a puzzle for some

Wandering Earl, a recent traveller to Kurdistan reports his impression of the people of a whole region who love George W Bush:

The Kurdish people are incredibly fond of foreigners, especially Americans, and not an hour goes by without a Kurd telling you how much they love George Bush and the USA. The Kurds benefited immensely during Bush’s eight year presidency, as the take down of Saddam led to a safer, freer and more autonomous Kurdistan.
How safe is travelling to Iraq

62 Responses to “a puzzle for some”

  1. 1 steve owens

    Bill why would Kurdish people waving US flags and generally speaking well and often of George Bush be a puzzle for any one? The Kurdish people lack the power to determine their future and have for many years looked to the more powerful to advance the agenda of Kurdish soveriegnty if not the agenda of Kurdish survival.
    Just look at the man in the picture with George, didn’t he form an alliance with Saddam even after Saddam had gassed thousands of Kurds?
    The Kurds clearly have the right to advance their interests in the manner of their choosing but why should we be surprised that they wish to curry favour with the only superpower except that they have put their trust in the USA before and it has been sorely tested.

  2. 2 steve owens

    What’s the difference between Barzani and Saddam? is an article by Michael Rubin

  3. 3 Bill Kerr

    The difference is between an immature, imperfect democracy with rule of law stipulated in a Constitution (Barzani) and a fascist, totalitarian dictatorship (Saddam). I think you are capable of noticing such a difference, as you said initially, it is not a puzzle.

    wrt the internal Kurdish war (1994-98):

    After several meetings between the KDP and the PUK, sponsored by the US, both leaders signed a peace agreement in Washington in August 1998 in the presence of the then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

    The accord was further cemented on 4 October 2002, when the joint Kurdish parliament reconvened and both leaders apologised to the families of the victims of their internal war.

  4. 4 steve owens

    Bill how long do we excuse people because democracy is new? How long do we remain silent about journalists being jailed or opposition members being murdered, or massive corruption by the ruling elites.
    It’s nice that the Kurdish leadership have apologised for enlisting the support of Saddam and the Iranian regimen in their efforts to kill their fellow Kurds but as Michael Rubin points out, why are people currently repressed for raising questions about the disapearence of thousands of Kurds at the hands of the current leadership?

  5. 5 patrickm

    Why would a person who did nothing when Saddam invaded Kuwait (except oppose the war to do something about it) mouth off now about the bad old Kurds?

    Not legitimate formal argument I know, but hell I think Steve must know BY NOW that Iraq is yet another war that his side lost.

    Let’s see; how many is that????

    How safe is travelling to Iraq was the real question?

    The answer to ‘making excuses’ is; that we can excuse them at least to the extent that we excuse Mandela and the South African (SA) progress. (And we don’t actually excuse)

    I might hate to live in either place but I know progress when I see it! I never hear pseudo’s moan and groan about SA!

    Why not start a whinge about how the Maoists are selling-out the Nepal revolution? At least that can change the broken record.

    Why not talk about what those nasty old imperialists are up to?

  6. 6 Bill Kerr

    I think the comparison with South Africa that pat makes does make the point that great progress towards democracy has been made in both countries (and both have a way to go yet) and yet many people view that progress in a different light because in the case of Iraq the United States played a leading role and in the case of South Africa they didn’t.

    Steve might argue that he is being more vigilant than everyone else in pointing out imperfections in Barzani and the present status of democracy for Iraqi Kurds. I agree that the Michael Rubin article is worth reading and raises some important concerns. But, as pat points out, it is peculiar that Steve is more focused on human rights in a region where there are more human rights than all the surrounding regions.

    The Kurds are clearly far better off in Iraq than in Iran, Syria, Turkey or The Caucasus as reported by the Kurdish Human Rights Project. The simple reality which they recognise and still acknowledge is that this is due in large part to the US government in the George W Bush years, as well as the no fly zone, established after the 1991 Gulf war, which protected them from Saddam before and during the GWB years. They now have a democracy to fight for, otherwise, without US support, they would have been dead.

  7. 7 Dalec

    There should be no mystery about all this. Some politician or party gets into power and stays there by opressing,jailing and killing the opposition. Is this new? I think not. Think the Roman Empire and all the other empires of antiquity.
    Some despot gets to control some global backwater so he cosies up to the nearest empire – is that new?
    Some despot gets control of an oil rich nation – cosies up to the most powerful empire in the region and kills off his opposition with gas supplied by said Empire. Then he gets too big for his boots and finishes up hanged by the empire – the Saddam solution. That’s not new.
    Occasional readers of this site have noted a huge void in the coverage of global events.
    Not a word about Afghanistan now I wonder why that would be?

  8. 8 Bill Kerr

    the evidence that many iraqi kurds love george w bush does not fit with your despot theory of history

  9. 9 Dalec

    Bill many Germans loved Adolph Hitler.
    Many Italians loved both Hitler and Mussolini
    Now what about Afghanistan?

