Tom, Riverbend points to your implicit assumption here:

    ‘You know what really bugs me about posting on the internet, chat rooms or message boards? The first reaction (usually from Americans) is “You’re lying, you’re not Iraqi”. Why am I not Iraqi, well because a. I have internet access (Iraqis have no internet), b. I know how to use the internet (Iraqis don’t know what computers are) and c. Iraqis don’t know how to speak English (I must be a Liberal). All that shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I see the troops in the streets and think, “So that’s what they thought of us before they occupied us… that may be what they think of us now.” How is it that we’re seen as another Afghanistan?’


    Have you ever asked your Iraqi friends whether they would have chosen to have the COW invade or not (if they’d had a choice)?

    ”This war started out a war on WMD. When those were not found, and proof was flimsy at best, it turned suddenly into a “War against Terrorism”. When links couldn’t be made to Al-Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden (besides on Fox and in Bush’s head), it turned into a “Liberation”. Call it whatever you want- to me it’s an occupation.’


  29. 29 PhilB

    Tom it is you who should ask yourself if you are serious.This is a load of ‘Red Herrings’you are putting forth as proof positive the war to rid Iraq of Saddam was justified.And it clearly was not.

    My Grandmother can give you a hundred stories about what it was like to live in the slums of Dublin and later the bogside of Belfast whilst the British peace keepers were there.And no I am not going to compare notes that would be ridiculous, but the principle remains the same.Ask the Irish people if they liked being occupied by the British.I mean the Black and Tans were real nation builders weren’t they?

  30. 30 jim sharp

    a change in government ain’t no revolution by any yard stick!
    coz a revolution is a qualitive change in mass’s class consciousness. & those stepping out of new line wud be dealt with quick sharp by the mass’s & not by a dictatorship of one faction of the old iraqi boozh-wah-zie

  31. 31 tom

    It has been posted above by others but… Jin you have raised an issue – “The Iraqi’s did not request liberation” and then fail to answer questions asked of you in response to this. Your rhetorical question of whether I have asked any of the refugees whether they would have asked for the invasion (if they had the choice) simply doesn’t cut the mustard. The flippant equivalence you draw around choice – “choosing” liberation/invasion by the COW and its implicit counterpart of “choosing” fascist oppression – is, at the very least, amoral. If you believe that the Iraqi masse(as opposed to the Ba’athist regime and those who drew succor from it) were complicit in their own oppression or that the Ba’athists were not as bad as they have been painted, then you should be prepared to say so and argue for your position. You cannot leave this behind “choice” and the implicit criticism of the Iraqi people that this implies and then expect to be not confronted.
    “If the truth is abstract it must be untrue. Healthy human reason goes out towards what is concrete… Philosophy is what is most antagonistic to abstraction, it leads back to the concrete.” Hegel
    What Hegel is getting at, I think, is that the further our thinking is removed from concrete reality – or the further theory is removed from practise – the less likely it is to reflect reality. Keza has invited you to follow links on this site and to consider the arguments outlined (I will not repeat them here) amnd to respond to those arguments with more than assertions. I would like you to do that too. I would also lke you to respond to my invitation and to speculate on how the Iraqi people, under the concrete conditions they were experiencing, may have made “requests” regarding liberation (or continued oppression).
    PhilB, you are comparing notes and I’ve gotta say: it’s ridiculous.
    The comparison you draw between your Grandmother’s experience and that of the Iraqi men cited above manages to demean the experience of both.
    I am now off to the beach for a few days and will be unable to respond until my return.

  32. 32 informally yours

    An interesting morning read to be sure. Thanks Keza that was a really great response to Jin whose ‘position’ I find bamboozling and amoozing. What struck me most about her original response was that she supposedly gave us the contemporary Iraq history lesson without even mentioning that there was the not so small matter of the Baathist invasion of Kuwait. Tell me Jin, do you think Saddam Hussein knew that aggression to another country is illegal under the U.N charter?

    To me when assessing the post 9/11 actions of the U.S., (Afghanistan/Iraq etc.)Jin both defends the Baathist legacy in Iraq, and hysterically criticises the ‘Bush invasion’ as illegal and yet fails to reflect upon the Baathist actions against its neighbours.

    Similarly throwing up riverbend as the final word as if there is anything newsworthy in a member of the Sunni elite being wealthy enough to have access to technology and literacy to be blogging a war and feeling angry etc., that their circumstances have changed for the worst. I have never had any sympathy for the nasty Tokyo Rose style of riverbend.

    As is bound to happen when the status quo is destabilised, (and as we all see clearly when viewing say, sand and water in a jar and inverted the contents are disrupted) but eventually settle out as is bound to happen within societies where these massive reversals occur. In any society things will no doubt settle quicker if a culture of revenge attacks is not tolerated or encouraged. (As i think we see in the nasty and contradictory piece served up by Jin)

    Quoting Jin she wrote “how could one forget it was little Johnny da Rat who put his hand up first when Bush uttered the traditional bullying cry of ‘are you for us or against us”. To be fair, the Australian Prime Minister was in Washington on 9/11 and it is little wonder he was the first to say we pledge to do what we can to stop this.

    I find this knee-jerk hatred of the anti-LiberalParty Australian pseudo-left to be most disconcerting.

    As for PhilB the sooner he gets out of ‘intelligence’ work the better.

  33. 33 Jin


    If you are interested in the truth, ask your Iraqi friends the honest question I posed. Attacking me is a poor and obvious diversion.

    IY, attacking the person rather than her argument and observations is inadequate and highlights the facts you wish to avoid. Riverbend’s post-invasion experience is borne out by publications by other Iraqi women. eg. Sara Wajid http://www.wluml.org/node/5009

    You folk who back the western imperialist invasion as ‘liberation’ need to justify your position with facts. How has the lot of the Iraqi people improved since the invasion?

    Surely it is illogical and immoral to change a political situation under the banner of ‘liberation’ at the cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives and devastation of infrastructure, if the result is no better or worse?