  10. 10 Bill Kerr

    the Hitler equivalent was Saddam and the US and GWB’s popularity would IMO be due to their protection of the Kurds from Saddam and subsequently his removal

  11. 11 informally yours

    What about Afghanistan? Start by accepting war and the protracted nature of this one. Then…

    1. Make the policy of making ‘more friends and fewer enemies’ central.

    2. Advocate more troops and more fully deployed and ‘better’ (best trained and equipped etc..)placed Australian troops (what Maj.Gen. Jim Molan said) to back up Obama’s renewed but pathetic commitment (dragged kicking and screaming) to doing what needs to be done to conduct this obviously protracted and (winnable) war.

    3. Insist on the central basic tools that were used in Iraq in modernization, engage youth, and Proportional Representation to empower Afghani peoples to overcome centuries of oppressive ruling elites.

    4. Investigate possible truth and reconciliation process/commission with a view to 1. above

    5. Investigate establishing pharmaceutical production and all the issues that the Nepalese are coping with in their revolution.

    6. At all cost establish and protect girls self defense units/brigades in the context of flooding that backward country with modernity and the urban growth it implies.

    7. In short look very closely at the McCrystal plan and continue to perfect it.

    8. The McC plan is (for the real forces involved) the best way forward so far proposed.

    But communists ought to have something to add rather than leave the field to either the open reactionary, or the now discredited pseudo-left.

  12. 12 patrickm

    And we ought to treat the following type of poison with the contempt it deserves
    ‘Between then and now, the prime minister will stand over the graves of more dead Australian men — and, possibly women, which would make it a truly progressive war — a task she appears to find manifestly less disturbing than did John Faulkner. We will continue to search, in vain, for an advocate or agent of the war who darkened the door of a recruiting office in their youth, and we will tabulate those whose years of eligibility for service were spent instead in Socialist Forum, the Socialist Workers Party, the Monash Maoist Moratorium collective, the Adelaide Pol Pot fan club or climbing the greasy pole of professional journalism, their commitment to dulce et decorum est pro patria mori discovered around the day of their 36th birthday’


  13. 13 steve owens

    I think you raise a good point about comparing Northern Iraq with South Africa.
    Both areas were liberated with US support.
    The US helped the Kurds militarily and the US helped the South Africans by passing the Comprehensive Anti Aparteid Act.
    Both actions were crucial for the subsequent liberations.
    What I sought to examine were Northern Iraq’s claims at being a democracy. In both areas elections were held but Nelson Mandela was not associated massive corruption, or nepotism or restrictions to free speech or to repression of political adversaries. The leadership of both ruling parties has changed but in the Iraqi party the leadership stayed within the same family and may well do again on the next change.
    When Mandela came to power he initiated a commission to investigate past criminal activity. In northern Iraq asking for such a commission may well lead to repression.
    Michael Rubin a seemingly well informed commentator on northern Iraq questions whether a real democracy exists there at all.

  14. 14 steve owens

    Just a couple of points raised by Pat and Bill
    I was clearly making an error when I did not support the no fly zones. At the time I thought that the US was offering temporary protection that would be removed leaving the Kurds in a similar position to the Shia in the south when the US lifted the ban on Saddams troops from moving, there by allowing Saddam to crush the shia rebellion but still I should have been supporting any protection of the Kurds.
    Bill says that its peculiar that I am vigilant about Iraqi Kurdish rights but say nothing about abuses in neighbouring countries. Well Bill its simple that I assume we agree that oppression of Kurds occurs in Syria, Turkey and Iran. I assume agreement so why would I mention it. The point of argument is to define and resolve differences rather than to highlight points of agreement I would have thought.

  15. 15 Bill Kerr

    As a thought experiment, steve, lets say that the current government levels of corruption, nepotism, violation of democracy etc. could be measured and were found to be similar in the Iraq and South Africa.

    Would you then support the Iraq war?

  16. 16 steve owens

    Bill, Transparancy International do produce a corruption league table. South Africa ranks number 54. Iraq ranks 175 which is one rank above Burma and 41 ranks below Zimbabwe.
    I don’t think many people would join a crusade to produce an outcome that was only marginally better than Burma and no where near as good as Zimbabwe.

  17. 17 Bill Kerr

    Measuring Corruption in Iraq: Between Perceptions and Reality is a good rebuttal of Transparency International methods. There are also criticisms at wikipedia – Corruptions Perceptions Index – if you think anything coming out of Iraq is corrupt.

    You didn’t answer my thought experiment, steve.

  18. 18 steve owens

    Bill I have thought about your thought experiment but level of corruption wasnt part of my calculation when I was considering my position on the propsed war.
    Firstly I considered do I share the war aims? Secondly do the people of the affected country call for or oppose invasion? Thirdly is the war party capable of conducting the operation? Fourthly is the ecpected death toll worth the expected gain and Fithly what will the resultant society look like.
    Now if the answer to these questions had been Yes,yes, yes,yes and reasonable looking society, then the invasion would have had my support but sadly the answers were no, no, no, no and this looks not good on so many counts.

  19. 19 Dalec

    patrickm (Jan4th)
    Ok now we know that you do not like Rundles assessment of Afghanistan.
    What is yours??

  20. 20 patrickm

    Steve says ‘I don’t think many people would join a crusade to produce an outcome that was only marginally better than Burma and no where near as good as Zimbabwe.’

    Fact is Steve, Iraq is what struggle against tyranny etc., looks like while the world still has plenty of nasty forces that progressives are fighting. See the bombing of the Christians in Egypt? These forces are abundant in the swamp.
    You say;
    ‘Bill I have thought about your thought experiment but level of corruption wasn’t part of my calculation when I was considering my position on the proposed war.
    Firstly I considered do I share the war aims? No.’

    Remember the region wide political, cultural and economically peculiar swamp that led to 9/11 and is regularly producing the deaths of people like the Punjabi Governor and Christians in Egypt? You mistook the war aims to be about oil etc! But no matter that is all many years in the past. The first war gave way to the second war that you still don’t support! The Iraqi people fight the enemies of all progress. You don’t have to review your failure to understand the war aims, because it is over. The war outcome has been the smashing of the Baathist tyranny and a textbook example of a launch of the bourgeois revolution (see all the rights now in place). We say it was done in order to drain the swamp. The swamp had really been the identified problem that the war was designed to solve.

    ‘Secondly do the people of the affected country call for or oppose invasion? No.’ You say they did not call for or support the invasion! You imply that it’s a majority decision question and you back the “apparent” majority. What about the Kurds that fought side by side with the COW, you now say you were wrong about the No Fly Zones (but I have to tell you that this could only ever be a temporary measure and ground forces had to engage the Baathists – but really your ongoing error is quite blatant because the elections (unlike Afghanistan) can’t be reasonably disputed as free and fair and really have established who speaks for the Iraqi peoples’, and they have determined the current status of forces agreement, but you are STILL not prepared to support the Iraqis running their own country in their fight against the common enemy of all human progress.

    Further try that position with the Falkland Islands; Kuwait; Kosova; or even Japan, Germany; and Italy, yet another vital war that Trotskyites opposed working people uniting with their ruling class to win.

    ‘Thirdly is the war party capable of conducting the operation? No.’

    Yet war 1, seamlessly gave way to war 2 that is obviously making tremendous strides in dragging that sad backward country into the modern era of the 21C and infecting the whole region!

    Fourth, is the expected death toll worth the expected gain? No.
    Here I will just say a simple yes it is and note that no region wide war broke out. Civil war is incredibly bloody as a rule of thumb. Whatever was done badly it could get much much worse.

    ‘Fithly what will the resultant society look like.’ [presumably it still does not look good enough to you, yet if it stayed as was it would have been terrible and if the Saadrists had won they’d be carrying on like Iran!]

    You say ‘Now if the answer to these questions had been Yes,yes, yes,yes and reasonable looking society, then the invasion would have had my support but sadly the answers were no, no, no, no and this looks not good on so many counts.’

    What about how progressives ought to wage war in Pakistan and how internationalists ought to back this war launched against people who only wanted to vote in parliament to change a reactionary law? Can they take up arms and shoot back yet? Will you abandon them if they unite with other governments, or if they refuse to give any piece of Pakistan over to the enemy to run as they see fit because perhaps they form a majority in that particular region. What if the progressives chase the enemy all the way to Afghanistan? What if some of the progressives turn out to be corrupt? What if the Taliban style murderers of the Governor turn out to be virtuous in virtually every other respect other than not to tolerate advocacy of the law being changed re blasphemy?

    Dalec; I will explain my assesment later must run now.

  21. 21 steve owens

    Bill OK Ill give yor thought experiment a go.
    Would I support the war if I found that the levels of corruption, repotism, violation of democracy ect were measured and found to be equal in Iraq and South Africa.
    Well firstly I would have to imagine whether South Africa’s standards are lowered or Iraq’s are raised. OK say a new study was released and they were equal, say they both came in at number 100 on the percieved corruption scale.
    Well I would still be proud to have played some small part in the anti apartheid movement because South Africa was able to move from a nuclear armed exporter of terror with a racist ideology to a country that is a model for oppressed people and a model in conflict resolution strategies.
    Iraq even with an improved corruption record is a model to terrorists. The Iraq war has been a victory for Bin Laden. Abuses in the Iraq war have acted as a recruiting sargent for Bin Laden plus it easy access to real life fighting has lead to terrorist gaining good real time practice. Want IED trainning? then go to Iraq.
    No Bill your thought experiment only leads me to reaffirm my idea that the Iraq war was a bad idea. Its not just me, look at the army of people who endorsed the war and then jumped off. I have yet to meet any anti war person who now says “boy didnt we get that wrong”
    Although I must admit that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I stated that the war would turn Iraq into Somalia but it just seems to have recreated Beruit on the Tigris.