    While civilians from violence levelled in 2009, “Iraq is clearly suffering more daily violence from terrorism and instability than any other country, considerably more violence even than Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

    “Still, the report noted troubling trends, such as a rise during 2009 in the toll from large-scale bombings, killing more than 50 civilians each. In 2008, 534 people were killed in nine such attacks compared with 750 in eight attacks in 2009. ”

    “Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has staked his reputation on turning around Iraq’s security situation, is struggling to contain recriminations arising from a series of coordinated attacks targeting government facilities, the latest of which killed up to 112 people in December. ”

    “Attacks continued outside the capital, too. In Ramadi, the capital of the western province of Anbar, at least 25 people were killed on Wednesday in what appeared to be an attempt to assassinate the provincial governor.

    The attacks add fuel to Iraqis’ fears that violence will increase again before national elections on March 7 and beyond as U.S. troops prepare to halt combat operations by next autumn and withdraw entirely by the end of 2011.”

  34. 34 PhilB

    “As for PhilB the sooner he gets out of ‘intelligence’ work the better””

    Of course informally yours, I could always join you in the intelligence of the COD as against the COW, that’s the coalition of the deluded.But keep spruiking your nonsense, it is more entertaining, than informative.This must be a new trend in pseudo left thinking,a total failure to understand basic logic.That’s common dog to us mere mortals.

    Just what part of the Iraq fiasco don’t you understand?

    Tom. I will let your analysis of my point, and your attempt at insulting my Grandmother and my good self go through to the keeper, but like informally yours, keep on trying to convince the rest of the world that you are right.There is a word for people who claim they are right in the light of overwhelming evidence contrary to their point of view,umm can’t think, but delusional will do for now.Oh and don’t get sun burnt at the beach, it can cause cancer.

    jim sharp,I agree,for mine I have never come across a web site with so much twaddle about the Iraq fiasco trying to be passed off as factual informative comment as this one.This is especially disturbing considering it is rumored to have a left bias.

    The type of stuff here I would expect to find in your average right wing think tank, or sitting around a dinner table with George Bush and his coterie of nut jobs for thanksgiving. At least they have an excuse.They have to keep up the pretense they were right about the fiasco in Iraq.You see, they have a lot of collective guilt to assuage about the thousands of innocent people that have died in Iraq.Not to mention their whole infrastructure laid waste on the alter of ‘democratization’ what a fine word that is? It’s like ‘nation building’in reverse so to speak.

    And my wife wants to know why I drink.

  35. 35 Arthur

    Jin, you cannot be unaware that the Iraqi deaths you refer to are the result of deliberate mass murder terrorist attacks against the people of Iraq by the enemies that what you like to pretend is a puppet government, are fighting against. Yet you don’t want to actually think through the fact that these enemies are such scum that they launch these attacks on the Iraqi people and try to make it sound as though it is the US forces who are murdering the Iraqi people, instead of fighting against the murderers.

    This may make it easier for you to sleep at night, while denouncing the troops who are fighting the mass murderers. But being in such deep denial of what you actually do know, won’t help you understand why you cannot build any kind of mass anti-war movement.

    How do you manage to switch off your mind while linking to the ReliefWeb report that makes it utterly clear who is doing the murdering and who is fighting the murderers? If it was deliberate dishonesty, you would not have linked to ReliefWeb but to another of the many anti-war sites that simply rave on without spelling out who is killing who, and what the Iraqis fear might happen when the foreign troops leave.

    I am genuinely curious. Why did you link to the ReliefWeb site? Did you actually imagine it was reporting killing of Iraqis by US troops. If so, read it again and think about the implications of what you read. Or are you more like PhilB, who fairly openly indicates that he just doesn’t care what happens to Iraqis or others in the region. That doesn’t seem consistent with you caring what happens to Palestinians.

    My guess is that you do care, and your not wanting to think about the replies to your earlier arguments by simply trying to change the subject, indicates some deep state of denial of the fact that you are siding with fascist mass murderers against people fighting them because that isn’t a stand you can justify to yourself, let alone others.

  36. 36 Jin


    It doesn’t matter that it is not US troops, at present, murdering Iraqi civilians although that continues as well. The facts presented on the Relief web site show that the security situation is the worst in the world. This is a result of the ill-thought out invasion and destruction of Iraq.

    Are things better or worse for Iraqi civilians than before the illegal Coalition of the Killing invasion?

    I haven’t seen any evidence to show that things are better. If you have any facts to the contrary, please present them.

  37. 37 keza

    It’s pretty common for opponents of the war to cite the Iraqi death toll and imply that it has been the US army which has been doing all this killing. But anyone who has actually bothered to investigate events in Iraq just has to know that the responsibility for the death toll in Iraq lies with elements of the old ruling Sunni elite and the various jihadist groups who encouraged and united with them. These people engaged in mass murder, pure and simple, targeting gatherings of Shia and just blowing them up. It actually took quite some time before sections of the Shia population began to respond in kind. But eventually they’d had enough.

    The incitement to sectarian violence was a quite deliberate tactic on the part of those opposed to democracy in Iraq. These people launched their campaign of mass murder with the deliberate intention of stirring up enough sectarian violence to tear Iraq apart and prevent the growth of a new democratic culture and political system.

    The US troops in Iraq fought them. It was only their presence which prevented a complete collapse into the full-on ethnic cleansing that we’ve seen in parts of Africa

    Those who fantasize about how much better it would have been had the Iraqi people been left to liberate themselves at some point in the future, should think on this. Any Shia uprising against Baathist dictatorship would have had to deal with similar counter-revolutionary rage from the born-to-rule Sunni elite. Arthur was quite correct when he said above:

    “The consequences of not invading Iraq would have included 1) prolongation of the Baathist oppression and mass murder there 2) a much more devastating civil war that would also have become a regional war when the regime eventually did implode.”

  38. 38 Jin


    The responses from the regs in this thread indicate to me the one of the worst cases of Group Think I’ve seen – as you say, the views are reminiscent of a silly right think tank. Left bias? it’s so far left it’s hard right. Distinctly totalitarian, at any rate. The irony is that instead of identifying with their natural allies, they’ve chosen the capitalist imperialists instead. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.

  39. 39 Arthur

    Jin, our “natural allies” are the people murdered by the Baathists when they first took power (Iraq had the largest communist party in the region before the CIA sponsored coup) and the people being murdered by Baathists and jihadis more recently. US imperialism is a rather less natural ally for us “far left totalitarians”, but certainly welcome, just as it was welcome to join the war against German and Japanese fascism.