  22. 22 steve owens

    Patrick I like arguing about politics but I can’t argue with people who misrepresent my positions. I have never argued that the war was about oil. I have always argued that the war would be about a number of things oil being one of them. The best explanation Ive come across is by Richard A. Clarke in his book Against All Enemies where on page 265 he lists a number of reasons for the war and he should know he was National Coordinator for Security.
    He lists the reasons
    :To clean up the mess left by the first Bush administration….
    :To improve Israel’s strategic position by eliminating a large hostile military.
    :To create an Arab democracy that could serve as a model…..
    :To permit the withdrawl of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia….
    :To create another friendly source of oil… so as to reduce the dependency on Saudi Arabia…..
    Also you make reference to my criteria for invasion not holding up in the cases of Germany, Italy and Japan. I was talking about offense wars rather than a war fought after you have been attacked.
    As to the Fauklands well I never thought that maintaining a British possession just off the coast of Argentina was worth the cost in lives just as I didn’t think restoring the ruler of Kuwait to his throne was worth the estimated 200,000 lives. Therefor I think my guidlines war participation still hold up quite well.

  23. 23 Bill Kerr

    The key issue is that the Bushies intended to create democracy in iraq, as their best policy option following 9/11, and they have followed that through consistently. Iraq, like South Africa is a far from perfect democracy.

    I don’t think South Africa is a great model. High unemployment, high death toll , attacks on Zimbabweans fleeing Mugabe, some corruption in the government etc. Similar to Iraq in some ways.

    Appeasement of al qaeda is not going to work. But as you point out appeasement is a popular option, not for the first time. If appeasement wins out then worse things than 9/11 will eventually happen and appeasement will then be abandoned. al qaeda can’t win in the long run but they have to be defeated and there isn’t a nice way to do it.

    Eventually Iraq would have imploded anyway, when Saddam died, quite possibly leading to a widespread regional war. A lot of Iraqis have died. That also would have happened in any other clear eyed future scenario, not to mention Saddam’s many crimes. You can say “not in my name” but the reality is clear.

    Following the Vietnam war and the US failed Greater Israel ME policy anti-US sentiment has become the status quo and most people do not trust them to change their spots and actually support democracy in Iraq. The anti war feeling also feeds into socially strong pacifist sentiments in western democracies. The current process is slow and will likely go on for many more years. In that time people may or may not change their minds. Changing your mind is not a small thing. Chamberlain was a very popular leader before WW2.

    Lets postulate that the major contradiction in the world is the democratic aspirations of people versus the enemies of democracy. In some countries there are fascist governments that need to be overthrown – Iran, North Korea, Myanmar etc. US imperialism often lines up against those governments today, the role they are playing is different than in the Vietnam war period. History moves on and new situations arise. For their own self interest it now serves them better to support democracy in certain situations. On the other hand al qaeda is 100% enemy of the people.

  24. 24 Steve Owens

    Bill we live in a country thats griped with hysteria if a couple of hundred refugees arrive on boats. South Africa has taken in 1.5 million Zimbabwean refugees.
    How many refugees does Iraq take? oh thats right 2 million refugees have been fleeing Iraqi “democracy”

  25. 25 Bill Kerr

    Plenty of corruption in South Africa, Steve, according to Desmond Tutu:

    Tutu, seen by many as the conscience of South Africa, recently said he was grateful Mandela, who is 91 and retired, was not always aware of events in the nation.

    Expanding on this, Tutu wrote: “Issues such as corruption would certainly hurt him, as well as the gutter level of discourse by some politicians within the ruling party. We naively thought struggle attributes such as altruism were transferable, but sadly this was not the case, as seen by the high level of corruption that has plagued us since we gained our democracy.”

    The 78-year-old continued: “Poverty, health issues such as HIV and Aids, inadequate service delivery and lack of balanced discourse are some of the issues that would worry Mandela. One would have imagined that in our old age, we would sit back and watch the younger generation making a go of turning South Africa into a pride.”

    Of course if I was to go on and on about it you might even begin to think that I didn’t support the South African revolution, that I might think they were not yet mature enough to transcend Apartheid, that too many lives were lost in the struggle, corruption is rife, they have gone backwards since Mandella left government etc.

    So, let it be said that I support the imperfect South African democratic revolution, that I would not like to be seen as a person who only points out the deficiencies of that revolution and its outcomes.

  26. 26 steve owens

    I guess corruption is no problem unless somehow it’s entrenched in the system.

  27. 27 steve owens

    Fact check on my claim about death toll in Gulf war Jan 6 2011 @1140 my claim 200,000 seems gross overestimation Wikipedia claim 25,000 to 35,000 Iraqi dead 240 to 392 Coalition dead and 1,200 Kuwaiti dead. (note to self try to stop quoting from memory)

  28. 28 steve owens

    Bill a thought experiment for you. Long ago I stated that if Central and Southern Iraq had turned out as well as Northern Iraq then I would have to admit that I was wrong to oppose the war.
    Now Michael Rubin claims that Northern Iraq is starting to look like Syria. So the best part of Iraq now resembles Syria.
    If Iraq turns out to be like Syria will you still be pleased enough to claim the Invasion a success?

  29. 29 Bill Kerr

    I couldn’t find the michael rubin reference that northern iraq is starting to look like syria.

    > If Iraq turns out to be like Syria will you still be pleased enough to claim the Invasion a success?

    If it turned out to be like Syria today (Syria politics) that would represent a failure of the mission IMO. It is clear that the US has overall worked hard to avoid that sort of undemocratic outcome.