    You seem uncomfortable in your far more unnatural alliance with the US foreign policy establishment opponents of liberating Iraq, like Brezinski et al. It can’t be easy to having to argue that the Iraqi people would be better off living under the rule of the mass murderers described in your link to ReliefWeb. Try telling the Palestinians how much less of them would get slaughtered if they would only accept Israeli rule!

    Your reference to “GroupThink” is interesting since you seem to have never encountered our position in the circles you move in and never had to actually defend the assumptions you share with so many others against refutation from the left.

  40. 40 PhilB

    Arthur lets get one thing straight,I care about all people of the world who are persecuted for their political beliefs.This includes the Iraq’s, Palestinians, whose suffering by the way I can’t really get my head around, and closer to home the Australian Aboriginals, who incidentally I believe still own Australia.Terra Nullius has about the same credibility as the Iraq fiasco.Not to mention the working class, who were under attack from the most right wing reactionary government Australia has ever suffered, under the stewardship of a one John Winston Howard.But lets push on.

    I also have been known to shed a tear or two,(no crocodiles here) when I see the results of the Nazi’s attempt to exterminate the Jewish people in WW2.I have the added experience of the aftermath of this war in my own family.As I have said previously, my own father was wounded in the D Day landings, his brother was captured by the Japanese, my mothers brother was killed in Germany in the last month of the war.

    My eldest brother is a Vietnam vet under the care of veterans affairs.When my father found out my brother had volunteered for Vietnam he went apoplectic, he was mortified to say the least.You see it’s all nice on paper ,looking at maps,National Geographic, attending courses at university, going to the dances and uni piss ups and discussing those poor sods who are getting our freedom for us.Well a hot flash! it is the poor mugs at the lower end of the socio economic ladder that has to do all the ‘democratizing’ and any contrary opinion to this salient fact, I wont even dignify with a reply.

    I am an ex soldier myself, and lucky to have never fired a shot in anger, I do not need any lectures on the suffering of people due to war.I have experienced the propaganda used first hand to create the hate that’s necessary to do the killing.You see it’s hard to kill a man looking through a sniper scope if you don’t hate his guts..Of course it is lost on most here, when you start to propagandize your own troops and citizens with a load of lies to achieve your own deceitful objectives, you are at the same level as your enemy.

    Is all I am saying is this, all what has been said up to now has obviously a lot of truth to it, however this was never about freedom for the Iraq’s or any other lofty ideals.This was about the hegemony of the U.S. and how much money could be extracted out of Iraq via the oil pipelines.But my own added theory is, this was/is about the U.S military which needs its raison detre, which if the pundits are right,Iran have a load of bombs due their way some time soon.

    Jin,group think par excellence alright, you’re correct, you can’t make this stuff up, and it didn’t escape my notice the subtle insults.You see Jin being a lowly old working class stiff,well in my case anyway, automatically precludes you from having a cogent opinion of your own.If you haven’t studied Hayek,Voltair, Marks, or the latest philosopher of the week around the water cooler, you’re regarded as the village idiot.And no more is this reflected in the current government,these elitists had better get their brains and bums wired together and some time soon, Abbott is knocking on the door of the lodge.God! help us.

  41. 41 Arthur

    It’s fairly typical of people who never learned to think for themselves and were so blindly stupid as to “support the troops” in the Vietnam war, to continue not actually thinking for themselves when they finally realize that they were lied to and instead just adopt a generally cynical attitude, instead of trying to figure out how the world actually works, and how to change it.

    For your information, we were on the winning side of the war your brother fought on the losing side of, and we worked damn hard to defeat the Army you are so proud of having joined. A major reason why you never had to fire a shot in anger is that we made sure no Australian government would ever dare risk anything like Vietnam again. The comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam are being made by people who were on the wrong side in both. While only a minority supported the Vietnamese liberation struggle, we actually knew what we were doing, and also knew far more about Vietnam than supporters of the war did. We certainly knew how to mobilize. There is no such mobilization over Iraq despite a passive majority cynicism, because nobody who actually thinks for themselves, and knows how to organize, would be caught dead on the side of the fascists.

  42. 42 PhillB

    Arthur go away,you have insulted me enough.It is obvious you have a reading problem, you should book in to your local Doctor he may want to check you for ‘Dyslexia’ it is now covered under Medicare as far as I know. I can hear the flapping of white coats, I am being very polite under the circumstances.

    Any further correspondence with you is not worthy of my time.What you know about ‘the workings of the world’ much less the conflict in Vietnam, would fit on the back of a postage stamp.

    I will leave you with this little thought.

    Present knowledge of the people
    Is a fog above the field:
    When the sun mounts the horizon
    To its rays the mist will yield


  43. 43 Arthur

    Jin, every significant underground opposition party in Iraq joined the Interim Government Council – it was the broadest anti-US united front ever formed in the middle east ranging from the Communist Party through to the Muslim Brotherhood (still the main non-Baathist Sunni party) as well both the major Shia parties allied with Iran and of course both the major Kurdish parties. The attempts to paint these parties as US puppets illustrates just how little the anti-war movement actually knows about Iraq. The “guerilla attacks” these trotskyites are praising are in fact the mass murder attacks on the Iraqi people described in your ReliefWeb link. (The negligible US casualties in comparison to the numbers of Iraqis murdered indicate who they are fighting and who the trots are supporting).

    BTW your earlier mention that the Shia got 60% of the parliamentary elections as a result of ethnic cleansing shows the same level of ignorance as Henry Kissinger who referred to the “Shia minority” in fact Iraq has about 20% each for Sunni Arab and Kurdish minorities and 60% Shia.

  44. 44 Jin


    Could be a case of follow the leader – check this out:

    ‘There is no shortage of wretched betrayals in the annals of Stalinism. But the decision of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) to join the Governing Council hand-picked by the Bush administration to provide a façade for its neo-colonial subjugation of the country is without precedent.

    The very fact that Washington invited the ICP to join its puppet administration in Baghdad testifies to the depth of the crisis that the US confronts in Iraq. Three months after the invasion, US troops are subject to daily guerrilla attacks and face growing opposition from a hostile population that lacks basic essentials such as food, clean water and electricity.

    Yet as crowds of Iraqis take to the streets to demand an end to the US occupation, the ICP has joined what is widely reviled as a quisling administration. At its first meeting on July 13, ICP leader Hamid Majid Mousa took his seat alongside the squalid assortment of Iraqi exiles, businessmen, clerics, political charlatans and outright criminals, such as convicted embezzler Ahmed Chalabi, that comprise the Governing Council.