  30. 30 steve owens

    Bill Michael Rubin’s comment about Iraqi Kurdistan becoming Syria can be found here

  31. 31 patrickm

    It’s not possible for Iraq to resemble Syria, where a tiny minority dictate (via control of the armed forces). The balance of political forces in Iraq is completely different to Syria; or Egypt as another example of where the generalised enemy in the swamp is letting off bombs against infidels, while the direct obstacle to democracy (that IS the only way to drain the swamp) continues to cling to power using the brute force of a police state and rigged elections. Almost a decade after the stamp of the 21C was set with the attack of 9/11 we now transparently live in very interesting times. Yet there are none so blind…

    It is true that Syria is still full of plenty of Iraqi refugees that are not now in the vast main supporting attacks on the Iraqi government forces, and that like Moqtada al Sadr are beginning to return and play their part in the new Iraq. It is good that they fled when the civil war was slaughtering them as Al Qaeda planned and that strategy has failed, so it’s good that the situation has improved to the point that they will return. Naturally this process will not go smoothly and every bad event (like the recent attacks on Iraq’s Christians) will draw the usual tut tut response from the anti-war western pseudo-left and the fellow-travellers of the openly conservative type. They can now just tut tut and say I told you so, with exactly zero alternative than to continue this fight that is now being waged by the Iraqi masses through their political structures and leadership from a position of overwhelming strength.

    The Iraqis are building a country from the bottom up; from a base of ‘we the people…’

    The result of less than ten years of the new policy direction from the U.S. is that a huge armed force of reaction has been replaced by a huge armed force on the side of progress. A massive turn around predicted by precisely nobody ten years ago.

    Naturally, outside forces enabled this result, and just as naturally the outside forces (however flawed and we all know they are) are going home in triumph very soon! Everyone knew they could never stay, but not everyone knew that they had to bring liberation to the only ones that would have to stay in order to leave in triumph! Chomsky, and anyone else that says the U.S. have left puppets behind are nothing but a sad joke. The entire world knows that Iraqi political forces rule Iraq!

    This real progress could not have been achieved more cheaply under any realistic scenario, despite the rubbish that has continued from the former anti-war brigade that continue the ever green tradition of never admitting to getting it wrong.

    Just focus on this one point. The anti-war brigade are now in tatters, yet as we all know there is still a war going on in Afghanistan, and politically significant progressives are being murdered in Pakistan, and Christians are being butchered in Egypt etc.. So what is to be done?

    Once more calling for troops out is a farce. More troops and a better use of those troops is the way to go. As it was in Iraq.
    More political reform and building the armed forces of the Afghan people is required.

    Arming the people is not a question of just willy nilly distributing weapons to the masses. But the people must be established and armed!

    Social revolution in this part of the swamp requires a response to the enemy’s holding and waiting tactic. The required social revolution in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be defeated in the historically speaking short term (or at least set back for years). Nothing is guaranteed except that the enemy wants all western troops withdrawn! So we ought to oppose that plan just for a start.

    Moqtada al Sadr immediately on his return saw Sistani (making it clear just where the highest religious authority lay) and then told his supporters to behave themselves. He won’t be reviving his Mahdi army and fighting it out in the streets against the Iraqi armed forces. He would rather not be killed or spend the rest of his life in prison. His fight is now political in the context of the Iraqi constitutional arrangements. This is practical reconciliation of a powerful cleric from deep within the swamp. This guy used to think he would be able to come to power in a theocratic state and murdered his rival cleric on the way to trying to achieve just that. He now is now forced to concede that the struggle for a theocracy is lost (at least for the time being).

    The important thing is that the protracted war is going very well. The most important political forces are now contending without resort to arms. The enemy is now anyone who is letting off any bombs and damaging infrastructure and fomenting sectarian conflict. In short, the enemy of the united Iraqi Peoples is not any force or influence from the west! The west only assists the Iraqis in establishing industry, infrastructure, exports and so forth. The only source of disruption is from within the swamp.

    The swamp draining is speeding up!

    I call for more Australian troops for Afghanistan to assist those that are interested and involved in making more social revolution in that part of the swamp! Powerful anti-war movement in the west? What powerful movement is that?

    It is still the case that the establishment of the Palestinian state is urgently required and IMV Obama has had to drag his supporters further along in this direction despite their desire to return to the old discredited pre- GWB policies.

    The pressure is now on from the Palestinian leadership to move the matter into the UN security council and that is because the U.S. will not want to block this avenue of resolution. If the Israel leadership can’t be dragged along like puppets then they will have to be pushed and dragged because U.S. interests clearly require a Palestinian state established ASAP! The only question for the US ruling elite is what is possible.

  32. 32 steve owens

    Pat, Michael Rubin is not saying that Iraq resembles Syria, he’s saying that the Kurdish part of Iraq is resembling Syria.

  33. 33 patrickm

    ‘Now Michael Rubin claims that Northern Iraq is starting to look like Syria. So the best part of Iraq now resembles Syria.
    If Iraq turns out to be like Syria will you still be pleased enough to claim the invasion a success?’