    The ICP has attempted to justify its decision by arguing that the body constitutes a step towards democracy and the independence of Iraq. In doing so, the Stalinists are simply mouthing the pretexts offered by the gangsters of the White House for their illegal invasion of Iraq. Washington’s aims were never to “liberate” the Iraqi people but to occupy the country in order to loot its resources and further its ambitions throughout the Middle East.

    By participating in the Governing Council, the ICP has legitimised an illegitimate war and given its stamp of approval for ongoing US rule over Iraq. It now bears full political responsibility for Washington’s policies, including the savage repression of any resistance and the plans of US corporations to take over and plunder the country’s economy—above all, its vast reserves of oil.

    In light of this wretched history, the ICP’s decision to enter Washington’s puppet body in Baghdad, while seemingly at odds with its past rhetoric, is entirely explicable. Throughout its existence, the ICP has sought to attach itself to one or other section of the Iraqi bourgeoisie. The ability of these layers to posture as “anti-imperialist” rested on their ability to manoeuvre during the Cold War between Washington and Moscow. But that evaporated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Throughout the 1990s, even the most radical of the national liberation movements—from the PLO in the Middle East to the ANC in South Africa—abandoned any opposition to the dictates of the major powers.’



    More info on the candidates being banned from the March 7 “election” – many are Shi’ites and secular.


  45. 45 Arthur

    Whoops, that was meant to be “ethnic cleansing”.

  46. 46 PhillB

    Jin, yes I agree with you whole heartedly.One of the few Australian investigative journalists left with any integrity John Pilger, has done excellent work on the aftermath of the Iraq war, the elections,the shenanigans with international corporations, and especially on exposing the CIA stooge Ahmed Chalabi.Who by all accounts was in on the carve up of the resources of Iraq, long before Bush could find it on a map.I remember Pilgers last visit to Australia when he received the ‘Sydney peace prize’the Liberal Party in question time, were using every opportunity to sully the good man’s name.

    As you know, the only thing fascists hate worse than a lefty, is an astute, educated, switched on lefty.:)

    As an aside Pilger wrote an excellent book ‘ A Secret Country’ It digs up the dirt on our glorious leaders from both sides of the political spectrum.As far as I know and can be corrected if I’m wrong, he hasn’t been successfully sued as yet?The man along with Phillip Adams, is a national treasure.

    Jin as you know, ‘Ägent Provocateurs’ are the stock in trade of the ruling class, they permeate every facet of our life from the machinations of M.E. politics, to our own home grown ‘Union movement’ to possibly some of the nonsense on this blog, who knows?

    I remember when I was living in South Australia many years ago one of my hero’s a one Don Dunstan the then Premier of the state exposed the far reach of the special branch of the police, who were operating well outside of their brief.They were keeping files on the citizens, mostly lefty’s of course, and shock horror the Premier.A police commissioner eventually got the sack.A story for another time perhaps.

    Anyway I’m about done with this subject, there will not be (much to my dis-pleasure) anything good in the future coming out of M.E. politics any time soon apart from a lot more killing, mostly women and children who always seem to get caught up in it.

    I remember watching the BBC back when the COW was bombing Baghdad during fiasco mark 2. a local man had his wife and daughter in a type of hand cart.The daughter, had her bowels draped over her knees, put you in mind of a butcher shop.The wife had half her face missing.The husband was, as you would be, inconsolable.It was seared into my brain. (Yes Arthur I do have one)Then came Bali, it was at this point I realized, this world is set on a course to Armageddon, and nothing is going to stop it.Not bad seeing that I am an atheist.


  47. 47 keza

    Excellent material in this thread for some friends of mine on a distant planet who have been studying cognitive dissonance in Homo Sapiens (Sapiens). Anyone mind if I send it to them? It’s possible that they’ll share some their preliminary findings.

  48. 48 Jin


    There’s an excellent dissection by Guy Rundle at Overland http://www.overlandexpress.org/187%20rundle.html
    of the manouvreings of the Australian pro-war ‘left’ cadre post-invasion.

    ‘Advocating ‘humanitarian’ war but ducking responsibility for unintended consequences is a deeply corrupting process. Not surprisingly, the pro-war Left responded to the failure of their project by blaming the anti-war movement for being right about the outcome but for the wrong reasons. Since most of the local pro-war Left were fairly dim bulbs, the publication of Nick Cohen’s What’s Left? was a godsend, as Cohen – unlike the locals – had a knowledge of the key events of the twentieth century, even if his interpretation of such was manifestly inadequate to anyone but a features writer.
    Cohen’s logic defined the Left by the struggle against fascism, declared all dictatorial regimes fascist and therefore concluded that the Left had betrayed itself.
    The syllogism appealed to Bone, whose desperation was now visible:

    Yes, those who opposed the Iraq war are entitled to feel vindicated. But wouldn’t you think leftist commentators could put aside their self-righteousness long enough to support the Iraqis who are trying to build a free and democratic society? (Australian, 1 February 2007)

    Bone is, one assumes, doing volunteer work in a Baghdad hospital to atone for her errors.
    Julie Szego, the pale copy of Bone now occupying the same slot at the Age, recounted Cohen’s thesis and concluded:

    Defending fascist regimes is a sign of moral cancer. (Age, 20 February 2007)

    Nelson Mandela and Xanana Gusmao, among others, spoke out against war. Such people presumably knew something about state terror and ‘fascism’. But Szego’s reasoning is so circular as to be proof against absurdity.
    It takes deep ignorance to hold these positions – just as the stances of the pro-war Right require a profound callousness. Frank Devine, Greg Sheridan and Gerard Henderson never gave a damn about the Iraqi people or overthrowing fascism – they are willing to actively or passively support most of the grisly Right-wing dictatorships on offer, in Latin America or elsewhere. Christopher Pearson coyly referred to his Leftist background in a couple of articles, without revealing that he was once a fervent Maoist, attracted to a movement that had become a cult of violence for the same reason he was later drawn to mother church, out of desperate psychological need rather than any political logic. Albert Langer, Kerry Langer and Barry York, other Maoists or ex-Maoists who gained access to the op-ed pages to argue a pro-war line (and signed their articles with embarrassing cries of “long live the bourgeois democratic revolution!”), were operating out of the same unreality that once convinced them that Mao’s analysis of peasant societies applied to Australia in the 1970s.
    Whatever their divisions, all of this shabby crew remain united in their inability to face the basic truth that the Iraq invasion involved the visiting of high-tech death on a largely defenceless society. What will be the ultimate effect of this fiasco for the pro-war commentariat? They will probably be a bit more circumspect, aware that the Australian public is decidedly against the war.’