    Like I said; ‘It’s not possible for Iraq to resemble Syria…’
    But I can add that it will be impossible for the Kurdish regions to become like Syria and for similar reasons, even if one of the Kurdish regions may have more shortcomings than either of us would like.

    Anyhow try to answer the following from 2008(that caused Kasama sectarians such difficulty). I just don’t get the inablity to deal with such stuff. Give it a go.

    patrickm said
    November 25, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Gregory; lets look for some points of agreement that we perhaps could unite around.

    As a follow up series of thoughts to my ‘original’ notion that communists are happy to form VERY broad united fronts to achieve our aims but that we are always (even if in a united front, independent and in opposition to greens); let us consider the silent, ‘response’, of many self thought progressives to the actions of the Somali pirates in seizing the massive oil tanker, and what both imply.

    Ought proletarians, construct supertankers to transport oil? Even though Jensen and his supporters must think such ships are the devil’s work leading not to a world of plenty but to our doom. Will revolutionary socialist societies of the looming future construct and crew such ships and suppress pirates globally? I think the answer is; yes we ought and yes we will!

    Will we do this pirate suppression in partnership with bourgeois navies that are still in existence? (For the moment, ignore all ideas of an immediate global revolution that transforms all countries at the same time, but rather adopt a Leninist style notion of weak link revolutionary breakthroughs and consolidations rather than some anti Leninist ‘one-in-all-in’ transformation.) The answer IMV is of course we will!

    Ought proletarians, crew such ships that are still working (ie finding payers for their cargo) NOW and into the future? The answer is self evident that they will crew such ships while they continue to be paid. Proletarians will only stop doing such work if we don’t get paid. But does that make it correct? IMV yes that work is as honorable as any other.

    Despite no revolutionary socialist societies existing at the moment ought pirates, be permitted to exist anywhere in the world right now? IMV no they should not!

    Ought proletarian crews cooperate with bourgeois navies to put a stop to them? Of course they ought to! Ought these proletarians be supported in their actions by every progressive and leftist on the planet? IMV yes they ought!

    Now do proletarian supporting revolutionary leftists like those that comment at Kasama support the actions of the Indian Navy (at least as reported) of sinking the pirate ship?

    Do proletarian ship crews support the action of the Indian Navy? I think; yes they do! Can those commenting unfavorably about the suppression of piracy change the workers views on this issue? Well they can try, but for my money they can not because it is very much a settled question that we expect those that own and run our societies while we only work here to provide us a safe working environment and that expressly requires the suppression of pirates.

    If leftists support this military action what sort of threshold has the leftist crossed?

    Now we get to shore!

    Ought we proletarians permit ports to be captured and kept by pirates as a sort of finders keepers reward for any pirate willing to do it? IMV no way known! No one in this day and age should be in any doubt but that they will fail if they try. Civil wars are one thing, but such annexations of other countries and the oppression of other nations faltly contradicts the era that we fight in and should be as determinedly opposed as progressives have opposed the failed war for greater Israel that is now coming to an end in defeat. I maintain that the release of Marwan Barghouti, (very much part of any moves by the Zionists toward finalizing the defeat (think NIXON) on the way to a release of all prisoners, cannot be far away now.

    No matter what Jensen’s views are, those ships will be built by workers, though not for awhile as the need for more ships just dried up bigtime. If you think it’s bad for the car industry, well the ship building industry has just hit the wall. I think this is a bad thing and some greens think this is a ‘silver lining’ of sorts. IMV all slowing of the industrial transformation of the world when there is brutal poverty for all to see for want of what proletarians and machines can build is simply wrong. All your anti industrial policies (sprouted from an industrial keyboard) demonstrate that your priorities are completely cock eyed).

    and for the latest on Barghouti

  34. 34 steve owens

    So It’s not possible for Northern Iraq to resemble Syria. I must say that I’m glad to hear that. When I heard that the leadership of both ruling parties was handed from father to son, when I heard that both places were ruled by corrupt elites that cracked down on freedom of speech I was worried but if you say that it’s not possible, well I find that very reassuring.

  35. 35 steve owens
  36. 36 steve owens

    The government has conducted a full investigation into to murder of Sardasht Osman and they discovered that he was a terrorist and that he had been kidnapped and killed by his fellow terrorists after they fell out over his lack of terrorist activity.
    I guess that wraps it up journalist critisises president, journalist is killed, government investigates and finds that government is innocent.
    Syria anyone?

  37. 37 informally yours

    I don’t think it will be very long before Syria won’t be able to resemble Syria.

    But anyway Steve you say ‘just as I didn’t think restoring the ruler of Kuwait to his throne was worth the estimated 200,000 lives. Therefore I think my guidelines [for]war participation still hold up quite well.’

    Then you follow up with;

    ‘Fact check on my claim about death toll in Gulf war Jan 6 2011 @1140 my claim 200,000 seems gross overestimation Wikipedia claim 25,000 to 35,000 Iraqi dead 240 to 392 Coalition dead and 1,200 Kuwaiti dead. (note to self try to stop quoting from memory).’

    You therefore now say that 36,592 deaths (35,000 of them Baathist troops) or under 18.3% of your original complaint was still not worth it (to liberate the people of Kuwait from the Iraqi Baathist conquest -an event you choose to call restoring the ruler of Kuwait to his throne). But you claim to want Baathism overthrown and I don’t doubt that!

    81.7% of your argument disappears but this changes nothing.

    Just how many deaths, particularly of Baathist troops, would you find acceptable? It can’t be done without killing some of the enemy and they will kill some of the people trying to overthrow them so what the hell are you on about?

    What economic power would you be prepared to concede to your Baathist enemy, rather than see the deaths required to liberate the Kuwaiti people and restore the political arrangements exiting pre Baathist invasion?

    What military power would that economic power bring over time?

    You must, I presume, be arguing for an alternative, say sanctions of some sorts, so I presume you want them enforced by naval forces? Are ‘costless’ sanctions what you are all about?

    Does the piracy issue see you on the same side as the US, British, Indian etc ‘imperialists’, if so why fight them ship by ship yet concede a whole country to them. Or are you arguing that Saddam behaved differently than any swamp pond variety pirate?

    The ‘anti imperialists’ of Kasama when challenged from the left could not make any sense at all and collapsed in silence and censorship. What else could they do as their whole world view would collapse if they even opened their mouths on issues like this so they had to pretend that the debate had already been had or was somehow inappropriate and lock the alternate view out.

    They could not debate outside of their own framework of thinking so in the end they just banned me for the following ANSWER Coalition: 1000 Shoes for Bush

    How about that, banned for being what turned out to be a 100% accurate prediction. Actually they were trying to ban anyone that contributed to the Lastsuperpower and finally did!

    Not sure but I think the following is what got Arthur banned. His bits are a particularly good read when reflecting on what sort of ‘left’ is collapsing. The revolutionaries of Nepal really do have something to contribute to a re-establishment of a credible communist ‘project’ for the 21C


    In reply to Steve’s strategically worthless one line-er and followups. Father to son is not uncommon in the swamp (quite different from the US Bush to Bush Clinton to Clinton or Australia Downer to Downer Crean to Crean etc). Nevertheless the Kurds exist in the physical centre of the ME but not of the ‘swamp’.

    Leaving aside Steve’s inability to deal with reality arguments like piracy and his resort to a clever one liner as the way out, my reasoning on why the regions of the Kurds in Iraq cannot just go the way this century that Syria did last century is based on trying to apply the thinking from why red political power can exist in China to the problem of making democratic revolution in the middle east.

    Additionally I think the Kurdish leadership has much more to gain in virtually every respect by flat out development and clamping down on corruption than on being the central part of it and my knowledge of and respect for Talabani and his political acumen and efforts over his entire lifetime gives me confidence.

    Furthermore even the capitalist roaders in China are now having to address the question of corruption because it is important for business to flourish.

    But yes Steve, set backs are possible so impossible would be to strong a word.

    I wonder however if it is correct to say this about Australia and other western countries and I note the differences from when Germany and Italy plunged into fascism (quite different).

    I do think that history has moved on and the trend is strongly against Kurdish regions following Syria. The trend is more probably the other way.

  38. 38 steve owens

    Thanks Informally yours, yes those Gulf war death figures were a puzzel so I looked more widely and found that the Wikipedia numbers were on the low side of estimates.
    The wikipedia numbers are in line with the British governments estimates.
    Thanks for the invite to comment on the pirates, I have given it some thought but havent got anything worth posting as generally Im an uhold the rule of law sort of guy unless you have a good reason to do otherwise. Remember Sir Francis Drake was a pirate and British history was pretty kind to him and Stalin was a bank robber and Lenin didn’t seem to mind.
    I hope you are right that Kurdistan will move in a progressive manner but I tend to think that governments move that way if pressure is applied from many quarters but particuarly from a free press. Did you have a comment that relates to the murder of Sardasht Osman or are you happy with the governments explanation?

  39. 39 steve owens

    try again
    Please note initial US estimate was 100,000

  40. 40 steve owens
  41. 41 steve owens

    Now informally yours if you read the link you will see that there is a 200,000 estimate from Our Times but maybe you prefer John Heidenrich’s 1,500 Iraqi troop death estimate.

  42. 42 patrickm

    Identity theft sorry!

    What I would prefer is that you admit that the numbers don’t matter to you. You’re just using a phoney pacifism to avoid explaining why you ended up supporting Baathist tyranny continuing. This thread is about why the Kurds love GWB. You are determined to get to the truth of the Kurds being just as anti-democratic as everyone else in the ME, and that therefore the anti-war brigade that you were a proud member of before it collapsed, despite the war in Afghanistan still going strong, was right in abandoning them.

    Today Sadr publicly confined himself and his forces to political means within the Iraqi framework. He is still shouting at the ‘occupiers’, who are not in the cities as they are packing up and going home, while pledging loyalty to the armed forces that attacked him last time he was in Iraq and that the U.S. are handing over to! The world changes for Sadr, but not for Steve.