    Apparently not – the prospect of yet another ‘election’ in Iraq has roused the sordid crew once more.

    😉 😉

    Rundle holds the pro-war left partly responsible for the dreadful devastation of Iraq and I agree.

    ‘With the majority of Australian people from all political persuasions always (aside from a brief period at the very start) opposed to military action, an elite political-journalistic commentariat took it upon themselves to cajole a recalcitrant public into a war. In a culture where journalism is already something of a debased activity, the pundits took the profession to depths never before plumbed.
    The pro-war commentariat was, in other words, responsible, in some measure at least, for the horror in Iraq. The pro-war Right provided the bodyguard of lies for allied governments; the pro-war ‘liberal Left’ did what it could to divide the anti-war opposition. Together, they helped create the situation in which the atomised violence of today’s Iraq could take place. Every pool of blood is tracked through by their footprints.’

    Cheers PhilB and feel free to email me 🙂

  49. 49 Barry

    Jin and PhilB can go on all they like – the Iraqis will not be at all influenced by them (and their fellow formula-thinkers around the world) and President Obama will not be influenced either. You see, history does pass people and policies by. Those who are so totally by-passed by history naturally become angry, frustrated, nasty. Those of us who supported and celebrated the victory and now watch optimistically the gradual unfolding of further progress… well… we just continue to rock on!

    The Iraqis will continue along the federal democratic constitutional path that allows for competitive multi-party elections while also ensuring that no single ethnic group can dominate. No US administration can impose a dictator onto the Iraqi people again. And neither the Jins/PhilBs or anyone else can conjure up mass support for the utterly discredited fascists, crypto-fascists and jihadists, who continue to attempt to create hatred and suffering, and their overt supporters (such as Pilger) who claim they represent some kind of legitimate resistance.

    A year or so ago, a contributor to this site known as cyberman talked of the embryonic ‘national liberation movement’ in Iraq. Ho hum. Looks like the embryo was aborted. The Iraqi people prefer the ballot box to bombs. How surprising.

    Obama continues to implement the Iraq strategy of George W Bush and co., and is implementing the Status of Forces Agreement negotiated between the Iraqis and the US Bush administration.

    People such as Jin and PhillB represent a very hard-core position. Yes, there were demonstrations against the war in Iraq, in March 2003, that were bigger than those I attended and helped organise in Melbourne against the US in Vietnam in the late 1960s. But these died in the arse as soon as the ‘anti-war’ supporters came to see that there was something in this talk of ‘liberation’ after all. They could see that, contrary to what Chomsky was guaranteeting, the US did not simply replace one dictator with another, and they could see that the Iraqis were actually able to vote in competitive multi-party elections for a government of their choosing – something that was impossible under the old regime.

    Nearly everyone I knew was opposed to the war in March 2003. However, by March 2005, only a handful were still strongly opposed to it. The line had changed from one of ‘Bush is insane’ and ‘blood for oil’ to one of ‘well, let’s hope things work out for the Iraqis, let’s hope the new democracy works’. This was the attitude of those who none the less still thought the war was wrong – but they at least had good-will toward the Iraqi people. They abhored the bombings in market-places but could see that these weren’t planted by US forces!

    You see, it’s easy to mobilize large numbers against a war waged on false pretences (WMDs) but impossible to mobilize many people at all against troops that defended the people in exercising their newly-won right to vote.

    Of the dozens of friends and acquaintenances of mine who marched in March 2003, today there might be two or three would would support a demonstration against ‘the occupation’.

    Unfortunately, I see no sign of good-will towards the Iraqi people on the part of Jin or PhilB. They seem to me to be on the side of those who would reap havoc upon Iraq – with each new market bombing they can claim the Bush strategy has failed. Yet the Iraqi people will continue to vote in large majorities at federal and local elections and continue to shape their own future under conditions of developing democracy.

    And the likes of Pilger, et al, will become even more frustrated and angry at their side’s defeat, and nasty.

    I spent years debating all this and won’t be getting sucked into a ground-hog day merry-go-round in this thread. My side won in Iraq as surely as it won in Vietnam: I rejoice when fascist regimes that the US created are overthrown. And, no, it matters not that it was the US that basically overthrew such a regime in Iraq, as I much prefer US governments that use military might to overthrow tyranny to those that use it to keep tyranny in place.

    Solidarity with Iraq!

  50. 50 Philly

    Jin, I read the Rundle burst, excellent, and of course cannot be faulted in his conclusions.I always knew the media in this country, and the U.S. cushioned the natural response to what was/is proved to be a fiasco in Iraq.No where is this more demonstrated than with the moronic Fox news network.Some of the regulars on this propaganda outlet for the Republican party, are barking mad.They pour out the Republican talking points on a daily basis, and the very fact that there are people taking in every syllable of this sham, explains to me why they pulled off the invasion of Iraq with out a whimper from the people.All the bleatings here by the pseudo left will not change that fact.

    A small snippet to demonstrate medias connivance.I remember during the Vietnam conflict,I think it was the the Age who had a cartoon depicting an Australian soldier pulling a rickshaw with a Vietcong soldier, and a well proportioned blond Anglo Saxon girl in it. No further examination is needed really.It is featured in Tom Urens biography,a minister in the Whitlam government.

    Another was the scandal of the hanging of Ronald Ryan in 1967.A BBC documentary on capital punishment was pulled by the Packer empire about a week before he was hanged, as was an anti capital punishment editorial in Newsweek magazine.This was actually picked up from the vendors, after it had already been delivered on the streets for sale.

    Of course two examples of media influence does not a Dr Goebbels make,but they are two that are seared into my memory.

    Jin you know, after Vietnam I thought well, the deaths of approx 58000 American troops a bit over 500 Australians and possibly millions of Vietnamese,unknown numbers of Cambodians and who knows who else.Well, I thought that’s it, no more, the people have finally got the message, the people have finally worked out we are being lied to.(I worked out it was a nationalist war long before we had the “Reds under the beds” scare).But no the war machine moves on,for mine Iran is probably going to be next on the “Democratization”‘ list???

    As an aside, I see the fundamentalist cracker jack Pat Robertson has just come out and told the American people, Haiti deserved the earth quake that has just destroyed it.This is what we are dealing with,and here’s me thinking this is the type of person Bush was getting his advice from.I thought it bad enough when Ronny Raygun was consulting the stars he he.If it wasn’t all so serious,you could laugh, or in my case cry.


  51. 51 Jin


    Your admiration for imperialism is palpable. Mired in false dichotomies and self-congratulation, you don’t appear to mind what crimes empire commits as long as it executes your bloody agenda.

    You crow inanely about your ‘side’ winning and the nobbling of the anti-war voice in Australia for which the Murdoch gutter press must take much credit. Strange bedfellows you choose, on par with the slimy marriage of convenience with the US hegemon which has now managed to disburse 80% of Iraq’s sweet crude from its people.

    Armament sales to the Iraq government are booming – that will take care of the profits from the other 20% oil. Just another debt dependent middle east state enslaved to the neoliberal machine via weapons purchases – the insatiable Beast must be fed perpetually with the blood and treasure of the wretched of the earth. And you thought it was about liberation? you poor naive sod.

    Are you so blinded by tumultuous lust that it has escaped your notice that the Iraqi community has been nearly unilaterally against the US occupation which is responsible and is seen as responsible by Iraqis for inciting most of the violence since 2003?

    Meanwhile, 500 candidates have been disallowed from the forthcoming Iraqi ‘elections’ by the Iraqi puppet government. This makes it ever more likely that Sunnis will once again boycott the election as they did in 2005 – so much for free, multiparty elections. Nothing like a good purge, eh, comrade?

    “Among the most prominent to be banned was Saleh al-Mutlak, a secular Sunni lawmaker who heads the National Dialogue Front.

    Mahmud Othman, an independent Kurdish MP, said that decision would harm efforts towards national reconciliation, seen as key to reducing instability in a country that was engulfed in sectarian bloodshed in 2006 and 2007.”


    ‘Al-Mutlak dismissed the allegation against him and says he will appeal.

    Analysts say the announcement is a blow to U.S. officials who hope the election will bring opposition factions into the political process and stabilize the Iraqi government.

    At least 13 other parties were also banned for ties to the Baath regime.

    Opposition leaders said the decision could lead to a strong reaction from Sunni voters.’


    Sunnis constitute up to 37% of the electorate – what chance reconciliation and democracy if they do not have legitimate representation?

  52. 52 Jin

    Here is your Iraqi ‘democracy’

    “Maliki’s election platform: 900 Iraqi prisoners face summary execution

    In the run-up to elections, Maliki proposes executions to bolster his chances

    Democracy in the new Iraq equals death and repression

    The current regime in Iraq serves the US occupation: it is the occupation that kills Iraqis

    The machine of repression and death in Iraq continues unabated. The Presidential Council of Iraq has reportedly ratified the death sentences of some 900 detainees who languish on death row. Some 17 of them are confirmed to be women.

    None of the condemned had a fair trial. The Iraqi judicial system has been deemed corrupt, fundamentally dysfunctional and plagued with sectarianism by responsible international agencies and all major human rights organisations. Hundreds of lawyers have been assassinated since 2003. The Association of Iraqi Lawyers has publicly declared that it cannot reach the detainees.

    In a bid to eliminate its political opponents, further terrorise the Iraqi people, ostensibly into submission, and to be casted the “tough leader” the US pretends it is currently seeking for Iraq, Nouri Al-Maliki has pledged to carry out these executions ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled in March of 2010.

    Iraq already has one of the highest rates of executions in the world. On a single day in June, 19 people were hanged in Baghdad. Without global action, 900 people will be hanged imminently.

    A culture of terror and detention

    Terror through mass detention, torture and abuse is one of the trademarks of the US occupation and Maliki. In addition to mass killing, mass forced displacement, the contamination of Iraqi soil, the destruction of all public infrastructure and means of survival, tens of thousands of Iraqis are arbitrarily detained in both official and ghost facilities all over Iraq.

    Exact figures of the number, age and gender of detainees are withheld by authorities. Those who want investigations on abuse are either threatened or killed. In June 2009, Harith Al-Obaidi, an MP and critic of human rights abuses, announced in parliament his plan to investigate allegations of corruption, torture and abuse in Iraqi prisons. He was assassinated the following day.

    Depending on the source, the number of detainees varies from 44,014 to some 400,000. Tens of thousands of families don’t know the fate of a loved one arbitrarily arrested. Even the number of detention facilities is unknown. The ICRC, responsible for monitoring prisoners in time of conflict, has repeatedly complained of being denied access to all “field operation detention facilities” and secret prisons. Amnesty International, the International Federation of Human Rights and even the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, mandated by the Security Council to provide human rights reporting, are denied access to official detention centres by US Command.

    The Red Cross has reported that intelligence officers of the US occupation themselves estimate that 70-90 per cent of Iraqi detainees are arrested “by mistake”. The majority is taken in sweeping and arbitrary mass arrest campaigns. They are held incommunicado, without charges, without visits from families or access to lawyers, for indefinite periods. The few who are formally accused are charged on the basis of confessions made under torture or the testimonies of dubious informants of the occupation. No tangible evidence is ever provided.

    Since 2003, an estimated 2,400 children have been detained by the US, some as young as 10 years old. After denying it for years, the occupation has now acknowledged that a large but unspecified number of women are being held. Many were kidnapped to blackmail their husbands, accused of “terrorism,” into surrendering. They often have their infants and children in prison with them. Several women inmates interviewed by UN researchers reported being raped and sexually abused while held in custody. The US bears primary and final responsibility for these conditions.

    Democracy in the new Iraq: repression

    Everyday news outlets report more arrests and new killings by persons wearing official uniforms. The Maliki government praises itself for the recent waves of detention. Since its appointment, all it has succeeded in achieving is more repression of his opponents while the crimes against innocent people had never been investigated and punished.

    Under occupation, Iraq has become the second most corrupted country in the world, the trade of prisoners one of the government militias’ most lucrative businesses. The police kidnap, hold prisoners in ghost prisons, sell them and blackmail their families for ransom with impunity.