    Anyway more on the pirate puzzle that you can’t be honest about either!

    patrickm said
    November 27, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Dave: you misunderstand me; I was referring to the question of pirates and the relationship to questions of modernity that such a dramatic issue implies. As you see a response on this issue has come from future’s ours; he says

    1. Kill the Somali pirates? Destroy their ships? Is this the revolutionary proletarian standpoint? Are we with the people of the poor underdeveloped nations, or are we with the rich oil companies? Should we uphold consumerism, bourgeois development, or should we uphold social justice, and fight against exploitation on a worldwide level?

    I am not saying that those pirates are totally innocent people. But Patrick is siding with Bush – Reagon when they denounce against “terrorism” in the world. Of course, kill them all. Those terrorists good for nothing.’

    The real concrete problem of how ship crews ought to think about the issue of heavily armed criminal elements coming into their work places completely escapes future’s ours thinking. ‘All political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’, so what do we expect armed forces to do about this issue, both before and after reds have Naval forces to deploy? Do ship crews expect something like the provision of a safe work environment from their employers? I think they do. Unionists would have no trouble with that proposition.

    What is it that is leading to such a strange response to the problem? This response does not reflect what the workers on these multinational owned ships think.

    Now there can be interesting secondary questions that arise like when revolutionaries like Stalin robbed banks to fund their revolutionary activities, and so nothing is fully crisp and totally clear, but as a general thought what are we to make of actual criminal conduct just for the private gain of the pirates involved? (relatively rich or poor to start with)

    Dave says ’…while patrickm’s position actively defends the actions of multinational corporations.’

    I do support the construction of ships, and the ships being crewed as they are put to work transporting cargo made by other workers, and those are all the actions of the multinational corporations to do with ships. I just think we proletarians should take the lot over as quick as we can, but until that happens the owning class will continue to own them nationally or multi-nationally. I just think that such owning classes are increasingly becoming moribund and like the aristocracy their services ought to be dispensed with.

    The ships and their services I uphold against Jensen who is worrying that the whole process is leading us to our collective doom. I want the continuation of the industrializing process that has seen the cost of their cargo continue to fall; or looked at from a workers’ point of view our standards of living continue to rise. I hope this reply and my other 2 posts on this will be made available.
    end Kasama discussion

    So, Steve we are in agreement with the pirate issue, but what about when we step ashore?

  43. 43 Steve Owens

    Just as a house keeping measure, what if we try to stick to the original discussion which was about kurdish support for the USA. I know I widened it by mentioning Syria but since then we have brought into the discussion
    South Africa
    Faulkland Islands
    saudi Arabia
    and characters as diverse as
    Desmond Tutu
    Marwan Barghouti
    Now I know that I have introduced some of these characters but I also think that some of them got a run just to throw us off the track.
    My son can’t believe that we havent mentioned Osama Bin Laden so there you go he’s got his place in the firmament.

  44. 44 Steve Owens
  45. 45 Bill Kerr

    I read that article and also the original article (What did the Kurdistan Regional President say?) by the 2 journalist criticising Barzani. Yes, I think it does demonstrate that a new, post Baathist, struggle for democracy is underway. The original article also points out the proud tradition of struggle by the Kurds for freedom and democracy and we can be sure that will continue.

    Its worth reading other articles at http://www.ekurd.net/ for information and perspectives

  46. 46 Steve Owens

    Thanks Bill for putting up the ekurd link. Everything that I have read at this site has been useful. Have you read the links I posted earlier about Sardasht Osman? The bit I posted about his deaths cover up was on wikipedia.

  47. 47 Steve Owens

    Sardasht was shot twice in the mouth as a warning to other journalists heres a link to his dream article that lead to his murder by the government or by the terrorists if you want to believe the governments version

  48. 48 Steve Owens

    Todays offering on the struggle for democracy in Kurdistan.

  49. 49 Steve Owens

    Here I think are people that deserve support.

  50. 50 Steve Owens
  51. 51 Steve Owens

    Some good news from Kurdistan. See public campaigns can have an effect.

  52. 52 Steve Owens

    In the Kurdish Autonomous Region we have the ruling party refusing to talk about the people that went missing under their watch, they say nothing about the private prisons that they run, or the people they hold for years without charge let alone trial. Journalists critical of the government disappear and then turn up dead, opposition members are intimidated, demonstrators on the street are shot dead and when a TV station broadcasts footage it gets burn down. These are strange times but you wont hear about them from the strange times team.

  53. 53 Steve Owens

    Bill are you still following the events in Iraqi Kurdistan?

  54. 54 Steve Owens
  55. 55 Steve Owens

    Bill at the start of discussion in this thread you stated that we needed to see Iraq as an imperfect immature democracy.
    We now know that the government in the Kurdish Autonomous Region has been murdering journalists, burning opposition media outlets, shooting unarmed protesters and jailing people without charge for years. Is it still your position that we need to cut Barzani some slack? How many unarmed protesters is an immature democracy allowed to shoot before we say something?

  56. 56 Steve Owens

    Seaking of governments mujrdering people try this one

  57. 57 Steve Owens
  58. 58 Steve Owens
  59. 59 steve owens
  60. 60 steve owens

    I thought that people might find this interesting

  61. 61 steve owens

    The struggle for democracy means the struggle for a free press

  62. 62 Steve Owens

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