    Year after year, alarming reports have been published by leading human rights organisations, inside and outside Iraq, pointing to random arrests, unlawful detentions, summary executions, abuses, rape and torture of prisoners in Iraq, both at the hands of occupation forces and their local armed gangs.

    Under false accusations and deceitful propaganda, the absence of law or a functioning judicial system, and with the support of the US for its puppet government, humanity and the rights of the human being are insulted every day in Iraq. Millions of Iraqis are suffering.

    An occupation that tries to impose its plans and interests by force and destruction on a people whose rights, interests and identity is to resist it can only result in the perpetuation of genocide — the intended destruction of Iraq and the Iraqi people as a state and nation.

    Call for global action

    * We call on all to work to stop these executions and impose a moratorium on the death penalty in Iraq.

    * We demand the release of all political prisoners, held in custody in official prisons and ghost facilities by the US, the US installed Iraqi government and the militias, brought to Iraq by the US occupation.

    * Every Iraqi deserves protection and justice. Unfair trials in Iraq must be stopped.

    * We call on the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in Iraq.

    * We call on all organisations that defend the first human right — the right to life — to take up with urgency the cause of the 900 prisoners on death row in Iraq.

    * We call on all lawyers associations to protest the absence of law and due process in Iraq, and to declare the imminent execution of these 900 prisoners unlawful.

    * 900 prisoners killed in Iraq would be 900 insults to the common conscience of humanity.

    * We call on all to do everything within their means to bring the cases of these 900 prisoners facing death to the public eye, and to demand action by relevant authorities.

    * The US occupation of Iraq must end. It is that occupation that is the ultimate rope around the neck of Iraq, and the ultimate prison for the Iraqi people.”

    More information here:

  53. 53 steve owens

    Keza, in your Jan 11 reply to Jin you state that “Of course ex Baathists are ecluded from running for office..” and you chide Jin for siding with 14 ex Baathists who have been excluded from running in the up coming election.

    I think that it’s worth noting that the 14 has now blown out to 500.

    One of the excluded is Abdul-Kader Jassem al-Obeidi.

    Now ask yourself is this man really being excluded because he was a Baath Party member.

    He broke with the Baath Party in the 1990’s he was imprisoned by them and tourtured.

    He currently holds the post of Defense Minister in the government of Iraq.

    This is the quality of the people being caught up in de Baathification?

  54. 54 informally yours

    Jin says ‘Sunnis constitute up to 37% of the electorate – what chance reconciliation and democracy if they do not have legitimate representation?’ Fair enough question and I would answer no chance. So are the 37% Sunnis in this situation? No they are not. For a start about half of the Sunnis are Kurds! So rather than thinking that the situation is 2 V 3 in presumably a looming civil war the correct number is 1 V 4 Jin.

    Jin will not stop to think about what if the 4 would not stay in their place at the back of the bus, and launched their own war of liberation that Jin would have no doubt fully supported. That would have been the massive civil war (that would have without the western occupation actually preventing it inevitably broken out) and also just as inevitably have gone regional as it dragged in all the surrounding countries without exception.

    IMV this worse situation has actually been avoided. No other countries will be intervening in Iraq and they will all be compelled by their own self interests to help fight the non state forces that are always heading into Iraq to blow up market’s and religious festivals etc.

    The Kurds are firmly united with the Shia Arabs against any reactionary Arab Sunnis and are not complaining about their proportional representation. Neither are the Arab Sunnis!

    Whatever the electoral issues are they are not about legitimate and proportional representation. Now I don’t think this sort of fundamental error will faze Jin one bit. I hope I am wrong But…

  55. 55 steve owens

    The number of banned ex Baathists now stands at 511.
    It is a bit yes ministerish when you look at the case of Saleh-al-Mutlay who was expelled from the Baath Party in 1977 after he insisted that 5 Shiite men recieve a fair trial. Hell you wouldnt like people like that in public life.

  56. 56 steve owens

    What I think is going on is that the up coming election will be contested by three main groups, one the Shiite religious parties who have now stopped murdering each other and have formed a political union the SCII and the Sadrists, two is the moderate Shiite parties lead by Maliki and third are the secular parties lead by Alawi.
    Maliki’s problem is that in a polarising election his middle group may fall between 2 stools.
    This is why he has resorted to undemocratically banning secular candidates. He wants a bipolar rather than tri polar contest.
    Some reports see the hand of Iran in all this but I think it’s Maliki because when the controversy started he argued that there should be no political interference which is pretty rich seeing that the members of the committee that makes these bans and the committee that hears appeals are all nominated by himself.

  57. 57 steve owens

    Good news President Talabani has ordered a Presidential probe into the legitimacy of the banning of candidates.
    Just on that the members of the committees that did the banning are candidates themselves, a strange system where candidates vet other candidates.

  58. 58 Barry

    Omar and Mohammed, who run the ‘Iraq the model’ site, have started a couple of threads on this topic: http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/ (Need to scroll down).

    Omar and Mohammed have consistently supported, and been part of, the Iraqi democratic forces and, in providing grass-roots perspectives, have been supportive of the Coalition of the Willing, while also being critical of developments that work against the development of democracy.

    Someone recently asked at this site how are the Iraqis better off now? One immediate answer is that they are now able to take to the streets in protest marches and I’m sure there will be demonstrations in the streets about the list of 511 (though the list itself is not final, as individuals may appeal).

    I certainly don’t have enough knowledge to know whether the list is entirely wrong-headed or partially so. I support de-Baathification, as a necessary step forward in the development of democracy, but it doesn’t make much sense to ban people who are already part of the parliamentary political process and have done well within it.

    Anyway, here’s what Mohammed and Omar have to say:

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Who is the Ban Targeting?
    Feeling the need to provide an explanation, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki asserted that the decision to ban 500 candidates from general elections is not targeting Sunni Arabs. He said that Sunni Arabs are more than necessary as partners in the political process and that their participation in the March elections is even more important than it was in 2005.

    Maliki told al-Iraqia TV on Tuesday night that although the list of banned candidates includes many Sunni names, it also includes Shiites, perhaps in greater numbers, according to Maliki. He also pointed out that 70% of the Ba’ath Party members were Shiite.

    Maliki might be right in saying that more Shiites were banned than Sunnis. However, it is obvious now that, unlike with Sunni candidates, none of the banned Shiite candidates is a prominent political figure. In fact, the media so far has not mentioned the names of any of those disqualified Shiite candidates. I suspect that even of the names are made public no one would recognize them nor would I expect their disqualification affect their blocs in any significant manner.

    The other important and suspicious point about the ban is that the banned politicians have been part of the political process for several years. This and the timing raise suspicion about the intentions of the Maliki government and the “justice and accountability commission.” While major existing partners in the political process are banned over alleged ties to the Ba’ath Party, the government is at the same time making deals with hostage killers like the group known as Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and is trying to persuade them to join the political process.

    In light of these facts and suspicions, the ban is perceived by some in Iraq as a systematic targeting of the Sunni political class. Others think the target is nationalist non-sectarian blocs. I agree more with the latter in that the targets are actually blocs that identify themselves as nationalist/anti-sectarian. We can see for example that Salih Al-Mutlaq and Saad Aasim AL-Janabi (two prominent Sunni banned politicians) are members of the coalitions led by Iyad Allawi and Jawad Al-Bolani respectively. Considering that both Allawi and Bolani are secular nationalist Shiites, it would be wrong to consider the ban as to be targeting Sunni Arabs.

    These two coalitions I mentioned (Allawi’s and Bolani’s) represent the most viable and credible attempts at creating political blocs that transcend sectarian affiliations. That’s why I think these heterogeneous coalitions were seen as a serious threat to coalitions that are more homogenous in their ethnic and sectarian composition like Maliki’s, ISCI-Sadr, PUK-KDP. The ban is therefore a manifestation of the struggle between the proponents of a consensus-based political process (like the one in Lebanon) and those of an actual democracy.

    Posted by Mohammed @ 21:27

    Comments (5)

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    Several hundred candidates from about a dozen political blocs will reportedly be banned from Iraq’s upcoming general elections in March.

    The problem with this decision is that it seriously threatens to pull Iraq back to the political and security instability of several years ago, when boycotts and political sidelining put the country on the road to civil war.

    The selective enforcement of law is not justice. It is also outrageous when the entity in charge of enforcing the “justice and accountability law” is led by a terror suspect.

    Ali Faisal Al-Lami, the current head of the commission that issued the ban admitted that he supports one of the most notorious Iran-sponsored armed militias in Iraq.

    To appoint a “reconciled” terrorist facilitator in a position where he judges who’s qualified to run for office and who’s not is a disaster. Whether Mutlaq and the other 500 candidates deserve to be banned or not is now irrelevant.

    If the “justice and accountability law” is to be enforced, it should be enforced impartially on all Iraqi parties that have had a role in violence, before and after 2003 alike. Otherwise the law must be revised, suspended or, discarded altogether. After all, having two separate penal codes in one country does not foster justice and rule of law.

    The ban has inflamed suspicions that the “justice and accountability law” is about exterminating the Sunni Arab constituent from political life to serve the Maliki’s ambitions and Iran’s interests–it is not about justice.

    Since the surge began in 2007, Americans and Iraqis paid an immense price in blood and treasure to defeat our mutual enemies and make progress happen. We cannot allow this progress to be undone.

    Posted by Omar @ 20:26

    Comments (2)

  59. 59 steve owens

    Barry there have been recent demonstrations but these have been demonstrations in favour of the debaathification laws.
    Setting up committees that ban candidates comes straight out of Iranian election playbook.(not hard to believe when lots of Iraqi politicians see Iran as the democratic model) That the standard for banning is previous Baath Party membership then the standard is ludicrously low as Baath Party membership was a requirement to study at university , work in the public service or even to obtain a visa to travel outside the country.
    Ayad Allawi must be at some risk as he was a Baath Party member and the head of the committee has stated that there will be more people banned. Ahmed Chalabi has stated that America is planning to hand Iraq back to the Baath Party. Quite a bit of hysteria has been generated by Prime Minister Maliki who for the last few months has been blaming Baath Party members for everything.
    Joe Biden spoke to Maliki this weekend. The result was that Maliki told meetings the next day the he dares the Baathist to stage a coup and that he will chop off their hands. Well if Biden told him to tone it down he went straight to the Israeli playbook.

  60. 60 Jin

    The ban ‘could trigger a resurgence in sectarian attacks, reversing a fall in violence in the last two years that has allowed U.S. forces to eye a 2011 withdrawal date and Iraq to sign major oil deals.’


    “the candidate ban before the election, seen as crucial to solidifying Iraq’s young democracy and settling disputes over territory and vast oil reserves, was indiscriminate and a ploy to eliminate election rivals and detract from the current government’s failures.”


    “The focus on Baathists benefits the ruling Shi’ite parties as it distracts attention from corruption, still creaky public services like power, and security breaches that have allowed several major suicide bomb attacks in recent months. Maliki has staked much of his re-election hopes on being credited for a sharp fall in violence over the past two years.

    The spotlight on the Baath party also brings Iraq’s Shi’ite factions back together after Maliki had decided to run on his own against a coalition led by his former partners, ISCI.

    That serves Iran’s purposes, which would like to see a friendly Shi’ite-dominated government emerge in a neighbour with which it fought an 8-year war in the 1980s.”


  61. 61 Arthur

    I haven’t been following Iraqi politics for a while but from the material quoted here the extent of the attempted purge of candidates looks like a bad move which is correctly being resisted as going far beyond excluding Baathists to serve narrow interests and undermine reconciliation with non-Baathist Sunni Arabs.

    Nothing surprising about the Americans being on Alawi’s side and opposed to Chalabi on this (both were of course denounced as American puppets by “anti-imperialists”).

    What IS quite fascinating is how easily Jin spouts EXACTLY the same concerns as the Americans while firmly convinced that by doing so she is fighting them! Somehow it all fits together in a world view that has given up all hope of coherence.

  62. 62 steve owens

    Arthur it’s not just the banning of candidates, it’s the arrest of a leading candidate from Diyala province by special forces sent from Baghdad after he criticized the security forces and the issuing of warrants for 5 members of Diyala’s legislature.
    Plus there’s Maliki’s intervention in Tikrit where the council sacked the governor a decision upheld by the Federal court only to have the governors office occupied by the Iraqi army in an attempt to stop the council from replacing the sacked governor.

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